Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader



Daily Deliberation: 22 November 2018

Today we all have so much to be thankful for. If you are able to read this, you already have so much to be thankful for. Thankful for your family, your teachers, your mentors, your friends, and for the world’s greatest Airmen who serve this great nation with you. Happy Thanksgiving from the most thankful deliberate developer out there.



How my Command Chief, Became a Command Chief

I recently sat down with the Senior Enlisted Leader at my Wing.  This wasn’t my first time sitting down with a Command Chief, and I’m sure it won’t be my last. During our conversation, he explained how he got to his position. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the typical “I worked hard to get here speech”.

The Chief went on to say, that leaders at different stages of his life offered him new jobs. Strange jobs. Uncomfortable jobs that he didn’t think he was ready for… But with the advice and counsel of his mentor, he accepted every challenge as an opportunity. He went on to say that self doubt was in full effect. As an introvert, if you can believe it, he had to “will” himself to gather courage.  Meetings with Senior leaders was a challenge. Doing the unpopular, but right thing, was a challenge. This may have been the most humble man, in uniform or not that I’ve ever met.

Bottom line from the conversation was this: Take every opportunity and job that comes your way. Be  bold, and make a difference. You may be the next Command Chief at your base.



Daily Deliberation: 11 November 2018

Take the time today to not only have pride in your service but in the service of those who came before us. Those brothers and sisters in arms who paved the paths we walk on this day.

Happy Veterans Day to all who have served this great nation!

Daily Deliberation: 8 November 2018

We all want more. We want more rank to have a bigger impact or to make more money. What happens when you get promoted? We are happy for a moment and then we want more. What if we looked at our current situation and thought about how we could maximize this? We could work on making ourselves better in order to add value to our team and not for our own good. This one small shift in thinking could change our organization as we invest in others first.

Daily Deliberation: 31 October 2018

I find it funny how the lessons I learned taking martial arts as a kid translate into real life. When in a clench, we would say “control the head, control the body” because wherever we moved the head to the body instinctively followed. This applies more than to just the physical applications; rather, to the mental as well. Whatever thoughts and beliefs that we latch onto will control our destinations. If we allow negativity to take over, it will affect how we view every part of our life. If we think we are entitled to more, we will approach everything that way. Where do you want to go?

Daily Deliberation: 21 October 2018

Way too often we look at our situations at work or in life and expect everything to change to suit our needs. I have even “stood my ground” on certain situations where I thought my workcenter should alter their policies to fit my needs. “I do all of this stuff, it is the least you could do…” How arrogant are we to expect the world to revolve around us? When injustice is being done, we need to stand up for what is right. However, when it is in the context of our job or environment, we have to adapt. If not, we will find ourselves left behind.

Are You a Natural Leader?

Defining what a leader is and if leaders are born or made seems to be one of the biggest leadership questions still to this date. I admit, I like to expend some bandwidth to these questions every now and then, but the answers really don’t matter. If we are born leaders, we still have to develop our skills. And the definition of what a leader is will evolve as you develop. Therefore whether someone is an all-natural leader is a moot point. In fact, according to Peter Drucker’s research, going all-natural at work does not work. He says, “Only three things happen naturally in an organization: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.” Therefore we can’t be “natural” leaders if we want to have success with our teams.

I have found this to be true with every team I have ever been a part of. Think of the last time you and a a few others were given very little direction and told to get something done. I remember a time like this when we were doing a squadron cleaning day. Four of us were sent over to straighten up a storage area in the back of an aircraft hangar. We all saw the mess and knew a lot of work needed to be done, but we just stared at the mess and made small talk. We sorted through a few things out of curiosity, but no progress was made until a leader stepped forward. I bet you have had a similar experience and there was a lot of confusion and underperformance until someone took the reigns.

It is not natural to step out as the leader; however, we have to remember that people want to be led. So how do you step up without looking like “that” guy? I would suggest  deconstructing Peter Drucker’s quote for the answer.

1) Start with clarifying the objective. Remove the fog of confusion by clarifying why you are all there. In the case above, “Sgt Zimbabwe wanted us to organize all of this. Any ideas on what we can toss and what we need to keep?”

2) Divide and conquer to overcome underperformance. Encourage buy-in by getting your team to choose their poison. “Sgt Sparkleberry, you suggested sorting through all of the hardware, will you tackle that?” This goes back to the old CPR training where we are taught to point to a specific person, “You. Go call 9-1-1.” Same thing on a project. Everyone needs to know what their role is.

3) Communication and discussion smooth friction. You will experience friction. Sgt Hasselhoff is going to think there is a better way or is upset about his task. Address the issue and discuss it. Don’t let dissent linger, get ahead of it. The earlier you deal with friction, the easier it is and the faster the team gets back on track.

Being a natural is not always a good thing, but knowing how things naturally work will allow you to succeed in any leadership role.

Daily Deliberation: 12 October 2018

I think it is important to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. When we do try something new, we become a better version of ourselves. My kids are not afraid to try anything. Why are we afraid to potentially fail or not be good at something? Who cares? Go do something new and see if you want to invest your time into getting better at it. Any experiences out there where you tried something new and failed or succeeded?

The Zombie Apocalypse is Upon Us

Many people like the concept of the Walking Dead and thinking about what they would do if a zombie apocalypse became a reality. Well, I don’t think we are too far away from this happening. We are not going to wake up tomorrow to zombies trying to eat us in the literal sense, but we are slowing losing our ability to think for ourselves as others attempt to devour our brains.

We are becoming and creating zombies all around us, just not in the manner you may be thinking. Binary thinking has taken over and is spreading like wildfire throughout society. This type of thinking tells us everything is either A or B. You are Democrat or Republican. There is no middle ground. Sometimes this almost seems ok on the surface, but these labels define us and our thinking. We want to be a part of a certain tribe and allow group think to take over our own thoughts. We are becoming mindless zombies trying to devour those who think differently.

We saw this during the election, when stories about either side were published and no one took the time to run it through their logic filters or look a step deeper. It became fact, because it supported the deeper rooted thoughts of their tribe.The media has learned they can make a fortune by creating sides and feeding a narrative. It doesn’t even have to be true, it just has to feed their zombies. We saw this more recently with Nike’s ad campaign. There are those who have very strong feelings about multiple issues it represents and some boycotted the brand and others support it more. Brands are taking advantage of the divisive beliefs we have just as the media has and it is dangerous.

When I was a kid, a local teenager was shot and killed as he walked out of a fast food restaurant because he was wearing the wrong color shoes. The shooter was a wanna-be gangster and shot this teen because his shoes were the color of his rival gang. It is going to come to the point where we see a branded item on a person and shun them or worse. This has always been going on, but the danger is greater now.

Not to mention, we are looking like hypocritical fools. One of my favorite examples is Lebron James. When he left Cleveland to go to the Heat, he was hated. Told to never return. His jerseys were burned. Then…he returned. Apparently, all was now forgiven. Examples like this can be found with just about every issue. I have been criticized on here because I used a quote from some celebrity who apparently was unethical. I wasn’t deifying the celebrity or even supporting him, I simply liked one of his ideas. If we stop talking to others because they have different beliefs, we are eventually going to run out of people to talk to or form relationships with. I have never worked on a team where I loved everyone’s ideas or work ethics, but our diversity made the collective better.

We are no longer talking to each other. Research shows younger generations prefer to talk to one another via text or other form of messenger than face to face. We are guilted to tiptoe around taboo topics when we actually are face to face and then we get on social media and become keyboard gangsters. We can’t be scared to have our beliefs questioned or debated. I have very strong Christian beliefs, but I am not going to attack someone because they disagree with Christianity. It is ok that others do not think the same way I do. In fact, learning how others think help me to strengthen certain beliefs and adjust others.

When it is not ok to think differently is when we go after others for what they believe. There are those who want to shove their ideas down our throats and turn us into mindless zombies who only believe the narrative of their tribe. This is when the line is crossed. The solution is to stop trying to “convert” others and to stop thinking those with different thoughts are the enemy. The next Civil War in this country won’t be shooting at each other, it will be isolating ourselves from those with differing opinions.

We have to learn to talk to one another again. I am a huge fan of Celeste Headlee’s book, We Need to Talk. She teaches us how to have conversations that matter and I will say that I know her personally and disagree with a lot of her views, but we still can dialogue and be friendly. She knows what she is talking about and the book is worth the read or at least watch her Ted Talk.

Slowly but surely, we are losing our ability to think critically and to share those thoughts with others in a non-threatening way. As leaders, we need to be open minded and encourage our teams to fight this instinct to fall into the binary thinking trap. We need to encourage open dialogue and listen to those who think differently.


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