The 12th Tenet — Earn and Honor Rank
Earn and Honor Rank
The wood chosen to represent this tenet is Redwood – The redwood tree is the grandfather of trees. He stands tall and straight, above all others. He is long lived and considered wise. Redwoods attain a stature unparrelled by any other living thing. They have earned a place in our lore by virtue of their longevity and stature.
The symbol for this tenet is the Eagle – A universal symbol of leadership. The eagle soars high where he can oversee his domain and easily swoop low to the ground to gather what he needs. Like the redwood the eagle has become iconic.
There are at least two ways to view this tenet. One is the militaristic notion of following the chain of command. Do what you are told and only what you are told. Don’t question authority. Follow your orders. Anyone who knows me knows I do not prescribe to this interpretation and in MDI we have moved away from the “doing as you are told” model and it is no longer acceptable to do something solely because this is how it has always been done.
For any entity to survive there needs to be some semblance of order, there does not, however, need to be blind unquestioning devotion. If there were, you’d have a cult. Here are some definitions:
Earn – to acquire through service
Honor – to respect greatly and hold in high esteem.
Rank – a series of things in a line; a degree of dignity, eminence.
These definitions allow us to embrace another way to look at this tenet.
Find your place in the legacy of men.
Each of us is part of a legacy. There are men who have come before us and there will be those who come after. Where do we fit it in? Will you be remembered as someone who gave or someone who took? Earn your place in MDI by virtue of your way of being, you accountability, integrity and passion. And here is the important part: honor that rank by continuing to adhere to those things once you have been placed in apposition of leadership.
The honor is not what followers bestow upon you; it is what you hold in the space as a leader. You honor your men for being good followers and watching their back. You honor the trust they have given to you by holding it sacred and not acting for your own personal benefit but for the good of the community. Being a leader does not mean you are entitled to anything. To honor your title you most hold yourself to a higher standard.
Leadership is hard but the rewards are great. Like a redwood, the longer you maintain your position they more you solidify your place on this earth. The respect and support you have engendered from your men will pay dividends.
I have often believed that the best part of being a leader is stepping down. If you have done your job well, you still have the mantle of respect from your mine but you are no longer looked upon as the man who needs to get the job done. That freedom often allows me to be more effective. Since I am not in the heat of battle I have the opportunity to bring perspective and my wisdom and experience to the process. However, to honor my rank I need to be vigilant and provide my insight to the current leader and offer it up just as that, my opinion. If he chooses not to follow my advice, I need to let it go. He is deserving of the chance to learn his listens. Things need not always go my way. There is nothing in my mind more dishonorable than a shadow leader, like Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello. Someone sitting at the King’s feet and forever whispering in his ear.
Simply put, having earned my seat at the table, I must respect those who came before me and honor those who will follow by leaving my seat just a little better than I found it.