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.

Decisions

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?

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How to Overcome Any Obstacle

Some things I won’t ever achieve.  Why?  Because I get in my own way and throw up obstacles like this. 

“It’s too hard.”  “I can’t do it.”  “I’m not talented enough.”

The thing is obstacles are man-made.  Obstacles are our way of limiting ourselves.  The next time you encounter one, trade in “It’s too hard” for this.

“God, I place my faith in you.”   And get about the business of achieving.

Here’s a little inspiration that perhaps will help you tackle a challenge you’ve been putting off because “it’s too hard.” 

The #1 Way To Help More People

Stop complaining about them.

Stop complaining.

If you live to teach or coach like me or just give advice from time to time, which is pretty much everyone, you’ve probably complained about someone not taking your advice.

“I don’t understand why they just won’t do it!”

“They have the information!  All they have to do is use it!”

“I don’t think they actually want to get better!”

Saying things like this holds us back from actually helping people because it causes us to frame them in a negative light.  We stop viewing them as someone to help and instead view them as someone to avoid.

Talking like this is also foolish because people so often don’t need “information” to change, they need inspiration.  Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been inspired by a negative person or someone I felt didn’t care for me very much.

The more we talk down about the people we’re trying to help the more we begin to shun them because they’re not like us. They’re not teachable.  They’re resistant.  They’re no longer an opportunity.  They no longer make us, the teachers or advice givers, feel good about ourselves.

The Bible says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3 (NIV)

I’m pretty sure this includes coaches and advice givers.  I doubt we’re given a pass because our intent is good!

The thing is I truly want what’s best for people.  I mean it’s the core of my personal mission statement.  I also believe you do, too.  But we have to be okay when people ignore advice, are slow to act, or go another direction.

We must remain positive about them anyhow.

This is something I’ve struggled with a lot.

This is something I’m praying about because I need God’s help to kill my arrogance. To draw attention to the plank in my own eye.  To help me remember we’re all God’s imperfect children.

Trading in arrogance for Godly perspective helps all of us better assist our neighbors, family and friends and be the only Bible some people may ever see.

Question: Has talking negatively about someone kept you from helping them?

We All Go Home At Day’s End

At the end of every workday, I do the same thing.  I board the bus and go home.

I traveled more in my last job so at the end of some of those days, I went to my hotel room.  But after a few days, I’d of course go home.  All of me would go home.

At age 16, I was at my heaviest weight ever – 220 pounds.  At the end of the school day, I’d go home.

When I was in my mid-twenties and living in Ohio I blew through money and partied a lot.  More than at any other time in life actually.  You know where I wound up at the end of every late night?  Yep, you guessed it.

Home.

We all end up there, and we take every part of ourselves with us.  The next morning home is from where we launch into the new day.  And we leave no part of ourselves behind.

Since moving to Alexandria, Va., I began this blog, started a marketing coaching business, co-led Financial Peace University twice with my wife, started working at the Pentagon, became an active member of my church and more.

Through all of this I’ve improved my marriage, made wonderful friends, grown closer to God, changed lives and accomplished a whole lot.

But you know what?

I also struggled.  I shed tears.  I faulted.  I stumbled.  I made mistakes.  I battled insecurities.

In other words, I went home.  Just like the overweight high school kid who tried to be kind and make people laugh to make friends while simultaneously he hated who he saw in the mirror and mentally beat himself up every single day.

Just like the guy who partied too much in Ohio and who was stressed out and lonely.  The guy who was living check-to-check and barely able to pay bills at times.  At the end of each day, he went home.

You see, when we launch from home into the world, we take our faults, problems, flaws and insecurities with us.  Like ghosts, they travel everywhere at our side.  They influence our decisions.  Dictate our mood.  Pollute our spirit.  And at the day’s end, we take them home again with us.

We don’t read about these parts of people’s lives in Facebook status updates.  But we sure do take them home with us after a day of leading a team.  Running a business.  Caring for children.  Delivering goods.  Supporting an executive.  Or whatever it is you  do each day.

From the admired and respected leader to the neighbors who seem “perfect” to you, we all go home until the next day when we step out into the world with our ghosts and do it all over again.

So what’s my point?

Cut yourself some slack.  Relax a little about that co-worker.  Give that family member another try.  Don’t be so critical of your boss.  Hug your spouse more and complain less.

Remember that we all launched into the day from the same place we took our problems with us the night before.

Home.

Question: How do you deal with unpleasant aspects of your life?

How Achieving Hinges On Mindset

When I was learning to play the guitar, there were many days I just wanted to quit.  “It’s too hard.  I’ll never be able to do this,” I told myself.

So I’d put the guitar down and go do something else.  Something easier.  Something I was good at.  Something I could accomplish.

In those moments of frustration I suffered from something that keeps so many of us from achievement.  A fixed mindset.

In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Carol Dweck explains how achievement hinges on whether we approach something with a fixed or growth mindset.  Simply put, growth-minded people welcome opportunities to learn, while people with fixed mindsets focus on talent and accomplishing the task flawlessly right now.

Those with a fixed mindset also shy away from situations in which they see a risk of failure or judgment.

That’s exactly what I was doing with the guitar. Rather than see it as a learning opportunity and something I had to work at, I was committing self-sabotage by focusing on my failure to get the song right, right then.  In my mind, I was a failure and not talented enough.

The truth of the matter is that was bogus.  The truth was I just needed to remind myself that I was learning, needed to practice more, and over time I would get it.  End of story.

The same is true for you.

You have a choice in whether or not you accomplish whatever it is you set out to do.  It’s all about the mindset you employ along the way.

Question:  How has a fixed mindset held you back or a growth mindset helped you achieve?

The Secret To Living The Dream

Most of us who work work for someone.  Someone with entrepreneurial spirit.  Someone who values the freedom of working for them self.  A problem solver.  Someone with a dream.

Those of us who seek greater meaning to life, seek out our why or our place in the world.  A dream.

Those of us who make decisions today to benefit our children, even unborn children, seek the same thing.  A dream.

Somewhere in every business out there, someone is living the dream.  It may be the CEO.  It may be someone in the middle of the organization.  It may be the most junior person.

Someone you know is working to discover their purpose in life or place in it.  Perhaps it’s you.

Parents all around are sacrificing, exercising discipline and planning so their children may benefit.  Children they may not even have yet.

“Living the dream” is completely relative.  It has nothing to do with your position, title, age, gender, race, income, the automobile you drive, the size of your house or the type of coffee you drink.

“Living the dream” is state of mind.  A perception of one’s world and all that is good in it.  A fuller view.  A view that recognizes there are so many who are less fortunate while simultaneously rejoicing over the blessings in our own lives.  That’s the secret.

A state of mind.

It’s the only thing that separates those living the dream and not.

So, I ask you, are you living the dream?

Tuesday Question – Parents, I Need Your Advice!

It’s Tuesday Question time!  You may have seen MaryBeth and I are expecting our first child this year.  As expected, we’re getting advice out the ying yang and it’s so appreciated!  But we need some advice about something else – our marriage.

What advice do you have for first-time parents to keep their marriage healthy and strong once the kid is here?

Please comment below!