The Holy Trinity of Combat

Leadership Lessons from Special Warfare

The Holy Trinity of

First and foremost, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. I recently received my Merry Christmas and “Year in Review” from a friend and former teammate, and was reminded of some things that I hadn’t thought about in a while. I thought there was a leadership lesson in there as well. Plus, this is the perfect time of year to consider three things.

In the special warfare community, there is something called, “The Holy Trinity of Combat” and it is Buddies, Weapons and Options. I am going to try and explain them in the next few paragraphs and apply them to leadership so please bear with me for a few more minutes. I promise there is a point here.

First, there is BUDDIES. This applies to our teammates. Where are they? Where are they in relation to the enemy? And last but not least is what is our ability to fight? This was first in our trinity because it was important to know where your teammates are, where are they in relation to the goal and what is everyone’s status or injury? Chances were always good we were outnumbered so moving and fighting as a team was paramount.

What is the leadership point here?

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Some Thoughts From Leadercast 2015


I had the great opportunity to attend Leadercast 2015 last week and I wanted to take a few minutes to share what I took away from the event. Besides almost unlimited Chick-fil-A, I got to spend most of the day with a great leader and friend, Kevin Bowser.

I am sure that most of our dedicated readers will not be surprised to find out the majority of my take a ways are from CMDR (RET) Rourke Denver, a former Navy SEAL and true American hero. The two topics I want to discuss today are confidence, and change. Two things that I feel are important to Leadership, and the way CMDR Denver discussed them, really made them stick.

“No One can make you feel inferior, without your consent.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

I would like to start with a story CMDR Denver told us about an airplane trip he took shortly after he retired from active duty:

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Lazy Leadership


Lazy Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. They are typically more on the conflict avoidance side and prefer uncomplicated, simple solutions. Rather than digging into a problem or addressing an issue, they want to get through it as quickly as possible. They do not often build relationships with their staff and do not see the value in anything that takes time.

So why is this harmful? They make rash decisions lazy leaders do not like taking time to think things through. They want a solution now so they can move on to the next thing. Rather than look at all the facts they may chose the path that seems to resolve the problem the quickest even if that solution is not the best in long run.

They are good at delegating. Wait, delegating is a good thing right? Sure, when the person the task is being delegated too has good direction and a leader helping them make good decisions. The lazy leader is likely to delegate just to get it off his/her plate and not have to think about it again.

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Leadership Inspiration

Leadership Inspiration

I set out preparing this article like many in the past looking for inspiration.  I wanted to think about what actually inspires me and what I do to inspire others.  This got me to really consider that word, Inspiration.

The online dictionary of Merriam-Webster defines inspiration as something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create.  I actually like the second one better, a force or influence that makes someone want to do something.

If your actions inspire others,
To dream more, learn more,
Do more and become more,
You are a Leader.
John Quincy Adams

It seems to me inspiration has two parts, an internal to me and an external to others. 

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Lead Yourself First!

Bicycle - Lead Yourself First

I have found myself doing some internal reflection lately. I have figured out, that for me to be effective as a leader, I need to be able to lead myself. And, no I don’t mean this as another do as I do kind of article.

The truth is I have always wanted to help others, but I haven’t always made them a priority. I have always wanted to be a hard conscientious worker, but sometimes I let the wrong things take up the majority of my time. I have spent the last few weeks reflecting on some observations. I have done some research and I want to share some of my findings.

What I’ve learned is, that unless you’re able to lead yourself, you won’t be effective in leading others. You can certainly inspire them or you can entertain them, but to take them places they can’t go by themselves, they have to want to follow you. And like it or not, your example speaks louder than your words. Your example impacts your followers desire to follow you and it impacts the model of work that they adopt. My hard work begets hard work in those following me.

I like to compare leading yourself to riding a bicycle. To go anywhere, you have to remember four principles:

Kickstand principle:  You don’t go anywhere on a bicycle with your kickstand down. You have to kick it up and get on the bike. This is the only way to defeat the law of inertia. Leaders have to have purpose to get going. The have to put themselves in motion.  So many people are waiting for God to tell them what to do. God is usually waiting for us to look at what he already told us to do and start doing something, anything.

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How Does a Leader Motivate?


In life, it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. What is important is this: Where are you going and how are you going to get there?

Aside from what you want to accomplish, what kind of a person do you want to become as the result of all your work and effort?  Men and women who achieve great things in life are almost always those who give thought to their own evolution and growth.  They become great people by design, not by accident.  They are like master craftsmen, continually shaping and polishing their character and personality so that they grow into someone important and worthwhile.  And so should you.

The highest goal you can have for yourself is to become a leader, to become an outstanding man or woman who is looked up to, admired, and respected by the people around you.  Motivational leadership is the ability to uplift and inspire people to perform at their best.  Personal leadership on the other hand, is the ability to motivate you to do the things, and be the kind of person that is a motivational leader.  Both are necessary, they are flip sides of the same coin.

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Leadership Love Languages


We all thrive in an atmosphere of appreciation. Whether that’s peer to peer, parent to child, teacher to student or as we look at here; leader to team.

Steven Covey puts it in his book 7 habits of highly effective people: “Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival, to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated”.

As we begin 2015; which I imagine will be a difficult year for a lot of organizations. What are you doing as the team leaders to affirm, reaffirm and validate the worth of your team to both the cause and you personally?

I’ve seen a book by Gary Chapman and Paul White called: The 5 languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. In summary it translates the ‘Love Languages’ narrative often used in marriage counseling, into an employment setting; simply stating that if love, appreciation and affirmation, enhances, validates and nurtures marriages then it’ll do the same in a work setting.

After all husbands and wives are humans in a relationship together just as employers and employees. The challenge as leaders, is to work out each of our teams ‘love languages’, seeking to understand how they receive and feel valued and appreciated and implement that through the feedback we give.

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Surrender – A tactical leadership option?

Surrender Kiss

I was recently thinking about what I consider to be the most misunderstood aspect of great leadership; in other words, what makes great leadership great? What immediately came to mind is not only misunderstood, but it also happens to be one of the most often overlooked elements of leadership. And it is one which also affords leaders the greatest opportunity for personal, professional, and enterprise growth. If you want to become a better leader in 2015, I suggest you become comfortable with a leadership practice that very few are – surrender.

Surrender – not for the faint of heart

You’ll rarely encounter the words leadership and surrender used together in complementary fashion. Society has labeled surrender as a sign of leadership weakness, when in fact, it can be among the greatest of leadership strengths. Let me be clear, I’m not encouraging giving in or giving up – I am suggesting you learn the ever so subtle art of letting go.

A leader simply operates at their best when they understand their ability to influence is much better than their ability to control. The purpose is not to shine the spotlight on yourself, but to unlock the potential of others so they can in turn shine the spotlight on countless more. Control is about power – not leadership. Surrender allows a leader to get out of their own way.

“The greatness of a mans power is the measure of his surrender.”

William Booth

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Restoring a Fallen Leader

Fallen Tree

I set out doing discovery for this piece because it is near and dear to my heart. I won’t go into specifics here, but I have fallen. I have let my arrogance and need for pleasure and approval get the best of me.

I want anyone who reads this to know that I have started on a journey to restoration, and I find the steps there through whatever they will be to be getting easier. What I mean by that is the hard part was admitting you sinned and asking for forgiveness.

Now I don’t necessarily count myself among the leaders right now, and to be honest I am not sure how to feel about myself. However what I find most interesting about my situation and how I feel about my situation is I am being much harder on myself than the people I am accountable too. I guess what I am trying to say is, my discipline is not a punishment by others but the voluntary acceptance of God’s forgiveness.

I know that sounds like an odd statement, but lets think about forgiveness for a minute.

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A Leadership Mission . . .  Statement 

Leadership Mission Statement - 1As I have mentioned before, I am involved in a men’s biblical study at my church.  It is the book “Stepping Up” by Dennis Rainey.  Its good stuff and I suggest it, if anyone is looking for something.  One of the things I like about it, is it could be adapted to anyone in any walk of life, including young men.  Last night we had some discussion on a mission for our lives, this turned into a discussion that maybe we should write a mission statement for our lives.  On the drive home, it occurred to me, that maybe to be a leader, you needed to have a mission statement.  More on that in a bit . . .

Where I developed the vast majority of my leadership skills and techniques, our missions were given to us.  We were never really privy to how they were selected, or who selected them.  However it was up to the team members to develop the plan for achieving a successful mission.  Now we always had some operating parameters that we had to deal with, “rules for the playground” we called them, but rules nonetheless.  So our typical mission briefing was — Here is the objective, Here are the support options, How do we get this done? Then there was typically an hour of how, what, why and when questions.  My point is only that the goal was ever revealed to us in that setting.

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