Slow, Smooth, Fast

Slow, Smooth, Fast

A colleague told me a good saying from the Navy Seals.

“Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.”

The idea is that when we slow down and practice diligently, we give ourselves time and space to heal and to work to perfect our technique, so then when we need to execute, we can do it fast and flawlessly.

Embedded in this concept is that we do things right the first time, and eliminate risk and having to do them needlessly again…slow down and nail it!

In martial arts and other physical disciplines, this concept is honed by practicing in “motion study” and then “exploding” dynamically in executing upon the enemy.

Slow, Smooth, Fast–practice makes (near) perfect. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Daddy Long Legs Exposed


Back in primary school, the kids used to call these “daddy long legs”.

Like everyone else, I’ve had the opportunity to see one of these, but never two in such a compromising pose.

The other day watching a action movie, one character asks another, “So which are you scared of–snakes or spiders? Everyone is scared of one or the other.”

The CIA lady says: “Spiders” and later admits, she lied.

The Army Ranger lady says: “I’m not scared of anything.”

Two different philosophies on defeating the enemy–do you overcome them with strength, courage, and bravado or perhaps you mislead them with deceit and cunning or with both approaches.

In any case, the other saying that this photo reminds me of from childhood is “bees do it, birds do it” and now I know that spiders do it too. 🙂

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Preparing For All Hell To Break Loose–The “Doomsday Plane”

Diane Sawyer from ABC News has a great piece here on the Flying Fortress, our Airborne Command Center, for the President and a 50-member entourage including the DefSec and the Joint Chiefs, to manage the United States response and retaliation should a worst-case situation happen–such as a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack.
The plane has been referred to as The Doomsday Plane, Flying Fortress, Airborne White House, Airborne Arc, and The E-4B Nightwatch.Located at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, this plane is on constant high-alert and ready 24 x 7 x 365–it is airborne within 5 minutes notice!

According to Ideas and Discovery Magazine, there are actually 4 planes–the most-technologically advanced 747s in the world.

Built based on more than $2 billion in research, these planes are the most expensive in the world, fly 40 miles per hour faster than regular 747s, can stay in the air for about 3 days straight with in-air refueling, and are shielded from thermo-nuclear radiation and electromagnetic pulses.

The planes are protected by 60 Air Force special forces troops, have their own on-board maintenance teams, and precision technical communication specialists.

The planes have an area for battle staff to assess the situation and draw up action plans and a technical control facility for managing surveillance and command, control, and communications to issue encrypted commands on “virtually all frequencies” through 67 satellite dishes and antennas on the roof.

They can even communicate with submarines by dropping a 5 mile rope with a transceiver into the ocean below.

These planes stand ready to evacuate the President and his staff in the case of a national emergency.

“The commander-in-chief can then send orders to troops and personnel, communicate with allied governments, or update the American people on the situation.”

While it has far less amenities than Air Force One, this high-tech doomsday plane is very cool indeed.

What I admire the most about this plane is not even the technology per se, but the planning and risk management that go into preparation for something “really bad” happening.

While some people think emotionally that preparing for disaster is almost tantamount to pushing for one to actually occur, really that is an emotional reaction and denial of reality anchored in fear.

Like insurance, you hope you never need it, but are really glad you have it, when all hell breaks loose!

Perhaps, we can all learn something for ourselves here as well, that (disaster) preparedness can be scary and expensive, but we all need to have a plan and make it a good one.

End Of The World, Almost

Recently, I have become addicted to a number of shows on the Discovery channel. 
I know it sounds sort of boring, right?–but they actually have some fairly macho and educational shows.
From survivalist shows like Dual Survival, Man Vs. Wild, Man Woman Wild, to shows about special forces training like Surviving the Cut and even One Man Army.
I also enjoy this new show called Curiosity that “asks and answers the most fundamental questions facing the world today” such as Is There a Parallel Universe? or How Will the World End?
In “How Will The World End”, Discovery explores 5-almost end of the world scenarios, as follows:
1) Arc Storm — Similar to the flood from the bible, where it rains incessantly for a month or so, but unlike the flood that destroys the world, this one hits a specific area like California.  Anticipated dead is 380,000 and injured 1,140,000. (10% chance in the next 50 years)
2) Asteroid Strike – Like a number of movies such as Deep Impact that forewarn of the dire consequences of a direct hit to our planet, a moderate collision would kill 60,000 and injure 200,000.  (5% chance of occurrence over the lives of our children)
3) Mega-Earthquake – Hitting approximately 5 states in the midwest and killing 600,000 and injuring 2,000,000.  (10% chance in 50 years)
4) Mile-High Tsunami – Traveling at 500 mph, wiping out the eastern seaboard and killing 4,000,000.  (Probability is one in a 1000)
5) Super Volcano – Major series of volcanic eruptions in Yellowstone National Park that spews ash virtually covering the entire planet and would kill 100,000,000 people.  (Scientists estimate this happens every 600,000 years)
While the last 2 end of life scenarios are quite remote, the first three taken together yield an almost 25% chance of a doomsday-like scenario over the next 50 years and this is just those scenarios–it doesn’t account for a maniac detonating a nuclear packed suitcase bomb or spreading an infectious biological disease across the globe.  
These foreboding predictions about what could happen can easily depress and make us feel that even trying is hopeless.
But this morning, I listened on TV to Joel Osteen, who gives a pretty darn good sermon, and he said regarding faith, “Do every day what you can and then let it go!”
While we have to do everything we can to protect our world and make it safe and sustainable, some things truly are beyond human control.  
And once we’ve done our part and our best, we’ve got to step back and just have some faith, as Joel Osteen says: “Don’t put a question mark where G-d puts a period”–that really resonates.
We can ask why this or that happens, but at the end of the day, what G-d decides for us is often beyond our mere human comprehension.  
Easier said than done for sure, especially, when facing down situations scarier than any shown or imagined in the survival shows mentioned.
So Dave and Cody–And Seal Team Six–even you guys are outgunned when the hand of G-d says it’s time for history to take a major turn of events.
But as Joel Osteen would say, I’ll just put that in the “I don’t understand it” file.
(Source Photo: here)

>SEALS – Going Beyond The Veneer



What a great article in the Wall Street Journal today (7-8, May 2011) about the Navy SEALs.

No, the article is not about how they are just these pure lethal, killing machines–as Osama Bin Laden learned this week.

But rather, about what it takes to be a Navy SEAL, and in my mind implicitly what it takes to be the best in life at whatever you chose to do.

The Navy SEALs were stood up by President Kennedy in 1962 as an elite new commando force for all-terrain missions (aside from being the nation’s elite maritime special forces):

Hence the acronym: SEa, Air, and Land.

Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden recounted at Fort Campbell this interaction with his granddaughter, as follows (Source: Washington Wire):

“We’re going to see the guys out there who got Osama bin Laden,” Mr. Biden said he told her.

“And she grabbed a little friend of hers and said, “My pop’s going out to see the whales!'”

“Not the SEALs,” Mr. Biden added, “the whales. Because if they’re that good, they’ve got to be big, man.”
And it is true, the SEALs are big men, but not necessarily in the sense that you might think.

Yes, they can kick your a** six ways to Sunday, but becoming a SEAL is really about heart!

While the SEAL training draws the physical best–“high school and college track and football stars, national-champion swimmers, and top-ranked wrestlers and boxers, only 10% to 20% …manage to finish” — and there are only about 250 graduates a year, total!

So what’s the differentiator–between making it and not (through “Hell Week”–the culmination of the 6 months of grueling training)?

The SEAL author sums it up for us this way:

Almost all the men who survived possessed one common quality. Even in great pain, faced with the test of their lives, they had the ability to step outside of their own pain, put aside their own fear, and ask: How can I help the guy next to me? They had more than the ‘fist’ of courage and physical strength. They also had a heart large enough to think about others, to dedicate themselves to a higher purpose.”

Very well said!

Some major leadership lessons:

1) In the end, physical strength (what they call the “size of their biceps”) and prowess is only part of the equation–and at some point, everyones strength gives out–“they break”. But the heart and soul of the person, what drives them inside, is not subject to physical limits–and that is the part of us that is our essence and is immortal and can drive us to true greatness. And like the story of little David (the champion of Israelites) beating the giant Goliath in the Bible, with courage, ingenuity, teamwork, and purpose, we can do the seemingly impossible.

2) It’s important to see beyond the exterior of the person or situation that’s before you, and to go deeper into what behind the veneer. On the surface, lots of people may look like they could be SEALs, but only the cream of the crop make it. Similarly, when it comes to business opportunities, hiring situations, and complex negotiations, it’s critical to “go deep, before you leap,” so that you can make important determinations of what is really the best for you and your organization.

3) You don’t just become the best, and stay that way, but you have to earn it every day. For example, training is critical and learning and growth is a life-long pursuit. As the SEAL states from one of his instructors: “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in war.” We’ve got to put in the sweat equity into everything we really want, and which is really important us.

4) Never forget you are not alone, you are part of a “squad”, a team, a nation, a people–you are a child of G-d. Together, we are held together by principles and values that transcend the individual and the moment. These make us strong beyond our physical limitations, our sheer numbers, and even our technology–although these certainly help 😉

Our fighting men and women make tremendous sacrifices for all us, and becoming a SEAL or other special forces commando requires even greater demands–and the physical part is only the beginning, only the veneer.