What are the rules of engagement by which you operate? Do you defy distraction and adapt to situations in order to maintain focus? Are you aware of the details that lead to execution on goals?
Have you ever wondered what compels a normally reasonable person to run headfirst into a disaster to help rescue a person in need? Have you ever wondered how a fireman or a soldier can walk calmly into a burning building or a firefight with the enemy?
While we can understand the concept of subjugating self to mission and the importance of the mission itself, what differentiates a spontaneous unplanned “rescue” action from a “mission” action is that an operator has been trained to deliberately utilize the chaos around him or her to their strategic advantage. They support their action with the unconsciously-competent components of their “kit” to be the most formidable operators on the planet.
The first key learning point that makes the Fifth Skill complete is establishing organizational Rules of Engagement. Good leaders and good teams work together to complete a mission successfully most of the time. Great Leaders and Great Teams completely understand the team’s Rules of Engagement before they ever enter the fracas, which makes them successful all the time.
Being strong enough of character to establish organizational Rules of Engagement and enforcing those rules – or, more importantly, explaining them to the point where team members want to follow them – enable a team to function at a much higher level.
Rules of Engagement are those conditional guiding principles that the team agrees to live with for the single purpose of being game changers. These might include things like no meeting Tuesdays, no cell phone Fridays, or no texting Mondays.
While technology certainly is an easy target, there are many other rules around which great team treaties can be made. The identification of meeting purpose, for example, creates a common understanding for all participants about how they should behave in a given situation. If the meeting is for the dissemination of information and it turns into a free-for-all about the company picnic, focus has been lost. If the meeting is for the purpose of problem solving and there are insufficient facts or reports with which to make sound decisions, the meeting is most likely a waste of time.
When your Rules of Engagement are embedded in your unconsciously-competent kit, you’re on your way to utilizing “Chaos as a Strategic Advantage”!
The second key learning point for the Fifth Game Changing Skill is focus. Operators and first responders have the ability to accept the environment they’re in, adapt to it as necessary, control it to the extent they can, and never take their eye off the objective.
In the techno-cultural environment we live in today, we’re bombarded with interruptions that we sometimes desire and sometimes don’t. Yet no matter the intent, we’re disturbed out of our thought process as many as 100 unplanned times each day. These distractions include everything from a person casually strolling by our office door to the chime on our iPhone letting us know a text, message, or phone call has come in. All of them take our mind off the task at hand for a minimum of 17 seconds, and that’s only if we don’t engage or respond!
The ability to stay focused on the task at hand, completing that task satisfactorily and then moving on to the next, allows us to achieve greater levels of personal output and success. These distractions are not going to go away, and, in fact, may become of greater scale than we can imagine today. Practicing focus, understanding the importance of single-minded purpose, and executing on it offers us competitive advantage.
The third key learning point of the Fifth Skill is execution, which is the ability to enact, finish, or complete the mission, strategy, or task to which we are committed. There are many people with good intentions and great minds, creative, intelligent, and willing individuals, who don’t have the capacity to complete the mission due to lack of focus. Further, there are many individuals who don’t consciously understand how much they are distracted on a minute-by-minute basis throughout the day, preventing them from being successful or, more importantly, a game-changer.
To execute effectively, all team members must be present and in the moment with a complete understanding of their responsibilities and authority, coupled with mission commitment and the ability to perform on target, on time, every time. Completing on small tasks and recognizing the success of meeting even short milestones makes a team hungry for more success!
In SEALs training, each mate is required to make his bed perfectly each day or pay considerable consequences, which may include a two-mile open-ocean swim while in uniform. The purpose of this activity, and getting it done perfectly, is to start each day with a small task successfully executed. They then build on that one success to the next throughout the day. Even if the rest of their day is horrible, they can still look forward to a good sleep in a well-made bed that night. Small things matter when it comes to execution; there are no shortcuts to success. -Ed Jenks, Author of CEO Point Blank and Sr Strategist for The Jenks Group, Inc.