This is a guest blog by Gerry Chaney who is a retired Department of the Army manager where he played key roles in reorganization actions for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Pentagon. In these actions he admits that he was exposed to his own weaknesses, as well as those in other leaders and managers, as they struggled to meet stringent deadlines under immense stress. During these times, Gerry developed his own limited strategies for coping and keeping his effectiveness up. After reading Sink, Float, or Swim, he stated that Tignum training would have been extremely beneficial to him during his work projects but also very important to his family, which he admits were too often neglected.
As I watch the news reports of General McChrystal, I am struck by his story and the subtle reasons that this could have happened. Here is a very intelligent man, a self disciplined man, a man who has risen to the top ranks of the US Military and who by all measures appears to be a high performer. So how does he make such a big slip that not only impacts his career and reputation, but also possibly the security of the troops? We've seen similar types of lapses in Presidents, politicians, and CEOs.
The more I think about these types of situations the more I see a trend. They are almost always during a time of extreme stress and sleep deprivation. General McChrystal is famous for sleeping only four hours, eating only one meal a day, and pushing himself through torturous long runs during the noon middle east heat. This is another trend you often see - the mistake of thinking just being physically fit is the same as being "fit for duty."
When you look at brilliant leaders you see another dangerous combination. Many times these leaders have a strong ego that has been developed through years of success, promotion, and adoration. If you combine this with an environment where you are surrounded by people who don't challenge your thoughts and help you reframe, you can create a potentially dangerous situation.
This is why I think the Tignum strategies are so crucial and valuable to leaders from all walks. The combination of Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery strategies are designed to be implemented during the most demanding and stressful times. They ensure that you have the energy, resilience, and high performing brain to handle the toughest situations. In all of the leadership training I have seen these things aren't learned. These things are the missing link. As I look at the story heading today's news, I can't help but wonder how Tignum could have helped the leadership of BP at the onset of the oil spill.
If there is one lesson here, I think its that all leaders are human (some appear super human). Therefore, they need to realize that human beings are not machines. They need the right thinking, the proper nutrition, daily movement, and adequate rest and recovery.
Without these things they are NEVER their best.
By Gerry Chaney