Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group: “Ten Pretty Good Rules”

Model Airplane Over Map with Shadow

A list of “Ten Pretty Good Rules” from the Fellows of the Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group.

  1. Never argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference!
  2. Observe everything; admire nothing!
  3. It’s easier to obtain forgiveness than it is permission!
  4. Rarely resist the opportunity to keep your mouth shut!
  5. Don’t ask the question if you cannot live with the answer!
  6. If you want a new idea, read an old book!
  7. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there!
  8. Never have a philosophy which supports a lack of courage!
  9. Never look back unless you intend to go that way!
  10. Never wrestle with a pig; you both get dirty and the pig likes it!

(Compiled by Fellows of the Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group, 1982-1983 Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island)

Remember the Telephone?

Remember that great work place tool called the telephone? You know, that thing with the the handle and buttons you speak into? Email is a wonderful tool and Instant Messaging (IM) is also a nice way to communicate, yet there is something about actually speaking directly to another person that is often superior.

Yes, IM can be a great way to “multi-task” when you are on an endless conference call. Email is wonderful for documenting expectations and commitments as well as sharing data.

Still, how many times have you found yourself responding to a question via Email or IM that you could have answered over the phone in a fraction of the time you spent typing, waiting for a reply, typing, waiting, etc?

Never forget the speed and clarity of personal voice.

“The Official Sponsor of Birthdays”

morebirthdays_blogbadge3The American Cancer Society has branded its self, in part, as “The Official Sponsor of Birthdays.”  Here at the National Home Office in Atlanta, Georgia we’ve known this was coming since December 2008 and many of us have anxiously awaited this launch with sealed lips. A new website, morebirthdays.com, went live yesterday and a few new ads were uploaded to YouTube.


So what is all of this about? For some people birthdays are a struggle. I have a family member who has been celebrating her 39th birthday for at least 15 years. Despite the challenges of aging, as we morph into something far different than a twenty year old body, I hope we can all agree that birthdays are a good thing. A very good thing. A birthday means you’re here. This may appear trivial, it’s no revelation, and I’m not saying anything new. What is important to know is that there is an organization that exists to ensure that you and I and everyone else continue to live healthily lives year after year.


Our vision is a world free of cancer. I’ve never worked for an organization that is as focused and driven to fulfill its mission than the American Cancer Society. From the epidemiologist here in Atlanta to our National Cancer Information Center in Austin, Texas the commitment to help people stay well and get well, by finding cures and fighting back is at the heart of everything we do. The same can be said for the volunteers and employees I’ve worked with across the nation. Their commitment is tangible.


I have found no other organization with the resources, knowledge, and skill that can compare to the American Cancer Society in this field of work. As a fully entrenched social networker I’ve been please to see that the Society has kept up with the new media of a web 2.0 world.  We’ve integrated ourselves with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Second Life and we will continue to reach out where ever people are to share our resources and our message of hope.


Our sister organization The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in Washington, D.C. has been successful working with lawmakers to fight against Big Tobacco in the United States. It was no coincidence that in his February 24, 2009 address to Congress President Obama called for health care reform to include a “new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time” (April is National Cancer Control Month, by the way).


Nor is it a coincidence that a Bill was passed by the US House of Representatives granting the “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products”. These things don’t happen without the voice and support of the people, and many organizations are coming together to ensure that our voice, your voice, is heard.


Living a life free of cancer is something for everyone to celebrate. Eleven million cancer survivors are celebrating birthdays because of our progress. Countless others have avoided cancer for the same reasons. As the old saying goes “knowledge is power.” Knowing how to get well and stay well is priceless.


So… Now that my lunch hour is coming to an end, it’s time for me to get back to work.

Be a Tent Post in Your World

When a tent post is put in place everything rises. Be a tent post in your world. As you rise to do your duty, to be your best, everything and everyone around you is blessed. Choose to put forth the effort to be better at what you do and better at who you are.


Who are the tent posts in your life? Who has made your world better, your horizons wider, and you insights deeper because of their choices? Who are your examples for how to be?


In every aspect of life, we choose our leaders. It’s true that someone may be assigned to represent and guide us and, for a time, we may be obligated to follow, but if our heart isn’t in it we will choose someone else.


Others have chosen to look to you for guidance in some aspect of their life. They may never mention it and you may never know exactly when or where you made a difference. Your circle of influence is probably wider than you think. Each of us can choose our actions but we can never choose the consequences. So stand tall, lift from where you stand, and be true.

Enabling Perception of Control (Part I)

Perception of Control

Back in the 20th century I worked retail for Franklin Quest (Now FranklinCovey) and I was given “frontline authority.” This meant I was enabled to call the shots with our customers. If a discount seemed appropriate I could give a discount.  If a return seemed questionable the decision was mine to accepted or decline.  I was trusted to call the shots.

My ability to discern the appropriate course of action on the “frontline” quickly grew with experience.  My self confidence also grew. 

At the time, this concept of frontline authority seemed to be a unique course of action. The corporate decision makers could have followed the example of other retailers and distributed a detailed handbook mandating that all customer service decisions follow a strict written policy.  Functionally this could have been effective but it would have caused significant problems for our customers and employees. It would have been bad for business.

When an employee who should be making decisions is blocked from doing so, customers can feel it. It doesn’t take long before a request is made to speak with a “manager,” meaning someone the customer believes has the authority to make a decision rather than repeat policy.

Granting frontline decision making authority is essential to developing trust and strength in any organization. When individuals perceive that they have the ability to choose for themselves their world is expanded. When this perception is damaged or distorted their world shrinks and their work becomes frustrating. 

Making decisions and experiencing the consequences of those decisions is critical to individual development. If individuals do not perceive themselves as appropriately in control of their work, the organization suffers. They can, over time, develop a sense of learned helplessness. Not that they are helpless but by perceiving themselves as helpless they act as if it was true. Those who refuse to accept the model of learned helplessness eventually leave the organization.

I’ve used my days at FranklinCovey as an example of an organization that successfully enabled a strong perception of control in its most basic employees. If doing so is critical to running a business, how much more is it to a marriage, raising children, or even developing friendships?