Shakespeare said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” And our guest, Flynn Cochran, is definitely someone who achieved greatness (although he was born with a great name).
Flynn is a former U.S. Navy SEAL Officer, a former McKinsey & Co. Engagement Manager, and a graduate of Harvard Business School. Today he is the Chief Strategy Officer at Echelon Front, where he shares the exceptional leadership experience and insight he learned from both the SEAL Teams and business world. He had the benefit of experiencing leadership lessons from the likes of Leif Babin and Jocko Willink (a previous guest on the show: Ep. 25 – Navy SEAL & Leadership Expert Jocko Willink: Taking Extreme Ownership), and he saw the power of Extreme Ownership firsthand.
When I look back at Flynn’s impressive resume, I see a throughline of intensity, from football to ROTC to the Navy SEALS to Harvard to Echelon Front. So I wanted to know, what drives this?
In many ways, it goes back to growing up as the sixth of eight kids. Growing up in a large family taught Flynn two huge lessons: you have to do something exceptional to get attention, be it good or bad, and everything is better as a team.
“Individual achievements are just that – individual. They don’t bring up the rest of the team.”
Think of the business world today, where disengagement is rising and, ultimately, costing industry $500B annually. If that had happened in the SEAL Teams, missions would fail and lives would be lost – but they didn’t show up disengaged because they knew what was at stake.
This is an element missing in business today, as well as in our own individual lives; we don’t have a clear idea of what’s at stake, what matters, and why we should take action on it.
Flynn warns us that it certainly isn’t easy to create an organization where everyone believes in a single, unified Why, but what worth doing is ever easy?
Going back to the idea of team unity, as opposed to the pursuit of individual achievement, is a great place to start. Building meaningful relationships with the people around you will allow you to stay more engaged because you care about how your work impacts them, and the same lesson can be applied to your life at home.
Again, everything is better as a team – and all great teams need an exceptional leader.
“Leaders who take the blinders off take their organizations to heights they haven’t seen, and they realize that their influence, their actions, can have a massive impact on where it goes.”
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