“A rising tide lifts all the boats.” — New England Council slogan, borrowed by John F. Kennedy
I’m an idealist, yes, but in my mind, work is a form of worship. Or should be. It’s how we spend our time here, our lives, our life force. To me, it should be important and full of passion and fire. Full of purpose. I’ve been in assignments where I felt that way, and I been in drudgery where I didn’t, because the work didn’t connect with my own priorities and that psychological personal need to leave a legacy that all of us have whether we admit it or not. That legacy is as close as we get to immortality.
Almost anybody can have “just a job,” with no passion, rote motion, and money on a wide scale of nil to millions. If the work reflects who we are—our archetype as protector, healer, liberator, teacher, etc.—we know it by the fire in the belly when we do it. It’s a legacy, a different future you make possible, whether for your own descendants or for strangers you’ll never know. To me, it’s not just a contract file with perfectly spaced divider tabs—oh, who am I kidding? It’s never that to me!—but a chance to make a difference, not just today but for the long term.
Legacy is a form of immortality, and I’ve been thinking a lot in the last year about mortality. Especially this week as I’m spending a little more time with my mom, who is nearing the end of her journey. I consider much of my legacy in Rapid Acquisition to be the people I’ve trained (aka, my “fractals”) and the disruptions I’ve led, so we can find better solutions faster for my warriors’ defense. My heart has always belonged to the Operator, and I have been unapologetically passionate about doing everything I can for those guys, Frozen Middle be damned. They’re my heroes and always will be.
I urge you to take a little time out to think about the legacy you will one day leave behind, maybe even before you leave this incarnation. We don’t normally think about mortality, if we can help it. We shove it aside and laugh it off as morbid, unless we are faced with those concerns that touch us personally. We don’t look at the big picture, the long game, because doing so reminds us that we won’t see it come to pass because we will have left this lifetime first. Instead, we look at the future as if through a toilet paper cardboard tube instead of through a telescope.
Almost seven months ago, I was misdiagnosed with what we thought was the illness that claimed my beloved grandmother when she was a few years older than I am now. It was a scary time for me, one I shared with hardly anyone except my most trusted confidantes, with lots of invasive tests and an unneeded prescription that made everything so much worse. Eventually, with full confirmation only a week ago, all the tests one by one came back negative over the late spring and early summer, and the cause of all this was next to nothing. Something akin to avoiding raw onions.
It was a Schrodinger scenario—as long as I waited for the test results, it was either a death sentence or not, and both were real possibilities. I got an answer I could live with.
But while I waited on pins and needles, it made me think. A lot. For months.
About what I want to leave behind. About what’s important to me. About how some risks are worth taking because of the potential payoff. About how every end-of-life conversation I’ve been part of in ICU’s around the country has ended with a dying man expressing regrets for things not done sooner, or love set aside, or relationships put on a shelf until the timing could be better. Regrets for time frittered away without self-improvement or changing the world—their own—for the better. For being at the end of their journey and no longer having the energy or the time to make the difference they never did when they had the energy and the time. It made me realize the price of holding back or of waiting or of just being patient when time runs out every day and windows of opportunity close, either through our own lack of action or someone else’s lack of action or action taken by someone at cross purposes. You can’t wait until the end of life to live it or to leave a legacy, and that applies to professionally as well as personally. You have to take a change, and either the risk is worth it or you find out sooner than later that it never was but you don’t waste time and that time, that resource that can never be recycled, can be spent on something that might pay off. It’s the same as failing fast and moving on to a potential success. Making every moment count becomes more important, and it’s a fuller way of living.
During my private medical crisis, I made a lot of decisions based on the projected future, including where to live and who to depend on. What kind of work to do. How to structure that. Whether to focus more on writing fiction or on Rapid Acquisition. How best to teach my Rapid techniques. On priorities in case Things Went Really Bad.
Getting a second chance—because I can screech about a misdiagnosis or I can be grateful because it could so easily have gone the other way—gave me a chance to re-assess my priorities. One of the things I decided while waiting for medical tests to be scheduled was to go ahead and retire at first opportunity and focus on Rapid Acquisition, with my fiction writing in its long-held second-place-to-Acquisition position. I wasn’t being allowed to “Do Rapid” where I was as a Federal employee, but I knew I could do it on a broader scale as a consultant and that I could say and write things that I would never have been able to as a Federal employee. Part of that meant writing up my well-honed innovative techniques and publishing them, something I absolutely could not do as a Federal employee.
I’d intended to publish the first Rapid Acquisition guide in May, immediately after my retirement, but I was urged repeatedly to save it instead, to bundle that with other services and sell only a few of them but for significantly larger sales, licensed at 10k to 50k for individual packages, depending on how specific I go for specific Program Offices with big problems. Making my techniques more accessible makes them less lucrative for me personally. I know how pirates are in the publishing world, and I know IP gets passed around within the Government, too, and so I was urged to keep it all very closely held. But still…a scarcity mindset just isn’t me.
What is it I want to leave behind? How can my existence in this world do the highest good? In the shortest period of time? For the most people? (Yeah, this is really good material.)
Nothing like a long drive across the backroads of Alabama for me to have time to come to a few conclusions—little to no signal on my phone, far from the interstate so I can more easily dictate thoughts and novels even if the drive is longer, where I can breathe in the green hills. I have to go with my gut instinct of what feels right.
This week, I will finish editing a novel, but next week, I’ll go back to my original idea. I will write a series of 5 or more guides (to start) that teach some of my best Rapid Acquisition techniques—in deep, glorious detail—and make them available in ebook format, with some as printed books and some as workbooks to help other innovators get there faster. I’ll continue to consult on these techniques, either as an instructor or working more specifically with small groups to solve their particular problems, but getting the basic lessons out there raises the bar for so many more innovation teams to use. Money’s nice and making a living is important, but being a rising tide just feels right.
So next week, as I begin adding inexpensive Rapid Acquisition guides to my consulting services, promise me you’ll think about what you want your legacy to be—how is what you bring into the world something you can change it with, for the better? How can you be a rising tide in Rapid Acquisition?
c 2018 Lorna Tedder
- Rapid Acquisition Consultant
- Recently retired Contracting Officer, unlimited AFMC warrant 1991-2018
- Nationally recognized Innovation Thought Leader in Government acquisition
- Rapid acquisition teacher, both FAR and non-FAR based contracting
- Master brain-stormer and advisor to program offices across the DoD
- Expert in developing junior and mid-level personnel to become innovators in Government acquisition
- 3 decades of first-hand experience and success with Other Transactions, Oral Proposals, 10 USC 2373, Broad Agency Announcements, unique pricing arrangements, Price Based Acquisition, Award Without Discussion, streamlined source selections, multiple award IDIQs, UCAs, waivers, omnibus tool creation, Quick Reaction Capability teams, and strategic sourcing
- Do you need help? Would you like me to spend a couple of days teaching your Government team how to use innovative contracting methods? Message me on LinkedIn or my contact page.