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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Fear of Success

Part of my job is presenting college students with the opportunity to become Army officers after they graduate. This isn't for everyone, and I don't waste my time trying to convince people who are not interested.
What is so weird is how, when many of these kids get to the point where they can sign up, or just after they sign up, they bail. Their reasons are not what you'd think, "I don't want to go to war" or "I don't want the committment". Instead, I get reasons that reflect a fear of success.

"I think I'd rather be an enlisted man."
"I'm confortable being just a sergeant in the National Guard."
"I don't know if I am high-speed enough."
"I can't make good decisions for myself, so I shouldn't be an officer."

They seem terrified that they might do something that no one in their family has ever done, and get out of the financial and cultural hole their family and friends are in, and settle instead for mediocrity.

It is such a weird thing - I fought to get into my college and get my commission as an officer. I never truly considered quitting, although the committment gave me pause once. When a kid says, at the moment of decision, "I might not want to do this", I want to say, "Pound sand! America deserves better!" That line might work for West Point, but the fact is that I have had the opportunity to watch kids who seemed to be pretty weak at the outset mature into sharp graduating cadets who will be great officers. That's why I stick with it.

I changed the comments to allow anonymous post comments - I didn't realize that people had to register to post...not that I think anyone is reading, anyway. I also added Jay Cost's Horserace Blog to my links - he has great statistical analysis and commentary.


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