Do Everything with Good Intentions, with Passion, and with Consideration for Others: Lessons from General George W. Casey

When I left General George Casey’s presentation last Wednesday, I found myself reinvigorated with motivation and excitement for my future as a leader.  It wasn’t because I am planning on becoming a Four-Star General, Army Chief of Staff or anything, but because his advice was so applicable to my life, despite my lack of desire in pursuing a military career. So even though his leadership examples were all, understandably, concentrated around his military experience, I was still able to relate his guidance to my leadership aspirations.

Before I delve into what I took away from the presentation, let’s talk about why I chose to engage myself so heavily with his words. General George Casey is a retired Four-Star General who held commands as the Army Chief of Staff, the head of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, the U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff, a high-ranking official in the 1st Armored Division, and several other positions. He received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. Now, even though I am part of a military family myself, I still don’t really know what all those positions and awards mean. But, it goes without saying that General Casey is an incredibly accomplished General and a tremendously impactful leader.

Once I truly understood the scope, I started taking notes. By the end of his presentation, I walked away with a messy, crowded, wrinkled sheet of paper containing snippets of advice that I thought were the most important.

The following is a list of General George Casey’s advice as interpreted by Maddie Kincaid (so take with a grain of salt);

  1. A mediocre plan that is violently executed far surpasses a brilliant plan with little enthusiasm.
  2. Being good is a habit. Being good is a choice. And being good is a constant struggle.
  3. It’s easy to cut corners on the small stuff, and it’s harder to cut corners on the big stuff.
  4. Regardless, cutting corners is a slippery slope.
  5. You usually know immediately what is right and what is wrong; the longer you think about it, the more you start to rationalize making a wrong decision.
  6. Invest in people. You can never invest too much energy into someone.
  7. In order to further your career, take the hard jobs and do the absolute best that you can.
  8. Dedicate time and energy into finding out what makes each team member tick.
  9. Be able to simplify complex ideas or situations so that people can more easily understand.
  10. Always be candid.
  11. Never be afraid to try to be the best.
  12. Don’t doubt yourself; have conviction that you are making the best decision you can with the information and constraints that you have.
  13. Make everyone feel like an integral part of the team.
  14. Pick something that you love to do, and be really really good at it.
  15. Actually, be the best at it.

Whether or not I would join the military, start a non-profit, or enter politics, I know that I can take his guidance and run with it. Hearing what the General had to say made me excited to pursue my dream job and be really good at it, to volunteer to take the tough jobs even if it’s hard, to believe in my decisions in whatever leadership position I’m in, and to empower others by investing my energy into the team.

I know that it’s quite the lengthy list, but I basically gathered the sentiment that in order to be a successful leader, do everything with good intentions, with passion, and with consideration for others.  Since this seemed to work for General George Casey through his extensive tenure with the military, I will undoubtedly implement his suggestions, sentiments, and guidance in my own leadership development and aspirations.

Written by: Maddie Kincaid, current PLPer

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