Who’s Got Your 6?

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who's got your 6“Sorry Dave, we’re outta here!”

And with that, I was alone.

But I was not really alone.  I was bereft of allies, but I was quickly going to be surrounded by my enemies.  And this enemy was focused on killing me.  I had to move or I would be dead.

I surveyed my surroundings, gauged how much time I had before the enemy would be upon me, and chose my escape route.  I knew my enemy had discovered my location because I heard the commander yell something like,

“Bogie at 1:00!  Delta team move in now!  Alpha team flank from the North!”

And then bullets began to zing past both sides of the tree I was hiding behind.

Well, they weren’t really bullets.  They were paint pellets.  It was the early 80’s and I was one of a small number of young men discovering this new sport called Paint Ball.

It was a cool autumn day in the forests of the Fraser Valley of British Columbia.  I was with a bunch of friends who were out for a good time.  We had booked this war game to have a little fun and get a taste for battle-tested friendship.  The guy who ran the game asked us if we wanted to stay as a group and fight the BC Champions.

“What?  BC Champions?  Are you serious, is this actually an organized sport of some kind?  What kind of guys would be that “into” this sport?”

We were soon to discover that the kind of guys who were into this sport were just a little “different”.  Some might say, “Psycho”, but that may be a little judgemental.  Let’s just say they were definitely more fanatical about this sport than we were.

Back to my predicament…

I managed to get out from behind my tree and began to slide down hill, head-first on my back behind a fallen tree.  I was feverishly doing the backstroke downhill to expeditiously get away from my opponents.  I sat up from time to time to see my enemy strategically and steadily get closer to the tree behind which they thought they would find me.

Ha!  I had fooled them.  I shot one of them, but my pellet bounced off his jacket – too cold to burst.  Not a kill according to our rules of engagement.

I swam further downhill.  I sat up again to take a look.  No one around.  I swam some more.  I sat up again.  I then felt a pain like I had not encountered before.  Right at the base of my ear, just behind my jaw bone I was shot.

The pellet hit me with such force it split my skin and blood mixed with the blue paint now covering the base of the left side of my skull.  I was dead.  My killer stood over me to ensure I was dead, then continued with his platoon to thoroughly decimate my buddies.

I was alone on the field of battle, eliminated by the enemy.  I was without my “band of brothers”.  I was an “abandoned brother”.  No one had my “6”.

Your “6” is in reference to a clock.  Wherever you’re facing is 12:00, so directly behind you is 6:00, or your 6.  No one had my back and I was dead for it.

So who has your 6?

Have you cultivated a community of allies who “cover” each other?  We must build relationship with those who will be our allies in the battle of business.  Leadership can be lonely.  We have to do what is necessary to build relationships with those who are our leadership allies – those who have our 6 and we have theirs.

We need allies to survive and thrive.  These kind of relationships will not happen by accident, we need to intentionally build them.  It takes effort, but the benefit is worth your effort.

Start by going out for breakfast or coffee; do some work together outside of work to build trust and relationship.  Join a peer advisory group.  It takes time, but it’s time well invested.

If no one’s got your 6 you may end up a casualty in the battle of business – and that’s not good for anyone.

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