Sean Heritage

Connecting The Dots

Category

Leadership

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

(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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

The Power of Dissent

When it comes to leading a team, there are few things as powerful as consent across the group. It is through a careful combination of unity of effort and unity of purpose that we deliver unity of effect. And no… Continue Reading →

History of Originality

Serendipity is one of my favorite words. I don’t use it often, but I enjoy the way it rolls off my tongue. As much as I enjoy saying it, the stories that accompany its use are even better. After all,… Continue Reading →

Belonging

I thoroughly enjoy being on teams. I grew up playing team sports, and an emphasis on teamwork was a constant in my home throughout and beyond my childhood. At the same time, I am a proud introvert. I enjoy and… Continue Reading →

Long-Term Stewardship

It’s no secret that we live in a world where immediate gratification is a growing priority. We want to see results now. Whether it is wins on the athletic field, profitability on our bottom line, or the delivery of our… Continue Reading →

Don’t Just Change. Evolve!

One of the primary differences between managers and leaders is that managers are asked primarily to maintain the status quo, and leaders are charged with inspiring others to adapt to an ever-changing environment. It is often said that we manage things/processes… Continue Reading →

(Don’t) Expect to Win

Each week in anticipation of and during Naval Academy football games I hear local commercials about how Midshipmen ‘Expect to Win’ on and off the field. At my son’s last swimming event, he told me that he expected to win… Continue Reading →

Unicorns and Fairies

I enjoy many things about being in the Navy. I enjoy the mission, the people, and the opportunity to lead. During the course of my career, I can’t tell you how many times I have been told that my approach… Continue Reading →

Visibly Absent

I have long worked in an environment where presence is vital to meaningful contribution and the number of hours we put in is used as a metric of performance (e.g., if Johnny is here 18 hours a day, he must be vital… Continue Reading →

Best or Most Deserving?

I am a college football fan and like many fans, this is the time of year when I am reminded about how flawed the poll (or ranking) system is. Truth is, I am reminded each week about how silly the whole… Continue Reading →

Proactive Driving

Like many of you, I spend a lot of time in my car. Sometimes I drive alone and sometimes with a full car, but there is rarely a time when I am just along for the ride. There are times… Continue Reading →

Capable Decision Makers

Last week, my son told me that in his estimation every day is the same. Each day consists of the same activities within the house and every time he steps outside of the house, he does so to execute a… Continue Reading →

The Meaningful Threshold

During my first week in command, I hosted a Command Quarters where I had the opportunity to celebrate some of the talent across the team by awarding various forms of recognition. And because it was my first time in front… Continue Reading →

Engagement and Connection

I am writing this on my 73rd day as part of the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command Team. Each day has been great in its own way. In addition to gaining a solid understanding of the mission, I continue to… Continue Reading →

At Risk of Living

Risk is a part of life. We take risks each and every day. Some risks are calculated, some are deliberate, and some are unintentional. I was watching a documentary on people who love to skydive. They know what they are… Continue Reading →

Chiefs, Officers, and the “White Hat”

Last week, I had the privilege of being the guest speaker at the Chiefs Pinning Ceremony, where we celebrated what will likely serve as the most significant career milestone for 10 leaders from four Commands – Information Dominance Forces Command,… Continue Reading →

Here’s To the Enablers…

Last weekend I ran the Virginia Beach Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon. I woke up at 0430 and drove with my son to the designated parking area. We got on one of the 85 buses lined up to transport us… Continue Reading →

Accidentally, On Purpose

I work in a field that is relatively new to the Navy. Truth is when you are part of a team that has been in formal existence for almost 240 years, there are many things that are “relatively” new. The… Continue Reading →

Candy Jar (Guest Post)

LT Jason Knudson is an Information Warfare Officer and member of the Chief of Naval Operations Rapid Innovation Cell. All comments are his and his alone and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Navy. Sometimes inspiration comes… Continue Reading →

Frozen in History

Though very short in comparison to most other countries, the United States has a proud history. Just as any nation-state, organization, idea, or living being does, each of us has our own history; mine happens to be 44 years short…. Continue Reading →

Boxed In

During the 3.5 hour drive home after recent road trip focused on house hunting, I found myself at the wheel on a long two lane stretch of highway. Though the majority of traffic was heading toward the beach (the opposite… Continue Reading →

Band-Aids

Every morning when I leave my house I drive by this one vehicle. It’s had a broken window for as long as I can remember. Though the condition of the window hasn’t changed in a long time, the color of… Continue Reading →

Solitude: Being Alone Makes You a Better Leader (Guest Post)

CDR Andy Newsome is an Information Warfare Officer, and is passionate about helping others. Andy is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Naval War College and Naval Postgraduate School.  He has served and led in various capacities inside and… Continue Reading →

Howdy, Partner!

Though far from an exhaustive list, the word Partner can be used to describe a relationship between spouses, significant others, parents, friends, teammates, businesses, governmental organizations, or nations. The word speaks to an alliance where two or more partners agree… Continue Reading →

Leading Where We Want

I’m guilty. I didn’t necessarily bring myself up on charges, but as my own personal jury and judge in the self-aware court of law, I found myself guilty as charged. Guilty of spending too much time leading where I wanted… Continue Reading →

What Will You Command?

Even at the earliest stages in our career, Naval Officers are taught that we should aspire to Command. Joint Pub 1-02 defines Command as… The authority that a Commander in the Military Service lawfully exercises over subordinates by virtue of rank or… Continue Reading →

Behind the Scenes

Each of us has a primary duty, a main effort, and a set of responsibilities. Many times we are not the only person executing tasks associated with each, but often times we are. The tasks we execute in support of… Continue Reading →

Anchor Points

While driving with my son last week, we were in need of gas. We neared a gas station selling unleaded for $2.39 a gallon. As we drove right by, he asked why we didn’t stop. When I told him that it… Continue Reading →

Informed Decisions

Last week we took a spontaneous family trip to scout out the area that the Navy has asked us to make our home for two years come August. I am not much for spontaneity and prefer planning to winging it,… Continue Reading →

Incremental Yesses

There are a few words used in today’s work-world that just make me cringe. Five years ago, the default combination of effective and efficient began to really bother me. Our quest for efficiency continues to undermine our effectiveness, as many… Continue Reading →

Lenses

I am not a photographer, but I appreciate a well-framed picture. I am not a painter, but I hang art that inspires me in places that matter. I am not an artist in a traditional sense, but I very much… Continue Reading →

Familiarity

My current job affords me the opportunity to travel to distant lands, experience new things, and meet lots of interesting people. In fact, last month I had the privilege of bouncing around the west coast, Alaska, Hawaii, and a few stops… Continue Reading →

Lift Operators

In a world of scarcity, we often speak of trade-offs, a tit for a tat, a quid for a quo, and finding the right balance. In a world of abundance we don’t think in terms of or; we look for and…. Continue Reading →

THINKers

Having recently had an opportunity to engage with some esteemed academic leaders, I must admit that I am simultaneously envious and grateful. Envious of their opportunity to be a professional THINKer and grateful for the things about which I am… Continue Reading →

Recruiting Culture

I am a big college football fan. I don’t identify with a specific team or school in part because I enjoy the pageantry and traditions that span campuses across the nation. I’ve had the good fortune of seeing big games… Continue Reading →

Outcomes

Anyone who is familiar with the Star Wars movies is likely even more familiar with the little green Jedi master, Yoda. If you’re anything like me, just the mention of the individual who had a hand in training nearly every… Continue Reading →

I’m A Quid

There are many latin phrases that are prominent in our language and given the fact that a large part of my job (really any job for that matter) is grounded on relationship building and partnership strengthening, it comes as no… Continue Reading →

Self-Limitation

Have you heard about the experiment done years ago on jumping frogs that were placed in jars with lids?  To refresh your memory, the frogs had plenty of food and water, and due to their natural instincts, they continually tried to… Continue Reading →

(Never)Mind the Gap

Each of us have tried out for teams (sports or otherwise), applied for jobs, and/or extended an invitation to another. There are and always will be times when the result is not to our liking. We don’t always make the… Continue Reading →

Dialoguers and Debaters

I enjoy thoughtful conversations on a wide range of topics and I am fortunate enough to have them with some extremely knowledgeable and passionate people. Because I have a rather diverse set of friends and colleagues, rarely a day goes… Continue Reading →

Opportunities Realized

I know that I am far from alone in my sincere belief that life is one giant opportunity.  Whether we care to admit it or not, we all miss more opportunities than we realize…it’s just math.  The key is to minimize the… Continue Reading →

“About Time” Moments

We’ve all had those moments in life of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension. And most of us aspire to having many more of them. We refer to those moments as “Aha Moments.” I seem to be having quite… Continue Reading →

The Mirror is Telling

I have the pleasure of speaking with and to each new Information Warfare Officer via video-teleconference (VTC). This is an opportunity I was afforded based purely on geography in my last job (I served as the Commanding Officer of a… Continue Reading →

Declaration of Interdependence

We recently celebrated our Nation’s independence last week on the 4th of July. It was a glorious celebration that should remind even the unpatriotic of how fortunate we are to enjoy the freedoms that we do. I took the opportunity to… Continue Reading →

Best Athlete

When a professional sports team drafts athletes to join their team, there are multiple strategies. Some choose to draft the “best athlete” available, others draft a player based on perceived potential, others draft individuals that have specific talent that will fill a… Continue Reading →

Just Passing Through

I like to think that there is reason behind everything we do.  It is true that sometimes I try harder than I should to identify the reason, and sometimes we aren’t able to see the reason until long after the activity…. Continue Reading →

Scaffolding

Over Memorial Day Weekend, we went on a rather spontaneous trip to Niagara Falls and a few other places.  It was so spontaneous that I did not bring my passport and therefore, could not go across the border to visit… Continue Reading →

Picked

Just as many have inspired me, I continue to encourage others to take permission to do the things they want to in life. To pick themselves instead of waiting for others to select them. Despite my belief in that approach to life,… Continue Reading →

Permission to Suck

Last Friday, my wife sent me an e-mail that contained a time, an address, and these words “Guest speaker Megan McArdle will discuss her new book  ‘The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success.’ She is… Continue Reading →

Shortcuts

Over the course of our life, we have likely been reminded that there are no shortcuts to meaningful achievement and that those who take shortcuts tend to be lazy (e.g. don’t want to work for what they want) or selfish (e.g…. Continue Reading →

Loyalty Down

Loyalty is amongst the most valued characteristics between friends, family, teammates, and co-workers. In fact, I submit that a relationship is virtually meaningless without it. Each of us wants to know that we can count on others when we need… Continue Reading →

Awards Worth Having

Whether it be a simple thank you, a trophy, monetary compensation, or something else, we all appreciate being recognized for a job well done. Personally, a simple thank you or congratulations is more than ample for me. After all, the… Continue Reading →

Helicopter Leadership

A military is able to project power through mere presence, the police often maintain order and nearly always alter behavior just by being within our field of view, and odds are our children act a little differently when their parents… Continue Reading →

I Hope This Works…

Though my personal interest in video games disappeared long ago, my son considers the time he spends playing them amongst his favorite. As a means of connecting with him and experiencing this aspect of his world, my wife and I… Continue Reading →

The Cooperative Leadership Model

Life continues to be busy in the most pleasant of ways. Lots of WANT TOs and very few HAVE TOs…the way time should be spent. One of the things I did of late that falls squarely into the WANT TO… Continue Reading →

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