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Sunday, October 13, 2013


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about a few of the critical moments of his childhood that defined his worldview and character:
1. When I was about 12 years old, I was at my father's lumber yard, following him around as he discussed material options with a customer. Suddenly, a large stack of plywood fell over toward us. My father, the customer, and I all grabbed for the stack to stop it from falling (and killing us). My father then ordered me to leave (to protect me, as a father does his child). I was upset, pissed, outraged, and angry. Why did I have to leave instead of being one of the "men" who pushed the stack back into place? Everyone else wanted their childhood to last as long as possible but I wanted mine over with. I wanted adult responsibilities and adult respect and I wanted them NOW.
2. When I was in junior high school, there was a thing thumb-tacked to the wall of the gym that said: "All too often, you can trace the haves and have-nots back to the dids and did-nots." That stuck with me. When I feel lazy, I remember that and go back to work.
3. Something that I read in a military magazine (in an article about re-constituting units that had suffered heavy casualties) was this gem: "A leader has a full-time job being the leader. He cannot also be the guy who fires the machine gun." It drives me nuts that I have to have five part-time jobs, one of which is being the leader of ADB. Leader and worker get in the way of each other.
4. I think the single best piece of advice I ever heard (well, read in a magazine) was to never make a permanent decision in a temporary state of mind. Every time I have let that happen, it turned out badly.
5. Why does God let bad things happen to good people? (The implication is that maybe there is no God. I don't accept that.) I think the reality is that people don't grasp that God wants to see how you handle a world in which good and bad things happen. Bad things teach you to be strong, to have faith, to put your trust in God. Maybe the bad thing doesn't happen to you, but you learn when something bad happens to a good person to you know.
6. I hear a lot of jokes about men not having a commitment gene in their brains. Not me; I have a huge one. I grew up in a household run by a loving couple who had spent their lives together, and I wanted to find a girl to marry and buy a house with and I wanted to do that as fast as possible. Unfortunately, I latched onto a girl (also from a loving family and also wanting to get married as soon as possible) when I was 12 and we were 20 by the time we figured out we didn't even like each other. (You change as you grow up.) With Leanna I had to grab hold of something solid and hang on because I fell in love with her so fast that I would have married her about Date #7 if I wasn't terrified that maybe she wasn't the right one. (Turned out she was the right one, but that's me being lucky, not me doing things correctly.)
7. The motto on my family coat of arms is "Worship God and Serve the King" which is one way of saying "Render unto Caesar." I heard that at a very early age and it stuck. I don't worship my government but I serve it when required. I don't serve God (and Jesus) so much as worship them.
8. My father regarded his reputation for honest dealing and quality construction work as the most valuable thing he had. Once, another builder in Amarillo died suddenly. His widow called my father and said a letter with her husband's will said (in the event of sudden death) to ask my father to wind up his construction projects because he (my father) was the most honest man in town. My father took that as a compliment. He took charge of and finished all of the building projects in progress without charging the widow a cent for his time or trouble.
 9. In school, I was the dumbest kid in the smart class, and I was miserable. After I begged my way out of the honors program, I became the smartest kid in the "average" class and everybody hated me. There's no way to win this. My only friends were smarter than me, and I think they kept me around just as a point of reference or maybe as comic relief.
10. I played my first Avalon Hill wargame at age 12 and was designing new ones within a week, even if I had to draw my own hex maps with triangles and a T-square. I had the drafting equipment because my father was an engineer, builder, and Army engineer officer. He was probably the greatest influence on my life and I am, frankly, not as good a person or man as he was.