Life is about the choices we make.  What defines our character is not the random luck or trauma that comes at us every day, but rather the choices we make in responding to those gifts or troubles.  Even the simplest choices can have profound impact.

Don’t think we make a lot of choices?  Think again:

Based off that list it’s apparent how many leadership choices we make daily, whether we’re conscious of it or not.

Now for something neat, taught to me by a young Special Ops Weather Team member:  when you realize you made a poor choice, then stop following it and think…make a new and better choice to overcome that previous not-so-great one.  The choice is yours!

(In hindsight I also see he said “when” I make a mistake, not “if”.  That young warrior was even wiser than I gave him credit for!)


Top 10 ways to ensure your best people will quit

Top 10 ways to ensure your best people will quit

Leaders, pull up a stump…

Want to make your people quit?  Easy, follow the simple steps outlined the linked article (and copied here for quick reference).  This was written for the civilian working community by a smart person known as Mel Kleiman, but the lessons are spot on for most military organizations as well. Enjoy!


Here are 10 ways to guarantee that your best people will quit:

10. Treat everyone equally. This may sound good, but your employees are not equal. Some are worth more, because they produce more results. The key is not to treat them equally; it is to treat them all fairly.

9. Tolerate mediocrity. A-players don’t have to or want to play with a bunch of C-players.

8. Have dumb rules. I did not say have no rules; I specified dumb rules. Great employees want to have guidelines and direction, but they don’t want to have rules that get in the way of doing their jobs or that conflict with the values the company says are important.

7. Don’t recognize outstanding performance and contributions. Remember Psychology 101: Behavior you want repeated should be rewarded immediately.

6. Don’t have any fun at work. Where’s the written rule that says work has to be serious? If you find it, rip it to shreds and stomp on it, because the notion that work cannot be fun is actually counterproductive. The workplace should be fun. Find ways to make work and/or the work environment more relaxed and fun, and you will have happy employees who look forward to coming to work each day.

5. Don’t keep your people informed. You’ve got to communicate not only the good, but also the bad and the ugly. If you don’t tell them, the rumor mill will.

4. Micromanage. Tell them what you want done and how you want it done. Don’t tell them why it needs to be done and why their job is important. Don’t ask for their input on how it could be done better.

3. Don’t develop an employee retention strategy. Employee retention deserves your attention every day. Make a list of the people you don’t want to lose and, next to each name, write down what you are doing or will do to ensure that person stays engaged and on board.

2. Don’t do employee retention interviews. Wait until a great employee is walking out the door instead and conduct an exit interview to see what you could have done differently so they would not have gone out looking for another job.

1. Make your onboarding program an exercise in tedium. Employees are most impressionable during the first 60 days on the job. Every bit of information gathered during this time will either reinforce your new hire’s “buying decision” (to take the job) or lead to “Hire’s Remorse.”

The biggest cause of “Hire’s Remorse” is the dreaded employee orientation/training program. Most are poorly organized, inefficient, and boring. How can you expect excellence from your new hires if your orientation program is a sloppy amalgamation of tedious paperwork, boring policies and procedures, and hours of regulations and red tape?

To reinforce their buying decision, get key management involved on the first day and make sure your orientation delivers and reinforces these three messages repeatedly:

  • You were carefully chosen and we’re glad you’re here;
  • You’re now part of a great organization;
  • This is why your job is so important.

Mel Kleiman is an internationally known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. Visit Mel’s blog at

Be kind, always

The hardest letter one Airman ever wrote — Col Swanson shares his own story about hopelessness, choosing to end his life … and finding reasons to live again.  “Swanson went from writing the hardest letter of his life as a captain [saying goodbye to his family], to making one of the hardest decisions of his life as a colonel – to go public with his suicide attempts, in hope of possibly reaching someone struggling with overwhelming emotional pain.”

Leaders, remember you may not always know what our troops are going through.  Pay attention, and even when providing difficult counseling or course corrections please do your best to interact with respect and kindness.

Fine line…

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance.  Many senior leaders worry their confidence may be perceived incorrectly, especially those used to proudly wearing a warrior’s uniform.

That fine line is drawn by a person’s willingness to learn.  Those who are willing to learn are perceived as confident; those who know it all are perceived as arrogant.  Want to ensure those around you see confidence?  Display a little humility, and willingness to learn from others.  It’s like magic fairy dust…and BONUS! it inspires the confidence of team mates when they realize they’re trusted to teach you.


One of the worst things we can do is inflict bad leadership on our troops.–unknown ASOG/CC

Commanders and supervisors, it’s your responsibility to ensure our troops have the top notch mid-level leaders they deserve.  Developing the leaders immediately subordinate to you may be the toughest challenge you have, and it’s imperative you get it right.

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Simon Sinek describes his “golden circles” theory at a TED talk: First why, then how, then what. Ultimately he discusses the limbic brain, the part that controls behavior, where “gut” decisions come from, the part of the brain that drives decision making within people’s minds. Connecting with the limbic brain by explaining Why? first gets to the core of the mind and establishes a deep connection. Leaders who follow the method of explaining Why? to followers, subordinates, and customers will create a bond that leads to success.