Advice To Young Academy Grads: Nobody Cares

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with Navy Cmdr. Jennifer Eaton, commanding officer of the USS Barry, and other crew members during a visit aboard the ship in Yokosuka. Photo by James K. McCann

By Jim Garamone (Dod News) A group of U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen got an unexpected lesson in leadership from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff this week.

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About 25 midshipmen came to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS ) to listen to Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford speak to the topic of “Today’s Global Challenges.”

They got that, but during the question-and-answer session, a senior CSIS official asked the chairman if he had any leadership lessons for the midshipmen.

Here’s his response:
“With regard to leadership, with the midshipmen over here, you know, it’s clearly something that you can’t wrap up in 30 seconds. But I guess what I would say to you is as you make the transition – and I think a number of you are making it this year – I think you probably have been told many times, and I’ll just remind you – it’s no longer about you.

“You know, to this point, 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.

“The day you become commissioned, that’s all in the sticker price of being a leader. Nobody cares. You get no credit anymore for any of those things.

“What you get credit for is the impact that you have on the young men and women that you’ll be so fortunate enough to lead. That’s actually what you get credit for.”