Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader


Self Leadership

Daily Deliberation: 29 July 2019

I once heard an interview where they were discussing how Americans no longer had hobbies. He was stating that we work all day, maybe do some exercise, kid activities and then veg out to the DVR, Netflix or social media on our phone. I remember growing up and my dad would be tinkering on an old car, my neighbor would do some woodwork, etc. They honed their hobbies until they were experts…I have seen this in my own life. I think we all should just try something different and see how it goes.

Daily Deliberation: 19 July 2019

My dad once told me that if my job was to shovel poo (he chose a different word), then to be the best shoveler on the crew. The goal is not to one up the team, but to push the team to new heights. When we work harder, those around us do too. When we surpass the capacity of our work, we often get promoted. Then we need to start the cycle over. Raise our game and the game of those around us will also increase. We raise others up by setting the example.

Daily Deliberation: 17 July 2019

This notion scares me. In so many areas of my life, I know where I want to be in 3, 5, 10 years but am not perfect about executing my plan. Sometimes I see the lack of effort come to fruition in my personal and professional life. I see the thing I ignored all of a sudden come back to bite me or the conclusion was not as planned. However, when I am deliberate about the plan and what my next step is, I am still not perfect, but I am not disappointed either. Plan, Do, Next is a great strategy to help me arrive where I am trying to go.

Daily Deliberation: 5 July 2019

Whenever I have been rigid in my ways, things have not worked out that well. I remember being so egotistical that I had painted myself into a corner and left myself no way out. Of course, I had made the wrong call, but made it even worse by being so set in my ways that I the only option was to fail or succeed in isolation. I have had to learn to be open to other options and opinions. Ironically, I am more successful now and even when I fail…there is a team beside me.

Daily Deliberation: 28 June 2019

It is amazing how many times I have said this, but have failed. I allow others to pollute my mind or temperament by listening to their nonsensical ideas. When this does happen I try to stop and ask myself why I even care in the first place. If they are sharing an opinion about something that will not impact me 5 minutes after I walk away, I walk away or simply listen. If it is something that can’t be ignored, I do my best to get to the root of the issue and keep out all of the extra garbage people try to dump in there.

Daily Deliberation: 13 June 2019

We are meant for great things. However, when the finish line of the race is designed to edify ourselves, we are missing the point. We have the gifts and talents that we do to further a cause or an ideal. We will all be pushing posies at one point, but the causes we champion will continue on. I already know you are a legend, no need to prove it to anyone else. Further someone or something and your work will live on forever.

Daily Deliberation: 7 June 2019

I have been guilty of doing this a lot. I have actually quit new endeavors before they had a chance to take hold. I have made excuses not to try something new, because I might look like an idiot. We need to stop worrying about the bad things that could happen and be present in the moment. We can actually sabotage our futures by worrying about the next step so much that we forget to do something vital now. It is like when a football player starts to run before they catch the ball. Ensure you are fully in this moment before you think about the next.

The Selflessness of Self Care

As a self described recovering workaholic who struggles with leaving work at work and being present and in the moment during my down time with the family (walking and talking though work situations in my head used to be a daily thing), I have to admit that self care is an ongoing battle and a flat out daily struggle – I’m doing better but the struggle is real…  For some reason as I made my way up the enlisted tier in the Air Force I wired my mind to think that time off and leaving work at a decent time was not something standout performers did.

At one particular point in my career I wore my rise and grind, out work, out hussle approach like a badge of honor. Making time to enjoy the benefits of being stationed in places like Arizona, Portugal and England, by partaking in the many travel and cultural engagement opportunities available was not even close to being a priority. I remember telling my coworkers, and smugly pointing out what I perceived to be under-performing peers and joking “they are here for the trips and to have fun, I’m here to work”.  In my eyes their time away from work and initiative to take some down time, was selfish, borderline lazy and not in line with service and taking care of the mission.

Obtaining results, taking on all available opportunities to maximize my unit’s performance and to ensure our people were properly mentored, developed and recognized, no matter the personal cost (time, being mentally absent while being home, sleep, etc.) was simply a non-negotiable personal standard.  I, like many of my peers fell into the trap of thinking and feeling that in order to earn the true respect of my superiors, peers and subordinates one has to demonstrate a selfless devotion to duty and work ethic unmatched by anybody… Self Care in the form of taking some time away from work, a mental break from the grind of the mission, was in my deep, down, personal opinion: selfish.

In retrospect nothing could been further from the truth. As I look back at my time and conduct a thorough post tour analysis I have realized that my failure to practice a deliberate self care plan was not only foolish, but also in essence selfish. Selfish because instead of making a committed effort at being mentally present while spending time with my family, better planning my work days, saying no to things that could have waited and simply saying no to additional (optional) undertakings… I made a personal, self-centered choice to feed my workaholic, out- work, out-hustle, out-grind self identity.

In essence, I developed a monster fed by results, accolades and things that in the end turn out to be “fools gold” (when compared with my lost time with family, friends) in addition to high jacking my ability to devote quality time to my family and mental well-being. I put myself on a fast path to burnout… After what must have been a six year window of no slowing down, it took some deep and personal soul searching, multiple heart to heart conversations with my wife and a couple of career setbacks and kicks in the head or what I like to refer to as “Refinement Opportunities”  to help me snap out of it… I had to make the selfless approach of making a thought out, legit effort at self care. This enabled me to better take care of those that I committed to care for on a personal (spouse, family) level and to better serve those whom I had been entrusted to lead within my unit. To put it bluntly, I had to put aside the selfish desire to feed my ego and take on the selfless need to take better care of myself in order to properly care for others.

Daily Deliberation: 4 June 2019

This is something I struggle with often! Occasionally, I will have an idea I came up with or one that my team did and start to push it. I know it is the right solution and that it would benefit so many. However, just like young Calvin in this picture, my “packaging” is not the best. No one wants to hear they are not perfect or their original idea is the problem we are all trying to solve. Two things we can do: package it in a way that motivates them to change. Sometimes, I concede credit and allow them to think it is their idea. The second thing is to not get married to our own ideas that we resist any critical feedback we may receive.

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