Toughness—pinpointed as a core attribute by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson in “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority”—is central to the U.S. Navy’s professional identity. The Navy’s “Full Speed Ahead” training amplified the definition of toughness by raising awareness of the mental, physical, spiritual, leadership, and followership attributes it requires. But hidden in plain sight in the Navy’s history is a model for building self and organizational toughness—the life of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut.
Known as the U.S. Navy’s first admiral, Farragut gained fame for his fearless fighting performance. It is no wonder that the sitting President of the United States attended his funeral with General George Meade, who later remarked, “I believe that the Admiral was more beloved than any other commander of the late war, either of the Army or Navy.”1