Let People Surprise You with Their Ingenuity

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Upon entering the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs every June, basic cadets, called “doolies,” are given a small pocketbook of knowledge with quotes to memorize and repeat under stress. The quotes deal with self-discipline, airmanship, and especially leadership. Patton’s quote has been particularly influential in my life, and remains applicable for leaders throughout life.

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“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

The leader provides the strategic vision, coordinates the resources that allow the team to succeed, and inspires with encouragement and confidence for the team to fulfill its potential. Simple, yet profound.

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Pictured above is the swearing-in ceremony in 1981, in which cadets committed to become leaders in service to Constitution and country.

Above are scenes from a training exercise called Leadership Reaction Course, in which the new basic cadets are challenged with a mission objective and are provided with some materials, but no instructions, necessary to succeed. Through mental and physical  teamwork and ingenuity, the cadets learn to deal with ambiguity and exercise resourcefulness.


You can learn leadership, teamwork, and soft power skills with other high-soaring doers in a series of online, face-to-face workshops collaborating on your goal-related projects. SoftPowerSkills.com #SoftPowerSkills #Nspyr #InspireEmpowerChange

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