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ELS Welcomes Donovan Campbell

By Brett Wilson | November 12, 2013

Marine Corp Captain (Ret.), Donovan Campbell.
Photo courtesy of Alex Perry.

An attitude of humility and overwhelming thankfulness flooded the Founders Inn and Spa on Tuesday, Nov. 11, as members of the Hampton Roads professional community, including men and women in their military uniforms, congregated for Regent University's Executive Leadership Series (ELS). The luncheon, following the holiday set aside to celebrate United States veterans, featured decorated Marine Corps Captain (Ret.), Donovan Campbell.

"It is a delight to see so many military representatives here today," said Campbell. "And it is a real privilege to talk about something that is so near and dear to my heart."

Along with his passionate service with the Marines as a second lieutenant in the "Joker One" platoon of 160 on the frontlines of Iraq in 2004, Campbell is dedicated to the idea of virtuous servanthood at a time when trust in leadership is eroding.

Campbell explained that though military leadership is often misunderstood outside of the military community, it is fruitful in both times of peace and war. He guided his listeners through a story of a service member who frequently led his team through a search for bombs hidden in the battlefield—with the understanding that his body would act as a shield for the team behind him if the bombs ever detonated.

"That's what leadership is all about," said Campbell. "You have to have excellent character; character always comes before competency."

Throughout his tenure in the Marines, Campbell learned virtues he believes apply to all leaders in any arena. He challenged his listeners to seek after humility, explaining that in order to be effective, leaders need to set aside their insecurities and seek after truth.

"It's not about thinking less of yourself, it's about thinking of yourself less," said Campbell. "We have to be honest, open and courageous and willing to be known for who we truly are."

Campbell also vouched for the leadership virtues of discipline with regard to "written and unwritten" codes of morality, explaining that leaders should not participate in behaviors such as lying, stealing or cheating, nor tolerate those who do.

Other traits such as excellence, dedication to your mission, and courage are also among Campbell's training in "virtuous leadership." He claimed that these traits should not be given simple "lip service" but should be demonstrated in every action and decision, large and small.

"All of us are guaranteed to be faced with hard moral decisions, whether you're in the military or not," said Campbell. "We need to ask ourselves if we want to be brave with these moral dilemmas or if we just want to avoid pain."

As he exemplified these virtues throughout his journey in the Marines—earning a Combat Action Ribbon and a Bronze Star with Valor for his dedicated service in Iraq—and through graduating with honors from Princeton University, Campbell submits to the virtue of humility, claiming his life is the result of "unintentional success."

An "accidental" job description as writer and speaker followed the release of his first book, Joker One: A Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood. Campbell collected stories during his studies at Harvard Business School, burdened by the fact that many of the troops under his command had difficulty explaining stories that unfolded on the frontlines overseas. The book later appeared on The New York Times' bestseller list.

Campbell's latest book, The Leader's Code: Mission, Character, Service, and Getting the Job Done was released in April 2013.

As he continues to value his time as a gift, Campbell proclaimed his goal to be a "good and faithful servant" during his life on earth, asking his audience to do the same.

"We have to decide every day to give our best, simply because we have a day to give it," said Campbell. "We have to decide to do our best with everything that has been given to us, and live every day well."

Visit the ELS website for more information about the series.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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