I caught a glimpse of him on television in the midsummer of 2007. 

He was a key character on the television series, The A-Team and also played the role of a boxer in one of the Rocky movies. You may have figured out by now that I am referring to Mr. T.

The A-Team has continuously intrigued me because of one theme that is so central to the series. The theme is caught in the phrase: “I love it when a plan comes together.” Often, the person who had a key role in “the plan coming together” was Mr. T. Yet, I never heard Mr. T or anyone else on The A-Team use the word “gestalt.”


I find this term “gestalt” is interesting to the core. As I appreciate etymology, the study of words, I am drawn to word crafting. “Gestalt” is intriguing because its roots are German by nature. The word dates back to the early 20th century and relates to the concept of “shape.”  Specifically, “gestalt” is that which comes together as a whole but is regarded as amounting to more than the sum of its parts.

In relationship to focus, gestalt equals a coming together. In other words, gestalt comes close to being synonymous with the goal of focus – a concentration that leads to a body of specific targeted outcomes.

A Team of A’s – Focus is most likely to come together for you, to reach gestalt, when you appreciate a team of 8A’s: Accountability, Army of Allies, Arsenal of Resources, Anticipation, Acceptance, Analysis, Application. and Appreciation.

Accountability – Bank on it! Your efforts at focus will never transcend a fundamental starting point as long as you refuse to take responsibility for your focus. There is absolutely no “shift-the-blame-button.” After all, it is your focusing!

Army of Allies – You have to take the journey.   You have to lead the journey; but, you need not take it alone. An “Army of Allies” will equal, but is not limited to, the following: colleagues, mentors, counselors, family, team members, and friends.

Arsenal of Resources – An “Arsenal of Resources” will look like, but will not be confined to, the following: the Internet, trade journals, self-help books (including the Recommended Reading List near the end of Lessons Learned ‘s conclusion), continuing education, and conferences.

Anticipation – Anticipate detours along your focus-way. The anticipation of detours (interruptions, distractions, setbacks) will lessen their sting.

Acceptance -Your focus-hurdles have been expected; now they are being experienced. “Accept” can mean one of two things: 1) I accept this. It is a closed door. I cannot do anymore. 2) I accept this. The door is left open. This is what I can now do. In many instances, be sure to understand acceptance as an “open door.”

Analysis – Analysis will equal three simple questions: What is my focus-block here? Why is this block harmful to my focusing? How can I respond, particularly within a culture of change, in a fashion that will help me recapture focus.

Application – The point of the focus-proof is now front and center. You apply what you have learned. The acceptance of accountability, the utilization of an army of allies and an arsenal of resources, the process of anticipation, acceptance, and analysis have laid for you a strong foundation. Now, you put it all into practice. And, gestalt! There is a coming together of the recapturing of focus.

Appreciation – The emphasis here is extremely important. You do not appreciate a cacophony of distractions and setbacks. What you do appreciate is what you have learned from the Team of A’s.

You appreciate gestalt – loving it when it all begins to come together.

Stephen’s Leadership Lessons Learned series is close to publication date. The titles of these two books are: /Lessons Learned from Fire-Rescue Leaders — Insights for Every Leader/ and /Lessons Learned from the Nation’s Top Cops — Mastering the Privilege of Leadership./ Although different in specific content, we are grateful that each book has been endorsed by their respective top leaders in both Fire-Rescue and Law Enforcement. Some of the content constants are:

1) Leadership is not centered on control.  Leadership is not management.
2) The challenge in your profession may be that many leaders are acting as managers,
3) Leadership is not an elitist club, although, there are Uppercase and lowercase leaders. Leadership is grounded in communication, inspiration, and integrity.
4) Leadership is a privilege. Leadership is not merely a job or work. It is grounded in service.
More directly, “leadership is the recognition that service is a verb.”
5) Before you can lead others, you must be able to lead yourself.

Stephen is the best-selling author of 26 books, including What Do They See When They See You Coming? He has also written countless articles for a variety of publications and has produced multiple audio books and video programs. Stephen has appeared on PBS Television and XM Sirius Satellite Radio. He continues to hold one of the highest invite-back ratios in the speaking profession.