The Thought for the Day – Senior Chief Haugland

Once is a mistake, twice is a habit. – Senior Chief Quartermaster (Submarines) Haugland, US Navy Quartermaster Submarine School, New London, CT, Summer, 1984

We’ve been keeping our quotebook since 1988 and while most of them have come from books there are a few we were at when they were said. This is one of them. I was one of a dozen or so new sailors attending submarine quartermaster (QM) school in Groton, CT and you should probably know in the Navy and Coast Guard quartermasters work in the navigation department, while in other branches they work in the supply department. Senior Chief Haugland, whose first name we forget, was one of our three instructors, along with Senior Chief Hall and a chief whose name we remember but will not try to spell. Haugland was trying to make the point that navigating submarines, while not particularly difficult, did require your complete attention and that bad habits led to mistakes which led to running aground and collisions, things we were to try and avoid.

Once is a mistake…

We all make mistakes. You and I, certainly, make our share and even Senior Chief Haugland probably made one or two. If you want perfection, go to church because we’re humans, not images on stained glass windows. We try and try some more, but often, usually, we come up short. It’s the way our human experience is constructed and enough mistakes and it might well seem the whole construction is collapsing on us.

…twice is a habit.

We keep doing something again and again and eventually, it becomes second nature. That, too, is the way our human experience is constructed and it is true for both good things and bad things. For example, we exercise daily often enough and before you know it we’re in a habit that’s hard to break. By the same token, if we spend enough time ignoring what our hearts are telling us to do with our lives, pretty soon we don’t even hear its voice anymore and we are in the bad habit of squandering our time.

We must learn our lessons and mistakes should only happen once. On the plus side, if we do something well once, it’s a success and if we do it twice, that means we’ve formed a good habit and we can’t be afraid of the success good habits will bring.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Gaylon began stockpiling quotes in 1988.


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