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Leaders We Love: General Tommy Franks

Leaders We Love: General Tommy Franks

*This is part of our “Leaders We Love” series. Learn more about it.

I grew up in a military family. From an early age I learned to greatly respect the dedication and sacrifice that our military personnel make for the freedoms we celebrate in our country.

A number of years ago, I was fortunate to hear one of our great modern era military commanders, General Tommy Franks, Commander of the United States Central Command through 2003, speak on the topic of Leadership.

General Franks told the story of the best advice his father ever gave him. His father dropped the soon-to-be Private Franks off at the bus stop for boot camp upon his enlistment during the Vietnam War in 1967. His father said, “Son, I have one piece of advice – be feisty.” The younger Franks replied that he already had a feisty personality. His dad said, “Son, I know you are feisty, but I mean it as an acronym…F-E-I-S-T-Y.” He then went on to spell it out for the future General:

“F” is for focus. You need to get and stay focused on what is important.

“E” is for energy. Bring all the energy you can muster to every situation.

“I” is for integrity. This is your most important possession. Don’t ever compromise it.

“S” is for solve the problem. Don’t argue. Don’t make excuses. Solve the problem and move on.

“T” is for take the blame when no one else will. Accept responsibility and be accountable.

“Y” is for “Yes, I do windows.” Don’t ever say, “That’s not my job.” Do whatever is asked and do it with enthusiasm.

It’s several years later and I still have the reminder on my desk to “Be F-E-I-S-T-Y.” Although I’ve never been in the military, I appreciate the leadership lesson I learned from General Franks and his father.

General Franks was the Commander in Chief of the US Central Command (Afghanistan and Iraq) under former President George Bush. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004. If you’re interested in learning more about General Franks, you can read his book – American Soldier, visit his website, or travel to his Leadership Institute and Museum in Hobart, Oklahoma.

Val R., Vice President of Real Estate

Leaders We Love: General Tommy Franks