Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader


Self Leadership

Daily Deliberation: 10 July 2018

One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was from a martial arts instructor. This man was very talented, a proven champion, high-ranking and the owner of the school. However, he never referred to any of the students as “students.” We were fellow martial artists, workout partners, teammates, etc. He was clearly the leader of the school, but he viewed those on his team as equals; he just held the leadership role. It was such a powerful lesson in humility.


You Can’t Change My Mind!

We are living in a time where we have access to everyone and can find any piece of information we want; however, we resort to isolation and binary thinking. Binary thinking is when we automatically go to two different options when faced with a problem or decision. For example, democrat or republican; stand or locker room. We do this unconsciously based on our developed values. It is much easier to default to something we already know or trust the opinion of someone we respect than it is to dig deep into every option there is. We all do this and it is a very dangerous mindset to have as a leader.

Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, breaks down the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. A fixed mindset is when we are afraid to take chances and rely on past successes to avoid future failures. We refuse to attend a professional development session on something we think we “should” know at this point in our career. We just hope to get by without being discovered. We think that if we fail at something, our name is ruined. What is worse, is there are supervisors out there who reinforce this. The result: we don’t try things that challenge us or that we could fail at. By contrast, a growth mindset looks at new opportunities as learning moments. They strive for a successful result, but are more focussed on the journey than the result itself.

Why am I writing about unconsciousness and mindset? Because this is something we all struggle with and have to acknowledge if we are going to be the leaders who are truly dedicated to serving our teams. Society and our increasing inability to communicate with others is deepening the roots of fixed mindsets and binary thinking. We have become so laser-focused on the surface issues we never solve problems.

This is seen in two recent news stories. The first is the recurring issue of NFL players and the national anthem. Recently, the NFL stated a rule that players had to stay in the locker room or stand on the field for the anthem. This just fanned the flames further. Now, people are upset they are stripping away their freedom of speech rights. No one is happy and the real problem of police brutality against minorities is not one step closer to any real resolve. We all went binary on this issue from the start. It is too hard to talk about this touchy subject, so we took it to players ability to protest and views about how they hate the troops for doing it. We went binary. We should be talking about why minorities feel this way and express our views on why we feel the way we do and how can this problem be solved. Nobody truly believes these players hate veterans and we all know we have freedom of speech.

The other story circles the celebrity suicides of late. People are asking why they should be talked about when veteran suicide is being ignored. This could become another binary issue. Instead, lets take advantage of this and address suicide in general. All people could benefit from this and we can share the lessons we have learned to help others. It doesn’t matter who or what walk of life people come from; any suicide is one too many.

We only see two options. I know we are capable of more because another recent news story shows we can. That is covering where Lebron James is going to go after this season. Here we are able to break down the multiple variables (with Vegas odds) for a handful of potential teams. That is because, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. If we say he is going to Houston and doesn’t, we are not hurting anything.

Now take a look at the decisions you are making in your shop. Are you going binary on an issue? Are you solely referencing past successes? We need to have real conversations with those on our teams and get to the root of the issue. Then make a decision. I am willing to bet there is a better option for the masses than either of the binary choices.

Daily Deliberation: 3 June 2018

This is very true. Who we surround ourselves with and what we read shape us. What are some of your favorite quotes?

Daily Deliberation: 24 May 2018

From the time we are young, we learn to pass blame to avoid getting into trouble. We worry more about the consequences of our action than taking the steps to avoid them happening again. When we take ownership as an adult, we are not volunteering to get into trouble. We are 1 ) saying we accept the consequences and 2) accepting accountability to take those steps to prevent further issues.

Transformational Leadership Development: Idealized Influence

Today I would like to touch on one of the anchor points of a critical aspect of your development as a leader: Transformational Leadership (TL).

My main motivations for writing this section are two core beliefs:

  1. It is my belief that the traits that make successful leaders can be developed by focusing on the individual, while adhering to four core tenants of TL, and
  2. Leaders must lead, not manage (you lead people and manage programs)!

TL is often praised as the key to the total development of your followers; however we are not always shown “how” to lead in our developmental PME courses, and in my experience, much of the leadership development is left up to chance by letting individuals who have certain personality traits lead lines of effort—whether they are ready or not. But how do you, or your troops, develop these traits? Throughout this series I will explore the topic of TL and how you can apply it to your situation.

The first aspect of TL I would like to examine is Idealized Influence.Idealized Influence is your ability to act in ways that make you the role model— make your troops want to be like you! You are the consummate professional. You are charismatic, on-time, prepared, calm, positive, and stay true to your ethical and moral standards in the actions you take. You are honest, reliable and actively build trust with your followers. In other words you set the example; you walk the walk—but most importantly you have a vision.

You may not have all of these skills in your leadership toolbox now, but since we have identified what traits you need to practice you can start to include them in you daily interactions with your co-workers. For example, if one of your followers is having problems with a specific task you could take action by:

  1. Showing them how to do the task,
  2. Explain its importance to the overall objectives of the organization, and
  3. Highlight how important becoming proficient at this task is, and how they will be able to build a better tomorrow for their organization.

No matter how big your area of influence is, by practicingIdealized Influence, you can make an impact with your actions and foster a positive developmental environment for you troops and yourself.

In my next entry I will explore Inspirational Motivation, and how you can use it to broaden your influence and lead your teams.

Daily Deliberation: 21 April 2018

We are all in different places in our lives and our careers. It saddens me to see someone get labeled before they ever have a chance to truly prove who they are. It also upsets me even more when I do not give someone a chance because of initial impression. We need to give everyone a fair show no matter what their history is.

Get More out of What You Read

Last year, we did a post on finding more opportunities to read. I have received some good feedback on this and have been asked what I meant when I stated a more studious approach and about my habits in general. This post will hopefully answer those questions.

I have had many seasons where I was listening to multiple podcasts, audiobooks, reading articles, reading physical or even eBooks, and more… I got to the point to where I was wondering what I even read. I felt like I was driving down the interstate and reading all of the billboards. Then when I got home, I could only recall one or two.

For me, I find that reading in 20-30 minute sessions allows me to really absorb what I just read and not become over-saturated with content. I like to then take some notes in my Evernote App or even jot them down in my weekly planner. This gets the material out of my mind and allows me to reflect on it more. It is a win-win situation.

I have been toying with multiple methods to organize the material too. Ryan Holiday uses note cards by topic, some use writing journals, some use Excel docs and label the tabs by topic. I use tags in Evernote and recently just bought this amazing writing program, Scrivener. It was $45 and allows me to do some very cool things. For example, you can create multiple folders in a project and label them as the topics. Then add your notes there and recall them at will. I just created one for “reading notes” and have the books I read as the chapters and topics in folders in the research area. It is working very well so far.

Another trick of mine: after I finish reading the book, I google book notes for it. There are a lot smarter people out there than me and they can condense that 300 page book into 1,000 words of notes. I add these to the notes that I had taken as well.

I still do not capture everything from the 40+ books and 200+ podcasts I consume each year, but I get the big things that really matter to me and I will eventually get a solid a system in place to where I can recall bits of this content while I am writing articles or books more clearly.

What tricks do you do that I am missing here?

For book recommendations:


Daily Deliberation: 28 March 2018

We are a product of our environment. We are introduced to different values and taught certain social traits in our homes. However, every child raised in the same conditions, does not turn out the same. That is because we still have control over who we ultimately become. This is true in the work setting too. Just because we have a bad boss or work in a toxic environment that we can’t control doesn’t spell doom. We still control how we respond to what happens and who we will be when we leave there.

Daily Deliberation: 15 February 2018

We tend to mirror or compare ourselves to others in the world or our workcenters. There are times it is useful to see how we are performing on the team in comparison to others. However, we should not try to become the other person or even think our contributions should be equal to that of others. We are on a team because we have a role to fill, we can’t all do the same thing. Never thought I’d steep to quoting the Patriots, but their saying…”do your job” is appropriate to everyone. Learn your role and then do the work. Don’t try to be like the others.

Blog at

Up ↑