Three Lessons from Ranger School


Good Thursday morning! I have missed writing to you. My time has been devoted to a number of other areas . . . on top of a full coaching schedule. More about one of these other projects in a moment.

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First things first! I recently had the privilege of pinning this tab on a soldier I know. If you are not familiar with Ranger School, it is one of the most grueling training programs in the U.S. Military. More than a physical test, even more than a mental test, this school is the ultimate in “gut-checks” for a soldier leader.
Imagine if you had to lead your team over a 10-day cycle, while getting only 90 minutes of sleep per day, and eating 1/2 the number of calories your body was burning. Only about a third who start the school eventually get their Ranger tab. And only one in ten passes all three phases — 61 days total — the first time through (as this soldier did!).
I asked him, after all the leadership training he has received previously, what were some new lessons that came out of this crucible called Ranger School? Here are three he shared with me:

  1. Deal with what is, instead of spending energy wishing it was something different. Good leaders keep their focus on executing the job that needs to get done, rather than being distracted by all the things that make the job difficult.
  2. Don’t confuse desire with ability. Some people simply aren’t cut out for the job, regardless of how badly they want it. Good leaders are clear and direct with subordinates once they’ve had a chance to assess their abilities. They don’t string them along to avoid an unpleasant but truthful conversation.
  3. Committing is better than no decision. Leaders can make the mistake of waiting too long to make a decision — paralyzed by “what-ifs.” Or they can make a decision, but not be fully committed. Good leaders know when they need to decide and then commit fully to their decision.

Perhaps you see the need for one of these in your leadership world today!

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In other news . . .
McKinnon & Company, Inc. has grown to become something bigger than me! As a result, I’m excited to tell you we recently formed the McKinnon Leadership Group, along with Brad Sytsma, to respond to growing demand for leadership coaching – the McKinnon Way. Stay tuned for more on this.

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Lead well.