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Step Up!

When 1+1 = 3

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Mark Devine is a retired U.S. Navy SEAL Commander. His Way of the Seal is an outstanding resource for anyone seeking to be an elite operator in life and work. Click on the cover for a review and opportunity to purchase, and check out inTEgro's Recommended Readings for reviews and Amazon links to dozens of additional books for "transforming business as usual into business at its best."

Twitter Highlights
I send 15-20 tweets per week with links to useful links and research. Here are a few of my latest, including links:

Why Some Teams Are Smarter:

40% of college grads lack the reasoning skills for professional work:

An often overlooked factor of "scalability" is whether an organization's size and complexity is out-growing its values

Senior leadership teams can make or break an organization. Here are 7 tips for keeping your top team in top form.

Jazz reflects reflects the best qualities of organizational alignment: a satisfying blend of structure, discipline and improvisation.

Engagement & empowerment programs: signs of a deeper problem that neither will solve.

For resolutions to stick, focus on intentions and not just goals:

Who Are You When You Go To Work

How to project intelligence (instead of faking it)

'Adversity is the trial of principle. Without it, we hardly knows whether we are honest or not.' - Henry Fielding

The Paradox of Ledership

If only we could program humans to make ethical decisions like we can robots.

There is no direct correlation between plans and conditions on the battlefield.

A sobering look at business ethics and "The Six Ethical Dilemmas Every Professional Faces"

"The trouble with being treated like an adult is that pretty soon you find out if you are one." (Esquire, 12/14)

To lead, stop always searching for answers and embrace Gertrude Stein's dying words: "What is the question?"

Why Germans Work Fewer Hours But Produce More: A Study In Culture and Productivity

Refreshing Your Brand Leads to Career Success

New Year New Job? Read This First

Excellent McKinsey article on leading change from the inside-out

Ingredients of authentic brands: heritage, sincerity and quality

Resesrch demonstrates that gender diversity makes for more productive, but less enjoyable, teams.

It's not about capitalism & profit or values & virtue, but both/and.

Know how to pick your battles and fight fair at work.

A leader's job: tapping into a higher purpose - from the heart

Welcome to January's Step Up!. Please visit the blog version to leave comments, and visit "Newsletters" for inTEgro's article archive.  


If you missed it, the start of December's article "When 1+1 = 3" by guest author Ann Wasik, follows. Click on Read more at the end to continue, and check out inTEgro's newsletter archive to access all past articles. 

Step Up!

Where do your ideas, solutions and inspirations come from? If you're like me, sometimes they originate unexpectedly from sources that have no direct connection to anything immediately at hand. If you've read my earlier articles, you know that I find sailing and wilderness camping especially fruitful venues for leadership and teamwork insights. Surprisingly, not long ago a tennis court served up some valuable lessons.


I am returning to tennis after a long absence, due primarily to shoulder surgery a few years ago. After a few friendly games, I signed up for a series of tennis clinics, a chance to learn from a pro what bad habits I've retained and how to step up my game. Before long, the drill instructor noticed how when approaching a shot I was often tentative and even backed away some. I haven't told him yet how his next words of advice resonated far beyond the court that day or even tennis: "Step up and into the shot, Al; good things happen when we step up, and bad things happen when we don't." There it was! A valuable insight that not only pays dividends for tennis, but for leadership and life: "Good things happen when we step up; bad things happen when we don't!"


What does "stepping up" look like? For tennis, leadership and life, here are some fundamentals:

  • Motivation. In general we are motivated by firmly held values, the prospect of something we deeply desire or something we wish to avoid; the greater their significance, the greater the motivation. We need to have a "why;" what is your "why?
  • Visualization. Performers at the top of their game know to rehearse or visualize their best performance and intended outcomes in their minds. In the words of Napoleon Hill: "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Do you have a clear picture of what you are striving for?
  • Focus. Synchronously, about the same time I was returning to tennis I happened to be reading "Way of the Seal, " a retired U.S. Navy Seal's lessons as a Seal applied to life and leadership. (A book I heartily recommend; see the sidebar.) He talks about the importance of "front sight focus," in SEAL usage "keeping your eye on the front sight of your weapon, and the front sight of your weapon on your target;" For tennis, of course, that translates to "keep your eye on the ball!" 
    Focus, in tennis, life or leadership requires concentration and  elimination of distractions, including worries about how we look or what others think, non value-added "gadgetry" or activities, and other distractions that detract from accomplishing our goals. Focus is different than myopia or tunnel vision. Our field of view needs to encompass not only what is obvious that could impact success, but what may not be readily discernable.
  • Commitment. Yoda, the Star Wars sensei, was right: "Do or do not; there is no 'try'." "Stepping up" means no half-measures. In tennis, bad things happen if we're caught mid-court as the ball lands at our feet; in tennis, life and leadership, good things happen when we confidently execute our intentions, build momentum and follow through; bad things happen when we don't.
  • Persistence. Commitment requires not giving up in the face of adversity or when not initially successful. Most worthwhile goals are accompanied by adversity and obstacles or require repeated attempts, learning from our experience. Cleaning up some files recently, I found the copy of a letter that I wrote to the Personnel department (yes, that's what they called it then) of a major employer after graduating from college; I had previously applied, written and called on several occasions about the same position and been rejected. I learned after they eventually offered me the job that they decided to interview me only out of curiosity about who would be so persistent.
    An increasing number of colleges are de-emphasizing ACT, SAT and other traditional academic screens for admission and indicators of college success in favor of personality assessments. They are finding that chief among the personality traits that signal likelihood of college success is persistence.
  • Discipline. "Discipline" and "disciple" share the same root that means "follower." Achieving challenging goals or replacing unproductive habits with good ones requires following s set of practices, protocols or precepts to keep us on track. The whole nature of tennis drills, repetitive exercises with supervision and coaching, is repetition to ingrain better habits and reactions. Sometimes a simple repetitive message or "mantra" will do the job; one of mine this year, on the tennis court and off, will be "Step up!"

In addition to checking out Divine's book The Way of the Seal, take in the movies "Unbroken,"  "The Imitation Game", "The Theory of Everything" and "Selma" if you can; they are also powerful sources of inspiration for stepping up.


My revelation about "stepping up" on the tennis court and its implications was well timed. As we start a new year, it is serving as a reflection and catalyst for how I will step up in other arenas of life and work.


It's true, "when we step up, good things happen; when we don't, they don't. How will you be "stepping up" this year?



Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.

Winston Churchill


Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.

W. Clement Stone


We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.



When 1+1 = 3

Ann Wasik

Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.

T.S. Eliot


I've heard it said that the best personal relationships happen not when 1+1=2 but when 1+1=3. When the combination of two individuals transcends the basic and becomes better than either imagined. I believe the same is true in a professional relationship between a business and its employees.


Just as in a relationship, using a checklist of requirements for suitable candidates doesn't guarantee success. Likewise, a job description that looks good on paper may result in the wrong culture fit for an employee. Companies, industries and new techniques can be learned, skills can be honed, but it is the personality,

 Read more


Win A Free Book! NI book cover png 052311  

Enter the "WHO SAID THIS?" contest on our blog to win a free  autographed copy.

"This book expresses a strong conviction that Al Watts and I share - that integrity is fundamental for leaders and organizations to live up to their promise and potential. His simple and powerful Integrity Model is illustrated with practical and memorable examples."
- Jim Mitchell, Executive Fellow, Leadership, Center for Ethical Business Cultures, and EVP (Retired,) American Express Company


Contact inTEgro to explore how we can be of service for strategic planning, senior team and board development or facilitating critical meetings. Click "Services" on our home page to learn more, including inTEgro's array of professional organization, team and leader surveys.

All the best,

Al Watts
inTEgro, Inc.
ph: (612) 827-2363

Al Watts
inTEgro, Inc