Velocity Systems

Don’t Confuse Enthusiasm With Capability

There’s a old adage in Special Operations, “Don’t confuse enthusiasm with capability.” I heard it used a lot over the years and was told it stemmed from the ill-fated Operation Eagle Claw, where an ad-hoc task force made up of different service capabilities was created to attempt the rescue of American hostages held by Iran. Truth be told, it’s probably even older than that. The point is, you can call yourself special all day, but that doesn’t mean that you are. With the Iran mission, everyone wanted a piece of the pie whether they were ready or not and the mission failed. Although the lessons learned from that mission led to the eventual creation of USSOCOM, don’t think this idea is solely the purview of SOF. It doesn’t matter what you do, or where you fit in the food chain, it’s  applicable to everyone.

In more recent times, there were many new organizations stood up within DoD after 9/11. They were specialized in nature but not necassarily in capability. In each case, they were weighed in measured by the war. Some matured, others disappeared. The concept of enthusiasm being tempered by capability is an inescapable crucible.

Generally, SSD readers are a cut above. They care about their profession, or interest, and choose the best equipment. Others go a step further and seek out training to improve their capabilities. That is the sign of a true professional. However, such positive traits are not going to be true of everyone in an organization. We are truly as weak our weakest link and we all know someone who is all show and no go. Do not let them define you or your unit and don’t make promises you can’t deliver on.

Everything we do isn’t awesome. Accept criticism and reflect on it. That’s a trait of maturity. If you’re thin skinned, you’ve likely got maturity issues and aren’t very good at what you do. As an aside, don’t take criticisms of your profession in general, or of others in your profession personally. Every profession has plenty of room to improve. However, do deliver constructive criticism to your peers. Use it to grow professionally and personally and encourage others to do so as well. Make things better.

There is a current notion that everyone is a winner and gets a trophy. We must stop this concept from poisoning the profession of arms. Not everyone is going to be an Operator and we don’t need them to be. Figure out what it is you are supposed to do, and be awesome at it, both individually and collectively.

This isn’t meant as discouragement. To the contrary. Love what you do. Create enthusiastic capability and make sure that you can deliver on demand, no matter the job. Help others rise to the same level.

12 Responses to “Don’t Confuse Enthusiasm With Capability”

  1. Petro says:

    Don’t confuse Instagram with capability either.

  2. MK262 MOD1 says:

    Spot on. Can only guess what what may have been the genesis of this entry but it should be referenced in every doctrinal publication within DOD.
    The “participation trophy” cancer is a pandemic within our nation and is rapidly infecting the uniformed services. It is brought in from civilian life by new recruits and is pushed down from above by DOD bureaucrats and by weak leaders seeking to bolster their own careers.
    The first step in a cure is awareness and acknowledging the gorilla in the room.
    Thanks SSD for hoisting the flag.

    • Strike-Hold says:

      AMEN!

      This statement is true in all walks of life – but its critically important in jobs where people’s lives depend on capability. Why is that so fucking hard for some people to understand?

    • Big Daddy says:

      That goes for every job or profession. The level of competence is being degraded due to the mentality that everybody is a winner and should get a prize, no, no, no.

      Something as simple as calling a magazine a clip. No it’s not OK to be ignorant and it’s not cool to be stupid. Not everybody can be great at what they do or a genius. But be all you can be, knowing your limitations and working hard to overcome them. That type of mentality is disappearing from our society.

      The bar is dropping way low these days and it shows with everyday life.

      Whether you’re a janitor or an airline pilot, strive to be the best one you can be. Turn your enthusiasm into production and expertise.

  3. Gerard says:

    Very well put, I know enough to know I need professional firearms training and plan to get it

  4. Wulfi says:

    ‘You need to stop trying to be high speed, and concentrate on not fucking up the job you’re supposed to be doing in the first place’

    (An old quote from a member of Lightfighter.net)

  5. SamHill says:

    This was a great read. Thanks for posting.

  6. Maskirovka says:

    Hear hear. Do your best to be high-speed and low-drag in whatever you do.

  7. IheartPTbelts says:

    If that mission had been successful, I wonder how our special operations aviation would have developed. The failure of this mission led to a critical examination of our capabilities to support this sort of mission. If it had been successful would the capability have been viewed as satisfactory?

  8. El Terryble' says:

    Very well put, and inspirational. Even when relegated to boot or peon status strive to be the professional, and the best at what you do, for one day inevitably, your services will be required in the profession of arms.

    “Constant practice devoted to one subject often outdoes both intelligence and skill.” – Cicero

    Superior gear will never make up for a lack of training or attitude.

    “In the heat of battle, substance emerges and renders image to total insignificance.” – H.G. Duncan, USMC (ret).

  9. Jon Meyer says:

    I want to quote this and display it at my work. I would like to credit it to the author obviously, would it be possible to email me your full name for citation?