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  • Writer's pictureEarl Breon


Fork in the road
Decision: Be Somebody or Do Something

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about a former United States Air Force officer, Colonel John Boyd. He was a remarkable man that accomplished a lot for the USAF on many fronts. He revolutionized what a fighter jet looks like and how they perform. He changed how we viewed energy in aviation, and he codified how humans make decisions with his OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) Loop. (More on the OODA Loop in the future.)

One of the things he gets overlooked for, however, are his leadership skills. They were unorthodox and flew in the face of traditional military leadership methods. He challenged authority, circumvented his chain of command, and he stood up for good people he saw being railroaded by the system.

He was a devil to most but a savior to many.

How did he decide? Well, essentially, he let you decide. He had a speech he’d give that culminated with asking you a question, “Do you want to BE SOMEBODY or do you want to DO SOMETHING?”

This, at first, seemed like a ridiculous question until you really processed his speech.

You see, if you wanted to be somebody you had to kiss a lot of ass, suck up to the higher ranking officers, say yes a lot, and be willing to be important for a brief period of time but ultimately be forgotten by history. Nobody remembers somebody who‘s sole purpose is to BE SOMEBODY.

Now, if you wanted to do something you had to be willing to piss people off when needed, speak truth to power no matter how little they wanted to hear it, say no a lot, be willing to be marginalized by the many but ultimately be immortalized for your efforts. Everybody remembers somebody that DID SOMETHING.

Those are two important distinctions. Being somebody is a lot easier. You are happier in the now but you will look back on all the things you could have done if you only had the courage of your convictions to do something when something needed done. Short term reward for short term gains. Doing something is the far tougher road. A lot of people will be cheering for your failure because your success will mean they failed. It will show them they chose poorly and should have taken the path to doing something. The irony of it all is that history really only remember the people who do something. By choosing to do something now you get to be somebody for ever. By being somebody now you run the real risk of being forgotten and likely replaced by those who did something. My advice, always chose to DO SOMETHING. There will always be people who want to BE SOMEBODY. People that DO SOMETHING are far rarer. Get out there and DO SOMETHING!

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