Updated: Jun 3
I was recently watching a commentary about sniper school. The men were being interviewed about their roles as shooter vs. spotter. It's common to automatically assume the role of the shooter would be much more difficult; however, based on what some of the men were saying during their interviews, it isn’t true. During sniper school, men are trained to be both shooter and spotter and must be proficient in both. The shooter normally hits the target or misses based on the data and feedback of his spotter. One man said "the pressure to set up the shooter for the shot is the hardest and most stressful of both roles" as they are calculating distance, wind, and sometimes, the rotation of the earth (the long shot). The spotter then calculates these variables and relays this to the shooter to make proper adjustments in his aim. If the shooter misses his target, it's up to the spotter to quickly identify where the shooter missed and make the proper adjustment.
In business, we are often identified as a shooter. We identify our target or goal and take a shot. We often discount the need for a spotter, as we feel as though we are the deadliest sniper in American history. Yet, if you watch a war documentary or speak to a sniper, their spotter is never far from them. They are by their side with a long-range scope, taking in the variables, and relaying feedback to the shooter so they can always hit their target.
Do you have a spotter in your career? Someone who can take in all the variables you cannot easily identify. Do you have someone to spot the distance (planning, time management, equipping), wind (coworkers, competitors) and rotation of the earth (economic factors that influence your business)? If you miss your target or fail to achieve a goal, do you have someone to take a broad look at your trajectory so you can quickly re-adjust and hit your target?
I recently read an article discussing the "cost per kill" during the Vietnam war. The average soldier expended 50,000 rounds of ammunition for one kill, equating to $23,000. The average sniper expended 1.3 rounds per kill, equating to $.17.
I've always been blessed throughout my career with strong leaders and mentors. People that are far more intelligent, smarter and with wisdom far beyond my own. Have you ever heard the term, show me your five closest friends and I will show you who you will be in five years?
It is important to be teachable and humble, always learning new ideas, tactics, and principles so that, coupled with a spotter, you can be the deadliest shooter within your industry.
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