Archive for December, 2009

Submitted by: Santana

My wingman screamed over the radio “Break Right, Break Right! Missile launch, your 3 O’clock!”

I looked to my right and saw two SAM’s (surface to air missiles) skyrocketing towards my aircraft at twice the speed of sound.  My radar warning receiver was blaring which meant I was being locked up by enemy radar. If I didn’t maneuver my aircraft immediately, I would get shot down.  There was no time to think.

I lowered the nose, went to full power, banked the aircraft aggressively to the right and performed my best missile defense maneuver.  Then I heard my wingman (call sign “Pigpen”) yell “Magnum” over the radio. This meant he was shooting an anti-radiation missile at the radar site that was tracking on me. Within several seconds my radar turned off and the missiles lost track of my aircraft and exploded only a ½ mile away from me!

I survived.

Pigpen was my wingman over the skies of Yugoslavia that night and he possibly saved my life. His job on this mission (and every mission) was to provide mutual support to the formation. How did I know this? Because on every mission fighter pilots back each other up and cross check our most vulnerable position – directly behind us. It’s where most of the threats come from. We call it the “six o’clock” position and when we’re strapped into the cramped cockpit of the F-16, it’s the location we can’t see on our own.

Fighter pilots train in an environment of mutual support and always check each other’s six for unseen threats.  And when our wingmen call out “break right/left” to avoid the missiles, we never question their judgment.  We take action because we trust each other.  It’s what we’re trained to do.

We survive solo, but win together.

In the heat of battle in business, it’s easy to get channelized and inadvertently blow off your cross check (i.e. sales processes, budget, customer courtesy, critical appointments, etc.) You may be way too focused on the task at hand, overwhelmed or stressed out. You become what fighter pilots call “task saturated.”

When this happens, you can lose sight of the big picture and your cross check can suffer. This is when you leave yourself vulnerable to the unseen enemy and can get shot down (i.e. lose the sale, alienate a co-worker, miss a critical appointment, etc.) To avoid this, you need your wingmen to check your six and provide mutual support during these stressful times.

Here are five WingTips to facilitate a “check six” culture in your organization.

Start by asking others for 1-1 intimate feedback on your performance
Request that they sit in on a sales call or have them review a proposal.
Ask these two questions: “What did I miss? “How can I Improve?”
Avoid being defensive.  Then, thank them.
If you’re a formal leader, openly reward employees who demonstrate mutual support and who encourage others to succeed.
Be willing to say “I don’t know” or “I messed up”
When the boss publicly admits a mistake and fesses up to it, others will too (especially the new hire who may be scared an intimidated by your organization.)
Set expectations during a daily/weekly briefing to highlight performance expectations, delegate responsibilities, and contingency plan emergencies. Let your team know that you expect them to tell you if you’re messing up.
Be willing to give extra support to a wingman who may be experiencing a challenging situation at work or even at home.
In fast-paced, high-risk environments, close coordination is required among team members to accomplish a mission and avoid errors.  Creating a check six environment with your wingmen is critical to mitigate risk and ensure the missiles of adversity, change and fear don’t shoot you down. It also helps to break down communication barriers so that all members of a team feel empowered to speak up, ask questions, and call out missiles.

When mutual support is part of your culture, team members become more trusting and engaged, while leaders benefit from the improved flow of vital information up and down the organizational hierarchy. Your customers and prospects will also see a big difference in the quality of their service. Finally, having an extra set of eyes looking out for you (like “Pigpen” did for me) will allow you to function more productively and with less stress during those challenging missions.

Never Fly Solo,

Lt Col Rob “Waldo” Waldman

Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman, the Wingman, is a former combat decorated fighter pilot and the author of Never Fly Solo – Lead with Courage, Build Trusting Partnerships, and Reach New Heights in Business.


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“I hope the love and trust that we always talk about prevails and that this note, written from my heart, can provoke a real, open and loving dialogue that promotes the values we hold dearest.

At this time in our family’s history, I find it critically important to share what I never have with you all.  Some of the lessons I learned at my Men’s Weekend.  I know that many of you have strong judgments of the Men’s and Women’s Weekend and related activities and organizations, and we have never addressed those judgments head on.  But I ask you to look at our actions. Consider how Mario and Andrea reunited after many years apart and have flourished partly because of the lessons described below.  Remember back to my experience, last year, where the power of the lessons below prevailed and my wife and I are now happily married and properly caring for our child.  These lessons are most important when it matters most.

Though our code of confidentiality does not allow me to share what happened there, i am encouraged to share what I have learned  Hopefully, you’ll be able to track in my actions and in those of some of my sibs and in laws that have been exposed to the weekend, actions that are consistent with these lessons.  There is an obvious reason for the timing of this email that I don’t think I need to mention.
There are 3 entities.  The man, the woman and the relationship.  Simple lesson, but often ignored, so when there is a problem in the relationship, I might have a tendency to think that my partner is the problem when in fact it is really the relationship that needs to be fixed or changed in some way.
The most prevalent type of child abuse in our society today is divorce.
When 2 parents divorce, it is equated to placing their child (or children) in front of a moving bus.  Though they will not be harmed physically, the damage is potentially more grave because these wounds don’t just close up like a cut or heal like a bruise.  The split will cause deep emotional and spiritual wounds that will last the rest of their lives.
The effect of the divorce will likely harm children for many generations, as children of divorce are more likely to divorce than children of united families.
These are just a few of the dozens of lessons that I’ll mention that are most relevant to all of us today.  Here is one more:

Through my experiences in the Men’s organization of which I am a member, and through countless other volunteer and partnership activities with the women’s organizations that we work with, I have come to know dozens of men and women and their stories.  We share a common trust that is more powerful than the trust I have felt anywhere else. In those experiences, I have come to learn about many relationships that were in horrible condition that were saved because of the commitment and love of the two individuals and because of the realization of the potential impact their split can have on their children. From that, I have learned that it is never too late.

Now that the stakes are extremely high in other branches of our family tree, what wisdom will prevail?  What principles will be championed?

I feel like I’ve had to hold back some of what I’ve learned because of what I’ve understood to be some of your judgments of what I’ve experienced.  But I have to be honest, I’m tired of treating the most powerful and important change in my life as a dirty little secret just because others are afraid of something they do not know or understand.  There are powerful lessons from our experiences that are very applicable to our famly today that I think we should share with each other in support of what is best for us and our children, and grandchildren.

I don’t know the full story of what is happening in Claremont.  Still, I’m here as a stand for united families, children being raised by two parents, unending commitment to my partner and our relationship. I’m here as a stand for healthy relationships where man and woman are fully empowered to bring all of themselves to each other and to the world, not having to hide anything or hold anything back.  That is why I spend so much of my time and energy to ensure that the most important lessons we all hold are carried forth and shared with many.  So that we all can live better lives and take better care of our children.

Finally, I’m here as a stand for the belief that, when there are young children involved, DIVORCE IS NOT AN OPTION.  Something I learned first from my Mom, my Dad and Hector, and re-learned at my Weekend.

I hope you can see and feel the sentiment behind the words I have written: love.
I love my nieces.  I love my God-daughter.  I love my brother and sister in law.

Furthermore, I love our family, the children we now have and those we still have not conceived.  Our grandchildren and others.  These are all individuals that will feel the effects of our actions.  For them and for all of you, I’m taking a stand.”

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When someone in our circle tells you to take your hands out of your pockets when you’re speaking to another man, think about it before you react unconsciously.

It is generally assumed that leaving your hands in your pockets while talking to someone is a sign of disrespect.

You might have your hands in your pockets because you are being rude, deceptive, defensive, or nervous.  Sometimes you are just trying to stay warm..

You might have your hands out of your pockets to show respect.  But maybe you like to gesture while you talk or you’re about to strangle the mother-fucker standing in front of you.

So before you automatically whip your hands out of your pockets and let your arms dangle at your sides do something intentional.  Think about what you want your body language to say and decide if you are going to take your hands out or not, and why.  You might also tell those around you about your decision.

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