During a discussion recently I misheard someone talking about the 7 secret habits of ‘baby seals’: He really said ‘7 Secret Habits of Navy SEALs‘, a must-read article. Below is my adaptation for baby seals. While everyone agrees on their extreme cuteness factor, failure to practice these 7-habits can often lead to baby seals only fulfilling their extreme tastiness factor.
- Be loyal. Navy SEAL loyalty to the team starts at the top. SEAL loyalty is about leading by example, with unconditional support for team members. But loyalty also starts with some idea of what you stand for. Baby seals don’t get the idea of loyalty, often swimming off on their own, making them more likely to be a tasty snack for a Great White. When they discover loyalty it often has them blindly following other baby seals, which also lead to becoming a tasty snack.
- Put others before yourself. Navy SEALs get up every day asking what they can do to add value to their team. As cute as they are, the only time baby seals put others before themselves is when the pod of Killer Whales is chasing them: “Don’t need to swim fast; just faster than the NEXT seal”!
- Be reflective. A Navy SEAL reflects on mistakes to make sure they don’t repeat them. Baby seals’ shiny coats are reflective but beyond that they make mistakes over and over again without any reflection, a fact polar bears rely on.
- Be obsessively organized. Navy SEALs know that organization is critical, and they need to fanatically find a system and make it work for them! Anyone that has watched baby seals know that beyond swimming in a line – a veritable automated sushi line for Leopard seals – baby seals like many other young animals are clueless about organization, nor the perseverance required to maintain it.
- Assume you don’t know enough. A Navy SEAL understands that training is never complete, that those who assume they know everything should be eliminated, and that those who spend time inside and outside of the workplace developing their knowledge and skills provide the momentum for their team’s forward progress. Baby seals exhibit this behavior when they are young and stick closely to their parents. But too quickly the baby seals take off swimming on their own and stop learning from those more experienced.
- Be detail-oriented. Navy SEALs pride themselves on their attention to detail, asking all team members to be obsessed with detail in their execution, to ask not ‘what’ you are going to do, but also ‘how’ you are going to do it. Baby seals rarely get to the ‘what’ question, instead choosing to live each moment chasing that little squirrel fish on their way to becoming a large marine mammal play toy.
- Never get comfortable. Navy SEALs always push themselves outside of their comfort zone, maximizing their potential for a positive impact in their team, their mission and their community. Baby seals too quickly snuggle up to their parents where safety and comfort are plentiful.
So where on the Navy SEAL / baby seal spectrum do you find yourself? Are you relying too much on your ‘cute’ factor? Or are you becoming a finely-tuned, precision instrument that can be used to benefit your circle of influence?!