‘I Believe’ Jack Welch and the Navy Seals
By CB, JBSA and LDSSA student groups | march, 2013, Issue 1
This article is a collaboration of CB, JBSA and LDSSA student groups. It is one of a series of articles written with the intention to increase the dialogue on campus regarding the role of business in society and our duties as future leaders.
When Jack Welch began revitalizing GE in the early 1980s, he created the simple, memorable mantra and repeated it over and over again: "Number one or number two in every business we operate in." When Johnson & Johnson wished to be decentralized yet remain unified, company executives created the Credo, and posted it in every executive's office. When an aspiring candidate seeks out the Navy Seals for training, he will be first taught the Navy Seal Code, which emphasizes lore and ethos, long before he lifts his first log at basic training. Similarly, nearing the end of the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, the Israelite people gathered 12 large rocks from the river Jordan to build a Memorial of Remembrance.
Why do all of these businesses, organizations and groups spend the time and mental energy to create a tangible creed, or a tangible reminder? Why spend the time looking back when there is more than enough to focus on now? As any of us who have prepared a 'cheat' sheet know, one reason we do these things is that people forget. Humans have an innate ability to get caught up in the moment, to focus only on the problem at hand, and thus lose sight of where we have been, where we are going and the manner in which we want to get there.
Many of us wrote thousands of words in our application convincing business schools that we have a plan, a mission and a means to accomplish it. However, how many of us remember those words that we wrote? How many of us have already got caught up in following others who are passionately following their path? Whether that path is to Goldman, BCG, Dow Chemical or a non-profit, we look to the people that seem to have already found their mission, their creed, and adopt it as our own. We forget why we are here. We forget why we are not somewhere else.
Spring Break is rapidly approaching. While lounging on the beach or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, use the break as an opportunity to physically write three statements: (1) what it is you believe, (2) where it is you want to go and (3) the aspects of yourself that you want to shine during your journey. These three statements will comprise your creed.
Sources of inspiration can be found all around you. From reading a famous Debbie Weill poem to composing a letter to your future child, the source of inspiration will be unique to each one of us. Regardless the inspiration, the resulting three statements have the ability to steady the reader and serve as a rock in difficult times. When deciding whether to take that next promotion, look at your creed. When deciding where to relocate, look at your creed.
When deciding whom to marry, look at your creed. This document of three statements will be a voice of remembrance outside the then present emotions and will encourage you to go where you need to be, and not to go somewhere else.