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Lasell College Alumni Profile: Chris Johnson

Posted on October 12, 2017 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (1)

Lasell College just published a short article regarding my time in the grad program. If you're interested in grad school, it's worth a read!



Leading From The Trenches

Posted on August 13, 2017 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (2)

The age of discovery was a fascinating time of rapid change and exploration where the world was still being explored, scientific thought was new, and war romanticized. Stretching from the end of the 15th century to the beginning of the 20th with the reaching of the south pole, the age of discovery was a time for reaching into the unknown and pushing boundaries. Running adjunct to the capstone of this period was world war one. World war one is a period in and of itself where times collide. As the age of discovery was coming to an end, world war one accelerated the shift at lightning speeds. Where countries such as France were still wearing their Napoleonic uniforms while the Germans were marching into battle wearing gray uniforms that blend in better with their environment. The French were still living in the romanticized times of the past, marching in columns, the Germans realized the introduction of the machine gun no longer allowed for such battle tactics. The French quickly ran into German machine gun fire, losing 27,000 men in a day. A century before Napoleon was saying he could afford to lose 30,000 people per month, that is a big change in numbers over a relatively short period of time. Fast forward another hundred years and according to militarytimes.com’s Honor the Fallen section, as of writing this chapter 6894 casualties were confirmed by U.S. Central Command during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation, Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn combined. As times change, it is important to change with them. The technological advances were happening so quickly during world war one that it was hard to keep up.


Although the machine gun was around prior to world war one, its use on a large scale was first present during the Great War. The machine gun introduced the need for trenches, and trenches left no man’s land where the only thing present were rounds from the heavy casualty producing weapons. People would only enter no man’s land at night to gather dead bodies. If people tried to rush across no man’s land, the would unknowingly be funneled by barbed wire directly into a kill zone. There was no hope for people crossing the barren land that looked more like a lunar landscape that European field. WWI veteran wrote in his memoir, “I was a German,”


“One night we heard a cry, the cry of one in excruciating pain; then all was quiet again. Someone in his death agony, we thought. But an hour later the cry came again. It never ceased the whole night. Nor the following night... Later we learned that it was one of our own men hanging on the wire. Nobody could do anything for him; two men had already tried to save him, only to be shot themselves.”


The dead space in the middle-introduced tanks into the picture, the tanks led to wider trenches that the tanks could not cross. Then the artillery began to grow. If soldiers could not cross the forsaken lands, then they would blast the enemy away with the largest artillery the world had ever known. Comparing the artillery from the civil war in the U.S. about half a century prior to the cannon’s being used during WWI, it was like comparing a horse and buggy to a Tesla.


Simple things have tremendous influence. Something as simple as barbed wire changed WWI as well as the western front during the tail end of the 19th century and western expansion by sectioning off the American Frontier into confined spaces rather than open ranges they were known for. Since wood and stone were expensive and hard to carry, barbed wire was used by ranchers to confine their area. The America that we had identified as was changing, and simple wire played a massive role.


When running an organization, it’s important to remember the small things are what win wars. With all the technological advances during WWI, it was the small gaps in the trenches that made many of the advances possible. Organizations rarely crumble because of the expected. It’s the unexpected that cripples a Titan. The taxi service had been on autopilot for decades letting the guard down when Uber came along and swept the carpet from under them. There was nothing stopping taxi companies from creating a similar app for their drivers, but they did not bother. Now their only defense is legal action which only last so long. If pressure is on your back and you don’t have a finished project yet, remember, when Walt Disney opened Disneyland, only one third of it was functional and some of the attractions that were open were having problems. Sometimes you must go with what you have, not what you want. It’s better to act on a half decent plan now, than not be able to act later because it’s too late.


Understanding the environment your organization functions in as well as staying ahead of the game be keeping possible scenarios in mind is essential as a leader. The team’s success is ultimately yours and yours alone, keep that in mind next time you feel a competitor is too small to make an impact or your current place in the market is paving the way because of your technology. It’s not the technology that wins wars, it’s the people. It’s the people who found those gaps in the trenches.


Stay active, 

Chris


www.ImproveWithChris.com 

Intro to Sports Administration

Posted on July 10, 2017 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (4)

Hi everyone, 

As most of you have noticed, I haven't posted in a while and I appologize.  Sorry, but not sorry, bussiness has been doing very well so I have not be keeping up with the site as much as I would like.  With that said, I am sharing the Sports Administration class introduction video I just made in order to share how fun my industry can be if you are passionate about what you do.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


Stay active, 


Chris

www.ImproveWithChris.com 

Lessons from Batman: Enter the cave

Posted on December 31, 2016 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” - Joseph Campbell


 

As a young boy I always admired athletes. Growing up in a small seaport town with a strong history of winning sports teams bread the idea in me that good athletes are on a higher level than the rest of the population. As I have since grown up and crossed paths with countless astonishing athletes; some world class fantastic and admirable people and others with piss poor ethics, I have come to reality that athletes are just people.


 

Regardless of this, as a child something clicked in me to chase this ideal of an athlete. I wanted to be one of those people that the neighbors spoke of highly or was welcomed warmly when walking into big family get togethers. Unfortunately, anyone who knew me growing up knows being an athlete was the furthest thing reality. I still remember to this day having a relative who once told me, “you better not smoke kid, because you’re so slow now that you won't even be able to move.”


 

Anyway, there is a belief that people in adulthood chase certain career paths based upon their childhood experiences. According to this belief, it is the poor child who grows up to enter finance, the bullied kid who becomes a police officer, or the loner who becomes a teacher. If these are true or not I do not know or care, but for me i’m sure being an un-athletic piece of lard played highly into my career choice as a human performance enhancement coach. There is something to me about improving the human body as well as the mind. Early on I learned the benefits of joining a sports team and improving my physical well-being, but it wasn’t until I owned a strength and conditioning studio that I realized many of my closest athletes thanked me for the confidence they have grown over their time training. It was not their physical accomplishments which made them proud, but their ability to dedicate to and accomplish something that seemed beyond their reach. Perhaps there is a part of me seeking a nurturing role as my parents were not around very much throughout my life and know I am attempting to bandage that missing element of childhood. I don’t know the answer to that question, what I do know is there is something about making people physically and mentally stronger that brings joy to my life.


 

It’s funny, with the recent popularity in superhero movies you hear a lot of talk about who is the best superhero and many people answer, Batman. Personally, I don’t like Batman. Think about it, he’s a forty year old man that still has not gotten over his parent’s death. Martha, Martha, Martha… It’s a tragedy I get it, losing both parents myself I understand it is tough, but there is something odd to me about mixing a symbol of strength with a character who is not strong enough to get over the one problem that has been bothering him for literally his entire adult life. Man up Batman and join the rest of the adult population with real life problems.


 

When I think of Batman, I see a man who has fears that he does not want to face. Yes, the character faces cosmic super villains, but in his world that occurrence is somewhat normal. What’s also happening in his world is everyday other people are going through horrifying experiences brought about by these cosmic level evils and they seem fine without billion dollar gadgets. Yet, Batman is sulking alone in his cave night after night.


 

Here is the thing, there is something Batman is not facing that the finance expert, police officer, teacher, and chubby kid that was me have all come to face and that is our fears. There were obstacles in all four of these instances that stood in between these individuals and what they desired and their fears did not stand in their way. All of our lives have a dark scary cave which haunts our dreams, yet we all know that the treasures we desire lie within that cave. The real world does not have cosmic level super villains lurking in the caves, nor does it have Batman to save you from the darkness. What it does have is choice. We are all given a choice to become the person we most desire or live in a life of regret. Unlike Batman’s world, the real world does not have a superhero to swoop down and save you. It has you, you are your savior.


 

Years ago during high school cross country we were lined up at a tree to start our next interval at the local park where the ocean meets a rocky beach and my legs were beginning to feel heavy after the half dozen 1200 meter repeats my coach had already instructed us to perform. While waiting on the line, coach could tell we needed a little pick-me-up so he said to us, “God helps those who helps themselves.” I don’t know what it was about that statement that hit me so hard, but I questioned it thinking, if God helps those who help themselves, then aren’t we really doing the work? From that moment I realized no one is your savior and if something in your life is not the way you want it, then you better make a change.


 

I entered the cave on that day, shuffling my feet through the darkness with my hands in front of me feeling around for who knows what, but eventually I found it. My treasure, the ability to see what it is I want and chase it down. There is a famous saying, “every day the lion and gazelle wake up and every day they both must run to survive.” For the most part, there are no super heroes and villains in this world, just people with different perspectives and their perspective is not necessarily to stop you from your dreams but to reach theirs. With that said, what you desire may also be the treasure they chase. The key is not in hating the other, but becoming the “faster runner.” The lion is not evil for eating the gazelle, just as the gazelle is not cruel for denying the lion of his meal. It is simply a matter of perspective. They both have a cave of fears before them and the winner is the one who is willing to enter.


Stay active, 


Chris Johnson

www.ImproveWithChris.com 

On Being Brave & Bold

Posted on December 22, 2016 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (2)

Very rarely do I meet anyone who does not desire to improve their life. Even the people who claim everything is great and simply want to keep it status quo have something they wish they could do better. Yet, how often do you see people getting out of the rut and truly changing their lives. Unfortunately, not as often as we would like. Yes, people join groups and sign up for programs so they can claim they are making a difference, but how often do they actually take the action necessary to make a change? Here is a better question, do they realize why they are not changing? The answer lies in being brave and bold.


 

Brave and bold are the two elements of greatness. Wherever your passion takes you, bravery and boldness allow you to excel in that area. Bravery is resilience, it is never quitting. The young researchers putting in hours in the lab or the tired infantry solider spending weeks in the field in the rain both display strength and endurance to take them to their goals. There is a certain level of grit and focus with bravery that makes one unloveable from their path. Abraham Lincoln displayed bravery through his stoic behavior as he dealt with his depression as a young man and turned it into a source of strength as he dredged through the long and tough civil war. Or the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who discovered the western sea and became the first European to cross the pacific ocean. There are accounts of Magellan enduring hunger longer than other men. His ability to travel so far being more comfortable than his pears allowed him to discover places no one before him had been. The same goes for Vincent Van Gough who was rumored to have gone crazy as a result of eating paints as food because he was so dedicated to art that he was counting primarily on his paintings for food, which at the time never sold.


 

Boldness is the other side of the coin. Boldness is audacity, it’s powerfully shocking the situation. Where bravery is the ability to hold on and keep digging away at your dreams, boldness is the voice in your head that tells you to go against the odds and go for your dreams in the first place. Great reaches are not made through the same recurring actions day after day. Greatness is achieved when something breaks the status quo and challenges the norm enough to urge you to want more. It shocks and surprises you, catching you off guard and grabbing your attention. Theodore Roosevelt was one of those men. Plagued with asthma as a young boy, he was determined to do great things and pushed the boundaries of what was currently accepted of a young sick boy in his day. Future president Roosevelt traveled to Maine to train with outdoorsman and earn his place as a naturalist and adventurer. Often outperforming other New York natives during climbs up Mount Katahdin.


 

Great things are not accomplished through mediocre efforts. Greatness in achieved only through the boldness to believe and the bravery to hang on. We forget that in our everyday life. There is a belief that things naturally improve with time. Or if we do not talk about problems, they do not exist. How many times have you had someone passionately try to convince you they are trying to do better but you know they are not being brave and bold in their actions yet you please them by saying “good job.” This is a problem that needs to be challenged and it is brave and bold leaders responsibility to show these individuals the way to greatness.


 

People are not always naturally born great. Steve Jobs in the early 1990’s was not nearly as charismatic as he was in the early 2000’s. However, leaders showed him how to be great and he worked on the skill, becoming one of the most charismatic leaders of our century. Be the mentor that sparks greatness in people, be brave and bold. Show people that regardless of their background it is only their beliefs that hod them back. Beliefs that they cannot do something or are not supposed to do something. Show these people that anything is possible when they are brave and bold enough to go for it.


Stay active, 


Chris Johnson

www.ImproveWithChris.com 

 

Sports Digest Article Highlight: Intervention - Sports as a Mechanism for Behavior Change

Posted on November 22, 2016 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Sports play a much greater role in our development than we give them credit.  Please check out this short piece I wrote in the Sports Digest to learn more. Intervention: Sports as a Mechanism for Behavior Change.  Thank you!


Stay active, 


Chris Johnson

www.ImproveWithChris.com 



What it Means To Be Alpha: Serotonin, the leadership chemical

Posted on November 16, 2016 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)

It seems that everyone in today’s society wants to be an Alpha (fe)male. They see a picture of a wolf with a quote about being a lonely wolf at the top or a cowardly sheep at the bottom then race to their friends section on Facebook and start deleting everyone…well, not quite but they definitely attempt to justify why no one wants to sit next to them at the cafe.


 

Regardless, Alphas are top dog, they get what they want and bow down to no one, right? Well, no. Simon Sinek made a great point about Alphas that evolution has trained people to treat Alphas better than the rest of us. With a little help from Serotonin, people are trained to recognize status. Prehistorically, this meant to give Alphas the first meal, make sure they were full, and ensure they got plenty of sleep. In return, these Alphas were expected to stand up for us during times of danger. When all hell breaks loose, followers are cashing in their chips in hopes that the Alpha steps up to the plate and keeps them safe.


 

These Alphas were our first leaders. They were given special perks in exchange for safety. We as followers trust in these leader hopefuls that when push came to shove, they shoved harder than the other guy and they did so to protect their pack.


 

 

Where this scenarios goes wrong is when Alphas are not leaders. Today’s society trades special perks to our leaders in hope that they will take care of us by providing safe environments such as was provided to our ancestors. However, the modern marketplace makes it far too easy to replace or frighten employees into thinking they may lose their job if they do not perform to par. It is this same negative environment that stomps creativity and halts progress in an organization and it can all be traced back to poor leadership.


 

Leadership is something to be trusted in individuals who have shown us some means of providing us with safety. Safety in our creativity, safety in our workplace, and safety in our overall well-being. When leaders fail to provide positive environments they fail to live up to their title as Alpha and should thus be treated appropriately.


 

Leaders are expected to drop their comforts at a moments notice for their followers, it is why followers place faith in them. Mr. Sinek said, “if you’re not willing to give up your perks when it matters, then you’re not cut to be a leader.” Leaders need to understand there is more to being top dog than a title and perks. It’s a privilege that has been trusted and passed down for countless generations to us. It is our responsibility as leaders and followers to ensure the leaders of tomorrow live up to their ancestors by understanding the responsibility of being Alpha prior to taking on that role. It’s not just their life that is being affected by the manner in which Alphas choose to live, but those who follow them into history.


Stay active, 


Chris Johnson

www.ImproveWithChris.com 

 

Why We Follow Our Leaders: Trust, Symbols, and Purpose

Posted on November 13, 2016 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Leaders are such because they are the ones who venture into the unknown. They go first and take the risk, leading those who choose to follow into unknown territory. What is it that followers see in leaders which allows them to put their faith in another individual? People it turns out have an innate tendency to form communities. Stretching back as far as the dawn of the cognitive revolution roughly 70,000 years ago people started imagining reality which allow them to form small bands. These bands were held together by values and beliefs deemed significant by a leader. Everyone who believed in the bands beliefs and values were welcomed into the group.


 

Grouping together allowed trust and cooperation amongst people which enabled growth as a community. Since people were not wasting time in conflicts with each other it allowed them to grow. It is the safety in numbers from other groups that appealed to these people. They felt trust in their leaders to protect them from danger.


 

It is this trust in leaders that gives them their power. Authentic leaders today like the ancestors of our past painted a picture of why people should join their band and participate in their cause. People see when leaders put the interest of their people before themselves. they trust their leaders to take care of them first. Evolution has made community building a fundamental human goal. We understand every individual in a group has certain strengths and weaknesses and by banding together it amplifies those individuals strengths. Similar to how members of a musical band don’t disregard or block-out each other with their musical instruments but blend together to create something more inspiring, human nature calls for us to work together in teams blending our skills, knowledge, and talents towards something greater.


 

Society sometimes stirs a desire to please everyone, but when we do this we are attempting to please people rather than be our authentic selves. It is our authentic self which draws people to us. Although you will make enemies by standing up for your beliefs, your followers will have more trust in you for fully committing to your cause. When we believe in something and stand behind it, people follow us. It’s when we claim to care about something but do not take action towards it that people see through our inauthenticity and stop following us. It’s a basic principle of looking out for our fellow band member. If I cannot trust you to stand behind your beliefs, how am I supposed to stand behind you when it comes to leading me into the unknown?


 

Stand strong, dead reckon, and blaze the trail. If you follow your beliefs and values genuinely looking out for those who share your cause, you will brand yourself as a leader in your endeavor. It is then that you become a symbol for your cause. People create lifestyles out of brands such as Jeep, Crossfit, and Apple and sacrifice their life for brands such as liberty justice. What they all share is a trust in a belief that the symbol will grant them purpose. Leaders are those who place trust through authenticity in those symbols and carve they way for others to follow.


Stay active, 


Chris Johnson

www.ImproveWithChris.com 

The OODA Loop: An essential part of victory

Posted on October 1, 2016 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

My college cross country coach would always remind us, if we are not moving forward, we are moving backwards. He had a great point, we always have to be aware of where we are, what’s going on around us, and what we need to do to improve the situation.



 

John Boyd was an American military strategist in the mid-late 20th century who is perhaps one of the must underrated figures in military history had a similar belief. Boyd thought by understanding our environment, taking into account everything related to the situation, deciding upon the best way to engage the situation, and acting effectively on it, all conflicts can be won. He referred to this method of making decisions as the OODA loop.


 

OODA stands for observe, orient, decide, act. It’s commonly shown in undergrad business course and military schools as a way to understand the market and military strategy, yet the depth behind why it is so value is often lost.


 

By understanding what the OODA loop is and how it truly works we gain a better understanding of how it is applicable to every decision we make and should be constantly occurring in the back of our minds with every task we do.


 

Boyd thought that the military used too many doctrines which can often transform with time into dogma. He felt people who rely on a doctrine for everything tend to forget there are other means of thinking. John felt people need to have an understanding of numerous ways of accomplishing task as well as disciplines that appear to be separate such as math, psychology, economics, physics, thermodynamics, game theory, and biology but can be pieced together providing a novel approach to an idea.


 

By piecing together different schools of thought it provides an outlook other people often overlook. This is extremely useful not only in the military but business, sports, and life.


 

The more intradependent skills and disciplines we can link together the more effective our orienting process (more on this later).


 

He also felt people never have a firm understanding of what is going on. That regardless of how hard we try, we will never see the whole picture because as we adjust the frame one way we lose sight of something else and the more we focus on one thing the blurrier something else becomes.


 

Boyd explained this using three theories:

 

  1. Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems: Any model of the world is incomplete and thus must always be refined.
  2. Eisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle: As we learn more about one area, more unknowns appear in another area.
  3. Second Law of Thermodynamics: Entropy of an isolated system increases with time.

 


What all this means is for a unit to prevail it must admit it works in a constantly evolving system that as more is learned, doors open to other unknown areas and the more energy we focus on one area the less energy we have to spend on another area. The only way we can understand where to place our energy and find the answers is by taking in new information from our surrounding environment and if we deny ourselves exposure to our environment, we are doomed to fail.


 

Back to the OODA loop. We start be observing ourselves with our surrounding environment. When we do this we take into account the unfolding circumstances of the situation, our guidance from above as well as our followers below, and taking in any information.


 

Once we successfully observe the situation, we can then orient ourselves by analyzing the information we have recently gathered and play out scenarios that we will later act upon. It is important to highlight that everyone will orient themselves differently based upon their culture, genetics, and past experiences. People with the same information make different choices all the time. Who we are impacts every decision we make. This is why it is important to always be learning and taking into account different cultures and disciplines.


 

Once we orient ourselves it is time to make a decision. Again, decision making takes into account all of the character traits mentioned above, but it is important to note that decisions do not always undergo the decision making process. Sometimes the decision making process is skipped when dealing with well rehearsed or impulsive split second decisions such as grabbing a child who is chasing a ball into oncoming traffic. It’s a decision we know to make so well that thinking would hinder us so our mind instinctively skips the decision step and go straight to acting.


 

This can best be described as what Colonel Jeff Cooper is referring to in his color code conditions of awareness. Colonel Cooper developed a four color system of awareness ranging from white, yellow, orange, to red. Overtime however, the system evolved into a five step process with condition black being a primeval state of awareness where only the now matters. During this stage the mind and body act upon instinct. There is no internal voice, concern for safety or outcome, and no sense of time. There is simply this instant. Since time is not a concern, there is no past experience to think about or future to worry about and therefore judgments are impossible and lacking the ability to judge an outcome, we cannot create a hierarchy of needs and thus nothing holds value. Without value nothing matters and if nothing matters fear cannot exist. This lack of fear along with reactive action rather than logical reasoning is condition black. It’s seeing, realizing, understanding or orienting, observing, acting.

 


Condition black is our most primitive animal brain survival instinct we have. It puts aside the amygdala portion of our brain associated with processing emotions and fear. Our Amygdala is connected to our sensory cortices (sight, hearing, etc.) as well as memory and the ability to recognize. By shutting down the amygdala we shut down our fear process and thus keep a more “awake” mind. We rely upon our neocortex decision making side of the brain that is responsible for logic and conscious decisions. Condition black allows us to react, no emotion, just acting out what we know.


 

Which brings up, rehearsal. A company commander does not simply send a platoon of soldiers out to accomplish a mission after giving a five minute brief. Depending on the mission, briefs can last hours and soldiers are shown sand models, overlay, and sometimes even act out their warrior task (individual skills) and battle drills (group skills) that they have practice repeatedly prior to their briefing. By rehearsing repeatedly the skills and drills become second nature to the solider so they can recall them automatically when the need arises.

 


Acting is what happens either instinctively during decision black or more regularly after we go through the decision making process and decide upon the best scenario. Acting is the most important step in the OODA Loop. Regardless of how well we observe, orient, and decide, if we do not act upon those prior steps it is all wasted.


 

The OODA Loop is used continuously in every action we make. We naturally use it for every decision we make and intertwine a variety of loops at once we just don’t realize it because like someone who has been riding a bicycle their entire lives it works in our sub-conscience. With that said, understanding the OODA Loop gives us an advantage during stressful high pressure decisions which all leaders encounter at some point or another. When the race is on and the stakes are high, the winner is the individual who can properly execute the OODA Loop the quickest.


Stay active, 


Chris Johnson

www.ImproveWithChris.com 

 

The Duality of Choice: How leaders make hard decisions

Posted on September 18, 2016 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Throughout our day we are constantly reminded of the duality of life. From physical forces such as north and south on a magnet to symbolic representations such as the symbol ying and yang. Even our emotions are described to us as opposites, love and hate, happy and sad. Leadership is no different. Leaders are constantly challenged by the duality of life. Every day leaders are presented with challenging decisions regarding the constant battle between expansion and sustainment.


 Effective leaders are those that understand there is a balancing act going on behind stage. Just as it is sometimes necessary to pull something closer, other times it can be equally as valuable to push things away. When presented with the choice to push or pull, leaders must use a systematic reasoning process to make their choice. Although intuition has its place, by learning a proper decision making process, it allows two things. First, it gives leaders a straight forward method to make their choice and second after using the method for some time, intuition will begin utilizing the process as second nature when split second decisions are necessary.

 

Decision making goes hand in hand with problem solving. Whereas problem solving involves identifying the problem and solving it; these problems usually consisting of unknowns or inductive reasoning. (See Chris’ Five Steps to Accurate Problem Solving). Decision making is choosing the best scenario for a given situation, these scenarios involve more deductive reasoning. Think of problem solving as identifying the unknown and decision making as choosing the best known.

 

When faced with a decision, I find it valuable to proceed through the following steps:

 

  1. Gather all known information.
  2. Seek additional outside information.
  3. Compile all information.
  4. Develop multiple scenarios.
  5. Simulate and analyze scenarios.
  6. Choose the best scenario.

 

The first step in the decision making process is gathering all known information. This is most easily done by sitting with a pen and paper and writing everything you know about the decision topic. I prefer pen and paper over a laptop or phone app because it is easier to circle hot topics, link correlating topics, draw and image, and see an overall picture or map of how the information is related.

 

Once everything you know about the topic is gathered, it is time to search for additional outside information. Gathering outside information is important because it allows you to see other perspectives on the topic. By speaking with domain experts, reading peer-reviewed literature, and viewing professional videos such as TED Talks (make sure videos come from a reliable source) it gives you insight into areas you may not have thought to examine or had any previous interest.


After gathering outside information, it is time to compile all of your information in an organized database. The structure of the database depends on you and what you are deciding upon. It is more important the data is formalized in a manner you find helpful than to follow a standardized structure.

 

The fourth step is developing multiple scenarios based upon all the gathered information. This step is important because we as humans have the tendency to see the world through a specific lens based upon our past experiences and beliefs. By developing multiple scenarios, is forces us to create options we would not regularly see.


Upon creating the options, we must simulate the scenarios and analyze the possible outcomes. Sometimes simulations can be done with models or computers and other times they must be done in our minds, but regardless a simulation of all the different scenarios must be played out and analyzed for strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (S.W.O.T. analysis) to determine which one best suits the given situation.


Finally, the best scenario has to be chosen and acted upon. Remember, when choosing and acting upon a scenario, it is better to act upon a good plan today than a perfect plan tomorrow. Perhaps one scenario will solve all of your team’s problems, but the resources and time it will take to accomplish is way beyond acceptable. If that is the case, that scenario is not the best choice. The scenario that can be acted upon in an appropriate and effective timeline is the best scenario even if it doesn’t solve every last problem.

 

By going through each of these decision making steps, it ensures a clearly thought out plan is being employed. Once a decision is made, it can lead to the next decision. This is referred to as decision mapping. Decision mapping is when A causes B and the resulting B leads to the ability for C to happen which allows for D to occur. Chess is a prime example of decision mapping. Chess Masters plan out future moves based upon the most likely scenarios that will play out prior to that move. They will even map out moves for alternate scenarios that may play out.

 

When planning a bouldering route (rock climbing without gear that originated on boulders). Climbers don’t head up and grab on to whatever spot their hand lands on. They take into account their fitness, the type of rock, recent and current weather, angles, and many other factors before each move. They use decision mapping to play out different routes in their head before attempting them then choose they best route and best approach to solve the puzzle. They follow a systematic decision making process overtime they approach that rock.

 

By following a formal decision making process such as the one mentioned above, it provides you as a leader with a method for making rational decisions opposed to emotional decisions. Choices will always be presented to leaders and by following the above decision making process, you can be confident in the decision you make.

 

Another duality of life is the constant struggle of expansion and sustainment. Sun Tzu the infamous ancient Chinese General in his famous writing The Art of War mentioned this when he spoke of setting up a strong defense before engaging in offensive. Sun Tzu believed you must fortify your current position before attempting to gain new territory because it is worse to lose what you have already won than possibly gaining more. Leaders should always secure their resources prior to attempting to gain additional resources. With this said, leaders must have a solid understanding of expansion and sustainment, meaning when it is best to focus on strengthening what you already possess (sustainment) and when it is best to gain new territory (expansion).


Expansion and sustainment is a balancing act. Understanding your situation is how you understand which move to make. The key is remembering to safeguard what you possess and ensure you have a surplus of resources prior to spending resources attempting to further your reach. People fail when they attempt to do everything at once. They spread themselves too thin, rather than focusing on excellence in one area, achieving excellence, setting up a solid plan for sustainment, then expanding to the next area.


Deciding when to expand or sustain is a principal decision leaders constantly undergo. It are the small decisions leaders make when decision mapping that results in better outcomes concerning expansion or sustainment.

 

With this in mind, leaders have to understand society always presents dualities. One group of people will feel one way and another will feel differently. It’s the way societies grow. In the United States we are torn between freedom and equality. We all believe in freedom and equality but freedom grants us the ability to be different and equality means all the same. There are always two options (even when you think you don’t, remember doing nothing is an option) it’s important to realize this and weigh every decision rationally with a core belief that the little decisions we make today dictate the large choices they are faced with tomorrow.


Stay active, 


Chris

www.ImproveWithChris.com 

 


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