The United States Special Operations Forces (SOF) consist of Army Special Forces Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Air Force Special Op Wings, Marine Special Ops Regiment and other units. The SOF truths were created over 25 years ago to guide special operations in strategic planning, planning missions, and everyday activities.

During my time as a Green Beret we made the SOF truths an important yardstick when we went about our operations. The SOF truths have much applicability in the business world and even your personal life.  Here are the SOF truths translated into general terms:

Humans are More Important than Hardware

People, not technology or equipment make the difference. The right people, with the right training operating the right equipment will get er done.  On the other hand, spending money on technology will never make up for inexperienced or unmotivated people. There will always be a need for a hand on the joystick.

Invest in training for your business. Treat your people right and it will pay your investment back many fold. In your personal life, invest time in building relationships and even yourself. You can spend all the money in the world in technology but if you don’t take care of yourself, it will go to waste.

Quality is Better than Quantity

A small number of people, carefully selected, well trained, highly motivated are much more preferable to a large number of general forces who might not be up to the task.

Special Operations is all about doing things differently. Many of the operations use the principle of leverage.  Use a small amount of force to provide the impetus to get something much larger going. In business we are seeing small startups able to get business ideas off the ground quickly and profitably to market. Personally you want a small tight circle of quality friends, people who will give you spot on advice (even when it hurts) instead of a large number of distant apathetic acquaintances.

Special Operations Forces Cannot be Mass Produced

It takes years to recruit, train, and develop the level of proficiency in people required for these missions. It also years to develop the level of cohesion, esprit de corps and trust necessary for the units to become fully capable. You cannot speed up the process and expect the same results.

Yes it takes money to invest in your company. Training costs are not immediately recoverable. Yet when you need the skills, you often really need them. It also takes investment in the soft interpersonal skills and team building that are required when crisis occur. Finally when it looks bad, only time spent developing loyalty and trust will pay off and keep your employees from jumping ship. Same with your personal life. First it takes time to develop a group of friends you can count on. If you have a spouse or children, their belief and trust in you will come from action after action over time. You cannot expect them to instantly come to your side if you haven’t taken time to demonstrate you can be counted on.

Competent Special Operations Forces Cannot Be Created After the Emergencies Occur

It takes time to develop highly trained, proficient teams. You have to develop them before you need them.

As we talked about before, when you need people in your business and life to help you, most often you really need them at that particular moment. Do your preparation work beforehand.

Most Special Operations Require Non Special Operations Assistance

The ability of SOF forces to execute their missions has never been without the assistance of normal forces. The other forces only serve to increase the effectiveness of SOF.

The lesson here is that you cannot do it all by yourself. Even if you develop the best teams in the world, you will need other skills and talents that do not exist on your team. Recognize and accept that. One pitfall that SOF has fallen into before is that of an air superiority, the idea that they were better than any of the rest of the military. Yes, they had special skills and talents. However, the air of superiority did not serve them well when they had to go and ask for help.

You will always need outside assistance. If that comes from your suppliers, your financiers, your customers, or maybe your neighbors. Approaching these partnerships with an air of cooperation and acceptance instead of superiority will go far in getting what you want accomplished, accomplished. Make sure you grow and develop these relationships.

SOF Truths

While you may not be a Green Beret, Navy SEAL or Marine Force Recon, applying these truths will help you remember what is important in life and what you can do to make sure you are keeping track of the right things.

(Photo credit: Black Leather Army Boots and Bag via Shutterstock)

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