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Grooming cadets for success

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When leadership guru Jim Collins took West Point’s leadership chair in 2011, he wanted to know how cadets succeed under pressure. They don’t—at first. They keep getting decked and getting back up.

“Failure is part of life here,” said a tiny female cadet, Kiley Hunkler. “For a 200-pound linebacker, it’s having to do a cartwheel. For me, it’s the survival swim in full combat gear.”

“It’s better to fail here and have other people help you get it right than to fail in Afghanistan, where the consequences could be catastrophic,” added cadet Christer Horstman.

A further response comes from elite rock climber Tommy Caldwell, who helped Collins run the seminar while preparing for his fourth attempt to scale the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in a free climb—without ropes or climbing gear.

“I go back because the climb is making me better. It is making me stronger. I am not failing; I am growing.”

— Adapted from “The West Point Way,” Bo Burlingham, Inc.

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