Are You Living at ‘Full Operational Capability?’

The military has a phrase “initial operational capability.”

Military units, equipment or pretty much any capability is deemed, for short, IOC when it meets minimum standards.

After a period of time and much more work, capabilities are deemed full operational capability, or FOC.

At that point, they’re ready to go to war.


John Maxwell said, “There are only a handful of important decisions that people need to make in their entire lifetimes.”

“What?” you may be thinking.  “I make important decisions every day.”

But do you really?  Or do you spend most of your time managing the important decisions you already made?

See, I agree with Maxwell.  I believe it’s impossible to make truly important decisions every day and live a successful life because the key to accomplishment is execution after you make a good decision.

If all you do is make decisions, you don’t leave yourself time and energy to act on them.

A decision is like a company vision.  It’s meaningless without a mission, goals and action.

Execution is what makes life happen.  Execution is when you find out if the decision was sound or not.  Execution, or better yet, as best-selling author and business coach Jim Collins said, “brilliant execution” is key to success.

Brilliant execution after brilliant execution after brilliant execution.

The F-22

In 2007, the U.S. Air Force‘s newest fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor, reached full operational capability.

It reached this milestone 26 years after the decision was made to build it.  Yes, it took nearly three decades of research and development, successes and failures, and challenging execution to achieve what began when Ronald Reagan was U.S. president.

Simply put, it was a pretty ugly process.  But in the end, a fighter jet like none the world has ever seen was produced because of a truly important decision followed by execution.

Again, it wasn’t pretty.  It shouldn’t have taken so long.  It shouldn’t have cost so much taxpayer money.  It should have been easier.

The fighter jet that is you

The story of the F-22 sounds very familiar to me.  It sounds a lot like life.

We make one of our few truly important life decisions, and we set off to achieve it.  We can see the end result.

Along the way we achieve successes.  We experience failure.  Things take longer than we planned.  We stumble.  People tell us it can’t be done.  “It’s a waste of time,” they say.  We bounce back and rattle off a few more successes.  We trip again.

Does this sound familiar, parent?

Does this sound at all familiar, spouse?

Does this sound like your life, entrepreneur?

Does this sound like you?

It sounds like me.  It sounds like that fighter jet.  It sounds like pretty much anything worth fighting for, doesn’t it?

Doesn’t it sound like the road we take when we believe in something?  When we’re inspired to achieve?  When we’ve made a decision to go out there and do something?  Maybe something bigger than ourselves even?

It took 26 years to produce the F-22. In 1981, the decision was made to build it because military leaders said the U.S. needs it.  Following the decision, thousands of people began executing to make the decision come alive.

In the end, the world’s greatest fighter jet reached full operational capability and entered the sky above.

It may not have been smooth getting there, but it’s there today because a decision was made, goals were set and people executed.

It made FOC.

Will you?

Question:  What decisions do you think lead to living at full operational capability?


4 thoughts on “Are You Living at ‘Full Operational Capability?’

  1. Man, I love this metaphor. So many people think that right after making the decision, you should be 0 to 60 in 2 seconds. But that’s not the way it works. It takes an investment of time and energy to build up. Love this.

  2. I totally agree with John Maxwell’s insights. The decision of personal and spiritual growth lead to a more fulfilled life. I have made the choice to grow myself and have seen the many benefit’s that come from it. Great example and post.

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