Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ethos - Our Guiding Beliefs

"Directed inward, the Warrior Ethos grounds us, fortifies, us, and focuses our resolve." - Steven Pressfield in Warrior Ethos
During the latest NWCG Leadership Subcommittee meeting, discussion revolved around the term ethos. Merriam-Webster defines ethos as "the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution."

Fellow blogger Billy Schmidt showcased Steven Pressfield's new book, The Warrior Ethos (available for free in Lightbox format on his website). Many will recognize Pressfield from his book Gates of Fire which is featured in our Professional Reading Program library. Pressfield does an incredible job of explaining the "warrior ethos" concept. I suggest that all wildland firefighters read this short, 112-page book filled with understandable vignettes as a background for understanding our own wildland fire leadership ethos--Leading in the Wildland Fire Service.

Here are some thoughts/quotes from Warrior Ethos for consideration and discussion here or with your team:
  • The Warrior Ethos is not, at bottom, a manifestation only of male aggression or of the masculine will to dominance. Its foundation is society-wide. It rests on the will and resolve of mothers and wives and daughters--and, in no few instance, of female warriors as well--to defend their children, their home soil and the values of their culture.
  • No one is born with the Warrior Ethos, though many of its tenets appear naturally in young men and women of all cultures.
  • Courage--in particular, stalwartness in the face of death--must be considered the foremost warrior virtue.
  • Courage is inseparable from love and leads to what may arguably be the noblest of all warrior virtues: selflessness.
  • The group comes before the individual.
  • The interesting thing about peoples and cultures from rugged environments is that they almost never chose to leave them.
  • Selflessness produces courage because it binds men together and proves to each individual that he is not alone.
  • The feat that inspires witnesses to honor it is almost invariably one of selflessness.
  • The will to fight, the passion to be great, is an indispensable element of the Warrior Ethos. It is also a primary quality of leadership, because it inspires men and fires their hearts with ambition an the passion to go beyond their own limits.
  • A warrior culture trains for adversity.
  • “This man was a fighter when he was my age. He has taken the lessons he learned as a warrior dueling external enemies and is turning them to use now as he fights internal foes to achieve mastery over himself.”~Alexander the Great
  • The hardest thing in the world is to be ourselves.

Source: The Warrior Ethos. Steven Pressfield. Black Irish Entertainment, LLC. 2011.

No comments: