Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader


Career Success

Daily Deliberation: 16 March 2018

In our current EPR system where people feel as if they are competing for stripes, this is a fear I have. I would hate to see people taking short cuts and sacrificing their personal integrity to get a few steps ahead of their peers. I saw it happen in the aircraft maintenance world when the demands far exceeded the capabilities. People took short cuts to try and get ahead. This worked for awhile until there was a death on the line. I am not afraid of someone actually dying from careerist short cuts, but I do think our culture would quickly erode if we start taking short cuts.


Daily Deliberation: 13 March 2018

We have all worked with those people who have been on the job for 20 years but seem to know nothing. Then there are those 20-year-olds that seem to be experts. It is not how long you have been doing something or how old you are that makes you great; it is what you have done in those years that make you great. Go do something great for another today!

Risk Management for Leaders: 3 Questions for Success

While reflecting during a recent Daily Deliberation, I was really thinking about the Air Force’s view on risk. Our Risk Management (RM) teachings are very good and offer an easy 5-step framework on how to avoid unnecessary risks, but never how to embrace risks. We have to change our mindset that all risk is bad.

The Air Force reg on Risk Management (AFI 90-802) discusses what RM is and isn’t. RM is intended to enhance safety and avoid occupational or environmental risks. This is vital to those with the boots on the ground. When we are faced with a new situation on the flightline or some other worksite, the 5-step RM process is a great tool. However, when you get into a leadership role, it is rare we will personally face similar situations.

When leaders face new things, they are not typically hazards; rather, they are are choices. “Do I let Amn X go to this training class and lose him for a week?”; “Do I allocate funds from our budget to purchase XXX?”; “Do I give SSgt X some duty time to try and fix this problem she highlighted?” These choices all have risks attached to them. If they fail, we have to answer for them. If they succeed, the team wins.

As leaders, we need to look at choices as opportunities…not as risks. Each new opportunity could be good or bad, but most of the time we are not sure. When I started this site, I saw an opportunity to share lessons learned. That could have gone poorly as many on here are people I know personally and respect highly. However, I asked myself 3 questions. These are the same 3 questions I ask those who bring ideas or “opportunities” to me in my work center:

1) What problem is this going to solve? If this does not make life better in some way, why waste our time on it.

2) What is the long term effect? We need to examine the second and third order effects of this. It might be great to create some report that is easy to read for the boss, but if it creates 100’s of man-hours each week to do, that is something to think through more. Not that these ideas are bad, but if we don’t help pick at the idea a bit to uncover any holes, a real solution may be missed.

3) Is it sustainable? In almost every work center I have ever been in, someone has created an amazing Microsoft Access product that solves some problem for the masses. And. Then. They. PCS. And only about 5 people in the Air Force know how to work Access and this product can’t be sustained when some change comes down. I like to look at the proposed solution and see if it is only viable right now, because this office or person has a lull in the mission and has some free time that is not normally there. Will this be a bear to manage when ops tempo returns to normal?

RM teaches us to avoid risk and fear of failure before an EPR reinforces this. If we don’t take risks for our teams and run from opportunities, we will never advance our organizations. New opportunities are risky, but using the 3 questions above will help you as a leader to navigate the way.

How do you handle risk as a leader?

Daily Deliberation: 11 March 2018

We talk a lot about risk management in the Air Force and most of it is geared towards avoiding or mitigating risks. We do need to avoid those risks that could harm us or damage something; however, we often take this mentality too far and avoid ALL risks. New opportunities could also be defined as a risk. If we want to challenge ourselves or our teams we need to take risks that could advance the unit even if there is a risk of failure. Calculated risks are a good thing.

Daily Deliberation: 9 March 2018

Why is it so hard to actually do something? I can’t tell you how many times I was going to conquer the world…tomorrow. We have big dreams and goals but are intimidated to start the journey, because they are too big. We need to just take one step in the direction we want to go. Just one step.

Daily Deliberation: 8 March 2018

This has me laughing so hard, I can hardly add type. If we spent less time criticizing our peers, our bosses and even our national leaders, we could accomplish so much more. Almost everyone I ever met has defaulted to one bias or another. We only read articles that support our views and if we do read articles from “the other side” we are just looking to rebuke each point and not truly trying to see the other perspective. If we could just learn to be uncomfortable and discuss an opposing view, we could find a third option that we all could live with.

Daily Deliberation: 6 March 2018

My dad taught me this as a child. He told me that doing the bare minimum is being lazy. Instead, I learned that when I do something to look at what else I could do to add value. A childhood example was, I was told to mow the lawn. However, to go above and beyond I know the lawn would look better if I picked up all the trash and sticks first. Every time I see mowed over trash in a yard, I think back to my dad’s advice. This carries over to all areas of our lives and to be successful, don’t just do the minimum when you know you can do more.

Is Work-Life Balance Attainable?

Work-life balance is one of those topics that is constantly being discussed. Many of us try very hard to keep everything in balance at home and at work. However, we spend so much energy doing this, we tend to miss the good stuff.

I am a firm believer that there are three areas we need to focus on if we want to be successful: family, career, and self (See the article here: If all three of these areas are healthy, we are happy and fulfilled. So, if you imagine this huge three-way scale with a leaking bucket on each leg. Each day we go to the well and pour water into the buckets. As they leak, the scale tips and we scamper to re-fill and rebalance. It can take all of our energy to maintain this.

I have had many seasons in my life where I had a solid routine laid out and was able to keep the buckets balanced. However, nothing great ever comes out of those seasons. When I was working on college, I would have to miss tv time with my wife or pass on other leisure activities. My scales were tipped for awhile, but they eventually returned and I was better off. Same thing happened when my children were born. I was a selfless zombie who did nothing extra at work.

We need to tip the scales every now and then to achieve big things. In his book, The One Thing, Gary Keller calls this counterbalance. He teaches that the great things in life come when we are focused on one thing at a time. The trick is that we need to refocus after we achieve the big things. For example, when it is time to study for promotion, it is way more beneficial to study for hours each day than to do just 10 minutes to keep the balance. We need to go full speed into the one thing. THEN we need to be sure to go all in on something in another area of our life next.

Life feels good when our scales our balanced, but we are leaders who are made to do big things for those on our teams and in our lives. Just make sure you are not always going all-in in the same area while ignoring the others.


Daily Deliberation: 4 March 2018

A wise mentor once told me that if you never ask the question, the answer is always ‘no.’ When we never even decide to try out of fear or based on some assumption, we never accomplish anything of value. It is when we are willing to take that first step that we will build the courage to take the second and then another and before we know it we are running to the finish line. We will NEVER get there if we never ask ourselves the question…what is that question for you?

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑