Create A “Go To Hell” Plan to Help Survive Your Next Crisis Reply

PlanningBy Chris Simmons

From my earliest days in the military, I was taught to always have a plan. It made sense. After all, if something is worth the investment of your precious resources (i.e., time, talents, and treasures), it merits a well thought-out roadmap to success.

But it didn’t stop there. “Your adversary has a vote” we were told, or more emphatically – “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” To offset our foe’s “vote,” we needed to create a “Plan B” (also known as a “back-up” or “alternative plan”). The purpose of Plan B was to have a viable option when the unexpected occurred.

Then they forced us to develop a contingency for when the seemingly unimaginable occurred. This contingency, known throughout the military as a “Go To Hell” plan, forced us to consider and plan for nightmare scenarios. Saddam Hussein got schooled in this concept a week into the 2003 invasion of Iraq when, with all his military forces fighting in the south, a brigade of US paratroopers unexpectedly jumped into northern Iraq. He lost control of the entire northern third of the nation immediately.

Note to self — luck and hope are not planning factors.

We enhanced the value of our plans by role playing through all three scenarios: the most likely, the supposedly less likely, and then the improbable. The mere act of visualizing the “what ifs” better prepared us for a range of situations, not just the ideal one. This de facto rehearsal also had a calming effect. When we needed to jump from Plan “A” to Plan “B” (or worse), we already knew the key planning issues: who, what, when, where, why, and how. This familiarity bred confidence and reduced stress.

That said, we always kept in mind that our personal experiences and biases skewed what we considered to be possible and probable. We knew we could still misread our adversary. This awareness helped reduce the impact of the shock anytime we were surprised.

Finally, a plan need not be perfect. A good plan well executed now is infinitely better than the perfect plan too late.

I quickly grasped that this planning methodology wasn’t just for the military. It is applicable and relevant to everyone’s personal and professional lives as well. Job relocations, births, deaths, accidents, illnesses, promotions, marriages, divorces, financial ups & downs….the list is endless. Life is unpredictable and demanding. Planning adds clarity and reduces anxiety. Life happens, be ready for it.

The Three Steps Maximizing Your Collaboration Skills Reply

CollaborationAs a leader you should be consistently improving how you collaborate.

by Thuy Sindell, Ph.D. and Milo Sindell, M.S. in The End of Work As You Know It

Unless you live and work alone in a cave, it is almost certain that you have work relationships that involve some level of collaboration.  Collaboration is vital not just for getting work done as efficiently as possible; it is also critical for optimum workplace satisfaction, because true collaboration increases an individual’s morale, sense of accomplishment, and identity within their team and company. As a leader or an aspiring one, you should be consistently reflecting on how you collaborate and seeking opportunities to raise your “collaboration game.”  Not only will being a strong collaborator raise your productivity and job satisfaction, it will reinforce to others that you are a leader.

Every day, without thinking about it, you head to work and spend the day interacting in a number of collaborative relationships. You might collaborate with your closest team member, your supervisor, someone in another department, or maybe someone in a satellite or overseas office. When collaboration is easy, the process flows effortlessly. You explore ideas and approaches to the current project or task, go back and forth over how to get it done, divide duties according to individual skills, and move forward to complete the job. Sometimes, however, you wish it would be this easy. Occasionally, things just don’t click with the other person, despite a mutual desire to be successful. 

1. Start with a strong foundation

But why are some relationships easy and fluid while others feel like an uphill battle? In any human interaction, there is a host of things of things going on that can influence the outcome. In order to maximize effective workplace collaborative relationships, they must have the following:

  • Clear objectives
  • Clear roles
  • Trust that each party will fulfill what they have agreed to do
  • Communication that is open and timely

2. Optimize and refine

Fine-tuning your collaboration skills begins with assessing all of your existing collaborative relationships.

  • First, confirm the people with whom you have strong relationships. Think about the personality traits you and the other person share that enable you to work so well together.
  • Next, think about the complimentary skills the two of you share and how they mesh together.
  • Finally, ask what enables strong ongoing collaboration to take place.

Feature continues here:  The Three Steps

The Science Behind “Self-Fulfilling Prophesies” 1

By Chris Simmons

It goes without saying that how one person treats another determines how that individual performs. What is not so well understood, especially by bosses and parents, is the legitimate science behind this occurrence.

An individual’s performance goes up or down, in large part, based upon the expectations levied against him/her. When high expectations are placed on a person, he/she will perform better. This phenomenon is called the Pygalion or Rosenthal Effect.

At the other extreme is the Golem Effect, which occurs when decreased performance results from low expectations.

The Rosenthal Effect takes its name from a study on student performance, while the Pygalion reference is taken from an ancient Greek legend. In the Rosenthal-Jacobson research, elementary school students were given a disguised IQ test. Twenty percent of the schoolchild were then randomly chosen — and for experiment purposes — identified as “peak performers.” The names of these purportedly high-potential students were then shared with the teachers. During the course of their study, all the schoolchildren advanced academically. However, the falsely labeled “peak performers” universally exceeded all expectations and past achievements.

Part of this phenomenon derives from how we make decisions. The 1st Rule of Human Nature, Self-Interest Trumps Best Interest,” captures the core principle that all decisions are based on emotion, not logic or reason. Furthermore, since Self-Interest is strongly tied to  Identity and Self-Image, the positive reinforcement that comes from high expectations triggers internal motivators that drive one towards the identified goal. Additional research has discovered that these affirmations and positive social interactions prompt a favorable chemical response in the body. This “endorphin rush” makes you feel better (and happier), which legitimately amps up one’s performance and emotions.

Ultimately, the increased performance by the employee/child also alters the behavior of the boss/parent. The leader will invest more time, attention and effort in their protégé, further incentivizing and sustaining the increased performance.

Taken in their totality, these actions create a self-sustaining feedback loop of positive emotions and in short order, this repetition creates a highly rewarding self-fulfilling prophecy. Sadly, the inverse is equally true. As Calvin Lloyd noted, “Nobody rises to low expectations,” succinctly highlighting the crippling impact of negative feedback and the Golem Effect.

The Personality Profile That Makes Leaders Make War Reply

Leaders with a high need for personal power, like Putin, go to war more often

by Ian H. Robertson, Ph.D. in Psychology Today

World leaders who make war tend to have a particular personality profile called “high need for power”. American presidents who show this are, throughout history, more likely to take their countries into war than those who don’t. Dwight Eisenhower didn’t show it for instance, while George W Bush did.

“Need for power” was identified by the great psychologist David McLelland as one of three basic, largely unconscious drives, which motivate people to different degrees. The need for power – the others are the needs for affiliation and achievement – is where you are motivated to dominate and control what other people want, need or fear.

In simulations of the Cuban missile crisis where nuclear holocaust between Russia and USA was narrowly averted, people who are high in the need for power acting the role of war room decision makers tend to take actions which would, in 1962, have resulted in nuclear war.

All leaders need to have a certain appetite for power – leadership is too stressful otherwise, and power’s effects on the brain’s act as a sort of anti-depressant. But like all addictive drugs, too much for too long causes dangerous changes in the brain, which include reckless disinhibition, risk-blindness and difficulty in seeing things from other’s perspective: ex UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen has described this as the “Hubris Syndrome” which he diagnosed leaders Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and George W Bush, among others, as showing.

Few if any leaders can survive more than ten years of power without being tipped into this dangerous state of altered personality and increased desire for even more power. Most democracies have devised constraints – limited terms of office for instance – to counteract such dangerous changes to the brain. Even the Republic of China changes its leadership every ten years.

It is the neurologically-created conceit of many powerful leaders that – in the words of Louis XV of France –  “après moi le déluge” (after me, the flood). Power fosters the delusion of indispensability and many political leaders have created havoc in fighting to stay in post because they genuinely believe their abilities are crucial for the survival of their country and that no-one else can do it.

President Vladimir Putin has held power in Russia as President or Prime Minister for approaching 15 years – too long for any man or woman’s brain to endure without dangerous changes which foster recklessness and a blindness to other perspectives. Saturday’s military incursion into Ukraine may be a particularly worrying symptom of this leader’s affliction.

@ihrobertson

Think You Can’t Change The World? Don’t Believe It Reply

By Chris Simmons

What words do you use to describe a man who cashed in his retirement pension to fund – and serve with – volunteers who flew high-risk Search & Rescue missions?

In the early 1990s, Cubans were so desperate to flee their prison-homeland that tens of thousands attempted to cross the Straits of Florida. However, the 93 miles between Key West and Havana are notoriously dangerous. The Cuban Navy would capture and tow escaping rafters back to the island or worse, sink their vessel and leave survivors to die at sea. Sharks were a constant threat.

And finally — the wind. Lacking money for any kind of motor, rafters were at the mercy of the trade winds. If the winds blew the wrong way or a rafter’s navigation was off – they were condemned to a slow, lingering death in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.

Living in the Florida Keys, Matt Lawrence refused to be a bystander to this human tragedy. He teamed up with three friends to fly their own rescue missions. The locals quickly dubbed them “Los Gringos con Corazon” – “The White Guys with Heart.” Matt’s pension paid for their equipment, fuel, and other necessities, but at a cost of roughly $1000 per mission, they needed to stretch every penny. To enhance their ability to save lives, the friends created the nonprofit group, Freedom Flight International.

Matt racked up over 500 hours of flight time during the next several years. Over the course of three “rafter seasons,” which ran from late spring through summer’s end, he flew an estimated 75-100 rescue missions.

Flying in search of rafters was inherently dangerous. Partnering with sister groups, Los Gringos and two or three other planes would fly abreast of one another, about five miles between each aircraft. The sheer size of the Florida Straits forced them to fly low since rafters left Cuba on lashed-together inner tubes or almost anything else that would float. Upon finding a rafter(s), they descended to 50-100 feet above the water, an extremely dangerous task at 130 miles an hour. The low altitude was necessary so they could drop emergency aid, communicate with the survivors, and assess the situation. After a mission, countless additional hours were spent on plane maintenance, prepping for the next flight, and training.

Matt Lawrence and the rest of Los Gringos stopped flying in August 1994 – the month President Bill Clinton reversed US policy and ordered the Coast Guard to repatriate every Cuban rafter found at sea. The exodus was over.

In the course of three short years, Los Gringos con Corazon helped save 511 rafters.

Matt Lawrence did what he felt was necessary to save lives. He asked and expected nothing in return. Some may see his actions as reckless – his girlfriend did – she walked out on him because of his rescue efforts. Looking back, he sees his sacrifices as wholly justified – and I trust 511 Cuban-Americans would agree with him.

Now a best-selling author and dive instructor, Matt Lawrence is also a former treasure hunter and aficionado of sea-recovered artifacts. He lives quietly in Summerland Key, a few islands to the east of the madness that is Key West.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead   

The sad sight that Matt Lawrence called "A Tombstone at Sea."

An empty raft — a sight Matt Lawrence called “A Tombstone at Sea.”

"Los Gringos con Corazon" on a mission with "Brothers to the Rescue." From left to right, Thomas Van Hare, Conrad Webber, Steve Walton, Matt Lawrence.

Los Gringos con Corazon” on a mission with “Brothers to the Rescue.” From left to right, Thomas Van Hare, Conrad Webber, Steve Walton, Matt Lawrence.

Rescued rafters

Rescued rafters

The Focused Leader Reply

by Daniel Goleman, Harvard Business Review

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Attention is the basis of the most essential of leadership skills—emotional, organizational, and strategic intelligence. And never has it been under greater assault. If leaders are to direct the attention of their employees toward strategy and innovation, they must first learn to focus their own attention, in three broad ways: on themselves, on others, and on the wider world.

Every leader needs to cultivate this triad of awareness, in abundance and in the proper balance, because a failure to focus inward leaves one rudderless, a failure to focus on others renders one clueless, and a failure to focus outward may cause one to be blindsided. The good news is that practically every form of focus can be strengthened.

The author of Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence, and many other books on the power of cultivating awareness explains why focus is crucial to great leadership. Focused leaders can command the full range of their own attention: They are in touch with their inner feelings, they can control their impulses, they are aware of how others see them, and they can weed out distractions and also allow their minds to roam widely, free of preconceptions.

Read the complete article here:  The Focused Leader

Violence Against Women — It’s a Men’s Issue 2

Jackson Katz, Phd, is an anti-sexist activist and expert on violence, media and masculinities. An author, filmmaker, educator and social theorist, Katz has worked in gender violence prevention work with diverse groups of men and boys in sports culture and the military, and has pioneered work in critical media literacy. Katz is the creator and co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, which advocates the ‘bystander approach’ to sexual and domestic violence prevention.

Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action 3

Simon Sinek presents a simple but powerful model for how leaders inspire action, starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers — and as a counterpoint Tivo, which (until a recent court victory that tripled its stock price) appeared to be struggling.

U.S. Invasion of Grenada, 30 Years Later Reply

By JTamayo@elNuevoHerald.com

As U.S. and Cuban troops fought in the tiny island of Grenada 30 years ago, Havana’s official news media reported that Cuba’s “glorious combatants” were “at this moment immolating themselves for the homeland, wrapped in the Cuban flag.”

That was not true. But that apparently was the order that Havana had given to the detachment of more than 700 Cuban “soldier-bricklayers” building an airport on Grenada.

A U.S military unit monitoring radio traffic overheard a Havana transmission ordering the Cubans to “fight to the last man,” said Chris Simmons, then an Army lieutenant who landed in Grenada on the first day of combat — Oct. 25, 1983.

The U.S. monitors were supporting another American unit tasked with capturing leaders of the Cuban detachment, Simmons said. But the Cubans managed to seek asylum in the Soviet Union’s embassy.

Cuban ruler Fidel Castro was not pleased.

His top commander in Grenada, Col. Pedro Tortoló Comas, was sent to Angola and was last confirmed driving a taxi in Havana. And his ambassador to the former British colony, Julian Torres Rizo, now lists himself as a Havana tourist guide.

The invasion, Operation Urgent Fury, now is largely remembered as the only time when U.S. and Cuban troops fought each other directly, despite more than 50 years of hostile relations – 30 of them during the Cold War.

Planning for Urgent Fury began after Grenada Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, a close Cuba ally, and 10 followers were murdered during an Oct. 19 coup by his hard-line Marxist deputy, Bernard Coard, and Gen. Hudson Austin, head of the 1,500-member PRA.

President Ronald Reagan ordered the invasion, saying he was worried about the safety of 600 U.S. medical students on Grenada. But he clearly was concerned about Cuba’s construction of a military-capable airport on the former British colony of 100,000 off the coast of Venezuela.

In brief, sharp clashes, 19 U.S. soldiers were killed, including four members of SEAL Team 6 – the same team that killed Osama Bin Laden.

Twenty-five Cubans were killed fighting and another 638 were captured, including 86 who surrendered after Navy A-7 Corsair jets blasted the Cuban detachment’s headquarters, marked in U.S. military maps as “Little Havana.”

Also killed were 24 civilians and 45 Grenadians in the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA).

Sporadic combat continued for four days as 7,300 U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force troops, plus 330 soldiers from a Caribbean coalition quickly swept over the 133-square mile island, despite crude maps and deadly communications snags.

Simmons’ platoon, part of the 82nd Airborne, was involved the last major firefight of the invasion, a 10-minute clash that left seven PRA fighters dead. Another U.S. unit trying to support his platoon caused a friendly-fire incident, in which one U.S. Ranger captain was killed.

The last of the U.S. forces left Grenada on Dec. 12. But the saga continued.

About 1,000 U.S. citizens on Grenada, including the medical students, were evacuated safely.

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., deputy commander of the invasion, went on to command Operation Desert Storm to drive Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in 1991.

Simmons achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel and an assignment as the top Cuba counterintelligence specialist at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, where he helped track down Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes in 2001. He retired in 2010.

And the more than 600 Cubans who surrendered were greeted as heroes when they returned home a few weeks later. They marched near the front of the May Day parade in 1984, carrying a banner reading ’’Heroes of Grenada.”

The remains of Bishop and the others who were massacred were never found. The Cuban-builtPointSalinesInternationalAirport was renamed in his honor.

After almost 26 years in prison, Coard and six others convicted in Bishop’s murder were freed in 2009.

Grenada now celebrates each Oct. 25 as Thanksgiving Day.

Two of the Cubans who played key roles in Grenada did not fare well, with Castro publicly criticizing Torres for failing to properly report on the mayhem that sparked the U.S. attack and punishing Tortoló for the embarrassing surrenders.

Torres had been an up-and-coming officer in the Foreign Ministry, serving as first secretary of Cuba’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations for two years before he was sent to Grenada in 1979. A Cuban intelligence defector later identified him as an intelligence agent in charge of contacts with the Venceremos Brigade, founded in the 1960s by U.S. citizens who favored the Castro revolution.

After returning to Havana, he disappeared from public sight and was reported to have been posted to a backroom job in the Foreign Ministry or even demoted to cane field worker.

Now about 70, Torres did not reply to El Nuevo Herald’s requests for an interview sent to his LinkedIn account, which lists him as a Havana tourist guide.

His Chicago-born wife, Gail Reed, a journalist and Venceremos Brigade member who served as press attaché in the Cuban embassy in Grenada, returned to Havana and was reported to have freelanced for Business Week and NBC News in the 1990s.

She now works as international director of Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, a California non-profit that promotes public health exchanges. Now about 65, Reed did not reply to an El Nuevo Herald request for an interview.

Bearing the brunt of Castro’s ire was Tortoló, then 38, who had served as chief of staff for one of Cuba’s three military regions — a top post within the Revolutionary Armed Forces — and finished a stint as military adviser in Grenada in May of 1983.

One day before the invasion, Castro had sent Tortoló and Communist Party operative Carlos Diaz to Grenada on a Cubana de Aviacion AN-26 plane carrying tons of weapons to organize the “soldier-bricklayers” resistance.

Diaz was killed in combat but Tortoló sought asylum in the Soviet embassy. A Havana joke at the time had him suffering a “combat injury” – a broken thumb from ringing the doorbell at the Soviet mission.

The colonel was court martialed and busted to private. In a videotaped ceremony, then-Defense Minister Raúl Castro ripped his rank insignia from his epaulettes and sent him to the war in Angola — along with 25-40 other Cubans viewed as having surrendered too easily.

Although Tortoló was widely reported to have been killed in Angola, Miami Cubans who claim to know him said he returned home, was given a low-profile government job, and, at some point in 1999 or 2000, was selling shoes. They declined to provide his current contact information, saying he wanted to put Grenada behind him.

Miami journalist Camilo Loret de Mola said he met Tortoló in 2003 when the former colonel was working as a taxi driver in Havana with his personal LADA, a Soviet-era copy of a Fiat awarded to top government officials in the 1970s and 1980s.

For The Love of Our Brothers: Saving Marcus Luttrell Reply

By Chris Simmons

Trailer for the forthcoming movie, Lone Survivor

Three of the four SEALs we infiltrated into the Himalayas yesterday were already dead or wounded before we even knew they were in trouble.

Known as Task Force 328, we launched Operation “Red Wing” against the infamous Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. The SEAL Team 10 members were on a Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S) mission. Their mission was not to kill Shah, but to covertly find and monitor him until he could be captured or killed by other assets. Regrettably, the mission went horribly wrong.

Late on June 27, 2005, two of our twin-engine MH-47 helicopters performed several “false insertions.” This maneuver confused Taliban forces as to the true location of the SEAL’s drop-off point at Sawtalo Sar. Over 2800 meters tall, the peak is in the eastern Afghanistanprovince of Kunar. It overlooks the mouth of the Wakhan Corridor — a narrow finger of territory between Tajikistan and Pakistan.

The R&S team consisted of Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, Petty Officer Second Class Danny P. Dietz, Petty Officer Second Class Matthew G. Axelson and Navy Corpsman (“medic”) Second Class Marcus Luttrell.

Within hours of their arrival, the team was discovered by local goat herders. Although they were deep in “Taliban Country,” the SEALS had no proof the herders were anything more than they appeared. Murphy ordered them released. It proved to be a fateful decision.

Tipped off by the “goat herders,” an estimated 50 Taliban fighters surrounded the SEALs and attacked with assault rifles, light machine guns, Rocket Propelled Grenades, and light mortars.

The SEALs tried using their radio and a satellite phone to contact those of us in the Joint Operations Center (JOC). Geography appears to have crippled their “comms.” The team could only establish and maintain communication with us long enough to say they were under heavy attack.

A rescue mission was immediately launched, comprised solely of volunteers:  eight Navy SEALs and eight Army Special Operations aviators. The crew of the MH-47 quickly found the SEAL’s position and with Gatling guns blazing, descended. As “Turbine 33” descended to a height of 100 feet, a Taliban fighter stepped out of the tree line with a Rocket Propelled Grenade. He fired the RPG directly into the chopper’s rear engine. Needing both engines to stay aloft in the thin air of the Himalayas, Turbine 33 dropped like a rock. The crash killed all aboard.

Meanwhile, Marcus Luttrell was the R&S team’s sole survivor. Knocked out by a separate RPG blast, he regained consciousness to find himself with several broken bones and other serious wounds.

Ghalib, a local Pashtun man, found Luttrell and offered sanctuary in his home. Under tribal law, one is sworn to protect the life of anyone who crosses the threshold of your home. Outraged by Ghalib’s act, the Taliban surrounded his home and demanded he turn over the American. He bravely defied their demands and the Taliban, unwilling to violate tribal law, withdrew after several days.

Shortly thereafter, American forces rescued Luttrell and recovered the bodies of the 19 personnel killed during the mission. The memorial service at Task Force headquarters lasted three hours, marked by personal tributes and anecdotes from 19 brothers-in-arms. Not a dry eye could be found.

The callsign Turbine 33 was retired, never again to be used by a US military aircraft.

Some people say that war changes you. I believe a more accurate assessment is that war sharpens and amplifies who you already are. Bad men devolve into Satan incarnate. Good men become immortal. Their heroic deeds becomes the stuff of legends, but so too their motivation, because they made their sacrifice not for God and Country, but for the noblest of all emotions — love. Shakespeare said it best:  We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…”