My dad was a medic in the Navy during World War II and served mostly on the Island of Okinawa. He didn’t speak much about the war as seems to be true of so many veterans. I guess the memories must be too horrific to recall. Anyhow, I love reading books about WWII because, in a way, I’m reading about my Dad…
The Pacific is a book which tells the tale through the eyes of five veterans. As always, the leadership lessons are everywhere. For instance, during the battle of Midway countless fighters and dive bombers were lost. A bunch did not fall from artillery fire. Many didn’t go down by way of the machine gun. Many were not lost from an encounter with the enemy.
Most simply couldn’t find their way home.
They got lost and oftentimes, ran out of fuel. And, according to Ensign Micheel, a pilot who fought in Midway and a bunch more, some were last because they couldn’t regulate their speed. They had no engine failure, they had no flak damage, and they had enough fuel to make it home. They simply went too fast. Ensign recalls seeing a couple dive bombers “buzz” by him, after dropping their bombs, at 150 knots. He had slowed considerably to conserve energy. He watched them disappear from sight and had to fight the urge to close up and fly in formation.
He willed himself to remain calm.
And, as Ambrose writes, “It was still a beautiful day in the Pacific. He had the right heading. More than an hour had passed. Miles away on the horizon, the U.S. fleet came into view. A wave of elation washed over him. The two planes ahead of him, though, began to lose altitude. He caught up to them without trying. One slid into the sea, followed quickly by its partner. He guessed they had run out of fuel, although no one said anything over the radio.” Ensign may not have realized it at the time, but he was displaying emotional intelligence at work. His ability to regulate emotions and remain calm was a master skill that appears time and again in the text. Too many pilots could not “slow down” once they had experienced the adrenaline rush of “diving” so steeply that your shoulder harness rips into your back even though your butt is completely off the seat.
Yesterday in the Big Ten 133lb championship, Nate Tomessello was tied with Cory Clark of Iowa 4-4 with the clock winding down in the third and final period. Clark had him in a tough hold and the match appeared headed to almost certain overtime. However, with 6 seconds remaining, Nate began to slowly work himself into position to escape. Slowly, painstakingly, and with the precision of a surgeon, he made micro move upon micro move and as the clock registered 1, he unlocked Cory’s death grip and fought free. Nate won, 5-4, because he remained calm in the MOT (moment of truth). He didn’t think. He did not get sped up. He stayed calm and stuck to the disciplines. Watching this reminded me how precious and volatile the mind is. Champions somehow maintain their composure when the dive’s complete and they marry the mundane all the way home. Champions, like Nate and Ensign, rely on their training and slow down to land safely and arrive home victorious.
Where are you allowing circumstance, adversity, injury, or any other difficulty, to speed you up and fast forward your mind? Champions are calm. There are no self made men/women and there aint nobody gonna calm you down when your MOT comes calling. Trusting your training only works when you know you’ve trained hard enough to trust it. Slow down and reflect, friend. And, congrats OSU wrestling on your second BIG Ten title in three years. Turns out that most victories whether in war or wrestling are won within before their won in front of the world. Work within, friend. Work within…