By Ian Shafer
“When it comes to stress, don’t fight it. Turn it on itself and use it. Use it to make yourself sharper and more alert. Use it to make yourself think more and learn more.” – Jocko Willink
I recommended the book “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink to a client that has a core value of ‘Ownership Mindset,’ and I decided to reread it myself. I was quickly reminded of the parallels to the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®), and I’ve found myself thinking back to its lessons, especially in the last few weeks.
The book is true to the title, the continuous thread weaving throughout the book is the idea of taking full, absolute, and complete responsibility for everything that’s happening in your world. Jocko is continually reminding us to check our egos, admit our mistakes, and blame no one but ourselves.
Now more than ever, it seems problems are compounding in a snowball effect, each challenge complex in its own right. Below, are three things Navy SEAL leaders do to press forward amid those complications:
1.] Simplify the Mission
Jocko references a story in his training where SEAL commanding officers were critiquing the abilities of their team leaders to brief their mission and objectives to the ground troops. The challenge was to unpack a massively complicated situation and boil it down to simple terms that the soldiers could remember and quickly recall, even in the heat of battle.
More inexperienced team leaders would create very complex and lengthy slide decks, sharing every detail and nuance of the mission, thinking that it’d be best to share as much intel as possible. However, the commanding officers were looking for the leaders to make the mission as simple as possible and hammer home only the most critical information.
Ultimately, this lesson is all about clarity. Is your team 100% on the same page with what’s expected of them? Sometimes, it’s just as simple as making it clear to the team what it looks like to make today a success. We might not know what tomorrow, next week, or next month will bring, but let’s focus on what winning today looks like.
Ask The Questions: How do we win the day today? (Special thanks to David Bowman for encouraging us all to ask this question).
2.] Cover and Move
There’s a scene in the movie ‘American Sniper’ (based on real events) where we see Chris Kyle, a Navy Seal sniper under Jocko’s command, provide cover for a group of soldiers going door-to-door. He is positioned at a strategic vantage point to eliminate threats and provide support for soldiers as they move around the area.
The beauty of this is that the SEAL team is a completely different part of the military than the ground soldiers executing that door-to-door operation. However, since the higher-level commanders were able to identify a way for these siloed teams to work together, these two teams were able to align under the common goal to more safely and effectively execute on the greater mission.
Cover and Move is about teamwork. It’s about eliminating silos within an organization and ensuring individuals and teams understand how their role fits into a greater overall mission. Additionally, it’s about being open to covering for another team, even if that doesn’t seem to help your individual role at the moment.
Now, more than ever, no individual or team wants to feel alone or in a silo, everyone wants to know someone has their back and that they fit strategically into the bigger mission. How much better can someone work when they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, someone on their team has them covered? Are we working together as a healthy, functional, and cohesive team?
Ask The Questions: What part of our company is potentially siloed? How can we make sure they know we have their back?
Handpicked Related Content: Company Guide for Coronavirus
3.] Prioritize and Execute
Jocko knows his SEALs will face situations where they have multiple critical items in front of them, all of which deserve immediate attention. However, in the heat of the moment, there isn’t always the option to give each item the attention it deserves, and ‘analysis paralysis’ can have drastic consequences. The Navy SEALs know to verbalize this principle with the statement, “Relax, look around, make a call.”
For those of you running on EOS, this is already part of who you are. Speed of decision-making is a cornerstone of how EOS teams operate. I sometimes joke that EOS could easily stand for the ‘Execution Operating System’ because it truly is all about execution. Whether it’s a Leadership Meeting, a department Level 10 Meeting™, or a moment when you’re alone at your computer, when overwhelmed, fall back to the simple words ‘Prioritize and Execute.’
Action Item: Relax, look around, make a call.