The Power of Red Teaming
I’ve been thinking a lot about the growth that Order of Man has experienced over the past two years. It’s been mind-blowing and, quite honestly, a little surprising. As excited as I am about the growth and the amount of men who agree with what I’ve been saying for the last two years, I want to talk about opposition for a minute.
Think about that word for just a minute – opposition. When I hear that, I think of competition. I think of people who want to beat me, or people I want to beat. I also think about people, thoughts, organizations, etc. that are getting in the way of what I want.
And, when you think about it like that, it’s easy to see why so many people run away from opposition. They run away from any hardship. They run away from anything that might stand in their way. And, more specific to the discussion I have today, they run away from anyone who happens to disagree with them.
Look guys, I understand. Why would you want to build a life where you’re surrounded by people who disagree with you? I certainly don’t. But, what if I told you that there is value in a healthy dose of opposition to all you’re doing and all you want to do.
My friend, Andy Frisella with MFCEO (if you don’t listen to that show, you should), talks about using the naysayers and the opposition as fuel to thrive in your life. In fact, he’s said in previous podcasts that he should go back and thank these people because he’s used their doubt (among other things) as fuel to grow a $100+ million-dollar company.
So, I really want to delve into opposition for a minute and why, we as men, shouldn’t necessarily run away from it, but embrace it.
Opposition is so important, in fact, that there’s a term used to describe using opposition to your advantage. It’s called “Red Teaming” and the basic idea is that you build a team whose sole purpose is to challenge what it is you’re doing.
Think about this. If you played sports, for example, the varsity team always practiced against a scrub or second-team defense.
Military units use other teams to identify weaknesses in strategy and policy.
Cyber-security firms hire “hackers” to test for vulnerabilities.
Fortune 500 companies hire boards of advisors to address blind spots.
Other organizations hire criminals to breach their security systems.
If you’ve ever heard of Frank Abignale, he con-artist, imposter, and criminal hired by the federal government because he knew the secrets, the tricks, and the hacks the government was trying to stop.
So, you understand, right?
If governments, professional sports teams, and Fortune 500 companies are using the concept of Red Teaming, it’s probably safe to assume there’s something to it.
Now, think about your own life. Is the concept of Red Teaming something you’ve even considered?
Think about the people you spend the most time with. They’re probably just like you.
Think about the books you read. They’re probably all very similar.
Think about where you get your news. From the same types of networks you always have.
Think about your Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter feed. You’ve probably curated it so it’s all the same information you’ve always consumed.
I mean, I understand. I do it to. Who wants to curate their life by adding people or information they’re not interested in?
But, I think there’s something to be said for adding variety into your life that you have not previously been exposed to.
And, yet, we as humans seem so averse to entertaining the fact that there might be value in a differing opinion. We’re so quick to call someone an “idiot” or worse simply because they see the world a little differently.
Are they wrong because they don’t agree with you? Maybe, but don’t you think it might be a good idea to at least entertain the fact that maybe you’re wrong before you decide to respond. This is how we grow. By entertaining opposing views, then, and only then, making an intelligent decision with all the facts at hand moving forward.
Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it.”
And, that is the whole premise behind red-teaming. To expand your mind. To open up the blind spots. To see the world a little differently. To learn something you didn’t previously know. To make yourself better.
If all the information you consume and all the people you spend time with are the same as you, you’re stuck on a plateau and you’ll never experience the growth I know you’re after.
So, how do we begin to do this? How do you incorporate the idea of red-teaming into your life?
Three very simple steps:
First, document all the information you consume (books, podcast, TV shows, documentaries, movies, magazines, music, etc.). and find the trends.
For me, it’s a lot of self-help books and podcast. I listen to a lot of country music. Most of the political information I consume is conservative. I like action-adventure when it comes to movies).
I could go on and on about that but, step 1B is to then commit to consuming new information. Listen to a new news network. Watch a different type of movie. Consume different podcast (the one I just started listening to outside what I normally would is Star Talk Radio). Read a fiction book instead of a self-help book.
Remember, you’re not trying to change who you are and, you don’t even have to accept what new information you’re going to consume. You’re just opening up your mind to it.
Step two is to do the same thing with the people you spend time with. If all the people you spend time with are white, Christian, conservatives (I say that because that’s what I am), then maybe you ought to think about spending time with different types of people.
If everyone you spend time with has a certain attitude about money, politics, or religion, consider seeking out the exact opposite.
Don’t worry, you’re not going to be converted. Or brainwashed. You’re just expanding your mind.
I’d also suggest you do this on Facebook. Most of the people on my feed are the exact same. Makes sense because I’m naturally attracted to those types of people but, I’m genuinely curious when the last time I followed someone who challenged my way of thinking.
Following this line of thinking is only going to produce one of two results: you’ll expand and learn something you didn’t know or you’ll solidify your current convictions. I place both of those in the “win column.”
And, the third Red Teaming strategy I want to share with you is asking yourself great questions. You should be questioning everything you do.
- Is what I believe about “x” right?
- Is what I’m about to do the right course of action?
- Is there a better way to do this?
- What could go wrong?
- Who knows more about this than I do?
- What haven’t I thought of?
- Where can I learn more about it?
Powerful questions are such a great tool in exposing yourself to new information and insights.
I know it’s not easy to place yourself in the way of opposition. I know it’s not comfortable finding people, information, and scenarios that challenge what you’re doing. But, this concept of Red Teaming is the best way to eliminate blind spots, expand your mind, and help you grow.