The British Armed Forces are renowned world wide as one of the most professional fighting forces in the
world. This is not owing to sheer might, or technological advantage, weaponry or manpower. Its not the best
funded, or the best equipped, yet considered a force to be reckoned with the world over; and its predominantly
based on history; a reputation of delivering and this is predominantly based on Strategy.
The ‘True grit and determination’ battle against all the odds to deliver has made us who we are, and by so doing
has created this inner understanding, appreciation of being often considered the under-dog, the David in a world
of Goliaths yet still gone on to win the day.
One of the major advantages we have accrued over the years is a mass of intelligence. We spend a lot of time,
effort and money of researching our enemy - Know your competition. From MI5 & MI6, the ‘Secret’ Service and
the likes its about gathering data, and from most recent times where we’ve seen the leaked reports in the USA
regarding to the colossal amount of data that is collected these days, not only on our ‘enemies’ but on
From the phone hacking saga in the UK, to The Germany Premier Angela Merkals phone being bugged, the
battle of today is fought in the electronic highways of modern communication, and the winner shall be he with the
So, are you collecting data? What? Where? When? Why? What do you collect? What do you consider relevant?
What is important and worthy of consideration? Where do you collect it? Where do you store it? Where is the
data being collated and by whom? When do you collect it? Do you ever not? When is it appropriate / not
appropriate to collect? Why is it necessary? Why should I? Why?
The simple answer is, the more observant we are, the more we open our eyes, and ears; the more we capture,
the more we learn, the more we can develop, and EVERYTHING is worthy of consideration. The fact is, our
data is being captured EVERYWHERE, every transaction we make, every bill we pay, every conversation, email,
text we send and receive, every page on every website we view is being monitored – Big Brother isn’t just
watching, but he’s making copious notes. Data protection, Electronic communication, Human rights, Freedom of
information, super injunctions; a whole host of news laws have spring up in the bid to control, manage,
administrate data and its our job, our duty to understand the importance and make best use of everything that’s
happening around us.
Its not about spending time looking at the competition to determine whether you should copy them, after all ‘No-
one shall ever achieve THEIR goals, by following someone else’ but its about understanding what’s happening in
your business, your industry, your sector to seek the competitive advantage. Not knowing what’s happening
around you is being oblivious to the blindingly obvious. You have to remain aware of your surroundings and the
effect it’s having on you, your business, your sector, your industry, the community and the environment. The
impact of not knowing is far greater than any impact you think you may have on forging forward regardless.
So sign up, log on. Monitor, consider, review and digest. We live in a world connected by the click of a button,
in a world of fibre optic, Wi-Fi, broadband and Bluetooth wizardry and it’s better knowing than not, consideration
is key and proactive action is better than reactive defence.
THE BEST or NOTHING
I went to school during a time where competitive sports were still ok! Where we were encouraged to compete,
where anything from top of the Science test tables was as important at hitting 100 runs in cricket and the hat
trick on the field. Where the lead role in Hamlet was as acknowledged as head boy, and being a great musician
was on par with a 110 metre hurdles personal best.
Our school created winners. But, it also created a winning mentality, the internal toughness and sustainability to
strive for perfection.
As already alluded to; the British Armed Forces are considered one of the most professional fighting forces in
the world; this isn’t to say we’ve won every battle! Some of our most devastating defeats can still be considered
another triumph in regard to the mark it has made in our history books as the ‘grit and determination’ we are so
well known for. The Ghurkha Rifles have a regimental mantra translated simply into “Death before Dishonour’
and when questioned on this, was simply told repeatedly ‘Better die a hero, than live a coward’. There is no
place for 2nd
When things boil down to the simplest factor, 2nd
place is first loser.
However, how do we maintain this mantra throughout EVERYTHING we do? How do we ensure every moment
of every day, we are the best we can be, every time, all the time? Is it possible to be at our best ALWAYS? Well
it is if we give ourselves permission when we don’t have to be!
If we accept and understand we can’t possible perform at 100% all the time, we can then go on to accept that
there will be times when we can’t possibly be at 100%.
But once we have accepted this, it allows us to make conscious decisions about when we MUST be at 100% in
order to win the race, to beat the odds (and the competition) and be Number one.
When Husain Bolt beat the World Record and became the fastest man alive, he didn’t need to be at 100%
moments AFTER he had won that race, he could afford not to be at 100% for quite a while AFTER that race, he
made a conscious decision to be THE VERY BEST, World Class; at the very point when it mattered most, and
that’s the difference between a world class athlete and the rest of the competition. At the moment when it
counted, he was working 100% at being 100%.
There have been a number of periods of my life, long periods of time, where I have been anything but 100%! In
fact, I acknowledge now, there were periods where I was less than 50%! However, by becoming conscious of
this, by consciously making a decision to be conscious of this, allows me to take control of my ability to BE
PRESENT, to actively BE PRESENT; to have a mantra similar to that of the famed Ghurkha Rifles which allows
me to ‘get into the zone’ and be 100%. I now know how long I’m able to be 100% for, I’ve now got to a stage
where I know where and when and for how long I can be at 100% and I make sure, every moment of every day,
that I saved those times, for the times that REALLY matter. I make a conscious choice as to when I have to win
my race, and I know when I can afford to loose the battle and still win the war.
Giving yourself permission to NOT be 100% all of the time, and making a conscious decision as to when you can
afford to do this, is the only true way of then also making 100% REALLY count.
Invent the Future
Whilst the Military is based predominantly around Orders, Discipline, Routine, Control. This is not the full
story. It is also acknowledged (although not so well documented) that some of the most successful battles ever
fought by the British Armed Forces, were ones conducted outside of the orders and military strategy. You see,
there is a difference between following orders and an inner maverick spirit, a calling to march to our own tune.
From the beginning of time, human has invented, created, examined, explored and despite rules, expectations,
laws we have always questioned, delved, ‘pushed the envelope’ to determine what WE can achieve.
In Jim Collins exceptional research published in ‘Good to Great’ it is identified one of the key factors between
‘Good’ Companies and ‘Great’ Companies is surrounding TEAM and collectively agreeing a direction for the
company where everyone strives to collectively achieve. The first step to this, is a step back to our military roots
in regard to ensuring EVERYONE involved in the Mission, understands the mission! Everyone connected to the
success of the task, is clear regarding his or her role in the overall success of the task.
The next phase, is to pass as much responsibility to the lowest level as possible! Whilst setting parameters in
which each can safely exercise their ‘best judgement’ an understanding that ‘eyes on the ground’ are the very
best method of making local decisions (as long as they fully understand and accept the mission, and the effects
local decisions have on the overall success of the mission)
So whilst the common reaction to success is to keep hold of all the aces, be driven (almost to the extreme of
being eccentric) and maintain absolute control; the opposite actually creates far more overall success. By
accepting the lessons learn in Rule 2, we can then accept that whilst WE may not be able to maintain 100%
brilliance 100% of the time, we can then begin to accept that there is less requirement for us to maintain this for
long periods, if there are a collective group of others with whom this brilliance relies, and as long as SOMEONE
with a clear understanding of the mission and means to reach it is at the helm and being 100% present and
brilliant at all times, this does not always have to be YOU.
Jim Collins was often challenged by a number of his research team throughout the 5 years of study, and in a
number of business situations I have found myself, there has been an open forum to allow, no; encourage
anyone to be challenged to ensure we are all working collectively towards the overall success of the
mission. We can easily become distracted with what I like to refer to as ‘shiny object’ syndrome! However, a
clear view of the mission, and your part in it, is paramount to ensure the mantra is maintained and the future
Within this openness of ‘managed freedom’, parameters instead of absolutes and an encouragement to ensure
were focused on mission completion and not the minute detail of the method in which we achieve it, it allows
creative thinking, inspires independent thought and allows our ‘inner genius’ to explore possibility and create our
In order to enable peoples ‘inner genius’ to activate and be encouraged by its creativity, we must encourage bold
decisions, and stand by and support failure better seen as experimentation, learning, prototype as apposed to
From the very beginning of my military career, we were actively pushed to step frequently out of our comfort
zone, and ‘rehearse’ roles in which we ‘may’ one day find ourselves. It is only through practice, drills, learning
that we can enable this inner creativity to guide us to greater thinking and whilst the mission mantra must remain
the core of our thinking, an opportunity to find our own way, along with the responsibility of the mission resting
firmly within our thoughts allows us all to develop, grow and succeed.
Imagine tomorrow, you are required to get in your car and travel 250 miles to the most important event of your
life. Today you will spend in preparation, considering the route, checking the car, maintenance, route planning,
fuel, emergency planning etc.
In the morning you wake early, to find a dense, freezing fog has fallen and you can’t see further than 20-30
metres in front of you. There was never a chance you could see the finish from where you started, but now the
route is severely stinted and your struggling to see the first landmark. Do you postpone the adventure? Put off
the opportunity? Hope it may come round again? Or do you have faith in your preparation and cautiously set out
towards your goal? Sure it will take longer, sure its a lot less certain that we had planned and sure we may
possibly get a little lost along the way.
But the alternative is to stay here, stagnant, to never set out and by doing so never again have the confidence of
adventure required to go from where you are right now, to where you know you ought to be, where you deserve
to be, and where you can be if your willing to be BOLD.
So take a moment alone and remind yourself of what you started out to achieve. Not necessarily today, but cast
your mind back to what the plan was when you first set up in business. We never started out to ‘get by’, it was
never our ideal to work many hours to ‘keep our head above the water’ we set out with a golden dream inspired
by our creative inner genie yet along the way we have compromised, we have allowed doubt and other peoples
lack of encouragement to cloud our judgement of what is achievable and in doing so, have eventually settled for
But the inner genie still exists, it lives within all of us, and by closing our eyes and focussing on what we really
set out to achieve, we can re-awaken it, stoke the fire back in our belly and relive the passion and determination
we had to create something wonderful.
It was that first bold step to leave a job and set up our own business that set us apart from our family, our
colleagues and our friends. It was the bravery we had then that has brought us to where we are, and it is
reminding ourselves that it is still there, that can enable us to once again not even to take the path less well
travelled, but to step off the path set out by others before us, and forge a new path to our planned destination.
Those who are bold, who understand the importance of the mission, set out, and whilst acknowledged cautious,
will maintain a focus on the goal and work towards finding the right solution to achieve the goal.
Team = Speed
"If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together"
This is an old African proverb, which is as true today, as the day it was first stated; that if you need to get from A
to B as quickly as possible, then stop reading this and go get on with it!
However, as we have learnt from the previous Rule, the journey from where we are right now, to where we want
to be can be a long, uncertain road of adventure. We may set off as brave as a lion, yet along the way that
bravery can dwindle. Every corner we turn, every uncertain step we take can lead to less and less confidence in
our own ability to achieve, and we find ourselves taking more rests, becoming more distracted by the things
along the route, and far too easily we can settle for something along the way instead of maintaining that inner
confidence of ‘what ever it takes’ to get to our final destination.
The true benefit of a team, is not about the added skills and experience they bring to share with us, but the
companionship of encouragement they bring with them, that collectively WE can achieve a common goal. We
may tire, become disillusioned, frustrated with the rate of travel; but as a team we can offer encouragement,
reassurance, even take over the driving for a while in order we don’t just head from A to B, but we set a course
past CDE and head towards XYZ.
I’ll never forget the wise words shared with me very early on within my military career by the then RSM
(Regimental Sergeant Major, Mick Germaine) “The British Army, are some of the best in the world of getting big
things done. We excel in moving lots of people, and equipment anywhere in the world, quickly, safely and on
time. So if ever there is a BIG thing to achieve, know you have a role to play, but collectively we will get it done.
However, because were so good at getting the big things done, we sometimes take our eye off the ball on the
littler things! So if ever you see something small, something that is unlikely to effect the overall success of the
mission, then take it on yourself and get the job done, don’t ask, or expect any recognition, just get it done so we
can all concentrate on completion of the mission.
Within a work context outside of the military, I’ve found that by knowing your team, REALLY knowing every
aspect of your team proves far more beneficial in the overall team success, than just simply giving them a job
description and a target. Those who REALLY excel are those who see their team for the vital role they play in
the mission. By building not just good but GREAT relationships within the team, and understanding their needs
(both personal achievement targets and professional ones) we can truly create something incredible. By
showing a desire to understand the motivators of each and every ember of a team, in turn they shall wish to
know your own, and only by sharing what makes us tick, what’s going to keep us at our desk, make that next
call, drive that extra mile and deliver beyond all the expectations of our customer shall we become separate from
anyone else out there. In order to get to the top, you first have to find a way of distancing yourself from
everybody else at the bottom!
So who is on your team, are they the right people for the journey your about to make? Do you know enough
about them that you can put total faith they will be able to help you get to where it is your heading? Are they sat
in the right place on this bus journey your about to take (with a goal as large as we have now, were going to
need more seats that a saloon car can provide) and are they as excited as you about the trip we going to embark
on? It was the world famous basketball ace, Michael Jordan who exclaimed, “Only once we set aside individual
expectations can teams truly create greatness. There is no I in team, but there is in WIN”
Deliver or Die
How many times have we heard the saying "Under promise, and over deliver? Yet how true are we to ensuring it
happens every time?
So what if I were to up the odds and say ‘Deliver, or die!’ does that offer a little more incentive to the situation? In
the blockbuster movie ‘Castaway’ Tom Hanks understands the importance of delivering the parcels in his care,
and even though stranded on a deserted island for months on end with ‘Wilson’ still maintains the importance of
the company mantra, and on his final success of getting back to civilisation, is seen delivering a parcel he had
maintained with him throughout and apologising for its late arrival!
In a military sense, the incredible professional and high standards of the Royal Ghurkha Rifles is summarised by
their regimental mantra, their ‘Code of conduct’ – Death before Dishonour!
I’ve been lucky enough to serve alongside this most professional and dedicated of soldiers during my time in
Bosnia, and observing them they work AS ONE. Whilst they have the upper most respect for rank, they do not
allow this to deter from working as one unit to get the job, ANY job done to the highest of standards. When I
asked them about the mantra to which they have chosen to lives their lives, the answer was always the same
‘Far better die a hero, that live a coward’ I put my life before that of my colleagues knowing they shall always
continue to do the same for me!
I must tell you about my experience of Amazon, and how I feel it’s a great example of how they appear to have
adopted this under promise and over deliver mantra. In all my experiences of shopping online, I’ve never yet
had a bad experience with Amazon. I can always find what I’m looking for, or; on the odd occasion they do not
have it in stock, are very clear about alternative providers and when its going to be back in stock.
However, for me the most impressive part of the transaction is the delivery. I have a series of options from next
day before 9am through to 3-5 working days with different payment options accordingly. The moment I click
PAY, I receive an email advising me of the delivery schedule and asked if I want SMS updates. At every stage of
the operation from picking the item from a shelf (wherever in the world it has originated from) I am kept informed
and advised they have remained on schedule to deliver on time. I’ve never yet had an item turn up not in
excellent condition or a minute late, and the very fact I’m comfortable to share that with you, is testimony to how
impressed I’ve been with their service alongside any other online shopping experience.
So the next time we promise to ‘get it there on time’ to ‘do whatever it takes’ to meet that forever looming
deadline; how sincere are we at making that a reality. Do we stop and consider the customer (be that the end
user, or internally the next person in the chain) before we make our decisions? That 5 min fag break or late back
to your desk amounts to nearly 22hours a year, times that by every member of the team and your back to the
bottom again no better than any of the rest. Because we now have such a good relationship with our team, we
must have the opportunity to challenge anyone, at any time to understand what they are doing and if it impacts
on the team mission and the customer expectation. It is only through this transparency that we will all grow, and
learn to deliver first class service all the time on time. This does not challenge our early rule regarding to having
permission not to be 100% all of the time, it supports it by acknowledging that we must be willing to shout up and
share when things ‘go off piste’ in order that collectively we can do what it takes internally to ensure that
externally we truly deliver.
"If it's worth doing at all,
it's worth doing properly"
The final rule in this mantra of success is integrity. Absolute integrity. Transparent sincerity and an openness
and willingness at all times to be examined by both our peers and our colleagues, by our customers our
prospects and (but to a lesser extent) our competition.
In order to truly achieve greatness, and by this I mean truly great things as apposed to a self erected monument
of which to place ourselves, in order to go beyond expectation and create something for which we shall be
remembered beyond our lifetime, we must become humble. We must set aside any views of self-grandioso, in
pursuit of fame and fortune; and instead return to Rule 1 and start another cycle in the wheel of fortune, the cycle
Never give out a job you are not willing to complete yourself, never do unto others….......... A true leader is so
committed to achieving excellence, they do not stop for long to recognise the milestones they have already met,
they continue to lead by example, return to where it began and work on continuing to improve, polish the edges
and ensure the success is maintained. Its great being at the very top, the air is cleaner, the view magnificent
and you feel amazing. However, the downside to being at the top, is it’s a long way to fall, and sadly there’s
always someone hot on your heels to take your place, so its wits about you, maintain the same work ethic and
professionalism and start looking for another hill to climb!
I was lucky enough to have also served under a gentleman by the name Jeremy Rowan. At the time I was a
Lance Corporal and he a Lieutenant colonel, and my Commanding Officer. Dare I say it, he was somewhat of a
maverick. He knew the rules, in which we were to work, but always pushed the envelope, challenged the
establishment and was a highly inspirational leader. Today, Jeremy Rowan is a 3 star General and 2nd
Command (Tri-Service) of all Military operations, he was driven enough to achieve, and by demonstrating his
understanding and belief in the same 7 rules I have shared with you here, has gone on to achieve, REALLY
So, plot your course, take a deep breathe have a clear vision and then commit. Never dip your toe in, but go for
a swim, do not look over your shoulder for that long, (were not heading that way) but remain focused on the goal
and believe whole-heartedly in the mission. Select a team, and select widely, you will find the right people select
you as much as you them. Share your thoughts and aspirations; share your concerns and worries too. Be at one
with who you are, and what collectively you are going to achieve. Step forward confidently and embrace
There’s a future out there waiting for you, it’s got your name on it, and its magnificent. So what are you waiting
for, keep this close as a guide, but now put it down, and start apply the 7 Simple Steps to Success.
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