The Sunday Mail
The roots of business and organisations are in the military. They are the best and most disciplined organisers. Yet for most students of life and business there is little awareness of the breadth and depth of military thought and wisdom.
To achieve greatness, think like a soldier. Never despair because you are in the line of fire; outlive your challenge. Under pressure, keep your presence of mind. Think strategically and make calculations. Raise your awareness of your own capacity, situation and challenges. Charge forward into action. You cannot just be in defensive mode, so careful that you do nothing. Life is meant to be lived not just preserved. You are born battle-ready and equipped to make a difference.
Hope is not a strategy and mere success is not an end in itself. Hold an inspiring picture of your greatness and take daily action towards it.
Learn all you can and practice daily. Do not wait for the big stage; your greatness is already in you waiting to be manifested. Read good books, share great wisdom and learn from what is working elsewhere. Extant and seminal works like “The Art of War” by Sun Tsu and “On War” by Carl von Clausewitz are required reading material for anyone dreaming of engaging in the battle arena of greatness. Define your desired greatness and in military terms, “engage” the enemy. Whatever stands in the way is just a stepping stone.
The grand strategy
What motivates you? What is the big goal? What big idea animates you? It is important to have a feel for the big picture. Nothing is frustrating as success that is pursued for its own sake.
Think big and see the bigger picture. When purpose is lost, motivation will be low. Be clear about where you are going and what you want to achieve. Think beyond things and mad activity. It is not how busy you are that matters but what you are accomplishing. Activity without focus is like a purposeless fire that soon fizzles out. What is the big idea that fuels you? What is your grand strategy? Without a big, grand strategy, you will always complain about the demands placed on you.
Stephen Covey in his book: “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, exhorted us to “Begin with the end in mind”. It is not how many battles you fight that matters but the end-game. Play to win and not just to play. Keep your priorities clear and do not celebrate too early before the final whistle.
Keep the end in sight. Do not become too complacent too soon and think you have arrived. Remember the tale of the tortoise and hare. It is not how fast you can run but whether you win the race that matters.
Take good care of the various laps along the way but do not forget that you are running a race. Life is a marathon. Life is like a boxing match. You will be punched sometimes and may lose a round. Just aim to win the fight.
Fog of war
When you do not know where you are and what is happening around you, you may be tempted to make hasty decisions based on hormonal activity. Situational awareness is a key to greatness. Whenever there is a lapse in situational awareness, this is called the Fog of War.
Situational Awareness can be defined as the perception of environmental elements with respect to time or space. It embodies understanding the meaning of things around you, and the projection of their status after some variables have changed. Do not go to sleep while charging forward with a big vision. Never sleep on the wheel.
Develop greater awareness of where you are, what is happening and could happen. Be alert and awake to your realities. If you do not know where you are and what is happening, you could find yourself singing after everyone has gone home.
In times of change, situational awareness is a critical competence. Times of change and challenge like what we are living through are typical. Keep learning and asking questions. When you do not know where you are, do not make hasty decisions. Keep looking, thinking and learning. Things will not be clear all the time. Sometimes things are hazy. That does not mean that the game is over. The fact that you have been hit by adversity does not mean you have been defeated.
Friction of war
Persevere and keep moving forward. What is planned and what obtains in real life may not always look the same. In the military, this is called “Friction of War”. When you encounter friction, do not give up. Stick to the fight even if you are hardest hit. Keep your written plan but out-live your adverse realities. Friction is the key to motion. When you encounter friction in your war of greatness, do not stop. Challenge your battles and keep going. Stop looking for the easy path. Your spirit is stronger than your body. Your resolve is stronger than your challenges.
Is a written plan useful then? It is, because you always need a good map. What you write down becomes your homing device. It helps you to know what to go for. Write your goals and plans. Focus on them and keep looking at them. Do not despair when what you are facing looks different from what you are experiencing.
Concentration of force
Focus your efforts and increase the intensity of your action. Focus on your goals and pursue them until they are begging for mercy. Focus is the key to personal power. When light is focused it has a cutting edge. Cut through your challenges with your focus. Mind your weaknesses and threats, but focus on your strengths. Concentrate your force and focus on your goals and where you are going. Take command, be ready and engaged.
Offensive and defensive
The key to greatness is how you are able to manoeuvre around the challenges and obstacles you face. Stop glorifying your excuses and giving them hero status.
Friction, fog or any other obstacle or decoy on your way are not excuse enough for lack of victory. You cannot always be defending and hiding from life. Step up to the challenge.
The greatest form of defence is attacking. Do not bother attacking people, attack your goals. Make things happen and make a difference. Be on the offensive, be a protagonist.
Do not give up so soon or let a few failures deter you. Never let those who laugh and scorn defeat your resolve. Charge forward with the zeal of a crusader. Meet opposition with action. Meet challenges with action. Meet problems with more action. Get out of the hole.
Do not be ashamed to start again or to engage. Be willing to rise and dance again. Failing once is nothing. Failing twice is nothing. Failing many times is nothing. What is most important is the end-game and the grand strategy. Your greatness is your birthright.