Always the Army’s Biggest Challenge? Fighting the last war today… What does this mean to you?
The truth: one of the most difficult, painful aspects of our success? How we attach unnecessarily to repetitive, old, tired formulas and the memory of old victories and defeats. You must consciously wage war against the past and force yourself to react to the present moment. Be ruthless on yourself and your team. Oftentimes, in the beginning, losing has no fear because you have nothing to lose. However, once you have a series of victories, you have acquired things (not just assets, even your ego and reputation are acquired and enhanced!) Therefore, to break out of your mold presents risk that you took in yesteryear but are very troubled by today.
What you may lose in comfort and security, you will gain in surprise, making it harder for your competition to know what you will do. You are the initiator, however! Wage guerrilla warfare on your mind!
When of the greatest examples in historical warfare was Napoleon’s defeat of the Prussian General Hohenlohe. The Prussian Army at that time was the toast of modern warfare, or so it was believed. Their adherence to drill was legendary. Hohenlohe with, at the point of his career, that his planned defeat of Napoleon would cement his legend for all time. He could not wait to use his superior tactics, and execution of those tactics, against Napoleon. However, it went all horribly wrong. Napoleon did not act as expected. Every time Hohenlohe executed a superior response, Napoleon was not where he was supposed to be! The defeat was so thorough and humiliating, the Prussian army never recovered.
Where in your business model and among your leadership team and facing your competition do you have locked-in beliefs and expectations becauseyesterday they worked so well?!
Re-examine all your cherished beliefs and practices. When Napoleon was asked what principles of war he followed, he replied that he followed none. His genius was his ability to respond to circumstances and to make the most of what he was given. He was the supreme opportunist.
Erase the memory of the last war. The last war you fought is a danger, even if you won it. If you were victorious you will tend to repeat the strategies you just used, for success often makes us lazy and complacent. If you lost, you may be skittish and indecisive. Do not think about the last war; take the lessons learned and apply them to the new, vibrant current NOW. Wayne Gretzky said he never played hockey where the game was happening; he played it where it was going to be happening.
Keep the mind open and moving. When we were children, our minds never stopped. We were open to new experience and absorb as much of them as possible. We learn fast, because the world around us excited us. When we felt frustrated, we would find a creative way to get what we wanted and then quickly forgot the problem as something new crossed our path.
The Greek thinker Aristotle thought that life was defined by movement. What does not move is dead. What has speed and mobility has more possibilities, more life. Your mind must expand to where the game is going!
And last, always remember, whatever you’re doing, if it is not working or delivering you the results you wish, change course. And change course again. And change course again!
This notion that humans hate change is simply not true. Old humans hate change because they have grown inflexible in their approach. As long as you are willing to change your approach, change is nothing more than the most exciting vehicle to continually deliver you new, fresh, exciting results! Drive it deep into everyone’s psychology!
*gratitude to concepts and excerpts from “The 33 Strategies of WAR” by Robert Greene.