Only one Ranger School peer eval matters

Ranger peer evaluation

Many people who have never attended the Ranger Course live like they’re afraid of a peer evaluation. Ranger School is the only course I know of in which you can do everything correct and still fail.  

In order to successfully complete the Ranger Course, a student must have a successful record in graded leadership positions.  Ranger School is a leadership course.  These leadership assignments (called ‘patrols’) are heavily scrutinized throughout the course.   There is simply no way to graduate from this course without a passing record of patrols. 

However, there’s a fascinating aspect of the Ranger Course that also evaluates the Ranger students when they are not in leadership positions.  

This evaluation is done by the people who see everything you do… the good and the bad!  They are called ‘peer evaluations’ because rather than being evaluated by a trained Ranger Instructor (RI), students are scrutinized by their peers. 

Ranger School has always had a very low graduation rate. The Ranger course is a physically brutal course designed to push the human body to its limits. Some students are physically incapable of finishing the course.  Other students won’t graduate because they lack the leadership skills to pass their graded patrols.  

But even if students are flawless in both of these areas, they must also pass multiple rigorous evaluations by their peers. 

Peer evaluations make the Ranger Course unique.  Ranger students can be textbook perfect in everything that the course demands of them and still fail because their peers said they’re not cut out to be Rangers. 

There’s never been a time in my life when my peers’ opinion of me had more of an influence over my career and my future in the military than during Ranger School.

I want to spend the rest of this article helping you get over the fear of failing a ‘peer evaluation’ of life. 

The criticism doesn’t hurt anymore

Criticism hurts.  –especially if you really look up to the one who is evaluating you. Ranger School places so much importance on peer evaluations because no Ranger instructor can watch a student every minute of the day.  There’s a lot of conduct that the RI’s can’t see.  Therefore, they rely on peers to constantly evaluate each other’s conduct.  

Essentially, this means that a Ranger student is always being evaluated. Every second of the day, either an RI or a student’s peers is evaluating every action.  This constant evaluation places a lot of stress on a Ranger student. 

Ranger School taught me to respect my peers and to strive for them to have a high opinion of me.  Looking back on my career as a US Army Ranger, I worked hard every day because I respected my peers and didn’t want to let them down.  However, that respect for my peers’ evaluation of me can get out of balance. 

Is criticism devastating to you?  Are you living with an unhealthy desire to please your peers? When a guy or gal starts to fear the criticism of others, it’s a sign that this helpful tool in Ranger School is out of balance.  

I see this all the time in people who seem to be making decisions about their life entirely motivated by a peer’s evaluation.  They seem to be totally consumed with avoiding criticism. They give the impression that they have an insatiable need to please their peers. 

Let me remind you… people are fickle.  What pleases them today, might not please them tomorrow. I also want to remind you that public opinion isn’t always right.  In fact, sometimes public opinion is completely wrong.  So, living your life for the applause of a fickle crowd is miserable.  And many a guy or gal have compromised themselves in the desire for a high public opinion of a crowd that was wrong from the start. 


Don’t give in to the tyranny of the masses.  Don’t settle for the opinion of others who don’t really know you that well to begin with.  Strive to live for the glory of God, and the opinion of your peers or the crowd won’t matter that much anymore.

The compliment doesn’t help anymore

People Pleasers, take note… It’s just as oppressive to live for the compliments of others as it is to avoid their criticisms.  These are two sides of the same coin.  For all the reasons listed above, this is an equally brutal way for the people pleasers to live. 

People are searching for compliments all the time.  Children will do incredible feats because they want to hear a compliment from their parents.  Spouses can go to the extreme just to hear their loved one say something nice about them. Warriors do this on the battlefield, employees do it at work, and this is the foundation of virtually every sport imaginable. 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to hear compliments.  There’s also nothing wrong with trying to avoid criticism.  However, BE CAREFUL that these motivations don’t get out of control in your life. The best way I know to get this area under control in your life is to focus on God’s opinion of you.  When you place his opinion first in your life, suddenly the compliments and criticisms of others don’t seem to matter that much anymore. 

I believe this is part of what Jesus was trying to teach his followers in John 4:34 (“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,” Jesus told them.)  Just like food satisfies a hungry stomach, compliments can satisfy a hungry heart.  

Be careful that you’re not so focused on hearing the compliments or avoiding criticisms from people who don’t know you, that you forget about the opinion of the One who knows you perfectly. 

Fill your heart with the praises of King of the universe, and the opinions of people will slowly disappear.  And even if they hate you, it won’t hurt as much, knowing that the God who created you loves you and gave himself up for you. 

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