“I learned to multi-task, prioritize, and operate fearlessly at the Naval Academy and those principles have been the beacons of my entire life…a life I never dreamed of.” – Mike Yeager, Naval Academy Distinguished Graduate, Class of 1976
When Mike Yeager was growing up in the town of Palestine in Anderson County, Texas, he never thought that one day he would be a U.S. Marine Artillery Officer and then serve 26 years with Exxon Mobil, departing as Vice President of Operations for Exxon’s facilities in over 20 countries, before finally serving as CEO of BHP Petroleum, where he doubled the company’s profits during his eight-year tenure.
All he wanted was to be a good man, a good husband and a good father who dedicated himself to the good of this great Nation of ours. He could have been just as happy working locally for the Palestine Car Shop in Texas, which today is one of only two car shops on the Union Pacific Railroad that perform major modifications and repairs to freight cars. However, God chose a different path for Mike. Through his athletic prowess and academic scholarship, he was accepted to the US Naval Academy. What an extraordinary dream for a young man from a small town of 13-14,000 people. While at USNA, the Naval Academy stressed Mike and his peers to such an extent that it forced Mike to multi-task in order to survive not only the intense academic curriculum, but also the athletic demands of being a Division I Athlete. In addition, Mike also had to learn to quickly prioritize those tasks or fail miserably in both areas. Instead of failing, a star was born. Mike’s commitment to those guiding principles allowed him to succeed and he continued to use those gifts to succeed at USNA, the Marine Corps and in the business world. Today, he is recognized as one of the best of the best to ever graduate.
At Invictus, many of us recognize the humble beginnings of Mike’s story and can reflect upon a similar yet individually unique marathon-like path through the maze of life. You now should also be very proud to find yourself at these gates today, defending them. Although, your life’s dreams and professional desires are still evolving, your current devotion to Invictus and the critical missions in our path are part of our journey to create our own legacies. Not to be corny, but I know that in each of your lives, you have probably “thanked whatever Gods they be for your unconquerable soul”, as you too learned to multi-task and more importantly “prioritized” the pressures and demands of military life, parenthood, adversities, and so many other things that life demands of us…often simultaneously. I bless you for that and I am humbled by your stories of success.
Just as Mike devoted his life to his family and profession as best he could, we too are here…together…blessed to work and know each other because we have also mastered the principles of multi-tasking and prioritization. I believe that your commitment to these two demanding characteristics has allowed every one of you to climb to the top of the mountain where the magic happens. It is there, where like-minded spartans, stand mutually loyal and devoted to mission success; so that when you look at the shield wall to your right and left you will see that you are not standing alone, you are locking your shields together to face the unknown adversary with your peers defending the gates of America, your families, and those you hold dear.
We are all like molded statues, crafted by the nature of our development over time. We also all have our own Mt Rushmore’s of those who have influenced us. What we sometimes forget is that we are sometimes carved on the Mt Rushmore’s of others. At Invictus we all need to help pay it forward and look to where we can continue to guide and influence others towards the path of unity and justice for all. We do that by how we live our lives every day and how we multi-task and prioritize.
I haven’t forgotten Mike’s third and perhaps most important principle; to operate fearlessly. I believe that all of you know that to truly achieve greatness, one absolutely must operate fearlessly. Ben Franklin said “do not operate in fear,” because he knew that we all have/will fail, but he believed as I do, that in overcoming adversity and by continuing to be fearless in one’s approach to life we will ultimately achieve mission success for our clients, as well as fulfilling our own personal dreams. Whether it’s becoming CEO of a petroleum company or a freight car engineer for a railroad, it will be something that each one of us will know that we were there and did it our way, but with the help of so many others. It will also become part of our legacy, because we multi-tasked, prioritized, and operated fearlessly.
My dream lies within each of yours, as you are all what I am most proud of and your fearless performance in the face of adversity has already and will continue to positively impact the good of this great nation of ours well into the future.
God Bless and Remain Unconquered,