When President Barrack Obama stood outside the Oval Office on the evening of May 1, 2011, to announce the death of Osama bin Laden, nearly a decade had elapsed since the events of Sept. 11, 2001. In the aftermath of that fateful day, then President George W. Bush and his team began devising a plan to get Bin Laden.
According to Bin Laden’s obituary in The New York Times, a week after 9/11 a reporter asked Bush if he wanted Bin Laden dead. “I want him — I want justice,” the president answered. “And there’s an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’”
That was the plan in its simplest form, harkening back to old Western motifs: There’s a wanted man on the loose, and we aim to get ‘em. But in reality, the plan was an incredibly complex operation.
In many of the interviews I’ve heard in the 36 hours since the death of Bin Laden was announced, I’ve noticed a recurring theme: There were thousands of people responsible for this mission to storm the compound 35 miles outside of Islamabad and capture the Al Qaeda leader. While the Navy Seals were doing the heavy lifting, there was also a web of clandestine government agencies gathering information as well as military personnel and high-ranking government officials working together to bring this plan to fruition.
No one thought it would take almost a decade to get to Bin Laden. Early on, Bush officials planned for air attacks to wipe him out, quickly and decisively. But Bin Laden proved more elusive than expected and the search for him dragged on and on. In the interim, the names of those chasing him changed, but the general plan stayed in place: Get Bin Laden — dead or alive.
But all of the planning, platform and persistence would have gone for naught had the mission not succeeded. That’s where the performance comes in to play: Can we execute this mission? Can we pull this thing off? After a 40-minute firefight, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden, it was “mission accomplished.”
These are good tactics for advisors to follow, but you have to ask yourself these questions about your own practice:
- Do you have a plan in place?
- Do you have a platform you can rely on?
- Do you have persistence?
- When the time comes, will you be able to execute your plan?
These are the tenets of success. Good luck to you.