By Chad Storlie
There is a widespread fascination with the U.S. military special operations forces (SOF). People love the thrilling stories of the U.S. Navy Sea Air Land (SEALS) assaulting Taliban compounds in Afghanistan or the stories of the U.S. Army Special Forces, the legendary Green Berets, training foreign military forces to become premiere military forces under austere conditions. The best military secrets of SOF is not in their equipment, their physical conditioning, or in their fascinating combat successes, but how they train to become such an overwhelmingly successful and feared military force.
Follow these easy to understand and easier to use secrets to apply SOF military strategies to your business and career success.
Business secrets of SOF #1 – True leaders combine humility with ever-improving performance.
Great SOF leaders are humble, high performers. Humble high performers are leaders who seek to build great teams, teach others, constantly focus on improvement, and are never satisfied with the current level of performance, they always seek the next level. The humility aspect of these SOF leaders is what makes them truly exceptional. They may easily be the best person on the team, but they are more of a workhorse than a prima donna. These type of leaders are needed in business because they create incredible morale, teams that go above their goals, and they create the business leaders of today and tomorrow.
Business secrets of SOF #2 – Small multi-functional teams with passion are better than massive and unmotivated teams.
During the Vietnam War small teams of four to 12 Navy SEALS would swim ashore at night to attack Viet Cong forces with 12-man special forces “A” Teams and would train hundreds of local Montagnard tribesmen to become independent military units to attack the North Vietnamese that were invading South Vietnam. The U.S. military special operations sorces demonstrated during the Vietnam War that small, highly trained, and multi-functional teams created and sustained an enormous military impact with a very small U.S. military force. Business entrepreneurs and start-ups must be emboldened by this example that great teams with passion, great ideas, and a brutal desire to succeed can successfully threaten and overturn the existing business structure. Customers are attracted to bold, new ideas that are well delivered with passion and performance.
Business secrets of SOF #3 – Technology is an enabler of great performance, never a substitute.
All too often military “specialists” maintain that it is all the great technology that fully explains the military success of SOF. Yet, when special operations forces conduct their initial training, there is only decades-old technology. U.S. Army Special Forces are equipped with map, compass, old rifles, high frequency radios from the 1990s, and bow saws during their final nearly-month-long exercise called Robin Sage, where they disappear into the back woods of North Carolina to train mock guerilla forces. All SOF train to do their military duties with little or no technology to a standard of performance greater than military forces with the best technology. Business needs to embrace the wisdom that technology applied to a great business team, a great business product, or a great business process is what creates success. Technology by itself applied to a bad process or product will always fail.
The secrets of U.S. military special operations forces and the success they experience are never taken for granted. SOF train for their missions 24-7-365 under the most demanding and austere weather conditions. The final lesson for all businesses to take from military SOF forces is to never be satisfied with your own performance and to never underestimate the skill, passion, and desire for success of your competition. The next time you read about U.S. military special operations forces, or, better yet, talk to a SOF member from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, U.S. Air Force, or U.S. Army ask what they can teach you in five minutes about how to be better at your job, with your customers, and against your competition. You will love the conversation, and even more you will love the results that learning and applying military SOF skills brings to your business and career.