Examine Entrenched Beliefs


Here’s a thought: If a four-star Army general can challenge his own forty years of thinking on a topic, so can we.

In an interview with General Stanley McChrystal, he shares a profound crossroads he recently experienced regarding his affinity for the famed Civil War general Robert E. Lee.

Forty years ago, General McChrystal’s wife gave him a $25 picture of Lee as a gift. He hung it on the wall of every home he occupied for four decades. General McChrystal revered this man for his military prowess, commitment to service and duty, and success at West Point, which General McChrystal also attended.

But then in August 2017, white supremacists and Neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to defend a statue of Lee as a symbol of white supremacy, and a counter-protestor was murdered (not to mention left an indelible stain of hatred that dogs this wonderful community…and, many would argue, the nation). General McChrystal and his wife concluded it was time to move forward.

He threw the picture in the garbage. The portrait now represented a defense of slavery and injustice. I’m not critiquing the timing of his decision. I don’t have any more context about his thought process, but I honor his courage to talk about it openly and candidly.

Since our interview a week ago, I’ve found myself challenging some of my own long-held beliefs. Some important; others more superficial.

  • Am I really that invested in the vintage convertible sitting in the garage? Maybe I should finally sell it and fund more reading tutoring for my son.
  • I have some convictions about who should author books inside our firm and who should not. Am I helping to lift the right people?
  • Certain members of my extended family have acted in ways I don’t like. Have I really taken the time to understand and appreciate their side of the story?

What’s your photo of Robert E. Lee?


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About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Releases, Master Mentors: 30 Transformative Insights From Our Greatest Minds, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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