[February 9, 2020] One of the desirable attributes I find among combat veterans is they are skillful at judging what is essential, in contrast to those things in life that don’t matter. Perhaps the reason is they have seen truly horrific destruction and death and can understand that there are small things in life that are mere distractions to be ignored. And, they are better able to focus on people and events that are consequential.
A reasonable person to watch that speaks to this is Jocko Willink. He recently posted a YouTube podcast titled, “Don’t Get Caught Up in Things That Don’t Matter.” Excellent video and I recommend it (see link here, 7:54 minutes). His theme is that we must learn to discriminate between important and unimportant events and you can only do that by detaching yourself emotionally from that event. He says that if a person can focus their energy on what matters, this is how you win as a leader.1
“As leaders, I see people getting caught up all the time in little things that will not affect the outcome unless they let it.” – Jocko Willink, retired U.S. Naval officer and podcaster
Don’t get distracted by the ankle-bitters. My grandmother, Bigmama, would say, “Don’t be misled by little things.” This idea means being able to make sound judgments based upon experience and by thinking the right way. While some will argue that being sentimental and emotional puts you in danger and clouds your judgment. True enough, but I will counter that these are also keys to positive motivation. Being two sides of a coin, emotion and thinking, when combined, can make for a stronger person.
Much of how we can push aside the irrelevant and look at the important is based on our attitude of life. What that attitude means is being a straight shooter, telling the truth wisely, controlling one’s temper, having a tough skin, adopting discipline in one’s life, being humble, and having a winning philosophy on life. If you can do that, all things will come to you, people will follow you, and everyone will be better for it.
The truth and discipline will set you free.2 We are told that discipline equals freedom, for freedom is earned through great sacrifice and struggle. Freedom is not freely given and cannot be obtained without costs. Those who first understand what is of utmost importance, like freedom and family, are those that can be free to enjoy the fruits of life and live it to the fullest.
A person who cannot determine the irrelevant from the critical, evil from good, betrayal from trust, and fear from courage, also cannot be a leader. Our ability to make a discriminating judgment is what all great leaders strive to accomplish so that we can do good for our families, communities, and nation.
- Jocko Willink and Leif Babin wrote the book The Dichotomy of Leadership (2018). Jocko Willink and Leif Babin served as U.S. Navy SEAL officers in the toughest urban combat mission in the history of the SEAL teams. Their unit remains the most highly decorated special operations unit in the Iraq War. https://www.amazon.com/Dichotomy-Leadership-Balancing-Challenges-Ownership/dp/1250195772/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=The+Dichotomy+of+Leadership
- The Bible, John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I made a minor modification in the Bible’s passage. https://biblehub.com/john/8-32.htm