Adjust Your Perspective: Know Who The Enemy Is

"The enemy is out there," I said, pointing out the window to the world beyond. "The enemy is all other competing companies in your industry that are vying for your customers. The enemy is not in here, inside the walls of this corporation. The departments within and the subsidiary companies that all fall under the same leadership structure -- you are all on the same team. You have to overcome the 'us versus them' mentality and work together, mutually supporting one another."

"...It's about the bigger, strategic mission

From Chapter 5: Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Tactics for Reducing Stress and Solving Sticky Problems - A Grab Bag for Hard Times

  • add more time or money: they say time is money. can you add one or the other to reduce pressure?
  • visualize unknowns in detail to bring them into existence. don't worry if it feels arbitrary.
  • adjust your long-term perspective: what are the chances that anything about this situation will matter to you at the end of your life?
  • adjust your identity: the current situation and its outcome will not say anything important to you to the people that matter.
  • focus on contribution rather than achievement: did you make a change for the better? good. was it enough? who can say.
  • eliminate and prioritize: it may be that you have to aim to do less, but better.
  • get help and work it out together: are you effective in using your team members and partner teams as assets toward the larger strategic vision?
  • disentanglement/simplification: assess whether you are treating multiple problems/factors as single, unified, factors. Things that are complex when taken together may be much simpler when you understand that they are separate but related concepts.
  • focus your decision making on action selection and then execute. if no action is available, switch tasks to something where there is action available and revisit the current subject later.
  • talk. this is another form of giving form to the unknown. you were given this task by someone. ask this person questions until you understand the whats and the whys. ask people you trust about the things that concern you. you will convert unknowns into obstacles, which can be avoided or mitigated or incorporated into the solution.
  • don't follow too closely and you won't have to rely on your reflexes and attention. this is an expansion on time and money. on the highway you can choose your following distance. follow too closely and you end up having to react quickly to the driver ahead. a poverty mindset often keeps us from giving large following distance. know that no matter how many cars lane change into the space ahead of you, you will get where you are going.

Choose Ownership When The World Feels Grim

What happens when we own the bad things that happen rather than trying to understand who is to blame and who is right and wrong? When we own them, sometimes it will hurt. But when we own them, we also ask what is within our sphere of influence that we can change in order to reduce the chance of a bad thing happening.

We reach out to people to get ideas. We search within ourselves. And we start to experiment with different ways of getting things done that may be less fragile than what we do today.

Any situation where we accept blame and take responsibility is an opportunity and a privilege. These are THE BEST opportunities because we know one version of something that is possible and has happened, and it wasn't good.

We can devote our energy to improving our processes and systems against a real scenario. This is how progress is made. Making a difference in the world is nothing more than investing your emotional energy to think and act to make some thing, person, or system better.

What happens to our emotional experience and self esteem when we take ownership?

Ownership is facing the messy world and taking it on to impose order over one small bit of it. The act of taking ownership means transitioning from the states of apathy, victimhood, and blame toward thought and action. You will never be more fully yourself than when thinking and acting.

Ownership means that this time, whether it works or not, we are doing this. We are not helpless. We've got this. (How do these words make you feel?)

Take ownership enough times and you may come to realize something that has been true all along: We don't need to run to go get help. We are the help. We just have to show up.

With enough practice under our belt, we show up consistently. We show up sooner. We tactically deploy our emotional detachment so that we don't act blindly. This lets us take a step back and take in the broader view and make sure we are aren't missing some crucial data.

But we never detach 100%. We show up because we care.

Choose to Care and Choose Ownership

Choose ownership and lean into it and I promise you, the situation will feel less grim. When faced with darkness all around, you have chosen to be the light. And the morale boost your teammates get may help them to fight harder and run faster as well. And it will probably turn out that they are a light for you, to help you to keep your morale going.

When your actions are a positive impact on morale, you know you are making a difference. This is the meaningful work you've been looking for. You have become the sort of impact you have always wanted for everyone around you. Soak it up!