BOOK REPORT: The Attributes

leadership development maximize your wiring stories and examples Apr 16, 2022
cover of the book, The Attributes

Performance insights from a Navy SEAL (For people who are most definitely not SEAL-types).


"Sometimes exercising skills at a peak level is difficult.  Sometimes the best possible performance is messy, gritty, and uncomfortable.  Optimal performers, people and teams have the confidence to keep moving forward anyway.”

"Sometimes exercising skills at a peak level is difficult.  Sometimes the best possible performance is messy, gritty, and uncomfortable.  Optimal performers, people and teams have the confidence to keep moving forward anyway.”

Rich Diviney is a retired Navy SEAL commander who has spent his time since leaving the service exploring human potential and inspiring others to reach theirs.  His book, The Attributes: 25 Drivers of Optimal Performance, shares some of things he learned as a trainer for the elite fighting group, work with a leading neuroscientist, and experience working with people and organizations seeking to find maximize culture and performance.

The Attributes is not what you think – for two reasons.  First, when you hear “Navy SEAL” most people picture a mob of a steely-eyed, knife-in-teeth, human war machines who are the peak of human performance. Rich draws some really different conclusions from what makes the SEALs such an oft cited metaphor for high-performance.   His exploration of concepts like courage, resilience, and cunning have applications to the majority of us who have less stressful goals than a special ops team.

"Simply being aware is half the battle.  The rest is just deliberate focus."

It's also not a proscriptive “how to” book or litmus test for how to be awesome. Throughout the descriptions of the traits and skills behind these attributes, is the fact that most of them come from hard-wiring in all humans; external factors - environment, situation, stakes; and, most importantly, the reality that anyone can develop, improve or at least make use of all of the aptitudes with a little attention and a lot of practice.

Five Great Quotes:

"Leaders are defined by those whom they lead.”

“Leaders are watched more than they are heard.”

“Just like leadership, you don't get to decide if you're a good teammate or if other people trust you.”

“Purpose provides clarity.”

"A system is never the sum of its parts. It's the product of their interaction." - Russell Ackoff

Key Takeaways

  • Optimal Performance is more important than peak performance.   “Optimal” means the ability to do the best you can in any environment. Rich says, "Sometimes exercising skills at a peak level is difficult. Sometimes the best possible performance is messy, gritty, and uncomfortable. Optimal performers, people and teams have the confidence to keep moving forward anyway.” 
  • A well-trained (and well-selected?) SEAL, team leader, or someone who just wants to influence the world around them, all share the same brain biology. There’s some fundamental biology and brain chemistry that all humans share. The Attributes shows how individual humans can develop responses based on how we need and want to show up in the world.
  • High Performing Teams are structured more like an amoeba than a pyramid. Despite how the official org-charts, a lot of organizations really function more like "the blob" Rich uses to describe the SEALS. The reasons this works: the SEALS are overt about it. The changing leadership, authority and responsibility is trained into each member and incorporate into mission plans. They key is to be clear in about which situations hierarchy is important and - most importantly - where it is detrimental to optimal performance (like “sweeping a room”).

If You Only Read One Chapter

Chapter Ten explores the critical difference between Task Switching and multi-tasking. The later - despite popular opinion - is biologically impossible, even if you are a Millennial!  Task Switching is actually the opposite of multi-tasking. When deeply understood and practiced honestly can be a huge advantage in today's over stimulating world.

An Even Quicker Hit

Take the online Attributes Assessment.

Watch Rich's talk about The Four Elements of Trust.

 


 

Want to explore the ways you can lead from wherever you are?  Schedule a free, 30-minute spark session and let's talk about how to turn your strengths into superpowers!

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