I woke up this morning in tears from a dream. I can’t remember the last time this happened. The dream came from the heavy emotions of yesterday; BGen Cooling’s last day.
I prayed for years to be blessed with the opportunity to be under the leadership of someone I respected, and admired…someone who inspired me. I’d pretty much given up on it though, especially, after arriving to MARFOREUR/AF in October 2013, and walking into the worst environment yet of my Marine Corps career. After a horrible year, I none the less agreed to stay for another year. I couldn’t bear the thought of not being there for the amazing Marines and civilians in the G-6 to provide them whatever level of buffering I could. Little did I know, staying another year was going to give me the opportunity to witness and benefit from what true leadership has to offer.
BGen Cooling is a demanding, genuine, caring and effective leader. He had a lot to tackle when he took command and a disgruntled, exhausted, and beat up staff to heal, rejuvenate, and motivate to perform. He achieved it all and within a year! It was inspiring to watch and learn from him.
At his “going away” yesterday, he reminded us all that he had slim to none chances of getting selected to General when he was selected. He was selected on his FIFTH time on the selection board, while on the verge of retirement. God’s hand was at play because he was undoubtedly the right man to come, and make the difference he made.
But the thing is, it’s not just the difference he made in the Command, but the huge difference he made in my life.
Remember when he brought me in to his office to discuss my future plans in the Marine Corps? At the time, I was basically ready to call it a day. The decision relied on whether or not the Lord planned to see me selected to LtCol…only to find out I was in fact in the below zone. Hate reliving this embarrassment. Anyway, something else happened instead that I never could have predicted. The Lord works in mysterious ways. His leadership example made me realize I owe it to the Marines to continue on and do what it takes to get promoted and get selected for Command.
His kind of leadership is what I’d been praying and waiting for
It took almost 20 years for me to experience great leadership. His kind of leadership is what I’d been praying and waiting for, I lead the way he does; I wanted to know what it was like to be under that kind of leadership. Being under the leadership of someone who truly cares, demands the best of his people, and exercises patience to mentor, correct and teach. He’s a genuine leader, unafraid to admit his shortcomings, weaknesses, and flaws; a man of integrity and faith.
There are way too many Marines out there who call themselves leaders, who aren’t, and who make the lives of the Marines under their charge miserable. I’ve always known this, but now that I’ve experienced real leadership; I know I have to pursue greater leadership opportunities because good leadership is the best thing I have to offer. Caring for Marines is as natural to me as breathing, so why would I let someone who doesn’t care as much lead Marines that could be under my charge?
In my dream, I let BGen Cooling down. The tears were from the heart break of letting someone I respect down, I woke up and my tears became tears of gratitude to have someone I respect at that level finally come into my life, and the sadness of having him leave. BGen Cooling showed me part of God’s will for my life, and I need to make sure I don’t let Him down.
It’s unbelievable how long God sometimes waits to answer a prayer, but how powerful the answer can turn out to be.
Finally getting to experience the leadership I’d ached for the last 20 years has shaped a huge decision in my life and furthered my commitment to the Marine Corps.