Keynote Speech to Saskatchewan Air Cadet League

A true pleasure to offer insight on Success and decision making with practical tools for their future.

Personal Mission Statement

My challenge to you is to write out a mission statement for yourself.  Right now. You can send yourself an email or put it on your desktop as a note.  Spend the moment right now to define who you are.  It is one of the best ways to work toward the goal setting that we all need in order to change the perspective on our abilities.

Write your mission statement now.  Put it in the first person.  If you would like an example here is mine. For good measure, I also included my Value Statement.

Dale’s Personal Mission Statement- Bring out the best in others. Through dynamic and caring communication, I describe life experiences and values to enhance the performance and actions of those who seek to have a better life.

If you notice this Mission Statement covers the Why, the How and the What.  You must have a “Why“.

Dale’s Personal Value Statement – Present to people with honesty and integrity – providing interest and value so that they can be inspired to improve their lives as well as those around them.

There are many fine examples available online, including some very successful celebrities.  I hope you find one that matches your values.

Notice the “Why”in the Mission Statement of Starbucks –

Our mission: To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.”

Leadership and Life Coaching – Time to Get Serious

I am so excited to start providing better content for your needs.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get serious about what is important.  The fundamentals that are important to you and valuable to your immediate world – and finally that in turn will become a benefit to our larger world; a human world where we find our path.  A world where we listen to the needs of others and become more effective at helping others and as a selfish benefit, we become more fulfilled in the process.

Are you ready?

I am.  I will be making mistakes along the way but with your input and feedback, we can make changes that improve lives – one step and one person at a time.

So, how do we do this?

First, we realize that we need a vision.  A goal.  There is no sense pursuing a path without understanding the objective.  The Why?

If we want to change in meaningful ways, then our vision must be clear.

How can we articulate our vision?  Many of us know that we want to be better.  We ‘feel’ that in our bones.  Yet we can’t express it with clarity.

In the next blog, we will start with ‘Clarity in Expressing Your Vision’.  Funny play on words but pertinent as we cannot guide ourselves or others until we have that objective completed.  Martin Luther King Jr. was able to express his vision.  As did John F. Kennedy, Steven Jobs, Richard Branson, Ghandi and the list goes on.


Enjoy life and see you soon. We are in for an afterburner ride to success and fulfillment.

Exciting Radio Interview

Wow, the wonders of our internet age. I joined Twitter; gathered a following and followed others; made some connections and within no time, I have an interview invite from someone more than 3,000 miles away.

Domonick Domasky is an author and host of an Inspirational Talk show.  His friendly approachable character made the opportunity to share some stories a pleasure.  If you have time to sit with a cup of your favourite beverage, I invite you to listen in.

Just click on the Title below.

Taking Flight to Your Dreams.

Accident analysis – Reason’s Model how does this apply in Life

What can we learn from Accident Investigation in our own lives?  And, what valuable life lessons can we use daily?

Dr. Reason provided a model that has become known as the Swiss Cheese layers for accident prevention. His example demonstrates how a  variety of processes can interrupt the chain of events leading to an accident.  However each step set in place no matter how close to perfection,  has holes (like swiss cheese) and when the holes line up, a chain of events that can lead to an accident may occur.

So, when it comes to our own lives, what can we do to ensure a safe and desired outcome – in any endeavour?

1. Build layers of protection into our lives.

Here are some examples. We can think of healthy exercise, proper eating, and rest, as layers of defence against disease and illness.  Or, planning our budget, building a savings and investment portfolio to assure financial independence when we no are no longer able or have the desire to work.

2.  Pre conditions.

Fatigue, complacency, attitude, beliefs.  These behaviours can set us up for a disaster.  Samples include: Allowing insurance policies to lapse, driving while tired, believing preparation is unnecessary without regard to the potential failures and hazards. These can all result in reduced layers of protection.

3. Unsafe acts.

Most of us have survived some pretty foolish acts.  Perhaps it involved excessive alcohol/drugs, a daredevil stunt or simply ignoring an obvious precaution.

These are just a few of the latent or active failures that allow an accident chain to breach through all of the layers of defence.

We not only want to have a healthy successful life, but we also enjoy the journey when we can overcome challenges and risk.   The greater the challenges, often results in the most satisfying rewards.

Smart risk therefore, is when we consider the hazards, plan our defences and then tackle the challenge with the confidence that we have put effective planning and preparation in place.

To have a truly exciting and satisfying life we must occasionally take actions that expose us to risk.  It is also most satisfying when we can achieve difficult goals by skillfully navigating through various challenges and hazards.

By creating effective layers of protection as demonstrated in Dr. Reason’s model, we can confidently take the risks required to achieve our goals.


How Pilots Make Decisions

We last spoke of the tremendous responsibilities of people who hold positions of Authority.  They are often successful if they have made a habit of making decisions and taking stock on the outcomes of their choices.

Aviators are tasked to work in a complex environment that changes rapidly, and has inherent risks that require critical decisions having outcomes with major impact, including loss of life.

To operate successfully, pilots require training and skills that mitigate the risks and ensure optimum outcomes regardless of the challenges presented.

One of the skills involves decision making.  Rapid decision making is often the only option.  The correct choice can have a critical impact and needs to be taken with the utmost of care.  So, does this sound daunting and impossible?

If you are initially thrown into this environment then clearly the results would not go favourably. Training becomes the foundation for success.  In addition, a mindset of discipline, responsibility and priority action play essential roles as well.

As we explore these concepts, we discover that they apply to us on a daily basis.

Those who drive a car in traffic, adverse weather, unfamiliar freeways interchanges are called upon to make critical decisions involving limited time.

Workplace demands involving crucial negotiations may force you into positions where the response time is compressed and you are provided with little choice but the decision to act. Let’s not forget that taking no action is a decision in itself and will have consequences either way.

So, how do we train ourselves and our team to respond in the best possible way before the crisis occurs?   What principles and values do we absorb into our operations to ensure the most effective results at critical times? Effective leaders just as Aircraft Commanders, know the path – and lead the team to enhance their power throughout any challenge. Next post, we can share 6 steps to better decisions.

“Big Leadership” principles

Big Leadership is a term used by Major General Perry M. Smith, retired USAF.  General Smith is an author and speaking coach on Leadership.

His premise holds that many leaders in the high ranking positions follow not only the main principles of leadership but must exercise vision, long term thinking sometimes referred to as strategic planning, and take bold initiatives often with less than the full information on a problem.  They must also be motivators down through many organizational layers by developing a foundational culture of delegation and empowerment.

Another feature Smith holds high is the concept of Ethics.  Many senior leaders understand that their decisions have a significant impact on many people yet they are routinely challenged by ethical dilemmas to bend the high road for what is perceived to be for the greater good.  This seldom serves the leader or the organization and General Smith’s advise is to stop this ill perceived behaviour rapidly.  Greater long-term respect will result.

A vital behaviour demanded by these high positions involve avoiding micromanagement.  Learn to speed read and use dictation.  Ask for plenty of feedback.  Ask good questions.   For example, can you tell me from your perspective anything that I may have missed in this discussion that may lead to a better alternative – or cause further problems?

His article written  in the late 1980s still holds great value today.  He ended it with with these quotes.

General Smith’s favourite “one-liners” for senior leaders.

Proverbs: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Gen Matthew Ridgway: “My greatest contribution as

Chief of Staff was nourishing the mavericks.”

Max Depree: “We cannot become what we need to be by

remaining what we are.”

Jim Stockdale: “Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain

authority by giving it away.”

Benjamin Disraeli: “The secret to success is the constancy

of purpose.”

Anonymous: “I am interested in the future because that

is where I intend to spend the rest of my life.”

Times are changing more rapidly than ever but there are fundamentals of leadership that always pertain.  Leadership doctrine – immutable truths that transcend the passage of time.  Wow how’s that for a heavy testament?

Time to lighten up.  Next time….

Leadership and the Responsibilities of Authority

Leadership is a great topic for discussion.  Like it or not, we are exposed to many examples of leadership (or lack of it) in our daily lives.

So when we look at the highest level of who we call “leaders”, it is often with wonder and occasionally with contempt.  Why is that?

The responsibility of someone in authority carries a heavy burden and they are held in great accountability.  As social animals we accept that we sometimes require someone in charge. That individual who has the skills and competency to carry us as a group through challenging times.

The head of state – Prime Minister or President are the most obvious examples. They hold the power to direct the outcome of their peoples.  Their actions are viewed with a critical eye.  The perception held by their followers can have a profound outcome on their success.

As the previous post suggested, leadership is within all of our reach.  But being designated as ‘The Leader’ is often a positional assignment – or authority.

This authorization to hold a position and influence the outcome of an organization or even a society carries massive responsibilities.  Unlike the leadership practices that many of us provide to our immediate subordinates, peers or children, these high level assignments do not permit one to make errors without great risk.

Positions of authority often require the leader to take action without all of the information.  In Military terms, a General may be only given certain pieces of intelligence and must use every bit of knowledge he can muster in the time provided to be decisive and accurate.  ‘Risk management or the fog of war are terms that relate to what occurs for CEOs and Presidents and occasionally even those in lesser positions of authority when timely action is required without the benefit of full background intelligence or knowledge.

So, how does one become competent at holding positions of authority?

One way is to practice making decisions. This sounds odd but we conduct decision making everyday. We just don’t think about it. Good leaders, learn from their decisions. They practice this art and analyze what works and what doesn’t. They also appreciate the impact of their decisions. Not only on the objectives but also on the emotional impact of others.  This is not a ‘touchy – feely’ kind of emotion.  All people make their decisions based upon emotion – even if we couch it with terms like logic, analysis and objectivity.  The final action to execute a decision is an emotional one and – like it or not – it follows with an emotional impact on ourselves and on others.  Marketing people understand this.  They know that even if you decide to buy a beige Volvo for all of the safe and logical reasons; the purchase is an emotional one.  Successful leaders also recognize this.  That is how many of them have been able to influence their armies and their masses throughout the ages.

So I suggest you can practice and be conscious of your decisions.  But by all means make them.  Pilots are well trained in decision making and this serves them very well both in the air and on the ground.

Our next topic will bring some insight into what Maj Gen Perry M. Smith, retired USAF would term ‘Big Leadership’.

Management vs. Leadership

Managers as leaders?  Of course they are.  But so are many others in an organization.  It’s been said that managers look after things, and leaders look after people.  Logic might suggest, that if the tasks don’t involve other people, then there is no requirement for leadership.

Now Stephen Covey relates a great story in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People –a group is tasked to clear a path through the jungle.  The manager organizes each task such as sharpening machetes, removing brush and making schedules for the workers.  The leader climbs a tall ladder and looks over the top of the canopy.  After scanning the horizon, he shouts down, ‘Wrong jungle!”  To which the manager replies – “Shut up – We’re making progress!”

This story illustrates a somewhat narrow perspective of how a manager may doggedly work to carry out an assignment without questioning the purpose, goal or even its effectiveness.  But this is only one example of the difference between the leadership and managers.

The role of manager is an assignment giving one authority over others.  The purpose is to organize and direct all resources – including people – to complete tasks efficiently.  Management is based upon the assumption that once more than a few people are assigned a task or objective; there is a requirement to have an individual with authority to direct activities.  For example in the army you may have a fire team of a few soldiers working independently. Once they require more soldiers, a supervisor – corporal is assigned to lead a squad of say 8-13 soldiers. When several squads combine they require a Sergeant for a platoon and so on. The terms and numbers may well vary among nations.

The second perspective is that all people are at times leaders and they don’t need formal authority to exercise this skill.  For example, we all have a way of leading others within our ‘circle of influence’.  An example may be when we help a fellow worker, or set an example by taking initiative that gets noticed by others. These can have an impact and may inspire others to take action.  This influence of changing other people’s behaviour not often credited to good leadership – and yet it may occur at almost anytime that we are in contact with others.

So, managers are leaders.  But as my son once told me when he was only 12….”Dad, just remember you’re ‘special’ and ‘unique’ – ….. just like everybody else”.   Next time you have a chance to observe a manager (or anyone with authority), notice how they perform.  Do they rely on their authority or their leadership? And how easy is it for others to recognize the difference?

In the next topic we address how we often think of leaders as people in power and control.  And yet this may only be a result of their given authority.  We will discuss the responsibilities of authority.

Leadership – the Civilized Animal

Why is it that we deny our animal instincts?  Is it that we feel superior to the beasts in this wonderful world?

What natural behaviours can we observe in animals that help us reflect on our own desires – and ultimately our behaviour?

For leadership, I suggest we look at a variety of  ‘social animals’.  It is in this context that we may discover why we feel and react as we do when it comes to leadership.

Some speakers such as Simon Sinek articulate this point with great clarity.  His TED talk resonates with my own values on leadership.  Perhaps it is because I have been cut from the ‘Fighter Aviation’ cloth where leadership is valued and cultivated throughout our professional lives.

But it is the animal world where we can observe how the pack instincts behave for the benefit of the many.  Whether this is in our community, family, business, or educational institution, we have a natural behavioural instinct and thus organize our structures to support leaders and followers.

When we stray from these natural behaviours and patterns, we quickly discover that we are falling ‘off purpose’.  Our performance suffers and our harmony stumbles and ceases to resonate with the safety and success of our collective wellbeing.

What leadership behaviours do you find in your organisation that emulate a wolf pack?