S10Ep2 - Leadership & Resilience (The Military Series)


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Matt talks to Colonel Scott Conway--this time about leadership and resilience, and how strength training--and physical training in general--can make people better leaders, managers, and parents and help them better face difficult situations and events.

Scott discusses his early experience through the Marine Corps’ schools to screen and develop officers--Marines given the rank and position and authority to lead and command other Marines. He also discusses returning to some of these as a leader, evaluating and helping shape leaders.

Officer and leader development pushes officer candidates to adapt in stressful, difficult situations. The candidates will fail and make mistakes. They ultimately have to prove up to the task of leadership in duress while falling short of making the “perfect” decisions. You have to learn, you have to keep pushing forward and take the burden and run with it.

As an instructor--something that seems easier often--you must be constantly “on,” because the candidates are looking to you as the example while also--despite their inexperience--being able to identify when the instructors are falling short of their espoused ideals--the Marine Corps’ standards.

Ultimately, as leaders, and employees, and managers, as parents--as human beings--we should become wiser as we experience more and reflect and learn from our experience--success and failures. Despite this, we can’t rely on our past successes or our resume. In whatever position we find ourselves, we ultimately get evaluated by what we offer now.

The experience of being a junior officer is in some senses both unique but also relatable to leaders in many situations. You’re new to the military, yet entrusted with authority and rank. You have to make decisions and lead, but you also have to learn and rely on the experience and recommendations of those around you. You have to accept the responsibility of leadership put on you, but you can’t let it go to your head. You likely feel like an imposter as your experience and authority seem at odds, but you can’t be racked by doubt. Many people can relate to suddenly being thrust with power and responsibility and authority--parenting anyone--and not feeling up to the task. People experience being new to a job and feeling like they’re not prepared, yet they have to ultimately go forward and do the job.

Scott shares the experience of falling short of his own expectations for himself as a junior Marine officer. He did not fail the test, but he knew he could do better. He ran often and far to overcome this. Eventually, he found CrossFit, but CrossFit was painful. Finding strength--as a senior Marine--restoked the fire of fitness while lessening the pain and stress of running and CrossFit.

Finally, Scott & Matt commiserate about their shared experience of being “exceptionally mediocre” and “painfully average” as athletes.

The views expressed do not necessarily represent the Department of Defense or the US government.

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