One of my favorite leadership books is Extreme Ownership, written by two U.S. Navy SEAL officers who led the Iraq War’s most highly decorated special forces unit. Over and over, they would emphasize the value of SEALs’ processes to accomplish incredibly daunting missions. Yes, any mission or goal requires planning and execution; however, one of the things that I sometimes need to remember to do is what the SEALs refer to as the After-Action Report (AAR).
In high-stakes missions and intense operations, the U.S. Navy SEALs have established a reputation for exceptional performance and unwavering commitment to excellence. One key element of their success is their effective use of After Action Reports (AARs). These comprehensive assessments provide invaluable insights, enabling teams to learn from their experiences, refine their strategies, and achieve continuous improvement.
While initially designed for military operations, the Navy SEAL AAR process principles can be applied to wide-ranging aspects of our lives, from job interviews to family gatherings and special events. So let’s explore how to utilize this powerful tool for personal and professional growth.
Interviews, Boosting Performance and Learning Opportunities
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, but adopting the Navy SEAL AAR process can help you enhance your performance and learn from each encounter. After an interview, take some time to reflect and identify the strengths and weaknesses of your performance. Ask yourself:
a) What specific actions or responses positively impacted the interview?
b) Which areas could you improve upon for future interviews?
c) What lessons can you draw from this experience to refine your preparation strategy?
By conducting a thorough self-assessment, you can gain valuable insights and tailor your approach for subsequent interviews, increasing your chances of success.
Family Gatherings: Having Fun and Strengthening Relationships
Family gatherings are a prime opportunity to have fun and deepen connections. The AAR process can help facilitate these outcomes. After a family event, set aside time to reflect on the interactions and dynamics. Consider the following questions:
a) Which activities or opportunities for connection positively contributed to the overall atmosphere?
b) Were there any challenges or conflicts that arose?
c) What could be changed to foster a more positive experience next time?
By evaluating the logistical and emotional aspects of the event, you can identify areas for improvement and implement strategies that facilitate fun and harmony within your family, deepening ties the next time the opportunity arises.
Events: Maximizing Success and Learning from Setbacks
Whether organizing a corporate event, a charity fundraiser, or a community gathering, applying the Navy SEAL AAR process can significantly enhance the outcome of your endeavors. After the event, gather feedback from participants and stakeholders and ask yourself:
a) What aspects of the event were particularly successful?
b) Did any unforeseen challenges arise, and how were they managed?
c) What steps can be taken to improve future events and mitigate potential issues?
By actively seeking feedback and analyzing the event’s strengths and challenges, you can refine your planning process, enhance the attendee experience, and achieve greater success in future endeavors.
The Navy SEAL AAR process is a powerful tool that enables individuals and teams to learn from their experiences, make necessary adjustments, and achieve continued growth and success. By applying this process to various aspects of our lives, we can maximize our potential and enhance our experiences.
Although brutal sometimes, honest self-assessment, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing meaningful changes are critical. Embracing the lessons learned, both positive and negative, and continually striving for personal and professional growth may be the secret to our professional and personal success and happiness.
Cindy Jobs, PCAC, PCC
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