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★★★★ General Admission | Leadership Insights from General Petraeus' Seminar at USC

- "There are times that you have to acknowledge a grindingly difficult situation."

- "Assume that people want to be the best they can be, even if not universally true."

- "Life is a competitive endeavor, Embrace it."

Photo by Anirudh Koul

The Show

Do you remember going out and waiting in line for a general admission show? You'd get into the venue and become part of a sea of people. Some folks head to the concession stands, some mosey towards the seats in the back, and a bunch rush to the stage for a chance to be in the front row.

Perhaps you came to this event in a group. Consider for a moment the role you play in getting your friends to (wherever it is) you're trying to go. Do you go with the flow — passively joining along? Or do you make an active effort to help steer the group? Making a declaration, and attempting to persuade your friends to follow suit.

You could end up watching the show from a shaded seat near the back, or standing shoulder to shoulder in a mosh pit. How do you express your input to peers? Do you?


The Seminar

Things kicked off last Friday with USCVA Student President Chris Alora welcoming the General back to (virtual) campus. Since his fellowship with USC, General Petraeus has filled leadership roles at Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia among many other distinguished universities. He applauded (our) veteran culture at USC, and the developing pipeline that gets vets (t)here from community college.

He offered a challenge to (my alma mater) USC Dornsife, to offer yellow ribbon program funding for both undergrad, and graduate studies — like many of the other schools on campus. Fight on?

Most of the audience was comprised of USC ROTC Students. Their collective question, and overall theme of the meeting was oriented around the General's advice for a brand new Second Lieutenant — though this insight can (and should) be universally applied.

Peer Leadership is the hardest. It requires persuasion.

He shared some experiences gained as a West Point Cadet, and the difficulties involved with being a leader at the bottom rung of the totem pole. "Peer Leadership is the hardest. It requires persuasion." Once you make your way up the ladder a bit, the hierarchy (the trademark organizational style of the military) is established and things don't require quite as much finesse. It's hard in the beginning.