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Chain of self-command podcast

Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 8:15 pm
by reinhard
A little longer and sloppier than usual, but I think there's something useful in here:

Posted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 12:36 am
by Chris Graeme
I like this system - a sort of rational, metaphor driven to do list.

very good

Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 3:00 pm
by J Ellis
I agree with Chris. This looks very promising. Thanks for sharing the system.


Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 7:05 pm
by reinhard
I'm glad you guys got something out of it. Immediately after I published it all kinds of little improvements and corrections occurred to me. Next week's podcast will contain some mopping up.

Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:41 pm
by Chris Graeme
Joel....good to see you here too! I did my pushups ( ... lenge.html)
this morning.... Not sure where they fit in the chain of self command :?

Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 3:51 am
by J Ellis
I did my pushups .... Not sure where they fit in the chain of self command
Daily push-ups does fit nicely with the military theme. :)


Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 10:04 am
by reinhard
Good luck with that goal, Joel! That's an almost an inhuman amount, but as I posted a while back, my wife's uncle does about that many (a few more, actually), so it is possible.

Since you mention it, I've actually got a (significantly more modest) chain of self-command project involving pushups. I've got a purple "general card" for 2007 with the header "exercise." One of the rows is "pushups." Next to it I've written "bronze 60, silver 65, gold 70" -- the number of consecutive pushups I have to do to win each personal Olympics medal for this event. It worked in 2006 (my medal points were 40,45,50 -- which I surpassed to "platinum" at 55). It's not a perfect chain of command project, because there's not (necessarily) a monthly officer card involved, though I guess I could focus on it for a month at some point if I feel the need. On a daily footsoldier level, it's just folded into my shovelglove routine.


Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 7:53 pm
by J Ellis

That's a great way to organize a push-up project. I'm sure you will be able to meet (or once again exceed) your push-up goal with the organization and self-discipline you are applying to it.

I have read that thread about your wife's uncle, and I can relate since I have used 500+ push-ups per day routines several times. I'm currently back on a high volume phase. I really enjoy the results I get from this type of training.

I am currently trying to boost my single-set chin-up numbers. I'm planning to focus more attention on single-sets of push-ups as the year progresses. I should apply the Olympic Medal concept to these goals. My focus has probably been a bit too narrowly defined. I'm also working on handbalancing. It will take a little brainstorming to assign bronze, silver, and gold levels for that particular skill.


Posted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 12:40 pm
by zoolina

I like this idea, but can't help being turned off by the military metaphor. Why not connect this to your "Personal Olympics" metaphor and have it be the Olympic comittee, coach, and player. Committee says "get in shape to win the olympics" Coach says: Ok, here's the workout schedule, and the player does the required.....(push ups).... the coach prescribes. Or something like that.


Posted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 2:16 pm
by kccc
Have to agree, the military metaphor doesn't work for me either. (I'm an army brat, btw, but would never join up myself.)

Like the "coach" idea best. Wouldn't mind the "computer" metaphor, but not sure how many would relate to that. (Wonder what other metaphors might work?)

In its simplest form, it's "plan the work, then work the plan." Gotta have both parts. And planning divides into big-picture vision and more specific strategies. (People use "goals" for both levels, which is confusing. They are different. One sets direction, the other maps the route. "SMART goals" are really strategies.)

Posted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:07 pm
by reinhard
If you don't like the military analogy, you can choose a different kind of hierarchy (corporate, feudal) -- though military is the clearest (that's where the term "chain of command" comes from). I like the idea of syncing the metaphor with personal Olympics, but it's not a strong hierarchy, and that's kind of necessary for the image we want here. Thanks for the feedback. Glad you think this might be useful to you in some form.


Posted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:23 am
by zoolina
I agree, the chain of command is not so clear with the sports analogy. I guess the difference, for me, is that I resist following orders if I don't see the point or if it seems that the orders are made with someone else's gain in mind. Now, I know it's just an analogy, but I've had tons of bosses that made decisions for me were not explained or made with foggy reasoning, with the result that I've just rebelled, moved to Canada, burnt my draft card.

But I have had sports coaches that were firm and strict and clear about what I had to do and why and who seemed to have MY best interests as an athelete at heart (not the war's, not the company's, not their own gain). And funnily enough, for these people I have extended myself beyond what I thought possible.

I know it's your system, and I really do like it. Somehow I just needed to write this in order to understand my own impulses.

Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 4:05 am
by J Ellis
I'll chime in to support the military analogy. Simple. Direct. I like it. Of course, each person will decide for himself/herself what analogy works best for them.


Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 2:33 pm
by reinhard
Well it looks like the military analogy is even more apt than I thought!

Here's a recent email I got from a soldier in the united states air force (suitably anonymized in the interests of national security :-)):
Hello Reinhard!

(sorry for the long e-mail, it rambled a bit)

First, let me say that I love your Everyday Systems concept, especially the sledgehammer workouts. In fact, yesterday I bought myself one and tried it out, and intend to keep it up. This should be a great way to help me get into better shape, something folks in my line of work desperately need nowadays.

Second, I was reading the transcript of your “personal punch cards†podcast, and the related 8x11 podcast. I really like the way this is similar to GTD, something I’ve experimented with but had trouble keeping up with. If you’ve read David Allen’s GTD book then you already know what I mean, but if not then within his system he advocates a few basic concepts: (a) clear your mind of everything, write it down so you can manage it, (b) create distinct lists for different contexts (similar to how you break down into work, routine, etc except his is by physical location more than anything else), and (c) perhaps most important in relation to your concept is the idea of weekly planning, where you collate all of your needs by “project†and determine the next actions necessary to move forward --- and (here’s what really applies to your approach) he is so strict about this that he says *if you find yourself in a context and need to ask yourself what to do, you failed to plan*, i.e. you plan first and then execute in a smooth “flow†rather than switching mental contexts between planning (general) and execution (soldier).

I’m guessing all that rambling made sense, but my point is that I see a definite similarity between the systems. Interestingly, as I look more into these kinds of things it seems I’m finding a “meta†system that seems to hold true. I just haven’t figured out yet what that system is.

“Anywayâ€, the original point of this e-mail was to let you know that you are actually onto something with your breakdown of the tasks by “generalâ€, “officer†and “soldierâ€, and also that you had the metaphor right originally without needing to use the loveable huggable Daleks. J

Military operations are generally broken down into three levels: strategic, operational, and tactical. Guess how they map to your system. J When the generals decide on a specific direction, they don’t necessarily know how their subordinates will actually achieve the goals, they just know that they will do so --- or do their best trying, at least. The officers interpret the strategic direction into individual orders, which are carried out at the tactical level.

Now this is all very muddy, because officers can operate at all three levels, and soldiers have to keep the operational view in mind as well so they can improvise when everything goes belly up, because no plan survives first contact with the enemy. J

So we come back to the Daleks and your metaphor: since plans never survive first contact, Fragmentary Orders (FRAGOs) are issued, sometimes many times a day. FRAGOs will alter a plan to meet current situational needs, and are issued by various points in the chain. And if you thought keeping track of 3x5s was tough, try keeping track of binders of (possibly conflicting) FRAGOs that each only reference the previous FRAGO, which references a previous FRAGO … you get the idea. (supporting links at bottom of e-mail)

To pull this ridiculously long e-mail back together, FRAGOs are essentially your “punch cardsâ€. No robots required. J

This is probably a totally unnecessary e-mail, but hey, I thought you might like to know that you got it almost exactly right without realizing it.

Take care, and I look forward to learning much more!


FRAGO Definition: ... 02250.html

FRAGO Example: ... 3/appg.htm