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Art is Personal

My First Sergeant and I used to compete (friendly competition mostly) over who would talk to a Soldier about his/her problems. The Army is cool because as a Company Commander, First Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, or Squad Leader of a Soldier you are not only responsible for the work output of a Soldier, but also his health and welfare in everyday life. So, when someone is having personal problems the commander, at times, gets to practice the art of counseling.

Art, in my opinion, is anything that requires an emotional investment. Art has to be personal. If I were to counsel a Soldier to cover my ass by documenting everything the Soldier and I talked about, warning him of all his upcoming actions that may be prohibited, and following a pre-written script, I am not producing art. But if I listen to the Soldier, make an attempt to empathize and relate to his situation, and then I develop words, guidance, or a story that may assist the Soldier in his near future I am producing art. Of course, I’ll still cover my ass too.

I’m actually good at the art of counseling. I like one-on-one talks. People generally leave my office with new direction and feeling good about themselves, the Army, and their relationship with Army leadership. But close relationships with Soldiers are commonly seen in the Army as NCO business, or not the business of the Company Commander. So, I don’t get to practice much. My job is generally filled with the impersonal, calculating, accumulating data, and providing analysis. I have to figure out how to incorporate the personal into my impersonal without detracting from the job descriptions of my NCOs. Everyone needs to create art to happy. –Carl Miller


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