DISCIPLINE #3 Champion

When challenge and adversity are all around, only then is a champion found.

Resting in the Horn of Africa, Somalia was engulfed in a brutal civil war and widespread famine in 1993. A peacekeeping effort by the United Nations was under attack and valiant members of the United States Army Rangers and Delta Force soldiers were deployed to capture the Somali warlord leading the attack. Also assisting in the effort was the United States Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), known as the Night Stalkers. During the Battle of Mogadishu, two Night Stalker Black Hawk helicopters, Super Six One and Super Six Four, were shot down. As described in the book by Mark Bowden with the movie of the same name, Black Hawk Down, 19 brave American soldiers gave their lives in service of the country. The heroic soldiers involved in this event demonstrated the ultimate example of what it means to champion: to fight for, protect, defend, and support.

While many of us will never know that level of service in a life and death arena, we can in a different context strive to champion the direction of our organizations. To effectively champion a group’s strategic direction could very well mean the difference between success or bankruptcy and employment or unemployment for thousands of people. Developing a strong strategy means that you’ve made tradeoffs, and trade-offs mean that some of your potential customers aren’t going to be happy. While we know good strategy is not going to please all potential external customers, what’s often overlooked is that good strategy is also going to upset some of your internal customers as well. Moving resources (time, people, and budget) from one area to another is sure to stir up emotions as some people will see the changes as hurting their ability to run their part of the business. Therefore, any good strategy will come under attack internally because of the changes it causes. And when the strategy comes under attack, you’ll need to defend, or champion it. In championing the strategy, a disciplined approach to managing time, influencing others and continually developing new skills will be critical to success.

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