The Radar, Repertoire And Results Approach

Great workers have good radar in the activities where they excel. They seem to know what will happen before it happens.

Al Siebert, author of The Survivor Personality, called this gift personal radar. He first noticed it when studying paratroopers who had survived challenging experiences.

Many survivors demonstrated a specific characteristic. Al described this in the following way.

Al saw a link between survivors and peak performers in different fields. Such people demonstrate the following qualities.


They have good radar in the activity where they excel. They see patterns quickly and seem to know what will happen before it happens. Such radar often springs from a natural talent, but it increases as people develop.


They have a wide repertoire of tools – knowledge, strategies and skills – in the activity where they excel. They continue to add to their repertoire as they gather more experience and wisdom.


They use their radar to gather information. They then reach into their repertoire and select the appropriate strategy to work towards the desired results.

Great retailers, for example, often have an intuitive feeling for market trends and selling. Walking into a store, they can immediately point out several things that can be done improve the business.

Ellen MacArthur, the round-the-world yachtswoman, talked about reading the waves to anticipate future sailing conditions. She then worked out the strategy for reaching her destination.

Clarifying where
you have good radar

Where do you have good radar? You may demonstrate this when doing specific activities, solving particular problems or operating in certain situations.

What do you do then to do your best to deliver the desired results? You may have good radar in some situations but not in others. It is important to know:

How to build on this ability in the situations where you have good radar;

How to manage any situations where you don’t have good radar.

Different people use different names for this ability. Some call it personal radar; some call it scanning; some call it taking pictures; some call it having a sixth sense; some call it strategic intuition.

Arsène Wenger, the former football manager, described how great players were continually scanning to see what is happening on the field. Below are extracts from a talk he gave that was published on the website Training Ground Guru.

Top players have radar in their heads

Arsène Wenger says a top player has a ‘head like a radar’ and that more work needs to be done on perception and decision making at young ages.

“I came to the conclusion that it is about getting as much information as possible before (getting) the ball. I call that scanning.

“I try to see what happens to a player in the ten seconds before he gets the ball, how many times he takes information and the quality of information he takes. It depends on the position.

“What is interesting is that very good players scan six to eight times in the ten seconds before getting the ball and normal ones three to four times. That is a major step for improvement.”

Arsène described the ability: a) to see what is happening; b) to anticipate what may happen. Then then comes the next step. This is developing the ability use this knowledge and make things happen.

Lionel Messi often demonstrated these gifts. Here is how Barney Rooney described this ability in an article in the Guardian.

Footballers are often said to carry a picture in their head. Messi has a great whirring bank of air traffic controller’s screens up there, alternate visions of the future to scroll through and finesse.

Messi then applied his remarkable skills to deliver success. He did this on the football field, but other people do it in other areas.

Great workers put themselves into situations where they are good at scanning and seeing patterns. When appropriate, they then apply certain skills to achieve success.

Clarifying where you
have a good repertoire

Radar is a good the starting point and this ability grows with age and experience. But you may need to develop your repertoire of skills to capitalise on such insight. This will enable you to move from awareness to action to achievement.

Arsène Wenger underlined the importance of players learning to make good decisions with the information they got from scanning. He described this in the following way.

The quality of perception
and decision making

“My challenge is to get my players to know which the best choice is and make the optimal decision every time they get the ball.

“The player has to scan and decide. When he has decided he has to make the best possible solution. This means a compromise between risk and the progress of the ball.”

Great workers find their radar gives them the time and space to use their talents to deliver great results. Wayne Gretzky, the ice hockey player, is often quoted as saying that he scored so many goals because:

“I skate to the part of the rink where the puck will appear.”

Wayne had great radar on the rink. He also developed a repertoire of skills to deliver results.

Radar is given – but the greatest area for growth is in expanding your repertoire. There are many components in your repertoire. These include your:

Strengths – the natural talents you have been given;

Strategies – the knowledge, models and wisdom you have gathered;

Skills – the tools and techniques you have developed to get results.

What is the activity where you have good radar and also a wide repertoire? How can you improve your repertoire? How can you keep developing and adding to your strengths, strategies and skills?

Clarifying how you can use your radar
and repertoire to deliver results

Great workers reach into their repertoire and use the right tools to achieve the required results. The route they take will depend on whether they work as a counsellor, educator, engineer, athlete, crisis manager or whatever.

People often start by clarifying the picture of success. They then try different strategies to see what works. Pursuing their chosen route, they employ their skills to work towards achieving success. One counsellor explained what they did in the following way.

“Every client is different but I do follow a certain model. Meeting a troubled person, I make them feel welcome and quickly look for behavioural patterns.

“I then imagine what I want them to be feeling, thinking and saying when they leave the session. This is the picture of success.

“Drawing on my experience, I use different strategies to help the person to tackle their challenges. I keep going until we find practical ways forward that they believe in.

“We then settle on the steps they want to take towards achieving their goals. The aim is to keep doing my best to ensure the person feels the session has been successful.”

Great workers keep putting themselves into places where they can use their radar. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation where you may want to take this step?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites to describe a specific situation where you may want to use your radar. It invites you to complete the following sentences.

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