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Since starting my Doctorate program, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the 8P concept I proposed in my book “The First Principles” and apply each of the 8Ps. Each concept is important in a program that taxes your time, patience, and thinking. One way a researcher understands how concepts or constructs go from theory to application is by researching, observation, and testing. I had the great opportunity to observe the 8Ps in Action.
The 8Ps and the 4 Stars
During my career, I had the honor and privilege to be the Command Senior Enlisted Leader for four great leaders; two were 4-Star Generals, and two became
4-Star Generals. Each of them displayed certain characteristics of the 8P Focus.
General C. Robert Kehler = Preparation and Planning
General Kehler’s focus was on planning and preparation; his strengths were foresight and global awareness. I first met General Kehler when he assumed command of Air Force Space Command in October 2007. At the time, I was serving as the 14th Air Force and Joint Functional Component Command for Space Command Chief.
During his briefing to the Commanders and Senior Enlisted Leaders, he detailed his concern about the uncertainty and complexity of today’s battle space and the future challenges for the Space environment. He challenged the Commanders and Senior Enlisted to begin thinking, planning and preparing how the command could meet the uncertainties of a challenging future.
In January 2011, General Kehler assumed command of USSTRATCOM where I had the opportunity to be his Command Senior Enlisted Leader. As he did at Air Force Space Command, he held a briefing for the Commanders and Senior Enlisted Leaders after he assumed command. One of his key focus areas, and eventually a command priority, was to prepare for the uncertainty and complexity of the national security landscape. He challenged those present to think how USSTRATCOM and its Unified Command Plan missions would operate in an environment of persistent conflict, complexity, and uncertainty that stretched across all warfighting domains of air, sea, land, space, and cyberspace.
General Kehler’s focus was on planning and preparing the Command by developing our people, processes, and programs to meet unexpected challenges of the future. We needed to be flexible, adaptive, and collaborative in our thinking and operations to deal with surprise and to meet the uncertainties of tomorrow’s unforeseen problems.
General Kevin P. Chilton = Priorities and People
General Chilton’s focus was on mission priority and people, and his strengths were alliance and relationship building, character authenticity, and critical thinking. General Chilton’s leadership strategy was through mission prioritization. His focus was on prioritization of USSTRATCOM Unified Command Plan missions to ensure every person assigned knew their importance and priority. He established his mission priorities based on the importance of the assigned mission to National Security.
Throughout his time as the commander, he would state, “If everything is important, then nothing is important.” By setting priorities for the command, everyone knew what was important and the order of precedence. When briefing others about his priorities, he would talk about how in his role as the Commander of USSTRATCOM he had to juggle several missions daily, but only one mission, the nuclear mission, would have grave damage upon the National Security of the Nation. The nuclear mission was the #1 priority for USSTRATCOM.
Another key priority for General Chilton was people. General Chilton was an “enlisted persons general”. From January through December of 2009, United States Strategic Command celebrated the “Year of the Enlisted Global Warfighter” and the “Global Warrior” enlisted force development program to focus on the history, heritage, and mission of Strategic Air Command and United States Strategic Command and the contributions of the enlisted force in its missions. It was an important initiative for recognizing the enlisted force and the contributions they provided United States Strategic Command.
In his letter recognizing the year, he stated: “Every enlisted Soldier, Sailor, Marine, and Airman is critical to mission success. It is imperative that our enlisted warriors continue to be the capable, credible, and faithful men and women America has come to expect. I expect leaders at all levels to embrace these two programs and encourage participation by the enlisted personnel in your work areas.”
General Carlton “Dewey” Everhart = Passion and Performance
General Everhart was a leader full of passion for life and people, and his strengths were an inspiration, encouragement, and developing leaders.
I had the opportunity to work for, then Colonel Everhart, at Altus Air Force Base when he assumed command in September of 2005. Under his leadership, two unique talent development programs–Airmen’s Time and Enlisted Force Development–were highly successful and were emulated by the Air Force.
Airmen’s Time produced a new focus on total force professional and leadership development of the officer and civilian workforce resulting in a consolidated Warrior Professional Development Center. The leadership philosophy change produced outcomes that validated the Airmen’s Time development process. It changed from an individual leadership development focus to a collective leadership development focus.
In the end, Airmen’s Time: The Altus Concept was a highly successful journey. It developed a strong organizational culture based on core values, teamwork, diversity, respect, leadership development, and transformational change.
It built a culture of innovation, teamwork, and growth that spread throughout the wing and developed leaders for the future. It developed a strong outcomes-focused performance culture within all organizations and fostered a leadership culture that crossed group boundaries and established a strong team culture.
General William Shelton = Persistence and Perseverance
General Shelton was a leader of persistence and perseverance, and his strengths were the focused purpose and strategic vision. General Shelton hired me as the 14th Air Force Command Chief as I was returning to the United States from my year assignment to the Middle East.
I had the unique opportunity to see his vision become a reality as he built the Joint Space Operations Center (JSPOC) into a consolidated operational space command and control and space situational awareness center.
I arrived after the JSPOC had relocated to a new facility, but just in time for the move of the 1st Space Control Squadron and Unified Space Vault from Cheyenne Mountain to the JSPOC. As General Shelton’s vison took shape, it provided an integrated space capability for the Nation and the Warfighter.
Despite some obstacles, he championed the strengths of the net-centric and space tracking capabilities of the JSPOC to operate in the space domain. Under his leadership, dogged determination, and drive, he built a first-rate space operations center that is vital to understanding the space environment, critical to the warfighter and is a National asset.
Leadership is complex and demanding, so you must prepare yourself mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally to be an Unstoppable Leader.
To lead with focus, clarity, and intentionality means you need to remove ambiguity and uncertainty by establishing clear goals, clear objectives, a clear strategy, and clear tactics. Clarity and focus provide you the decision-making ability to make critical and timely decisions in times of chaos and crisis.
Several years ago I bought an Eagle in Flight sculpture for my office and it came with a Certificate of Authenticity from the artist. He personally signed the certificate and guaranteed this was a genuine original and authentic piece of his artwork and not a replica, or copy. By personally signing the certificate, he was staking his character, credibility, and trustworthiness as an artist and businessperson for all to see.
What if each leader had a Certificate of Authenticity attached to them so everyone could see that they were the “Genuine Article” and not a false leader? The real question for you is, if you had a Certificate of Authenticity attached to your leadership, would you stake your character, credibility, and trustworthiness by signing it?
Today, more than ever, people want authenticity. They look for authenticity in the products they buy. They look for it in the foods they eat. But most of all, they look for it in their leaders. They want leaders who are honest, credible, and reliable. They want leaders who have integrity, are responsible, and are accountable.
They want leaders who are committed to connect and communicate with them as real people and not just employees. They want leaders who are real and are the “Genuine Article”. Authenticity means a person is accountable and responsible for their actions, words, and decisions.
Integrity is the trust factor in life. Integrity is the consequence of setting and maintaining high standards, honorable practices, virtuous ways, and moral actions. Authentic integrity allows your character to stand the test of time and challenges. Integrity in your life means that you intend to live an authentic and true life. You cannot survive if you lack integrity or wholeness.
Authenticity is about being the real you and not being afraid to live out your inner core. Authenticity is being a genuine leader and living your unstoppable inner core–your values, beliefs, and worldview.
Awareness is the deep dive of Discovery while Authenticity is having the courage and commitment to live out your discoveries. Authenticity means you are accountable and responsible for your actions, words, and decisions. Being an Unstoppable Leader is being who you really are–honest and unafraid.
In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Polonius is providing advice to Laertes, “And this above all, to thine own self be true. Then, it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” This is critical for you to understand as a leader–your leadership is always under scrutiny by your people.
A synergy, or Sweet Spot, develops when your inner core and your Character, Competence, Courage, Commitment, Communication, Connections, and Choices are used together to lead and influence others.
Leading from the Sweet Spot means your inner core is aligned with the 7Cs and drives how you live your life. This convergence of your inner core and the 7Cs allows you to lead by be design and not by chance.
Why is leading from the Sweet Spot important? When you have learned to lead your own life, then you have a solid foundation from which you can effectively lead others. If you have not mastered leading yourself, then your words, actions, behaviors, and decisions will not be congruent with your inner core.
Leading from the Sweet Spot means your actions and behavior must align with one another in order for you to make an impact on your team and organization. Through your words and actions, you lead by example and live out the culture you want your team and organization to follow.
Leading from the Sweet Spot means you have mastered the art of self-insight and self-mastery and truly know who you are as a leader. You must be able to lead your life through Personal Insight and Personal Mastery in order to achieve your desired end state and life goals.
Leading from the Sweet Spot means your leadership drivers, your character, your attitude, and your thinking are in tune with each other and you have inner core synergy.
Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est
(Knowledge is power)
Sir Francis Bacon
The first real mark of becoming an Unstoppable Leader is Self-Awareness. Leadership begins from within, and who you are as a leader comes from who you are at your inner core.
Self-awareness means you understand your inner core. Before you can lead others, you have to recognize your true self. Unfortunately, too many leaders refuse to discover who they truly are before they begin to lead and then struggle when adversity comes their way.
Becoming an Unstoppable Leader requires that you are well grounded in your character and that your core values, beliefs, and worldview are integrated into your leadership.
Self-awareness means you have clarity of your passions, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Without personal clarity it is impossible to have professional clarity and therefore impossible to lead congruently with your inner core.
You need to have a deep understanding of who you really are before you lead. You need to know and understand your strengths, weaknesses, capabilities, abilities, and your emotions. Nothing is more important to your success of becoming an Unstoppable Leader than your self-awareness.
Self-awareness is believing in yourself with conviction and commitment. It is an awareness of your strengths and your challenges. Nosce Te Ipsum is Latin for Know Thyself. The saying is attributed to many Greek and Roman philosophers to include Socrates, Aristotle, Heraclitus, and Cicero.
Self-awareness gives a leader a greater understanding of his or her values, beliefs, and worldview. It provides insight on the how and why they make decisions. Self-awareness is about understanding your self-efficacy, self-leadership, and intentional clarity.
Knowing yourself improves your self-discipline and self-control in different situations, allowing you to work with others during challenging and demanding problems more skillfully and diplomatically. It allows you to use the right capabilities at the right time and in the right situational context.
Finally, knowing yourself likewise provides you more confidence in developing yourself for the present operations and future challenges.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J. R. R. Tolkien
Each day you live, you write a page in your life story. Each year you live, you add another chapter to your life story. Everything you say and do in your life adds to your life story. Your life story is your message to the world. What will your life story say about you? What will your message tell the world?
Will your message tell of a great odyssey like Odysseus had or will it tell a great tale of overcoming the odds like Earnest Shackleton? Will your message tell the world you lived an unstoppable life or will it tell a tale of mediocrity and a tale of an unlived life?
The truth is that you get to choose what your message will say because you get to write the storyline. Maybe you have been living uneventfully and maybe the message is not telling the story you want the world to read and hear. If that is true, then you can choose TODAY to write a new page in your unstoppable life. Stop for a moment and think about what you want your life to become.
Think about what you want your message to be. Think about the difference, the significance, the impact, and the inspiration your message can bring to others. What will your life message say to the world?
It begins with your how you choose to live you day. How do you wake up each morning? When was the last time you woke up, jumped out of bed, and exclaimed that you were awake, alive, and ready for the opportunities of the new day? Are you ready to face the day’s challenges, excited to make an impact? On the other hand, do you meet the morning with a sense of drudgery and despair?
When was the last time you woke up early enough to watch the dawning of the new day? To see the rebirth of opportunity and possibility as the new day brings light to a darkened world.
When was the last time you stopped to drink deeply of the wonder of the morning and the gift of another day and just be amazed at life? The gift of a new day has arrived for you to proclaim, “I am Awake, I am Alive, and I am ready to take on the World today!” When was the last time you shouted that you were Alive?
I have had the great opportunity and privilege to see the new day arrive in 32 different countries, all 50 States, 500 miles from the North Pole, and deep in the South Pacific and it still amazes me. I still stand in awe as I watch the wispy tendrils of light pierce through the darkness and bring light and new life to the World.
Your journey through life and self-discovery is much like the start of a new day. As you grow, develop, and reinvent yourself, the tendrils of light tear through the darkness of your untapped potential and uncharted territories
The Greek Philosopher Socrates is quoted as saying, “The unexamined life is not worth leading.” The most important investment you can make is in yourself. As you learn more, discover your life’s purpose, and establish a vision for your future, the light shines through on your true self. That investment will determine your unstoppable life.
Each day you choose to operate in your unstoppable nature or we choose to operate out of your mediocre nature. The choice is made when you decide to proactively create your day or just live in the day and accept whatever comes your way. It is a choice of desire and fire or a choice of complacency and just good enough. Living an unstoppable life is a choice and you must make the choice to be unstoppable. Throughout my life and leadership I found eight keys to living an Unstoppable Life.
To live an unstoppable life you need to live inspired and live for more than just yourself. When you live an unstoppable life you are an inspiration to others. On October 3, 1889, General Joshua L. Chamberlain said these inspiring words at the dedication of the Maine Monuments at Gettysburg Battlefield Cemetery:
The inspiration of a noble cause involving human interests wide and far, enables men to do things they did not dream themselves capable of before, and which they were not capable of alone. The consciousness of belonging, vitally, to some-thing beyond individuality; of being part of a personality that reaches we know not where, in space and time, greatens the heart to the limits of the soul’s ideal, and builds out the supreme of character. In great deeds, something abides.
On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate the ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls. This is the great reward of service, to live, far out and on, in the life of others.
Chamberlain was talking about the reward of service before self, in the ability to live your life – far beyond your own life – through service to others as an inspiration.
To live an unstoppable life you need to live greatly and not a life of mediocrity. Living greatly means you live a life that counts and live an abundant life. On April 23, 1910, President Teddy Roosevelt spoke these words at the Sorbonne in Paris, France:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
What he was talking about was living greatly and persevering throughout your life. Teddy Roosevelt was an example of an unstoppable life. When he was young, he suffered from asthma and other childhood sicknesses that could have left him weak and fragile throughout his early life. He challenged himself daily, developed his mind and body, and put himself in situations which required him to grow in order to overcome what life had put upon him. He challenged himself to live a life of greatness and abundance instead of a life of mediocrity.
To live an unstoppable life you need to change yourself every year and develop a life development plan. At the beginning of each new day, take the opportunity to start a portion of your life over by establishing new goals and new opportunities to change your life.
Change is not easy and takes some perseverance and will power. Anything is possible if you are determined to make it happen. All change begins with you and requires that you be committed to improving yourself. Dr. Viktor E. Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist who survived the Holocaust.
In October 1944, Frankl and his wife Tilly were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp for internment. Soon after arriving at Auschwitz, Viktor was sent to another concentration camp called Kaufering and his wife Tilly was sent to Bergen-Belsen. They would never see each other again and Tilly would die in the camp at the age of 24.
Viktor’s mom would be murdered in the gas chambers in Auschwitz and his brother would die in the same camp. After being confined for three years and despite all the pain and suffering he endured, Dr. Viktor Frankl would write the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, about his life in the concentration camp and his ability to decide how he would look at his circumstances. He chose his outlook in life.
In his book, two quotes stand out. “When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves” and “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
Being unstoppable is a mindset. It is an unwavering belief in yourself, your abilities, and your capabilities. It is a belief in your unshakeable purpose and values. You have to believe in yourself with conviction and commitment. It is an awareness of your strengths and your challenges. It is about self-efficacy, self-awareness, and intentional clarity.
Once you have recognized your purpose and values and ingrained them, you begin to shape your unstoppable life. Unless you have an unwavering belief that you have something of value to offer this world you’ll never be unstoppable.
The unstoppable mindset means that no matter what life tosses in your way, you can overcome it. It is about being fearless. Fear is a creation of your mind. It is a response to an uncertainty or an unknown. You need to be fearless in your life to be unstoppable. Being fearless is overcoming your feelings of fear and pushing through the uncertainty.
The only way to combat fear is to face your fear and take the necessary action to alleviate the fear. To get over fear, you have to take action. Being unstoppable is about making life choices. Life is a series of choices, and every choice you make defines you. The most important choice you can make is who you will become.
If you want to live an unstoppable life, you need to change your mindset and win the war of your thinking. You have tremendous inner strength as an individual and by applying this inner strength you can achieve what you want in life. By changing the way you think and applying different effects in your life, you can create new possibilities in your life.
TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE
The true key, if you want to live an unstoppable life, then you need to take 100% control of your life. Stop blaming others for your failures and faults and start accepting responsibility for your life.
If you want to succeed in life, then you need to create the outcomes of your life and quit letting others dictate your life. You are the owner of your success, failures, emotions, and feelings. So, take ownership of your life! To be truly unstoppable you must take charge of your life.
As long as you are bound to others for their acceptance and approval, you will not own your life. An unstoppable life is the freedom and liberty to express yourself authentically and unapologetically.
If you are consumed by the need for others to accept you, then you will be consumed trying to prove that you are worthy of their approval. You need to realize that you are worthy and loved in your own right without others justifying your existence. You need to have the courage to be yourself and accept who you are and what you have to offer the world.
It is your life…Own it! No one can change your life. You are the only you that can do it. It is up to you…you are the key to your life! If you want to realize victory in your life, then you have to take charge of your life. Along my journey through life, I have learned a few things for an unstoppable life.
- First, in order to be happy I must live my life according to my purpose and not what the World wants. I need to live authentically and congruent with purpose, values, and beliefs to live with integrity. This is important because my purpose drives me each day and gives me direction.
- Second, I actively decide not to sacrifice my values and beliefs on the altar of appeasement and enlightenment. My values and beliefs provide me the solid rock on which I stand. They are unwavering and ground me to reality.
- Third, I do not care what others think of my life, my values, beliefs, and my worldview. They are my anchor points in life. I am not trying to live their lives, I am living my own.
- Finally, I respect others for their values and beliefs and accept them for who they are. I am not talking about tolerance, but respect. I do not need to accept everything someone does with their life, but I do need to respect them and accept them for who they are. They are trying to live their life on this planet, too.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE
To begin taking ownership, you need to realize that each of us is given 24 hours each day to use as we wish–24 hours, no more no less; not a minute more. You can choose to use that time to create or change your life’s outcomes or you can chose to waste the hours. The choice is yours.
How you choose to use the hours will determine if you will be successful or if you are wasting your time on earth. Each day, each hour, each minute is a gift of life and opportunity. You need to unwrap each day as a gift and see what you can do with the gift to make your life unstoppable! If you want to be successful, if you want to “be alive,” if you want to have great passion for living on purpose, then you need to take responsibility for all aspects of your life—successes and failures. They are yours, you own them. Be intentional about your purpose in life.
Your thoughts, attitude, choices, and your decisions are the reason you are where you are today. Your life is the outcome of how you look at life, your attitude toward life, your choices, and decisions you make in life. You are the sum of these four. You are free to shape your attitude, free to change your thoughts, and free to make life choices and life decisions, but you must also understand the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order of effects/consequences of these four areas.
YOU ARE ACCOUNTABLE
You are accountable for how you make your choices in life, how well you prepare yourself in life, how you persevere and persist against the odds, but moreover, you are accountable for your outlook or attitude about your life. You need to own your decisions, choices, and mistakes and be ready and willing to take the essential steps to learn from them. You must take accountability for your life or someone else will.
Where you are today in this moment of time is a direct result of your choices and decisions. But, where you go in the future depends on what you envision for your life and what actions you plan to take to make it happen.
You must quit blame shifting and start being accountable for your life. Stop making excuses for your decisions, they are under your control. Stop transferring blame to someone else or something for the outcomes of your decisions. When you blame others for your problems and challenges you deny personal responsibility and you give away your power of choice.
Life is not fair or equal. If it was fair and equal, we all would be living the same lifestyles. Life dealt your cards to you when you were born, now you must shape your life. Life will try to define you. It is your response to life though that will define you.
NEVER GIVE UP
To live an unstoppable life you must never give up on yourself, your dreams, and your life vision. You must never give up on believing in yourself, who you are, and what you are capable of doing. On October 29, 1941, Winston Churchill spoke these words at Harrow School after having survived the first major air war called the Battle of Britain:
This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy…There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.
He told the students at Harrow School to never give in and to never give up despite all odds being against them. Winston Churchill provided them a key to becoming unstoppable.
You must not give up on yourself, your dreams, or your desire to be unstoppable. You can choose to live a mediocre life or you can choose to push back on life and live a life of significance and impact. Seek to always be the very best person you can become each and every day.
The degree to which you can realize your dreams is contingent on you taking responsibility and never giving up on your life. No one can live your life or make your decisions. Living an unstoppable life is a choice and you must make the choice to be unstoppable.
I grew up in a military family. My grandfather, father, uncles, aunt, and cousins served as enlisted personnel in all four military services. They felt it was ones duty and an honor to Serve your Country. They served during World War II, The Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War.
Because of their Service my family instilled in me service to the Nation and the value of the Five Cs — Character, Competence, Courage, Commitment, and Choice. Each of these lessons where critically important in my growth and development.
Service to the Nation is why I chose to serve in the Air Force and why the 5Cs are the underlying foundation of Unstoppable Leadership. Despite being taught these valuable lessons it was not until it was not until I joined the Air Force that I truly understood the significance and meaning of both these lessons on my life and leadership.
It was during Basic Military Training (BMT) that the 5Cs lesson began to unfold. One of the first things they provide you at BMT is the big book of success–the training manual. Inside this book was everything you needed to know in order graduate from BMT and be successful in the Air Force.
The book established the expectations and standards for a successful career. It specified the roles and responsibilities for each rank and it explained the significance of each core value. The book gave you road map to get promoted but it was up to you to navigate the critical path. The 5Cs was the key and the compass to navigate the map.
BMT Leadership Lessons
Character: Character plays a vital role in your life and leadership. It is integral to honest leadership and is the difference between success and failure. The core values of Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in All We Do established a core foundation for building my character and establish my leadership expectations.
It drove me answer the questions:
- Who are you?
- What are your values, beliefs, and worldview?
- What kind of leader will you be?
The key BMT lesson in character was that living your core values every day is an important aspect of your character in action. Our true character remains hidden until our actions and words reveal it. It cannot be touched but is it felt by others through our actions. It remains unseen until other see it in our deeds.
Competence: Competence plays a vital role in your technical expertise. Competence is a measure of your level of ability and expertise. It defines your technical expectations and helps you define what talents, abilities, capabilities, and skills you need to be the expert. The more competent you become, the more others trust in your expertise and ability. The key BMT lesson in competence was that you must be passionate about growing, developing, and reinventing yourself to hone your competence to a fine edge. Your level of competence directly relates to your ability to influence your team or organization. The more competent you become, the more others trust in your expertise and ability.
Courage: Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness, ability, and commitment to act in the face of our fears. It is getting out of your comfort zone and taking the risk to lead and live greatly. It takes a lot of inner strength to do what you think is right even though it may not be easy. It takes courage to sacrifice for those we lead each day. The key BMT lesson in courage was as a leader you needed to set and enforce the standards daily and being the living example for your people every day. You are accountable and responsible for mission accomplishment. You are accountable means you are fully responsible for the assigned task, job, or project and responsible for it success or failure based on your actions. You must have the courage to lead each day despite the challenges.
Commitment: Commitment is your ability to hold ourselves accountable and to remain resolute in your convictions. Commitment is your unyielding choice to be responsible and accountable for your life, your choices, your character, and your competence. The key BMT lesson in Commitment was the oath of enlistment. When you take the oath of enlistment you are swearing an allegiance, a sacred commitment, to defending this Nation. “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Choices: Everything you do to be successful is based on your decisions, choices, and actions—you are responsible and accountable for your choices and decisions. It is by choice, not by chance, that you will determine your life. All life and leadership begins with a choice. The key BMT lesson in choices was it begins by you taking responsibility and accountability for your choices. Each day you choose to believe in yourself, your abilities, your courage to act, and your daily direction. Choice plays an important and powerful role in your life and leadership BMT established the unshakeable foundation for a successful career and successful leadership. Everything else I did in my career was based off the lessons learned during my induction to the Air Force.
Air FORCE Leadership Lessons
The next book of success was AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure. This book established the criteria for leadership and development levels and responsibilities. AFI 36-2618 gave you a path to be successful leader and subject matter expert. It gave you the knowledge and understanding of what was expected of you at each level of responsibility and career level. Again, the 5Cs was the major theme in my development.
Character: Integrity is the cornerstone of a leader’s character. It is the stamp of an authentic leader. Integrity must remain intact or a leader loses credibility and becomes untrustworthy. Character begins with you inner core. Defining your character begins by reflecting on who you are and seeing if your actions reflect positively on you as a person of character.The Key AFI 36-2618 lesson in character was the foundation of trust is found in the integrity of the leader. No matter the leader’s competence, courage, commitment, or even or rank, if they sacrifice their integrity they sacrifice their trustworthiness as a leader. Character is key part of the unstoppable inner core, shaped by our purpose, values, beliefs, and worldview, and manifested in our character authenticity, integrity, trust, and credibility.
Competence: Competence is the mastery of your abilities, skills, talents, aptitudes, and capabilities. To maintain your competence level you must commit to lifelong development and growth. Your competence must be grown, developed, and honed each day of your life. The key AFI 36-2618 lesson in competence was a leader knows their strengths and weaknesses knows what kind of expertise they will need to learn to keep proficient and effective. Pursuing mastery and continuing to grow, develop, and reinvent yourself empowers you for greater leadership roles and responsibilities. Your level of mastery is determined by the quantity and quality of hard work you put in to education, experience, development, and learning. Continuous learning helps you stay competitive by developing new capabilities and skills.
Courage: Courage demands great strength and at times great sacrifice–physically, mentally, and morally. Physical courage utilizes the strength of your body for the act of bravery. Mental courage utilizes the strength of your mind to fortify you for an act of bravery. You must display personal and moral courage daily. The key AFI 36-2618 lesson in courage was that being a leader means Moral courage means taking the moral high ground and standing up for your beliefs and values while risking alienation and ridicule by those who do not agree with you. Physical and mental courage enables you to act in the face of danger, personal risk, or to overcome fear and complete your task or mission. Moral courage gives you the strength you need to stand firm in your convictions. It is also the willingness to take the negative consequences of an unpopular action
Commitment: It is an unwavering choice to grow and develop on a daily basis. Commitment allows you to keep your character intact during trials and challenges and builds trust, credibility, and respect through your commitment to live by standards and principles. The key AFI 36-2618 lesson in commitment was as a leader of a team or organization your people will watch to see if you are committed to living the core values, and living the standard, and then they will follow your lead. Commitment shows in your attitude and actions and by being personally dedicated to organization goals and values.
Choices: Your destiny and career are determined by the choices you make. Your decisions are the single most important factor that drives your life. Your decisions are the A.I.R. (Action, Impact, and Result) or the breath of life you take each day to live. Each decision is made from your action, the impact of the action, and the results of that action. The key AFI 36-2618 lesson in choices was as a leader your decisions and choices have significant consequences in your life and leadership. At times, being the leader, requires that you make unpopular decisions for the right reasons. Combined all these lessons taught me the value of a lifelong commitment to growth and development. It is never too early or too late to become a better leader I needed to continuously grow, develop, and reinvent myself if I wanted to be the very best leader for the Air Force.
The 5C’s Model represents what I learned from Family, My Service to my Nation, and Leadership Lessons along the Way. Each of the 5C’s — Character, Competence, Courage, Commitment, and Choice are interconnected and guide me through each step of my life and leadership. In everything, you do, set your leadership on the foundation your character, competence, courage, commitment, and choices to move forward and to take action. Take the risk to conquer your fears. Take the risk to lead in the great adventure called leadership. It is your leadership; take the risk and become an unstoppable leader.
The Unstoppable Leadership Fundamentals are those key and essential leadership elements that drive and shape our leadership. Each component describes a part of the leadership experience.
No room for Bystanders
Today, there is no room for leaders who want to be passengers or bystanders in leadership. Your actions will determine if people will follow your lead or find a new leader. The reality is the world changed and the expectation for leaders have changed.
The world is a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment (VUCA). Which mean for a leader you must be able to operate in a dynamic, complex, uncertain, and unclear environment. To make it clear as the Troop Commander did for me VUCA means:
Volatile: The speed, size, and scale of change in the world today has a great impact on events around the globe almost instantaneously. Change is a constant in a VUCA environment and to remain successful and unstoppable you must be able positively respond to continuous change.
You must learn to have the capability to lead through continuous change and learn to be adaptive and flexible throughout the change process. An example is that people are no longer limited to Ocean boundaries or imaginary lines drawn on a map to connect with other people. They reach out daily via the internet and social media to build a virtual nation.
Uncertainty: World events are unpredictable and this unpredictability makes it impossible to prepare for the unknown and uncertainty. In a VUCA environment, improvising is being able to create opportunities and solutions in an unexpected challenge or situation. You must be flexible and adaptive to the situation and prepare to handle challenges.
Complexity: The chaotic nature of the world combined with the volatility and uncertainty of global events creates an environment of confusion and difficulty for today’s leaders. It is chaotic and unpredictable. A leader today needs to understand market globalization, global migrations, global influences, social media, technological advances and the unyielding pace of change.
Ambiguity: Today, there is a is a lack of clarity or transparency surrounding world events. It is hard to predict what threats are in the world if you do not know the who, what, or why things are happening. In a VUCA environment, it requires your full focus on the situation, it requires that you have clarity of mind and purpose, and intentional leadership action. It requires 100% of your leadership capability to lead in the world today.
Global Impact of Leadership
The overarching theme in the collected data in both the military and in the corporate world is a call to develop and prepare leaders to operate in a world of globalization, global diasporas, global markets, social media, technological advances and the unyielding pace of change in both the military and business operations.
This multidimensional leadership chaos and organizational complexity creates challenges for today’s leaders to lead effectively.
Pace of Change: Leaders must be flexible, adaptive, and pioneering. They must be able to improvise, adapt, create, and disruptively innovate as rapidly as the current pace of change. A leader must be able effectively lead and manage change to adapt and adjust to a dynamic and ever-changing global market.
Virtual Markets and Social Media: A leader must be able to move and operate in the virtual marketplace and the social media domain. A leader must understand how to reach out via the internet, social media, technologically and through search engines to communicate and connect with people around the world.
Global Transformation: A leader must have a clear understanding how technology, diversity, the redistribution of people on earth, failing nation-states and the interactions among diverse cultural groups affect organizations in a global market and global society. A leader must be multi-culturally astute and understand how to work with peoples of different countries, cultures, religions and worldviews.
A leader needs to be culturally smart and talented to use this cultural awareness to lead across barriers, generations and understand how to work with people of different countries and cultures.
Furthermore, a leader needs to lead across multicultural and national boundaries to increase the effectiveness of the organization. Relationship building results in both personal and professional development
Global Leadership Competencies
Risk-Taker: A leader must be able to demonstrate the capability to act in an influential, urgent and steadfast way to realize outcomes and results. They do not fear risk but comprehend and manage it to achieve desired results. A leader encourages and rewards creativity, innovation and continuous improvement.
Divergent and Convergent Thinker: A leader needs to engage in “out-of-the-box” synchronicity thinking and think at the tactical, operational and strategic level when looking at ambiguous and complex problems to develop innovative strategies and tactics.
Foresight: A leader needs to be able to thinking short and long term with a future-orientation focus. The must have a mental picture of what the organization should look like and be in the future and provide an inspiring and achievable vision.
Team and Organization Designer: A leader must be a master at networking, relationship and alliance building. They must understand that the relationship of the leader and their team is built on trust. A leader must be able to enlarge and empower all team members to work together and across functional areas.
A leader needs to be able to build relationships with all people inside and outside the organization. A leader needs to understand that a good team needs direction and growth to become a truly great team. A leader must be able to connect at the heart, mind, body and soul level in order to tap into the potential of their people. A leader learn how to serve in order to lead.
Entrepreneur and Intrapreneur Mindset: This concept builds on the overall Unstoppable Leadership model. The model is an Inside out/Outside leadership model. You need both to lead effectively. The Entrepreneur Mindset is about innovation, risk taking, effects and outcomes focus, and influential impact.
The Intrapreneur Mindset is on adding value within the organization by leading with the core values, leading authentically, and leading intentionally. Both mindsets. A leader needs to be able to positively influence the moral element of an organization and determines the outcome of situations. They remain focused on the organizational goals and leverage all available resources to achieve that goal. A leader needs to be able to critically analyze problems and situations and foresee second, third and fourth order effects of proposed policies or actions. Thinking long term; being future-oriented; having a mental picture of what the organization should look like and be in the future.
Leadership Begins with you
Becoming a Unstoppable Leader begins with you. It begins with a condition of your heart and starts with the desire and passion to make a difference. Leadership encompasses the integration of the heart, mind, body, and soul.
Becoming a leader is a choice. It is the choice you have to make in your personal and professional life. Becoming a leader isn’t easy and not everyone is willing to become the leader they need to because they are unwilling or unable to move out of their comfort zones or they are happy in their mediocrity.
Being an Unstoppable Leader is about having the energy, passion, integrity, trustworthiness, accessibility, and character authenticity to be the very best leader you can be. Unstoppable Leadership is a conscious decision to take ownership for becoming and being a leader.
An Unstoppable Leader is about sharing a sense of purpose, an inspired vision, a believable mission, and a plan of action to the team. Unstoppable Leaders lead by Example with a Frontline Approach.
Take a moment and turn on any news channel, read any newspaper, or just peruse the internet and the immediate conclusion you draw is that we are experiencing a Global Leadership Crisis—a leadership crisis of leaders who lack character and personal integrity. The main reason or cause of this crisis are leaders who, on a daily basis, compromise their character at the altar of expedience, personal gain, and likeability. In addition, these scrupulous leaders undermine and devalue their personal integrity for duplicitousness, greed, and profit.
It seems strange that for a world crying out for leadership integrity, that integrity does not seem to be a valuable characteristic in leadership today. It does not seem to matter where you turn, there is another leader falling from grace because they have compromised their personal integrity, they have compromised their values, and they have sacrificed their character. What I find truly alarming dis the incongruence between a leader’s private life and his public leadership. Just look at the news today. Leaders with integrity and principles are mocked for being too religious or too narrow-minded while Politicians who lie and deceive are praised for being progressive and forward thinking. What a conundrum!
Institutions and Leaders that should and were held in high regard–Governments, Presidents, Governors, Politicians, CEOs, and Military Leaders–are guilty of dishonesty, greed, corruption, and self-indulgence. It makes you shake your head and wonder what leadership really means. It seems to me that it stems from a devaluation of personal and leadership integrity and a willingness to compromise character for personal gain. It also makes me wonder if we are not living in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”. Those who have seen real leadership try to tell us the true meaning, but we still think that the shadows we see on the wall is true leadership. What madness!!
This devaluation of integrity and a willingness to compromise character for gain will have worldwide implications. In the globally interconnected, ambiguous, and complex world we live in, the single actions of these corrupt Institutions and Individuals can have massive impact, if not worldwide implications.
A corrupt and single-minded leader can cause the collapse of an organization, national credit ratings, and/or worldwide market down turns. Worse yet, their corrupt single mindedness could create a generation of likeminded creatures who end up replacing them as leaders in their organizations. The new creature, who will be called a leader, will create his or her own havoc and chaos–a leader who is far worse than the one who leads today. Unless we stop calling people who think only of themselves, leaders, we will never have true leadership.
There is a serious vacuum of leaders who will lead with integrity and uncompromised character. Why do we have this crisis in the first place? Because we no longer hold these Institutions and Individuals in high regard and we have become apathetic to their actions. We no longer hold them accountable or responsible for their transgression. We have allowed ourselves to become the frog in the boiling kettle. It is as if we expect it and do not care anymore. We have forgotten that integrity, trust, and character lie at the very core of true leadership.
The real problem we have today is that news outlets, celebrities, and politicians are trying to tell us what true leadership should be. We have allowed integrity, accountability, responsibility, trustworthiness, reliability, and credibility to lose their true meanings. It is time for this madness to stop!
It is time we demanded more of our leaders! We need a new breed of leader, a breed who not only understands integrity and character, but also lives it daily; a leader who has the courage to live his or her values, beliefs, and worldview every day. The foundation of real leadership begins with the leader’s character, their integrity, their trustworthiness, and their credibility..
We need leaders who believe in integrity, character, competence, courage, and commitment. We need leaders who value people instead of just profit. We need leaders who build and develop other leaders of character and integrity instead of creatures of profit and greed. We need leaders who lead by example and lead with a servant’s heart.
We need leaders who are focused purposefully on developing a generation of leaders who are concerned with others more than their agendas. We need leaders who choose to be the very best leader they can be each day and every day. We need leaders who inspire because true leaders inspire! We need real leaders!
Becoming a leader is a choice. A critical choice you have to make in your personal and professional life. Each day you have a choice to be a leader of integrity and character and credibility. You are the key to becoming a leader and being a leader! If you want to realize victory as a leader, then you have to take charge of becoming a leader and being a leader. You must take responsibility for your leadership, believe in your leadership possibilities, and look for your leadership opportunities. Why? Because becoming a leader requires hard work, integrity, intentionality, self-discipline, sacrifice, commitment, courage, character, and competence.
Being a leader is a decision. No matter what you do, you are making choices and decisions. Some decisions will work the way you planned and some will not. Nevertheless, you own the decision and its outcome. So take the time to think about the outcome before you make the decision
The true key, if you want to be an unstoppable leader, then you need to take 100% control of your personal and professional life. Unstoppable leadership is a calling to serve a higher purpose. Becoming an unstoppable leader is about you; however, being an unstoppable leader is not about you. You can choose to lead each day with authenticity, trust, and credibility by leading with your values, beliefs, and worldview. Or you can lead falsely by putting on the mask of leadership and playing a leadership role. The beginning of an unstoppable leadership begins with the knowledge that is up to you to lead each day with self-discipline, self-control, and self-motivation.
It is your leadership…Own IT!
It is your Leadership…Make and Impact!!!
It is your Leadership…Do it with Character and Integrity!!!!!