My Visit to the U.S. Naval Academy


I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to give presentations on values-based leadership to companies, colleges and universities, associations, and various other groups on a weekly basis.  I once mentioned to a colleague that it feels like a trifecta: (1) I have the opportunity to have a small impact on the next generation of leaders (2) I have the chance to represent the Kellogg School of Management as I travel around the world and (3) I get to raise funds for the One Acre Fund (www.oneacrefund.org) through speaking fees and proceeds from sales of my leadership book, “From Values To Action”. My colleague teased me that it wasn’t a “trifecta” but in fact a “FOUR-fecta” because (4) I LOVE presenting to all of these groups. One of the things I think is fantastic about teaching is that until I can explain something clearly to a group of individuals, I really don’t understand it myself.  I have discovered that one truly learns when you have to teach and present to others.

In addition, some of my talks give me the opportunity to meet some really amazing groups of people. Last week, for instance, I had the distinct honor of spending half a day with first-class midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. It really was a fantastic experience. The dedication of these young men and women to their country and to making the world a better place was very inspiring. It was fantastic to engage these midshipmen in discussing leadership skills, values, and “doing the right thing” as they grappled with various ethical dilemmas as part of the “Capstone Moral Leadership Seminar”.

I copied down a quote from the seminar attributed to General Edward C. Meyer, former Army Chief of Staff so that I could share it with my Kellogg students:

Just as the diamond requires three properties for its formation—carbon, heat, and pressure—successful leaders require the interaction of three properties—character, knowledge, and application. Like carbon to the diamond, character is the basic quality of the leader . . . But as carbon alone does not create a diamond, neither can character alone create a leader. The diamond needs heat. Man needs knowledge, study, and preparation . . . The third property, pressure—acting in conjunction with carbon and heat—forms the diamond. Similarly, one’s character, attended by knowledge, blooms through application to produce a leader.

I hope everyone has a great week!

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