Managing Time and Expectations

So in the podcast the other day, we discussed setting intentions and managing expectations.  I have realized that ranking priorities will often lead to things getting pushed back or not done at all.  As I am preparing for the rapidly approaching ultra races, I have had to learn where to fit in training and keeping a flexible, open schedule.  This same approach we can apply to our nutrition.  If you are following a macro protocol, make your goals soft as you are learning the process.  For example, if you want to keep your carbs under 25g per day, allow yourself a 10g buffer.  What I'm saying is don't let your overall goal be jeopardized by a smaller goal.  If you go over by a few grams, it's not going to impede your overall progress.  This is something that my wife is learning as she has decided to go keto.  As she is trying to stay under a number of carbs, she is sacrificing calories to stay under that number.  This will lead to other problems down the road.  So I convinced her to go over by a couple grams, but she was able to get an additional 400 calories and she isn't really putting her goals in jeopardy.  Also, she isn't checking ketone levels, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to adhere to a diet to get you into a state that you aren't checking to see if you are in.  Just the decrease in carbs will make a huge impact.

So as you move into becoming more active, the same principle applies.  If you are active, that will be ok if you miss a day at the gym or on the trail and even if you have a day where you aren't that active, you will be ok if you get after it the next day.  So when I talked about having to reschedule my longer run with my son because of weather, I wanted to make sure that I got those miles in.   

So it is officially winter in Detroit or at least for the next couple of weeks and getting out in the weather is unavoidable.  It also is a chaotic time of the year, so balancing everything going on in your life can be tricky.  For me, I try to fit my training into the openings that I have in my schedule.  I had a meeting get cancelled, so I found myself with an opening in my schedule, so I took advantage of it.  We were coming off the tail end of a snow storm and it was in the mid-20's outside, but I already pushed this run once because of weather, so I was pretty motivated to get it in.  I had also  planned for the occasion that I might have some time to get miles in at work, which helped.  Being that I am a few weeks before the race, I also know that I need to work out some issues before the race as well.  

snowrun2.JPG

Specifically, I wanted to figure out what best to wear so I don't become a popsicle and how I should fuel and hydrate during an extended run.  I won't go into the particulars of my plan, but I will say that testing your equipment and plans is very important.  (Sidebar: This is also true with understanding how our bodies react to what we eat and our macro ratios in everyday life.) 

In terms of what I learned- Merino wool is amazing, it is the base layer that I will be using because it can still keep you warm when it's wet.  I've always heard the advertisements, but I'm finding that it really is worth the cost.  Also, you can get it for relatively cheap if you get previous years styles.  It also doesn't stink.  In a more disgusting experiment, which my wife does not approve of, I have been wearing that merino shirt everyday when I train and exercise and I'm not washing it.  Merino is advertised for not getting "stinky" if it isn't washed after numerous days of wearing, so a few days in and so far, it actually doesn't smell that bad. 

The second lesson learned is make sure your on the road snack is stored in a place where it won't freeze.  I was experimenting with a low carb, high fat nut butter type snack, but it froze during the run, so that made it very hard to eat and run.

snowfeet2.JPG

Third lesson is bring a lot of water.  I had brought three 500ml hydroflask water bottles with me and they were gone by mile 10.  Keep in mind that it was around 26 degrees when I did this run in several inches of snow.   After the run, I weighed myself and I had lost 8 lbs...this is not a by-product of ketosis, but sweating.  That's all water, so be mindful that even if it is cold out, you still need to be mindful of your hydration status.  

 

The last lesson is make sure your gear is good to go.  My running vest lacks some water proof pockets, so phones/electronics needed to be in Zip-lock bag.  It also rubs a little in the neck, which I had to make some padding adjustments.  And lastly, because I was soaking wet, my sleeves rubbed the face of my Garmin (or at least this is what I think had happened) and it stopped my session 2/3 of the way through my run.  I had to start it back up, which wasn't a huge deal, just more of an inconvenience.  

So to wrap this up, be realistic with your expectations.  Allow yourself some flexibility with exercise or training regimens and with your macros as well.  Keep your expectations firm, but plan to be flexible.  Start to think about things that could affect your expectations (dietary and exercise) and plan on strategies to work around them.  More importantly, prepare yourself to take advantage of the times that opportunity presents itself...like a cancelled meeting and you have some extra time on your hands.  These are the hours that we tend to waste online or on social media.  Take that gifted time and be proactive, that way when you have to be reactive (snow day and kids are home from school or you have to work late), it won't derail you from your goals and expectations.  

 

Every Situation is Learning Opportunity

One of the great by-products of expressing daily gratitude (using an app or journal; eg. Headspace or 5 Minute Journal) is that it helps keep you grounded and humble.  This has helped me look at every opportunity as another chance to learn...here's a specific example.  My wife has decided to try out a ketogenic diet.  I'm very proud of her for this because she was resistant of it for a long time because of traditional nutritional group think that is taught in the medical education and continued into the medical field.  Ironically enough, she was familiar with the ketogenic diet because of the role it plays in oncology and she knew the positive role that it played in the treatment of cancer.  Sometimes though, it's hard to make the transition from what will work in one area and applying it to another area with the same degree of success.  I am guilty of that as well.  

So we were talking the yesterday and she was telling me about several "Keto" Facebook groups that she has joined.  She really enjoys them and she learns more from them, than anything that I have said or podcasts that I have sent her to listen to.  (My mom also has told her how much she doesn't like the podcasts that I recommend as well)  Then it dawned on me, I am a science and data snob.  I am skeptical of all information from these groups, until I can "validate" them.  My attitude about this has been so wrong and I need to change my approach.  

I talk about creating an echo chamber as a means for change and I recommend podcasts and books and literature because that's what worked for me.  These Facebook groups are also an echo chamber and they have helped my wife choose to embrace a low-carb high fat approach to eating.  Yes, she has seen the results that I have had, but what also speaks to her are other woman going who have gone through these positive changes and the sharing of ideas and recipes.  

So I still remain skeptical of the things that I see, but at the end of the day, the information doesn't have to be precise if I am bracketing my approach.  I stopped looking at all health metrics and focused only on my macro ratios; specifically carbs.  That wouldn't pass in a scientific, peer-reviewed journal, but that doesn't matter because I was looking to change, not publish findings.  

Whatever you need to do to form your echo chamber...Blogs, Podcasts, Books, Facebook groups...do it.  Create your echo chamber and be open to new ideas!

Paying Back the Deposed King of Nigeria

So I was just checking my podcast analytics and the majority of my listeners are in the U.S.  I'm ok with that because a lot of what I'm trying to do is reaching the veteran community, which is largely in the U.S.  So it came as a surprise to me when I was looking at my podcast analytics to discover that I have a listening base in Nigeria.  I have no doubt that it is the deposed King of Nigeria who has offered to send me hundreds of thousands of dollars in the mid-2000's.  I have always been in strong opposition to him and have been in favor of his exile, so it's a little weird to see that he is one of my (assumed) listeners.  

Podcast Analytics.JPG

It looks like I need to diversify my audience....

With that being said, I am still waiting for the King to send me my $10,000 check.

Teammate or Competitor

"A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others..."

 -Ayn Rand

Now I'm not a huge Ayn Rand fan, but I saw this and it got me thinking about a time in my life that was one of the most competitive.  I was playing soccer in Romania and on the team I was on we had several goalkeepers.  Now realistically, I was young and out of the five keepers we had, I was number 5, but I developed a fantastic relationship another one of the goalkeepers, who in my opinion would should have been 3 on the depth chart.  I think that both he and I were looked at as the bottom of the barrel because we were both young Americans. The top two keepers were both very good and seasoned professionals and the race to be number three on the depth chart was amongst myself and my American friend and another Romanian guy who'd come up through the club system.  

This isn't about the three Romanian keepers, but my American teammate.  As Americans, we have a different attitude and mentality when it comes to training.  We believed that the hard work was the way to get better and we trained early and often...three and four times a day.  We would show up an hour before training and stay an hour after...always working and always trying to get better.  There were somethings that he could do better than me and some things that I could do better than him.  We often joked if you put us together, you would have the perfect keeper.  

As time went on, we lived together in the same apartment and trained together.  At night we would do what was referred to as, "the workout from hell".  This was various timed sets of different types of calisthenics and weight lifting exercises.  These workouts would routinely go on for two plus hours.  When I look back at that now as a sports scientist, it was definitely not the best way to improve ourselves in any way and it increased out likelihood of injury.  Ironically enough, neither of us were injured, aside from my broken thumb, which was more of a fluke accident during a game.  

So flash forward after months of this training tempo.  The first team keeper breaks his leg.  The next game, a cup game, the backup keeper has the worst game a keeper could have and was taken out and shot...just kidding, he was immediately demoted.  This left the starter position open and the competition was on.  I remember my American friend and the other Romanian keeper getting a lot of reps and I was still spending time with the reserves.  I look back and there was not one second where I was bitter or upset by it.  I was so happy for him and it was like all of the hard work we were doing had paid off.  

As it turned out, the other Romanian keeper ended up getting the go ahead for the next game which was the equivalent of Monday Night Football in America.  The whole country watched and he had the game of his life.  We knew what this meant for us, but we were ok with that.  My American friend went to a few other countries on trial with some other big clubs, but he ended up back with me because our agent was not the best and he got kind of screwed, but that's another story.  I eventually ended up returning to the U.S. to pursue playing here and he stayed another season or two in Romania and ended up coming back to the US and playing for a few more years.  

When I look back at that time and think about it now, I had one of the best relationships with a person who I was in direct competition with.  We pushed each other to find the best that could be.  I wonder what would've happened if it wasn't like that.  Would I have developed as a player like I did or I wonder how he would have fared?  

Think about this situation and can you fit this in your life?  Do you have a coworker that you are in direct competition with?  If so, how well do you work together?  Do you do things to undercut their standing within the group or in front of your boss?  Maybe the roles are reversed?  Maybe your situation isn't at work.  It might be the politics of the neighborhood or school?  The PTA and school functions can be a savage environment.  Are you in competition with other parents there...and if so why?  

These things are FWP (first world problems) for sure, but we can do things to solve them.  Be transparent, be empathetic, be yourself without expectations of those other people.  If you feel that level of competition with someone else, take some time to get to know them and for them to get to know you.  When we open up communication and can be honest with each other, it will improve our relationships and it will truly make those competitors your teammates.  

Episode #8- FWP

Today we discuss perspective, motivation, and first world problems.  This is geared a little more to the veterans out there, but it should also be insightful to those out there who aren't familiar with that world.  

As we move into the holidays, let's focus on being grounded and putting our lives issues in the proper perspective, moving towards our goals like R.K.H., and learning when to shake our heads and be glad that if all we have our FWP than things really can't be that bad.  

Remember to keep putting that right foot in front of your left and find your headwind!

Episode #7- Momentum

In this episode, we recap some of the high points of the week and discuss some feedback we have received.  We talk about yesterdays  blog post about finding headwind and moving past the obstacles in our way.  

We also discuss strategies for breaking our hamster wheel routines, as well as setting our intentions.

Here's a link to find the JP Deuce Statue in Detroit (area) https://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/45041

Lastly, for all of your design needs, look no further than the good folks at Saint Creative. http://saint-creative.com/

Bandit you're wreckless.....

Headwind

With the reality of my first ultra race staring me in the face, I have begun to ramp up my training.  I have been trying to fit in two a day training into my day, which has begun to pose various problems for me.  I am in the middle of a launch, so work is pretty hectic and I'm trying to figure out what dietary changes that I need to accommodate this new work load.  I have been following a pretty strict 18/6 intermittent fasting program as well as an extremely low carb diet and I have noticed that I have been inadvertently creating a pretty substantial caloric deficit.  

If you follow a ketogenic diet and a time restricted eating schedule, this is a fairly common pitfall.  I discussed this on yesterday's podcast, so I won't really talk about that today.  What I want to discuss is headwind.  In order to fit in my daily training, I have to run at and around work.  The way that the terrain and buildings are situated, it creates a lot of channels for wind.  As I was running yesterday, I felt like I was running into wind tunnel and as I was thinking about my previous runs, I was thinking how that it always feels like I'm running into a headwind, regardless of the direction that I'm heading. 

I was about four miles out and I was at my turn around point and I was almost feeling a little discouraged about heading back into a strong headwind; I was off pace and I just wasn't feeling that great.  It was at that point when a thought came back into my mind from when I was in the army feeling the burden of an extended ruck march...."just keep putting your right foot in front of your left foot".  And that's what I did.  Without realizing it, my pace had picked up to where I wanted to be and I was heading back into that headwind.  I wasn't thinking about anything, just putting my right foot in front of my left and I even changed my route back and added an extra mile or so to the run.   

In life, headwind presents itself in many different ways.  Sometimes it's an insurmountable task at work, finding time to get everything done and sometimes it's making hard choices with our diet and lifestyle...at times it can be dealing with personal tragedy.  When those times come, just keep putting your right foot in front of your left foot.  If you keep doing that, you can get through any headwind.

Episode #6- Avoiding Common Pitfalls

So we went a little longer today than normal, but we covered a lot of ground.  

We discuss a couple of common pitfalls when we are going through lifestyle changes; specifically not understanding the nutrient density of our food and under eating and creating inadvertant calorie deficit.

We continue to discuss the importance of creating an echo chamber and finding hope.

For further information, find us online at www.arsenalofhope.org and follow us on social media @arsenalofhope on twitter and instagram and arsenalofhopedetroit on facebook. 

For all of your creative and design needs, please go to our friends at Saint Creative  (www.saint-creative.com)

Episode #5- Post-Thanksgiving Report

Our post thanksgiving episode.  Here are a few of the things I promised to include in notes

Real Good Pizza - https://realgoodfoods.com/

Keto Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe- https://www.lowcarbmaven.com/low-carb-buffalo-chicken-dip/

Other Podcasts for your echo chamber; they are itunes links, but those podcasts are available everywhere else as well.  Listen, Subscribe, Enjoy! 

Primal Blueprint

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/primal-blueprint-podcast/id789935889?mt=2

Found my Fitness

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/foundmyfitness/id818198322?mt=2

 Revolution Health

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/revolution-health-radio/id372257397?mt=2

 Livin la vida low carb

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-livin-la-vida-low-carb-show-with-jimmy-moore/id324601605?mt=2

Paleo Solution

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/robb-wolf-paleo-solution-podcast-paleo-diet-nutrition/id340221970?mt=2

Tim Ferris Show

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-tim-ferriss-show/id863897795?mt=2

And lastly, the January Race, The Yankee Springs Winter Challenge

http://switchbackendurance.com/yankee-springs-winter-challenge/

Thanks for listening!  

Parsimony

Parsimony is defined by Miriam Webster as follows:

Definition of parsimony

1a :the quality of being careful with money or resources: thrift

  • the necessity of wartime parsimony

b :the quality or state of being stingy 

  • The charity was surprised by the parsimony of some larger corporations.

2:economy in the use of means to an end; especially :economy of explanation in conformity with Occam's Razor.

For the intents and purposes of today, I will refer to #2.  Occam's Razor in it's most rudimentary form is with all things being equal, the simplest explanation is the usually the correct one.  

We make our lives complicated, but it doesn't have to be.  On the podcast yesterday, I talked about the importance of micro routines versus regular routines.  I want to reinforce that today.  There are some pretty simple solutions out there for some of the issues out there that we are facing.  I am speaking in terms of creating and maintaining lifestyle changes.  Are you suffering from chronic pain, struggling to lose weight, lacking self-confidence, or trying to figure out what your place in the world is?  

I have been there and it's taken me a lot of attempts and failures to get to where I am now.  When I wake up now and I'm sore, it's because I pushed myself in a workout, I have lost over 115 lbs this past year which goes hand in hand with my confidence, and as far as finding my place in the world, well, that remains to be seen, but I am able to be a better father and husband now and I hope that my journey will bring hope to people who have been in my shoes.  

If there was one factor or simplest answer that has helped me solve my problem it's carbohydrates.  (I know I preached that it's never just one thing, it's the sum total of several things that leads to change, so bear with me, I'm going some where with this.)  For me, I have been pretty well versed in nutrition and dietetics, I've gone so far as publishing a nutrition and hydration protocol that I created and used with an Olympic Development team that won a national championship.  However, this knowledge was based on research and accumulated on the same pretense that is behind the nutritional group think that is causing our obesity and heart disease pandemic and has made over 100 million people in the U.S. diabetic or pre-diabetic.  

If you have followed the website's "guide to change" you are familiar with creating an echo chamber.  For me, as I sat in my echo chamber and I listened to people who are experts in the field, MD's and PhD's who are not just publishing research, but are also helping people change, I felt that I needed to explore the idea of going low carb, high fat.  That's when I started the Ketogenic Diet.  Flash forward almost a year and I don't do a strict keto diet, but I definitely stay low carb...most days around 25g of carbs.  With all of the training I've been doing, I've been experimenting with 50g-100g some days.  I started with my Occam's Razor, which was carbohydrates and their role in my life.  There's so much research on this on PubMed that you can get lost for days.  A great book it Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf.  He talks about the variability that carbs can have on different people.  It's a great resource and I recommend it.  There's a link to it on our Gear page.  

Once I realized the role that carbs played in my life, it has led me to new things that I didn't think were possible.  I wasn't exercising when I started the Keto diet, but I started to again.  My echo chamber helped me find new and alternative activities and training, which is why I started looking into Ultra Running and why this has turned into something that I am trying.  I have started exploring other training styles like Gymnastics Body training (I'm not affiliated with them, but I have started one of their foundation's programs and I really like it).  Also, the reduction of carbs and increasing fat has helped my chronic pain and other issues that I have dealt with as a result of my time in the army; specifically my PTS/TBI.  If you're skeptical, do your due diligence and get PubMed or Google Scholar and look up ketogenic diet and chronic pain, or low carb and PTSD or any combination and you will find a lot of research showing that low carb high fat living can help treat/manage/cure all sorts of conditions that are facing not just the veteran population, but community and public health.  

So moving into the holiday season, my challenge to you is to start your echo chamber and start learning about alternative nutrition and physical activity options.  On the creating an echo chamber section of the website, there are some resources to get you started. 

The holidays should always be a time of hope.  If you have lost yours, let us help you find it.  If you are interested in health coaching or getting started, please contact us here in the contact section or on social media.  

The world's most useless degree...

Every time I meet my VA Vocational Rehab counselor, she reminds me that I have $100,000 education that I'm not actually using to make a living from...this in fact is true...kindof.  I do work as an engineer and my education does help me in my job at times, but not directly.  I do not hold an engineering degree, even though I am working on one.  I have undergrad and graduate degrees in kinesiology.  It's not the world's most useless degree, but not far from it.  You can argue the utility of a kinesiology degree and you will probably hear the strongest arguments from people who hold them, but it really doesn't translate into anything, unless you want to go into research or teaching kinesiology.  Sure you can specialize in one of the pillars of kinesiology, which a lot of people do, but it's generally hard to make a good living without additional skill sets that aren't always related.  Go to your sales or marketing department and I can guarantee that there's at least one person there who has an exercise science related degree. 

Kinesiology has five pillars; biomechanics, psychology, motor control/motor behavior, exercise physiology, and sociology.  You can make an argument for or against sociology, but I add it in there because I think that it's an important to include in the psycho-social aspects of movement science.  This degree on it's own can give you a great deal of knowledge and understanding into human performance, but on it's own, it's relatively useless professionally.  It's generally a degree you get before medical school or to be a physical therapist or any other allied health profession.

One of the things that my degree uniquely qualifies me to do is provide commentary on trends in health and wellness.  I do this through this platform because it's something that I am passionate about, not because it provides me a financial windfall.  So back to my useless, but useful education.  One of the things that I like about it is that if you apply the pillars of kinesiology into helping people (athletes, patients, or people who want to make a change) is that it forces you look at all of the variables affecting someone.  Working with athletes, I look at foot placement, joint angles/kinematics, loading patterns, conditioning requirements, fueling requirements, the mindset needed, individual and team interactions (sport depending), balance, timing/tracking, coordination, etc.  I applied the same approach to patients in the rehab and post-rehab setting, and working with individuals trying to make lifestyle changes.  

The point that I am trying to get at is that there is no silver bullet to long-term or permanent behavior and lifestyle change.  You have to address all of the issues.  I speak a lot about reducing all carbohydrates and increasing fats, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to go keto...I don't even like calling it keto because that's now becoming such a fad.  Also, not everyone needs to be on a ketogenic diet, but almost all of us can benefit from reducing carbs and increasing fat.  I also don't prescribe to a specific training or exercise program.  There are a lot of great ones out there, but most of us don't need to be crossfitters...if you are that's great and I love what it brings to the table, but at the end of the day, we don't need to be.  I have worked with people who want to get back to doing the activities that they used to do...like going to a dance class or rollerskating.  Once you can get back to those type of activities, that's a great workout and you are doing it with other people, so you are reinforcing your sense of community.  That social aspect is so important to, not just changing behavior, but maintaining those changes.  

So the big takeaway for the day, don't build your house of change with only one pillar.  Find the nutritional plan that will work best for you, find a way to be active or exercise that you enjoy, start engaging in activities that get you involved with other people.  If you don't, your house of change will fall like a house of cards...

Preparing for Black Friday

So without a doubt, my least favourite time of the year is Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  It's the time of year when we sell our souls for deals on trinkets and wampum.  I'm in favor of saving money, but it's been getting more and more extreme every year.  By extreme, I mean, the sales are starting on Thanksgiving Day...not even at night anymore.  Now I'm not here to stand on a soapbox because I do understand that some people rely on these deals to get things that they might not be able to normally afford.  I talk a lot about food and nutrition, which is to be expected at this time of year, but I want to talk about something that's as important as what we are eating...it's who we are eating with. 

Loneliness and lacking a sense of community have been identified as key factors effecting our health and have been shown to substantially increase risk of mortality.  Lack of community or sense of has also been identified as one of the factors behind increased veteran suicide rates.  The holidays can be stressful and I know that sitting with your extended family for an over-indulgent meal, followed by football games on tv, chasing your kids around hoping that they don't break grandma's good china (or whatever relic from yesteryear that will run the risk of destruction at the hands of your kids), and talking with your crazy uncle who may or may not be a part of a militia are definitely not the recipe for a good time.  I would also say that standing in line with a thousand other crazed shoppers who are all trying to get their hands on the same discounted electronics/clothes/toys that you are, is also not either.  

So what can we do to help make this a better time for us?  

1.) Bring an typical dish in addition to your green bean casserole or whatever traditional dish that you signed up for.  If you make mashed potatoes, bring a mashed cauliflower dish also.  Or go ethnic and bring chan masala, saag paneer, or tandoori chicken (I'm craving indian food now).  Go a step further and get your kids involved in making it, that way they can guilt their aunts and uncles into eating it.  

2.) Pass on watching football and get out and play with the kids.  That way you can control the chaos and ensure that grandma's treasures don't get broken.  Come up with things that can be inclusive of all age groups...bonus points for creativity and if you can incorporate a craft into it.  Have the first annual family turkey trot or turkey bowl and have the people who can't physically participate make signs, banners, awards, so everyone can be involved.  

3.) Unavoidable uncomfortable conversations with your crazy uncle...This is unavoidable...embrace it....you know it's coming and you know what to expect so don't just embrace it....engage with him.  Ask him why he thinks the government is trying to steal his land...or ask him about why he got into leather goods and turquoise, is it just a fashion statement or is there a greater cause to it.  All kidding aside, every family has it's own level of dysfunction, but once we can embrace that dysfunction, we will start to have more organic and real relationships with the people that we (are supposed to) love.

4.) Shopping...I know you're going to go...it's unavoidable.  It's the new, worst tradition.  So since you are going to do it anyways, let's make the most of it.  So here is your  assignment...at every store you go to, park at the back of the parking lot...you already have to wait in line and people are going to be crazy, so be smart and take the opportunity to know exactly where your car is (the farthest point from the entrance) and you are going to burn some extra calories.  Secondly, whether you are by yourself or you went with other people, create an alliance with a complete stranger/group of strangers as you wait in line.   Once you've established your alliance, develop a mutually exclusive strategy to help each other get what you have come for...you can run the triangle offense or pick and roll to get the best deals or run a box 1 defense to keep people away from the racks with the cutest clothes for the kids....at the checkout, exchange social media or contact information with your new found allies.  If you are a black friday warrior, by the end of it, you should have made around 50 new friends.  

There's one other thing that I didn't mention...this is the time of year to remember what's important in our lives...to be thankful for what we have...and to hopefully pay it forward. 

 

Please comment or share your Thanksgiving and Black Friday adventures.  

 

Reflections from Veteran's Day...

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”-GK Chesterton 

The longer that I'm removed from my military service, the easier it has been to reconcile what I went through and how I feel about it all.  I'm more partial to that quote than to the go to John 15:13 verse that is thrown around all too often around this time of year.  I've stood shoulder to shoulder and laid down rounds to provide cover for teammates and I have relied on those same guys to cover me.  It's truly a unique situation when you trust another person with your life...I mean your survival depends on their abilities and actions...let that sink in...if they don't do their job, it can cost you your life...and if you don't do your job, it can cost them their life.  

I think about working as a civilian.  If I don't do my job now, our timing could be delayed or at worst, a product launch is delayed.  If one of my coworkers doesn't do their jobs, the consequences are the same.  My life isn't in their hands and vice versa...but imagine if it was.  How much attention to detail would be put into our jobs?  Would that effect the amount of time that we spend online or on social media during the day?  

I know it's hard to love your job (for most of us) and I know that it can be hard to like coworkers at times, let alone love them.  For most of us, our company's bottom line isn't going to make or break us, so it can be hard to find motivation to be great at what we do when it isn't going to have an affect on your bottom line.  So here's some homework for you...empathy. 

Each day, I want you find one person and think about what it's like to be them.  Maybe talk to them and learn a little bit more about them.  Think about what they are going through, at work, at home, and think about what effect that you have on them.  You don't have to like them or even get along with them, just try to understand them and how you fit into their world.  Here's why...this is something that you might not understand about veterans because veterans find community with each other and everyone thinks of being a band of brothers or being a tribe or whatever you want to label it.  We didn't like everyone we served with.  In fact there were people that we absolutely couldn't stand and would curse their existence.  For every great leader, there were several bad ones and for every great person you had under you, there was always at least one who couldn't tell their right from their left (there's more colorful terms and phrases to describe those people and every person who's served is saying it right now and shaking their head because they are thinking of that one guy that was in their unit).  

If you start to understand the people you work with or interact with on a daily basis, it's going to help you along your journey.  Practicing empathy, gratitude, and keeping yourself grounded are another part to your path to change.  If you are looking to starting to incorporate this, an easy way to do this is to download the app, Headspace.  This is another great resource to help you, not only practice empathy, but gratitude as well.  

As we move into the holiday season, think about who's in your squad, who's in your platoon, or who's in your unit.  You don't have to be best friends with them and you don't have to agree with their opinions or views, but try to think about things from their perspective.  Your life may not depend on them and vice versa, but trying to understand them will definitely help the way that you interact with them on all levels.