Many of you have seen my posts on Twitter and likely visited my profile where it states, first and foremost, that I am a proud US Navy Chief Petty Officer. And I am. I retired from the US Navy in 2007 with 24 years of active service to the world’s greatest Navy.
I’m sure some of you have an idea, either through your military association or through a friend or family member or simply from Google. But while it’s easy to understand that “Chief Petty Officer” is a rank in the US Navy (and Coast Guard), it is oh so much more than that.
Below is a simple explanation in a philosophical sense as to what makes up our leadership DNA, and why I still, and will forever, continue to think like a Chief, because I will ALWAYS be one.
What is a Chief Petty Officer? Is he that person that sits in the compartment labeled “Chief’s Mess” that his Junior Sailors fear, drinking coffee brewed the day before and eating a donut or cookies and looking haggard?
What is a Chief Petty Officer? Is it that person that has been sitting at a desk in the corner labeled “Division LCPO” for hours on end looking over papers and always seems irritated when asked a question that interrupts and takes them away, but answers anyway with a smile because they’ve “Asked the Chief?”
What is a Chief Petty Officer? Is he that person that an hour before “Liberty Call” calls his people together and says “We’re staying late to get the job done” and when the job is done he is the last to leave?
What is a Chief Petty Officer? Is she that person you see laughing and smiling at a good joke told by a fellow Brother or Sister?
What is a Chief Petty Officer? Is he that person when a Junior Sailor has broken a rule, is there with stern words and a corrective hand?
What is a Chief Petty Officer? Is she that person that stands next to her Junior Sailor in front of the Captain saying “He made a mistake, but he’s a good Sailor and will be better through this lesson learned?”
What is a Chief Petty Officer? Is he that person that even though the order or directive given by a superior is not agreed with, follows it anyway because it’s the right thing to do?
What is a Chief Petty Officer? Is she that person standing at the front of her division smiling as her Junior Sailor receives an award, knowing that she could be there receiving one too, but wants her Junior Sailor to receive it more than herself?
What is a Chief Petty Officer? Is he that person that goes to his Junior Sailor in the middle of the night holding a message and a tear in his eye informing her “We’ve received some bad news”?
What is a Chief Petty Officer? Are they those people that a Junior Sailor looks up to and says “When I’m a Chief Petty Officer, I want to be a leader like them?”
What is a Chief Petty Officer?
A Chief Petty Officer is all this and more. A Chief Petty Officer will always do the right thing, regardless if it makes sense or not. A Chief Petty Officer will always strive to make Junior Sailors better with both praising and stern words when needed. A Chief Petty Officer always has compassion for all. A Chief Petty Officer holds themself to a higher standard because they are “The Chief.” A Chief Petty Officer Always adheres to the NAVY’s core valves of “HONOR, COURAGE and COMMITMENT.” A Chief Petty Officer “sets the example” to be followed.