Monday, May 15, 2017

Making Decisions: The OODA Loop

This post about Col. John Boyd's OODA Loop, comes to you from the infamous Wikipedia. 
You can click the link if you want to read it from that source. 

The OODA Loop is yet another process that is simple and something we do all of the time, however understanding the recipe with greater clarity can help us to utilize these skills with greater success, especially during times of stress and conflict. 

Rather than reinventing the wheel and writing my own article about this now famous method, I decided to re-post Wikipedia's description of Boyd's OODA Loop. So, without further ado, here it is:

The phrase OODA loop refers to the decision cycle of observe, orient, decide, and act, developed by U.S. Air Force military strategist Colonel John Boyd.  Boyd applied the concept to the combat operations process, often at the strategic level in military operations. It is now also often applied to understand commercial operations and learning processes. The approach favors agility over raw power in dealing with human opponents in any endeavor.

The OODA loop has become an important concept in taking action in many area of life including: Litigation, business, law enforcement, military, personal defense and other decision based endeavors. According to Boyd, decision making occurs in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent can thereby "get inside" the opponent's decision cycle and gain the advantage. Frans Osinga argues that Boyd's own views on the OODA loop are much deeper, richer, and more comprehensive than the common interpretation of the "rapid OODA loop" idea.

Boyd developed the concept to explain how to direct one's energies to defeat an adversary and survive. Boyd emphasized that "the loop" is actually a set of interacting loops that are to be kept in continuous operation during combat. He also indicated that the phase of the battle has an important bearing on the ideal allocation of one's energies.
Boyd's diagram shows that all decisions are based on observations of the evolving situation tempered with implicit filtering of the problem being addressed. The observations are the raw information on which decisions and actions are based. The observed information must be processed to orient it for decision making. In notes from his talk "Organic Design for Command and Control", Boyd said,
The second O, orientation—as the repository of our genetic heritage, cultural tradition, and previous experiences—is the most important part of the O-O-D-A loop since it shapes the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act.
As stated by Boyd and shown in the "Orient" box, there is much filtering of the information through our culture, genetics, ability to analyze and synthesize, and previous experience. Since the OODA Loop was designed to describe a single decision maker, the situation is usually much worse than shown, as most business and technical decisions have a team of people observing and orienting, each bringing their own cultural traditions, genetics, experience and other information. It is here that decisions often get stuck, which does not lead to winning, because:
In order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries—or, better yet, get inside [the] adversary's Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action time cycle or loop ... Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries—since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing, as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns, they are competing against.
The OODA loop, which focuses on strategic military requirements, was adapted for business and public sector operational continuity planning. Compare it to the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) cycle or Shewhart cycle.

As one of Boyd's colleagues, Harry Hillaker, put it in "John Boyd, USAF Retired, Father of the F16":
The key is to obscure your intentions and make them unpredictable to your opponent while you simultaneously clarify his intentions. That is, operate at a faster tempo to generate rapidly changing conditions that inhibit your opponent from adapting or reacting to those changes and that suppress or destroy his awareness. Thus, a hodgepodge of confusion and disorder occur to cause him to over- or under-react to conditions or activities that appear to be uncertain, ambiguous, or incomprehensible.
The OODA Loop also serves to explain the nature of surprise and shaping operations in a way that unifies Gestalt psychology, cognitive science and game theory in a comprehensive theory of strategy. Utility theory (the basis of game theory) describes how decisions are made based on the perceived value of taking an action. The OODA Loop shows that prior to making a decision (the Decide phase), the person will first have to get information (Observe) and determine what it means to him and what he can do about it (Orient). In this way, the utility sought at the Decide phase can be altered by affecting the information the opponent receives and the cognitive model he applies when orienting upon it.[5]

Writer Robert Greene wrote in an article called OODA and You that
... the proper mindset is to let go a little, to allow some of the chaos to become part of his mental system, and to use it to his advantage by simply creating more chaos and confusion for the opponent. He funnels the inevitable chaos of the battlefield in the direction of the enemy.

This simple yet powerful method can hopefully help you to be more effective at making and acting on decisions you make in many areas of your life.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

If Only

How many of us have said this to ourselves? If only (fill in the blank) then I will be happy, successful, fulfilled, etc?

However, "if only..." is always just a step a way. No matter what condition is met there always seems to be one more "if only" preventing us from that elusive happiness, success and fulfillment. What if I told you that there is no "if only" outside of yourself, preventing you from being happy, successful and fulfilled? What then? Kind of scary isn't it? Once the water settles and there's nothing to hide behind, you have to deal with the fact that you have the ability to be happy and fulfilled right here, right now in this moment, not in some fanciful far off time or place or after some big accomplishment.  What if I told you this IS it!? Right here, right NOW!?

That's not to say accomplishing things in life is bad, wrong or doesn't bring with it a good feeling. But soon after the lights go down, everyone leaves, the award looses some of its shine, you are once again left alone with yourself. Alone to look into the mirror called your life. What do you see? Who stares back into your eyes? What do those eyes say to you? Do you continually find yourself starting your internal dialog by saying, "if only" followed by an idea that you are somehow lacking something inside of yourself or that you need something to complete you as a human being (sorry Jerry Maguire)? Well, that's your fears f#%king with you. That's your smallness lying to you, fooling you, trying to convince you that you weren't born with the seeds of greatness already inside of you! You don't need "if only" to complete you or make you happy or fulfill you. That bus will never come.

Keep exploring, keep creating, keep going! Live large. Remember those famous words written by Marianne Williamson and spoken by Nelson Mandela,   

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine..."

If only... you saw the truth, you are already there...You are your only "If Only..."

Keep going!


Friday, April 28, 2017


In my last post I talked about STARTING. This post is dedicated to FINISHING! After you get used to starting things, get in the habit of finishing them too! Once starting is a non-issue, all of a sudden finishing can become the next hurdle! It's easy to begin something (or many somethings) and never finish anything!

I know from personal experience I have challenges finishing things. Two main things hinder my ability to finish:

  1. So many ideas, so little time. 
  2. The devil's in the details.

(1) So many ideas, so little time... I find it easier and more fun to brainstorm possibilities, especially when I get inspired by a new idea. I love the feeling of that creative energy, which is so much easier when it's just a dream and you don't have to worry about any actual details of implementation, leading to completion.

(2) The devil's in the details... Once the broad-strokes have been brushed, all of the minutia churns into a shitstorm of incompletion on more projects than I can count. Sometimes other people have gotten caught in those storms which can cause some hard feelings. In our heads it seems totally natural to move on to the next shiny object, but to those who may have gotten dirty down in the trenches with you, they don't necessarily hear what's going on in our brain, so they may be left in the dark, feeling abandoned and a little bitter for the time they spent on your project abortion.

I learned a few things about myself along the way regarding finishing. No, I still don't always complete all of my projects. Yes, I still get distracted by shiny objects. And, yes, I can still frustrate people who are collaborating with me, as well as those who are anxiously awaiting my next creative endeavor. So, no I'm not perfect...But I'm better than I have ever been and I plan to keep improving!

Here are 5 tips on how to FINISH:

1) When you think of that NEXT great project, instead of shelving the one you're working on now to entertain the new shiny object, write it down and put it in your "Great Idea" folder. Then get back to the completing the project in hand before spending time on the new idea.

2) Make a "to-do" list of the details that you need to complete.

3) Make a timeline. Create a schedule of when you plan to get those things on your "to-do" list done.

4) Probably THE most important tip is to Set a overall project Deadline (then you can work backwards to connect the dots for your timeline)!

5) Know when to quit. Not every project needs to be completed. Yes, it's true, not all endeavors need to see the finish line. Some things are best left on the cutting room floor so to speak. 

Know what to Start, what to Finish and what to walk away from. Whatever you do be sure that you are Enjoying the Ride!

Keep going,

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


If you wait until everything is perfect, you will probably never start! One of the (many) things I do is run a martial arts academy and if I had a dollar for every time I've heard someone say, "Before I start training, I want to get into shape first"  I would be rich! Those people almost never start.

No, we have to START first, often before all of our ducks are in a row, before everything is perfect.  To start means to take action, to do. Breaking out into the unknown is scary, especially in a world where we are infused with so much information. The information can (falsely) give us comfort and make us feel as if we are actually doing something and/or making progress. It can also give us a sense of being overwhelmed (a.k.a. analysis/paralysis). Another symptom of having access to an overload of information with little or no actual experience is criticism (a.k.a. the armchair quarterback). Which brings us full circle to folks not actually starting...

I've talked to countless people who want to start their own journey in things from businesses to blogs and most fail to do the THE most important step necessary to success... STARTING! That's right simply take the first step. Remember the second, third and forth steps won't matter if you never take your first!

When is good time to start? NOW! Today's day and age is perfect for aspiring newb's in pretty much any field! Why? Because of the ease of entry. It is simpler than ever to get the information and resources needed to do whatever you want to do!

You want to be a writer!? The software you need to write it, publish it and distribute it is free! No longer do you need expensive equipment and a publishing contract with some huge firm to accomplish your goal of being a writer. You have access to everything you need to produce, publish, market and distribute your own book, petty much for FREE!

You want to play music? You can learn any instrument free on youtube, buy it cheap and have it delivered to your doorstep from ebay, access (free) apps that will provide you the rest of your band (electronically), then edit, engineer, produce, publish, market and distribute your entire album as well as build your following, all for free (or pretty darn close to it)!

You want to be a journalist? You can wait for New York Times to hire you, or you can write the next world changing story, post it on your free blog (like this one), get your word out, build your following and change the world.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Never in our history has it been so easy to do these things! However, you have to START! Don't wait until everything's perfect! Do it now! Don't worry, you can correct and refine as you go.

Make a plan, refine it as best as you can, and get it out of your head and into the world, then make the necessary changes and corrections as you move forward!

Yes, it takes courage, a little planning and tenacity, but you can do it!

and... Keep Going!

All the best,

Monday, April 24, 2017

Being Tough vs. Effective

I was listening to an interview with Rickson Gracie and he said something that I thought was pretty insightful. He talked about the difference of being tough vs. effective. Being tough, Rickson stated is about your mentality. Being effective is about your skill and technique.

I suppose you could describe those two things by using other words, however the point that I got out of it is that you can be tough and not efficient or effective at something. Efficiency and effectiveness comes out of proper strategy, tactics and technique.

Obviously, one should strive to have toughness, efficiency and effectiveness. And, lets not forget ethics. What is the intent behind why you are doing what you are doing?

Being tough is good, however being tough, efficient, effective and ethical in everything that you are doing in life gains much better results. Not to mention it enables you to have a better chance to not only survive the long haul, but maybe even enjoy the ride a little more. 

In martial arts / tactical training try to learn how to accomplish things with less effort and violence whenever possible. How can we be more efficient and effective rather than using only toughness to try to compensate for lack of strategy, tactics and proper technique?

Now when the sh*t hits the fan in life, do whatever you need to in order to accomplish what is necessary (within ethical parameters of course), be it survival, business or brain surgery. However when you are training, try to learn the knowledge and skill necessary to help you accomplish things more efficiently and effectively in ways other than just the brute force of "trying harder." As a matter of fact, sometimes being tough and/or trying harder isn't enough

So what are you doing to become more efficient, effective and ethical in those areas of your life that you want to excel in? Change your perspective to look at the situation differently, so that you can leverage not only your toughness, but all attributes at your disposal. Work smarter and harder, be tough and effective!

Keep going!



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

11 Tips to Stick to an Exercise Schedule

1) Train for Life 

We were meant to move, so don't over complicate it. You were given one body this time around and if you don't take care of it, where are you going to live?

2) Doing Something is Better than Nothing

Waiting until your schedule is free and your life is perfect to begin your Olympic style workout basically means that you won't be training any time soon, if ever. Do something, anything!

3) Find Something that Works for You

Yoga, martial arts, Pilates, Zumba, swimming, running, lifting, step aerobics, dancing, hiking, biking... whatever! Find something that works for you. Try to get some strengthening, stretching and cardio... and breathe dammit breathe!

4) Start Small

If you are just starting, go easy on yourself: Slow at first. If you've been training, but get injured or life happens and your training lapses: Start back up slow. Don't just rip back into your old workout. Dial it back a few notches for a week or so, before ramping it up.

5) Don't Be So Hard on Yourself

Life is a marathon not a sprint, do things that are sustainable. Think of the big picture. Have fun and don't wreck yourself!

6) Being Fit is Different than Being Healthy

Yep, they are different. Fitness is relative to the activity you are doing. Being overall healthy is being fit for life! Your fitness isn't worth your health!

7) Develop a Habit

A lot of consistent little things add up to big things. If I'm running late and feel like skipping a workout, I'll talk myself into running a few blocks rather than not doing anything at all, so even if I don't get my usual 3 to 5 miles in, I at least did something! It helps me keep my habit.

8) It's Not About the Thing, but the Things the Thing Helps You to Do

I train so I can live a happier, healthier, better life. I have to continue to remind myself of that, or I'll go head first into my ego to wreck myself doing the thing, rather than the things that thing is helping me to do!

9) Push Yourself

Wait a minute, didn't I just say "don't be so hard on yourself?" Yes I did... It's alright to push yourself in a healthy way, just like competition can be healthy if it is done in a balanced way. Listen to yourself. Your body will tell you to move faster or put more stress on. If you train in a group, w/a partner or a trainer, let the momentum carry you to new heights. This occasional push will enhance your overall experience keeping you on track. Challenging yourself is necessary to staying engaged in your training. 

10) Stay Motivated

Surround yourself with inspiration! Whatever works for you! That could be people, reading an article, posts (like this) or book; watching videos, teaching someone else, learning something new, buying something that helps your practice (be it apparel, a prop, whatever); have a goal and when you achieve that set a new intention; enter a competition... But keep it all in balance! Remember healthy vs. fit!

11) Everything Has a Season

Just like the seasons change, so should your training! Things change, you change and the way you workout has to change if you are going to continue for the long haul! If you are 50 and still trying to workout like you did when you were 30, you are setting yourself up for failure, injury and disappointment. If you were in peak condition (for you) before your 2 week vacation in the Bahamas, and now you find that it's two months later and you still haven't worked out; that (micro) season is done as well! Make sure your workouts and expectations are appropriate for the season you are in.

BONUS Tip!!  

12) Keep Going 

This one is simple not easy!

Be well,


Friday, March 24, 2017

The Bahama's a Stone's Throw Away

First night on the boat was a blast! Ended up hanging out w/the crew. We went to a local place they called 'the fish fry' (catchy I know). And what a place it was! We were the only non-locals. It was like one of those bazaars you roll into overseas. People everywhere! Music blaring! Motorcycles and cars rolling through the crowd. Fish shacks lined up back to back along the water. A crazy place!

We went to 'Sonny's', a favorite of the sailors.  Sonny and his wife are in their 70's or 80's and are down there everyday selling their specialty conch delights! He was very proud of his place and was a wonderful host!

After grabbing a bite to eat and a drink or two we headed to a soccer game. The rest of the night went by quickly. A great start to my travels!

The water here is so beautiful! Shades of bluest blue and greenest green... unbelievable! We set sail for a few hours. It certainly is a beautiful sight seeing the ship under full sail! 8.5 knots, the rock of the boat, warm sun, nice breeze... Good for the soul!

After a day of relaxing on some of the most incredible beaches known to man. Sapphire water, powered sugar sand and no other people for miles I swam back to the boat to watch the sunset!

You'd be right if you're thinking that these pics don't do this moment justice. If you haven't experienced a sunset out on a sailboat in the middle of the Caribbean don't wait! Life's too short to miss out... 

Captain Rob (Yes, many Capt. Ron jokes ensued throughout the trip!) gave us an astronomy lesson with his wicked cool super laser pointer! It was really unbelievable! (Yes, I do think it was the same one that Auric used on Bond in the 1964 movie Goldfinger).

Captain Ron... Oh, I mean Capt. Rob

The moonless sky was so clear that you could easily see the milky way! There were so many stars out that some of the constellations were hard to find! It was like being in a planetarium only better!

This morning climbed the rigging up the main mast to the crows nest some 90' feet up. Palms sweating, heart pounding, jittery... Breathe, go hand over hand, focus on now! One step at a time. Keep going, don't stop, you'll make it! If someone can do it, I can do it too!

Kyle (one of the sailors) climbed this like a monkey. He felt at home just 'hanging' around. Crazy! Me, not so much! =)

   The view up top was breathtaking!

 We sailed through a place called 'Current Cut' part of the Eleuthera Islands. They said it was rather technical to navigate it. It's only about 300' wide at the waterline, however underneath the water, the "cut" is less than 125' wide at high tide. This cut allowed the keel of the ship to pass without grounding. Captain Rob made the pass look effortless. 

Later that day we arrived at Glass Window. It was once a natural rock bridge that separated the  Atlantic and Caribbean Ocean. The stark difference is profound. Master & Commander meets Captain Ron. Beautiful! The cliffs were incredible. Maybe 120' or so. You could see for miles!

The moon pools were cool too! An area where the ocean cut away the rock into these circular formations, like bird baths. At night they reflect the moon in each pool... Thus the name! Too bad I didn't get to see that!

After hiking back to the beach I took a quick dip to cool off and then swam back to the boat. Much to my delight, the crew rigged a Tarzan Swing off the aft mast of the ship. Much fun was had by swinging 20' or so off the rope and into the warm turquoise water! It was like being a kid again! The day wrapped up wit a jam session with the crew and guests! Another fantastic day sailing the Caribbean!

Sailed through the night and anchored off from Rose Island where we snorkeled (OMG!), swam some more, chilled and saw Gilligan's Island! Yes, that's right, I did say Gilligan's Island! The very island they used for the main picture of the original B&W series. Later, when they went color, they used an island near Hawaii.

 If you look close, you can see Mary Ann making banana cream pie!

Sailing was great! It was pretty much what I was expecting. I'm glad I finally did it! No, I didn't touch on much of what I did on this trip, you only get a flavor! Many things will stick with me for a lifetime, but my favorite has to be sitting on the deck watching the sun set and the stars come out! There aren't words to describe that! 

It was cool sharing that world for a while. The crew had something going on that was addictive. They loved what they were doing and it showed in everything that they did! Vibrant! Alive! The ocean and sailing is deep and rich in history and tradition. The skill each of the crew demonstrated was impressive. We admired seeing them in their element... and being a part of it even if only for a moment.

After getting off the ship, I stayed a couple days at this fantastic place called 'A Stone's Throw Away', another place that I recommend you go if you ever get the chance! You won't regret it!

Well, that's it for now intrepid travelers! Thanks for sharing some of my journey! Until next time! Remember...

“To know the universe itself as a road for traveling souls.” 

~Rolf Potts

All the best,