"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." (Theodore Roosevelt, 1891, from the Theodore Roosevelt Association)
Amateurs in Europe were once taught the techniques of the Masters by copying the great works of art. However, copying the brushstrokes of the Mona Lisa is not creating something equal to the original, only a copy. War colleges teach the next generation of leaders by providing intense study of past engagements, from the Greek historian Thucydides’s account of Syracuse to the Battle of 73 Easting. Still, such study only gives a background for the future. Good leadership, at its core, is not an attribute of one’s own age, gender, or when we live. It is a practice of the application of principles, of individual commitment, and above all else of personal example.
I’ll not embarrass the current commander of the Naval Air Systems Command by avowing our thanks for his leadership. Instead, I’ll highlight our responsibility and share the thoughts of one of his Naval Academy classmates, Admiral John Harvey and his challenge to those of us who take up the torch in our turn:
“Individuals and organizations succeed because they make the choices that lead to success. Greatness is not primarily a matter of circumstance or happenstance; greatness is first and foremost a matter of conscious choice and discipline. Officers who are accountable for the outcomes must make those choices and have the courage, energy and discipline to drive their organizations to turn those choices into reality.
I've had my say and my turn at the wheel; now it is your turn – your time to break the Battle Ensign and lead our community into the future. No matter what organization you're in, whatever "box" you're in within that organization and however the boxes are arranged linking you with the other boxes or organizations - straight lines, dotted lines, dashed lines, imaginary lines - for the sake of our surface force and our Sailors, be ruthless in the maintenance of our standards and keep your focus where it MUST be - on our ships and Sailors."
Admiral Harvey and Vice Admiral Architzel are two exceptional leaders from one Naval Academy class who have done so much for the Navy and our nation for so long. As we have under Vice Admiral Architzel’s leadership, our focus must remain on the Sailors and the sustainment of the NAVAIR standards to which we are entrusted.
You can read all of Admiral Harvey’s thoughts to the Surface Warfare community at http://news.usni.org/news-analysis/news/fundamentals-surface-warfare-sailors-and-ships
Most of us can only compare our own brushstrokes to theirs.