Posts Tagged ‘Five Paragraph Order’


We’re coming up on the New Year fast and furious right about now.  This is a time people project their thoughts and aspirations into the coming year.  New Years resolutions have been a fad for so long they are now a tradition.  Sadly, failed New Years resolutions are epidemic, to the point of being a cliché.

People promise themselves that they will quit smoking, or lose weight, or read through the Bible, or keep their checkbook balanced, or learn to tap dance.  By January 3rd we are still feverishly perusing our resolution.  By the second week of January we have been making excuses not to be so diligent for several days.  By the first week of February, the resolution is usually forgotten till the end of December, when the resolution is reaffirmed.

Why?  Mind you, I am not pointing fingers; I am as guilty of dropping resolutions as anyone else … which makes me doubly guilty because I have an understanding of the dynamics of thought and action underlying the process of personal change.  Why do people make New Years resolutions, then frustraitedly find themselves making the same resolution at the end of the next year as well?

The first thing we have to understand is that we didn’t just fall off the turnip truck fully the person we now are.  During you age you have spent each and every one of your moments sculpting yourself.  However old you are is how many years you’ve spent developing yourself, your psyche, your habits, your physique, your relationships.  Under these conditions, change takes more than wishful thinking.

Jeff Olson tells us that little things, done consistently over time, lead us to our failures as well as our successes.  Furthermore, seed a thought, grow an action, reap a habit; seed an action, grow a habit, reap a lifestyle; seed a habit, grow a lifestyle, reap a legacy.

Get a piece of paper and write five paragraphs.  In the first paragraph, write what it is you want to do, and why.  Be brief, you’re going to carry this piece of paper around with you.  In the second paragraph, describe the end result you want to bring about … this is the pie in the sky paragraph.  In the third paragraph, write what obstacles you may encounter, and possible ways to work around them.  In the fourth paragraph, describe the actions you intend to take in order to bring about the end result you desire.  In the fifth paragraph, outline who is responsible for what, when, where, why, and how.

Fold this piece of paper neatly, and put it in your pocket.  Take it out of your pocket and read it at least once a day, preferably more.  Then, rethink, revise, and rewrite.

Till next time, remember, you can do anything you want to do.  However, it helps a lot if you have a plan.  It helps even more if you have that plan written, and refered to often.

Thank you for reading.  You’re spectacular.


Leadership Traits: Motivation

Like I wrote a few blog posts ago, I’d like to get back to some of the fundamentals of Personal and Business Development.  I’d like to put feelers out there for my readers so they’ll have an idea of where the edges of the box are before thinking outside of it.

I’ve already written a post about the five paragraph order, which is a good communications, planning, and problem solving tool.  Over the next several entries, I’d like to expand my blog post on the fifteen leadership traits.  Knowing these traits will give you the opportunity to find ways to develop and advance your leadership skills in all areas of your life.

Here we go:


It’s probably not by accident that the acronym MILITARY BEARING is used to delineate the fifteen leadership traits.  It starts with an ‘M’ … and ‘M’ stands for ‘Motivation.’

I’ve attended a lot of training evolutions where motivation was not only the primary focus, it was the only item on the agenda.  If all you have is motivation, you can go a long way, and everything else tends to fall into place after a while.

Bill Bartmann points out that there are two kinds of motivation, positive, and negative.  Mr. Bartmann is a true operator of the American Dream.  He went from being a ‘hopeless’ teen age derelict to being among the Worlds Billionaires.

Mr. Bartmann tells a story of his use of positive, and negative motivators.  He met his wife when they were both very young.  When they met, Bill was already friends with wifes sister.  Bills wifes sister told Bills wife, while they were still dating, not to have anything to do with him … he was a high school drop out, and a street gang member, etc., etc.

On the positive side, Bill wanted to be … needed to be … someone his wife would be proud of, and he wanted to provide themselves with a lifestyle other than the one they were on the path to living.

On the negative side, Bill didn’t want to prove his sister – in – law right … he needed her estimation of him not to be correct.

One factor drew Mr. Bartmann into a course of action, the other repelled him into a course of action.  Some individuals are driven primarily by positive motivational factors, while others are driven primarily by negative.  Most successful people employ a combination of the two in a balance that is suitable for them, and you should follow their example.  Find your motivators, figure out your ‘why’s, and keep them in your personal development tool belt like you would a wrench.

We’ve already gone over that you can go a long way if all you have is motivation.  My observation is that motivation spreads through a group like a plague, particularly the motivational tone that originates from the head of the pack.  Motivation can take a group of people above, and beyond.  The lack of motivation can back a group up like a clogged drain.

If you are in a leadership position … shop steward, supervisor, business owner, salesperson, parent, teacher, volunteer coordinator … you have got to be motivated if you want to move foreword.  You set the tone, whether you like it or not, whether you feel good or not, whether there are other things you’d rather be doing or not.

Think of how your work day went when your boss would rather have been out golfing, and let that emotion show up on his or her shirt sleeve.  Were you very productive?  Be motivated.  Be glad you’re there.  I hate to say this, but, for the sake of fulfilling your objective, if you have to fake it, fake it till it comes back around on its own.

Till next time, overcome motivation block by finding out your motivators, and keeping them handy for review.  You’ll thank yourself later, and remember, you are spectacular.

Five Paragraphs

When I was in the Marine Corps we used a mechanism for clear communications.  It’s called the ‘Five Paragraph Order.’  This tool in the tool box may not only be used for clear communications, but for problem solving, and planning.

The Five Paragraph Order is also known by the acronym SMEAC, which stand for Situation, Mission, Enemy, Avenues of approach, and Command and signals.  I’ll civilianize the acronym, and switch the E for an O, standing for Obstacles, which changes the acronym to SMOAC, which is still easy to say.

Here we go!

Situation:  What is the current situation?  What is going on?  Define the situation.  What does it look like.

It is particularly important that if you are using this as a problem solving tool to write the situation down.  This helps define a problem, and defining a problem … actually determining what the problem is … is half way to the solution.  There is an old saying, “We get so focused on catching alligators that sometimes we forget that we came here to drain the swamp.”

Mission:  What do you want done?  How do you want the situation to be?  What do you want the situation to look like?

Obstacles:  What is going to get in your way?  What are you going up against.  There is another acronym used in this paragraph that is helpful defining your obstacles.  I can’t seem to civilianize this acronym, which is UNIFORM … standing for Unit, Number, Insignia, Force, Organization, Reserves, and Movement.

  • Unit – Put the obstacle in a category.  What is it?
  • Number – How many are there; how big is it; quantify the obstacle.
  • Insignia – what does the obsticle actually look like?  How can you recognize it when you see it?
  • Force – What does this obstacle have that is going to get in your way, cause you problems, or keep you from attaining your goal in general.  What does it have that you need to watch out for?
  • Organization – How is this obstacle organized?  How does it communicate?  Who is it’s boss?
  • Reserves – Does the obstacle have a back up system to keep you from where you’re going?
  • Movement – How does the obstacle get around?  Where is it going?  What are its habits?  Where will it get in your way; where, and when will it cross your path.

Avenues of Approach:  What are you gong to do about it.  How do you intend to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’.  This is where you pull out your map, and start drawing up directions.  You know from where you are starting, and you know where you’re going.  You also have an idea about what is going to get in your way, and where it’ll probably be lurking when you meet up with it.

Command and Signals: Who is responsible for what, when, where, why, and how.  This is where you put your administrative and logistics information … don’t forget your mission needs financed, you need to eat along the way.

Like I said, you can use this system for communicating, problem solving, and planning.  I use this system myself quite a bit.  I’ve also seen several like systems that have the same basic structure, and purpose, right down to the point where there are five elements, and the verbiage is changed a little bit.

I hope this tool has some use for you.  If not, I hope you enjoyed reading it anyway.  Till next time, remember, you are spectacular.