Last summer my son graduated at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. He went to Johannesburg for an internship at a big corporation, came back and told me:

“Dad, I am 21 and I am not going to sit in an office behind a screen for the rest of my life… “ “I need a real challenge!”

He signed up at the ‘Korps Mariniers’ which is the elite amphibious infantry component of the Royal Netherlands Navy. A rapid reaction force that can be deployed to any location in the world within 48 hours.

An intensive year of practical marine officer’s training has started, and they need to learn how to get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable. Over the last couple of months he shared some ‘lessons learned’ with me on how to do this. Success isn’t promised to any single one of us. But the awesome thing is that it is available to all of us. And it is not enough to know something – you need to apply…

Putting it into perspective, I think his leadership lessons are perfectly applicable in today’s volatile, uncertain & chaotic business environment:

1.     Push. Work hard, push through and do not give up. This means training yourself to take setbacks and keep on going.

2.     Focus. What needs to be done? Create clarity, have high energy and a laser focus. Get things done.

3.    Power. Be strong, have power & strengthen the body. The body is the temple of your soul. Work out, exercise and make it happen every day, consistency is key.

4.    Mind. Be always ready for anything.Every day feed, condition and strengthen your mind. Your performance is a reflection of your belief system.

5.    Time. Work quickly, especially if not in a hurry so you have time left when you are in a hurry… Create space and have more bandwidth.

6.    Pressure. Having a capacity for humor, fun and creativity in a stressful environment will define how well you do in times of pressure.

7.    Grow. Understand your limitations and use this to challenge yourself to grow. Deal with criticism and setbacks.

8.    Results. Get more out of the same hours or minutes, cut the crap and work yourself through the clutter of details and get the results you are after.

9.    Team. Nobody is more important than the team. Give more than you expect to receive and add lots of value to others.

10.  Lead. Lead by example & get proximity to amazing people. Put yourself in the game with people that constantly stretch you.

Winning is about getting culture right. These lessons learned that I derived from my son’s weekly feedback on his Marine training are all about installing a Winning Culture.

US Secretary of Defense & retired Marine General James Mattis: “There are many challenges organizations can overcome, but having a bad culture is not one of them. Culture starts at the top, and a good or a bad leader sets the tone for how the organization does business.”

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Published by Erik W. Hiep, MBA

Erik has extensive consulting experience with international management teamsand boards. He has worked on a wide variety of change assignments in Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia & the Americas. Erik is also an Associate Professor at IE Business School in Madrid. He holds an MBA degree of the University of Glasgow and graduated at the Royal Military Academy in the Netherlands (Infantry & Faculty of Social Sciences and Psychology)


Erik is a member of the hero network.


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