Truth, Duty and Valour

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Philippe-Michel Labrecque-Saucier

I would start this by asking you (officer cadets) a simple question: why are you here at the college? Maybe some would answer that they are here for the scholarship and sports. Maybe others would mention their particular interest in a weapon system or would talk about the traveling that comes with this lifestyle. These are good answers to describe your path, but make no mistake: the end state is to form you to lead people into war to protect the interest of the nation. In order to do so, you must understand the very simple yet challenging concept of leading by example. For a system to work, every part must be in its place according to its main purpose. However, a system composed of humans does not answer to simple rules; it must be inspired. This is where your ethical code becomes very important. You must always reflect the values of our institution. By observing and living according to high standards, your men and women will trust you in doing the right thing. In difficult times like war and distress, right and wrong can become blurry and difficult to discern. In these times, the confidence and trust that your men and women put into your decision will be priceless. It will enable your organization to stay united and focused behind its mission.

A rank is just an insignia put on a chest; the real leaders are the ones who gain the respect of their subordinates and the trust of their superiors by proving times and times again that they will do what is expected from them; always reflecting the values of their institution. This code needs to sink in you to really change your perception. At the beginning, you will follow rules. With time, you will see that your motto inspired the right thing to do, whether you decided to follow it or ignore it. Eventually, you will feel it, and you will be able to teach it and explain the purpose behind meaningful words like Truth, Duty and Valour.

This is not to say that you need to be perfect and never make mistakes. However, an observed ethic code will ensure that you will come forward and admit them, without excuses, and carry on. By standing for your action, you will show that you are ready to give the truth precedence over your personal interest. I think this is how you can overcome personality conflict and be a great leader for all; people will not follow you; they will follow what you stand for.

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