Today, I closed my Fraternity forever.
I took down the Charter, that was hung up ninety years ago with the names of the young men that chose to forge their own destiny and build something new. That took risks and built something.
This organization produced Generals and Admirals, small business Founders and Fortune 500 CEOs. It created architects and writers and engineers and billionaires. But most of all, it created leaders and thinkers, good men that would be fathers and uncles and set the example for future generations.
Yes, there are some external circumstances that may have accelerated the last stages of their fall. But in the end, the end came about because of one thing: a decline in standards.
Jocko Willink talks about holding the line, not giving in one iota on our personal integrity and excellence. That we as leaders must coach and inspire the next generation to hold that line of always doing their best, and striving to improve because we are modeling this in all of our actions and interactions.
This is where we failed. I say we because I too was complicit in the decline and fall.
Even holding myself to the highest personal standards, I failed to pass those standards on properly. To insist those that came after had a similar vision to that which fired me and made me desire to be better every day, to work and sacrifice and grow on multiple levels. To build my personal and technical and professional skills, to communicate what and why. To coach and guide in addition to doing.
I failed these young men, and the future ones that will not have the opportunities to learn what I did, to have the cradle of leadership rocked for them by those that came before and build off the foundations previously laid for their personal and professional development. These and all that could come after lose out on the chance to be part of something stretching back almost a century, to have the potential to build into the next decade and century something holding the core of the old and evolving with the world to be better. Bigger. Brighter. A lamp of excellence, that helps them as individuals and an organization shine, unlock their talents, and push them to excellence as it did me and others for generations before.
We failed as a group to enculture the new members. To make them hold the line.
They didn’t even know about the line, because we failed them as mentors.
And now the line that stretched back almost a century is broken.
John Maxwell claims that the true measure of a leader is the leaders that they train. Making the next generation better than we are is what all parents and managers and coaches should strive for, yet too often we fail because we are too busy doing instead of teaching. Take the time to not only execute on your plan for greatness but to create a legacy that lasts beyond your time.
Do not let your standards slip, be it in the office or the gym or relationships. Hold fast to that vision of excellence and strive for it in all things, what the ancient Greeks called “arete”. Constantly give your best and live with passion, but make sure the younger eyes not only see it but learn it and live it. Pass it on.
A Chapter closed.
Open a new one and write a brighter future by not just burning bright but lighting other lamps.