Time to Debrief

When a United States Air Force Squadron undertakes a mission they invest time to plan the mission down to the smallest detail. They then execute the mission according to the plan. Upon their return to base they meet again to debrief. They discuss what worked, they discuss what didn’t and they discuss what they could do better next time. 

These are brutally honest meetings, rank and friendships are set aside. The goal is to learn from every mission. Every mission must be better and safer than the mission that came before it. 

Many of the pilots would tell you that other than hitting the target itself the most critical part of the entire operation is the debrief. All future success comes from those vital debrief meetings. 

As we approach the end of the 12 month period we call 2021 it’s time to think about debriefing the year. 

2021 was another unpredictable and challenging year. But if you’re reading this then it’s likely you’ll survive it to tackle 2022. It would be foolish for any of us to expect a return to the old normal so we need to learn as much as possible from the year that is coming to a close.

How you choose to reflect on 2021 is a personal choice but here are some of the things I’ll be considering. Keep in mind, the goal of my personal debrief is a better 2022.

The first thing I need to consider is who I choose to associate with. I alone can control the content I allow into my mind. The people I associate with put thoughts into my head. There is nothing I can humanly do to change that. But I can decide who I will and won’t associate with. So one of my biggest questions for my debrief is, “did I associate with enough positive people?” Are you allowing too many negative thoughts to creep into your head or are you focusing on the positive? 

You get to make the final decision on whether or not you’ll have a positive attitude but other people influence your decision. Make sure it’s the right people influencing your decision .

I always start with attitude because once you get your attitude right everything else, and I do mean everything, becomes much much easier. 

My other questions are what worked? What didn’t? What did I learn? What will I do stop doing in the coming year? What will I begin? How will I use what I’ve learned to be a better resource for my customers and colleagues? Most important, how will I use what I have learned in this still challenging year to be a better husband, parent, sibling or friend?

Once this year is passed whatever you’ve accomplished or failed to accomplish will be behind you. Guess that’s why it’s called the past. Because it’s in the past it’s far less important than what’s in front of you. 

Even if 2021 wasn’t all you hoped for you can use it to ensure a better 2022 and remember it’s YOUR future, only YOU get to define what better is for you. 

Reflect on that and then reflect on your year. 2022 is fast approaching and how you start the year is a great predictor of how you’ll finish it. 

Where to Find Success

I wrote a post a few years back that I titled “The True Secret to Success” or something close to that. It got lots of views but I suspect many people didn’t read to the end. They quickly discovered that there really is no secret to success. 


For as long as there have been people, people have searched for that “secret” to success. They look for shortcuts and the easy way. The reality is that if they put as much effort into working for success as they did trying to “luck” into it they would have had success long ago. 


The only place to find success is in hard work and honest effort. Anyone who tells you that you can succeed without thinking, without planning and without working will also try to sell you ocean front property in Montana. (They might also ask for your vote but that’s another story) 


If you’re thinking you don’t have what it takes to succeed then think again. If you have enough desire and discipline you can be or do almost anything you want.


Actual research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. Even when you are talking about people like Tiger Woods and Warren Buffett natural talent takes a back seat to hard work and practice. Not just any hard work and practice but painful and demanding practice and hard work. Hard work again and again. Practice and more practice, over and over again. 


Yes, talent helps but hard work always beats talent when the talented person doesn’t work. 


We need to understand that talent doesn’t mean intelligence, motivation or personality traits. It’s an innate ability to do some specific activity especially well. British-based researchers Michael J. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A. Sluboda conclude in an extensive study, “The evidence we have surveyed … does not support the notion that excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts.”


You can make yourself into almost anything you want and you can even make yourself great.


One thing all the “greats” have in common is that no matter how “great” they are, they never stop trying to get better. They strive to grow each day and they never substitute good enough for great.


If you’re like most people, including me, and you can’t readily identify your innate gifts don’t worry about it. Get to work and you’ll soon pass up those people who were resting on their “gifts” while you were busy making the effort required to succeed.