Padre’s Corner: Avoid the fall

St. Brendan’s Chapel at Stadacona. CFB HALIFAX

Padre’s Corner: Avoid the fall

By Padre Capt Brenda Zwicker,
CFB Halifax Unit Chaplain

Pride comes before the fall. I am less grieved about the fall of a leader than I am about the harm that person did to others on their way down. We have all met proud people; they talk and talk about themselves, they think their opinion is always the right opinion and they think they are generally better than most people. We easily spot pride in others, but we are less likely to see it in ourselves. Unchecked pride has hurt the military.

Author Carey Nieuwhof states in his book Didn’t See It Coming: “Let pride run its course, and it will deaden your heart. Pride inoculates you from the counsel of others and the stirring of your conscience. It makes you think that the rules don’t apply to you or that you can violate them without repercussions.”

While our military evaluation system may have historically rewarded leaders who exhibit pride, that system is being changed. The only way to counter the human tendency towards pride is to cultivate humility, and our training system now discusses humility as a desired behaviour. Many will have seen the Profession of Arms Powerpoint presentation titled The CAF Ethos: Trusted to Serve. One of the teachings it covers is character development, and this includes a discussion of desirable virtues/behaviours that are seen in leaders with high-quality character. Humility is on this list.

Humility begins with self-awareness, but practicing self-awareness is not a common behaviour. Research discussed in The CAF Ethos: Trusted to Serve states that only 15 percent of the population are self-aware and take the time to reflect on their lives. How many of you are brave enough to ask someone who knows you well how (not if) they see your pride coming through in your life? That is a good first step. The other listed traits of humility are being modest, reflective, curious, respectful, grateful and vulnerable.

For my fellow Band of Brothers fans, think about the dynamics of pride and humility within the leadership of Easy Company. How did Dick Winters win the loyalty of Easy Company? They willingly followed his orders into battle, even when they knew it could easily mean their lives would be lost. These are the kinds of leaders we need right now – at all levels.