“Your position never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of so living your life that others may receive your orders without being humiliated.”
After the disaster that was the last batch, I reflected. A lot. I thought about my mistakes and the things that I have done to have affected their ways of being so aversely, that I thought I had definitely needed to change.
So this was my first (and proper!) batch. This was going to be my own, under my own tutelage. I thought hard and long before they came: what was it that needed change? How was this change to be implemented?
I prayed to God that firstly, their dignity as a fellow human being was being kept. It was more than just not “blindly” knock it down, it was them first understanding their mistakes, and then realising the extent of their mistakes, and making them comprehend the equity in punishment. When it came to making error, mistakes have to be punished.
Secondly, I wanted to ensure that learning comes first before anything else. I love it when AAR sessions are conducted, and they made the effort to introduce new (and sometimes effective) ideas and suggestions, not only toward the conduct, but towards how we should carry ourselves as a commander and as a leader.
I promised myself to ensure that for this batch, I was not just an office-r. I was to be their Officer: a motivating presence, whose sole responsibility is to ensure that training standards are met, firm and unyielding, yet compassionate and fun. I too promised myself that my recruits must have the chance of explaining themselves for their mistakes, and that they should be pointed the right way after that. No injustice must go unheard.
And yet, for me, the most scariest thing that I fear I cannot uphold is the promise I swore more than a year ago: “I lead my men by example.” This was the most difficult during field camp. As a commander, and an officer, privileges were given to us. I rejected most of them: where they were in the sun during training, I too had to be in the sun, where they were out in the rain, digging, I too had to be there in the rain, helping them and organising them. Where my platoon was, there I will be, and there I will support them with my body, soul and spirit.
The end result? Whilst I don’t boast, nor do I need the praise from them, a group of highly motivated and well-trained soldiers. Reading their appraisals and their reflections on their nine weeks in Kestrel made me doleful at our parting. Some were appreciative of the presence, of the dignity accorded to them, or at the spirit and fire that was passed from my commanders to them.
Many times in the batch I felt like giving up. It was too much to give, with no yields that were instant nor quite fast in manifesting. In my daily prayers to God, I asked for the strength to “plant the seed, and leave the sowing to You”. In the end, a simple, sincere “Good Morning Sir!”, and a “Thank You for everything, Sir!” made my day so much that I just looked forward to greeting them each day.
I too, also learnt the meaning of “partnership” in this batch. In OCS we were taught time and again about how the relationship between the Officer Corps and the WOSE corps was a special one: indeed nothing could have been achieved if not for their help. It was more than just a “partnership”, this was a collaboration. Between the jokes and the nonsense each time we unwind in the office after each day, where support was needed, all was there. Thanks guys.
Each time I witness the tossing of jockey caps, I get goosebumps. I couldn’t find a more profound experience in leading the two batches: they were simply rewarding, though it was more than challenging.
But none would be possible without the leave of God: to Him alone do I leave the answer of “Well, what now?”