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Pearl Harbor survivor advises students on leadership

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MARCOA Media
Story by CPT Orlandon Howard on 08/06/2019
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Pearl Harbor survivor and former CNN analyst, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Perry Smith, visited students at the Command and General Staff Officer's Course, July 30, 2019, to share advice on how to maximize their leadership potential.

Smith said there were six things leaders needed to leverage to realize their potential:

Leverage friends. He recommended maintaining a circle of friends that are wise, professionally well-placed, or that have a strong ethical sense to advise you during dilemmas.

Leverage skills. Figure out what you're good at, he said. Maximize its usefulness, while seeking other skills that'll support your primary skills. He learned to speed read, which helps him stay informed and make good decisions.

Leverage compassion. He advises, "if you see someone who's hurting, do something about it." Compassion coupled with action is what makes the difference in helping others.

Leverage time. "Get rid of the junk in your life." He pointed to hobbies and habits he considers unproductive. He gave up golf and only watches the last segments of sports games to save time.

Leverage creativity. He believes creativity is a unique and valuable quality you should readily embrace when people have great ideas. He also warned you should tactfully reject creative bad ideas.

Leverage trust. Smith stressed the importance of picking good people for your team. Trust them as much as you can, he said. After a while, it leads to a mutually trusting situation that can be powerful.

The students were visibly attentive and receptive to Smith's talk.

"I thought Gen. Smith's leadership advice was spot-on and extremely helpful," said Maj. Howard Reardon, CGSOC student.

"His advice is clearly seasoned by his extensive experience as a leader, and his personal story is an inspiration."

Smith personally witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor from a military truck when he was six. He later grew up to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point that typically produces U.S. Army Officers. However, Smith took a different path, taking a commission in the U.S. Air Force, which was born out the former Army Air Corps only several years before.

Smith has since spent a lifetime working to excel as a leader and helping others do the same.

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