OODA loop – practical lessons from a military genius

John Boyd was arguably the most brilliant military strategist since Genghis Khan. However, few have heard of him. Boyd was an iconoclast who revolutionized modern warfare, and his biography is one of my all-time favorite books.

John Boyd was not just a theoretician; he was a practitioner. When practitioners use their personal experience to teach, I listen.

I cherish teachers who have skin in the game—people who know what it’s like to manage risk and make decisions under stress. Additionally, in a military context, the stakes are much higher. You are dealing with life and death and perhaps the existential risk of a nation. This is as real as it gets, and the lessons are much more poignant.

Boyd’s greatest contribution for us is the OODA loop.

Boyd was neither a businessman nor an investor, but the OODA loop is a fantastic mental framework that can be readily applied to these domains. I use the OODA loop to tie together the concepts that I discussed in my previous 2 articles: 4 buckets of capital and Choosing the game you play.

The 4 components of the OODA loop can thus be applied to your personal and financial growth:

  • Observe: Understand your strengths and weaknesses (capital you have and lack)
  • Orient: Understand your goals (capital you wish to accumulate)
  • Decide: Come up with an investment strategy to achieve those goals
  • Act: Execute on that strategy

This is called the OODA loop and not the OODA 4-step process for a reason. You and the world around you are dynamic. You must constantly observe, orient, decide, and act as your surroundings and inner desires change.

Boyd’s framework will serve you well for the rest of your life. This is how he helped America win wars. This is how you can help yourself win at life.

You’ll need to figure out the details for yourself.

You have a unique set of strengths, weaknesses, life goals, and ideal strategies.

Personally, my lifelong goals are to learn, build my capital, and find others to create impact together. And I’m certainly still figuring things out.

If you’d like to join me on this learning journey, check out Listening Gym – a private community I’m building focused on coaching-led personal growth. If interested, follow the instructions to learn more!

This is the final installation of a 3 part series — see part 1: 4 buckets of capital  and part 2: Choose the game you play.