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  • Writer's pictureJohn Previtera

"What's the difference between Theory and Practice? In theory, there is no difference - In practice, the difference is EVERYTHING!!"

Albert Einstein's words certainly resonated with me, and as I look back on 2023, they continue to ring true and act as a beacon for how we can bring value to the Chief of Staff (CoS) Community we nurtured last year.

There is no better teacher than first-hand experience or the practical application of theory…except for maybe more access to first-hand experience from a trusted teammate or colleague who has been there and done that before. And herein lies the value of an intentional professional network, especially for the role of CoS. Often isolated with no immediate peers within their companies to share ideas and challenges, the CoS is in a lonely position – usually needing to rely only on their instincts. By bringing together a diverse network of Chiefs of Staff and providing opportunities to share experiences across a wide range of situations and ideas, people in this critical role can exponentially increase their learning opportunities and experience perspectives from others in their position.

I feel like this principle holds true across the board. In my past life as a Navy SEAL, it was well understood that both rehearsals and immediate feedback from more experienced teammates accelerated learning at all levels and enabled the growth mindset necessary to survive and thrive in complex environments. Assess – Decide - Adjust is a continuous operational loop that remains a critical prerequisite for success in an unpredictable environment! SEALs must be constant learners to survive and thrive in a fluid environment. Upon completing any mission, teammates share what went well and, more importantly, what did not and how they can apply those lessons to later missions. Encountering the acquired knowledge of others in the same skill significantly enhances learning, particularly when these insights come from reliable teammates possessing extensive expertise and skills. Being constant learners is a skill set and trait that not only SEALs require to accomplish their missions but also a CoS in today's business environment must possess similar adaptability in an unpredictable business landscape that represents today's marketplace.

As our new CoS network takes shape, extracting the value of experience and transposing theory into execution remains an energizing endeavor, not just for us here at AFN but more so within the network itself. By drawing upon the collective wisdom of the group and the dynamic exchange of ideas and experiences within the network, AFN invites you to join our elite community of like-minded leaders. These networks not only amplify leadership abilities and experiential knowledge but will expose insights otherwise inaccessible that can transform an organization's trajectory. As we expand these new offerings, we encourage you to become a part of what we are building. Surrounded by peers as committed to self-improvement and excellence as you are, invest in your growth by leveraging the network's collective expertise and proactively shaping your team's future.

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