To go up on that rooftop is to die. Right? That was a reality. As I was looking around in the middle of this firefight, it looked like a Star Wars movie. There were so many tracers going around the rooftops of these villages from Taliban fire that it looked like the lasers on a Star Wars movie and the little Green Beret team, they were up on the rooftop fighting it out, pushing back against the Taliban that had attacked the village they were living in. Believe it or not, on other rooftops villagers were standing their ground and they were shooting back against the Taliban, who once had their foot on the collective throat of this village for years. To see this little team of Green Berets and these villagers, these farmers up there fighting side by side, it was amazing.
When you consider that for the last decade plus, the villagers would be cowered down in their homes and often it would be Green Berets searching those homes looking for Taliban, what a shift of events this really was. To watch these villagers go up those ladders, not because they had to but because they chose to, I started calling that rooftop leadership because I believe that that approach to leadership is not only highly relevant in those places, where I wrote about it in my book, ‘Game Changers’ but also here at home, in your life and business.
You might be thinking, “Well, wait a minute man, that’s a dusty Afghan village, what does that have to do here at home?” Well, think about your own world. Right? Think about how much trust has eroded at your business, going down the street, on television, everywhere you look, there’s more privacy fences than there are front porches. We are so hyper connected, yet we’re disconnected in so many ways. Think about times that you’ve tried to inspire your employees to follow through on your vision. How did that go?
I can’t tell you the number of people that tell me that there’s such a disconnect between themselves and their employees. Think about the number of times that you’ve tried to sell your product or services to a prospect in this trust depleted environment where their attention span is like three seconds. If it’s not a video of kittens, they’re not watching it. Think about the number of times you’ve tried to make a connection with your kids and the challenges that you face just in keeping them safe. Right?
We live in many of the same conditions here in America and the West that exist in those rough, tribal places where trust is eroding and the skill set to inspire people to go up those ladders and to make a stand and take risks on your vision, not because they have to but because they choose to, is a real skill set you could use and its something I teach all the time at mannup.com
Now, a guy that embodied this was a guy I called ‘Mullah Mike’ in my book ‘Game Changers’. The book ‘Game Changers’, you’ve really got to read this if you’re interested in pushing back against ISIS and just leadership in general. ‘Mullah Mike’ was one of the guys in my book that I spent time with and he was an American Special Forces Officer. Mike lived with his team out in this little rural village in Northern Kandahar Province and this guy had an uncanny connection to the village where he lived.
Now, understand, this village had been so intimidated and brutalized by the Taliban and so distrusted coalition forces over the years, that when Mike’s team first got there, they wouldn’t even give them the time of day. But in a very short period of time, ‘Mullah Mike’, as the Afghans called him, he warmed up to them and they warmed up to him as well. I mean it was astounding to watch him operate.
What he did was very simple, he understood the local environment, he spoke the language, he worked hard at it. He studied the Koran even though he was a Christian. He patrolled daily on foot, he was constantly working to interact with locals on a whole different level. I noticed there were three P’s in how Mike operated that could serve you as well in terms of getting people to go up those ladders because that’s really the topic of this video blog. It’s ladder inspiration. How do you get people to go up those ladders when the proverbial tracer bullets are flying overhead and take a chance on your vision, not because they have to but because they choose to.
Three P’s. Mike did them all the time. One, presence. Two, patience. Three, persistence. Today we’re gonna talk about presence. Such an important thing. First of all, Mike was out there all the time, externally the guy was present, he patrolled every day on foot. He got out in the trenches, he walked to different farms, he talked to different farmers, he knew everybody in the village, he was out there and being seen.
How does that work in your world? If you’re a supervisor, an employer, how present are you? Do you get out there and walk the floor? I was just at a company that does after accident salvage and I was talking to some of the managers and the ones that really, really were connected were the ones that walked the floor, that talked to the guys and the girls that are working on the floor. So, ask yourself this; how present are you in the eyes of your kids, your spouse, your employees, your customers; are you out there asking questions and being seen or are you sitting behind your laptop answering email all day long? Right? Think about it. Powerful, powerful question.
The other way that ‘Mullah Mike’ was present was that he would prepare before every engagement. No engagement was trivial to him, no engagement was casual. He would do his homework before his leg work. He would work to understand who he was going to meet, whether it was a Governor, a General or a farmer. He did his would ahead of time and he knew the thoughtful questions to ask and how to make deep connections. How much do you do that in your life or do you do like most people, just walk around with your head in your phone and just bump into people and make semi casual, half ass connections? Right? Do you do the homework and get ready for your connections? Are you present before you even show up?
The other thing that Mike did that I loved was he always used touch points. To him, any connection was never casual. It was a life or death type situation, in other words, he valued it, he made you feel like you were the most important in the room. One of my friends, David [Martin is a high-performance coach, I work closely with him. Daveed, when you’re talking to him, he makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the world and even the little engagements, the little touch points, he makes them important and he remembers them and he works them back into conversation as you go.
Being present is not just about walking the ground, it’s not just about preparation, it’s about the little moments in between that most people blow off or miss altogether because they’re not dialed in. Finally is leaning in. When you’re engaging with someone, is your head somewhere else? Are you thinking about what you’re going to say? I will tell you with ‘Mullah Mike’, that was never the case, man. Even if it was just a share cropper that he was talking to, owned no land, had no status in the village, Mike would lean in and deeply and actively listen to every word he said as if he were the President of Afghanistan. It was so powerful. If you haven’t listened to my training at mannup.com on listening, go check it out man because there’s no deeper form of visceral human validation than listening.
Mike was present on all accounts; he moved around, he was seen, he was also present internally, he was intentional, he did his homework before his leg work, he made little moments count through touch points and he leaned in and listened and made you feel like you were the most important person in the world. If you just do those things, your presence will pay off down the road, when people are deciding whether or not to go up that ladder, trust me, in their chest cavity, they’re going to remember those moments when you were present and they’ll take a chance on you.
Next week we will talk about the next P in this whole thing. All right? But for now, I want you to go to mannup.com This is a movement. This type of leadership is trade craft, you’ve got to work at it and I’m constantly putting content out there that can help you get better and most of it is free. So, go to mannup.com sign up for my newsletter, it’s going to bring you these video blogs, my podcast, all kinds of cool stuff. Go there, sign up, this is our time, this is our movement, I’ll see you on the high ground.