Wisdom Day 28 August 2016: Quo vadis?

Lead good people down a wrong path
    and you’ll come to a bad end;
    do good and you’ll be rewarded for it. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 28, Verse 10, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Isn’t it amazing how right Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was?

L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. [What is essential is invisible to the eye.] (The Little Prince)

So what is important for a leader? Quo vadis? Where are you going? Actually, I should make it personal: Where am I going? Where am I taking folks? The real answer here is not some physical place. It may look that way, but it is not. It is not the top of the hill. It is not the end of the obstacle course. It is not graduation. It is not publication. It is not even money. Once I know why I am leading and where, only then should I focus on how.

A Sherpa guide isn’t just leading a climber to the top of Everest. The true goal is a thing of the heart. It indeed cannot be seen. Keep asking why. You will find out. If I ask, “Why are you climbing Everest,” and the climber says, “To get to the top,” we should both have a good laugh at the absurdity of the answer. Then we should keep going with the question “Why?” until why can not be asked any more.

Every day my five-year old daughter asks me why more times than I can remember. I either give her an answer that causes me to learn or an answer that is really no answer at all.

Whom do you lead? Why? “Quo vadis?”

Some resources for finding answers to where, why, and how leadership questions:

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Wisdom Day 20, July 2016: Clean Sweep

Hi, Jocko troopers! Today’s chapter from The Book of Proverbs is just an awesome spring of understanding and insight, especially when it comes to leadership. I hope you can find time to enjoy the whole chapter. As I have said before and will likely say again and again, I just love The Message translation of Proverbs by Eugene Peterson.

At Biblegateway.com I can listen for free as Kelley Ryan Dolan reads The Message a chapter at a time. I can follow along in the text. I can highlight, star, and add notes. It’s a pretty impressive site. Hope you can enjoy.

And hey, this is not just for “Christians.” After all, King Solomon was not a Christian, and he was the primary author. Shucks, he didn’t even speak English. Pretty crazy, huh? Well, on to one great passage on leadership from Chapter 20 (There are several others. Hope you ferret them out on your own):

After careful scrutiny, a wise leader
    makes a clean sweep of rebels and dolts. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter  20, Verse 26, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Well, here I am trying to figure out how this applies to me. I am not leading any company or military unit. I can see how this applies to high level leaders like Jocko Willink, Leif Babin, Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday, Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreesen. But to me?  Well, what comes to mind is that I am a follower of these men and many other purveyors of wisdom, including Jesus. So I guess I can start with scrutiny of myself. Yep, that works.

If I were working for me, I might have to fire me, given my high rebel and dolt quotient. OK. So today, I’ll see if I can’t line up better with operational wisdom, like being on time and catching up on my accounting. Then I can be better as a leader for the sons and daughters who call me Dad or Daddy, respectively.

Meanwhile, for improving skills as both leader and follower, I’ve found the following to be useful guides. May they also prove worthwhile for you:

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Wisdom Day 14 May 2016: A Good Leader

The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
    leadership is nothing without a following. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 14, Verse 28, from The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Does Jocko Willink have a following? I wish I could see the numbers charted day by day. The growth rate must be exponential at this point. Why the big success? Jocko is not a pop singer; he is not an actor; he is not a professional athlete. As far as I can tell, he is none of the things our society normally runs after in a big hurry. So why the success?

My take is that Jocko manifests wisdom in virtually everything he says, writes, and does. He may have foolish moments, but if he does, his wisdom is to keep those private. What basis do I have for these opinions? I read Extreme Ownership, the book he and his colleague Leif Babin wrote. I listened to Tim Ferriss’  interview with Jocko and other interviews since then. I have listened to every production of the Jocko Podcast. I look forward to every new release. I follow Jocko on Twitter. Jocko always talks wisdom. Maybe folks are tired of foolishness. Jocko is a welcome change.

As I experience what Jocko has written and said publicly,  I keep thinking of the Book of Proverbs, the premier book of wisdom for me. So for all my Jocko bros and sis’s, I hope to share regular insights from the Book of Proverbs. This is the first installation.

There are 31 chapters in the Book of Proverbs. Thus, there’s always a chapter for each day of the month. Today’s chapter is 14. The Message translation is one that really reaches me. The audio recording by Kelly Ryan Dolan grabs my attention. It makes me think. I hope it will do the same for you. To get audio, click the speaker icon toward the upper right edge of the chapter when you get to the page on BibleGateway.com: The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 14, The Message. I found plenty of great nuggets of wisdom in this chapter. Please let me know what you think, pro or con, believer or non. I delight in the dialectic and in Jockonian Dichotomy.

For your own copy of The Message resources, here are some choices:

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Jocko Owns Evil

At first I was repulsed. Even now, I must take care not to listen to some things too late in the day. Why is Jocko Willink bringing the evil of human behavior in war to the front in Jocko Podcast after podcast? Won’t this turn away listeners?

Now, though, I begin to get it. Jocko is not toying with popular subjects. He is facing into the ugliest subject of all: evil. Jocko is owning evil. He is executing in keeping with the philosophy put forth in Extreme OwnershipHe is a leader owning his world.

First Principle: Great does not equal popular

The most important missions are not necessarily popular missions. In fact, quite to the contrary. That is the essence of leadership. If everyone knew where to go and how to get there, we would need no leaders. A true leader knows how to set the objective, get the right people on the forward team, charge the hill, and take it. Later more and more followers can occupy the high ground. So Jocko is aiming to seize, clear, hold, and build on that hill we all confront: Mount Evil. To do this, he clearly is not trying to pander to the masses, hence the second principle.

Second Principle: Gaggles rarely take the hill.

Weed out the lukewarm troops. They may make great occupation forces. Save them for that. Take the hill with Chosen Warriors. The story of Gideon provides an example:

Then the Lord said to Gideon, “There are too many people with you for Me to hand over Midian to them, otherwise Israel will boast [about themselves] against Me, saying, ‘My own power has rescued me.’ So now, proclaim in the hearing of the people, ‘Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men returned [home], but ten thousand remained. (Judges 7: 2-3, AMP, BibleGateway.com)

With 10,000 remaining, God ordered the final sort:

Then the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many people; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water, and the Lord said to Gideon, “You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels down to drink.” Now the number of those who lapped [the water], putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men, but all the rest of the people kneeled down to drink water. And the Lord told Gideon, “With the three hundred men who lapped I will rescue you, and will hand over the Midianites to you. Let all the other people go, each man to his home.” So the three hundred men took people’s provisions [for the journey] and their trumpets [made of rams’ horns] in their hands. And Gideon sent [away] all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but kept the three hundred men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. (Judges 7: 4-8, AMP, BibleGateway.com)

So what was the result of this counter intuitive move? The 300 routed an army of Midianites that were “as countless as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore (Judges 7:12, AMP, BibleGateway). Well, yes, even in the Bible war stories get “amplified.” And yes, there is more to the story. And, yes, it makes good reading, even if the Bible is not your favorite field manual. And yes, one asks why those who lapped water from their hands were chosen over those who knelt to drink. Well, somewhere I found the explanation that those who lapped water from their hands had their heads up and could drink while maintaining situational awareness. Those who knelt were for a few moments all engrossed in quenching their thirst and thus vulnerable. Check it out.

There exists another historic example of a great leader who weeded out his followers in preparation for battle, in this case prolonged societal and spiritual warfare. When Jesus talked about his body as real food and his blood as real drink, people were outraged. It’s still tough to take such talk.

60 When many of His disciples heard this, they said, “This is a difficult and harsh and offensive statement. Who can [be expected to] listen to it?”  . . . 66 As a result of this many of His disciples abandoned Him, and no longer walked with Him.

So only the die-hards remained. The result was a movement that persists today.

Conclusion?

It is the die-hards, the hard core who change society. These are the ones who lead and own their worlds. They are the ones who face into evil. Some die and some live. But the movement wins.

What’s the point relating to Jocko’s Podcasts? You can get more and more insight on this if you choose to listen to the podcasts. My interpretation is that Jocko is after an elite following, those who will own their worlds, lead, and win. He is not talking to make himself famous. He is talking to make a difference in an evil world. Just my take.

And the take away? Hang with the Jocko podcasts, even if you find them sometimes repulsive. I think you will gain much insight. I know I am. So I will keep on listening, albeit not right before bedtime.

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Jocko Standard Time (JST)

Jocko seizes Saturday dawn.

Hey, I made it out of the rack at 04:41! Better than yesterday! How’d you do?

Run your morning on JST, Jocko Standard Time: Seize, Clear, Hold, and Build your dawn. Take the high ground of the day. Own to lead. Lead to win.


Love the Timex Ironman!

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Jocko’s Watch and COP Dawn

 Jocko Willink Seizes the Day
Jocko Willink Seizes the Day

I woke up: 5:49 a.m. The image of  Jocko’s watch appeared in my mind: zero four something every day. Today, I failed the Jocko test. OK, I lost this round. Why? I thought through the previous day. I identified time mistakes that led me to fail. Those I will fix today. Tomorrow, I’ll be up with Jocko again.

When I first read Extreme Ownership, I would have been proud of 5:49 a.m. Most of the time then, it was zero six something, sometimes even zero seven something. I was losing the battle. Opportunity after opportunity slipped away. I was down. I was out. On the ropes. Whatever image paints the picture of a beaten man for you, that was me. My world owned me. It was brutal. Constantly bludgeoned and whipped by events and situations, I was bleeding from every emotional orifice in my body, anus to eardrums.

Then providence brought me Extreme Ownership. One powerful statement grabbed my attention: “The leader must own his world, there is no other excuse.” This was the catalyst. The laser power of Extreme Ownership etched that sentence on my psyche. Neighborhood by neighborhood of my world I started applying the principles that U.S. Forces used in the Battle of Ramadi to push back terror: “Seize, Clear, Hold, and Build.”

So now when I see the picture of Jocko’s watch on Twitter, it reminds me that my morning is the most strategic terrain of my day. At this stage of the campaign to take back my life, morning is my focus. I have seized, cleared, and for the most part am holding as I build this crucial Combat Out-Post: COP Dawn. Yes, today, I took a hit. The battle never ceases. But even though under fire, I build. May you do the same. It’s not just SEALs who go to war. War is your day. Own it! Lead yourself and win! May your COP Dawn meet or surpass Jocko standard time.

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Love the Timex Ironman!

No Other Way

Through Extreme Ownership Jocko Willink and Leif Babin continue to shape my thoughts and actions. This is changing my life. It can change yours. It must. Please let it.

No Other Way
Own your world
Or your world will own you.
There is no other way.
© A. Allen Rowe, 2016

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