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Avoid the Trenches

By General John Michel

Trenches - GeneralLeadership.com

“An army of a thousand is easy to find, but, ah, how difficult to find a good general.”
Chinese Proverb

In 1904, France and Britain signed the Entente Cordiale (the friendly understanding); shortly thereafter, Russia also agreed to join this alliance. As a result, the German military began to fear the possibility of a combined attack from France, Britain and Russia.

In an attempt to respond to what they perceived as a growing threat, the German staff began making plans of their own to fend off a potential attack from these allied powers. The plan became known as The Von …read more

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Lessons on Tossing Out the Rule Book

By General John Michel

Astronaut - GeneralLeadership.com

“Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation.”
Rosabeth Moss Kanter

“Houston, we have a problem!”

These five words, originally spoken over forty years ago by astronaut Jack Swigert of Apollo 13 on April 14, 1970, immediately captured the attention of citizens the world over.

The warning to the Houston Space Center of a major technical fault in the electrical system of one of the spacecraft’s oxygen tanks certainly caused well founded concern. It also immediately sent technicians and scientists into a full-fledged search for innovative solutions to this unexpected life-threatening situation.

For the next seventy-two hours, scores of people worked around the …read more

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Trading Tulips: The Fallacy of the Herd Mentality

By General John Michel

Tulips - GeneralLeadership.com

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
Bertrand Russell

In the late 16th century, the Dutch tulip market was blooming—in fact it was booming. Although tulips were a novelty for most of the world, they were one of Holland’s major exports and status symbols for wealthy families across Europe.

During the height of their popularity, tulips became so popular that people were making and losing fortunes literally overnight. In fact, at one time tulips were selling for as much as ten times the price commanded by Europe’s …read more

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3 No-Fail Self-Leadership Safeguards Against Pride

By General John Michel

moon - GeneralLeadership

I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself.
Pietro Aretino

Long ago there lived an island king overflowing with pride who, one sleepless night, got it into his head that he would like to touch the moon.

“Why not?” he asked himself, “After all, I am the King. What I want, I get. And I want to touch the moon.”

The next morning the king called his chief carpenter into the royal court.

“I want you to build me a tower,” he commanded. “One tall enough to reach the moon.”

The carpenter’s stomach jumped and his eyes bulged.

“The moon, sire? Did you …read more

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The Ultimate EDGE: Learning to Bend but Not Break

By General John Michel

Ultimate Edge - GeneralLeadership.com

Resilience is not a commodity you are born with, waiting silently on tap. It is self-manufactured painstakingly over time by working through your problems and never giving up, even in the face of difficulty or failure.”
Lori Myers

More than two million people died, four million were displaced and thousands fled civil war. However, through faith and perseverance, one “lost boy”, who later grew to become an American Airman, returned home healthier and happier than ever before.

Airman Magazine recently featured the story of Air Force Staff Sgt. Deng Pour who, as a young boy at the age of 5, lived through many …read more

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Magnify Success: Choose Your Words Wisely

By General John Michel

Magnifying Glass - GeneralLeadership.com

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Aesop

‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.’ Many of you will remember this popular rhyme from elementary school. In fact, you may have even recited it a number of times as kids as it’s a common childhood idiom we use to remind people they cannot hurt us with the bad things they say or write about us. Well, now that we’re all a little older (and a little wiser), we know that this isn’t quite true.

Words have derailed political campaigns, ruined marriages, started wars, …read more

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3 Steps to Becoming a More Effective and Empathetic You

By General John Michel

“The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitudes.”
Victor Frankl

Viktor Frankl was an incredible person by many measures. He was a brilliant academic, a survivor of three years in four different concentration camps during the Holocaust, a pioneering neurologist/psychiatrist in Vienna following World War II, and an inspirational author. Most notable, however, is that his finest moments came when leadership was thrust upon him in the bleakest of times.

Despite enduring the atrocities of four Nazi concentration camps, the most infamous being Auschwitz, and losing his wife and parents to …read more

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Be Grace-Full

By General John Michel

DV IMAGE

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
Anne Lamott

A popular Russian tale recounts how when Nicholas II was the Czar of Russia, a father enlisted his son in the military with the hope of instilling discipline and direction in his life. Among other things, the young man had a weakness for gambling, and the conditions of military life seemed to hurt rather than help.

His army job was bookkeeping. As his gambling debts grew, he borrowed money from the …read more

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Creating a Strategy for Limitless Success

By General John Michel

Limitless Success - GeneralLeaderhip

 

A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Growing up, one of my favorite television series was Mission: Impossible. The immensely popular program chronicles the adventures of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), a team of government spies and specialists who are regularly offered “impossible missions” (should they decide to accept them).

Outside of the cool gadgets and spectacular stunts, what I most enjoyed about the series was that it reinforced how, with a well-executed, methodical strategy, just about anything’s possible. Take a lesson from a real life mission impossible, the race to be the …read more

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Honoring Those Who Have Given Their All

By General John Michel

NATCA 9 - GeneralLeadership.com

I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism.
Bob Riley

[The following is an unedited transcript of the speech I shared this morning commemorating the third anniversary of the loss of nine of our teammates fighting for freedom in Afghanistan…a reminder they are gone but certainly not forgotten].

We have a difficult but important duty today, paying homage to nine American heroes who gave everything in defense of freedom.

Three years ago today, it was a standard Wednesday morning in the Air Command and Control Center, Headquarters Afghan Air Force.

The Center was abuzz with …read more

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