Craig Mullaney: How To Be Human

Craig Mullaney’s bio is sort of ridiculous.

High School Valedictorian. West Point Graduate. Rhode Scholar. Army Ranger. National Security Advisor. Tech Executive. Best Selling Author.

You get it.

I think of my friend, Craig, though, as one of very few guys with whom I can really talk to about really vulnerable things.

Things like: trying to be a good dad, a solid husband, a decent friend;

Like trying to balance ambition and imperative with meaning and purpose;

Trying to keep mindful of the long-range and near-term.

Bona fide mistakes, miscalculations, set backs and disappointments.

Craig is also the only person who’s ever had the temerity to meet me at four o’clock in the morning on a weekday on a pitch-black street corner on the East Side of Manhattan, drive an hour and a half into the mountains… and what happened at the Summit? Craig picks up the story …

The pandemic, Craig says, is like being on deployment.

“You don’t know how long you’re going to be there. It’s an invisible enemy. You’re spending a lot of time with a small group of people. And a lot of days feel like the one before, and the one after.

Craig advises leaders — and all of us — to be vulnerable. By sharing our authentic selves — dreams and fears, ambitions and anxieties, successes and struggles — we bring each other along on our shared journey by acknowledging the difficulties we all face.

“I’m a human being,” he says. “I need human beings to get through the tough times.”

Which, for all of his hard earned advices, is maybe his deepest and simplest: Humans need humans.

And it’s what I love about Craig. He checks in when travels bring him near. He shares quick snaps from far-flung spots of the world — and Rock Creek Parkway.

On paper, his CV suggest (to me, anyway) Superman’s strength, Einstein’s wit, Brando’s confidence. In real life, he is those things, and also is thoughtful, empathetic, and vulnerable. He shows up. He shares. He listens.

Yes, Craig can crash a thousand vertical feet of boulders at dawn, and cue Reveille from muscle memory. And the conversation on the way up and back? The connection? Deep and simple.

“Anything that’s human is mentionable,” Fred Rogers said. “And anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”

We need each other to get through the tough times.

Because, as Fred Rogers reminds us, “There is something of ourselves that we leave at every meeting with one another person.”

Craig reminds me that I am stronger than I know — especially in the broken places. By sharing his struggles with me, I feel less alone.

What will you leave behind?