« Return to Welcome Room


Downloads related to the Scopelliti Line can be found at the bottom of this page.

The Scopelliti Line™ of Learning

1.  Goals set as

·         Unarguably necessary,

·         Truly sufficient minimums, which must be…

(Please ponder both sub-points above and their ramifications before moving on.)

2.  Hit or missed by the precise moment of deadline, and that …

3.  When hit equals sustainable, repeatable success that 

·         Defines satisfaction and having done “enough,? and is

·         Ultimately perfected as a

·         Solid floor of consistent performance, in a

·         Driving, unbreakable rhythm.  Such goals must be…


4.  Stated as

·         Sovereign personal pledges,

·         Made to self and/or others, and given in the context of

·         Absolute,

·         Non-resisting and

·         Unquestioning accountability relationships.  These pledges… 

(Once an unarguably necessary goal is set, what’s left to question or resist?)

5.  Comprise true promises that express and expose your character, and where your…

6.  Commitment is to either succeed or fail honorably, and finally where…

(Sadly, no matter what we say to the contrary, failure is always an option.  What we should say is that surrender never is.  Therefore honorable failure must also always be both an option and even a right.)

7.  Honorable failure means,

       i.            Most importantly, no surrender and all-out battle up to, through and past the moment of deadline,

     ii.            Full acceptance of the condition of failure with NO denial or excuses, only results,

  iii.            Full analysis of the failure,

    iv.            Immediate re-setting of a new goal with a new deadline,

      v.            Immediate execution of analyzed lessons.


Reduced down, here are the seven terms that sum up and therefore name our seven points:

1.    Necessity

2.    Deadline

3.    Rhythm

4.    Accountability

5.    Character

6.    Commitment

7.    Honor

In Application: The Scopelliti Line™ for Leadership - 27 May 09


The line itself is, at its simplest, the precise definition of how a goal may be set, properly.  In application, however, the implications are both far reaching and neither obvious nor automatically intuitive.  There is, therefore, a true art to master in moving from a state where goals and goal setting have not reached the height demanded by the line.  We’ll commence with a brief discussion of each component, from the point of view of the leader who must serve.  Then, we’ll reduce the entire method down to a single, most important concept, but that will best be understood in the slightly larger reduction of what we’ll call the big three laws.  For these three laws to function, we must define honorable failure and then, that in place, we’ll conclude our exploration.

The Seven Laws of the Line

In order to build true, adaptive standards and expectations, the objectives you ask your people to commit to must be completely delineated, ALL THE WAY DOWN to the level of 1.) unarguable, absolute necessity.  To lead your people in this way, you must first know precisely what separates failure from success, yourself. This knowledge is built on the two dynamics: necessity and sufficiency. Necessity refers to front end activities and sufficiency refers to the resulting desired rewards or back end outcomes. In leading your people, you must provide the platform for success in the black and white terms of necessary targets, defined so for the very reason that they will generate sufficient results. Both dynamics must be taught. Once they are, the phrase “necessary effort? will grow to include the promise and ultimately the certainty of “sufficient results,? but this can not be assumed initially. When your followers master their necessities, you can confidently know that sufficient results will follow.  On the other hand, when they fail to hit necessary targets, then you know you have to make corrections of one form or another.

Delineating the first unarguably necessary activity to be accomplished, you must, of course, also establish a single, initial, absolute 2.) deadline with the same perfect integrity.  When this deadline is hit or missed, you’re given a powerful indication of present adaptive and learning potential or lack thereof.  The “in-this-moment? security you seek as a leader when getting started is that this first deadline must be both taken seriously and either hit successfully or missed honorably, not dishonorably.  By the outcome from this one deadline, you can know whether you are presently moving in the right direction or not. When a deadline is missed dishonorably, you must have either a means of restoring honor (which will be described below) or, in rare and extreme cases you must end the relationship… yes… over but a single dishonorably missed deadline.  One way or another, dishonor must be cleansed.

Once honor is established, the noteworthy accomplishment or honorable failure of your first deadline may now be followed by a second deadline.  Naturally, so long as you enjoy either success or at least honorable and not dishonorable failure, this will convert into a third, and so forth.  In watching the pattern of deadlines, a characteristic 3.) rhythm will arise, and you can see the trend of performance and learning in that very rhythm.  What no single deadline can tell you, you will rapidly learn by reading the trend in the rhythmic pattern.  You need not teach rhythm early, but you must look for it yourself as a leader, at earliest possible moment.  More on this below.

Within and driving the work detailed above, and revealed in the rhythmic pattern following from successive deadlines is the nature of the employee’s spirit of positive 4.) accountability.  When an employee resists your help, and pushes you away, this is a clear sign that your team won’t be able to make it through the coming challenges.  Additionally, real accountability means seeking help when it’s needed, delivering bad news early, relentlessly procuring the guidance and leadership required to learn and improve real performance.  True performers thrive under the fierce spotlight of perfect accountability, and express profound gratitude for the help you give.

When their good 5.) character is readily available under the intense heat of this accountability relationship, you are able to count on learning and progress.  The reality is that no condition requires or highlights character more meaningfully than the accountability relationship.

The key to this, and the reason character is so critically necessary, is the performer’s ability to make absolute 6.) commitments that are perfectly performed in what evolves into an unbreakable rhythm of onrushing deadlines.  When character and commitment attain perfect accountability, you can predict with certainty that all necessities will be achieved, and they’ll be achieved punctually by deadline, perpetually.

The good souls you keep are those who bring all six factors together into what we call 7.) honor, and where that honor is both the combination of all six previous factors AND, it is also the robust practice of converting all failures into lessons for immediate execution.  More, honor is the unbreakable practice of building success by way of never failing dishonorably, under any circumstances, ever.

First Reduction, to the Single Point of Necessity

When you attempt to apply these concepts, you’ll need to remember them, and you’ll need to remember them in the heat of interaction if not to say conflict and battle.  As time goes by and you gain experience, this will become natural.  At first, however, you really will be challenged and that’s why we must reduce these concepts to a more manageable form for you, at the beginning.  Consider, there are seven key terms, seven laws of goal setting here.  That’s too much to try to remember all at once.  Our first compression of all seven is down into just one term.  When you can remember nothing else, this one term will point you in the right direction.  We’ll also engage a second compression, down to three terms.  This is, of course, still smaller than all seven laws while not quite so reduced as crunching them all into just one term.  You’ll find that this three-term reduction is both easy to remember and awesomely effective.  These three terms will guide you in any encounter.  They contain, in compressed form, both the concepts of The Scopelliti Line™ AND the method of leading by the line.

Here is how this works:  You must know what to introduce and what to explain, but most especially you must know what you're willing to fight over, and when.  Thus, the most critical reduction is down to the sole point of necessary thinking.  If we taught people, while in school, how to think formally, as leaders we’d be able to tap into that mastery.  But, where would such teaching occur?  Historically, the term for this is “formal thinking.?  Without getting technical, we may consider formal thinking to be that which ties causes to their effects, absolutely.  In reality, all effects have causes.  Formal thinking is our ability to understand these relationships, and defend that understanding against fierce opposition.  The only way to know that you really do know something, formally, is to be able to defend what you know against all comers who challenge what you propose.  You have attained formal thinking when you can withstand all such attack.

As an art, formal thinking was created by the ancient Greeks, and can best be thought of as their rules for Geometry and Mathematics.  Perhaps the best way to understand formal thinking is to be found in the practice of proofs, something like what you learned in your Geometry course in High School.  For the Greeks, when they were inventing both Geometry and formal philosophy, there was actually no distinction separating the two forms, the way we separate them today.  Today, the field of philosophy kind of “owns? the term formal thinking.  But, the place where formal thinking has the greatest impact is in the scientific method.  The roots of science itself also date back to the Greeks, but the scientific method as we know it today did not come together in our ancient past.  It was only in the 16th and 17th Centuries that science as we know it today sprang up.  In all this, math, philosophy, science, formal thinking—that is, thinking by the laws of necessity—is the true foundation.  But, if you go back to your own math, science or philosophy courses, or discuss such learning with those you lead, you’ll rapidly see that mastery of formal thinking was anything but the normal outcome.  What’s worse, to the degree that formal thinking is even taught at all, it is taught in total disconnection to practical, every day life.  There is no thought given to how the student may use the power of formal thinking to improve performance, at all.  This is, I believe, a type of immeasurable theft.  Sadly, I cannot even qualify the following judgment: Most of us, today, simply don’t know how to engage necessary thinking about anything.

There is, in all this, great news.  Once we see that we have failed to learn and master the art of formal thinking by the laws of necessity, we can commence immediately to correct the problem.  What’s more, we can do so where it matters the most, in our own daily real world of performance.  To do so, we must realize something about ourselves.  As horrible as this failure of education may be, there is a psychological factor, in our own souls, that must bear ultimate blame for the failure to master formal thinking.  The fact is, we rebel against reality.  The reason for this is very simple in concept.  It is the pain and difficulty of reality that we wish we could run away from.  Whenever we picture an outcome in our minds, our natural tendency is to oversimplify and yes, even to overdramatize our victory, while underestimating the forces of opposition and challenge.  In fact, the single worst part of reality is how often we fail, and how these very failures are, almost always, our own 100% responsibility.  If reality were just the flow from one success to the next, everyone would run toward and never away from reality.  But, our escape from the clutches of reality and of our many failures when facing it - that is, our futile but passionate attempts to escape from the fierce and inexorable dictates of reality - comprise one of the most powerful motivations in our lives.

Consequently, the one battle more important than all others is that over necessity, over necessary thinking, and over the reduction of goals down, exclusively, to that which is unarguably necessary.

To fight and win this battle, you must attain perfectly clarity, yourself.  To do so, the rule you must accept and master is this:  If something is not proven as necessary, it is unnecessary.  What can be denied, must be.

At work, then, the greatest sin of leadership is the failure to fight and argue over goals, by the laws of absolute necessity.  Our mission is to find the truth that drives performance.  What are the activities which we must accomplish, as unarguably necessary causes?  How do we define necessary thinking in this regard?  We must KNOW what these causes are, so that by accomplishing them our results will be sufficient.  How can we KNOW that we will obtain desired and sustainable, acceptable outcomes?  Necessary thinking is, for us, this precise knowledge.  What are the right activity goals to set so that if we hit them, our outcomes will be those we require?

To create necessary thinking at work, then, challenges must be made over our goals until all argument is finished and resolved.  Goals must be attacked as too high, too low, correct in concept but unnecessary in reality, and every other possible attack.  It must be remembered that any argument not made prior to setting a goal will reappear in the form of an excuse during performance once failures commence, as they always do.  The only way to limit or prohibit excuses is to live up to the mandate of absolute necessity in goal selection.  The entire method may therefore be reduced to the single battle for necessary thinking over goals.

Second Reduction, to the Three Points of Necessity, Deadline and Honor

Only two other all-out battles merit focus.  Upon acceptance of a goal as necessary, it is critical that just one, let me repeat, ONLY ONE deadline must be selected.  This one deadline must be adhered to with rabid fury, total dedication.  Upon its completion, assuming you are still together as a team, then the next deadline may be identified and fought for.

The long term battle of the relationship itself is fought over the trend revealed in the rhythmic pattern that results from onrushing deadlines.  But, there is no way to reduce a trend, nor is this a battle worthy of much early education or explanation.  The questions of accountability, character and commitment may be fought for over long periods also.  What must be added, though, to the immediate battles over necessity and deadline, is the definition of and all-out warfare over honor itself, the seventh point of the line.

There are and can be only three possible, but mutually exclusive outcomes upon arrival at our chosen, first deadline.  There may only be success, honorable failure OR dishonorable failure, these three and no others.  Of these three possible outcomes, only one may occur at each deadline.

Thus, our work reduces to:

·      Necessity

·      Deadline

·      Honor – where outcomes may only be success, honorable failure OR dishonorable failure.

Honorable Failure Defined

To fully understand this reduction, we do require the list of the five elements that define honorable failure, all of which must be present, and if any one of which is missing, then dishonorable failure has occurred:


·      Most importantly, no surrender and all-out battle up to, through and past the moment of deadline, and

·      Absolute, Full acceptance of the condition of failure with NO denial or excuses, only results, and

·      Full analysis of the failure, and

·      Immediate re-setting of a new goal with a new deadline, and

·      Immediate execution of analyzed lessons.

Dishonorable failures, unattended, convert into dishonorable relationship.  The only way back from that hell is the extremely rare full conversion.  Vastly more often, the only path forward calls for the end of such relationships.  Attended, dishonorable failures can be perfect teaching moments, and when the five mandates of honorable failure are adhered to, dishonorable failure may be converted, immediately, into honorable failure.  This is how the team wins its integrity and success.  No team untested by dishonorable failure, and not having won its way back to honor, can be considered secure or solid.


By fighting righteously with all you are over the three points of reduction: necessity, deadline and honor, you are robustly building true accountability.  While benefit may result from gentle introduction, there is no rapid need to intensely teach the other remaining elements of the line, at first.  No, it is not the case that the rest will “take care of itself.?  But, it is true that the questions of rhythm, fully- and well-understood accountability, character and commitment will fall readily into place when you succeed in the first three great battles.  They are, truly, the big three.  Winning them grants you all the time you need for the remaining four points of the line, while no dishonorable failures accrue and during which time rhythm grows and speaks with an ever clearer voice.


Download the PowerPoint Presentation with the individual laws of The Scopelliti Line™ laid out in their necessary sequence by clicking here. The Line is presented in a single page, printable outline here, and a 3-page abstract here. For the full 16-page article, please click here. The individual laws themselves are defined here, and there is a single-page meditation on our single most important concept of all for goal setting, Necessity.

« Return to Welcome Room

Contact Us