I've been thinking about what to share with you all here on my blog about my experiences for the past two months as I've trained to become a Navy Chief (E7). It's hard to even put into words and tell my family what happened and what I've learned. I'm not sure I can do it in the written word.
I have 35 new brothers and sisters, all of whom I love dearly and with whom I've worked and trained over the past two months. We were 36 distinct individuals with our own ideas about how to lead and get the job done, and when it came right down to it we pulled together and became one team. It was amazing to watch as we put ourselves aside, turned to each other and truly became a team.
One of the biggest lessons I learned is that I need to lead my Sailors with my heart. In the the end, the point of all this training was learning to let go and listen to my heart. That was the hardest part, because that meant letting go of all my pride and stripping my heart down to the barest bones of its existence so that what was most important could come through.
The Chiefs who trained us knew what it would take for us to get this point. It included physical training sessions, butt chewing sessions, team building exercises and assignments, crawling through the mud for two days in the woods, doing loads of pushups and flutter kicks on command and when we make mistakes, "sleeping" on the hard ground, singing lots of songs together, just plain being together for two long months, and sacrificing our summer for this training.
When all was said and done, I was covered from head to toe in orange and white mud, my hair was encrusted with twigs, grass, feathers and critters, my E-6 uniform was torn apart, and my heart was broken and put back together.
A good friend used to say all time, "Let go and let God." And in the end, this is how I finally found my heart and let it come through.
A friend asked me what the changes in my responsibilities are and the Chief's Creed is the best way to describe those changes.
The Chief's Creed
"During the course of this day, you have been caused to suffer indignities, to experience humiliations. This you have accomplished with rare good grace and therefore, we now believe it fitting to explain to you why this was done. There was no intent, no desire, to demean. Pointless as it may have seemed to you, there was a valid, time-honored reason behind every single deed, behind each pointed barb.
"By experience, by performance and by testing, you have been this day advanced to CHIEF PETTY OFFICER. You have one more hurdle to overcome. In the United States Navy and only in the United States Navy, E-7 carries unique responsibilities. No other armed force throughout the world carries the responsibilities nor grants privileges to its enlisted comparable to the privileges and responsibilities you are now bound to observe and expected to fulfill.
"Your entire way of life has now been changed. More will be expected of you, more will be demanded of you. Not because you are an E-7, but because you are now a CHIEF PETTY OFFICER. You have not merely been promoted one pay grade--you have joined an exclusive fraternity, and as in all fraternities, you have a responsibility to your brothers, even as they have a responsibility to you.
"Always bear in mind that no other armed force has rate or rank equivalent to that of the United States Navy. Granted that all armed forces have two classes of service: enlisted and commissioned, however, the United States Navy has the distinction of having four i.e., Enlisted, CHIEF PETTY OFFICER, Commissioned Warrant Officer and Commissioned Officer. This is why we in the United States Navy may maintain with pride our feelings of superiority once we have attained the position of E-7.
"These privileges, these responsibilities do not appear in print, they have no official standing, they cannot be referred to by name, number nor file. They exist because for over 200 years the CHIEFS before you have freely accepted responsibility beyond call of printed assignment, their actions and their performance, demanded the respect of their seniors as well as their juniors.
"It is now required that you be a fountain of wisdom, the ambassador of good will, the authority in personnel relations as well as their technical application. "Ask the Chief" is a household word in and out of the Navy. You are now the “CHIEF”.
"The exalted-position you have now received, and I use the word “exalted” advisedly, exists because of the attitude, the performance of the Chiefs before you. It shall exist only so long as you and your compatriots maintain these standards.
"So this is why you were caused to experience these things. You were subjected to humiliations to prove to you that humility is a good, a great, a necessary change which cannot mar you—which in fact, strengthens you, and in your future as a CHIEF PETTY OFFICER, you will be caused to suffer indignities, to experience humiliations far beyond those imposed upon you today. Bear them with the dignity, and with the same good grace, which you bore these today.
"It is our intention that you will never forget this day. It is our intention to test you--to try you--to accept you. Your performance today has assured us that you will wear your hat with aplomb brothers in arms before you.
"I take a deep, sincere pleasure in clasping your hand and acceptin you into our midst."