Funk's Fundamentals: General Shares Life Lessons

By Madison Bonzo | U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command | Feb. 19, 2020

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va., — With the formation of every team, comes learning the basic fundamentals of the game in order to reach the end goal, a winning score. There are many components that make up a successful team, but no matter what the role, they all come together for a common objective. Through training, teambuilding, and effective leadership, every coach can achieve a winning record.

General Paul E. Funk II is constantly crafting his book of plays and continues to use them as he leads the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to victory. This playbook of sorts comes from his past 40 years wearing the uniform of an Army Soldier, never failing to add to the lessons that are a reminder of the cornerstones of his career. As the 17th Commanding General of TRADOC, Funk uses his own fundamentals as ‘watch words’, embodying his commitment to excellence for Soldiers, Civilians, and the Families that make up the winningest team in history.

“By impacting people across their careers, TRADOC is truly a people-driven command,” Funk said. “We acquire the talent and ensure that we train them to be good, responsible citizens.”

Funk’s Fundamentals are intended to boost morale and inspire. Pulling these lessons from other people or stories he’s heard, these practical ideas continue to shape his personal leadership philosophy.

“Find that one thing that makes your heart race and gets you up out of bed, mine happens to be being a Soldier,” Funk said. “I never have trouble waking up in the mornings. It is about service to the nation, that’s what I am passionate about.”

From start to finish, his admiration for the devotion it takes to join the Army continues to grow. One of the earliest fundamentals he learned was #1, Always Secure Yourself First. Being able to understand the people and environment you are entering is essential, he said. Commanding multiple times, most recently as Commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, he believes in America’s next greatest generation that continues to move forward with courage into each new day and join the fight.

“I’ve seen firsthand the young men and women that do this business are truly the best we have to offer,” Funk stated. “They do hard things, wearing the jersey of the greatest country on earth and representing it every day with dignity, respect, and the Army values.”

Staying committed to your profession is something that Funk practices. Tying together the physical, emotional, and mental aspect into the overall experience, he understands how important it is to continue to learn and adapt no matter where you are in your career. In this new era of practicing Holistic Health and Fitness, Funk reminds Soldiers training for upcoming fitness tests about Funk’s Fundamental, #38, Training is a Journey Not a Destination.

“We’ve got to be fit and ready for this. We must be able to outfight, outnumber and win,” Funk said. “It’s Holistic Health and Fitness, changing the way we eat at dining facilities, the way we sleep, to understand the emotional and physical aspects of what it is we’re doing. This will build resiliency in our Families and in our individual Soldiers to take the hard fight.”

With the technological advances of today, interruptions appear that can halt productivity and lead to social disaffiliation. Taking time away from the distraction of electronic devices, Funk recognizes the importance of positive communication in and outside the office. A simple gesture such as having a conversation with your coworker over a cup of coffee in the mornings breaks down barriers and brings people together, his ideology behind #11, Never Waste Good Coffee.

“Most of these fundamentals are about human interaction,” he said. “We get too enamored with our devices; we could just walk over to the person next to us and experience human interaction without the screen.”

Not only are these fundamentals designed to reach Soldiers and Army Civilians, they are established to show gratitude for the Families who sacrifice just as much.

“We disregard, many times the importance of Family. You enlist Soldiers, but in many cases, you reenlist Families,” he said. “When you do that, there is a debt of gratitude that we owe them that can probably never be repaid fully, but we have to continue to try to do that to the best of our ability.”

Funk states, the people who make up the Army are warrior athletes. No matter where the team is competing, it is important to represent the uniform in the best way possible. When it comes to putting on the jersey of our nation, General Funk believes one should always - #40, Leave the Jersey in a Better Place Than You Found It. Being a part of the Army means playing in the ultimate team sport and with these fundamentals, they have the tools to continue the winning streak.

To learn more about Funk’s Fundamentals, visit the TRADOC YouTube.

(Photo by U.S. Army Graphic)


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