Why I Did What I Did

I went to KU and studied Business.  My focus was trying to figure out why people do what they do and how to get them to do things and think it was their idea.  The truth is that the program there failed to provide what I already knew.  Three years in the Military was a real eye opener about Responsibility and Leadership.

People do what they do for so many different reasons that random is probably the best description for causation.  You can influence behavior in the short run but unless you can find a way to tweak the inner screws, you can't really influence what people do, let alone make things happen.  

I know people that have grown up with horrible parents and turned out great.  I also have friends that went to church three times a week and turned out terrible.  In some cases, a bad parent can influence what you do if you don't think about your behavior.  In fact, one thing I would ask our schools to include in their curriculum is this saying, "Stop, Think and then Do!"  

I have read that the true character we have is what we do when no one is watching.  I would say this is the true look at what we think.  This naked view to our base thoughts is the true test.  What you do in and around your friends is a good judge on what you think is right but not always what you believe.

The Military has a lot of models that help shape the behavior of groups but they do not always understand the base causes of action.  The people awarded the Medal of Honor have a lot of things to say about what they did but a pretty common thing is their lack of understanding on the subject of Why?  I have a friend that was given the medal of Honor for jumping on a grenade in Vietnam.  He now realizes that the best thing he could have done was to have helped one of the Marines he was treating earn the medal and that way he could have stayed alive to treat all of them.  Nope, he jumped on the grenade and just lucked out that it didn't go off.  Why?  he doesn't have a clue, on the what, he has a lot of definition but why?  

 One tough General I had was so wrong that only in private would he admit his mistakes.  He wanted the mess halls pretty, "because people eat with their eyes."  I took the Military Leadership Manual to his office and showed him that conclusively soldiers aren't motivated by good food, they are only dissatisfied when it is bad.  Food is not a motivator.  Recognition is way far in the lead to motivate soldiers.  Food is truly a dissatisfier but a good solid meal in the field is as good as a steak at a Country Club atmosphere. Think about some of the hot coffee you have had when camping. That first cuppa coffee was as good or better than Starbucks. (Probably a heck of a lot cheaper)

What you can do with soldiers is to train them to do what you tell them to do over and over so they will not, "Stop, Think and then Do."  A firefight is not the place we want people to think about what they are doing to the point that they are incapable of doing what is needed.  Hesitation under fire is a good way to get shot.

 I would love to give you a long good dissertation about the motivation for my years as a Soldier.  In fact, a lot of what I did was the motivation to make a good living and not get people killed.  I found out early that I needed to keep learning new things and work hard.  From that lofty position, found that I enjoyed the things money could do as much as any reward that the work brought.  I can't speak for everyone else, but I found it easy to do a good job if I worked hard and from that, recognition followed.

I was a Probation Officer and I found that I hated to be around those that do a lot of stupid things.  I also hated the time I spent as a Personnel Officer as the amount of "ankle biter" problems  just took up most of my time.  My strength was in making plans, performing what was needed and then evaluation what happened afterwards. 


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