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Turn On Your Radar…And Keep it Turned On



“Michael, thank you for helping our stakeholders turn on their radar.”
—Willie G. Davidson, Harley-Davidson Motor Company

Rarely are we oblivious to the rocks along our life path.  We are, however, reluctant to lift them to see what lives beneath…even when we sense creepy, crawly, slimy dangers that may attach, follow, and cause us harm.  Instead of lifting the rocks to determine risk (or reward) we whistle in the dark and pretend they don’t exist.  Lift up the rocks.  If there are creepy, crawly, slimy dangers you have two options:  You can always carefully put the rocks back in place and pretend you never saw anything or you can do something about it.  It’s up to you.  Oh, one more thing…once you pick up the rocks, you can never be a victim…again!  Welcome to the world of informed responsibility.

As a writer I find metaphor and simile to be very efficient ways to advance a story line or drive home a main theme or point. Radar is a good one.  Back during the Viet Nam War Era, I was a young airman stationed on the top of an extinct volcano in the middle of Alaska.  The purpose of radar is to allow you to detect and track incoming objects as early as you possibly can.  This allows you to determine degree of threat and, if needed, to take appropriate defensive or offensive actions.

Think of radar in your own life, if you are like most people, you often sense threat but delay taking action because:

  1. you tell yourself that you are too busy
  2. you hope that somebody else will deal with the problem
  3. you convince yourself that the problem doesn’t really exist

Then, as the “blips of life” get closer and new ones appear on the horizon, your anxiety increases as you continue to convince yourself that you are really too busy; you continue the delusion that someone else will take care of the mounting issues; and you hold on to the notion that the issues aren’t really that bad or that they don’t exist, at all.  Then, one day comes and you look up at the sky to find that the sun is totally obliterated by threatening blips — work, health, family concerns, relationships, money — and then, what do you say?  Well, all too often we express surprise and shock as we tell everyone and ourselves “I didn’t see THAT coming!”  Of course, you did.  You saw it way out on the outer circle of your radar as you told yourself that you were too busy, you hoped and expected that somebody else would deal with the issue, and you convinced yourself that it really wasn’t a big deal and that it maybe wasn’t a problem, at all.

During the short time it takes to read this, I know from years of experience that your personal and professional radar will turn on, do a 360 degree sweep, and life’s blips will once again appear.  You have options. You can:

  1. immediately shut down the radar and move into complete denial until forced into a panic-stricken reactive mode
  2. you can tell yourself that you are too busy
  3. you can wait for someone else to fix the concerns
  4. you can minimize and/or deny the existence of the problems
  5. you can focus energy on the threats and take proactive measures to protect you, your family, and your co-workers from the threat

The choice is yours.  By the way, one of the benefits of keeping your radar turned on is that you will never again be a victim.

Now, what was really happening in Alaska was that every Tuesday morning around 2 am the klaxons would go off and somebody would shout, “The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!” as we detected Russian bombers entering Alaskan airspace.  We would then notify the Alaskan Air Command in Anchorage and they would scramble fighter jets to chase the Russians back home.  The next night, some young kid who looked like me but spoke Russian would yell, “The Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming!” as we sent B-52s into their airspace until Russian MiG fighter jets would intercept and escort them back to Alaska.  This cat and mouse game seemed pretty silly until you realized that people in Seattle didn’t realize what was happening; nor did people in Chicago, Detroit, or Boston.  They didn’t need to know because somebody was paying attention; somebody was on guard so that others could rest and safely go about their business.  Can you imagine if instead of watching for incoming blips and proactively responding to possible threat we decided that we had a really hot pinochle game going so we turned off our scope figuring that Yukon, Anchorage, or Seattle would eventually pick up any real threats?  Of course, that would have been crazy, irresponsible and disastrous thinking.  However, we constantly do this in our personal and professional lives.



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