Source: Brent Gleeson – Inc.com
Summary: This article summarises how not only to survive but also thrive in challenging situations or in a Navy Seals words “Life Ambush”, Many people and companies are experiencing this now in the midst of a Global Pandemic and recurring Lockdowns. Read below to discover how the REACT methodology might help!
Being a leader – in business and life – carries many burdens of command including the feeling of being pinned down when the best laid plans come under fire. In military jargon, to be “pinned down” means you are trapped in a vulnerable position by enemy fire and unable to move to safety. Never a fun place to be; being pinned down is accompanied by massive amounts of stress, anxiety, and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. Sound familiar?
Nobody understands this more than my friend, former teammate and colleague, retired Navy SEAL, leadership expert and bestselling author LT. Jason Redman. Jason and I co-authored this article based on his methodologies. Many of us have been experiencing these same feelings lately during what Jason calls a life ambush! An unexpected catastrophic event that leaves a permanent impact on your life or career. A life ambush is anything that leaves physical, mental, emotional or even financial scars. It may be the loss of a job, a divorce, unexpected illness, a pandemic, sexual trauma, the unexpected loss of a loved one, or a literal enemy ambush.
You might have experienced a life ambush if you have ever been:
• Overwhelmed to the point of shutting down
• Filled with anxiety, sleeplessness, or irritability
• Overcome by shame, guilt, and anger
• Buried in conflict, miscommunication, and chaos
• Dogged by emptiness and a lack of purpose or meaning
If so, it’s time to R.E.A.C.T!
In the SEAL Teams, Jason and I learned that to survive any enemy ambush you first had to get out of the point of attack as quickly as possible. We call this getting off the “X”. Fortunately, we trained extensively in this craft – Jason owes his life to that training and his teammates having survived a vicious firefight in which he was struck numerous times in the face, chest and arms by large caliber rounds from an enemy machine gun. After he and his team won the battle, Jason actually walked unaccompanied to the medivac helicopter. Always leading.
We’ve found that people in the “real world” struggle to react when confronted by a major life ambush consumed by the tendency to dwell on elements outside of their control. The outcome being analysis paralysis and the inability to take decisive action – a leader’s most critical weapon. Based on his experiences leading SEALs in combat and working with business leaders across the globe, Jason developed the REACT methodology so you can emerge from any life (or business) ambush by taking immediate and corrective action. And not just survive your ambush, but even thrive from it!
The bottom line – You’ve got to REACT, get off the “X” and keep moving forward.
R.E.A.C.T. – Recognize your reality.
To REACT, you first have to recognize the reality that you’re in an ambush. It’s only through admitting the severity of your circumstances that you can begin to move forward. Recognition jolts you out of shock and denial, and it can bring clarity to the signs leading up to the ambush that you either chose to ignore or just flat out missed. By reacting, you stop focusing on your own pain and misery and start watching things unfolding around you. We call this gaining situational awareness.
Most importantly, you gain clarity about your current circumstances.
R.E.A.C.T. – Evaluate your assets and position.
Next, evaluate your position. When Jason was hit in that ambush in Iraq, he was out in the open. There was nowhere to go while his team returned fire and attempted to retake enough ground to get him back to cover. In a life crisis, evaluating your position includes taking into account resources and blockages, as well as the position and condition of others on your team. Even if you have limited time, keep the communication lines open, urgently ask questions, collect multiple points of information, and gather a quick big picture assessment of the situation.
While it’s important to be optimistic when you evaluate, you need a realistic assessment of your current situation. There is no time in an ambush for rose colored glasses. You cannot take action with false information that isn’t an accurate assessment of your predicament. It’s critical that you’re honest with yourself and the team. Transparency is key.
Organizations and teams can often implode during a crisis where external (and sometimes internal) forces are placing enormous pressure on the existing culture and operating models. Without proper root cause analysis and action-oriented thinking, the desired result moves further from reach.
R.E.A.C.T. – Assess your options and outcomes.
Now it’s time to assess options. Once you have a clear perspective and understanding of your position, assess your action options. You will feel utterly overwhelmed and it will be hard to focus in the initial blast of a life ambush, so identifying the best short and long-term positions for survival can be a challenge.
In an ambush, some of the choices for survival include (1) taking cover, (2) attacking into the ambush, or (3) flanking the attackers by moving to an advantageous position. You may have to fall back to reorganize and take a tactical pause. Or you may have the momentum to be able to blow straight through it, depending on the current state of your life or business.
Use the best information you have available to you, and identify the options you can take. Course correction along the way may be necessary so embrace an adaptive mindset.
R.E.A.C.T. – Choose a Direction and Communicate it.
Choose and communicate. In your crisis, choose the best option forward to get you off the X and out of the direct line of fire. You can always reflect and reassess once you break out of the immediate impact or inaction. Even the smallest step forward is a victory over apathy and paralysis. That’s why one our most critical battle philosophies is to move, shoot, and communicate.
Then, if you are working with others, once you’ve identified a path and location to move to, it’s imperative to clearly and succinctly communicate your choice to your team. Make sure they know WHAT direction you are headed and WHY. They may be stunned, overwhelmed, and in denial themselves, so make sure they understand where you are going, why, how you will get there, and their roles in achieving mission success.
R.E.A.C.T. – Take Action. GET off the X and Move!
Take Action. Once you’ve communicated your direction, it’s time to MOVE! So many individuals and organizations gather information in a crisis, identify a point to move to, communicate that they are going to move, and then sit on the X forever waiting for the “perfect” moment. In both enemy and life ambushes the perfect moment does not exist. It will never come. The time to move is now. Follow through and get off the X, even if it’s painful, even if it’s hard, even when it hurts.
Even if someone in your team did something blatantly wrong that led to the ambush, part of your immediate action needs to include abandoning blame and self-medication as options while you are on the X and dealing with the crisis. Both impair your “overcome mindset” and slow reaction time.
So now what?
Start using the REACT principle to quickly get you out of the impact zone – and don’t just survive, thrive!