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Positive Reinforcement for the Mother

תא"ל במיל' בנצי גרובר
תא"ל במיל' בנצי גרובר

Not every day do I get to meet two IDF Generals. It happened last Shabbat. I gave a lecture to the head of the IDF Planning Division, General Amir Abulafia, and to the senior officers of his Divisin, and then a meeting with the IDF Air Force commander, Amikam Norkin, and other senior officers in the Air Focre. There, I met career soldiers, whose children needed to change their schools ten times, around the country, from the time they were 1st graders until they were in 12th grade, because of their father's job. I heard from their devoted spouses about their routine, which is always under the uncertainty of a potential state of emergency. But what I took from that fascinating Shabbat was a statement about the simplest soldiers. In a fascinating lecture of Brig. Gen. (in reserves), Benzi Gruber, the following beautiful things were said:

"Everyone who sits here in this room is a senior officer. Kol HaKavod! But the most important soldier is the simplest soldier. Why? Because of the burn out: standing at a road block for hours, going to do his watchman duties, sitting in the watchman's booth - there is nothing harder than this. I found out during the years that there are three things that empower soldiers more than anything else, and it is true about a student and a child as well - the first thing is positive reinforcement. The second thing is positive reinforcement. And the third thing is positive reinforcement. Be consistent in doing these three things, but be creative as well. I, for example, have a method of doing it: I do not only give positive reinforcement to the soldier alone, but also to his parents. Do you know what it means to call a soldier's mother at the end of a training, and tell her: 'He is devoted, he is caring, you raised an incredible boy who is worthy of all praise."? It takes two minutes, but she will remember it for the rest of her life. She will tell it to the entire neighborhood, usually with tears in her eyes. When I have to travel at length to Tze'elim (an IDF base in the Negev), I leave such calls for the road because they energize me too. We can talk for hours about motivation and we can prepare a lot of impressive PowerPoint presentations, but let us just start with something small: call every few days someone's parent and give them sincere compliments. Try. You will not believe what wonders it will create.”


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