From the Navy SEALs to Great Football Teams to Jennifer Lawrence – It May Be What You Do After you Finish Your Work that Sets You Apart from the Rest


I think there are three ways to “do your work.”

• Here’s a bad way:

You are given a job to do (or, you give yourself a job to do)
You do it half-heartedly; but, you do get it done
You say to yourself, “whew, I’m glad that’s over.”
And that’s it.

• Here’s a better way:

You are given a job to do (or, you give yourself a job to do)
You do it whole-heartedly; and, you get it done
You say to yourself, “whew, I’m glad that’s over.”
And that’s it.

• And here’s something close to the best way:

You are given a job to do (or, you give yourself a job to do)
You do it whole-heartedly; and, you get it done
And then, you ruthlessly, fully evaluate how you did.
And then, you learn, and say, “here’s how I will do better next time.”
And then you say to yourself, “what’s next; I can’t wait.”
And then you tackle your next assignment with even greater energy.

Jennifer Lawrence, from Joy
Jennifer Lawrence, from Joy

Jennifer Lawrence seems to have mastered the “close to the best way.” Here’s what she does (which many other actors don’t do). (I read about this here: Jennifer Lawrence does something other actors won’t, and it’s why she keeps improving). From the article:

“I think it’s important to watch my performances,” Lawrence said. “It’s kind of like an athlete watching, because I can see if I repeat something, or I didn’t believe that moment, why? I think it’s important to dissect yourself, but that’s really hard to do because once you’re watching it, it’s done, and it’s set in stone, and it survives forever. So when you watch something and you hate it, it’s hard to sleep that night.”

For the Navy SEALS, this is how they describe this process. (From Extreme Ownership):Extreme Ownership

The best SEAL units, after each combat operation, conduct what we called a “post-operational debrief.” No matter how exhausted from an operation or how busy planning for the next mission, time is made for this debrief because lives and future mission success depend on it.
What went right? What went wrong? How can we adapt our tactics to make us even more effective and increase our advantage over the enemy?

It is critical for the success of any team in any business to do the same and implement those changes into their future plans so that they don’t repeat the same mistakes.

And other branches of the military call it the After Action Review. From my earlier blog post, Do you Want to Become More Capable? Or, Your Team? – Learn to Conduct Your Own After Action Review(s):

Short version:

To apply this tool ask yourself and the team
– What was planned?
– What actually occurred? (facts not judgments)
– What went well and why?
– What can be improved and how?

• Extended, personalized version:

  • What did I plan to do?  — (so – you’ve got to learn to plan well)
  • What did I actually do? – (so, you’ve got to learn to execute well).
  • What went well, and why?  — (so, was this a good plan? — and then, assuming I carried out my plan…).
  • What can be improved, and how? – (so, what do I need to correct, tweak, change, add?)

So, the challenge is simple: not easy, but simple. Do you ruthlessly, fully evaluate the quality and success of your work after you finish your work? If not, you’ve got some changing to do.

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