Monday, April 30, 2012

The Coalition of the Doing

My last post made mention of my list, "The Coalition of the Doing".  It evidently struck a chord with at least a few of you who sent me a note, so I wanted to amplify.  I have long admired the people in my life who create ways to enhance the lives of others.  My father is a retired Oakland Police Officer and my mother a retired Police Dispatcher.  They each made a career of helping others.  My brother specializes in ensuring the sun shines on any room in which he walks.  He gives everyone reason to smile and makes it a point to lighten up just about any situation.  My wife is determined to help those of us lucky enough to be in her life to see opportunity in place of obstacle and to participate in life instead of watching it pass by.  I lucked into the family I was born, and I chose the partner I needed (thankfully, she settled for me).  They are Doers.

I will hit that 20 years of military service milestone one month from today.  It is a milestone for many reasons.  One being I can no longer deny I have been wearing the uniform for much longer than the average Active Duty Sailor (working with primarily 18-26 year olds reminds me of that every day).  Over the course of those 20 years, I have migrated from observer to follower to doer to complainer to leader, and I find reason to play each role over the course of a given day.  The difference is I do a heck of a lot less observing and complaining.  Sure, I follow, and yes I lead, but I take most pride in the doing.  Observing is a great way to learn, but the more we observe, the less we contribute.  Complaining is necessary, provided we do so in a constructive manner and offer solutions to the issues we bring to the surface.  It is said that "A complaining Sailor is a happy Sailor" and that may be true for some, but a complaining Sailor who doesn't offer solutions is little more than a distraction.  It is the active followers, the deliberate leaders, and above all the constructive doers who make the difference.  Those are the attributes of "The Coalition of the Doing".

Yes, I maintain a list.  Yes, I do my part to create opportunities with people on this list to do things that are not in either of our position descriptions.  Yes, I look forward to a day when I can work with more of the people on this list in a more official capacity.  I won't speak of the contributions that some of the people on this list have made because that might be construed as taking or giving credit and that is not what drives these individuals.  Note that I use the word "individuals" in favor of "team" to describe them.  They don't know each other, so they can't really be a team.  That will likely be the next step in this experiment (and oh how I love experiments) - Allowing these individual contributors to develop into a team of game changers.  You see, that's the biggest thing about nearing in on the 20 year mark, acknowledging that it will be over soon.  I aspire to making my legacy one that multiplies these doers so that today's exception becomes tomorrow's rule.  Where it is the complainer, and not the doer, who is looked at with a questioning eye.  It is the one who doesn't ask the hard question, submit an insightful  point paper, or blog about their journey so that others can learn who is seen as the anomaly.  This is not about me or anyone on the list (I hope that all have a similar list of people we know who can and will get it done), but about the list and the attributes it represents.  The longer we can make this list and the more we collectively commit to doing, the more we will contribute and the more fun we'll have along the way, effectively pushing our retirement/separation dates further away.  (Who would willingly walk away from a team having so much fun doing cool things?)  Truthfully, the list is not that long and the bulk of the doers are nowhere near their retirement eligibility (most are JOs or E-5 and below).  That said, they serve voluntarily and many will leave at their next decision gate.  If they leave because of opportunity elsewhere, good for them.  If they leave out of frustration because of us, shame on us.  When the doers hang it up and we are left with the status quo protectors, the problem admirers, and the whiners, we will have reached that tipping point.  A tipping point toward complete irrelevance as we spiral into that self-licking ice cream cone some perceive us as being even today.

What are you doing to create unique value for our Navy?  How are you partnering with other passionate doers?  What is your side project?  Do you consider yourself part of the coalition?  Do others?      

The experiment continues...  


  1. I don't know who is on that list, but thank you for the thrice monthly introspective look at leadership and service. I may not have a plethora of time right now for in-depth side projects, but you've certainly influenced how I think and approach problems.

  2. Glad you enjoy the blog, Kurt. Not too important who is on the list. It is important that we are all growing our respective lists and giving as many people as possible reason to put our names on theirs. It's all about the network and cooperatively leading the collective. Thanks for being so willing to be a part of the conversation no matter the forum.

  3. I've been saying the same thing for years!