Monday, June 6, 2011

D-Day...Reflection & Perspective

D-Day…Reflection & Perspective
General Dwight D. Eisenhower

June 6th, 1944…

Normandy coast of France…Operation Overlord…Dwight D. Eisenhower…D-Day. 

I’ve been thinking about what happened on D-Day...67 years ago today; Dwight D. Eisenhower lead 195,700 soldiers, sailors, and airmen in the Allied Expeditionary Force in one of the largest invasions in world history.  We can infer, from historical accounts of this epic event, OneMoreStep concepts, and we can also gain some interesting perspective as well.


No doubt it took tremendous courage for the tens of thousands who fought for the Allied Expeditionary Force to take on the mighty military forces of Nazi Germany.   What a sacrifice…risking their own lives so that millions could live in a free world.  The task at hand undoubtedly seemed insurmountable, impossible, and down right scary.  Allied troops dug in, reached deep down, and were courageous in their efforts. 

Sometimes we’re asked to do things that seem impossible.  Fear often holds us back – fear of failure; fear of rejection; fear of getting hurt.  If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always gotten.  So if we want to make a difference, make an impact, or make magic for someone or something – we should be courageous.  We should reach inside…dig deep…be fearful, but let our courage be the driving force that allows us to do it anyway

Devotion to Duty

Nazi Germany…the Third Reich, represented all that was evil in the modern world.  During those times, Hitler persecuted and killed millions, showing no signs of mercy.  When General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the Allied Forces to duty; all 195,700 of them called upon to execute Operation Overlord, in what would eventually become known as the largest amphibious invasion in world history, many soldiers probably questioned the decision. 

Whether they did it publicly, privately, or to themselves; statistically speaking, with that many people involved, several individuals likely doubted the decision and questioned its effectiveness. 

The OneMoreStep takeaway here – though they had doubts, they remained devoted to their duty to follow orders, serve, and lead each other into battle…mainly because the General made a decision, gave direction, and set clear expectations.  Their job was to execute on the general’s plan.

So when we doubt a decision that has been made, or when we question the direction our senior leadership has decided to take the organization…we should stay devoted to our duty.  Sure, if we feel strongly about something, we can voice our concerns.  We can make our suggestions, as long as we do it in a professional, constructive, and respectful manner.  However, if the final decision or direction goes against how we feel about the situation, we should go OneMoreStep…mentally…and stay devoted to the cause.   Sometimes part of being a great leader is the ability to follow…respectfully.

We should stay devoted to our leaders and organizations.  Until we’re the boss; until we’re the Directors, Vice Presidents, CEOs, or Generals it’s our duty to follow direction and support our leaders’ decisions with OneMoreStep after OneMoreStep…doing our best to execute on their plan.  When we’re the bosses, it will be our job to make the decisions.  Until then, we support, serve, and execute.

D-Day puts things in PERSPECTIVE

When we think about what tens of thousands of people in the Allied Forces went through, the lives that were lost, and the magnitude of what was at stake…it puts things in perspective for us.  We often find ourselves in the “heat of battle”, with what seems like D-Day upon us in our daily routines at work or in our own lives.  We have the big project, the unrealistic expectations from our bosses, and the crucial conversations with teammates, staff, leaders, guests, and customers…all of which stress us out, keep us up at night, and cause anxiety to the Nth degree.  But is it worth it?  Is it really necessary to take it that seriously?

Put it in perspective…look at the big picture.  Are we saving babies?  Are we saving lives?  Have any women or children been killed?  Are we taking on the mighty Axis Powers of Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan?  Unless you’re in the armed forces, on the front lines of freedom like my college buddy, Rick Frank (stationed in South Korea)…put it in perspective.  We can be passionate about our work, our performance, and the experience we ultimately create for others without making it into a life and death situation.    

We should do our best, performing our roles, executing on our deliverables to the absolute best of our abilities.  We should do what we can to influence, lead, and inspire others to reach their full potential.  We should serve others with love as often and as much as we possibly can. 

Even if we do all of this…even when we know we’ve done our absolute best and desired results are still not achieved, chances are - good things will have happened anyway.  When we consistently focus on doing our best, rather than being perfect we usually make a difference that matters to organizations and the people in them.  We make a real impact on the bottom line, we inspire individuals, and we make lasting working and personal relationships that ultimately become the true spice of life.

One for the road…

Great leaders are courageous enough to take chances, and when they do, they make important decisions…the OneMoreStep – they take full responsibility for their decisions.   When Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his speech to the members of the Allied Expeditionary Force prior to battle, in his pocket was a statement to be used if his plan to invade the beaches of Normandy failed.  He was prepared to take full responsibility for the outcome of his decision…good or bad.  He may have been fearful, but he was courageous in his ability to lead, inspire, and ultimately become victorious. 

That is leading.  That epitomizes -  when you think you’ve done enough…go OneMoreStep.

God bless the soldiers, sailors, and airmen that stormed the coast of France 67 years ago.  Some are still with us.  Some have passed on.  Thanks to their courage and devotion to duty, you and I enjoy our freedom.

Click here to hear Dwight D. Eisnenhower’s message sent just prior to invasion -

Have a great day.


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