Eric Greitens: Why I Became a Navy SEAL
Eric Greitens is a former Navy Seal and the current CEO of The Mission Continues. He is also the author of Heart and Fist: The Education of A Humanitarian, The Making of a Navy Seal, which shares lessons of leadership, ethics and inspiration from his service as a humanitarian and a soldier.
Eric is not your typical SEAL (is there such a thing?). He was a Rhodes and Truman Scholar, attended Duke and Oxford Universities, and his doctoral thesis at Oxford was entitled “Children First,” which investigated how international humanitarian organizations can best serve war-affected children. He continues to study and teach public service as a Senior Fellow at the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri and in the MBA Program at the Olin School of Business at Washington University.
Eric has done humanitarian work in Rwanda, Cambodia, Albania, Mexico, India, the Gaza Strip, Croatia, and Bolivia.
Eric is also a United States Navy SEAL officer, and he has deployed four times during the Global War on Terrorism: to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia.
After returning from Iraq, Eric donated his combat pay to found The Mission Continues. A non-profit organization, The Mission Continues empowers wounded and disabled veterans to begin new lives as citizen leaders here at home. He has been recognized by the Manhattan Institute as one of the five leading social entrepreneurs in the country.
Eric was appointed by George W. Bush as a White House Fellow in 2005.
Question: How do you teach young people the non-monetary value that they get from service rather than going to Wall Street? You made a decision to go into service and then you made that decision again when you came home from the military and you probably could have gone
anywhere you wanted. Why did you make the choices you’ve made and what can we learn from those choices, so far?
Eric Greitens: So, I had a moment in my life where I had finished my PhD, studying International Humanitarian work. And I had come to the end of my time at Oxford and I had three choices in front of me. One is that I could stay at Oxford and pursue a life of great academic freedom. Another choice was to go to a consulting firm which had offered me more money in my first year than both of my parents combined had ever made in a year or maybe in a couple of years. And then I had this third option from the United States Navy.
Now, the Navy said to me, they said that if you join, we’re going to pay you $1,332.60 per month. And they said, if you join, we guarantee that you will have zero minutes per day of privacy in your first few months. And they said, if you join, from the moment that you sign your name on the dotted line, you’re going to owe us eight years of service. In return, we’ll give you one and only one chance at basic Underwater Demolition Seal School. If you make it, then you’re going to be on your way to being a Seal officer and leader. But if you fail ,as over 80 percent of the candidates do, then you’re still going to owe us eight years and we’ll tell you where and how you’re gonna serve.
Now, in some way, it wasn’t such a compelling offer. But when I thought about that question in my own life, I realized that a university career at Oxford could give me a lot of freedom. The consulting firm could give me a lot of money, the Navy was going to give me very little, but would make me more. And they were going to give me the opportunity to be of service to others and to lead and to test myself. And so I think that whenever you or whenever we are
facing these decisions in our lives, if we ask ourselves the question, which decision, which path on our journey is going to make us more, I think we’ll always be happy with the choices that we make.
Former Navy SEAL says the Navy offered him the opportunity "to be of service to others and to lead and to test myself."
Taking time for thoughtful consideration has fallen out of fashion, writes Emily Chamlee-Wright. How can we restore good faith and good judgement to our increasingly polarized conversations?
- The clamor of the crowd during a heated discussion can make it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong. Adam Smith wrote that the loudness of blame can stupefy our good judgment.
- Equally, when we're talking with just one other person, our previous assumptions and knee-jerk reactions can cloud our good judgment.
- If you want to find clarity in moments like that, Emily Chamlee-Wright recommends practicing the presumption of good faith. That means that we should presume, unless we have good evidence to the contrary, that the other person's intent is not to deceive or to offend us, but to learn our point of view.
Americans consume the most toilet paper in the world but it's a very wasteful product to manufacture, according to the numbers.
- Toilet paper consumption is unsustainable and requires a tremendous amount of resources to produce.
- Americans use the most toilet paper in the world and have been hoarding it due to coronavirus.
- Alternatives to toilet paper are gaining more popularity with the public.
What factors explain the gender pay gap?
- The report was conducted by the investment firm Arjuna Capital, which has been publishing the Gender Pay Scorecard for the past three years.
- Only three companies — Starbucks, Mastercard and Citigroup — received an "A", as defined by the report's methodology.
- It's likely that discrimination explains part of the gender pay gap, but it's a complex issue that often gets oversimplified.