Becoming effective: A soldier’s tips

Weekender
LIFE SKILLS

By THOMAS HUKAHU
IN last week’s article, I shared tips by a successful businessman who is a great motivator and mentor and helps other people properly manage their money as well as making money.
Some of his unique points of advice include setting a target on how much you want to save and doing the maths to see how long it would take you to reach that target, whether it is a million kina or K6,000.
He is someone who also urges his students to live frugally to help them reach their goal. There is no need to buy expensive items like gold watches, expensive clothes and even a car.
Those tips are not common but they will make sense to you if you watch a whole video of him explaining his ideas – and you sit back and seriously think about how you are using money.

A soldier’s life can teach us
Do you know that a good soldier can teach us important skills in life, skills that we can apply appropriately in different aspects of life?
Apart from having the will to survive in harsh conditions, you can learn to better take care of yourself in the way you look after your body and the way you think, as well as when working as a team.
In the Bible, Apostle Paul uses the life of a soldier to urge a young pastor to strive to do better in his ministry. Paul urges young Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3: “Thou therefore endure hardness, as good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
The two other verses following that can teach any believer some things on how to better do the Lord’s work.
However, one tip we all can learn from the verse quoted above is “life will be tough or hard” and we have to endure it as a good soldier.
For those who want to succeed in what they do, they must learn to be strong and continue in their vocation or goals that they have set.
Nothing comes easy to those who want to realise their dreams or achieve their goals in life, whether it is saving money to reach a target of K20,000 or working towards completing a degree in university.
Everything demands work and discipline.

Robert O’Neill, a former US Navy Seal operative, who was the one who shot Osama bin Ladin in 2014.

Learning from a former SEAL
In this week’s article, we will take some tips from a former US Special Forces operative – a former US Navy Seal.
Wikipedia tells is that Robert O’Neill is a former US Navy sailor. A former US Navy Seal and special warfare operator, O’Neill claims to have fired the shot(s) that killed Osama bin Ladin during the raid on his compound on May 1, 2011.
O’Neill was part of the famous SEAL Team 6 which has also participated in other successful missions that have now been made popular by books written by former soldiers or feature films made.
(Seal stands for Sea, Air and Land, and Seal units are trained to operate on sea, air and land.)
In 2017, O’Neill published The Operator, in which he describes his deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, life as a Navy Seal, and the death of Osama bin Ladin.

Some tips given by O’Neill
Here are some of the tips that O’Neill gives in a YouTube video titled “Robert O’Neill: The Operator: Firing the shots that killed bin Ladin“.
Among other things in the video, he talks about what it takes to be successful in high-pace and high-performance teams.
We all can learn from those and apply them appropriately to our lives.
Tip 1: Training is tough
People do not become successful unless they are tough – and part of that comes from being trained to be tough.
All aspiring SEALs start on a 6-month BUD/S training, or basic underwater demolition SEAL training.
BUD/S is the hardest military training programme in the world. It makes SEAL operatives tough.
Tip 2: Team is vital
A common training drill in BUD/S is the log workouts where a six-man team does various drills with a 100 pound (45 kg) log, as in carrying it while walking or running.
The training is to get them to understand that if one of their six fails, their team fails. That is to say, the team is as strong as each member in it.
Tip 3: You must believe
In the interview, O’Neill states that the whole premise of the book is: “It does not matter what you look like or where you are from. You can do anything you want. You just need to work hard, believe in yourself and avoid the negativities.”
Tip 4. Utilise others in planning
When making plans, involve others, including the younger members of the team.
O’Neill said he tries to involve others in his team. That is good for two main reasons – another member may have better ideas than you, and it makes them feel as part of the team.
He gives the example where they devised the perfect plan to go after bin Ladin and their boss asks them in one of their training sessions what could be the worst thing that could happen, so they can think up contingencies.
The youngest operator in the group then said a helicopter could crash right in the front yard. That sounded absurd but the team talked about other plans if that happened.
It so happened that the young operator was right – one of the two choppers used in that special mission did indeed crash in the front yard of the compound when the mission was carried out.
Fortunately, they had a plan B for that because someone had mentioned that possibility.
Tip 5: Don’t do everything yourself
One question that O’Neill likes to ask people is: Are you teaching people how to do their jobs, or are you doing their jobs for them?
They use the “rule of three”, where they believe that a person can be effective in doing two to three tasks at one time. If a fourth and fifth are given to them, they should hand over those tasks to someone else to do, because they may become complacent and may not accomplish those successfully.
In other words, you cannot do everything by yourself. There are other members of your team that can help.
Tip 6: Remain focused
When the teams were getting ready to raid bin Ladin’s compound, many of the members of the teams were certain that some of them would die in that mission.
However, O’Neill said the conversation they had reminded them of what bin Ladin and his associates did on September 11 in 2001 when a set of attacks killed about 3000 Americans.
O’Neill said “we were not going for ourselves, or for bravado or for fame. We were going for the single mum who dropped her kid off at an elementary school on a Tuesday morning and 45 minutes later she jumped to her death off a skyscraper because that was a better alternative than burning alive”.
In other words, the mission had a higher purpose.
Tip 7: All experiences count
People often think of one successful mission as “the success story”.
However, O’Neill said the success of the teams in the bin Ladin raid was due to their experiences in many other missions.
Experiences in all missions prepare one better for a future mission. The big success story happened because of other successful stories in past years.

Applying the tips
O’Neill talks about many other things in the video that I am referring to and he has also spoken at other events, and you can check those out on YouTube.
But I am of the view that the tips learned, as stated above, are vital and can be used effectively in your team – whether you are in business, or a sporting team.
As someone who has played football and managed teams in the sport in the past, I find those points very important.
In applying the tips to a football team, I can say that a team is as strong as its individual players. And each player must be aware that each of them is responsible for specific tasks to execute for them to win the game.
And, finally but not the least, they must play according to the game plan, as devised before the game.
They must remain focused in the whole 90 minutes of football. Failure to do that means they will fail to achieve their goals, which is to win the game with a good margin.
Next week: Words from an Aussie female space flight controller

  • Thomas Hukahu is a freelance writer.

Leave a Reply