ATLC #12 – Peel the Orange!

In the first week we looked at The Pipeline as a leadership concept derived from the military. Now, we’ll look at a second one called Peel the Orange!


Over the many thousands of years of military history military scientists have developed and evolved what is considered the world’s most advanced techniques for training human beings. Why is this so?

I believe the answer is due to “the bottom line”. In my own career I have been exposed to training in four areas of performance and I would rate them as follows in order of effectiveness:

1. Military
2. Sport/Arts
3. Business
4. Education

I think this is due to the imperatives of the various bottom lines.

In education the bottom line is: to pass the exam. The quality of training I received to this end was erratic. Most of my own educational training was largely boring with occasional exceptions. There was very little inspiration of the “Dead Poet Society” type and even less emphasis placed on PRR (Practise, Repetition & Rehearsal).

In business, I have found much greater emphasis on the inspirational and motivational type of training and the quality, overall, is higher than at school. Perhaps this is due to the business bottom line which is: to survive and make a profit. There is often a big investment in time and money at stake in an environment which is competitive, so the standard of training is higher than at school. I wondered whether to put business ahead of sports and the arts but I did not because business training still is weak in the area of PRR (Practise, Repetition & Rehearsal).

As just noted, sports and arts is next because of the high emphasis on PRR. Here the bottom line is: to win in sport, and: to perform well in front of an audience in the arts. The competition and the audience are strong bottom lines which produce high levels of excellence in training by experienced coaches and the great masters. There is also often a lot of money at stake.

But in the military passing exams, making money, beating the competitor and audience applause play relatively minor roles to the ultimate bottom line: life or death! It’s no surprise therefore that the quality of military training is so high. True, governments have much larger budgets for training than the others mentioned above and this is an advantage.

The most entertaining, shocking, interactive and successful training I ever received by the most competent and well-rehearsed instructors was in the military. The lectures, the drills, the exercises, the operations were always laced with large amounts of PRR and invariable were better-planned and better-executed than anything I have seen before or since.

My passion has always been to liberate these training methods from the military fort or garrison and make them available to business and other careers. The same military training processes that are applied to martial arts can also be applied to career and business arts and so that is what we will be doing in this ATLC training.

If you take ten people at random and you give them an orange and then you say to them: Peel the orange! guess what you end up with?

Well, if you are lucky you MAY end up with one peeled orange! What you are more likely to get instead is the following:

– Why me?
– Why do I have to peel the orange?
– Why can’t I cut it instead of peeling it?
– What about an apple, I’d rather peel an apple?
– I don’t know how.
– I never peeled an orange before.
– You do it.
– Get someone else to do it.
– I’ll do it later when I have time.
– I don’t have a knife, can you get me a knife?
– How do I peel it? Where do I start?
– Do you want all the orange peeled or only half?
– Shall I peel it this way or that way?
etc etc

An important leadership skill is being able ‘to peel oranges’ on command. Being able to effectively and efficiently carry out an instruction without any fuss or bother is an important leadership skill. It requires discipline, skill, initiative, motivation, self-confidence, risk-taking, achievement, energy and a host of leadership qualities.

In the military, before an NCO or officer is given the right to give orders, they must first undergo a lot of training to make sure they have an advanced level of skill in carrying out orders from others. To give and take is part of the same concept.


There are, of course, the obvious qualifications. The orders or instructions to be followed must be legal, competent and possible to carry out. In the professional military, very few are not.

Needlesstosay, in ATLC any and all instructions for you to follow will be transparent, legal and possible to do.

You have to decide up front before the pipeline whether or not you feel they will be competent.

Once you enter the pipeline then all you have to do is to ‘peel the oranges’!


DFQ #12:
List three benefits below that are likely to come from acquiring this leadership skill called Peel the Orange!

1. A benefit for me (the trainee) is …
2. A benefit for you (the trainer) is …
2. A benefit for the class (the others) is …

341 thoughts on “ATLC #12 – Peel the Orange!

  1. A benefit for me (the trainee) is confidence in my ability to carry out the direction

    A benefit for you (the trainer) is affirmation of focus to give direction

    A benefit for the class (the others) is the expectation and result

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