GORUCK Light: Why the Singing? (Leadership and Teamwork Tips)

Why the singing? There is always a method to the madness for the Cadre and it’s always about building a team at every GORUCK Challenge. Time now behind the scenes we Cadre are evolving our role at the GORUCK Challenge – some big announcements soon (August/September timeline with a huge push into 2016). Main point is that we want you and newbs considering the Challenge to understand that the Challenge, every single class, is an opportunity to learn take-aways about leadership, and DFQ, and how a team can thrive. And we want to be more overt about how we as Cadre deliver that message. The DFQ you all have down pat, leadership and team-building are perishable skills for all of us. And my time as a Cadre and my time as a participant have both helped me immensely at my day job. For that I’m grateful to you all.

But OK here’s why the singing.

The class shows up and it’s always a bit awkward at the beginning. Awkward never works in any situation in life. Communication is low, there are too many individual boundaries up – it’s normal, we all do it. And here’s a lesson if you’re in charge: pretty please with sugar on top never works. Never.

So you have to come up with a technique and a plan that will work. Then you have to oversee its implementation to success.

Before the class you all pick a song. God Bless the USA being an awesome one. I’ll approve that one every time. After introductions we do a little PT just to get our minds right as only something physical can do. Then I’m like alright class check it out. My job is to build a team, that’s going to happen, and to get there you have to work together which means you have to do everything you can as an individual for the betterment of the team. There are two grades at GORUCK, A and F. A- rounds down. Sing this song together like your life depends on it and the welcome party is over. Are you ready?

Everyone says yes but they’re not, they never are. I know it and so do they. So they start singing, it’s more like a whisper and not together.

Back for more PT, and we talk about the two grades, we talk about how I know this is awkward. But that you have to embrace the challenge at hand, and you have to do better. The world is full of rules, and challenges, and most of them are awkward but you have to figure out how to succeed no matter what. So sing louder, and together. And if anyone is ever not singing, it’s an immediate failure.

So we sing again and again, yo-yo ops with more PT. The singing gets better every time but we’re not there yet, it’s not an A. Pretty please with sugar on top doesn’t work, but once the class is just about ready and I know they can take it up that last notch, do you know what does work?


Pretty please with sugar on top get an A, not an A- which is an F, on this song this time and the welcome party will stop but if it doesn’t it’s another 500 inchworm push-ups. That works. Then I explain that I want you all to succeed. In my very core I want you to break down the barriers and start singing together. Once these barriers are down, all barriers will be down for the rest of the class and you’ll realize there’s nothing you can’t accomplish together.

And you’ll take that back to your daily life. This is absurd but you’ll do it and you’ll do it well.

The class gets its first A, and you understand why all the other songs were F’s. Then we tour the city, stopping along the way to brighten people’s days singing God Bless the USA or some other awesome song like Living on a Prayer. This is a bonding experience because you’re doing something together and the rest of the world is watching you do something that they think is a little crazy.

But you don’t care and you feel what it’s like to succeed together.

The singing works, and there are a lot of other techniques our Cadre use. Expect more explanation of why we as Cadre do what we do. If you are ever in charge of anything in your life, you are going to have to ask people to do uncomfortable things, together. You have to build rapport. They have to know you want them to succeed, together. And they have to understand the why’s. Even in the military rank alone does not work to achieve mission success. It comes down to your rapport and your communication with your team. And you have to hold them to the standard and you have to constantly reinforce it. Leadership is never as simple as making a decision and walking away. It’s a process that never ends.

And oh yeah, never miss an opportunity to make something more fun. You can pass out beers at work if that’s the culture or if you’re Cadre you can have the class sing God Bless the USA in a fountain in Seattle. It’s fun, and fun motivates.

What would you most like us to explain in greater detail at your GORUCK Challenge?

One comment

  1. TTom says:

    Aahh… the fond memories of standing waist deep in a cold lake and singing obscure songs at the top of my lungs!
    Looking forward to the next time.
    side note: Jason and Monster, I stopped by the PX in Jacksonville Beach and was disappointed to find no one home. The ladies at Driftwood said you were awfully cruel to that poor young man during that “very hard event” you held and you should not have sprayed him with the hose while he was trying to breathe! Maybe I’ll catch you next time? Till then keep making better Americans and I’ll do what I can to keep the border safe.

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