Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former U.S. general in charge of operations in Afghanistan, has contributed an article to LinkedIn about how to turn setbacks into success.
McChrystal was the commander of all coalition forces in Afghanistan for a little over a year until he tendered his resignation in June 2010 in response to Michael Hasting’s Rolling Stone article “The Runaway General.”
The article recorded a number of statements by McChrystal and his staff mocking senior government officials, including Vice President Biden. Although McChrystal was not quoted directly in the article, the responses of his staff reflected the perception of his disappointment with the Obama administration.
McChrystal acknowledged on LinkedIn that the article’s allegations hurt and that finding himself outside the military was disorientating. However, McChrystal ultimately managed to find a silver lining.
“I’d never been more tempted to feel like a victim — an emotion that could have easily consumed me,” he wrote, alluding to the possibility of a tell-all book or media coverage if he spoke out afterwards.
I was raised a soldier. I was familiar with weapons, tactics, and war. But years on the battlefield had taught me that soldiering is really about people. Weapons don’t dig muddy foxholes — people do. War plans don’t evacuate wounded comrades — people do. The Pentagon doesn’t create the brotherhood of the Army — people do. What I’d learned, above all other lessons, was the importance of those you surround yourself with. That lesson would be with me forever, uniform or no uniform.
My business, and my life, has been people. Like leaders in many walks of life, my business has been to serve with, and for, others. By focusing on this simple truth, and allowing it to guide my decisions through a difficult time, this curveball ultimately opened as many doors as it closed. From starting a company to teaching at Yale, the past few years have been full of incredible experiences shared, most importantly, with true and lifelong friends.
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