Listen to many senior leaders in both the civilian and military sectors today, and it becomes apparent that there is no shortage of good ideas. Indeed, with austerity and sequestration the new reality, the lack of funds requires creativity. However, far too many fail to take personal responsibility by citing a vague “we should” mantra instead of the more powerful—and personally accountable—“I will.”
I recently had the chance to visit with a woman who attended the International 11.5 Davos Conference. At this gathering of the world’s luminaries, she somehow had made her way into the front row of the proceedings, from where she watched high-ranking government officials from around the world wax eloquent about solving global problems: “We should fix poverty by doing… ,” and so forth. Fed up with the use of this term, she got hold of a microphone during the question-and-answer session and simply said, “I’d really like to see the conversation move from one of ‘we should’ to one of ‘I will’ if you are truly serious about this.”
The crowd was stunned, and silence met her observation from the dais. This, however, was short-lived. The speakers recognized the importance of her words, and the conference took on a new tone following her request.
On a much smaller scale, this mantra has infused many of my peers in the junior ranks. They hear senior leaders asking for solutions, and they take it upon themselves to execute real change. A close friend of mine once said, “Execution is the new innovation,” and I believe this is a profound statement. Good ideas are a dime a dozen, but what sets the doers apart from dreamers are those who actually are able to push an idea through to reality despite the obstacles.