Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Navy SEALs Develop Mental Toughness By Reinforcing One Behavior

This question originally appeared on QuoraHow can the average person learn the skill of mental toughness without joining the military? Answer by Ronald Fry, author of Hammerhead Six.

Mental toughness is a state of mind. Anyone can develop the mental toughness of a solider without being part of the military. Mental toughness is resilience—the ability to stick to something regardless of the obstacles in your way. It’s about being goal oriented, always trying to improve, and being dependable and consistent. I believe mental toughness is fueled by either a dedication to self or a dedication to a higher cause. Ideally it is both.

Any human can develop mental toughness by setting goals, pushing oneself a little harder, and working for small victories. Mentally tough people are always willing to (metaphorically) run up steep hills in the rain because they know the prize is at the top of the hill. Being true to oneself is what keeps people on goals, like sticking to a workout regimen, attempting marathons or triathlons, developing new hobbies, or dropping bad habits and picking up new ones.

Mentally tough people know what is good for themselves, their future, and are willing to show...

After Health Care Debacle, Trump Needs a Plan B

Just before President Trump’s health care plan went down in flames, Press Secretary Sean Spicer defiantly told reporters, “We're not looking at a Plan B.”

Well, it’s clearly time now to look at a Plan B. It’s going to take a long time to clear the massive debris littering the path between Trump and fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill, and that’s going to clog legislative progress on health insurance, tax reform, infrastructure, the budget, and everything else.

But Trump has another option, right at his fingertips. It’s one that might well suit him much better. And while it wouldn’t be nearly as flashy as his failed “repeal and replace” pledge, it would give him a way to put some quick points on the board. Plan B: As a seasoned executive, he could concentrate on being chief executive of the federal government of the United States. In fact, that’s the crucial opportunity senior adviser Jared Kushner could bring with Trump’s new Office of American Innovation.

The big policy ideas require legislative action, but it’s going to take Trump a long time to build a real working relationship with Republicans on the...

The Road to Government Reform Is Filled With Landmines

President Donald Trump’s executive order requiring federal agencies to identify duplicative and unnecessary programs and improve services holds the promise of helping bring our government into the 21st century.

In many respects, we have institutions created for a different era. Our government provides exceptional services in some areas, but has not kept up with best-in-class private sector organizations in others. The moment is ripe for evaluating where we are and where we need to be in terms of the way government conducts business, manages taxpayer money and serves the needs of the American people.

Many presidents have tried to reform government. At best, they have enjoyed only partial success, typically falling far short of highly ambitious goals. The road to changing government, as Trump’s predecessors learned, is filled with political landmines, but there are some guideposts the new administration should follow if it hopes to make headway.

Engage Congress now: Little can change without the cooperation of Congress, where lawmakers have favored programs and constituencies. They have a vested interest in the status quo. For agencies to be merged or eliminated, or for programs to be scrapped or realigned, Congress must give its consent. President Obama in 2011...

Why Bureaucrats Matter in the Fight to Preserve the Rule Of Law

Socrates, while serving on the Athenian Council, sought to prevent it from making an illegal decision. Martin Luther, when a council convened by the Emperor Charles V in 1521 told him to recant, is said to have declared: ‘Here I stand; I can do no other.’ The United States’ attorney general Elliot Richardson and the deputy attorney general William D. Ruckelshaus both chose to resign in 1973 rather than obey President Richard Nixon’s order to fire the special prosecutor investigating Watergate. More recently, the acting attorney general Sally Yates was fired after she announced that the U.S. Department of Justice would not cooperate in enforcing President Donald Trump’s executive order against Muslim immigrants.

They all said no. Each of them, for reasons of principle, opposed an order from a higher authority (or sought to prevent its issuance). They are exceptional figures, in extraordinary circumstances. Yet most of the time, the rule of law is more mundane: it depends on officials carrying out their ordinary duties within the purposes of the offices they hold, and on citizens obeying them. That is to say, the rule of law relies upon obedience by bureaucrats, and obedience of bureaucrats – but crucially...

Advice to Feds: It’s Time to Update Your Resumes

This much we know: President Trump has ordered a limited federal hiring freeze and a broad review of the federal workforce with an eye toward reducing headcount.

While we don’t know many specifics regarding potential furloughs or layoffs in individual agencies, it’s clear there will be winners and losers in federal hiring. Given the president’s emphasis on immigration, homeland security and national defense, a number of agencies are likely to maintain or even expand their workforces, and many positions at Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs have been exempted from the freeze.

Employees at other agencies face greater uncertainty and should at least prepare for the possibility that their positions may be eliminated.

Here’s my advice: Don’t wait until the pending workforce plan being prepared by the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management is announced. Even if you’re in a department that hasn’t been mentioned as a target for workforce reductions, it’s prudent to be prepared.

The time to update your federal resume and other application materials is right now. I recommend creating two resumes: one for federal employment (some agencies will still be hiring) and another...

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.