Welcome to the final entry for my write up on Extreme Ownership. I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts up to this point, let’s get rolling with my last installment.
Let’s get after it!
Pillar 8: Decentralized Command
This discipline speaks more to those that work with groups or run their own businesses but I’m sure we can all pull something valuable from the lesson offered here. No matter how good we are at what we do, help is always going to out value being able to say you did it all by yourself. I’d be willing to bet that our quality of work will be much better with help than if we tried to tackle our objectives alone. There are many instances where even the best coach could use a helping hand. Let’s talk about some of them.
Working with groups. Whether it be teams or group classes at your facility, there is a fine line on what one coach can do with a group any larger than 8 to 10 people, especially if we are putting them in situations where safety is a concern. There are certain parameters that I, personally, feel comfortable working in solo but when it comes to introducing new movements or taking a group through a complex training session, I will always opt for help. There are a couple of different ways that we can handle these situations and get the best out of our athletes safely.
- Having an assistant: Obviously the best option. Any time we can have another coach on hand we are winning. They catch things that you leave out of your instruction, they give you eyes in back of your head, and they can be on one side of the room when you are on the other. All things you cannot do on your own.
- Pairing newer clients with more seasoned ones: A technique we use in Rebell’s classes is to assign newer clients with one that has been with us for a while and has proven themselves competent in our programming. This does wonders for both the seasoned veteran and the new client. The seasoned vet gets to experience learning by guiding someone through my general instruction and the newer client can see what hard work and focus can bring to them. Any time I do this, my clients always have a heads up and go through a little chat with me about what is expected of them. I have never received negative feedback from this strategy. It, of course, must be used with discretion and common sense. If anyone involved does not feel confident, skip it and find another route. This is very similar to the Mentor approach that Chris and Todd implemented into the Strength Faction. It works!
On the business side. I reference the Marines a lot but those fuckers know what they’re doing so it’s with good reason. In the Marines, I was always told to know the job of the rank ahead of me and carry myself as though I had that rank and responsibility. You know why people hate fighting Marines? Because they just keep on coming! Take out a leader and before the smoke clears from your barrel someone has stepped up into their place to carry out the mission. That’s how a team should work. Everyone on the same page, knowing the mission back and forth and the jobs of their teammates. Leaders should be leading from the front but if they go down the show must go on. There are a couple of things that are integral to success here:
- Educate your team as if your success depends on it because it does. I’m living a good example of why this is important right now. My business partner is leaving, my wife is just about ready to launch Baby C into the world of the living, my basement is torn out and undergoing reconstruction, I have Hawks camp to plan for, and I’m working with Todd and Chris to bring you guys the best experience possible. I have quite a bit going on right now. My main objective is to prioritize my work, educate my team to what the goal is and work with them on finding the best road to those goals. Any day now I will be out of the business first-hand and in a position where I will have to do what I can from home. I can’t do that if my team doesn’t know what’s going on. On the right side of efficiency, everyone knows everyone’s job and could fill in to some degree of competence at the drop of a hat.
- Constant communication. We have weekly meetings and now use GroupMe (thanks Jack!) for intermittent communication. This helps us keep each other on task and gives us a quick and sufficient troubleshooting avenue. You don’t want issues building up and believe me, they can stack up quick in just a week. As leaders, we must position ourselves so that we can be anywhere and know what is going on at all times. Surprises will kill you. We don’t like surprises. It is in our best interest to stay as far ahead of them as possible and should use every tool at our disposal to do so.
All points of this strategy lead us right into our next pillar.
Pillar 9: Plan
We touched on this when talking about Pillar 7: Prioritize and Execute so I’m going to just revisit some points here.
I hope that by now we are all up to speed with how important programming is for our success in training. Programming is our plan. It’s not an absolute but it’s a pathway cleared to our success. When I program classes out for Rebell I always send out an explanation of our plan for the next 4 to 6 weeks. It’s not only important to have a plan but to make sure that everyone involved in that plan has a good understanding of what to expect and a firm understanding of the idea behind it all. Sometimes it’s hard to fully understand the details if you can’t see the big picture. Give your people the big picture!
What’s just important is your backup plan. Yes, a back-up plan. For our programming this is something that I do on the fly and make sure my coaches can do the same. If we see someone is having some problems with the programming for some reason, we are able to direct them to a new path that addresses the issue at hand. This keeps them moving toward the goal in a seamless effort. Yay!
Want a simple outline for how you should conduct your planning? Here you go!
- Analyze the mission and make sure you understand the objective and the “why”.
- Identify your assets and resources available to you to complete the mission.
- Decentralize your planning process. Get your team involved!
- Determine a specific course of action keeping simplicity a priority. Don’t get fancy on me, Francis!
- Empower your stronger team members to develop a plan for the course of action. Let the people who are best at the specific tasks involved lay out a roadmap to success.
- Plan for bumps in the road. Think of everything that can go wrong and plan on how you will handle it. This is where keeping things simple is really important. The less likely bumps in the road the more likely your success will be.
- Mitigate your risks as much as possible.
- Delegate assignments to your crew. You can’t do it alone!
- Continually check and question the plan against emerging information to ensure it still fits the situation. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT set it and forget it.
- Brief all participants on the plan and ensure they understand it.
- After executing the plan, analyze the outcome and learn the lessons that come from it.
There you have it; a template for planning that ensures that you are covering all your bases. With a little bit of practice you will be a planning wizard!
Pillar 10: Leading Up and Down the Chain of Command
Regardless of what position I am hiring for, I am always looking for leaders. Whether I’m hiring for a coaching position or looking for someone to clean the facility, I want people with leadership qualities surrounding my every effort in business. This, combined with the rest of the strategies from Extreme Ownership, will almost guarantee your success.
Hiring followers will stress you out as you will have to micro-manage them. That’s not good for your timeline and it’s not good for their production. You want people that can be put in a position to succeed and take it from there, not someone that needs their hand held the whole way through.
No matter what position you are in on the totem pole, be a leader. Show up earlier than expected and stay late. Go the extra mile to make sure that you are offering a service that your competition is not. Stay on that perspective client until that 10th “no” finally turns into that one “yes” you were looking for. Work with your teammates, not against them, even if you don’t like them. If you see something wrong with the system, address it with a solution. The leader picks the scrap of paper up off the floor because of the pride they have for their work place, the follower walks past it because that’s the janitor’s job. I could go on and on with examples but it comes down to an attitude, I will do whatever it takes to better myself and those around me and not think twice about it.
Pillar 11: Decisiveness Amid Uncertainty
Making decisions is hard. Some of us have an easier time with it than others but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for those that don’t seem to have a problem with pulling the trigger. Make a rash decision and you can really screw things up. Screwing things up is enough to make most of us stand on the ledge wondering what the hell we should do. That’s understandable. Nobody wants to be the one that screwed everything up. Here’s the thing though, not making a decision is a decision in itself and it’s rarely the one that will lead to the best results. And truth be told, there aren’t that many decisions that we struggle with that warrant complete disaster if we make a misstep.
Things get thrown at us all at different speeds. Sometimes we have the luxury of being able to take our time with decisions. That could be a good thing. It could give you time to research your options and make an informed decision. Cool. Sometimes that can be a bad thing because there are no resources to reference and you end up wandering around in limbo. Limbo is never good! Limbo brings your success train to a halt and when you’re not moving you’re not progressing. Not progressing sucks. Don’t do that. Keep that train moving!
“No such thing as spare time, no such thing as free time, no such thing as down time.
All you have is lifetime. Go!” – Henry Rollins
If I had to guess, I would say that a solid 5 out of 10 of my new students are timid as hell when attempting to learn the kettlebell swing. Their first reps are slow because they are thinking about what to do and how to do it. In trying to not make mistakes, they give themselves no chance for doing the movement properly. My favorite cue for them is, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes”. Fuck, that’s my favorite cue for life in general. When we are afraid to make mistakes we freeze up and when we freeze up we give ourselves no chance for success. You have to be willing to go for it, all in, in order to get things right. Is every rep going to be perfect. Nope. Not even close. But, with each “mistake” we learn and the more we learn the better we get. The only thing you will learn from half-assing things is that you shouldn’t half-ass things. Got it?!
Here’s another thing to think about. How many of the greats in our world discovered what made them great through a mistake? Marinate on that for a minute. Yeah… pretty heavy stuff.
Life is pretty wonderful when you figure out that all you have to do is dive in head first. Everything will work out in the end, I promise you that.
Pillar 12: Discipline Equals Freedom
In the last chapter of this kick-ass book, the authors talk about why leadership is so challenging. They state that true leadership is “finding balance in the dichotomy of two seemingly contradictory qualities”. Now you can see why I reread this chapter 3 times.
I think that the authors did a fine job of laying this out and I don’t want to mess with it. So, here goes. This is straight from the book!
The Dichotomy of Leadership
A good leader must be:
-confident but not cocky
-courageous but not foolhardy
-competitive but a gracious loser
-attentive to details but not obsessed by them
-strong but have endurance
-a leader and a follower
-humble but not passive
-aggressive but not overbearing
-quiet but not silent
-calm but not devoid of emotion
-close with the team but not so close that they forget who’s in charge
-able to execute Extreme Ownership while exercising Decentralized Command
It is pretty easy to draw parallels from this to our coaching/business world. We have to have a little bit of everything but all in balance in order to be successful and that comes with time and practice.
I think that it’s worth mentioning that all of the lessons explained in this book are set out in stories of how the authors failed at them at some point. If you think that reading this book or my writings about it will solve your problems than you have another thing coming. You are going to make mistakes, you are going to fail, but if you keep these lessons close to your heart, every failure will be one step closer to success.
I really hope that you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it out there. I wish you all the best of luck in whatever you do and will always be a friend you can talk to whenever you need that.