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 myself as part of a team moving fast, yet maturing at a glacial pace. By that I mean we execute our mission at the speed of relevance and because mission execution has been our singular focus for so long, the speed at which we are able to implement organizational fundamentals is anything but quick. That pace of progress is my greatest challenge and my largest frustration, while ensuring we continue to make progress, regardless of its glacial nature, is my most significant responsibility.

I use the glacier as a metaphor in part because I was recently reminded that though they take years to form, they develop as a result of nature’s consistent climate re-enforcement. And once formed, glaciers exist for an extremely long time, forever shaping the terrain around them. I am not Mother Nature, but like her I am the leader largely (not solely) responsible for the environment that allows for crystallization. I keep reminding myself that though I would like to see the team impact the world around us in ways that glaciers can, I may not be able to provide enough snowfall and compression for things to truly crystalize during my tenure.

Spending days sprinting is absolutely exhausting. Running for what feels like miles only to see progress measured in feet is something to which I am not accustomed. Helping a glacier form, grow, and shape the landscape around it is not something I had previously contemplated, but I take my responsibility to help add to the body we are forming very seriously (sometimes too much so). And though I may not necessarily be proud of the pace, I am hopeful that we will have reason to be years from now. Hopeful that the glacier slowly formed by teammates past, present, and future will result in a beautiful landscape and a mineral rich environment. Admittedly, it’s difficult to visualize, but if I squint my eyes just right I can see it. Slow and steady doesn’t necessarily win the race, but it often times is the most responsible pace.

  • What are you building? How quickly is it forming?
  • How confident are you that it will endure beyond your tenure?
  • How do you deal with the disparity between effort and progress?