Unique Leadership Axiom: Survival Is the Best Measure of Success.
In A Genius For War Carlo d’Este credited General George Patton Jr with saying: “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”
This quote clarifies what we know to be true. Nature uses every trick in the book so that the species survives.
In 1976 Clinton Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist claimed, “the living and breathing body is just a carrier – a vehicle for selfish genes.” What Dawkins claims about the nature, General Patton claimed about warfare: Survival Is the Best Measure of Success. In the military survival is success. Actually, in every kind of business survival precedes success.
We see examples in our current economy, when people wind up in the unemployment line the company’s mission has failed. Some people claim that managers don’t care about employees as much as they care about their own bonuses. Others believe that the members of Congress and him the federal government do not care about the citizens as much as they do about their own jobs. When either of these concerns is true, the behavior of the people involved is perverse. It is in conflict with the evolution of mankind.
In World War II we saw that basic beliefs of different cultures resulted in very different kinds of “landings.” The first US retaliation against Japan after Pearl Harbor was the famous Jimmy Doolittle raid on Tokyo. US bombers flying from aircraft carriers to bomb Tokyo were to land in China. A quirk of fate caused them to launch the planes prematurely. As a result, the fuel they could carry was not enough for a safe landing. Many of the planes did not make it to China. By the values of American culture, the mission was a failure. Valuable crews were lost, reducing America’s strength.
In that same war and in that same theater the Japanese launched suicide in-flight attacks in which the pilots planned to die. That was an unnatural act as part of an unnatural mission derived from an unnatural religion. That religion was in conflict with nature.
Once again, we find ourselves in a war in which the enemy plans its missions with no respect for nature. Once again, we see people urged to acts of violence from which there is no plan to survive. These are unnatural acts. Fear is the companion of the desire to survive. Nature has directed that we use all our evolved capabilities, including fear, to survive. Nature says to us: plan your mission so that you have a safe landing. Walk away from every landing, no matter how shaky it may have been.
Leadership Focus. Everything you do as a leader must create missions where every member of the team walks away from the landing. In business and war, risks are present and sometimes losses occur. Never create a plan based on the idea of acceptable losses.
My Take. Only a fool ignores the presence of risk. Every mission, every task, every good idea and every good intention incorporates some risk. Let fear inform your mission plan of risks. Plan well. Execute completely. Walk away!