Byron's Babbles

JROTC – Leadership Training For Stars

Posted in JROTC, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on November 21, 2019

DSC01164This morning I had the opportunity to be at the Review Stand with Major General (retired), Bill Wells, at Thomas Carr Howe Community High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. We were observing the cadets of the T.C. Howe Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program do a Pass and Review. It was very inspirational to be a part of this alongside a Two Star General. General Wells did a great job speaking to the students. He told them that JROTC teaches students to be leaders, whether they go into the military or not. Regardless, General Wells, urged the students to use the opportunity to become self-disciplined, respectful, and responsible. These skills lead to success not only in high school but in college and adult life too.

Having now worked in two schools with JROTC Programs, I am a huge fan. In fact, I always introduce JROTC as the flagship program of the school. Every high school would be serving their students well to have a JROTC program. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that every student should be in JROTC, but the world would be a better place if every student at least had the opportunity if she/he so desired to take part. Additionally, research nationally shows that JROTC students tend to have better attendance, higher graduation rates, and higher grade point averages than their contemporaries. Having worked with students involved with JROTC in two urban school settings, I can attest this is true.

A20F47D8-7D84-4CF0-B6DB-E6A514D6B30AFor those JROTC students that join the military, they can enter at a higher rank. That can mean higher pay. Also, if the student goes to college they can enter at a higher rank as well. The program also stresses integrity and personal accountability – traits that students will need to compete in a diverse and global workforce. JROTC also enables students to become good citizens. I believe JROTC teaches civics by actually “doing”. Just as our country is “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” JROTC is run by the students for the students – of course with the leadership of great instructors like Senior Army Instructor Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Clayton Edens, and Master Sergeant (retired) John Boone, who also model all these desired traits for our students.

The list goes on and on of the skills that are developed and honed of JROTC members. Here are a few others that come to mind:

  • Learning how to think logically and critically
  • Effective communication – both written and oral communication
  • Learn the value of teamwork and how to be an effective team member
  • Working cooperatively with others
  • Community involvement and volunteerism
  • Study skills, goal setting, and focus

These skills help people thrive not only in the military but in many of today’s in-demand jobs. Employers look for these skills in employees. JROTC makes school work be like real life. It might seem as if I am biased toward this program; you would be right. I have seen first hand the great things that can happen for students involved in this program. So glad I had the good fortune to take part in such an inspiring JROTC activity today and have this opportunity to reflect on the incredible value that JROTC brings to students.

Contrarian Thinker

One day, this past week, I was introduced to a group I was speaking to as a “Contrarian Thinker.” Honestly, I wasn’t exactly sure what that was. After doing a little research, however, I found that this was probably a pretty accurate description. Contrarian thinkers are trailblazers. ✔️Check. They are polarizing visionaries who are just as likely to be called crazy before brilliant. ✔️Check. Contrarian thinkers have the foresight to see hidden opportunities and seize them when the right moment presents itself. I would like to think I do this, but I’m not so arrogant to say check on this one.

Never forget, the risks of going against the crowd are greater, but so are the rewards. The rewards of innovating, curiosity, and an imagination gone wild are always worth the effort. An important fact for a contrarian thinker to remember is that no one will be expecting you or your ideas to succeed, which is one of the reasons you will.

Then, last night as I was flipping through the channels (are they still called channels on the tv?) I stopped on Shark Tank long enough to hear Mark Cuban described by one of the other Sharks as a contrarian thinker. So, off I went to learn more about his storied history.

While reading 9 Critical Turning Points That Shaped Mark Cuban’s Extraordinary Career by Drake Baer, I found that Mark Cuban is a contrarian thinker. One of my favorite quotes from Mark Cuban in the article is, “The ‘sprint’ doesn’t have a finish line. There’s never a point where you can say, ‘We’ve made it.'”

The more I studied this topic, however, I really found that many contrarian thinkers always find an opposing view. I don’t think that is me at all. Nor do I believe that would be very productive. A more productive view would be one of “independent thinker.” My takeaway to share with you is that rather than always being swayed by consensus view, or consistently being a contrarian, we should strive to be independent thinkers. I always strive, and would encourage you to as well, look at different perspectives, and sometimes find a unique angle.

Remember, if you think the same way as everyone else, it is very difficult to outperform them.