…the constantly changing, entirely unforgiving environment in which we all now operate denies the satisfaction of any permanent fix. The second was that the organization we crafted, the processes we refined, and the relationships we forged and nurtured are no more enduring than the physical conditioning that kept our soldiers fit: an organization must be constantly led or, if necessary, pushed uphill toward what it must be. Stop pushing and it doesn’t continue, or even rest in place; it rolls backward.
General Stanley McChrystal (with David Silverman, Tantum Collins, and Chris Fussell), Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World
Oh, how we wish there was a permanent fix.
In Team of Teams, General McChrystal and his team of writers described the never-ending disintegration of the work that has just been finished by the finest of the finest. Yesterday’s successes were being swept away.
It’s a humbling reminder. It reminds me of a scripture that I think of often:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…
(The Apostle Paul, Philippians 3:13-14).
What happened yesterday is gone. Truly, gone.
Oh, the failures of yesterday can have lingering ripple effects. Yes, they can. But, the only real option is to pick back up, and get going again.
And the successes of yesterday? Well, they can disappear in a split second.
That’s what General McChrystal was writing about. Listen to the agony behind these words (coming, in the book, just before the quote above):
Veterans of our war watched from afar in sullen frustration as ground we’d taken foot by foot, and yard by bloody yard, fell to yet another extremist movement that advanced with seeming ease despite being outmanned and outgunned by government forces.
He claims, “what we’d done had been real…” But, the victory, the win, the fix had not lasted. A new challenge, a new “competitor” (a new “enemy”) had come along, and yesterday’s successes are now simply memories. There’s a new battle to fight, a new enemy to vanquish, a new challenge to tackle.
Yesterday’s fix was not permanent. It did not last. It cannot last. Today’s challenge awaits today’s fix.
And then, after today’s fix, it will start all over again.
There is seemingly never the satisfaction of a permanent fix. That’s the lesson, in war, in business, today and for all the coming days.
And there’s nothing we can do about it except accept it, and get right back to it.
(I will present my synopsis of Team of Teams next Friday, August 7, at the First Friday Book Synopsis).