Recently, I attended a seminar facilitated by an ex-Marine. He told us a couple of stories from the first Gulf War in Iraq.
A take-away I won't soon forget had to do with what he called "Commander's intent."
In battle fronts like Iraq troops face situations that are both highly volitile and filled with uncertainty and chaos. The Marine told us that every soldier was trained to understand the irreducible mission and intent of their leaders. Simply put, when in doubt, follow this clear command:
"Go north and always defend the river."
In this case he referred to the historic Euphrates River.
If separted from the larger force, if distracted or attacked, no matter what, this was the one command everyone knew they could fall back on as a mission statement for next steps type action.
This information left me wondering about our mission and work in the city.
There are so many distractions, so many setbacks, so many interruptions, so many great opportunities and so much chaos.
What would be an equivalent statement for me and for all of us who work in urban renewal organizations, no matter what our specific functions or our unique objectives?
"When in doubt, remember the poor and always stand with the community."
That's a statement that has been rumbling around in my head since I heard my Marine buddy talk. I know there is more here to think about.
I'd love to hear what you come up with.