Archive for success

Plan For Failure

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2015 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

“I don’t lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word.”

General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis

We all strive for victory.  Each one of us hates to lose.  After all, it is essential for us to succeed in our daily lives.  We are obviously not living life to fail.  But, fail we will.

As important as it is to plan for victory, it is just as important to plan for failure.  Every ‘battle plan’ should consider all contingencies.  But, victory, of course, hangs on the details, and behind those details are hidden the pitfalls that can spell disaster and defeat.  We often take our eye off the potential negatives and ultimately find ourselves facing the unexpected.  This can easily be avoided.

Last week, we again saw another data breach hitting Anthem Blue Cross.  And, again, many experts are saying that this ‘disastrous’ data breach was avoidable.  When I first heard about it, my first thought was how something like this could happen again.  Haven’t these major organizations learned from other data breaches, such as to Michaels Stores, Home Depot, Kmart and ebay?  Aren’t major corporations taking steps to prevent these kinds of disasters from happening to them?  I can understand maybe not recognizing the unknown, but I cannot accept these companies blatantly ignoring what is going on around them, and to their peers in various corporate circles.  Again, planning for failure is just as important as planning for success.

In a recent blog post on The Military Leader, entitled 5 Questions That Can Save You From Disaster, author Drew Steadman discusses how failure can be avoided by not getting caught off guard by things that could have been anticipated.  As he states in his article, “A few moments of reflection can cue you in to the key indicators. And asking hard questions will force you and your team to acknowledge the situation you face.”  But, what I take away from Drew’s article is that you cannot wait for things to happen, or circumstances to change, before putting into place a plan that could work to avoid failure.  It is important to be quite aware of the peripheral things, because failure or victory are contingent on how (or if) you recognize and react to them.

One thing that I am certain of is that there will be a lot of uncertainty when planning for any outcome.  In essence, failures and miscues can be avoided by taking action based on our anticipation of the known’s and the unknowns.  And, doesn’t that sound familiar:

Recommended Reading: “The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld

Part 1: Three Reporters

Part 2: The Known and the Unknown

Part 3: A Failure of Imagination

Part 4: Absence of Evidence Isn’t Evidence of Absence

As my youngest daughter, Kassandra, when she hears something so profound, says, “what does that even mean?”  When Donald Rumsfeld first uttered this statement during a press breifing in February 2002 about the lack of evidence linking the government of Iraq with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups, he was making a point that there are various levels of certainty and uncertainty based on our knowledge of the facts as we know them, and the facts that aren’t yet clear. [View video of Donald Rumsfeld’s comments HERE]

To better define this, I found an article on SmartOrg by Don Creswell that defined the 3 Basic Sources of Risk and Uncertainty, which came out of a presentation by Kelvin Stott.

My take:

  • We must remain cognizant of those things that we know, while not discounting the possibilities that we think aren’t likely to happen.
  • We need to open more widely the avenues of communication, encouraging everyone to say something if they know something; share knowledge.  Nobody can assume the other knows what they know, nor can they think the information isn’t important.
  • Be Inquisitive and curious.  Ask questions and challenge the status quo.
  • We need to use our imagination, as well as look at the intelligence that is available, to make the best decision possible at the time.

Bottom line: Think outside the box, and don’t ignore the obvious.

“Failure is in a sense the highway to success, as each discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true.”

John Keats (1795-1821) British Poet

In the military, disasters could be due to bad planning, bad execution, bad weather, general lack of skill or ability, the failure of a new piece of military technology, a major blunder, a brilliant move on the part of the enemy, or simply the unexpected presence of an overwhelming enemy force.  But, what bothers me is when defeat and failure occur as a result of a known and preventable cause.  There are many military disasters throughout history that you can spend hours researching and realizing that they could have been avoided.

Recommended Reading: The Five Biggest Disasters in American Military History

I’m not suggesting that we are always going to be perfect.  What I am saying is that paying attention to certain details can make the difference between success and failure.  Being aware and prepared, innovative and imaginative, proactive and intuitive, can all make a big difference.

“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) American speaker and motivational writer

As you look around at the people and organizations who are facing critical issues, problems, and crisis,[i] you should view those situations as instructive and constructive. They should, for you, act as lessons learned.[ii]  We can learn as much from other people’s failures, as we can from our own.  Try to recognize what took that person or organization into the direction of failure, and plan to do the things necessary to avoid them happening to you or your organization.

Don’t be smug thinking that these things cannot happen to you, or that they are rare or isolated incidents.[iii]  And, don’t be arrogant in the thought that these things can’t happen to you … Or, that ‘things just happen.’[iv]  Don’t let things happen because you failed to prepare, or you grew over-confident with success. Plan for failure.[v]  Don’t fall to complacency or laziness.

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Inspired by five consecutive Tweets (#5Star #5Tweet) I posted on Friday, February 13, 2015:
[i]     Tweet 1 of 5
[ii]    Tweet 2 of 5
[iii]   Tweet 3 of 5
[iv]   Tweet 4 of 5
[v]    Tweet 5 of 5
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Sources:

Resolutions That Are Fundamentally Strong

Posted in Motivation with tags , , , , , , , on January 3, 2015 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Here we are again; the beginning of a new year, and yet another opportunity to pronounce another proverbial New Year’s Resolution that will make improvements about ourselves.  Most of us decide to take actions that drive us to kick aside bad habits, while others just want to try something new in their lives.  Some people simply add new things to their bucket list that they want to accomplish or experience in the new year.  Whatever the motivation, and no matter the goal, the new year presents new opportunity to accomplish more than we did in the past.

New Year isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes. It is a time for people to reflect on their past year’s behavior and promise to make positive lifestyle changes[i].  I am often amazed, this time of year, at how we seem to distinctively draw that line between one year and the next, rather than making these choices and decisions progressively throughout the year and throughout our lives.  As I said in a Tweet on December 26th:

Why are we waiting until next Thursday (January 1, New Year’s Day) to start something new or kick bad habits aside.  Let’s start today. (via @5StarLeadership)

It’s never too late to turn a new page[ii], or to start a new chapter in your book of life.  For others, their goal is to accomplish the goals of 2014 which they should have done in 2013 because they made a promise in 2012 and planned in 2011[iii].  And, there are some people who absolutely resent the notion of making New Year’s resolutions.  For those people, making New Year’s resolutions implies that they need to change.  I guess they think they’re perfect just the way they are[iv]. But, shouldn’t we always be resolving to improve?  Shouldn’t we be building a list of goals and objectives all the time that are fundamentally strong?  Isn’t it important and valuable to aspire to achieve these victories throughout our lives?  If we are in a position to set resolutions to make improvements, or to take definitive action to destroy behaviors that have prevented us from advancing, we are obviously fighting these battles now. As Vala Afshar Tweeted recently:

As you enter the new year, you have 3 decisions:

  1. What will I leave behind?
  2. What will I bring with me?
  3. What can I create that’s new?

First, we must reflect on the lessons you’ve learned along your life’s journey to this point.  We must consider the mistakes we’ve made, particularly with past resolutions.  Maybe they were unrealistic or unattainable.  Maybe we weren’t fully prepared to follow-through with the promise we made with ourselves or others, or there were challenges and setbacks we didn’t anticipate.  When making new resolutions, we should consider our strengths, and be totally honest with ourselves about our weaknesses. Second, we need to answer a few questions before truly deciding what actions we are going to take to achieve victory in 2015.  Just like going into battle, we have to make decisions on what we will need to achieve victory.  What are our priorities?  What resources will we need to effectively and efficiently reach each milestone?  Of the resources we have available, which are the ones that need improvement?  How and where can we blaze new trails to reach new destinations in our lives?

Your success in 2015 will be based on how well you mix the ingredients for achieving victories along the path. (via @5StarLeadership)

Last, our choice of targets (resolutions) should be unselfish.  We must think of those around us when determining what we are going to set out to achieve.  What impact will our choices have on those around us?  Your New Year’s resolution should be as much for those around you as it is for yourself.  Do something that benefits everyone[v]. For those of us who are leaders, making resolutions amounts to creating a vision, then determining a set of action steps to accomplish each task along the road to victory.  The principles, virtues and values that go into these intentions considers many of the same thought processes an individual takes when deciding to improve something in their lives, or to take deliberate action to accomplish something monumental.  No matter if you are a leader of a team or organization, or someone who has important goals to accomplish in their lives, it will be important to establish a clear vision for what you are setting out to achieve. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2015 Resolutions For You and Those Around You To Become Fundamentally Strong –

The following can be adapted to fit any person, situation, family, friend, team, company, etc.  Each of the following four initiatives are based on a series of Tweets I posted on New Year’s Day.  After each one listed is a link to the original Tweet:

  1. Inspire greatness among everyone you interact with by creating a positive, engaging environment. (Tweet)
  2. Ensure that you, and everyone around you, are ready to face the challenges ahead, while strengthening the resources you’ll need to ultimately accomplish each and every objective. (Tweet)
  3. Embrace failure as much as you do achievement.  Use every situation as a teaching moment for you and others. Become a student, mentor or coach, as needed. (Tweet)
  4. Take care of yourself physically and mentally to be a stronger person.  And, encourage those around you to do the same.  Build on strengths, tear down weaknesses. (Tweet)

 

 _________________________________________________________________________________________________ Keeping It Real –

Making New Year’s resolutions requires a certain attitude, focus and commitment.  It requires a discipline that is firm and unwavering. Discipline is easy to talk about – but difficult to practice without the right motivation[vi].  And being continuously motivated and inspired to achieve anything in life can be challenging.  Let’s be honest; it’s not easy.  We have too many distractions and negative impulses, as well as constraints on our time.  Some might say that our struggles with resolutions is mind over matter; we don’t mind because it doesn’t matter.  But, you must have a strong desire to succeed and be determined to stick to it. Here are a few keys to success:

  1. Identify a tangible and legitimate resolution that will improve or enhance your life. Make it relevant.
  2. Avoid making one overwhelming and sweeping change.  Smaller, more attainable resolutions will help you reach for whatever you are striving to achieve.
  3. Specify the improvements you want to make, listing their priority of importance and completion.  Then specify the tasks, behaviors, resources and/or requirements that will fulfill every aspect and obligation of the resolution
  4. Recognize and plan for the constraints and challenges that may cause you to fall back or fail.  Prepare yourself mentally and/or physically for those pitfalls, and gain the necessary resources and support mechanisms to overcome them.
  5. Set several milestones with attainable time-bound gates.  Hold yourself to a schedule, and track your progress.
  6. Start with small, attainable goals to start.  It is important to gain confidence in your efforts, and winning a few smaller battles will strengthen your resolve.
  7. Remain focused, and do not give in to complacency or laziness.  Use the lessons you learned with past resolutions to drive yourself to success.  There is no substitute for victory.
  8. Improvise, adapt and overcome.  You may have to change your plans along the way, but do not change your vision.  You have set a firm goal and resolution; DO NOT turn back after stubbing your toe or stumbling.  Don’t beat yourself up if you fall back, even if it seems your setbacks are insurmountable to recover from.  Remember, minor missteps are perfectly normal, and they may seem far greater than they really are.  Face it, you’ll have ups and downs.  But, you must resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.

 

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“Success is the ability to visualize what you want to do next with your life—what you want to be, do, and have in life—and to enjoy that process of moving toward that vision, achieving it, and creating new visions.” ~ Norma Carr Ruffino

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See Also –

Being Aware and prepared: A Motto for Success and Victory in the New Year (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

Footnotes –

[i] Making Your New Year’s Resolution Stick – Accessed 2 January 2015 – American Psychological Association – http://www.apa.org/

[ii] From a Tweet by @E_H_Carpenter, posted on 30 December 2014 at 12:15PM: https://twitter.com/E_H_Carpenter/status/549977008118448128 – Accessed 2 January 2015

[iii] From a Tweet by @Noel_DeJesus, posted on 31 December 2014 at 10:29AM: https://twitter.com/Noel_DeJesus/status/550312847071535104 – Accessed 2 January 2015

[iv] Inspired by a Tweet by @GalleryAriana, posted on 1 January 2015 at 11:36AM: https://twitter.com/GalleryAriana/status/550692050040266752 – Accessed 2 January 2015

[v] From a Tweet by @5StarLeadership (That’s ME), posted on 1 January 2015 at 11:01AM: https://twitter.com/5StarLeadership/status/550683356439269376 – Accessed 2 January 2015

[vi] Pause Now To Consider Your Success Goals for 2015 – Accessed 2 January 2015 – Office Dynamics International – http://officedynamics.com/

* Find more resources and information on setting New Year’s resolution on Google.

Photo Credits –

Being Aware and Prepared: A Motto for Success and Victory in the New Year

Posted in Motivation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2014 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

It is quite simple, really. Like the Boy Scout motto says, ‘Be Prepared’. You never want to be caught short of essential information or valuable resources going into battle; business or otherwise. Being blindfolded and hog-tied is no way to fight and achieve victory. As we go into the new year, let us all have the motto, ‘Be Prepared’, as our first (of many) New Year’s Resolution. Seek and acquire what is necessary and required to perform at the highest possible level.

And, it doesn’t stop with us and OUR preparation. This should extend to those we work with, those who work for us, and those we work for. Let us not find ourselves limiting the knowledge or tools that will help others, and the organization, win the everyday battles we will all face in 2014.

Have a successful and victorious 2014.

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Were You Inspired to Become a Leader, or Promoted Into a Leadership Position?

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Earlier today, I tweeted this question from my Twitter account.  And, after giving it some thought, I decided to open this question up to the World to be answered, by way of my blog.

Virtually all leaders have a very unique and interesting answer to this question.  Through this post, I want to survey leaders to hear their story.  And, since this is such a dynamic post and discussion, I will be making it a destination link on my list of pages on my blog’s homepage.  I am hoping to attract leaders from all circles of our World; military and civilian, corporate and government, volunteer and community groups, etc.  I encourage you to participate.

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Why (or how) did you become a leader?  Were you inspired to become a leader, or promoted into a leadership position?

Many people work most of their entire career to ultimately become a leader at various levels; a leader of a team of people or department, or a leader of an entire organization.  In some instances, they are inspired to grow professionally and personally to acquire the traits, talents and skills necessary to be more successful, and to become a leader.  In other instances, progressively successful people simply move up the ladder through meritorious advancement; promoted as a result of doing a good job or passing various thresholds of time, accomplishment and success.

A discussion like this can go very deep; and, I hope it does.  But, quite simply, I wanted to ask you what made you a leader?  In most cases, regardless of the path or motivation, you no doubt became a leader by your own actions.  But, were you inspired to become a leader?  Were you motivated to grow and become a leader because of the organization you worked for?  Were you inspired by a boss you worked for?  Maybe that boss acted as a mentor (or, in the Navy, we called it a Sea Daddy: A senior, more experienced sailor who unofficially takes a new member of the crew under his wing and mentors him. Senior Enlisted Advisor a CPO in charge of your career).  Or, did you just simply punch your ticket while ascending the ladder of success?

In the early stages of my career, I was not a leader, as I did not yet acquire the knowledge or achievements to earn a promotion, nor did I thoroughly possess the traits or virtues of a leader.  I had to continue to develop those things over time.  But, in my case, I did have a few people above me in the chain-of-command who saw something in me;  They saw leadership potential.  Notice I said potential.  These individuals had already been an inspiration to me, and I had a strong desire to emulate them.  I watched them closely, learning from their actions (their successes, mistakes and pitfalls).  I learned how that treated people; how they managed them, how they disciplined them, how they taught and mentored them.  I learned how they ran their respective organizations.  I learned from their business-sense and fundamental management styles, as well as the way they handled their day-to-day challenges.  From them, I learned what to do and what not to do to become more successful.  I was fortunate to have leaders who were worth watching. 

What these individuals saw in me early in my career began to grow and blossom.  Through hard work and a strong work ethic, over time, I was promoted into a series of supervisory positions that acted as a ‘proving ground’ for my leadership capabilities; to foster and nurture the traits and virtues a leader must have.  In those positions, my leadership knowledge, skills and talents became stronger.  Most importantly, I learned about people, and they learned about me.  Quite honestly, I learned about me.  Ultimately, I earned the trust and confidence of my superiors, and I was promoted into middle and upper management.  20 years later, I have grown as a leader.  And, to answer my original question, I was inspired to become a leader by some very special managers and leaders early in my career.  Everything else was hard work and determination. 

How about you?  Were you inspired to become a leader?  Or, were you simply promoted into a leadership position?  I look forward to learning about you and your path to success.

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