Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group: “Ten Pretty Good Rules”

Model Airplane Over Map with Shadow

A list of “Ten Pretty Good Rules” from the Fellows of the Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group.

  1. Never argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference!
  2. Observe everything; admire nothing!
  3. It’s easier to obtain forgiveness than it is permission!
  4. Rarely resist the opportunity to keep your mouth shut!
  5. Don’t ask the question if you cannot live with the answer!
  6. If you want a new idea, read an old book!
  7. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there!
  8. Never have a philosophy which supports a lack of courage!
  9. Never look back unless you intend to go that way!
  10. Never wrestle with a pig; you both get dirty and the pig likes it!

(Compiled by Fellows of the Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group, 1982-1983 Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island)

The Great Questions We Carry

A defective four leaf clover.

Each year at Christmas my grandfather gives everyone in the family a small hand held puzzle. Often these puzzles are clear cubes containing metal balls and rings that must be aligned to complete a design. Most of the time I can see what I think the outcome should be, yet the challenge is finding the solution before I lose interest.

The wisdom in these little puzzles is clear. They parallel the individual and collective questions we all carry. Some are trivial and amusing, easily put down and picked up again. Others are larger and require more time and effort to solve. After a little fiddling these larger puzzles are often shelved in hopes that “some day” we’ll have time to spread out all the pieces and restore order to the chaos.

We seem to reserve a special place for the truly great questions and we keep them within constant reach. These are the questions of life that won’t let go. They demand our attention.

At times I’ve attempted to force pieces together that don’t belong. Particularly the beautiful pieces that seem so good together. Fabricating solutions in ignorance or accepting answers that are comfortable, but not accurate.

While there are clearly right and wrong choices, there is a wide spectrum of individual solutions within those bounds. Yet the constants, the rules that apply across that spectrum, can be difficult to identify independently. Many of life’s variables are in constant flux. We rarely get a bird’s eye view of the labyrinth, and few of life’s puzzles are cut as evenly as factory made cardboard and plastic.

Fortunately, when we find solutions we share them. Small and simple things can be the greatest gifts. Answers to long sought questions can be the key to gaining mountain top perspective on the dark valley of our lives. Sometimes answers come like a flood and other times in painfully slow drips.

The key is having a desire to search for solutions. To believe the answer exists and to keep working to discover answers that are equal to the questions.

What does this have to do with education and training? Everything.