"Failure to Execute" is a phrase commonly used by people in the government -- especially in the military world. It simply means you failed a mission or task, did not complete an event, or did not start a project. Failure to Execute is broad in its scope and focused in the outcome of performance. Simply, did you or did you not succeed. The causes of "failing to execute" are wide and ranging from personal apathy to an honest mistake. Here are some ways to avoid failure to perform any task at a recommended level of performance, as you may still complete a task, but it might not be good enough to pass:
Attacking the Task of the Future – If you know that your future holds an event such as boot camp or special ops selection, you will need to start several months in advance in order to be successful. Being forward looking, realizing your current weaknesses, and setting yourself on a path to make those weaknesses more of a strength is the answer to long term goals. It is not uncommon for people either to think that boot camp will get them into shape or wait for the last 2-3 weeks to start a training program. This preparation can also be used in business or other military tasks such as presentations or preparing for deployments. It can take several weeks or months to properly prepare yourself and your unit for future endeavors. Make sure you have a calendar and long term goals, mid-term goals, and daily goals listed as your timeline and start attacking them ASAP.
Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) – It is not quite ADD / ADHD, but if you have SOS, you may be easily distracted by many things in life. It may be relationships, a busy schedule, or a quick way to make some money. Or maybe it's just easy for you to lose focus on a long-term goal. Regardless, don't let the squirrel running by distract you from the task at hand. This is where your daily goals must have a DAILY TIMELINE. You should have a checklist written down and carried with you through the day so you can reference as each task gets completed that day. For instance: 6am – workout. 8am – Breakfast / start work. Work goals AM. 12 pm – Lunch. Check list during lunch. PM tasks. This list is best made yesterday as your brain starts to think about the following day's events and completed first thing in the morning each day. THEN attack the list one event at a time. Do not get side-tracked unless you have time in your schedule.
Do Not Be Scared to Try – Anything new is frightening, but exciting at the same time. Eventually, as you get better at trying new things, the fear subsides, but the excitement never does! Whether this is leaving home for the first time, joining the military, or learning a new job skill, take that first step and do it! You will not regret trying, especially if you are prepared both mentally and physically for the future task. You will find that your confidence to try new things will grow the better prepared you are. Remember, this may take months to build the confidence to take that step. Preparedness will give you the confidence to set out on a new journey in life. Keep trying and doing!
No Excuses – Excuses are bad habits that can be beaten, but it requires you to take responsibility for your actions as well as your inactions. One of my favorite lessons I learned at the Naval Academy on Day 1 was the Five Basic Responses when asked a question: 1 – Yes 2 – No 3 – The Correct Answer 4 – I'll Find Out, (if you did not know an answer) 5 – No Excuse (if you did not do or know something you were supposed to) (Of course each of these began and ended with a Sir or Ma'am)
These answers are still used by me today thanks to having them beat into my head for four years. They are tools that help me to not make excuses, to keep learning when I do not know something and, believe it or not, help with staying on schedule with your own self-imposed deadlines. These Five Responses are a form of verbal and personal discipline.
Most Importantly, Stay Motivated or Disciplined – "If you cannot stop thinking about it, don't stop working for it." (Michael Jordan). Stay hungry to keep growing in life, military, or business. It is easy to start a project motivated, but there will be days where you are not motivated or lack energy. This is when discipline has to take over and make you get it done anyway.