In the UK, what do you tend to think about when asked about ‘military excellence’?
There is only one obvious answer unless you are prone to regimental/squadron/ship jealousy, isn’t there. The Special Air Service, of course. Tales of derring-do abound, but generally speaking we are awestruck about their training/selection procedures as much as we are their expertise, mainly because if they tell us what they do they’ll have to kill us. In the absence of operational disclosure, then, it’s their selection that remains legendary.
For those who know not, the SAS was formed as a commando-style unit operating behind enemy lines during the WWII desert campaign in North Africa. It was the idea of Col David Stirling and unless they’ve secretly changed it, their HQ is still referred to as the Stirling Lines.
I read this on LinkedIn the other day:
“As an alternative to ‘NY resolutions’ here are the Four Tenets by Col Sir David Stirling (founder of the SAS). Stick to them and it’ll be a good year.
- The unrelenting pursuit of excellence.
- The highest standards of self-discipline.
- Tolerate no sense of class.
- Humility and humour at all times.”
(That last one may be why they can get away with calling their officers Ruperts.)
I am pleased and abashed to say that The Three Resolutions are partly paralleled by those principles. The Four Tenets directly reflect the first two Resolutions. Remember, the first Two Resolutions state:
First Resolution – “To overcome the restraining forces of appetites and passions, I resolve to exercise self-discipline and self-denial.”
Second Resolution – “To overcome the restraining forces of pride and pretension, I resolve to work on character and competence.”
Stirling’s First Tenet matches the intent and practice of the ‘competence’ element of the Second Resolution, doesn’t it? The Second Tenet matches the First, eh? And there is a definite correlation between the ‘character’ element of the Second Resolution and Stirling’s Third and Fourth Tenet.
So if the officers, NCOs and men of the SAS think the Three Resolutions are sound – it is the Special Air SERVICE, so that’s the Third Resolution covered after all – then isn’t it a good idea to try our best to do the same in our own fields of endeavour.
Which is why I am abashed, because seeking perfection in execution of the 3Rs is not ‘easy’. In fact, while trying to live up to ‘my’ 3Rs can’t honestly match even the physical expectations of an SAS applicant, it is still hard.
Nevertheless, it’s worth trying. So, here’s my advice this week.
Be like Rupert.