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Oct 8, 2018

Colonel John Boyd, an Air Force Fighter pilot who was never defeated in a dogfight, was also a master tactician and student of modern warfare.  Boyd used to tell junior officers that in every man’s life he will come to a point where he must make the choice to be someone or to do something.

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Episode Transcription

[INTRO]

♫ Trenches by Pop Evil ♫

*Alex*

Welcome to Morning Mindset. A daily dose of practical wit and wisdom with a professional educator & trainer, Amazon best selling author, United States Marine, Television, and Radio host, Paul G. Markel. Each episode will focus on positive and productive ways to strengthen your mindset and help you improve your relationships, career goals, and overall well-being. Please welcome your host; Paul G. Markel.


*Professor Paul*

Hello, welcome back to Morning Mindset podcast. I am your host Paul Markel, and today I have a challenge in front of me. I have a challenge before me we're continuing with the Morning Mindset books study, yes indeed, we are. I have a copy in my hands right now, the paperback copy, and the topic for today is To Do Something or To Be Someone, and this is actually maybe not the longest but it's one of the longer chapters or sections in the book. I always try to keep these right around eight to nine to maybe 10 minutes and I wanted to go too long, but I want to do this topic Justice.

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I know many of you may have heard of Colonel John Boyd, he was an Air Force pilot who was a pilot, who was never defeated in a dogfight or an aerial combat. There are several, well, there's a couple of different books about either John Boyd's exploits or about his life and, as he was a career officer who's a career Air Force officer and he had to he worked in the Pentagon and it was a difficult situation for him because he was not a politician.

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He was very much like Patton, in the fact that he wanted to do something, not to be someone. He wasn't concerned about a career path, or getting more stars on his shoulder, or more rank. He was concerned about doing something important. Now, after he passed away, there was a biography written about Colonel John Boyd, and the author interviewed a number of his friends and co-workers and compatriots. People who spent time with him in the Air Force, and the Pentagon, so forth and they had like yesterday or the previous section.

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I talked about how Patton’s staff said that he had the “Grab them by the Nose” speech. Well, John Boyd, Colonel John Boyd, he had a “something or someone” speech, that he would give to young officers and obviously as a Colonel, he had the opportunity to be in command of younger officers, lieutenants, and captains and so forth. His peers, those who knew John Boyd and who worked with him for a long time, they said that many of the young officers would be given the “Something or Someone” speech, and it went something like this.

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Obviously I'm paraphrasing, because I can't read the entire chapter of the book. But essentially John Boyd would tell these young officers, these young men, that at some point in time in their lives, they were going to have to make a decision, and that decision was do you want to do something or do you want to be someone. The reasonable crowd out there, you say “Well you can do both, you can be someone and do something at the same time. You know, why can't you do both? We should be able to do both.”

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The way Boyd explained it is this, he said “If you set out to do something, if you set out to accomplish something, if you set out to prove something. to prove a theory-”, let's say you have a theory about Aviation. Or you have a theory about whatever it happens to be, what you're probably going to be doing, is you're going to be going up against or contradicting what already exists.

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The facts or the material, the written words that already exist on that subject. You see if you want to do something, then you're probably going to be asking questions, and seeking new answers. Now if you want to be someone, you just take the information that is currently available to you, you accept that, and you move on with your life. You don't question it. You don't seek Improvement. You don't seek a better way, because if you seek a better way to do something, what you're essentially doing is you are attacking those who have come before you, and there are going to be people out there that don't like it.

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We've talked at length previously, about the “That's the way we've always done it” mentality or the 3-ring binder mentality, or I guess in modern vernacular we could say the PowerPoint. That information is in a PowerPoint presentation, it's been approved and blessed by the powers that be, we don't change it. We don't alter it, we don't question it, it's in the PowerPoint. Just deliver it as well as it's written. The 3-ring binder, you know the Sops.

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You report to a unit or a company or what have you, and you're told “That's the way we've always-” and you say “Well, why are we doing it that way? It seems like there would be a more efficient, or a better way to get that job done, and then the answer you're given is “That's the way we've always done it” or “That's what it says in 3-ring binder” and that's what we're going to do.” Now, I'm not saying that you have to be an a-hole and step in and say everything that was, you know going on before I arrived is just wrong. But the fact the matter ism if you look at our sciences, at aviation.

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You look at Aviation, if you look at heart surgery, if you look at just that, you know computer technologies/computer sciences. If you look at any area of endeavor, we're not doing it the same way today as we were 50-40-30-20 years ago, and that's that's generally a good thing. For instance, you know, our modern vascular surgeons heart surgeons are doing miraculous things, that couldn't have been done 10 years ago, couldn’t have been done 15 or 20 years ago.

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We have vascular surgeons that are repairing limbs and nerves and blood vessels, that are repairing limbs today that 20 years ago, if you went into the hospital with that much damage, they would just cut it off and thrown it away. They’d have incinerated that limb, and they just said “Sorry, there's nothing we can do, we can't save it.” But today we are and why is that we are able to do that because someone at some point in time should you know what we can do better than what we've been doing.

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The problem is when you do that, there are people that aren't going to like it. There are people that have staked their careers on the old way, and you're going to make them unhappy and they're not going to like you. They're not going to wrap their arms around you, and give you a big smoochy kiss. They may actually say bad things about you in public.

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They may attempt to discredit you they may attempt to besmirch your reputation, and a lot of people don't like that. A lot of people can't handle that. A lot of people want to be someone now if you decide that you want to be someone then you don't rock the boat. You don't ask hard questions. You don't suggest areas for improvement you go along with what is there an essential? You become what?

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A Politician. Politicians never take hard stances, very rarely will a politician ever take an absolute stance, will they take a hard stance on any issue. Because they always want to have wiggle room, they want everyone to love them. They want everyone to vote for them, because why? Because they want to be someone, they're not trying to do something. But they want to be someone, and so what Boyd’s advice to these young officers was at some point in your career, you're going to have to make a decision.

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Do I want to do something important? Do I want to make improvements to I want to make new discoveries and if I do that, will that jeopardize my reputation? Because some people won't like it, and they'll be threatened by me, and because they're threatened by me, they will attempt to discredit me and that is exactly what happened to Boyd.

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That's actually what happened to, if you look back on the history of the United States and many of the great inventors, the great designers, the great leaders. Not politicians, leaders and  politicians aren't the same. They ruffled feathers, they ask questions, they made hard decisions and hard choices, and they weren't appreciated for it. You know Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison? You know, either one we talked about they, were referred there or referred to as stupid or dunces, or you know, less than intelligent people, that today we consider geniuses. When they were younger, they weren't. So, I really hate to short-change this subject and I want you guys to read the whole, entire thing in the book.

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But at some point in time everyone has a choice to make. Are you going to do something? Is it going to be your life's mission to do something that's extremely important, that actually becomes your legacy, or do you want to be someone. Do you want people to like you, if you want to get you know, fast-tracked promotions and so forth because you know, most generals and Admirals today and in our military, they don't want to do something.

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They want to be someone. The generals and admirals and today's military, are politicians, and that's one of the reasons we're in such trouble as a nation. So John Boyd would ask you and he would tell you that it's not easy. If you decide you want to do something, it's going to be tough. You need to make a decision.

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Is it going to be worth it and only you can answer that question. Sometimes it's easier just to be someone the close your mouth to go along get along don't question authority. Don't question. The way things are just smile shake hands and agree with people and eventually they'll all like you because you're not questioning.

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It's up to you, it's up to you. So that is it for today. I know we want a little bit long and there's there's just no way I could have shortened it any more than it was but it's a good way according to my show notes. This show should be releasing on a Monday. So there you go, you can start off your week thinking about that.

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You can start off your week thinking do I want to do something or do I want to be someone? Yes, indeed. Alright, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for being out there in my audience. I truly appreciate it. I am your host Paul Markel, I'll talk to you again, real soon.


[OUTRO]

♫ Trenches by Pop Evil ♫

*Alex*

Thank you for spending time with us today. To get show notes, submit a topic request, for more from your host Paul G. Markel, visit MorningMindsetPodcast.com. That’s MorningMindsetPodcast.com. Please leave a review of this podcast on your favorite podcast player, we appreciate your time & effort, and we look forward to reading your honest feedback.