Friday, January 29, 2016

Lessons from the Janitor by Col. James Moschgat

                                                           crawford.jpg (15249 bytes)
William 'Bill' Crawford certainly was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our squadron janitor.
While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or never-ending leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory.
Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, "G' morning!" in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties.

Why? Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job-he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed. Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved. After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours.
Maybe it was his physical appearance that made him disappear into the background. Bill didn't move very quickly and, in fact, you could say he even shuffled a bit, as if he suffered from some sort of injury. His gray hair and wrinkled face made him appear ancient to a group of young cadets. And his crooked smile, well, it looked a little funny. Face it, Bill was an old man working in a young person's world. What did he have to offer us on a personal level?

Finally, maybe it was Mr. Crawford's personality that rendered him almost invisible to the young people around him. Bill was shy, almost painfully so. He seldom spoke to a cadet unless they addressed him first, and that didn't happen very often. Our janitor always buried himself in his work, moving about with stooped shoulders, a quiet gait, and an averted gaze. If he noticed the hustle and bustle of cadet life around him, it was hard to tell.

So, for whatever reason, Bill blended into the woodwork and became just another fixture around the squadron. The Academy, one of our nation's premier leadership laboratories, kept us busy from dawn till dusk. And Mr. Crawford...well, he was just a janitor.

That changed one fall Saturday afternoon in 1976. I was reading a book about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I stumbled across an incredible story.
On Sept. 13, 1943, a Private William Crawford from Colorado, assigned to the 36th Infantry Division, had been involved in some bloody fighting on Hill 424 near Altavilla, Italy.
The words on the page leapt out at me: "in the face of intense and
overwhelming hostile fire, with no regard for personal safety, on his own initiative, Private Crawford single-handedly attacked fortified enemy positions." It continued, "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United States."
"Holy cow," I said to my roommate, "you're not going to believe this, but I think our janitor is a Medal of Honor winner." We all knew Mr. Crawford was a WWII Army vet, but that didn't keep my friend from looking at me as if I was some sort of alien being. Nonetheless, we couldn't wait to ask Bill about the story on Monday.
We met Mr. Crawford bright and early Monday and showed him the page in question from the book, anticipation and doubt on our faces. He starred at it for a few silent moments and then quietly uttered something like, "Yep, that's me."
Mouths agape, my roommate and I looked at one another, then at  the book, and quickly back at our janitor. Almost at once we both stuttered, "Why didn't you ever tell us about it?" He slowly replied after some thought, "That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago."
I guess we were all at a loss for words after that. We had to hurry off to class and Bill, well; he had chores to attend to. However, after that brief exchange, things were never again the same
around our squadron. Word spread like wildfire among the cadets that we had a hero in our midst- Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had won the Medal! Cadets who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile and a respectful, "Good morning, Mr. Crawford."
Those who had before left a mess for the "janitor" to clean up started taking it upon themselves to put things in order. Most cadets routinely stopped to talk to Bill throughout the day and we even began inviting him to our formal squadron functions. He'd show up dressed in a conservative dark suit and quietly talk to those who approached him, the only sign of his heroics being a simple blue, star-spangled lapel pin.
Almost overnight, Bill went from being a simple fixture in our squadron to one of our teammates.
Mr. Crawford changed too, but you had to look closely to notice the difference. After that fall day in 1976, he seemed to move with more purpose, his shoulders didn't seem to be as stooped, he met our greetings with a direct gaze and a stronger 'good morning' in return, and he flashed his crooked smile more often.

The squadron gleamed as always, but everyone now seemed to notice it more. Bill even got to know most of us by our first names, something that didn't happen often at the Academy. While no one ever formally acknowledged the change, I think we became Bill's cadets and his squadron.
As often happens in life, events sweep us away from those in our past. The last time I saw Bill was on graduation day in June 1977. As I walked out of the squadron for the last time, he shook my hand and simply said, "Good luck, young man."
With that, I embarked on a career that has been truly lucky and blessed. Mr. Crawford continued to work at the Academy and eventually retired in his native Colorado where he resides today, one of four Medal of Honor winners living in a small town.
A wise person once said, "It's not life that's important, but those you meet along the way that make the difference." Bill was one who made a difference for me.
While I haven't seen Mr. Crawford in over twenty years,
he'd probably be surprised to know I think of him often.  Bill Crawford, our janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons. Here are ten I'd like to share with you.

Be Cautious of Labels. Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential. Sadly, and for a long time, we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, "Hey, he's just an Airman." Likewise, don't tolerate the O-1, who says, "I can't do that, I'm just a lieutenant."

Everyone Deserves Respect. Because we hung the 'janitor' label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around us. He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor winner. Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team.

Courtesy Makes a Difference. Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position. Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team.  When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory 'hellos' to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly changed. It made a difference for all of us.

Take Time to Know Your People. Life in the military is hectic, but that's no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with. For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it. Who are the heroes that walk in your midst?

Anyone Can Be a Hero. Mr. Crawford certainly didn't fit anyone's standard definition of a hero. Moreover, he was just a private on the day he won his Medal.

Don't sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls. On the other hand, it's easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don't ignore the rest of the team. Today's rookie could and should be tomorrow's superstar.

Leaders Should Be Humble. Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your 'hero meter' on today's athletic fields. End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we've come to expect from sports greats. Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics. Leaders would be well-served to do the same.

Life Won't Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve. We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right? However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don't come your way. Perhaps
you weren't nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you thought you should-don't let that stop you.

Don't pursue glory; pursue excellence. Private Bill Crawford didn't pursue glory; he did his duty and then swept floors for a living.

No Job is Beneath a Leader. If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity? Think about it.

Pursue Excellence. No matter what task life hands you, do it well. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be." Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home.

Life is a Leadership Laboratory. All too often we look to some school or PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory.

Those you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look and listen.

I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people. I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of
the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught. Don't miss your opportunity to learn.

Bill Crawford was a janitor. However, he was also a teacher, friend, role model and one great American hero. Thanks, Mr. Crawford, for some valuable leadership lessons.

Monday, January 25, 2016

That's Interesting, Why Would You Say That?


You're having a pleasant conversation when suddenly someone verbally attacks you (or someone else). They say something that causes you to become defensive or makes you wonder; WOW, why did THAT come out of their mouth?!

Here's an example: "Craig that's a stupid rule! What idiot came up with THAT?"

A knee-jerk reaction could cause you to get defensive, start back-peddling, arguing or trying to prove your point. Maybe you take another direction by trying to discount others in attempt to come out on top of the "debate."

...OR you can simply say:

 "That's interesting, why would you say something like that?"  

...and then listen to what the person says. 

After the person says what they need to you can then reflect it back to them. That may sound something like this:

"So what I'm hearing you say is this (repeat back to them what you thought they are said). Is that right?"

This puts the spotlight back on the person who started the verbal dog fight. It also shows a certain amount of empathy and respect toward the person who made the comment; by giving them a chance to explain their statement. It also gives you the time and emotional space to slow things down and think, while cutting through the smoke screen of someone trying to hi-jack a conversation. It can gently expose an emotional attack if that was the intent of the individual. This simple method is a good way to  get the conversation back on track.

Try it the next time you get the opportunity! You'll find it to be a very useful tool!

All the best,

Friday, January 22, 2016

Allies vs. Enemies


It's a simple concept. Treat someone like crap and there is a good chance that they won't appreciate it and in turn, not think or act so kindly toward you when given the chance. I find it interesting how after some people gain some level of notoriety, popularity or influence no matter how significant, it's easy to develop a superiority complex. They may begin to think of themselves as elite. Not long after that, they start to treat others who aren't in their click or status differently, disrespectfully. Treating other people poorly for whatever reason is a recipe for more conflict with them as well as within ourselves.

We've all seen it back in our school days: The cool kids treating the other kids who weren't as popular crappy. You may see the cool kids laughing behind the backs of kids who weren't in the popular group or people being made fun of openly.We do this as adults too. It could be at work, in our family, extracurricular activities and/or in our socioeconomic stratified groups. This is toxic to everyone.

I must admit, there is nothing that pushes my buttons as much as someone I think is being a bully, disrespectful or belittling toward others. I have to check myself sometimes, because if I feel I am being treated this way or I see someone else on the receiving end of this, I can get a bit riled up, so I have to make sure I'm not making something more than what it is or over reacting to what I think I'm seeing or experiencing.

Who likes being treated like crap? No one. Treating someone as if they are worthless or expendable is not a good way to deal with conflict or build camaraderie in a group. Being exclusive rather than inclusive is not a good way to develop goodwill. Yes, if you have enough influence you may find a group of people who will kiss your ass. There are plenty of them. If that is what you're looking for, enjoy yourself, have fun. However there will only be a few that are loyal for  the right reasons, so don't get so full of yourself that you become blinded by your own ego. Further, don't take people's loyalty and attention for granted, it may backfire on you. Be respectful, humble and kind when it comes to others or you may lose the very thing you were trying to build or benefit from. Even in the midst of success you will probably find yourself alone.

Something for all of us to consider: Be mindful of how we treat others as well as who we choose to surround ourselves with.

Keep going,

Friday, January 1, 2016

RGI / Jack Hoban: 2016 Message

Hello Gang~

Many of you know of my involvement with Resolution Group International and Jack Hoban. I thought some of you would be interested in Jack's 2016 message, so I re-posted it for you. 





New Year's Message

January 1, 2016

Dear Friends:

Happy New Yearwelcome to the year of the Monkey!


Actually it is the year of the Fire Monkey. I have heard that 2016 is a year for taking risks and being rebellious, a year where agile, inventive minds, sheer guts and bravado will win out. It will require courage, action and true devotion, but it is a year to pursue even the wildest of dreams. 2016 is a time to start new endeavors, for they are destined to succeed under Monkey’s influence. But a word to the wise: those who can hang on for the wild ride, outsmart the confidence-trickster, and bluff their way through will come out unscathed. Those who are dull or slow witted, and can’t handle the stress will come unglued.
Boy, it sounds like a perfect year for the budoka! I'm ready. How about you?

So what happened this past year? I did a bit less international traveling and fewer martial arts seminars in 2015 (you'll hear about the reason below). But we did get to go to Switzerland and Germany last Spring.

Buyῡ Zurich with Phil Bradshaw, Murray Taylor and Steffen & Sabine Fröhlich

Steffen & I yucking it up in Germany

I also attended the BuyuKai at Castle Kattlenberg in Germany last summer. I have participated in BuyuKai a number of times. This is a GREAT event and I encourage all my martial arts friends to attend. It is organized by Steffen & Sabine Fröhlich. I think there were buyῡ from over 14 countries there last yearand some top-notch coaching on everything from the basics to pretty advanced stuff.

BuyuKai Germany

BuyuKai info here: See you there next July!

We enjoyed another Buyῡ Camp East in New Jersey.

BYCE 2015

Lot's more Buyῡ Camp East pictures HERE!!

We also had training seminars in NJ, California and Florida.

I was able to visit Japan to train with my teacher, Soke Masaaki Hatsumi, and many buyῡ martial arts friends from around the world. As is the tradition, I led the group in "Happy Birthday," and a toast to his health and longevity. Facebook video here.

Sensei, with Doug, Hiromi (how does she get in every picture!?) and Sheila

Happy Birthday, Sensei! (Photo by Sheila Haddad)

The new Hombu Dojo in Atago. Nice!

Great training, as usual, and some fun chats in between!

Several of us headed to the onsen (hot springs) in Hakone for some soaking, shochu and relaxing. Congrats to Josh on the "big" win!

Miki leading the way to the onsen!

And there are many more pictures on our Buyῡ Facebook page here.
Check here for upcoming seminars in 2016.

My book "The Ethical Warrior," is still doing very well. It was recently selected for inclusion on the Marine Corps Commandant's reading list. Click it if you want to read it.

You may know that Bruce Gourlie and I wrote a follow-up book for protector professionals called "The Ethical Protector." Check it out!

In 2015 we released an old video I did back in the 90's on Bujinkan basics. I had a laugh looking back at some of the footage boy I'm getting old! 

But there is some pretty good stuff on there, especially for people working on the basics. And you'll see some of your favorite buyῡ on there lending a hand. You can get it here, or on

I did more teaching with Dr. Steve Olson at the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility. Steve and I have been applying the Marine Corps Ethical Warrior principles and Robert L. Humphrey's Dual Life Value theory of human nature to business leadership and ethics. This is very exciting work (and a little controversial) as it runs quite contrary to what is being taught presently in business schools. 

Our venture is called the Ethics Innovation Group (EIG). Steve recently moved to Kennesaw State University in Atlanta. He and I are really looking forward to seeing how this evolves in 2016.

We are still working on a business book based on the Ethical Warrior concepts! I know, I said that last year, too, but these things take time...

For several years now I have been talking about Resolution Group International. As you may know, RGI is made up of military and law enforcement professionals who teach how to resolve conflict under stress. The RGI curriculum extrapolates on the work I have done with Robert L. Humphrey and the Marines in the areas of ethics, conflict communication, physical protection skills and leadership. We had 6 more RGI Conflict Resolution Courses in 2015. We trained officers from a number of different agencies, but many of the attendees came from one particular department.

Earlier I mentioned that I didn't travel as much to do martial arts seminars in 2015. Here's the reason: In April I received a phone call from the Camden County Police Department (CCPD). Camden has the dubious honor of being the most dangerous city in America per capita (see article). The Chief, Scott Thomson, had spun up a whole new police force and wanted RGI to train them as "Ethical Protectors." 

We have been doing just that. Click here for some news coverage on the Ethical Protector Program.

But it takes more than just training. Changing the culture of an organization such as CCPD requires a "top-down, inside-out approach." We started by creating a "mentor cadre" consisting of 20 of the best, brightest and most respected officers in the department.

The mentors have been working with us to train (and most importantly to sustain the training of) the rest of the department. It is one thing to attend required training. It is quite another to be mentored with "genuine concern" 24/7/365. Training, no matter how great, wears off without sustainment and good, consistent leadership. That's what this Program is really all about. 

The infamous RGI beach workout! As usual, I had to carry Joe Marine!

Joe "Marine" Shusko giving one of his patented "tie ins."

It's all about mentoring.

We are just getting warmed up and we expect to be even more involved with CCPD in 2016. 

If you are interested in learning how to apply the Ethical Protector training as a law enforcement or military professional – or just want to explore the concept with the top-notch RGI instructors in a hands-on setting as a civilian warrior – check out RGI Events. And there is more news and lots more pictures on our RGI Facebook page here.

This past year I was again privileged to work with the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) in Quantico, Virginia. This important program is led ably by my good friend Joe Shusko (LtCol USMC ret.). It covers armed and unarmed martial arts techniques, combat conditioning, mental training and character development.
I say this every year, but I am so impressed by these young Marines. They are physically and mentally tough, yet respectful and ethical. Many are veterans of both Iraq and Afghanistan. The methodology we use is simple but vitally important: train a lot, talk a bit, train a lot, talk a bit. The Marines relish the physical training, and then are open to hear how to use their training and core values to maintain their ethics and a "protector mindset" under the adversity of war. In martial arts training, it is often easy to focus on the physical part while giving mere lip service to the mental and character elements. But all three parts must go together.

"Training" - USMC photo courtesy of Homer Brett 2015

"Talking Ethical Warriorship" - USMC photo courtesy of Homer Brett 2015

My MCMAP inspiration and boss, LtCol Joe Shusko (Ret) - we're a lot colder and wetter than we look!

"Marine Ethical Warriors" - USMC photo courtesy of Homer Brett 2015

The Martial Arts Center of Excellence - Raider Hall, Quantico, Virginia

 A little bit of a different kind of year, but a full and rewarding one. So what's in store for 2016? When I was in Japan Sensei was going to write me a calligraphy and he asked me what I wanted. I said, "Something for next year." He painted me this:

Calligraphy by Masaaki Hatsumi from author's personal collection

Can you read it? It says "smiling monkey."

We already discussed that 2016 is the year of the monkey. Sensei reminds us to smile. Ha! This makes me think of an admonition that Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu is said to have given Hatsumi Sensei's teacher, Toshitsugu Takamatsu.

Kakujitsu na shini chokumen shita tokinisae, warainagara yukan.
"When faced with certain death, die laughing"
I'm not going to try and over-explain this. I think most budoka have thought about this and what it means for them. And I think this is a perfect continuation of our theme from last year: mu-shin.

Again, mu-shin is often translated as “empty mind,” but as I said last year, I think of it more as a “clear mind.” It's not that we can somehow stop having thoughts and emotions. They are always there. Sometimes they are very natural, appropriate and helpful. But sometimes they are not. The Japanese word kukan usually refers to the feeling of the space between the warrior and the opponent. But we proposed last year that there is also a "kukan" within the mind of the warrior that exists “between” the emotions. Our ethical and physical training helps us to “see through the spaces” and between counter-productive thoughts and emotions.

So, if we are able to find the spaces between and beyond the emotions, what do we see? We may just see a creative solution that saves lives – and that is the Ethical Warrior’s number-one job.
Mu-shin might mean the ability to focus on life's most important commitments – and act! Protecting life requires action – deeds. We need to see past all of the distractions and focus on what is most important in our lives.

Still, "laughing in the face of death" sounds like a serious, maybe grim, existence. Especially when you place it upon the backdrop of what is going on in the world today. People are scared and worried. And scared and worried people do selfish and bad things. And dangerous things.

One reason people are scared and worried, I believe, is because they are philosophically confused – profoundly so. But there is a reason, I think. It comes down to this: some peoples' relative values are so important to them that they believe that those values – whether they be cultural, behavioral, political, social, religious, economic, etc. – somehow supersede the LIFE value of others. And if you don't agree with them then you are demonized and dehumanized. Or killed. It is fascism, plain and simple. 

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
Here's the rule: no relative value, regardless of how "moral" or "great" you think it is, can supersede the Life Value.

And that is the good news. There IS a "true north" to the moral compass. LIFE. Don't get confused. Don't get lost. Calibrate your compass! And smile.

Do you know what is the most often repeated introductory phrase I hear? Everyday and everywhere? It is a variation of this: "Well, the problem is..." or "Do you know what the problem is? It's..." or "Here's the problem..."

Yo – we all know what the problems are!

Somehow, defining problems in a new and "special" way is supposed to relieve people of the responsibility of addressing, maybe even solving," those problems. All thought and word. No deed.

You gotta smile at that. Or laugh.

So let's smile and laugh in 2016. But also ACT! We can't solve all the big problems. Frankly no one of us can.

Big problems are solved by a lot of little people (like you and me) solving a lot of little problems. What small problem can you solve today? What "small" person can you protect today? Today. Don't talk so much. Smile. Laugh. And act.

People ask me what to do about the deficit. ISIS. Greedy bankers. Greedy mooch bags. Unethical politicians. Huh? HOW DO I KNOW? I can't solve those problems.

But I think I can do some things. I can work with some forward-thinking police departments who want to heal disconnects with their communities. Support the Marine Corps in developing Ethical Warriors to protect us and innocent people overseas. Help sincere people find daily meaning in their martial arts practice. Be an ethical protector to my family and friends. Maybe even hit a great note in a blues song every once in a while. Those things I can do. And here is the thing: none of them are that much more important than the other.
And whatever you can do, whatever small problem you can fix – as long as you DO it – is no less important. And, maybe, the smaller the thing, the better. Laugh. Act. Enjoy yourself.

Happy 2016! Gambatte!!

Jack Hoban