Lesson # 8 from Starship Troopers

Today, we’re going to cover the eighth lesson I learned from the book Starship Troopers.  This is the eighth lesson in the mini-series.  If you haven’t read the previous post yet, please do so right now and try to follow it in order.

Lesson # 8: It’s not about you!

Quote: “…Your life belongs to your men and is not yours to throw away in a suicidal reach for glory… and that your life isn’t yours to save, either, if the situation requires that you expend it.”

My Take: What I get from this quite is “It’s not about you!”  As a military leader, you should be a SERVANT leader.  In other words, the people you lead do not work for you.  YOU WORK FOR THEM!  Your job is to ensure the mission gets done and do make sure that you do everything you possibly can to take care of your Soldiers.  Most leaders have this completely backwards, especially as they move up through the ranks and get fancy titles and important duty assignments.  

starship troopers bookYour job as a leader is to get the mission done AND to take care of your Soldiers.  Your job is to put your wants and needs on the back burner and make sure your Soldiers are getting taken care of.

And during combat there might come a time where you have to make a decision that COULD result in one of your Soldiers dying, or even you dying.  What you have to realize is that it’s not your job to be a hero!  It’s not your job to try and save your own ass at the expense of one of your troops.  It’s not your job to try and go out and win some fancy medal!  Your job is to LEAD your troops.  Their safety, wants and needs should come first (right after getting the mission done).  Once again, this is much easier said than done.  Just remember that it’s not about you!

Don’t let your rank, power or duty position go to your head!  You are NOT better than the troops you lead.  And you are not more important than they are.  Their job is not to spoon feed you and serve you.  If you can be a mission first, soldiers always type of leader, you will be very successful.  Stay grounded and remember that your troops are more important than you are. Without them, you wouldn’t have a job.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know.

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11 thoughts on “Lesson # 8 from Starship Troopers”

  1. This reminds me of John C. Maxwell's work that started with the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. He called it the Law of Victory: Victorious leaders feel the alternative to winning is unacceptable, so they figure out what be done to achieve victory and then they go after it with everything at their disposal. They do their best when the pressure is on and their leadership qualities rise to the surface. His reading is so inspiring and I'm reading it in your posts. You know there's truth in it when it comes up in more and more places, with more and more people. My employees respond when I ask them what I can do for them to support their projects, instead of first focusing on what I can get out of them.

    1. I think the best leaders are confident in their abilities. They love a challenge. They thrive when a situation gets tough. I know that’s when I am at my best. They are also servant leaders (like you said) and do what they can to help their team succeed. FYI, John Maxwell is one of my favorite authors and mentors. I’ve read most of his books and know that he has had a huge positive impact in my life.

  2. This is an all-around important life lesson for everyone to take to heart. The more we do for each other the better it reflects upon ourselves. A team is only as strong as its weakest link, and there’s no worse link than a weak leader. Focusing on creating a spirit of unity, cohesiveness, and determination is what’s more important than personal glory – that’s why this quote is so spot on. I really enjoy the places where you find inspiration, it shows that you never stop thinking about what’s best for your team and the people who depend on you.

  3. As a platoon sergeant and first sergeant I have repeatedly made this point to my subordinate NCOs. The first sergeant before me at my current unit was, not to put too fine a point on it, an arrogant a$$, and his priorities were completely screwed up. My philosophy is that if you do your job, demonstrate genuine concern for your Soldiers, and maintain a high level of professionalism, you’ll get the respect of your people. (That doesn’t mean you accept disrespect should someone happen to offer it, but in my experience that doesn’t happen often–and on a couple of occasions when someone thought another Soldier was not properly respecting me, one of my guys jumped in to correct them.) The people who walk around thumping their chest and “demanding” respect usually don’t get more than the bare minimum, and they certainly don’t inspire anyone with their leadership.

  4. I love your choice of lesson plan material.Starship Troopers rocks, and has some great leadership material ingrained in it, such as what this post is about. It’s totally not about you! All of the much-used cliches come to mind–ones like “there’s no I in TEAM.” It has to be about the greater good, or negative consequences follow when times get tough and life-and-death decisions have to be made. Personally, I would rather die myself than do something that caused one of my soldiers (theoretically) to die needlessly.

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