I’m holding a live hand grenade — yes, in my hand. I can’t remember if it’s “thumb clip, pull pin” or “pull pin, thumb clip”. I’m an 18-year-old kid going through Marine Corps bootcamp, and I’m frozen with fear.
Somehow, I had ripped the safety pin out, and the only thing preventing the grenade from exploding and killing me and my fellow Marines was my clammy grip on it. Once you throw, or (heaven forbid) drop a grenade, it will explode in four seconds with a 15-foot kill radius and a 45-foot fragmentation radius.
I learned a lot about leadership and making the right decision at the right time as a Marine — much of it distilled from those moments of holding the live hand grenade wondering what to do. From Day One of basic training we were taught that, regardless of rank, every Marine is a leader responsible for contributing to the successful completion of the team mission.
Now, the Marine Corps is the smallest branch of the military with the smallest budget. So why has the Marine Corp been so successful at doing and achieving more with much, much less?
The Marine Corps figured out that success in achieving your goals lies not with the 99% of the things you are doing, but in the 1% of the things you are notdoing. That other 99% is still very important, of course; you must do that 99% extremely well. What the Marines are always looking for, however, is that 1% that they are NOT doing. That’s the 1% that is hidden in your blind spot, that when discovered, will give you the edge and the tactical advantage to allow you to accomplish more with less.
Having Marine Corps trainees throw live hand grenades is an example of finding that 1%. What do you learn from throwing live hand grenades? Marines like to call it “intestinal fortitude.” Guts. True grit. You develop laser focus and clarity. What about fear? You are forced into one of the scariest situations of your young life. If you drop that grenade or fail to throw it properly, fellow Marines WILL die because of your mistake. You learn that being afraid is ok. That being in fearful situations challenges you to learn, to grow, to succeed, to win and win with a distinct edge.
Most importantly, I learned trust. I learned that the Marine Corps trusted an 18-year-old kid to successfully throw live fragmentation grenades. I knew my Drill Instructors and fellow recruits trusted me. And I trusted them. And because that sacred trust was bestowed upon me, I would do anything, ANYTHING, for my fellow Marines. And I knew my fellow Marines would do anything for me.
In this case, sacred trust was that missing 1%. Identifying that 1% is the difference between success and failure when the pace is fast, the stakes are high, and the outcome unclear. Plus, it is just really, REALLY cool to throw live hand grenades…
So how do you find the 1% that is missing from your personal and professional life? How do you discover what is hidden in your blind spot — what you don’t know you don’t know? How can you consistently develop an edge to do more with less? I’ll explain all of that and much more. Just stay tuned. And do me a favor — stay away from throwing live hand grenades, ok?
One last thing. I did work up the nerve to throw that live hand grenade. No one was killed or injured either. More importantly, I developed that 1% difference with a razor sharp edge.