Naval aviators consider themselves professionals. We did so (and Naval aviators continue to do so) because the profession required us to pass our craft onto future Naval aviators. Passing on our craft included an expectation that future Naval aviators will advance the profession and not maintain the status quo. Because our craft was constantly changing, it meant we were students whether we had 100 flight hours or 2,000. To pass on the craft, we sought in our interactions with others to be humble, approachable and credible. If we exuded those characteristics, we could best pass our craft onto others.
Being humble meant we sought to be modest and downplay our success. Assistance is sought from those who are humble, rather than those who are boastful or arrogant. Although pride and self-confidence are a natural consequence of gaining proficiency in a craft, humbleness was the quality pursued because it works hand-in-hand with approachability. A humble demeanor creates an approachable presence.
Being approachable meant you were accessible to individuals beyond your close colleagues. Being unfriendly or inaccessible ran counter to our goal of passing knowledge beyond our close colleagues. The passage of knowledge was critical to our success as a profession, so being approachable meant having an inviting presence despite our own individual momentary stressors. Importantly, in passing on a craft, humility and approachability only goes so far if you cannot communicate your knowledge.
Being able to effectively communicate your knowledge gives credibility. Being credible meant knowing your craft and knowing it well. Credibility is a product of preparation, dedication and study. It is a quality that exists at all experience levels, but is also built over time. By establishing credibility in one interaction, more knowledge would be sought later, and in turn our colleagues became more credible. However, credibility alone does little good if your demeanor and presence prevents others from seeking your knowledge. Thus, passing on our craft to others means being humble, approachable and credible.
Of course, this approach is applicable beyond Naval aviation. It will not get you an “A” on your next exam. But it will make you a better fellow student in Green Hall, future attorney and human being. I try to exhibit these characteristics around Green Hall. I challenge you to do the same.
No matter the stage of our legal careers, being humble, approachable and credible will help us pass on our craft, make us better co-workers and be sought after for counsel. Furthermore, exhibiting these characteristics will mean we better represent ourselves, our education and our profession. As we turn the page on the academic year, whether we engage with others virtually or in-person, let’s take our humility, approachability, and credibility into the classroom, office and courtroom.
Congrats to the Class of 2020! Good luck in your careers. Congrats to the Class of 2022! The scariest part is over. Congrats to the Class of 2021! We’re almost there.
— Jared Jevons is a 2L from Manhattan and a KU Law Ambassador. He spent 11 years in the Navy and flew over 2,000 hours in the F/A-18F as a Weapon Systems Officer.