You know what it feels like. Hell, it’s what has brought me back to my keyboard at 0557 this frosty Monday morning. Action feels good.
I think it’s because action is definitive. When you’re working toward something, you can see it. You can measure it. Even if it’s just a tiny step forward, you can weigh that against yesterday and say confidently ‘we’re further today’.
That’s something, but we ought to break down what ‘forward’ means. Too often – and sometimes even from us – the social media lexicon groups ‘forward’ together with other hustle-culture, progress minded words.
This article is supplemental to The Wedge: Developing Personal Doctrine – a workshop provided by Bill Dungey. Book us to come speak to your organization – send an email!
When I think of what it means to move forward, I circle back to endurance. No surprises here, eh?
Endurance allows us to move forward.
Before you can move forward, you have to want to move forward.
That might only be represented by a single step in a marathon. It might look like getting your broken ass back on the mats for the third time in the week despite the pressing, unrelenting stiffness of your previously submitted joints. Or, endurance might be calling your partner to sort out a disagreement. It could be emailing your boss to remind him – again – about a project coming up that you’re attached to.
Regardless, if you don’t want to move forward you won’t get anything done.
Be a one-percenter.
You know, that’s probably where I got the idea for using a rocker as the primary patch for our Jiu-Jitsu club. There’s something to be said about being in the filthy few that decide to go against the grain. If you know, you know.
But seriously. Don’t go join a motorcycle gang because you read that last paragraph.
When I was introduced to the ‘one percent’ rule from Atomic Habits, it was exactly the data I wanted to see. It was a measurable tool to describe the process of moving forward without the ‘feeling words’ that I would usually use in front of something like Action.
Since he’s exceptionally well spoken, I’ll hand this part over to James Clear – author of Atomic Habits.
If you haven’t read it yet; go get it now.
Striving for only one percent net change per day, I think, is doable. Doable among all the other things you’re working on. Even the laundry. Go ahead and try this – take out your phone’s calculator and punch in 365 x 1. You’ll get 1. If you do the same thing every day, nothing changes.
Now, try this. 365 x 1.01.
Little efforts, over time, generate big changes.
So, what does the process of little efforts look like?
The OODA loop. Period.
Odds are, you’ve probably heard of this tool if you find yourself flicking through the pages of SIXFEET.
OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. It’s a system used to take in and understand data, make for a next step and execute. There’s a handful of ways this system has embedded itself in popular culture; the firearms community has used this as a training tool to evaluate threat conditions, coaches use OODA to help players make game-time decisions on the field. John Boyd created it – and he used it to describe combat decisions between fighter pilots.
These evolutions all have one common baseline – the OODA loop is used to make critical decisions.
I think ‘Order of Man’ has a great resource here. Throw this one on in a tab behind whatever you’re working on and have a listen. In general, I think a lot of what they’re working on over there is worth your attention. And, they’ve been at it for a good while, too – so, that stands up against the 45-second TikTok attention span we’ve seemed to build over the last few years.
Don’t blast past each step.
As long as we’re not talking about a fist-fight, you’ll have a bit of time to glide through (or crash into!) each step of the OODA loop. After you’ve made a move, take a step away from the cycle to really watch what happens. Even if just for a few moments. Orienting ourselves to what we’ve observed, in my opinion, is where we start to ask questions about our process.
Did that do what I wanted?
Is this method working?
And, not just here, but for all stages of the OODA loop, information and experience from each step feed us information to observe. When we’re actually in the mix, executing on what it is we’ve planned, it’s important to be perceptive to what’s happening in real time so we can add that information to our observations.
Let’s use a real-world example. I’ll translate some of this data aggregation by way of Jiu Jitsu.
The Single Leg Entry.
I’ve Observed that my opponent is the right distance from me to start moving toward trying a single leg takedown. They’re posture is conducive to this as well. I’m prepared, with strength and conditioning and technique. What I detect feeds forward and I Orient myself toward this idea. I haven’t seen any major change in his defensive posture to indicate that he’s aware of my attack. I’ve hit a single leg takedown before. When I Decide to try for it, I Act with relentless force. A relentless opponent is unstoppable by definition.
Tools for the toolbox.
The OODA loop is a tool. It’s not the be-all-end-all way to define whether or not you’re moving forward. It’s information – just like the write-up we did on survivorship bias – that you can keep nestled away in your mental toolbox until you need it.
Whatever tool you decide to use, do so with relentless vigor.
A relentless force is unstoppable by definition.
It’s okay to be relentless.