- Michelle Gielan
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This got out the underlying phenomenon that enabled the group to function as a unity. We did work with national teams, Olympic teams, the Seattle Seahawks back in the day.
To our surprise, we got caught up in a net that the Army had cast looking for help in understanding better ways to train and prepare soldiers. It was never part of our business plan but I found myself at Fort Hood Texas talking to a roomful of officers. A few weeks later we had a sole source contract with the United States Army. We spent a few years helping the Army redesign the way they prepared soldiers and we ended up with a yearlong classified project with the Special Forces. We had a programmatic blank check to push the boundaries of human performance and human potential.
They gave us two A-teams 24 hours a day for a few months. We set all kinds of records with them and some cases scared ourselves even with what was possible here. Working with the soldiers was the greatest stuff we ever did. The process of getting to do the work was totally odious. That was my early days. I was in my early 30s at the time. This was back in the day. There was no venture community, there were no angel investors, none of the stuff that we have now. Nobody gets it. Being me, I put together this plan. We put together a little corporate program.
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I needed someplace to test it. This company was people. They took these massive ingots eight feet long, four feet wide, and a foot thick. According to the managers, the plant was at maximum production but we still needed someplace to try this thing.
We put all people in lots of through this program. Impossible, but there it was. I think this will work. If it does, great. I went from business obscurer to center ring in the circus. The net effect was I went from five guys in a cubbyhole office in Pioneer Square in Seattle to 85 guys occupying a whole floor in a building a few blocks away in the space of a few months. As I tell everybody with no fear of contradiction, I pretty much made every stupid mistake you can make in growing the business and yet it succeeded oftentimes despite my best efforts. We turned around the consumer products division, which was our mandate.
The project was called Project Miracles. They got divested by the courts. The first thing they do is call Mackenzie. They got Mackenzie. Mackenzie took them from 40, employees to 16, employees in several months and was proud of themselves. Our job was to breathe some life back into this thing. Outside of long distance, they became the most profitable part of the business. We came out of a performance-based background, not a theoretical background.
Michelle Gielan: How to Ignite Positive Change in Your Life
We work with people who had to perform. We understand what it is that enables people to learn.
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Unfortunately, everybody else, for the most part, is stuck in a dysfunctional view of what it takes to learn and change. It ties into what I research for my work in curiosity of what it takes to get that initial spark for everything else.
The desire not to fail, that tenacity is in there. We confuse inspiration, motivation, the acquisition of information, insight, and understanding for learning. Look at her. Sure enough, you will get motivated. The seminar sucked. It must be that I suck. We begin to diminish our expectations. What we saw with athletes and this is true for everybody else but it was most visible athletes, is that no amount of understanding, curiosity, or motivation ever produced competence. The only way you produce competence is with practice.
In the end, your mind can understand, and understanding can occur in an instant. This is the thing most people have trouble with. No amount of understanding ever produced competence. No amount of motivation, curiosity, anything. Those will get you going, but the actual phenomenon of learning is recurrent practice.
You might have gotten interested in it. You might have gotten curious about it, but you only got good at it by practice.
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You can take any number of examples. Do you play golf or do you know somebody who does? You got inspired. I want to take my golf game up to a whole new level. I want to get good at golf. Probably not.
What would you do? She watches you take some shots. Stand up a little straighter. Move your feet this way. Change your grip this way. Now hit some shots. Exactly, go back to the way I did.