Bring Some Badass to Your Leadership Skills

My days as a Pararescueman taught me more about teamwork, adversity, peak performance and mental toughness than I ever realized at the time. That is what makes my coaching so unique and why I get extreme results for my clients, I am going to help you develop a mindset of an Elite Special Operations Warrior!

While the battlefield and business are quite different, they share more similarities than you would imagine. Both require you to develop yourself to reach the top. Both require discipline and grit to survive adversity. Both require that you accept NO limitations as limitations. Average people tell you to be afraid of the dark and those things that go bump in the night. The elite are the ones that bump back against dark forces that would have you play small in the world. When you adopt this level of thinking your motto becomes: You are either on my side, by my side, or in my f*cking way! Choose wisely.

People on your team either rise to your level or they get the f*ck out of your restaurant! Does that scare you to think that way? Good. We'll harness that fear and turn it into a strength you will use to become outstanding! I don't want you to shoot for great or even excellence...those targets are too low for the elite. It's taking your foot off the mental brakes that slow you down and slamming your foot on the accelerator...all the way to the floor! 

This is what separates the excellence from outstanding. No room for average where we're going. Mediocrity is a forbidden word from now on. You won't accept it from yourself any longer. You will demand more from yourself than you will ever demand from others. No more talk. It's deeds and results over words.

Here are some tools from the Special Operations world that will forge your life and your restaurant into what you desire:

Front Sight Focus

One task until it's completed. No multitasking. No changing focus to different targets. From now on each week you are to have only one project that you throw all your resources into, until it's done. Then and only then can you acquire a new target.

If you ever find you are overwhelmed with too many things on your plate you need to do two things:

1. Get a bigger plate.
2. Apply front sight focus to the most important project.

Focus is the true currency for high achievers and for peak performance. For some it's known as the zone. That place where time seems to stop and you are so laser focused that you might not even hear things going on around you. When I was a full time chef I would experience this every time I was plating a dish. No past. No future. Just the food. Just the plate. It was a zen moment that I got to experience over and over during service.

Look at your project list and pick out one (just one) things that has been moving along about as fast as a snail. Now, I want you to apply total front sight focus on this by taking action every single f*cking day until it's done. Do not get sidetracked. Schedule short block of time each day to work on this! If you don't schedule time you will never make progress.

Develop Healthy Obsession

You cannot reach the level of outstanding with becoming obsessed with reaching that level. Your goals have to become emotionally connected with your dark side. You might be saying, "My dark side? I don't have a dark side." Let me assure you that everyone has a dark side. Everyone. You might not realize it. You might ignore it. It's that voice that craves and desires. It's that push you feel to go for it. Peak Performers and those that rise to the top of this industry and stay at the top, use their dark side and do not let it use them!

Visualize Your Outcome

You must see it first. Then step into that image and make adjustments as needed.
Write your goals down twice a day, read them and picture yourself there like it's already a done deal. Just like you are watching a movie...step into it and hear what you will hear, see what you will see from your own eyes, and feel what you will feel. All the energy. All the emotions.

If you can't see it first in your head you will never make it a reality. That is fact. Everything that is a man made physical object first started as an idea. If you ever started a restaurant from nothing, then you know the power of vision. Maybe you lost touch with that visionary part of yourself. Time to reconnect and dream a little dream.

Pull the Trigger

Now, when you have that vision or idea in your sights you will need to do what needs to be done and pull the f*cking trigger. You must take action and you must take action immediately! I tell all my clients this same statement so much they actually start finishing my sentence...When would NOW be a good time?

The only thing you truly have control over is the action you take in this moment. When the target is there and you know what you need to do, then you have a duty to take action. Pull the trigger. In the Spec Ops world, hesitation can be deadly. In the restaurant world it might not be deadly right now, however, those slow accumulation of missed targets (opportunities) start to cause damage to your confidence and brand indenting. You cannot afford for either of them to suffer if you want to thrive.

Always Be Aware of Your Restaurant

In Spec Ops they train us to have what is known as Total Situational Awareness. While you are focused on your target you still are aware of those elements in your peripheral vision. You are aware of everything going on and you prioritize each element based on their level of threat. In your restaurant you must know and be aware of everything going on in your restaurant at all times. What is your food cost? Where are you right now for labor today? Who is on the schedule and where are they positioned?  What is going on outside the restaurant that could effect business today (events, holidays, weather)? 

Now, knowing what is going on is the first part. Having a plan is the critical second part. You have to take the information and formulate a cohesive action plan with consideration for when things don't go as planned (and they often don't). What is your contingency plan for when sales are not where you projected for the day? How are you going to drive sales to make up for the gap? How are you going to manage the extra costs that are accumulating when sales drop?   If you just sit on the sidelines and waiting to see what happens, you are not the leader...you are just a bystander. Leaders take action. They are always in action mode. There is a classic saying that rings true: If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail. 

Embrace the Suck

Adversity is truly a weapon if you harness it's power and don't ignore or deny it. Things in your restaurant will just be bad some days. They will just suck. You must learn to embrace the suck and use it as an opportunity for growth. So many get bogged down in the mental quicksand when bad days happen. Life is not all sunshine and rainbows. You will have days where it rains and you will have a few that will hit you like a category 5 hurricane! Embrace those days. Embrace the suck!

"Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course." - William Shakespeare

One Team, One Fight

Your restaurant will only reach the level of outstanding when you stop fighting amongst your own team. Stop this bullsh*t of FOH vs BOH. Stop the internal competition between locations. A divided brand is a sign of weak leadership and a toxic culture. There is an African proverb you need to write down, "If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm." In the Spec Ops world you only survive when you harness every resource you can an employ the mindset that you are One Team, One Fight.

Violence of Action

When you first hear this you might think that violence means hurting people, in this phrase it means taking action with extreme focus and velocity. You make your move before others even have a chance to understand what's happening. If you have a solid plan then you need to take violent action!

The number one advantage that independent restaurants have is that they can implement and move quickly. Large chain restaurants have a lot of corporate red tape to work through before anything is changed at the local store level.

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

When you are training in Spec Ops this becomes your mantra. You go through the drill slow and careful so you can break down every f*cking detail to the point where you totally comprehend every minute element. When you are doing drills like clearing a room and you are stacked up at the door, you just don't start training full speed with live ammo. You start so slow that it almost feel like you're moving backwards. Once you get that perfect, you run the drill again faster. Get that perfect, then a little faster. You do that over and over until you are going full speed with live fire.

Too many restaurants train their team at full speed right from the start. You need to slow it down so they understand the details and so you can truly access their work habits. How you do anything is how you do everything. If a new hire is careless doing basic tasks like cleaning the floor or setting a table, what chance do they have if you throw them in on the sauté station or a busy section on the floor? Not much.

Get Off the X

You can't move a mission or your restaurant forward if you are staying in the same position as you were last year. Movement or progress is the always the goal. Sometimes times you have to navigate around obstacles or threats, however, you are always moving towards the objective. Progress over perfection is how you should run your restaurant. Most restaurant owners have that backwards and use the excuse that they need it to be perfect. While you're perfecting it, your competition is moving around you and flanking your market position.

When you are in the field and your team encounters "contact" (enemy fire), you better get off the f*cking X or you will soon find yourself in a box with a flag draped over it. In the restaurant industry staying on the X is being stuck in mediocrity. New restaurants are moving in on you and you do nothing. You need to get off the X. Actually you should have gotten off the X yesterday, however, since you're just reading this now, I'll give you a break.

Remember Howard Johnson's restaurant chain? They once had 1040 locations from coast to coast. They got sloppy and arrogant (which usually included a little ignorance too), they thought they owned the market and refused to get off the X. There is only one location still in business as of this writing.

You Can Only Lead From The Front

Too many managers (that incorrectly call themselves leaders) think that being a leader is barking orders and being a hard ass. That's being a boss. Leaders lead their team by being the example. You can't get around this. You must expect more from yourself than you do of others! That does not mean you necessarily work more. It means you are efficient, effective, and driven to lead. True leaders always want the ball in the final seconds of the game. The are driven to excel. They never rest on the accomplishments of yesterday. What you did last week or last year is nice, however you cannot win today's game with the points you scored last week! What are you doing today (right now) to move your business towards your goals? A true leader knows that success is never owned, it rented and rent is due every f*cking day!

Are you ready to take ownership for everything in your life? I mean really own it? The things that are great and those things that really suck bad! Until you are ready to step up and stop placing blame on others or events that happened you will stay stuck exactly where you are and who you are. You are more than what you have for material possessions, more than the mistakes you have made in the past (trust me I have had some catastrophic bad things happen to me), you have more strength and potential than you know. My duty as The Restaurant Coach™ is to assist you in unleashing that greatness, embracing the dark, and getting the f*cking restaurant and life you want!

Are you in?

If, so then you have to go all in. You cannot do this with anything less than 100% commitment.

That is my price for admission. All in or nothing.

"Everyone says they're a leader, until it's time to step up and do what real leaders have to do."

It's your move.

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