Gardening Over Chess

General Stanley McChrystal is one of the most respected generals in United States military history.  He retired after 35 years of service.  He has a unique perspective on what it takes to lead in modern day times.   With the progression of technology, globalization and social media, the playing field is very different today than ever before and you must evolve with the times.   Here are a few of his thoughts on leading in today's environment:

1) "Al Quaeda in Iraq was very a different kind of opponent, constantly changing and adapting with more information.  Although we were elite, we had to change our strategy in order to win.   I became the global connector with daily video podcasts amongst teams to make sure that information was always flowing.  We started measuring connectivity and relationship building amongst all the different teams."

2) Leadership today is more like gardening than chess.  There are certain times in history where tactical skills, similar to chess, would prevail.  Today leadership should be viewed more like gardening.  It is the gardeners responsibility to set the stage and create an environment where the plants will flourish, bear fruit and grow.  The only way to scale an organization is to help your plants grow.  

3) A great leader today gathers as much intelligence as possible but never let's that delay action.  The best leaders adapt in the present.  Resilience is more important than planning.  Constant learning, constant adapting.  

Ray Dalio said, "By the time you know everything you need to know, the opportunity is gone." 

4) Nothing about America is automatic.  Our future will be determined by what we make of it.  

5) The farther up in the ranks that you go, the more your humility has to grow beyond your environment.  

His advice to President Trump is that putting talent together doesn't necessarily equal a good outcome.  He encourages him to get the key leaders together and go whitewater rafting, or something similar just to get to know each other and build relationships.  When it gets hard, they need connectivity. They can always remember that they sat across the boat from one another. Regardless of where you are today, think about how you must evolve to stay ahead.  When it comes to leadership, think about gardening over chess.  


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