F16 Jets

Fly With Waldo

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I love to compete. It’s in my DNA. Quite frankly, it’s one of the ways I motivate myself every day to improve.

As a matter of fact, I hate losing more than I like winning! Can you relate?

When you walk into a fighter squadron, the first thing you see are plaques on the wall and trophies honoring the squadron’s best – Instructor Pilot of the Year, Top Gun of The Quarter, Maintenance Technician of the Half, Wingman of the Month. We highlight our very best because being the best allows us to win. In the military, winning is seriously important!

When a fighter pilot walks into that squadron, this is what’s going through their mind – “I want to be on that wall!”

If you don’t like to compete, you won’t last very long. Our culture is competitive. Competition improves performance. Performance leads to results. Results count.

What culture is your organization promoting?

Do you want to be on the wall?

When wingmen in a fighter squadron perform at their best, they aren’t rewarded with cash, commission checks, or gold watches. Their name inscribed on the wooden plaque or on the trophy hanging in the bookcase means so much more than that. It’s the honor and pride that is connected with “being on that wall.” And it paves the way for improved performance in the future. It can never be taken away.

Winning is about honor, respect, and intrinsic motivation. It’s a product of living the core values of hard work, discipline, teamwork, and trust…all of which lead to winning. That’s not to say you can or will win every time. But if you want to win and aren’t preparing to win, you’ll likely lose.

Is winning important in your business? I hope so. For just like in the military, there are no points for second place.

Bottom line – if you want to succeed in any environment that expects the best performance from you and your co-workers, you have to want to win. If not, my advice is to pursue another profession. And if it doesn’t hurt when you lose, your heart’s likely not in it.

As a leader, make sure you:

  • Create challenging, fun, and performance-enhancing competitions that bring out the very best in your team.
  • Reward your Top Guns with plaques or trophies.
  • Recognize the best of the best, not only at annual meetings, but monthly, quarterly, and as often as you can.

Finally, don’t be shy when it comes to competing with others (and yourself.) Be willing to fail. Stretch yourself. Take some risks. Lose with honor and learn from your competitors. It will make you more resilient.

Increased performance and being the best is a direct result of competition – of stepping up and giving it your best. More often than not, it’s honed during times of failure.

Check out this cool “Waldo Award” created by my wingmen at Old Dominion!

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Waldo Waldman Award