What Rambo Can Teach Us About Achievement

The four Rambo films, released between 1982 and 2008, famously depicted John Rambo, a member of the US Army Special Forces known as the Green Beret. Throughout the films, Rambo singlehandedly outwits his opponents, adapts to changing circumstances and achieves at a super-human level.
While the movies glamorized his brute strength, the real-world Green Berets are some of the most highly trained and skillful warriors on the planet. They conduct incredibly difficult and complex missions such as counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and narcotics raids in foreign lands. Collectively, their work is labeled “unconventional warfare,” requiring profound courage and intelligence. These are the real-life superheroes that risk it all to protect life and liberty.
Behind the scenes, there is a core Green Beret mindset that helps conquer extraordinary adversity: “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.” Despite endless training drills to perfect their technique, there’s simply no way to prepare for every possible live situation. Accordingly, these three words serve as their guidepost during uncertain and dangerous times. This simple catchphrase has saved countless lives and sustained our way of life.
On the business end of the spectrum – from startups to the most successful mature organizations – the Green Beret mindset fuels achievement as well. The best-laid plans are often disrupted when reality kicks in, requiring leaders to course-correct in real time. Here, the wise words of our Special Forces can enable our success, just as they do on the battlefield.
Improvise. Realizing that the world is changing at an unprecedented rate, we must learn to deploy in-the-moment creativity to solve our most pressing challenges.
Adapt. As competitive forces, technology advances, and world markets race in new directions, having the agility and nimbleness to move in lockstep with our surroundings is paramount to success.
Overcome. An unwavering commitment to results applies in both unconventional warfare and the highest levels of business accomplishment. Special Forces refuse to get distracted, remaining focused on the desired outcome and doing whatever it takes to deliver. Can we afford to do anything less?
Military leaders are often mischaracterized as rigid, rule-following order-takers. Yet the top performers in the Armed Forces are the ones who understand the importance of creative problem-solving and possess the flexibility to achieve in unorthodox ways.  Like the Green Berets, if we want to reach the rarified air at the top of our fields, let’s heed the siren song of those that protect our liberty. It’s not just for Rambo-life movie characters… it is the fundamental mindset that fuels sustainable success in all of life’s pursuits.
Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.