In December 2020, I was working out with my oldest brother when the congratulatory messages came rolling in; I had been selected to attend resident United States Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School. Normally, junior officers celebrate this news because it means you were board-selected to continue your education at Marine Corps University which is accredited to award Master’s Degrees. Instead, I was annoyed (to say the least) because I could only think of all the late nights/early mornings I spent to complete the distant education variant of the school I was selected to attend. I was even more annoyed by the fact that I was leaving behind a great team of people just as we were starting to work together and make significant progress.
After I finished what I can only describe as a private adult tantrum, I remembered one of my favorite verses that I learned as a child:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.Romans 8:28 NLT
That is when I decided to take my own advice and shift my perspective on the opportunity I was about to pursue.
*Author’s note on spiritual fitness*
It is easy to talk about physical fitness because anyone can track and observe tangible results. Mental fitness is fun to talk about because I am enamored by the brain, so I nerd out on things like the cognitive process and neuroplasticity. However, though it is equally as important, I admittedly do not discuss spiritual fitness enough. Too often we associate spirituality with a religious affiliation. I teach that our spirituality is customized to each individual person. Our spirituality guides our moral compass and gives us a reason to live and “do” that exceeds personal gain. Many people call the latter our “purpose” or “higher calling.”
Our spirituality allows us to realize that our situations are all temporary; however, we remain hopeful because we firmly believe each of those situations–whether bleak or lush–are interconnected and will work together to create a favorable outcome. This gives us the courage to search for the growth opportunities in each circumstance. Therefore, when approaching any circumstance, I challenge you to ask two questions: 1. “How can I accomplish my purpose while here? (Extrospection)” 2. “What can I personally and professionally learn from this? (Introspection)”*
I shifted my perspective
Once I shifted my perspective, I was able to develop personal and professional goals. I will share a few of them with you in hopes that I can help you establish and pursue your own goals. Use these as an example vice a threshold, because quite honestly, I did much better in some categories than others.
Just a few of the personal and professional goals I set last summer
- Improve cardiovascular endurance
- How did I do? I decreased my run time by forty-nine seconds.
- Make better dietary choices to improve physical appearance
- How did I do? I cut several food items to include dairy milk. As a result, I lost nine pounds and reduced my body fat percentage by approximately 2-3%
- Help train others to prepare them for their upcoming promotion board.
- How did I do? I offered to train anyone who was willing to train first thing in the morning. One person accepted the challenge, and we began training in September 2021. She was able to achieve a 300/300 Combat Fitness Test score and a 295/300 Physical Fitness Test score. Additionally, she had noticeable changes in her physique and established a workout regimen that she plans to continue.
- Become more studious and a more avid reader
- How did I do? In conjunction with my school studies, I read and studied several additional books on diverse topics and a plethora of scholarly articles. These books ranged from The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy to We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah by Patrick K. O’Donnell to The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge
- Become a more clear and succinct writer and write a scholarly article to publish
- How did I do? I am sure my Faculty Advisor (he reviewed all of my papers) may argue that the “succinct” portion of that goal is subjective, but I believe I did well :D. More importantly, I was awarded the Marine Corps University Foundation Academic Year 2021-2022 “Mutter Marines Command and Control Writing Award” for my argumentative research paper entitled, “Adapt or Perish: A call to revise the Marine Corps Command, Control, Communications, and Computer (C4) Architecture.” At the time of this post, none of my articles have been published, but I am still working with a few editors for future publication.
- Collaborate with organizations and media outlets to inspire our future generation to pursue their dreams
- How did I do? I was featured in several articles, podcasts, and elementary school visits. Check out this link to see a couple of the articles!
- Dedicate time to spend with family
- How did I do? I made it a point to attend every extracurricular activity and practice that I could attend for my children. My children’s extracurricular activities included music lessons, football (in season), basketball (in season), and baseball (in season). Additionally, I did my best to always study and build my personal brand when my family was sleep (either early in the morning or late at night). I knew that I had to take advantage of this opportunity while in school, because work requirements sometimes hamper my ability to give my wife and children the time they deserve.
My hope for you
I hope you are able to use my experience and examples to prepare for your next challenge! All the obstacles you have encountered (to include what you are working to overcome right now) will work together for your benefit. Be encouraged and inspired to keep progressing, keep setting and pursuing your goals, and go win. I believe in you!
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