A Code - The Quiet Professional: QMN012

Martial Mental Models: The Quartermaster, Thursday, 9 May

(Today’s report is a 5 minute read)

BLUF: To convey the self-effacing, action-oriented and team-focused ideal the Green Berets aspire to, Rob Shaul defines a Quiet Professional with 8 pillars that require conscience, a love of work, constant reflection and continuous improvement. And he thereby provides a code to be lived by, with dignity.

Brady here. In 2015 strength and conditioning coach Rob Shaul started coming up with a code. It wasn't his concept originally - he derived it from a concept he got from working with Green Berets - but he started working to define the idea of a “Quiet Professional”. Originally meant to convey the self-effacing, action-oriented and team-focused ideal the Green Berets aspire to (and hold each other to), Shaul defines a QP with eight principles:

1) Mission First. This means mission before self. And that requires letting go of a drive for individual awards and recognition. In Shaul’s quest to become a QP, he's found freedom in this release.

2) Hard Work With a Full Heart. The QP follows a craftsman mindset of long, slow, iterative and incremental improvement. Shaul also notes that this usually requires that you love your work.

3) Understand The Difference Between “Experience” And “Wisdom.” Experience simply accrues with the passing of time in a job. Wisdom takes constant reflection and resolution. Sustaining a practice of regular reflection is part of the hard work mentioned in Principle 2.

4) Knowing what to do is easy. Doing it is hard. Shaul highlights the struggle of rationalization and relativism when guiding yourself. Shaul believes that one's conscience knows the “hard right” and that the struggle is to choose it and carry it out over the “easy wrong.”

5) Continual Professional Learning. Thankfully QP doesn't strive for perfection or hold that it can be attained by mortals. What QP does require is continuous improvement that comes out of a love for the work and a love of learning.

6) Do Your Job With Dignity. This is a product of the craftsman mindset at work. “QPs who put in the work, time, blood and tears to learn their craft develop a sense of dignity about their work that is unyielding.”

7) Embrace The Suck. With an almost Eastern philosophy of ubiquitous suffering, Shaul notes that at least some difficulty is not only inherent in all worthwhile professional endeavors, it's inherent in life. “It means life is hard in general, doing important work is harder still, and along the way regardless, you’ll face adversity. So don’t fight it.” Being prepared for it mentally and emotionally and working with adversity as a teaching tool is perhaps the best thing we can do.

8) Gratitude. Everyone mentions the value of gratitude these days, which of course isn't a bad thing, but Shaul breaks its virtue into two parts: Perspective and Presence. Gratitude requires one to step outside of themselves and outside of time to consider the good the beautiful and the true about their circumstances and that leads to acknowledging - and thanking -others for what they do for us. Our pasts are often marked with regret and our futures with anxiety. Gratitude looks at the present and reflects upon what’s good about it.

I have to say that I'm very glad an outsider to the Green Beret community wrote this and strives daily to be a QP. The original Green Beret concept of it was kinda “you know it when you see it” but lacked form. And because of that a lot of GBs carry their own experiences and misgivings into the idea. Shaul has truly taken years to step back and define this with rigor.

Of all the principles I think 4 is the toughest. A very wise Sergeant Major (and model QP actually) once told me “Green Berets can talk themselves into, or out of, anything” and I think that's true for a lot of us. The struggle between hard right and easy wrong is daily. Finding practices that make us more disciplined and committed to doing what's right are key here. A topic for another newsletter.

My biggest question about QP today is: how compatible is QP with today's knowledge work? How can one maintain a QP mindset with resume-building, social media publicizing, and compensation negotiating? Let's be honest- being a QP is about being selfless. How selfless are many of today’s career paths? (BJM)

When you’re got time, check out Rob’s QP lessons to Denver firefighters here.

INNOVATING FOR WHAT?: Scientists Develop Plastic That Can Be Recycled Repeatedly... But Does it Matter? (2 min) “While this is a fantastic technological breakthrough, it still does nothing to affect the billions of tons of plastic waste currently polluting the Earth, nor does it suggest that the technology will be adopted and scaled by manufacturers. Even if it does, recyclable products can't recycle themselves: it will still require effort – however minuscule – on the part of the consumers who use these products to effect any kind of change.” (KSA)

A LIFE JIMMY, YOU KNOW WHAT THAT IS?: You Can Be a Great Leader and Also Have a Life (9 min) We are defined by our responsibilities and commitments to others, especially to those we love. Is work getting in the way of that more and more? “Indeed, surveys show that managers and executives describe the “ideal worker” as someone with no personal life or caregiving responsibilities. And a majority of leaders themselves — the ones who set the tone for organizations and model behavior for everyone else — think work-life balance is “at best an elusive ideal and at worst a complete myth.” In an interview, three CEOs rated as top performers by HBR said the job was 24/7 and admitted they weren’t great role models.” This entire problem was summarized in the best 2 minutes of The Wire’s third season by Lester Freamon when talking truth to Jimmy McNulty. (BJM)

BUREAUCRACY STRANGLES INNOVATION: The Pentagon Still Buys Software Like It's 1987 (3 min) The scary part isn’t that the Department of Defense is bad at software - it’s that the department has known it’s bad for over 30 years and has done little that’s effective to overcome its profound weakness. “A large amount of DOD’s software takes too long, costs too much, and is too brittle to be competitive in the long run,” the board said in the study’s executive summary of its Software Acquisition and Practices report. “If DOD does not take steps to modernize its software acquisition and development practices, we will no longer have the best military in the world, no matter how much we invest or how talented and dedicated our armed forces may be.” (BJM)

Remarks Complete. Nothing Follows.

KS Anthony (KSA) & Brady Moore (BJM)