Management Training, Military Recruiting: Too Easy?



New Navy Recruiting Poster (child) If a task is too easy, men won’t do it.

A team will pull together and accomplish most any project if it is perceived as a “Peak Experience.”

But most management training and large organizations may not be challenging enough to develop teams or develop leaders.

Naval writer Patrick O’Brien speaks to the challenge that men need. In the age of sail and tall masts, sailors climbing aloft would have to pass through — or around — the crow’s nest.

The men would take the more difficult and dangerous route.

They would climb around the outside edge of the crow’s nest. Grabbing the rigging hand-over-hand dangling 50 feet or more above deck.

Rather than take the safer and easier and more direct route through the lubber’s hole in the crow’s nest.

The lubber’s hole was the easy way. For sissies.

Real men demand a challenge. Real men keep score. Real men duel. They do not sit through Anger Management classes.


Crow’s Nest and Lubber’s Hole Winning must never be seen as easy. Like winning the Super Bowl in the NFL, the winner is celebrated, the loser humiliated.

The losing team does not have to wear Baby Blue.

But perhaps they should.

Every program, every management training program should have a wash-out rate. And the organization should brag about it.

Avoid the lubber’s hole. Make it difficult.


Lubber’s Hole


Thank you (foot)notes:

Your Business Blogger has an interest in advancing the training of managers; see Management Training of DC. It is not easy.

Alert Reader’s will remember O’Brien’s Captain Aubrey did, in fact use the lubber’s hole when climbing aloft. Captain Aubrey did not have to prove his physical prowess. (He was actually, well, a bit chubby.) He knew how and when to prove himself to his crew. The mature manager knows the difference.

Navy Recruiting poster citation at USNA-at-Large, hat tip to John Howland.

Well done sir, God loves a pedant, though I find them poor pitiful fellows more use on land than aboard a king’s ship, they are the sort who would use the lubbers’ hole in a mere topgallant breeze. 🙂

UPDATE: More from the USNA Alums at the jump.

USNA-At-Large, Buddy Wellborn reports on a Saturday night session at the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter —

To my compatriots:

The Chief of Naval Personnel, VADM JOHN HARVEY, USN, (USNA ’73), was the guest speaker at USNAAA TGCC’s annual dinner on June 2, 2007. His speech primarily focused on the “numbers” for “THE UNITED STATES NAVY TODAY.”

As one should expect from an active duty senior officer, his discourse was “politically correct” in that he essentially presented how the US Navy is making due with what Congress has funded for the military-industrial complex; that is, making due with only three percent of GDP as a result of a 50 percent cut from six percent in 1992. For example, instead of 100/400 deployed with 100/400 in stand-down, 100/400 in work-up, and 100/400 in some state of refit/repair/overhaul, the USN has 152/276 “underway,” presumably at sea, of which 106 are deployed overseas. Numbers! Wow!

Is that a Port-and-Starboard “Operational Tempo,” or what? And, more importantly, are those “numbers” compliant with our assessed TLR’s and justified MENS in our “Strategic Capability Plan,” that is, are they enough to keep those that wish US no well at bay– away from our shores? Whoa, does that turn a Wow into a Woe?

Admiral Harvey’s most disturbing “numbers,” however, were that 72 (seventy-two) percent of the 9.7 million youths (age 17-24) in the USA, ARE NOT QUALIFIED FOR M ILITARY SERVICE. Of those fully eligible for military service, only 220,000 (10 %) have a “high propensity” to join the military service. Thus, the USN has a recruiting challenge, and the CNP is putting out a rallying call for the “Need for Influencers,” like us, to (1) Build Confidence; (2) Encourage Service; and, (3) Share Experiences.

Woe, why so low– and, why a need for us as “Influencers”?

According to Admiral Harvey, he cites (1) Lowest Unemployment rate since pre-9/11; and, (2) Decline in “Influencers” due to shrinking veteran pool– and, that PARENTS ARE NOW LESS LIKELY TO SUPPORT THE M ILITARY.

Wow! Why no “support” from parents?

Admiral Harvey left that one hanging, and did not proffer a finding from his analytically expert “personnel managers.”

So, according to Buddy Wellborn, I’ll share with you what I have learned from talking with recruiters in San Diego (NUWC), Colorado Springs (NLUS), San Antonio (USNAAA), Pensacola (my B&G son at NAS), Tampa/St. Pete (NLUS/USNAAA/SOCOM), and Baltimore (USNA/JHU/APL).

It’s human nature that most folks, especially young people, want to be cheered, not jeered, for what they do. They want to stand proudly among their friends– and, be commended by their elders for their actions. Do you want your son or daughter to suffer the embarrassment, if not the persecution, from being associated with an unpopular, losing cause? So, how do you recruit, much less motivate, someone for a cause that is portrayed everyday in the press as a losing one?

“An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;

“An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool– you bet that Tommy sees!”

First, most parents do not have a “high propensity” to demand better pay for better teachers, and push for instituting a better “system” of education in which management does not have to lower performance standards to mollify ethnic pressures. Therefore, our qualified base for military recruiting is in decline– petition your local school board.

Second, remember when it was said about the military service that “It’s not a job– it’s an adventure.” And, “Join the Navy– See the World (sea)!” When I first had command at sea, I had JPJ’s words posted on my cabin-door: “Come Sail With Me!”

Meanwhile, I remember John Wayne, Doug Ford, Bill Holden (and Grace Kelly), Burt Lancaster, Clark Gable, et al, portraying our military heroes in the movies– before the advent of the drug-culture portrayed in movies directed by Oliver Stone. OBTW, Mugs McKeown, ’61, said Tom Cruise was shorter than his daughter.

Whatever, Army/Navy exploits featured our military “heroes” on the front page as well as on the sports page. Our military was the first line of defense in the eternal cosmic struggle of Good versus Evil. Our military organized and trained the good guys “…from the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” to triumph over the bad guys– Over There.

Well, given all else, the “politically incorrect” version is that the depicted guise of the military in our “free” liberal press is tainted with the political barbs aimed at our current administration’s strategic management of the “Global War on Terror.” Even though the “barb slingers” say they support the troops, our troops are suffering “collateral damage” from a liberal-biased, politically hostile press. Consequently, as an “inconvenient truth,” military recruiters in the field are predicting another “slow” summer for recruiting, which they say has suffered a decline over the last three years– PRIMARILY BECAUSE THE MILITARY HAS BEEN DEPICTED WITH THE TAINTED GUISE OF A LOSER BY A HOSTILE [LIBERAL] MEDIA.

And, as a “Point-of-Order,” our military is not losing this war, which is a misnomer for labeling an international law enforcement operation as a “Global War on Terror.” WE ARE NOT LOSERS– JUST GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION!

As always, I’m proud to stand in your company.

Buddy Wellborn, USNA ’59.

P.S. Seemingly, my tongue gets over my eye tooth and I cannot always “see” what I’m saying. What I was trying to prompt from Admiral Harvey last night in the Q&A was whether or not our military recruiting was suffering because of its close association with a losing political issue– realizing that the Clausewitzian dictum states that war is the continuation of politics by other means. Like, when I tried to express my commendation for our vaunted alumni at NASA by referring to them as “Cosmologists Extraordinary,” which by the way they are, my spoken words sometime need further clarification. Servabo Fidem.


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4 Responses

  1. Pat Patterson says:

    But I also remember that Stephen Maturin replied one time that the only thing important about getting to the crow’s nest was getting there.

  2. Jack says:

    Pat, such clear, direct thinking from Maturin. Just what you would expect from a doctor…or a spy.



  3. DigitalRich says:

    Your post is included in the 11th edition of the Carnival of Storytellers. Thanks for participating!


  4. Molly says:

    i must say..that just because women dont need to do three pull ups doesnt mean we dont need to do anything…women have to do the flexed arm hang instead for at least 30 seconds i believe.but no longer than 70..

    i personally am enlisted in the 17 going 18 in december..i think women should be in combat. i have pure patriotic all american blood running through these veins and this is how i express it!

    Semper FI!

    poole Riegel

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