My wife and I were reminiscing about my Navy days. That is where my mind is most of the time now. I remembered how often, as a Gunner's Mate and as a Command Master Chief, I was punished in public and praised in private. Now, I hope most of us know that is the opposite way we should do things. But the fact is, a good performer seldom gets praise or even acknowledgement of a job well done but always gets told when he or she falls short of some imaginary mark!
I know many in the Chief's Mess that said, upon retiring or transferring: "I never knew they appreciated me until I left!" It is somewhat the same in the civilian world. Especially if your next immediate superior is incompetent! Why, because HE or SHE takes credit for what you do and nobody up the Chain of Command knows it was your idea or effort or exceptional work effort that solved the issue or completed the mission. I lived in that Hell for ten years of my Civil Service career. Many time, I went job hunting, but always stayed because I loved what I did and the people that worked with me. My immediate supervisor was the issue and I learned to live on personal pride instead of corporate praise,
Leadership and not management is what is missing in the military and the civilian world. It is the difference between doing things right and doing the right thing! Another old Navy saying is; Those that can't, teach! Well, I learned that in the world of DOD Civil Service, those who can't, MANAGE!
Just the same, on a ship, the outstanding performer in the Chief's mess is a target not an example! Since all the Chiefs in each of the three pay grades compete for the top spot at eval time, the Chief's Mess is a lion's den instead of a band of brothers. High Year Tenure, promotion to E-8 or E-9, and even promotions to LDO or Warrant have all turned the Fellowship of Chief's into a cut throat band of pirates. And the one who does extremely well needs to sleep with both eyes open.
When I was on Active Duty, the Navy had done away with E-9 evals. That made sense. Now, if you wanted to go LDO or Warrant, the Command would do an eval. Evals were also done for special performance. But who is the Master Chief competing with? But now, Command Master Chief bills are competitive and at sea, in rate billets are few and far between for Master Chiefs. So, if you want to stay on active duty, CMC may be the only way. So, Master Chiefs are now in the fight too.
A kind word goes a long way in calming the waters. Being able to come into the sanctity of the Chief's Mess used to be the only way I could relax and recharge. Yes, we picked on each other, in a brotherly way. But we worked together as a team. But, at the end of my career, I saw that change and the competition, sniping, and back stabbing take over. Especially among the younger Chiefs.
When I was at NAVSEACENLANT/FTSCLANT/MARMC I had a Chief publish an article I wrote with another retired Chief, as his own. He got a medal for that article and never looked back, even though I challenged him on the fact that he had plagiarized my work and the work of another retired Chief. That plagiarizing Chief actually made E-9 I am sorry to say. But, I do believe he exemplifies the new Chief.
I was never looking for praise, because if I had to seek it, it had no value. But, there were times that simple recognition of sacrifice and effort would have gone a long way in making my life better. AS I sit in my power recliner, taking more pills that I can count, and unable to do much of anything that resembles physical work of mental effort, I realize that all the time I spent away from my family, on ships, working, was not appreciated and maybe not even profitable. Things look different from this end of the tunnel. The light was an oncoming train!