In a Q&A session after a recent speech, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford told a group of midshipmen what changes when they are commissioned.
“To this point,” he said, “someone cared about your grade point average. Someone cared about your level of physical fitness. Someone cared about your personal appearance. Someone cared about your accomplishments, your achievements.” But now? Nobody cares, he said. Why? Because those basic things were now assumed. Being on top of it, keeping healthy and prepared, performing with excellence, “that’s all in the sticker price of being a leader.”
No more credit for those things. It’s just part of the job. What remained to be seen—what people did care about—is what they were able to do in their position of leadership.
We can say that the same is true in the study of Stoic philosophy. In your earlier life, it was impressive if you kept up good habits, or seemed to care about wisdom, because frankly so few people do that at all. But now? In this elite group? That’s all expected and more—as the buy in. What remains to be seen is what you can do with this philosophy when you’re really tested, with what you can contribute to the common good, and who you can be in incredibly difficult situations. What can you do as a leader? What can you do on top of what you’ve already done?
That’s all we care about.
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