I originally published this on Better Networker.
Back when I was in the Army, I had the good fortune (when you are going through it doesn't feel good) to attend the US Army Ranger School. Ranger School is primarily a leadership school. They teach leadership through stress. You spend days with little sleep and food in order to understand how difficult it is to lead people under combat conditions. At graduation, you are very proud to earn the black and gold Ranger Tab.
A lot of Army leaders go through Ranger School. It gives you a good foundation in getting people to do things when they really don't want to do it. It is hard,but doable. One reason it is doable is the Ranger Handbook. The Ranger Handbook exists Army wide and is a compilation of wisdom gathered over the last 250 years of military operations. It is small enough to fit in a pocket so that you can carry it around with you.
The Ranger Handbook gives step by step directions all the way from on how to tie knots, survive in the wild, call in airstrikes and run a combat patrol. I found out if you didn't have something like this, you forgot something important which would cause problems later.
You use things like this. Cookbooks tell you exactly how to prepare a recipe to make sure it tastes good for the family. You are smart. You wouldn't try to prepare a soufflé without a cookbook. just like Rachael Ray. She uses one too. Car manuals tell you exactly how to remove a carburetor. These days you need a manual on how to program the DVD player or operate the remote control. We all use instructions to make sure we don't waste our time or mess it up.
Your time is valuable. The money you have you worked hard for. It shouldn't be wasted on something that just flat out doesn't work. You deserve information that has been proven to work.
My Army days are over, but it makes me sad when I see people operating without a guidebook. They spend their time doing things that just don't work. They need the Internet equivalent of the Ranger Handbook. There are things that proclaim themselves to be the “system.” But only focus on one aspect. These are not soup to nuts.
If you are a leader, create a guidebook for your team. If you are just starting out make sure you are working with true leaders who will provide you with handbooks that are the equivalent of the Ranger Handbook. It will serve you well.
What guidebooks do you rely on? Let us know in the comments.