Quiet Persistence and Force in Leadership

I’ve been reading this book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, so that I can once and for all address what to do about this problem I have of, well, being quiet. Fortunately, this problem is common, if not weird, and in Quiet, Susan Cain is on a mission to prove that being introverted is not inherently weak or odd but instead can wield power.

I’ve arrived at the part in the book where she introduces the idea of Quiet Persistence, which she describes as a soft power that involves day-to-day, person-to-person persistence in interactions that eventually builds up a team. For example, she sites Mother Teresa, the Buddha, and Gandhi. I thought about this the other day as I watched Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett. During the cross-examination, Judge Barrett came across as extremely competent and composed, as you would expect of anyone nominated to the Supreme Court. Of particular interest to me were her feminine characteristics—her dress, her looks, her facial expressions, her soft-spoken manner—none of which undermined or distracted from her position or message at all. And at that point, I thought, here is a great role model for women on how to be in a position of influence.

Except for one problem. In certain lines of work, like the military or law enforcement, it’s not about the quality of your ideas, presentation skills, or brainpower. Instead there’s an added criteria on which leaders are based which I will loosely describe as Force. This makes sense since the nature of military or law enforcement work is conflict based. As a result, the team-sport jock archetype and the military leader mold often appear to be the one and the same. For example, when I used to sit on a service academy nomination board, we’d pour over applications and student essays while evaluating candidates. If you were captain of the football offensive line, great! If you were first chair clarinet in the orchestra, hmm. Our reluctance had nothing to do with an inherent bias for football over band, but I realize now that it had everything to do with accounting for Force. Orchestra and other soft extracurriculars told board members little about whether a candidate had it in him or her to exert and withstand Force.

In the military, at least, this has left us non-jocks, and non-jock women and minorities, with few role models on how to be. And in such a situation, there’s only one place I can think to turn to: Game of Thrones, and I’m lookin’ at the likes of Yara Greyjoy and Brianne of Tarth, for a little inspiration. I only wish they were real people.

On Catching Up with Friends

My neighborhood Ready Pet clinic is busy today. I came in earlier hoping I could do a walk-in with my cats, but they had nothing available until now which means that today my cats have had the misfortune of two round trip car-rides to the vet instead of one. My elderly cat, Minnie, hissed and spat when I put her in her carrier the second time. Poor her. Coming from a family that likes pets in theory (but not in reality), it occurs to me to wonder why I continue to own pets. I suppose I like to care for them and dote on them somewhat. I mean geez, here I am writing about them. My pets also amuse me. Even so, I’m not very hopeful for the 14-hour car ride to Florida with my animals.

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Coronavirus Part 2, Day 47- On Being In The Right Position

On the lake.

Every room has a main character.

Penny, referring to the dog, sunflower, and John Wayne themed decor in our rental cabin.

Several years ago when I was first leaving the military, I started searching for corporate jobs. I looked at a slew of roles with the ambiguous job title of “project manager”, and other Junior Military Officer transition programs. I looked at one program at Macy’s, which was a rotational program for recent graduates. After reading one job description, Steve did me a favor by saying, “This program is not for you, Diana. It sounds like you’ll be folding pants, and you won’t do well if you’re just folding pants.”

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Coronavirus Part 2, Day 44- On Finishing Projects

I’m sitting out on my balcony this morning, listening to the birds and the beeping of the waste removal truck and a downy woodpecker doing his work in the distance. We were supposed to be out of town on a trip this week, but this hasn’t panned out. So it’s staycation I guess. It very humid today.

This weekend I had virtual drill which was a lot of fun, almost as much fun as in person drill. I don’t care what anyone says, being in the military is fun. There was a time when I thought it was miserable, but I look back and marvel at how naive I was. Because in the military you instantly belong someplace. It’s a place where you make friends quickly, and you do unusual things with your new friends. I read somewhere that it takes 200 hours to become best friends with someone. It’s very hard to hit 200 hours in normal life.

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