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Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader

Lead With Purpose

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy

We have all worked with “that guy” who constantly complained about everything. He or she had issues with every policy, where things were located and especially how undervalued they are. Most of us start off by listening politely and nodding along. We eventually make the choice to agree with them and hop on the negative train OR we distance ourselves from the person.

We have also worked with the person who heard a complaint or misunderstood a policy and decided to do something about it. She walked up to the boss and asked for clarity. He gathered data about how to create a smarter solution. We typically see something change as a result of their actions. We either receive a new way of doing things or we gain big picture clarity of why the problem exists.

I have never met a single person who would purposely choose option A and be the complainer by choice, but why do so many gravitate towards that option? I know I have been “that guy” on several occasions. Looking back it was because I failed to do two things: define a purpose and work towards that purpose.

Purpose in this context is not the in-the-clouds version that we can only define after climbing a mountain and sipping tea with the Dalai Lama. This purpose is more in-the-weeds and relates to what we are working towards. Are we trying to master our current role? Are we seeking a promotion? Are we just trying to finish a project?

Once we have a purpose, how are we working towards it? This is where we sort through the nuts and bolts to align our purpose with our actions. If my purpose is to master my current role, watching videos on YouTube or commenting on Facebook posts is not going to cut it. Instead, I need to be reading the regulations governing my job. I need to be learning from my boss and my peers. For this example, you need to ask yourself, “What do I want people to come to me for?” Then find ways to master it.

To put something into action today, think about that thing at work you shy away from. Do you put off writing award packages or some other routine task? You probably do this, because you don’t want to do a bad job. When we are really good at something, we look for ways to showcase it. So, learn how to get better at the other things. Next, ask yourself who the current expert is and ask them for advice. They will be excited to help you because it gives them a chance to showcase their talent. It is a true win-win.

We have the choice of whether we want to ride the negative train to nowhere and complain all day or do something to make our workcenter better. What option do you choose?

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Daily Deliberation: 15 October 2017

Yes! This is very timely for me. I was just scrolling through some posts on my news feed and was getting angry at some of the things people were posting. Why? Many of them weren’t posting them to be hurtful to me specifically. Even if they were, who cares? We have to stop giving people so much emotional control over our lives. My pastor says to stop worrying about WHO is right and work towards WHAT is right.

Daily Deliberation: 14 October 2017

Creating clones of ourselves is useless. In the book, Turn the Ship Around!, David Marquet talks about how he thought to be a great Navy Captain, he had to give great orders. His crew would be on the ready awaiting his every word and not move an inch until he said to. He realized he couldn’t think for dozens of people at the same time and that in order to be successful, each one had to lead themselves. We are not designed to walk and chew gum at the same time. We need to develop those on our team to do their jobs and let them go.

Daily Deliberation: 13 October 2017

Many of us are scared to accept ownership for what is going on around us. I learned day one as a SNCO that I am responsible for everything that happened in my workcenter. My boss was held accountable by his boss for the goings-ons of the flightline and he was doing the same to us. Once I understood this, it was freeing. I didn’t have to wait around for a decision, I just made one. Then I had to live with the consequences of that decision. We have that ability to respond as we choose to our surroundings, we just have to be accept accountability for our responses.

Daily Deliberation: 12 October 2017

I have learned we can be the smartest person in the room and have all of the right answers and still not make a difference. Until people realize we have their best interests in mind, they will never listen to what we are saying. If you want to make a difference, stop worrying about proving how right you are and start working towards a solution for your team.

Daily Deliberation: 11 October 2017

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.

Daily Deliberation: 10 October 2017

We have all had some sort of victory in our lives or careers. Many of us will let this success go to our head’s. This is normal. It is not a good thing, but it is normal. We work hard to achieve or to accomplish something and then it happens. We did it…we are number one! The problem is that we tend to forget someone else is now working to become number one. If we celebrate for too long, we will not continue to grow or advance.

Are You Just Playing ‘Follow the Leader’ with Your Team?

“If you think you’re a leader and you turn around and no one is following you, then you’re simply out for a walk.” – James M. Kouzes

Have you ever played the game, Follow the Leader? It is the one where you designate a leader and everyone mimics what they do. It is fun for about 5 minutes, because that is about the time it takes for you to realize it’s a pointless game. What if I told you this is what most people do on a daily basis?

Think about your daily routine. The things you do mimic what your boss does or what those around you are doing. Much of it is aimless and just bouncing from one task to another. We add things to our never ending to-do list and put out fires all day long. At the end of the day, what have we accomplished?

Now, let’s do something that will change this feeling today. Think of one thing you need to accomplish to make your work easier. It can be to organize a shared drive on your work computer that is so cluttered it takes forever to find anything. It could be to complete a report early that always sneaks up on you at the end of the week. There is something on your to-do list that would make your life easier, but you never get to it. Take that task and make it your number one priority when you start your work day.

That is it. Just do the one task before you fall victim to the other tasks. The key is that you prioritize this task and you are choosing what it is. Afterwards, think about how it felt. Most people tell me it was refreshing to actually have a sense of accomplishment. It is amazing how one person felt energized after cleaning her desk area. She said it felt great to have a purpose and go after it.

Imagine taking this a step further. What if we were able to create real purpose and direction for our day? We would stop reacting to all of the little things that pop up. We would not take on busy-work tasks. We would stop looking at what others are doing and trying to mimic them. We would be seen as working with a purpose by our leaders and actually accomplishing things. We would drive home thinking about what was accomplished with pride and looking forward to what is next.

We create this purpose by determining what our finish line needs to look like. Are we working towards the end of a project? Are we trying to get promoted? Sometimes it is simply to clean our desk. We have to build this muscle of defining a purpose so we don’t fall into the Follow the Leader trap. As time goes on you will be able to place that finish line much further out and work towards a purpose others will be interested in too. That is how you become the leader others want to follow.

If you are stuck or want to take a deeper dive into this concept, we created a free course on how to do this. Go here: Become an Expert in Your Current Role

Daily Deliberation: 8 October 2017

Judging by the posts popping up in my Facebook feed, we could all use this advice lately. We are wired to do something when we sense danger. The problem is that we are sensing negative posts or comments as if they are a saber tooth tiger in our caves. We feel as if we need to pounce and save ourselves by countering with vile comments of our own. We could all benefit by taking a moment and realizing we will survive if we don’t fight back. Reacting to anger with anger never works.

Not to be a self-promoter, but I cover this concept and how to respond in my ebook, You Can’t Beat Me! (bonus: all the profits go to maintaining and growing this site).

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