The first skirmish I have ever been in about three or four weeks after my first tour of Iraq. It’s 2007 at the time of the surge. This is the deadliest year of the war and we are in the death triangle right in Anbar province. Up to this point, we were bombed several times, blown up on the roads. One of my teammates has already been killed by a bomb on the side of the road. So, we saw some action, but we did not participate in a real knockdown lingering firefight. And one morning we were ambushed. One of my buddies was shot in the throat at the start of the fight. And the real shootout begins. There are about 40 of us, and I don’t know how many bad guys there were.
I led the Marines through an open field, 150 yards, out of machine gun fire because we had to rejoin the rest of the platoon and evacuate this wounded man. How did any of us muster the courage to do this?
Obviously there was this love. No one hesitated for a second to run across the field because Nathan was bleeding. But in reality, love is not something that directly leads to courage. Love truly creates that sense of security for each of us. The security was psychological and emotional.
It’s always strange for people to hear a Marine talk about psychological safety because it’s like awakening liberal sentiment. But this is real. The five of us who fled across the field knew that if we got hit, 30 Marines would line up to run out and grab us. At that moment we felt relatively safe. The best leaders create a sense of security in the team they lead. And I think this is what paves the way for innovation and the drive to do more.
How did the Rubicon team start?
October 24, 2009 was my last day of ministry. I immediately applied to several business schools. January rolls around and I get a rejection letter from Stanford that pisses me off. And a couple of days later, an earthquake hits Haiti. I felt the urge to do something, so we went to Haiti and thought that our experience as military veterans would help us to work effectively there. We have cured hundreds, if not thousands of patients. Some of them would not be alive if we were not. It was just post-apocalyptic. But our military training allowed us to be very good at navigating the situation after natural disasters. So we went back and just didn’t stop.
You talked about the love and security it creates. What does it look like inside a non-profit organization or company?
Empathy is the foundation of loving leadership – understanding your people and compassion for who they are, what they have experienced, what in their life has brought them to the point in time where they follow you and invest their money in your life. Hands.