Sunday, January 04, 2009

Resilience: Behind the Spirit of a Warrior

I had a different post planned from this morning, but I'm linking Karl Rove's latest article in the Wall St. Journal, because it speaks volumes about resilience.

A Navy SEAL posted to Iraq was hit by enemy fire and required multiple surgeries, including reconstructive surgery for wounds that took off part of his cheek and nose. "Yet he didn't feel sorry for himself," Rove observes. "He was full of charisma, confidence, cockiness, and joy. After all, he confided, when you're a wounded SEAL, the world's best doctors want to operate on you so they can brag about it. Besides, he explained, he was just showing that a SEAL really could catch bullets with his teeth."

That soldier eagerly looked forward to returning to the battlefield. "My team needs me," he explained. On his hospital room door, he wrote a message explaining that no one should feel sorry for him, because he received wounds doing a job he loved, in the service of a country he loved. His room was a place for "fun, optimism, and intensive rapid regrowth", he wrote; anyone who was not in that mindset should go elsewhere.

Think about how this soldier held onto his sense of elite specialness even through his pain. Think about how he held onto his deepest values during a period of loss, frustration, and uncertainty. Think about how he stubbornly held onto optimism, willing himself to recovery. Now think about how we can live up to his example through our far less life-threatening periods of loss and frustration in the markets.

When you've trained so hard for something that you experience yourself as elite; when you believe so deeply in what you're doing that you refuse to give up; and when you are so committed to others that you will never let them down, you can be an otherwise ordinary human being and yet accomplish extraordinary things.


See the last two sets of links in my Best of 2006 series.


JohnDiddler said...

You have a great blog and I know you're making an important point here, but I don't know how I could not post this appraisal from Mr. Rove's Wikipedia entry:

In December 1969, the Selective Service System held its first lottery drawing. Those born on December 25, like Rove, received number 84. That number placed him in the middle of those (with numbers 1 [first priority] through 195) who would eventually be drafted. On February 17, 1970, Rove was reclassified as 2-S, a deferment from the draft because of his enrollment at the University of Utah in the fall of 1969. He maintained this deferment until December 14, 1971, despite being only a part-time student in the autumn and spring quarters of 1971 (registered for between six and 12 credit hours) and dropping out of the university in June 1971. Rove was a student at the University of Maryland, College Park in the fall of 1971; as such, he would have been eligible for 2-S status, but registrar's records show that he withdrew from classes during the first half of the semester. In December 1971 he was reclassified as 1-A. On April 27, 1972, he was reclassified as 1-H, or "not currently subject to processing for induction". The draft ended on June 30, 1973.

One might conclude that the draft was a threat and Mr. Rove was resilient against that threat.

Van said...

karl was just taking a page from dickle$$ cheney's playbook, he skipped the 2s and went straight to 4f, guess he could have been a real warrior and joined the air guard and flown f104s for a couple of months and then spent the rest of the vietnam war partying in tx and al

Johnny said...

Good article, thank you, Dr. Steenbarger.

However, Rove talking about honor and service is too sickening to stomach... How about completely falsified and discredited justification for the war, does that honor the troops? Is encouraging solders to torture an effective way to honor them, Rove?

Rove should be in a jail cell for refusing to testify to Congress.

Donald W. said...

I remember one of the instructor talking to another at the Coronado base and the instructor comment to the other was in regards to the story about being surrounded and out number by the enemy while rescuing a Senator and his daughter(I forget the exact scenario, but the comments end in something like this. They made it up for the press, they were actually never outnumber....If a story is to good to be true, it probably is.