Duty Before Self
What does this mean?
Well, to me, it means putting the good of the many ahead of my own personal gain. It is more then just that, though. It means that, even if I personally don’t think an idea is good but common sense means that more people will benefit from it, then I should support it. It also means leading by example. Setting an example that others WANT to follow. It means putting Canadians FIRST. “To me, ‘duty before self’ means inclusion with no secrets. It means you make a personal sacrifice before you put your own specific wants or needs first.
During my time in the Army, I learned that Duty Before Self had many meanings, some of which could be carried over to Civilian life, but it boils down to priorities.
Let me share a military definition with you…
Putting Duty Before Self
© 2010 William A. Cohen, PhD
Adapted from Heroic Leadership (Jossey – Bass, 2010)
When General Schwarzkopf was Major Schwarzkopf, he was an advisor to a South Vietnamese brigade. One of the senior Vietnamese officers was a colonel by the name of Ngo Quang Truong. Colonel Truong was short and skinny and didn’t look like a military hero. Still, he was worshipped by his troops and feared by the enemy commanders who knew about him. During a mission to find and destroy an enemy unit, Truong and Schwarzkopf were leading in an armored command vehicle. Suddenly, a hidden machine-gun fired and Schwarzkopf was hit.
“I was in a little bit of shock as the medic bandaged me up,” Schwarzkopf said. “Truong squatted beside me and said, ‘My friend, if you would like, I will turn the personnel carrier around, and we will go back and get you a medivac. But I don’t want to do that. We’re in the position we need to be in, and I need your help.’”
Though wounded, Schwarzkopf agreed to keep going. They attacked using a plan Schwarzkopf helped develop. Truong’s troops saw that Schwarzkopf put duty first. So, they did the same. The result was a complete rout of enemy forces.[i] Duty before self is a law of leadership that is as true in the boardroom as the battlefield and a critical part of Heroic Leadership.
In the Civilian world it means things like…
A leader does not use his people as fodder simply to make themself look better.
A leader does everything possible to assist and prepare people.
A leader takes personal cuts himself before making new taxes and shares the pain by taking more personal cuts if necessary.
A leader never benefits by the misfortunes of those he leads!
I am not against helping others in need, but I do feel that as a Developed “First World” Nation we have no right bringing in people from other countries while we have our own people who are homeless, when our Veterans are going with out the treatment that they were promised or when we have our own citizens living well below the poverty line. Our current government decided to fix the last issue by lowering the poverty line, meaning that less people would be living below it. Now I ask you: is this the way you want yourselves and fellow Canadians being treated? The time is overdue for a change. With your help we can bring about these changes.