Situational Awareness

"Pay attention to detail!"

I was in the Navy for a period of my young adult life. It was not as long as I had hoped. A medical issue just a few weeks into boot camp led to an early general discharge. But, boot camp is designed so that lessons that take years in the civilian world are packed into every single day there. I learned so much then that remains with me and makes me a better human today.

One of the ideas that pops up in almost every lesson in military training is that extreme attention to detail matters. That in every situation, focused and unbroken awareness matters. That, in the worst cases, it is the difference between life and death. And so this level of attention to detail is stressed at every turn.

On the way to RTC San Diego, several of the new recruits I was traveling with and I ran into a couple of young soldiers at our layover in Denver. Nervously asking them about what Boot Camp would be like — how hard it would be or any tricks to make it easier — they responded "Just pay attention to detail. If you don’t you will be in a world of hurt." As soon as we arrived on base, and the yelling began, "Pay attention to detail!" was a refrain so constant it could have been a rock anthem chorus being blasted in our ears. And, in those coming days, when punishment would come, it would usually come only when the details were ignored or missed. And as our hands bled and burned from the few dozen push-ups on freshly gravelled blacktop amidst the Southern California heat our ignorance had brought upon us, the number of repetitions due was increased if each and every man failed to execute the punishment with attention to detail and precision.

Because, when it is the hardest to maintain focus — a fire fight, when you are scared and lost, when death is almost certain — is when it is most important to pay attention to every detail and execute extreme awareness in the situation. The safe path away from the battle, the weakness in the enemy defense, the ally you could signal for help, if it’s there at all it is there in the details.

The lesson that remains with me is that this is true of any situation in everyday life. That if an answer exists at all, if not obvious, it is only found by paying attention to the details. If you get into a bind, that will show you the way out. In tough spots, the answer is being mindful and aware of all of the available options. By having situational awareness in every direction you will find the your way out of the darkest certainties.

The Power of When

No such thing as spare time
No such thing as free time
No such thing as down time
All you got is life time
— Henry Rollins, Shine

The Power of When is now available. What is it? Read on…

Realistically, when you take away the time for sleep, the time for eating, the time you want to spend with the people that matter, travel time, and the minutia that makes it all run, most people have about six hours of useable work day.

Six hours.

Looked at another way, that’s only about 25% of every day. All the meetings, all projects, all the deadlines, all the tasks, and everything else you need to do to keep the money ball rolling must fit in there somewhere. And, the only way to do so is to ask one simple question of all of these things.


My friend Garrick van Buren and I have been thinking about and discussing this subject off and on for years now. In the process, we have been able to distill this idea into a simple set of tools to dramatically improve your productivity, eliminate your procrastination, and achieve your most important goals. We have turned this conversation into a ninety minute audio program that is available for purchase.

Here’s a 2 minute sample of what to expect:

Want to unlock your productivity and gain more free time? Want to banish To Do Lists forever and be confident you’re not missing anything? Want to achieve your most important goals while maintaining inbox zero? Want to know the one question that unlocks all of this?

You need The Power of When

P.S. Want to get a sense of some of the ideas discussed? Check out my post, A Time For Things and Better Things.

On Kicking Ass

There are times in our life when we simply kick ass.

It’s OK to kick a little ass sometimes. In fact, I argue that it is imperative to kick a whole lot of ass when the demands of life call for one to do so.

Like the revolution, the kicking ass will not be televised. You don’t have to prove that you have kicked ass. The fact that you kick ass will be obvious to everyone who knows you. You can go about your life, kicking ass along the way, and know deep inside yourself how much you kick ass.

That said, it is also OK to be proud of it. When one kicks ass of any amount, it is OK to declare that you have done so. Let the world know of your ass kickery.

In either case, make sure to take time to reflect on your ass kicking. Especially if the asses kicked are in amounts higher than the average. Enumerate and take pride on the number of asses kicked.

Personally, I see little need to take the names of the asses kicked. That will only slow one down. One cannot both kick ass and take names at the same time. One must kick ass, pause to take the name, then move on to the next ass kicking.

Unless one needs to keep detailed records of each ass kicked for tax or expense purposes. If so, then by all means, take names as well. Just be intentional about the trade off you are making by doing so.

Regardless, the reason I write this straight forward message is simple — we need everyone to kick more ass. The world has changed. There are increasingly less instances of both ass kicking and those that are ass kickers than there has been in the past. Ass kickers were once admired and plentiful. Ass kickers were desired. They are less so now. In fact, some believe they are actively discouraged. There are even those that claim our institutions of learning are turning ass kickers into ass kissers. So, those that kick ass are desperately needed in these hard times and the harder times to come. Those that do kick ass need to make themselves known as far and wide as possible in order to inspire others to kick ass. As an ass kicker it is your duty now, for the future.

Now, go forth and kick some ass.

I’m a writer. Writing is how I make this world better, friendlier, stronger place. If these words improved your day, please let me know by contributing here.

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