I am Ron White, Two Time USA Memory Champion, memory training expert and memory keynote speaker. I would like to share with you some of the things I learned from my good friend and trainer, former U.S. Navy Seal T.C. Cummings, about empowerment, accountability and leadership

T.C. has been able to let me in on Navy Seal thinking, and how it can relate to aspects of all of our lives. Navy Seal training is disciplined, focused and results driven. Each member of the Seal team is a leader, and although they are military and retain a chain of command, each member is capable of picking up the gauntlet when necessary and assumes the leadership role.

Leadership is not a matter of age, gender, or even title and ranking. It is an attitude of confidence, the ability to make decisions, and the art to communicate your goal so others will follow your direction. In life, each of us is capable of being a leader!

In every business, and every household, in order to succeed there has to be a leader. That person assumes the responsibility for the decisions they make, are not afraid to take risks and accept the consequences of their actions – right or wrong. They realize the value of communication, and motivate those around them to perform at their best, with a common goal in mind. The best organization builds up each member of their team to get the optimum performance from them.

“True empowerment comes from empowering others” – Dr. Dennis Whately

How can a person become empowered?

1. Take A Risk! Life is full of lessons that are only learned through making mistakes.  If you never made a mistake it’s because you never took a chance and played it safe all along the way. “Calm waters do not make skilled sailors.” If you only play it safe, how will you learn to handle problems – like a sudden storm? Life is not smooth sailing all the time! If you’ve never been down, how do you know you can get back up?

Example: I entered the U.S.A. Memory Championship contest and lost the first time out.  I took a risk and was not successful. Did I stop there? No, I regrouped (in Navy terms that would be de-briefed) and assessed what I needed to do in order to reach my goal of winning the championship. I hired T.C. Cummings as my personal memory training expert, and with his guidance won the next to contests. I did not stop, did not let one loss deter me from my goal of winning, and took steps to improve my chances the next time.

2. Accept responsibility for your actions, and allow them to do the same. Right or wrong, a leader accepts responsibility, and allows those around them to make mistakes as well. Everything in life there has consequences, some good and some bad. You have to be able to handle the mistakes as easily as you take the bows for the good decisions. If there is no reinforcement, either positive or negative, you will keep making the same decisions and get the same results.

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

Example: A friend of mine has a son who was extremely bright, but lazy in school. When she went to a parent-teacher conference the teacher told her that her son was the brightest in the class – even though he was a freshman in a class of seniors. The only problem was that he got A’s on all his tests, but never turned in his homework. He explained that he had told everyone at the beginning of the term that their homework accounted for ½ their grades, but since he was doing so well in the class he didn’t feel right giving him a failure for the entire class.  My friend looked at the teacher and replied, “Fail him. If you told him what your expectations were, and he understood them, if he didn’t do what he was supposed to then he has to suffer the consequences.”

She went home, told her son what she told the teacher, and when he got his grades he got an “F” in Advanced Algebra. He was furious, but she explained that he was aware of his responsibilities and expectations, and he was capable of achieving them and knew the consequences. He chose to ignore them, so he got what he deserved. Needless to say, they didn’t have a problem with him turning in his homework from then on.

A true leader – whether a parent, teacher or supervisor, communicates their expectations and holds themselves and others accountable for their actions. It not only builds character, but trust.

3. “Drop Down Sir.” Navy Seals teach each other that the leader is responsible for the actions of the team. The greatest pressure is on the leader, who accepts the consequences on behalf of everyone, and assumes the responsibility for their success, or failure.

Example: T.C. Cummings relayed an example from Navy Seal Training. Class instructors are in charge of the training class, and are held accountable for the actions of the students. He is ultimately responsible for their actions and accomplishments or failures.  The pressure is on him to get them to perform as instructed, and that makes him a true servant. He makes or breaks the organization.

A servant gets the greatest amount of empowerment, so whatever happens to the leader also falls on the students. If an instructor makes a mistake, and he is ordered to “drops down” and does push ups, the students drop down too.  They pay the price for his failings. When he is awarded praise, they also receive the praise. The consequences of his actions, or omissions, are passed on to those he is in charge of.

As a leader we affect the lives of others – positively or negatively. If we lose sight of our goals, and go off course in business, the entire company gets off track. If the focus remains on the target, the company thrives and the employees receive the benefits as well.

This information, and other excellent points on leadership, can be found in my memory training seminars and “Think Like A U.S. Navy Seal” workshop.