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5 great business practices I learnt in the Navy.....

As the year draws to a close it is the perfect time to sit and reflect, no email, no cell phone, no disruptions, just a quiet place and your thoughts of the past. You cannot learn from the future, however your past will uncover the lessons and learnings that will allow you to conquer the future, if, you are willing to listen.

This week I took myself back 25 years to when I was in the Royal Australian Navy and thought of the lessons, skills and practices that were ingrained in me during my years of service. As I reflected on these lessons, I realized that I had encountered these many years before as a young boy growing up involved in a sporting culture. Obviously not as evident in the understanding as a child, the principles remain with me today.

  • Polish your shoes, Make your bed, Never be late!

In other words it is the details and daily disciplines that matter. If you can't take care of the little things, look professional and show up on time, how are you going to get on top of the complex matters or better yet be an integral member of the team. It's funny, even now the first thing I do when I meet someone is look at their shoes.

  • Practice, practice, practice

Everyday during my 6 years of service I engaged in some form of practice / role play of emergency situations eg: fire, flood, medical, combat etc etc... These drills or exercises were undertaken as if they were real life situations and we had no prior knowledge or warning of them about to take place. If you practice as if it is real then the skills developed will be secured in your knowledge to execute correctly and successfully in times of need. These exercises were always overseen by observers that gave instant feedback on the skills and practices being deployed. This immediate and constant feedback was the success of our skill development.

  • Every position is important, play your part

It doesn't matter what size your team is every position is important and is critical to the success of the mission or operation. Making sure you understand what your role is and you execute your duties and functions to the fullest is the most rewarding part of the team experience. When the pressure is on and the deadlines are looming it takes everyone to pull their weight to get the team over the line.

  • Debrief every mission

At the end of every exercise, emergency drill, routine operations etc. there was always a debrief and evaluation of the situation and performance of the team. It was thorough, detailed and exposed improvement opportunities and areas that needed working on or more practice. This was "real life situation" coaching. Whether you have small sales teams or large regional departments, it is crucial that you debrief your strategies and results regularly and with a fine tooth comb.

  • Celebrate and have fun

Yes, I am sure everyone has a story or vision of "drunken sailors" this goes to the point of celebrate and have fun! When operating in a team environment it is critical to "have fun" as a team and find any reason to celebrate. I remember even in one of my sports teams as a kid, we were having a tough year and we were not setting any records, but when we did win a game we celebrated like we had just won the championship. You must find a reason to celebrate and have fun.

Reflecting on the past is a great exercise that I encourage you to do.

What or who has impacted your future and what are the skills or behaviours that have stayed with you and helped shaped your future?

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