I’m a big fan of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. In fact, I had the opportunity this summer to help him open up a new school for girls in the Panjshir Valley. Greg believes that building relationships is just as important as building projects. “The enemy is ignorance,” he told me, “and it isn’t theirs alone. We have far more to learn from the people who live here than we could ever hope to teach them.”Mullen certainly doesn't sound much like another Admiral Nimitz, Halsey, or Spruance.
He’s right. We are only going to be as good as our own learning curve. And just the simple act of trying, of listening to others, speaks volumes all by itself.
The official US Navy photo above, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff website, shows Admiral Mullen "showerd (SIC) gifts and flowers from grateful villagers at the opening of the Pushghar Village Girls School, Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan, July 15, 2009. The school located in a remote valley 60 miles north of the capitol (SIC) Kabul was built by "Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortenson to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan."
I hope Greg Mortenson and Admiral Mullen--and their schoolteachers--spell better than US Navy webmasters (or the private contractors who work for them).
MEMO TO ADMIRAL MULLEN: As General Colin Powell said in Powell's Rules: "8. Check small things."