October 15, 2015 at 1:15pm

Leadership Virtues

During a Millikin-Decatur Executive Association (MDEA) leadership breakfast on Oct. 6, former Marine Captain, Donovan Campbell, spoke with a room full of leaders on Millikin University's campus about the virtues the military gave him, and about how to apply those to our individual lives. He spoke of the virtues of humility, excellence, courage, and how those apply to leadership.

Campbell completed four deployment tours with the Marines during some of the most intense combat fighting throughout 2003-2008. He spent the majority of his twenties at war, missed three wedding anniversaries, and the second year of his eldest daughter's life. Campbell has told his stories and others stories from war as an outlet and an aid. In doing so, he has authored two books: "The Leader's Code," and "Joker One." Instead of letting the damage of war destroy his character, he has used the skills he obtained in the military to succeed in his life.

Throughout his speech he showed slides of many that demonstrated the virtues he spoke about. In relating to the virtue of humility, he spoke about the history of Lincoln's career. While Lincoln is now remembered with pride, at the time of his election, the country was on the brink of Civil War. Campbell described humility as, "humility is not thinking less of ourselves, it's simply thinking less of ourselves."

The second virtue Campbell spoke of was excellence. In showing this virtue, he told the story of a father and son duo: Dick and Rick Hoyt. The duo has completed over 300 running races together, because for Rick as he told his father, "Dad, when I am running I don't even feel like I'm handicapped." Campbell related this story to the drive and push that one needs to become an influential leader. He stated to the audience:

"You are all clearly leaders in your areas; I ask you to think through who do you have in your life that sees you as you are, how do you regularly seek constructive criticism? How often do you ask forgiveness when you have wronged others?"

Campbell witnessed many situations during his deployments that many of us will never face, but by listening to his story and applying it to our lives, we can all become better leaders. With emotion in his voice, he spoke about how through war he learned the value of a day:

"Because when you have friends that do not have any tomorrows left because they bled them out in a nameless street in a nameless city that no one back here will ever hear of... you began to think about the value of every day, because now you know that every day is not assured."

His goal, as his days precede on Earth is to honor those that did not make it back home to their families by making the most out of each day:

"I don't know what it's like to live each day like it's your last... even in combat I found it hard to conceptualize. But, I do think if I want to honor those that don't have what I have, it's my job to do what Dick Hoyt does, and that's give my best every day without regards to the outcome. To give my best to the task in front of me... To take my opportunities as responsibilities, to give my all to them, because to do anything less is a slap in the face to all of those living and dead."

Campbell related courage to things he had witnessed on the battlefield and stories of those that served with him. One Marine he knew of ended up giving his life to save others, and he related it to the audience by saying, "Everyone of us has the ability to make smaller decisions everyday, decisions that allow us to show moral courage." The ability to decide to not lie, to have the difficult conversation is harder, but it displays moral courage. This is something that Campbell applies to his life and encourages others to do.

Not only is Campbell a bestselling New York Times author, he is the vice president of Forum Energy Technologies, and co-founder of NextOp, a non-profit that aids combat Veterans employment.

The Millikin-Decatur Executive Association is a diverse group of business leaders committed to exploring new skills and information valuable to the leadership role. Click here to read more about the MDEA.