Training for Excellence

In his Harvard Business Review article, How the Navy SEALs Train for Leadership Excellence, Michael Schrage discusses the power of training as a magnificent complement to learning. It is important, he writes, “because real-world excellence requires more than commitment to educational achievement.” Schools and businesses, he argues, “overinvest in ‘education’ and dramatically underinvest in ‘training’” making it difficult for organizations “to innovate and adapt under pressure.” He cites SEAL lore in support of his argument: “Under pressure you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That’s why we train so hard.”

Training is the transformative elixir that brings the luster and magic to learning. It broadens and deepens its richness. It internalizes it through repetition and exploring a learning’s countless innuendos and nuances and brings it to reality as the learning is operationalized in real world scenarios. This training focus raises the bar from “above average” to “excellence.” Schrage cites Brandon Webb, an innovative SEAL trainer/educator: “Training programs shouldn’t be designed to deliver competence; they must be dedicated to producing excellence. Serious organizations don’t aspire to be comfortably above average.

Just as great athletes hone their skills, knowledge and talents in their hours, day, weeks and months of preparation for a successful journey, so also is the preparation of great leaders. As Ann Voskamp writes in her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are: “Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.”

May we remember always the counsel of Aristotle: “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” May we take the richness of our learning and bring it alive by our relentless training that when those moments of  pressure and challenge come, we may spectacularly rise to the extraordinary excellence of our training.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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One Response to Training for Excellence

  1. Jack Beach says:

    Perhaps the greatest impediment to developing as a leader is the failure to operationalize our new knowledge, insights, and aspirations into to specific behaviors, those things we will start to do or do more of and those things we will stop doing or do less of, that define the different person and leader we want to be, and then to enact them in a very conscious and disciplined manner until they become habits and manifestations of who we are. Too often we set goals but do not create the path to those goals.

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