Show Me the Way!

Before we get going here, I have to say Welcome to 2018!  My hope for you all is that you resolve not to have resolutions in 2018, but if you have already made them, I'm confident that by February you will have forgotten them.  With all sarcasm aside, I do want to apologize for the time between postings.  It has been a great holiday season, for the most part, and I'm taking 2018 by the horns! 

I have been extremely fortunate in my life to have a lot of great mentors.  I have discussed this in the past, but I was thinking about something this morning that brought this to my mind.  I wanted to talk about one of the most influential and motivational/inspirational people that I had the pleasure of serving under while I was in the army.  He was a bit of an anomaly to me.  We lovingly called him the Dragon Master....not because he had a fire breathing fury, but because of his love of Dungeons and Dragons.  He had a laid back way about him the way that you would think of him as a surfer and not as someone who had a coveted mustard stain on his jump wings from a combat jump into Panama.  In fact, I only saw him raise his voice in anger one time; the other times he would raise his voice was when he was telling stories about being a young ranger clearing buildings in Panama with a SAW (squad automatic weapon, not the yard tool).  Then he would break out into the Van Halen song "Panama".  It was pretty entertaining.  A lot of people liked the Dragon Master because he was a laid back Senior NCO, which is often a rarity in the world of the knuckle draggers, but for myself and the few that had the pleasure to serve directly with him in harms way, we loved him for a different reason.

Before I continue, take a quick inventory of the people in your life that you consider close.  What would you do for those people and what would they do for you?  What's the worst situation you can imagine to be in and what role would those people play in helping you get through?  I leave this non-specific because different people we are close to play different roles in our lives.  We could be a parent or the child, the boss or the employee, or the friend coworker or sibling.  The roles will vary by person.  I speak in reference to the Dragon Master in terms of he was my boss, but he never asserted himself that way.  He is one of the few people that I would go to the gates of Hell with...and I...we volunteered to have that privilege. 

People pay thousands and thousands of dollars to go to seminars or to take classes to learn how to manage and lead people in organizations.  When I was working on my MBA, I took leadership and management classes that tried to teach these things, but none of them really grasped the concepts and lessons that I learned from the Dragon Master.  I could share stories about his composure and leadership in combat, but that's not what set him apart.  The story that should be taught in leadership and management seminars or in MBA coursework for anyone who wants to lead or inspire people is not one of adventure, courage in the face of danger, or an act of heroism.   It's quite the opposite of that.  

During one particular deployment, our team was required to live in a particular austere area.  With that being said, we were afforded the opportunity to stay in a lovely house/compound of a Ba'ath party official who no longer had use for it.  It really was a nice home, but with the condition of the utilities in that area lacked basic utilities, like running water.  This meant that we had to build our own bathroom facilities.  I won't go into the finer points of this, but I will just say that anything that wasn't consisting of a number one, went into a barrel which you would have to burn once said barrel got too full.  This was a duty was shared by everyone except the Dragon Master.  He of course, being our leader, was spared this so he could have more time to work on becoming a level six wizard or whatever he chose to pursue.  

Work is prioritized, but always done.  So if you were out on a mission or patrol or any number of things that could and would happen, work was always done when you returned.  Weapons and equipment cleaned and ready, ensuring your position is guarded and you have established lines of communication, then whatever "house work" is needed (poo burning), then you can eat or sleep or have down time.  There was an idea of what a schedule would be like, but mission requirements would never really allow for it. 

I had just come off a patrol that should have been routine, but because we were playing tour guide, which should've been a simple eight hours, turned into eighteen.  We were pretty exhausted when we got back and fortunately for me, it was not my turn to burn any waste.  It was around 0300 when we got back and I remember taking off my gear and laying down.  I woke up a couple hours later and it was really quite.  I figured it would be a good time just to have some alone time.  So I got my boots and stepped outside.  To my surprise, I see the Dragon Master out there with a five gallon can of JP-8 stirring a barrel full of waste.  I walked over to him and tried to take over, but he wouldn't let me.  He told me to go back and get some more sleep.  I couldn't do that, so I grabbed another barrel and started another fire next to him and got to work.  

The Dragon Master did not lack courage or bravery, he is up there with the best of them.  I've witnessed it.  There is no shortage of bravery or heroes in the military.  There are countless stories across countless wars that can share those acts heroism.  And yes, maybe they inspire people.  For me, it was the humility of the Dragon Master, that inspired me.  I never once saw him eat or take care of his own needs before one of his guys.  The fact that he would do the tedious tasks that he did not have to do nor were required of him and he would never make a show of the fact that he was doing it.  

Not many days go by that I don't think about the Dragon Master and the other guys I served with.  I wonder if he knows the impact that he had on us.  When I look at the changes I have made in my life and the effect that it has had on others, I can't help but think about the Dragon Master.  He led by example, it didn't matter about his awards or achievements, he just did the job and we saw him do it.  It wasn't until after that deployment that a lot of us learned about all of his awards and achievements, but that didn't change the regard that we held him in.  For me, I have degrees and certificates that say that I should be an expert on health and fitness and nutrition and everything related, but I was not living that example.  None of those pieces of paper helped reach or inspire anyone until I started embracing the change that I have been going through; which is switching to a low-carb, high fat diet.  That was the first step into opening up the door to reaching people who are in the same situation that I was in.  

If you don't have a Dragon Master of your own, don't panic.  There is an easy solution.  Put the needs of those people in your life who you are responsible for before your own and put in the work...all of the work, not just the stuff that will get you recognition.  There is no easy solution except the solution itself.  That's not meant to sound cryptic, it's just what it is.  If you are trying to lose weight, follow the steps that we have laid out here.  It's that easy.  The journey isn't always, but you just have to put in the work and then it will seem easy.  Don't over think it, just do it.