Archive for the ‘courage’ Tag

LEADERSHIP IN THE LEANING REST #8: KNOW WHEN TO MOVE ON!   Leave a comment

The Marine Corps’ 237th Birthday is coming up. I am not a Marine, but I sure have learned a lot from being around Marines. A life experience I especially value was being at Marine Corps Recruit Depot – San Diego one day and hearing Major General Ronald Bailey (USMC) explain that in all matters brought to him, he allows a maximum of 30 seconds for complaining, or as he termed it “pissed-ness.” At the expiration of 30 seconds, it’s time to recommit and move on. No exceptions, and if that’s not possible for someone, they’re off the team. Honor, Courage, and Commitment are the core values, and fidelity to these values is not optional for anyone on the team.

For me, the self-check concerns whether or not I get hung up and linger on my anger over some frustration, or do I recognize that my core values are more important than my feelings, and compell me to recommit to my core values, recommit to my team (even if my problem is with one of my teammates), and move on with work and life. Am I helping get the work done and the values realized, or am I still “back there” not helping myself or anyone else, and more importantly, not living my core values? If I’m still “back there,” it’s time to look in the mirror, look at a bronze coin, look at the sky – whatever it takes – and get back up and running with the team and with my core values.

Train hard, never quit, live well!

Tom Delaney
Founder & Trainer
Great River Fitness

SPECIAL TACTICS TRAINING SQUADRON MEMORIALIZES WITH PUSH-UPS   Leave a comment

For me, physical training has a definite spiritual dimension. It is voluntary submission of myself to physical and mental mortification, with the conscious intention of transforming my mind and body into a more effective instrument of moral virtue. I don’t train to look good in a mirror. I train to practice dissolving the ego, to step out of self-concerned thinking and right into the opposite — “no self” warrior mindset. I train because I need to be a full-on father and capable member of my community. I seek responsibility in order to take it and be the better man for it.

Air Force Special Operations Command today released a short video documenting the Special Tactics Training Squadron completing push-ups to memorialize Mark Forester, a combat controller who was killed in Afghanistan. AFSOC states “We will never forget our fallen! Our Special Tactics Training Squadron here at Hurlburt Field, Fla., does Memorial push-ups for every fallen special tactics Airman on the anniversary of their death.” To me, this is a very honorable and moving tribute. Honor goes to these fallen warriors, and to those warriors who remember them!

LEADERSHIP IN THE LEANING REST #7: “HOW’D YOU DO IT?” – SIX THINGS THAT KEEP ME SUCCESSFUL   Leave a comment

This morning I was asked by a group how I accomplished the significant goals in my life – “How’d you do it?” I want to share my short list with you, so that you can look through it and see if any of my “operating principles” as I call them, might help you reach your personal goals and establish a more fulfilling and meaningful life for yourself. Here are six things that keep me successful:

1. 24-Hour Mindset: I view the world, plan and act with a 24-hour cycle in mind. This keeps me focused on what I need to prioritize for the next 24 hours, and helps me accomplish more difficult goals as I focus my energy. This doesn’t mean that I ignore the fact that the world’s statisticians are saying there’s a high probability that tomorrow will happen, I am conscious of the need to prepare for the future in the next 24 hours. By thinking and acting purposefully in 24 hour cycles, the days add up to weeks and months of success.

2. Self-Check: Rather than adopting a point of view, immediately acting on it and stubbornly expecting everyone and everything else around me to do so, I check out that point of view for misplaced motives, intentions, blind-spots and most of all – FEAR. I have very much benefitted from self-check, and reality checking with others to see if my point of view needs adjustment, or some additional information in order to be more realistic, and for it to be more to be more effective.

3. Warrior Ethos: Adopting and acting with the mindset of a warrior helps me be the true and best me. It is a place I can go to within me from which I can operate with profound commitment and focus. When I get out on the trail or in the woods to exercise, warrior ethos pushes me to train harder and to discover deeper places within myself. The same warrior ethos is the foundation of profound commitment to letting go of my own ego and striving for the safety and welfare of others. In this way, warrior ethos is about being a highly committed defender of peace and prosperity. A quote that has always been important to me in this regard is, “Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he indeed is the noblest victor who conquers himself” (Siddhartha Gauttama).

4. Resilient Humor: Humor, especially in tough and even the worst situations, helps me disrupt the reflexive arc that otherwise might lead to despair and surrender. Instead, humor always presents an option of hope. It introduces to the situation some new space for bigger context that lowers the ominous factor in a bad situation. It also opens up space for some alternative attitudes toward a tough situation besides attitudes of despair and self-pity.

5. Prioritized Needs: Being self-conscious in the right way keeps me mentally, physically and spiritually on track. What I am talking about is using Maslow’s “Pyramid of Needs” to prioritize first things first. For example, before anything else, my physical health comes first. If I am sick or injured, I need to attend to that because my physical body is my platform for my mental and spiritual life. I can be altruistic and self-sacrificing for a while, but it’s a house of cards and not a good long-term strategy. Right next to that priority are things like food, water and sleep. When I am irritable and having a hard time making calm decisions, a self-check on hunger, dehydration and sleep is often called for. Granted, sometimes you are in a situation which calls for you to delay food, water or sleep, but it is a mistake to ignore hunger, dehydration or sleep deprivation. It is much wiser to factor it in, recognize your limits, and do a self-check and reality check with others before taking decisive action. A good operating principle says “when I’m hungry, I eat, and when I’m tired, I sleep.” I picked that one up from the old Chinese Zen master Han Shan. It worked for him a long time ago, and works for me today.

6. Always challenge your mind!: Challenging and pushing my own thinking helps me to stay in motion and to stay in growth mode for my view of the world. I enjoy having my points of view challenged because it can be a valuable learning experience. I even purposefully seek out and consider conflicting information. I always want to see as many sides of a situation or question as possible, because this helps me work through those questions and situations in the ways that are most productive or beneficial to myself and others, or best fulfill an ethical or moral imperative. I am fully open to being dead wrong on something, and appreciate being informed when that is the case. I am a true lifelong learner and a perpetual student. I am always seeking and working with new knowledge that will open new more productive and beneficial ways of living and working for me, and that help me reach personal goals. I regularly review and happily throw away decisions, ideas and points of view that have outworn their usefulness, effectiveness or grounding in reality.

As I said, this is my list, and it doesn’t need to be your list. If you see something that might be useful, try it out. If it works, keep it! If it doesn’t, throw it away. If you or your team want to spend some dedicated time identifying or working through personal strategies for success contact me – Tom Delaney – at greatriverfitness@gmail.com and we will design a productive and sustainable experience.

MOTIVATIONAL MOMENT #4: JONATHAN SIEGRIST CLIMBING   Leave a comment

Hang with Jonathan Siegrist in this incredible climbing vid. If liberal wisecracks from Naropa University alumni bother you, have a kale chip and refocus on the unflinching commitment this guy brings to scaling the vertical! Besides, look at me…that’s right I’m a Macalester College alumnus with more clock hours on the meditation cushion than a commercial airline pilot, an impressive Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan record collection, several ethnic shirts — and I can still qualify for a security clearance! Always challenge your mind! Anyway…this guy has skills and hardcore commitment, check it out dude!

LEADERSHIP IN THE LEANING REST #6: ALWAYS CHALLENGE YOUR MIND   Leave a comment

Tonight I had an incredible leadership development experience. I completed an introductory metal welding course through a local art college – Vesper College. It may seem counterintuitive that metal welding, especially artsy metal welding, can be something that supports the personal capacity for leadership development, but let me share a few highlights with you. Let me start by asserting that three critical competencies for leadership are creativity, problem-solving, and adaptive ability.

During the course we completed a “conceptualization phase” activity which called on us to utilize our impressions and associations in naming a creative direction for what we were to construct from welded iron bars and thick wire. It was difficult for me to jump out of the rational thinking box and into a wider space of possibilities. Our activity consisted of naming our impressions of welded pieces, adding random words to the mix, taking associative feedback from other classmates, and finally naming our prospective welding project and creative direction. To be honest, I would appreciate more practice at it, because I can see how this mode of thinking is absolutely critical for thinking of something that either hasn’t been though of before or hasn’t been accomplished before. That’s the maelstrom of leadership.

The process of learning how to weld metal is a non-stop series of problem-solving situations. You start with two pieces of cold metal that won’t stick to each other, a cylinder of inert gas, some electrical and gas lines, and a vision in your mind of what you want to construct. That’s where the problem-solving starts. The iron bars need to be cut, the seam weld needs to be hot enough to hold the iron together but not so hot that I burn a hole through the pieces, etc. Needless to say, I burned my hand within the first 10 minutes (freshly cut iron is hot), burned a few holes through my iron bars, and never finished strong spot welds. Even so, the process of setting a vision and problem-solving my way toward it was a a true learning experience. At one point, my spot welds simply were not taking, and I felt like quitting and heading home as it was the scheduled end of class. Instead, I took 5 minutes, walked around, decided to stay after class since the instructor was keeping the studio open. I took a run at it again, this time finishing a decent enough spot weld. The process involved both technical problem-solving and adaptive problem-solving from me.

I started this whole process with an initial vision and plan. As I completed my project, some things did not work out as I had planned, and required me to be creative again and adapt. My final product was developed through a process of adaptation and evolution.

I walked out of the building tonight having engaged in a challenging creative mental process that got me out of my comfort zone, challenged me to define a personal vision, and work my way towards it through problem-solving and adaptation. The series of problem-solving challenges required both technical and adaptive solutions from me. I am a better leader because of this experience.

Want to work on your leadership ability? I’ll say “Always challenge your mind!” Get out of your comfort zone, seek new information and experiences that will require you to create, problem-solve and adapt in new ways. If you have an art school near you…think about it! Me? I’m going back for another class next month! Train hard, never quit, live well! – Tom Delaney (that’s me in the photo)

If you or your team would like to more meaningfully engage and work on the leadership principles of creativity, problem-solving and adaptation, contact me – Tom Delaney – at greatriverfitness.org to select or custom design individual or team training professional development designs.

LEADERSHIP IN THE LEANING REST #5: “SOMETHING BIGGER THAN MYSELF”   Leave a comment

“I want to serve something bigger than myself,” is a phrase you will hear from people as the reason why they chose a commitment of service to others and to the nation, even when and especially when that choice involves sacrfice and acceptance of personal risk. I heard this phrase from Marines in the Assault Amphibious School Battalion (MCRD – San Diego) as the reason why they chose the Marine Corps. Robert Needham (Navy SEAL) describes commitment to a cause larger than self as a defining characteristic of SEAL Team members. The conception of a cause bigger than myself, and the determination of a conscious resolve to that cause, and the commitment to take direction in my life from that cause, is an important aspect of leadership development.

My experience in working with people has been that this kind of resolve and commitment is often not easy to arrive at. Two obstacles can happen. First, is the personal statement “I don’t believe things like higher causes and things bigger than myself are real.” Second is the personal statement on the other side, “I believe in things like higher causes and things bigger than myself, but I’m not important or cut out for that stuff.”

The first person is a risky person to have on a team because when things are at their absolute worst and only a belief in a higher cause will compel that person to do what they need to do for the team, that person cannot be counted on to come through for the team because they do not feel compelled by the cause. However, I don’t write off people like that. I invite people like that to get an open mind and experiment with the idea that there are higher causes and things bigger than him or her. Try it out and see how it works for you and others. “I don’t believe in something bigger than myself, but if i did, I guess I would …” OK, that’s a start! My experience has been that a lot of people will start out reluctant but will come around after experiencing life with a belief in a higher cause and something bigger than her or him. All of the sudden life has more meaning, and the person has a more noble identity and higher esteem for self and from others. It positively creates an aura and palpable energy around the person! Some people call this process “drinking the kool-aid” in reference to a cult tragedy back in the 70’s…but in this case we’re talking about drinking something that reveals and empowers.

The second person is also risky to have one a team because when things are at their absolute worst and only a belief in a higher cause will compel that person to do what they need to do for the team they will not feel they are the “chosen one” or up to the job. Like the first person, I don’t write off these people either. The problem is that this person has a preconceived notion about what a champion or hero looks like and has decided they don’t fit the bill, or grew up with people telling her or him that they don’t have the stuff of courage and heroism in them. This is of course negative self-talk and literally not true anyway. Peruse photos and biographies of heroes and you’ll see that they come in all shapes, sizes, races, backgrounds, etc. There are the big and burly classic looking heroes, and there are just as many wiry looking bad asses out there as well. Body type, gender, race — none of that selects the solid teammate or hero. Fateful matches between hard circumstance and even harder personal commitment makes heroism happen. Right away I think of Dick Couch writing how it isn’t the big burly guys who make it through BUD/S reliably. Watch the true story of Carl Brashear in the film Men of Honor, an African-American who rose out of poverty and racism to become a hero. Look at photos and read about the Night Witches of the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment who flew decrepit biplanes against the German Army in World War II. There are many examples and it all goes to show that there is no formulaic hero or champion — it’s only about personal commitment and the brains to follow through on it. So to any person who thinks they’re too small for something bigger than him or herself, I invite that type of person to start dismantling their preconceived notions of what the higher cause and the hero looks like. They need to start looking into the mirror and considering the possibility that there’s a champion and a hero looking back at them, if they just commit to it being so.

OK, so that’s plenty of advice on how to work with people in either of those two circumstances. Where did it come from? It comes from my own personal experience of having been both of those people. Days when I didn’t have time for higher causes and things bigger than myself. Days when I thought “I’m too skinny” and then days when I thought “I’m too fat” to be of any use to a higher cause. Been there, done that. Worked through it all and now I stand on the other end and can give anyone the facts. All of this is to say that the best advice for others is once again usually the best advice for myself as well, and to never lose track of that. I can’t just state an example for others to follow, I gotta live it.

If you or your team want to engage more deeply and meaningfully with this aspect of leadership development, let me – Tom Delaney – know by sending an e-mail to greatriverfitness@gmail.com, and I will be able to share with you workshop formats and complete a planning process with you. We’ll make it happen!

Tran hard, never quit, live well!

Tom Delaney

9-11 REMEMBERED   Leave a comment

On September 11, 2001, the news came over the radio as I was driving my son to daycare in the morning. Immediately I knew that the world would never be the same. Then I looked in the rearview mirror, and prayed. This evening, I pay memorial tribute to the victims of that day, as well as my gratitude to the men and women who strive tirelessly and with resolute commitment to ensure that our children never see a day such as that again. – Tom Delaney
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Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.

Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow;
Ah, weary, wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

– Rudyard Kipling