A popular image of the warrior emphasizes his confidence. While confidence is important, however, humility keeps confidence from becoming bravado, and ultimately keeps the warrior alive.
In mid-2004, I was a “roper,” one of the young Marines running (don’t get caught walking) around 1st Recon Bn with a sling rope and carabiner around their shoulders. The rope was a symbol of being one of those Marines who aspired to, but had not yet achieved, the coveted title of “Recon Marine.” The Bn had just returned from Iraq.
One day the Sgt in charge of the training platoon, who already had orders to 1st Force Recon Co, brought all the ropers into the Bn Classroom for a break from the working parties and 2-a-day PT sessions. He wanted to give a class on Combat Mindset, and that class highlighted a vital characteristic of Recon Marines, and all professional warriors, that I hadn’t really considered before: humility.
Now, this isn’t the sort of bashful, “I’m not worthy” sort of false humility that might immediately come to mind. As was said in that class, “Humility is truth.” It is recognizing both your strengths and your weaknesses. It is acknowledging that you don’t know everything, haven’t experienced everything, and can still learn from anyone.