Sean Heritage

Connecting The Dots

Just Being There

I like to win as much as the next guy. To this day, my competitive juices get flowing as I turn most things I do into a game. How fast can I unload the dishwasher? Can I get my son… Continue Reading →

Personal Values

As a reflection tool and in preparation for my upcoming career change, I have been giving deliberate thought to my personal values. Values are the foundation of who we are as human beings and, whether we acknowledge them or not,… Continue Reading →

Far From Alone

Changing careers is one of the most daunting missions I have undertaken in many years. I am excited and nervous. I am confident and hesitant. I am many things, but alone is not one of them. Since focusing my attention… Continue Reading →

Sharing Time

Being a military family means living a nomadic life. Because of the fact that I left home for the Navy just three weeks after high school, the nomadic lifestyle has been all I have known as an adult. The life… Continue Reading →

Experiencing Memories

It’s fun to reminisce with family and friends about shared experiences. At the same time, I find it extremely enjoyable to listen to people tell stories of events past, reliving memories, sharing laughs, and catching up on what has happened… Continue Reading →

Journeys and Adventures

We use the words Journey and Adventure quite often when we talk about life. Some people use them as synonyms but they aren’t. A Journey is an act of traveling from one place to another. An Adventure is an unusual and exciting… Continue Reading →

Premortems, Hindsight & Regret

When it comes to making important decisions, I have grown to see great value in writing a premortem. The below excerpt describing a premortem comes courtesy of the Harvard Business Review: “A premortem is the hypothetical opposite of a postmortem. A… Continue Reading →

I Wanna Rock!

I recently stumbled across the music video for Twisted Sister’s song, “I Wanna Rock”. It had been quite some time since I had seen it and watching the preamble to the song where the teacher asks one of the students,… Continue Reading →

Choices and Decisions

I enjoy eating at In-N-Out Burger. The service is efficient, the food is high quality, and the menu is simple. When I eat there, it’s not difficult for me to choose what I want to eat – it’s usually a… Continue Reading →

Interim Leadership

It’s that day. It’s the end of my tenure as the Interim Leader of the team to which I am currently assigned. It’s been 201 days and for the first time in my career, I am more than good with… Continue Reading →

Intent to Scratch

I remember the first time my son participated in a swim meet that had preliminaries and finals. It was his first year swimming and the meet was held at the US Naval Academy. During preliminaries he tied for second alternate… Continue Reading →

Self-Approval

As life goes on, I find that I continue to place an increased emphasis on self-satisfaction than I do on earning the approval of others. I started life completely on the other end of the spectrum and as I spend… Continue Reading →

Parting Clouds

It is often said that we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. I am certain that we have all personally experienced that feeling at one point or another in our life. I know that I have on more… Continue Reading →

Progress: More Than What You See

Last Friday, we held our monthly All Hands event. Given the distributed and constant focus on mission execution nature of our team, we commit to coming together once a month to communicate priorities, provide updates on progress, introduce new members… Continue Reading →

Glaciers, Fjords, and Teambuilding

Many of us are surrounded by dichotomies and some of us live in more than one, I find myself a uniformed military officer living in Silicon Valley – two very different cultures (at least on the surface). I also find… Continue Reading →

Last(ing) Impressions

It is said that we never get a second chance to make a first impression. Though I agree that first impressions are vitally important to the framing of a relationship, establishing rapport, and setting the tone for an experience, it’s… Continue Reading →

Psychic Income

I continue to live in a world where monetary income is predicated by a combination of one’s rank and longevity. Some might say that contributions, expertise, and commitment to the team inform one’s rank and length of service over time and… Continue Reading →

A Culture of Understanding

One of the things I find most challenging as leader of teams is developing a culture of understanding. Most of the people with whom I have served are wired to execute. They like to get things done. Some slow down… Continue Reading →

Hard Right Rudder

I sincerely appreciate mentors who have and continue to invest in me. Even more than that, I appreciate the opportunity to invest in protégés. As I continue to provide counsel to others, I have ceased being surprised when a protégé… Continue Reading →

A Gallon of Play

Three days ago, I entered the 27th year of this amazing Navy journey (31st if we were to consider my time at the US Naval Academy). That milestone, coupled with the fact that I am seeing my Shipmates retire at… Continue Reading →

Company We Keep

It is said that we are the company we keep. Recent events have given me the opportunity to truly evaluate who that makes me. My parents made the company my brother and I would keep a priority of theirs from… Continue Reading →

Documenting Reality

It is said that perception is reality. I believe it is more accurate to say that my perception is my reality, your perception is your reality, and when it comes down to it…perceptions matter more than reality. Unless, of course,… Continue Reading →

Too Busy for Me

The last few months at work have been a whirlwind of activity. Some of the activity has generated progress, much of the activity is setting the conditions for future progress, and all of the activity continues to prove to be… Continue Reading →

It’s Not About the Board

Two weeks ago, we took our first real family adventure since moving to California last August. I am not proud of the fact that it took us eight months to make it happen. Between my son’s school and commitment to… Continue Reading →

Defining Ourselves

Last month, I shared a post about an experiment that I had undertaken to crowdsource the development of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental Strategic Guidance. I was pleased, though not surprised by the final product. What did surprise me, however,… Continue Reading →

Big Rocks, Little Rocks, and Broken Windows

Odds are that if you are reading this, you are familiar with the term Big Rocks. If you are not, I recommend you watch this video from Stephen Covey. Dr. Covey does a great job of reminding us that it’s important to… Continue Reading →

Crowdsourcing Strategy

There are many definitions of strategy. Having served in the military for 25 years and counting, I have seen strategy take many shapes. Of late, I have read the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy. There is a… Continue Reading →

Bread Sunday

Our military housing community enjoys a tradition that is called Bread Sunday. Each week the same gracious volunteer gets up early Sunday morning and makes her way to a local supermarket chain where she picks up baked goods donated for… Continue Reading →

It’s Not an Act

Very few things in life go according to the script we wrote. Sometimes a reality that deviates from a plan is extremely disappointing and sometimes lady luck presents a reality that is far more amazing than any plan we could have… Continue Reading →

Process

Many a coach is known to have said, “Trust the Process.” The utterance of such a phrase is heard with greater frequency when the outcomes are not favorable. That is to say, a team can be putting forth an optimal effort,… Continue Reading →

Defaulting to Dissent

The best teams I have been on have been teams where dissent was invited, opportunities to dissent were created, and gratitude was expressed to those who cared enough to dissent. To dissent is to “hold or express opinions that are at… Continue Reading →

(It’s The) Work That Matters

I’ve had many jobs over the course of my career. I may not have enjoyed them all, but I am glad to have had the opportunity to execute the responsibilities associated with each. Each and every job made me feel… Continue Reading →

Can’t Do Lists

Our military was founded on a “Can Do” spirit. Heck, our Nation was founded on the same. We proudly find ways to do more with less and we feel a bit lesser when we fall short. At the same time,… Continue Reading →

The Worrier

Last week, my wife and I took advantage of the free time created by a lack swim practice since our son was at the Olympic Training Center with his teammates. Not having the tether that is daily trips to and… Continue Reading →

Thanks for the Lessons…

I am far from fanatical about Christmas and I have never been overly excited about ringing in the New Year at the strike of midnight. But, I do thoroughly enjoy the tradition of winding down and reconnecting with family and… Continue Reading →

Valued and Dispensable

I have found that the best leaders with whom I serve find a way to make themselves simultaneously valued and dispensable. A dichotomy indeed. The people and things we value most are not what we think of as easily replaceable… Continue Reading →

(Un)Comfortably Falling Short

It was about this time (beginning of 4th month on the team) in my last tour when I had a couple of teammates make it a point to tell me that they were definitely being stretched in their jobs. As… Continue Reading →

Drawing Inspiration

Today is the 30th of the month and as part of my commitment to myself, it marks one of the three days each month I publish a blogpost. I have so many things that I want to write about, but… Continue Reading →

Empathetic Advice

I enjoy learning from others and at the same time I enjoy sharing what I learn with others. Most of the time this transaction is asynchronous and simplex in nature. Last night I did some reading, receiving knowledge from another… Continue Reading →

Sharing a Profession

Earlier this week I had the privilege of presenting at Steelcase’s Curious Minds guest speaker series. A longtime friend of mine (We served together as Ensigns at our first duty station) invited me in an effort to give a Veteran’s… Continue Reading →

What Jar Are You In?

We often assess others by the answers they provide. Those who have the right answers must be the most knowledgeable. We often assess companies based on the mission that drives them and their ability to deliver on it. Those who… Continue Reading →

The Quest to be Good

It was a drive like so many others: My son and I driving through the heart of Silicon Valley to his swim practice. My wife or I make that trip six days a week and sometimes twice a day. No… Continue Reading →

Enjoyment Enablers

Enjoyment is the state of process of taking pleasure in something. It is also defined as the action of possessing and benefitting from something. Of late, I am increasingly reminded that some people in this world are very focused on and… Continue Reading →

The Fray

The fray is where the real work takes place. The fray is where action happens. The fray is the part of the organization that the Doers call home. Early in my career I operated in the fray and enjoyed it… Continue Reading →

Outside the SCIF

There are many things I am enjoying about my new assignment and among them is the opportunity to live life outside the SCIF. I have spent almost all of my 25 years of naval service working in a Sensitive Compartmented… Continue Reading →

Missing Career Milestones

Last month, the Information Warfare Community, to which I have been a proud member for 25 years and counting, convened a board to screen officers for their next career milestone. As is true with the posting of the results after… Continue Reading →

The New Guy

I thoroughly enjoy being the new guy on the team. There are zero expectations that you know anything and there is every expectation that you soon will. There are people to meet, things to learn, and opportunities to grow. I… Continue Reading →

Meaningful Differentiation

As a family and though not as leisurely as any of us would have liked, we spent the last week driving across our beautiful country. We started in Chesapeake, Virginia and finished in Mountain View, California. It was my 7th… Continue Reading →

Closing a Chapter

August 02, 2017, may very well go down in my memory bank as the most significant day in my career as a leader. It was the day we turned the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command Change of Command ceremony into… Continue Reading →

Shaping Memories

It’s that time again. Time for the family to pack up our bags, bid farewell to local friends and teammates, and embrace the nomadic life we live. I am not complaining one bit. Moving every 2-3 years continues to provide… Continue Reading →

Responsible Friction

The health of an organization can often time be measured by the friction within. Friction is defined as (a) the rubbing of one body against another, (b) the force that resists relative motion between two bodies in contact, and (c) the clashing… Continue Reading →

Doing Voids: Responding and Preventing

Earlier this year I wrote about outcomes a team is able to generate because of effective leaders and value a team is able to deliver despite ineffective leaders. Committed leaders can inspire a team to accomplish things they never even dreamt… Continue Reading →

Betting on Horses

I am not a gambler, but some of my proudest moments as a leader come when I bet on the right horse. By “bet on” I mean position or advocate for. And by “horse” I mean teammate. Some horses are… Continue Reading →

Culture Book

Peter Drucker is known to have said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Those who know me understand how committed I am to living that statement. That is not to say I don’t see value in strategy, it’s just that I… Continue Reading →

Degrees of Gratitude

Think about the number of times you had reason to say, “You are welcome” over the last week. Would you say that it was 1 time, 10 times, 50 times, more? Now, think about what prompted you to say it… Continue Reading →

Unfinished By Design

There are few things in life that are as satisfying as finishing something that you started. In my life, the two feats I am most proud of finishing were graduating the US Naval Academy and completing Ironman Austria. I don’t… Continue Reading →

Jumping to Solutions

I am confident that this is not the first time you have read this quote from Albert Einstein: “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving… Continue Reading →

Doing the Opposite

The order of things: the way that life and the world currently are. I have been giving a great deal of thought to the order of things of late. No, that’s not true. I have been giving a great deal… Continue Reading →

Make it Personal

Over the last couple of days, I have been tracking the National Football League’s (NFL) Draft from afar. It’s not that I am fanatical about any particular team or the NFL as a whole, I am always intrigued by the… Continue Reading →

Changing Lanes

At the end of my son’s most recent swim practice, he approached the car with a big grin, which is not his typical post-practice body language. Before I even had a chance to ask him how practice went, he proudly announced,… Continue Reading →

Asking for Directions

Those of us who remember life before our smartphones can recall a day when we didn’t have the answers to most of our questions at our fingertips. We couldn’t ask Siri, Cortana, Alexa, or Google. We would either attempt to… Continue Reading →

Good for Your Career?

Don’t get me wrong, I am “all in” on simultaneously writing the current chapter of my life, as well as contribute to the current chapter of the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command story. And as the storyline begins to set… Continue Reading →

Environment and the Norm

Today marks my 591st day as a proud member and the Commanding Officer of Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command. When I joined this team I committed to helping them write an especially meaningful chapter of what continues to be a… Continue Reading →

Capturing Value

No matter our profession or our role within a team, we have a shared responsibly: deliver or create value for the customer. And whether we see it or not, the fact is we all have customers. The teams of which… Continue Reading →

Prioritized Success and Equitable Failure

We are taught early on in life to treat people as we want to be treated. We also have the good fortune of living in a country where we believe that all people are created equal and have certain inalienable rights…. Continue Reading →

Informed Opinions

I just returned from an amazing trip to San Francisco. Though the purpose of the trip was to spend time with future teammates, contribute to the conversation regarding public-private partnership in non-traditional sectors, and begin preparing for our move west,… Continue Reading →

Disneyland Mindset

Do you remember the first time you went to Disneyland, Disneyworld, or any amusement park for that matter? Given that I was six the first time I went, I don’t think I have any accurate memories of that experience. But… Continue Reading →

Just a Job

Note: Those who read this blog regularly know how much I believe passion for our work is a requirement and that if we aren’t fulfilled by our job, we are being unfair to ourselves and our teammates. This is an… Continue Reading →

Stop Pretending

There’s lots of talk about goals this time of year, and I know I have been contemplating the same. It’s natural, healthy, and helpful. It happens at the beginning and end of journeys, around birthdays, and the turn of the new… Continue Reading →

Reflection: Because, With, & Despite

Reflection is a powerful thing and something I make time for each and every day. Reflection is an activity that ensures we take the time to acknowledge our progress, think deeply about what we continue to learn though life, and… Continue Reading →

Doing What We Want

Want: have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for. Should: used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness. What do you want to do? What should you do? When the answers to those questions are not aligned, which trumps which?… Continue Reading →

Engaging “The Others”

People who are truly committed to their profession, their team, and their potential tend to have little trouble bouncing out of bed, giving their best, and end the day satisfied with the effort. We may not always be thrilled about… Continue Reading →

Effects: Placebos and Tinkerbell

I don’t know if it makes me weak-minded or strong-minded, but I believe in the power of placebos. Whether it was my Mom kissing my boo boo, the coach telling me to rub some dirt on it, the magic pill… Continue Reading →

Is It Worth It?

Life is full of questions and, clearly, there are far more questions than answers. Some people spend their lives in search of answers and others craft questions as a means of guiding their adventure. One of my favorite questions is,… Continue Reading →

Raising the Floor

I am a big fan of John Maxwell’s teachings. One of my favorite of the ‘laws’ of leadership he espouses is that of the ‘Law of the Lid.’ For those who are not familiar with the ‘Law of the Lid’,… Continue Reading →

Shelf Life

Open your refrigerator or go into your pantry and take an inventory of all the products with an expiration date on them. Now check out any produce you have on the counter and assess how much longer they might be… Continue Reading →

Sliding Doors

I thoroughly enjoy making decisions. That might sound egotistical and give the appearance that I am someone consumed with power. To be clear, it’s not so much the act of decision making that excites me, it is the progress enabled… Continue Reading →

What’s Next?

What’s Next? It’s a question that I ask myself dozens of times throughout any given day. You see, I have an addiction. An addiction to progress. In my mind everything on my To Do List (or To Become List) that… Continue Reading →

The Tenured Team

I am not an academic, but I feel as though I long ago reached the point of having tenure as a Naval Officer. Generally speaking, tenure is the right to hold a position for as long as you want to… Continue Reading →

Unmistakable

I make more mistakes than I care to admit, though I am not afraid to admit them. In fact, last weekend I made a huge mistake when I rear-ended the car in front of me on the freeway. The seatbelts… Continue Reading →

(Un)Constrained by the Past

Last week is a week I’ll remember for quite a while. I engaged the week oriented entirely on the future. It was to start with an exciting decision about our future that we were to make as a team, followed… Continue Reading →

Converging Paths: Doing and Being

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of being a member of a board that was charged with selecting our next crop of Commanding Officers. Just being among the team of 17 board members executing that important charter was an… Continue Reading →

Vacations: Being, Frequency, and Brothers

Vacations don’t come often in our house. Sure I take time off from work and, yes, we take trips away from our home, but rarely do we go on vacation in the truest form: an extended period of recreation, especially… Continue Reading →

Bubbles

Bubbles make me smile. I enjoy blowing them every now and then. I like to see how big I can make them before they pop. It’s neat to see how far those bubbles that stay intact can fly before the… Continue Reading →

Ahead of the Curve

Life as a leader serving in the military is many things and it most definitely is a life of continual change. Truth is that it is this continual change that makes it so enjoyable. The opportunities we create change, the… Continue Reading →

Just…

I think we should [insert well articulated opinion here], “just a thought.” I’d love to give [insert new experience here] a try, but I’m “just [insert self-limitation here].” I recommend we [insert well thought out recommendation here], “just an idea.”… Continue Reading →

Green Lights

Last week, my wife and I made a quick trip to Annapolis, Maryland to attend a Navy ceremony. And by quick trip, I mean that we were there for all of 15 hours. Once the ceremony concluded, we enjoyed a quick… Continue Reading →

Fully Invested Leaders

Many people consider themselves leaders, many people are in positions to lead, and many people are neither yet aspire to both. I have been spending some time of late thinking more and more about those who fall into the last… Continue Reading →

Teams and Tribes (Guest Post)

Lieutenant Kristen Wheeler is a proud prior enlisted Surface Warfare Officer. More than that she is a passionate leader and a phenomenal human being. A true talent magnet and multiplier with an eye for opportunity, I am pleased to be a… Continue Reading →

Failing Our Way to Success (Guest Post)

Not too long ago, I asked each Officer on our team to submit a short essay on a topic of their choice. Many good thought pieces were submitted and this one was ideally suited for this particular forum. Though the… Continue Reading →

Red Pill Addiction

The Matrix – “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”… Continue Reading →

Divide and Partner

Like many, I most certainly enjoy being entertained. My wife finds it funny that one of the quickest ways to grab my attention and inspire a genuine laugh is to show me a video with talking animals. Works every time…simple… Continue Reading →

It Was What It Was

I like to pay close attention to the words others use when they communicate. I am most in tune with prepositions and pronouns, and firmly believe we can tell a great deal about how a person sees himself and the… Continue Reading →

Something Bigger Than Ourself

I have long taken great pride in being a part of something far bigger than myself. For me, that happens to be serving as a proud member of the greatest Navy in the world. It is that very pull of… Continue Reading →

Sponsoring Opportunities to Lead

Leadership is not a position or title, it is action, choice, and example. Our behaviors may in fact result in leadership opportunity down the road, and while we have complete control over our behavior, opportunity is almost always in the hands of… Continue Reading →

The Value of the Strange Leader (Guest Post)

Dr. Rebecca Siders is a passionate human being with varied interests that center around making the world a better place, inspiring people in her company to reach new heights, and challenging herself to continually live outside her comfort zone. She… Continue Reading →

Explaining Inaction

Hello, my name is Sean and I am a Progress-aholic… I am addicted to progress. I am not interested in being busy, but I have an insatiable desire to see forward movement. Properly applied, this addiction can inspire others to… Continue Reading →

Leading the Receiver

I’ve never played ice hockey, but I know enough to heed Wayne Gretzky’s advice and “skate to where the puck is going, not to where it has been.” On the flip side, I did play soccer for many years and… Continue Reading →

Cautiously Bold

I am the first to admit that as time goes on, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for me to be patient. In my professional life, that is far more true than in my personal life. That is likely the case… Continue Reading →

Got Game?

“Gamers are hermits.” “Gamers do not effectively navigate reality.” “Gaming is a complete waste of time.” I grew up playing video games, but by today’s standards I am far from a gamer. Admittedly, I have thought the three aforementioned statements… Continue Reading →

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