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Congratulations!!! You have just been commissioned and become a naval officer in the greatest and most powerful Navy on Earth; a new Ensign!  You have put in your time and accomplished your commission through the Naval Academy, Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (via a College or University), or direct commission program.  You should be ready for anything, but there are a few simple things you were not taught.  Here are my recommended new Ensign “Need to Knows.”

  1. Listen and Learn - Although you may have four years as a Midshipman under your belt EVERYONE you meet in the Navy has more experience and technical knowledge about Naval Operations than you.  Leverage their knowledge and experience and learn as much as you can from each individual regardless of rank or rate.
  2. Make Recommendations - After exhausting every avenue to Listen and Learn, if you believe you have a better idea or plan, make a recommendation and back it up.
  3. Reporting & Intentions - When making reports to your Department Head, Executive Officer (XO), or Commanding Officer (CO) provide them in a clear and concise manner.  Make sure you have thought out your plan based on the content of your report and then convey your intentions.  Simple Example - “Sir/Ma’am, the weather is getting worse and the forecast is not improving.  I intent to double up all lines.”  This demonstrates to the senior that you are thinking about the ramifications of your report and have a plan of action and allows them to concur with your plan (e.g. “Very Well”) or modify it (e.g. “Double up all lines and commence pre-underway checks, in case we need to sortie.”).
  4. Learn how to write a Great Fitness Report (Officer and Enlisted) - take time and ask your department head how to write a great FITREP.  You must understand how to do this for you are responsible for and to draft your own.  If you want to be successful you need to understand how to convey to ranking and selection boards who are your great sailors and their specific accomplishments.
  5. Understand the Navy’s Technology Paradigm - The USN is the most technologically advanced navy in the world (e.g. AEGIS).  The USN operates with the most dated technology (e.g. “Business Networks”).  Learn how to operate within the Navy’s technology environment.  You will be more valuable to your fellow officers and crew.

With some exceptions, we were all new Ensigns once.  Listen, learn, and work hard and you’ll be afforded the opportunity to do some of the most rewarding work on the planet!  Lastly, look for those individuals which you may mentor.  We need many more individuals like you in our fine Service; we’ll need your help in finding and developing them!  Good luck! Remember to ask questions!

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I came to believe that a leader isn’t good because they’re right; they’re good because they’re willing to learn and to trust. ~ General Stanley McChrystal (USA, Ret)


This is a great story that fuses a basic experience with the historical events of modern warfighting age.  General McChrystal is an exceptional individual and great speaker.


Never, Ever Eeyor out!” -Matt Cegelske


You’ll know it when you see it.  When someone is told they “can’t” do something they then drop thier shoulders and accept it.  They’ve just Eeyore’d out.  What they should believe is that they are fully capable of accomplishing the task it especially if the individual has demonstrated the ability to accomplish damn near anything in the past.