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 lost 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.
Where are you allowing circumstance, adversity, injury, or another obstacle to speed you up and fast forward your mind? Champions prepare their mind and preload the response before they drop the bomb, so to speak. Turns out most victories are won within before they’re won in front of the world. Preload the response before the MOT (moment of truth) arrives. Preload the specific circumstance where you want to persist or resist. Preload your response.
Work within, friend. Work within…