On vacation last week my family and I visited the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola. The Blue Angels perform a practice session every Tuesday and Wednesday at the airfield. If you’ve never seen the Blue Angels perform I highly recommend it.
I’d seen them perform before when I was very young. My father was a pilot. He would take us to many air shows and I’d seen the Blue Angels as a child, although I don’t recall being as impressed or amazed at their precision and discipline as I was this time. The show brought back memories of my dad, and made me realize the discipline lessons he taught me just by his piloting the small Cessna 172 airplane he owned.
As I watched the Blue Angels perform their intricate, well synchronized patterns and formations it reminded me how challenging operating our businesses or being good parents can be. Above me as I watched I recognized that no matter the challenge, the size of the difficulty, the right behaviors can be taught and learned so that even the most demanding situation can be mastered.
As a child I believe we can all recall revolting against our parents and wondering why we were required to do certain tasks. The especially difficult ones were those that were repetitive in nature. Why did I have to make my bed each morning, or help with the dishes, mow the lawn? These were some of the least challenging, yet monotonous chores that my parents required me to do.
Remembering my father, his routine checklist he followed before starting the aircraft and then staring at the miracle precision that allows the Blue Angels to fly within a few feet of each other without accident made me appreciate the importance of practice, precision and discipline my father taught me.
As a new sales manager many years ago the first lesson I needed to learn was the importance of discipline with my sales team. When I first became a sales manager I had this idea that freedom was going to be my calling card. I didn’t like being told what to do, and assumed my sales team would perform better if they didn’t have that harness around their neck. How little I knew! It wasn’t long before I realized that discipline and accountabilities led to many more sales than freedom.
Too much freedom is anarchy. Is there too much freedom in your organization? Do you need to rein in your team and require more discipline in order to achieve the precision and results your business and customers need?