CHAPTER 13Hardiness at the US Military Academy—West Point

“75% of the time I feel like I’m in a meat grinder, and 25% of the time I feel like a rock star.”

—New cadet describing his first summer at West Point

Have you ever wondered what makes a good leader? Ever had a job where you were dependent on other people to do their part in order to complete a project? Would you like to be a better leader yourself? In this chapter, we’ll pay a visit to one of the foremost leadership training institutions in the country, the US Military Academy at West Point, New York. We’ll take a look at how hardiness impacts on the cadets’ performance in this high-stress environment and in particular on their performance as developing leaders. We’ll also look at how hardiness helps cadets to survive in this crucible of stress and stick with it to graduation. As it turns out, we’ll also see how hardiness can help you to persist through difficulties and become a better leader.

While serving as a US Army psychologist, one of us (Paul) had the opportunity to live and work at West Point for a six-year tour of duty. Founded in 1802, West Point is the nation’s oldest military academy. It is nestled in the hills along the beautiful Hudson River valley, just about an hour’s drive north of New York City.

As a faculty member assigned to the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, I had daily contact with cadets as students, advisees, and research participants. It was a unique opportunity to learn ...

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