Article by 5276 Digger MacDougall
The 2 ½ hour drive home to Rockland was a piece of cake because I was so highly energized after attending and participating in the Resilience Plus Soirée at RMC Kingston. As a matter of fact, it is safe to say that I am so highly charged that I might singularly move the bar on life expectancy for North American males.
I talked with my wife, Nancy, about the evening until 0300 and again from 0650 until 0900 (then she had to get on with life). I told her that I was physically present to observe a seed being planted at our Military Colleges and a beginning to the transformation of culture in the Canadian Armed Forces. (In discussing military culture Nancy said “Wars have existed since the beginning of “mankind“. I countered with “Wars will cease to exist with kind man and kindness of man”).
When I think back, Officers and NCOs under whom I trained and exercised appeared to define leadership through Power by pointing out shortcomings; Command through hierarchical structure; and Control through punishment and fear. That was just the way it was. It was how they were groomed by their fathers, seniors and officers. Cadets were publicly (in front of others) charged for having lint on their uniforms rather than rewarded for being well groomed. They were yelled at and screamed at for undeveloped coordination, not praised for executing a smart turn.
When a member of my generation was summoned to a meeting – it was usually to attend at the principal’s office, the commandant’s office or the office of a senior. The summoning meant one had transgressed. Last evening “the summoning” we experienced had the generals, the principal and cadets sitting in the same room discussing not how many rounds were fired on the range that afternoon, but how to not only change a routine, but how to transform an organization whose roots, customs and traditions are deeply established in a belief system that has existed and strengthened daily since the beginning of the human race. And … the generals, faculty and staff “listened” as cadets delivered insightful presentations, and participated in activities, led by cadets. Rather than saying “Who? Us?”, they listened intently to how one young second year cadet presented his research proposal. He planned to examine what I see as the effects of the perception of the masculinity concept and its roles in personal development as well as a study into sexual harassment at our military colleges and why its frequency is above the national norm. This in itself is a mind-blowing reversal of substance and situation that did not exist in my day.
From the outset, what has impressed me most is the total buy-in, support and outstanding leadership of the Commandant, Cmdre Josée Kurtz, the Commander of Defence Academy, MGen Craig Aitchison and the Principal, Harry Kowal. They were not just there last evening; they were “present” engaged and committed. BRAVA and BRAVO to you and all of them. And the cadets ….. I salute them all. They are not waiting for someone to lead them out of “the valley of death” they are leaving it on their own and they’re getting everyone to follow them. They are changing a culture.
The RMC Alumni Association has a mission to support the college and the cadets. However, I believe that the Association needs a new task around which to “rally the wagons”. Here is an idea for consideration by the leadership team, the Department of Leadership and Psychology and the cadets: plan a day where Ex-Cadets can participate for a morning of reunion activities and an afternoon of resilience training. Then introduce the newly trained to the concept of Resilience Plus Ambassador/rice and asked them to grow the culture in their hometowns and their part of the world.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the Resilience Plus Soirée and I am impressed with the quality of leadership that I observed among all who attended. I believe strongly in the work that is being done in this program and recommend resilience plus training to all who find themselves in leadership positions today and those who aspire to leadership positions tomorrow
5276 J. R. Digger MacDougall
President Ottawa Branch, RMC Club of Canada
Chair, Sing Canada Harmony Legacy
Volunteer Interpreter, Canadian War Museum