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Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader

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Self Leadership

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.

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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.

Daily Deliberation: 23 May 2019

Isn’t this the truth?! We spend so much time arguing over certain points and think everyone else is wrong, in denial or just plain stupid. The truth is, they just have a different viewpoint based on the reality of their own lives. We all have different needs, backgrounds and experiences that have forged us into what we are today. We need to worry about what matters to us and strengthen that stance instead of spending our time weakening another. If our’s truly is superior, others will eventually see the light.

Daily Deliberation: 20 May 2019

Yes! This is very timely for me. I was just scrolling through some posts on my news feed and was getting angry at some of the things people were posting. Why? Many of them weren’t posting them to be hurtful to me specifically. Even if they were, who cares? We have to stop giving people so much emotional control over our lives. My pastor says to stop worrying about WHO is right and work towards WHAT is right.

Daily Deliberation: 13 May 2019

It doesn’t matter where you have been or where you are going. When you get there, you are still you. Learn from your past and improve yourself to be the person you want to become. Look to the future and work to be that person you know you can be. Then look in the mirror today and marvel at the beauty.

Daily Deliberation: 2 May 2019

Isn’t it frustrating that the very first piece of leadership advice we get is the hardest to apply? We tell our children and our teammates to ‘lead by example’ and yet we mess this up all the time. At least, we think we do when we fall short of perfection. Instead of hanging our heads in shame as a failure, this is the exact point we need to step it up. Everyone falls short of perfection; however, not many know how to get through these missteps. Set the example on how to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and learn from the experience.

Daily Deliberation: 1 May 2019

I have worked for and with so many people who simply could not control their cool. Some of them were scary to be around in high-stress scenarios and others were actually fun to get spun up. I watched wrenches, clipboards, coffee mugs, and many other objects fly across the room or flightline and even a couple people who began to dry heave. All because of stress. Now, everyone else on the plane or team was experiencing the same stress factors, we just had a different response. When you are leading a team and things begin to crumble, it is normal to feel stressed. It is normal to want to throw something, swear or whatever. However, you can’t let your team see this, because they are looking to you to be their rock. I bet the guy in the picture is stressed out; however, he knows he has to remain calm for his team.

Daily Deliberation: 26 April 2019

One of the hardest things to do as a leader is to stand in front of your team and tell them you failed. However, we all make mistakes and need to own them quickly. Once we acknowledge our missteps, we can learn from them and move onto a smarter path for the next attempt. Our teams respect us more when we can admit we are not perfect and they are more likely to ask us for help when they make a mistake.

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