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Business Lessons from the Top 0.01%

Business Lessons from the Top 0.01%

MORE THAN 400 climbers have reached the summit of Mount Everest. There are currently 2450 active Navy Seals. 536 astronauts have journeyed into outer space. But since 1946, only 257 pilots have flown as Blue Angels. In other words, 0.01% of all U.S. military pilots in history have achieved the unparalleled performance symbolized by the Blue Angels gold helmet.

And consider this. Throughout the Navy, all personnel are reassigned every three years. That means for the Blue Angels, each year, roughly a third of their colleagues and half of their leadership are brand new. That kind of disruption would put a huge strain on any team if the culture were not designed to handle it.

Former lead solo Blue Angel pilot John Foley writes in Fearless Success: “In a high-performance organization, individual talents will come and go, but the culture and the process of the organization need to be so strong that change doesn’t negatively impact forward motion.”

Could your team or organization continue to function a high level with that kind of change? What the Blue Angles do is inherently unforgiving. They must get it right each and every time they are called on to perform. Just getting by is not an option.

Foley shares how the Blue Angels make that happen—the processes, the culture, the values. But fundamental to all of it—always running in the background—is a mental approach he encapsulates as the Glad To Be Here mindset. That phrase drove them to be the best they could be.

Glad to Be Here Mindset

Glad to be Here is about respect and gratitude. It represents a shared purpose that is larger than the self. It requires a large degree of self-awareness. It is the “differentiator, the spark, that ignites all of the key elements that teams are looking for, such as chemistry, trust, and camaraderie. When people actively engage with this emotion and allow it to define their being, it promotes a state of mind that allows for open and honest human interactions with more efficient outcomes.”

I found it especially instructive that they used it in their debriefings. I’m jumping ahead a bit here, but this is critical. You can really see the value of this mental approach in action. As each team member contributes to the debrief, they end their comments with “Glad to be here.” And here’s why: “This statement reaffirms your commitment to the team, and over time, it can remind you of your purpose larger than self. It’s an acknowledgment for your thankfulness to have the opportunities and challenges that life presents. While emotions vary day to day, the intent is to stay aligned to a positive mindset.” It signals to the other team members that my comments reflect my commitment to the purpose of the team. “We are aligned.”

Glad To Be Here is most important in times of trial. Reminding yourself of the sources of your gratitude is an awesome way to drive out fear and immobility. It connects you back to your higher purpose. It refocuses the mind on the positivity, allowing you to spot new opportunities for innovation and execution. It’s the differentiator that can turn a bad situation into a great success.

Now on to the process.

The Diamond Performance Framework

This framework (DPF) takes the basic concepts of vision, plan, execution, and feedback to a new level. The DPF provides a process to achieve high performance. It is a cyclical process designed with continuous improvement in mind.

What unifies the DPF is the CenterPoint. The CenterPoint is your “north star,” and every team needs one. It is your reference point for all decisions. “It provides you with a sense of ‘true north’ that allows you to react quickly in changing situations. It keeps individuals and teams focused on specific goals and outcomes.” Ask yourself, “What is the CenterPoint of my life? What is the one thing that all of my actions flow through, that informs key decisions I make?”

1. Belief: High performance begins with a belief, and we perform at our belief level. If you raise your beliefs, then you can raise your performance. If you never raise your beliefs above your current reality, you can never achieve the performance of the top 1% of performers in their field. So, we have to be clear about our beliefs and then ask how do I raise those belief levels.

On a path of continuous improvement, you are constantly resetting your goals to the next level. So, step one is a commitment to liberating beliefs and continuous improvement.

2. Brief: Before every flight, the team assembled to brief their upcoming performance. “The brief is the place where you take your focused, elevated beliefs and turn them into consistent, efficient actions.” The brief is sacred. And together with the debrief, it provides a feedback loop that takes everything you’ve learned and applies it to upcoming actions.

Foley stresses that this is not a planning exercise. Rather the purpose is preparation and focus. The goal is to “bring collective preparation and focus to future actions.” This is where they connect, align, and commit. The key here is dynamic focus. This is the ability to be task focused while maintaining an awareness of the overall situation. “It creates rapid compartmentalization, followed by immediate execution.”

3. Trust: High trust is the key to execution. In the Blue Angels, trust is critical. It provides a “clarity of mind” that allows them to focus on the task at hand. It is not taken for granted. Foley notes that it is something that they work on constantly—earning it every day. It becomes a contract between each of the team members. It becomes a source of strength that the team can draw on. The key is strong communication. Competency, commitment, and consistency.

Your working relationship becomes nonverbal, but you understand it concretely. When you reach predictability—when you can trust, inherently, without thinking, in the actions and character of yourself and those around you—true high performance becomes possible.

4. Debrief: This is the platform for continuous improvement. It is an “inward look for an outward result.” In the debrief they look at the good and the bad together. “We focused on the aspects of what went well so we could continue to improve. We shared areas where we were out of parameters; we made contracts to adjust our actions in the future.” Feedback is key. And every contribution ended with, “Glad to be here.”

The Glad to Be Here Debrief created a safe environment that drove out fear. The secret sauce is respect (safe environment), humility (check your ego), openness (openness and honesty), accountability (own it and fix it), and gratitude (glad to be here).

The debrief is the key to rebooting the system and kicking off continuous improvement. The debrief allows you to reassess and elevate your belief levels, which brings focus to your highest potential. With elevated expectations, the brief allows you to prepare for your best action. Building high trust enables execution with commitment. And finally, the debrief allows you to process all of that information and imbue it with gratitude.

Your living in the present, constantly learning from the past, and designing the future with joy.

There is much to learn here. The emphasis on gratitude is the ingredient that is frequently missing from leadership and team building. The insights in Fearless Success will have a huge impact on your leadership if you will incorporate them into what you do. This is how the best liberate their beliefs and move beyond what they thought they could achieve.

Glad to Be Here

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:30 PM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Teamwork



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