Sitting on my deck, with fresh brewed coffee, breakfast, and a good book. Cooper, my 3-year old Golden Retriever, is entranced and antagonized by the ground squirrel exploring the back yard (likely looking for more annoying places to dig tunnels).
Out of sheer laziness (my current books are all upstairs), on my way to the deck, I picked up the dogeared copy of Peter Block’s brilliant The Answer to How is Yes. It’s been several years since I last read this piece, and, as usual, in just the first several pages, I’ve gleaned new insights and perspective. Block is fantastic for doing that no matter how many times you’ve read his works.
It’s military jargon meaning, “We will comply.” Both as an infantry scout and a linguist flying off the coast of North Korea or Russia, we used this phrase daily, perhaps even hourly. It was a hard-wired part of the culture.
Take a military objective? Consider it done. Obtain a piece of vital information? No problem. Sacrifice for the greater good? Without question.
In recent months (as evidenced by many of my blog entries), I’ve been reflected increasingly on my years in the military, on the heritage it provided to me, and the lessons in leadership, teamwork, and simply about people have been remarkable.
I don’t know the origin of the expression “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome,” but it speaks to the same message in Block’s book. Stop thinking about why we might not be able to accomplish a task, and focus instead on simply figuring it out.
I should emphasize that “getting it done” was not without challenges. But rather than dwell on the difficulties of making something happen, we simply set about overcoming any obstacles in our path. With the framework of the Code of Conduct and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), we approached each directive with confidence in our abilities to meld creativity, experience, and sheer gusto.
So, if you haven’t read The Answer to How is Yes, I’d strongly suggest it make your “short list,” of future books. It’s an easy read, yet markedly poignant and articulate in getting us to look beyond the challenges and difficulties that perhaps would sidetrack or permanently sideline so many in our society. Let’s be those who do “improvise, adapt, and overcome,” not those who focus on questions of “how” will we get things done.
Say it with me……”Roger, wilco!”