In the honest and unapologetically spoken words of Major Ben Seims at the Army National Guard’s inaugural Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) conference, “You need to self-extricate - Nobody is coming to rescue you.”
We are all responsible for ourselves. Falling within someone else’s scope of responsibility does not relieve you from taking action and holding yourself accountable for your own level of health and performance. Likewise, if you lead a small group, you cannot relinquish responsibility for its mental and physical fitness just because higher command isn’t holding your hand or handing you resources like time, equipment, and expertise on a silver platter. I can promise you that somebody somewhere is doing more with less. You can get proactive and creative or you can play the victim until some human health and performance hero comes to save you. However, it has been my experience that those who wait for a lifeline will continue to make excuses for their victimhood, even when the rope is dangling right in front of them. Worse yet, helpless leaders breed helpless followers who become the next generation of helpless leaders.
At the end of the day, the resources you need to obtain and/or make available to those other your charge include:
Inspiration (a reason to make an effort)
Expertise (access to effective products or services)
Education (potential to increase scope of practice)
Space & Equipment (to accommodate the masses not the privileged)
Time (the most finite and hard to come by resource)
Find proactive and creative ways to obtain those resources.
Health & Performance Personnel
I’m not just addressing uniformed personnel. Coaches and health/performance staff cannot twiddle their thumbs while feeling lonely and complaining to each other in unheated broom closets, waiting for a weight room full of obedient soldiers and freshly forged iron. Many coaches struggle because they arrive in the tactical space with a sense of entitlement, feeling they should be automatically given access, time, space, equipment, authority, and respect. However, unless you’re fortunate enough to ride the coattails of professionals who paved the way before you, all of those things are privileges and not rights.
You are a guest in someone else’s house and need to prove your worth before asking which room is yours. I like to relate it to the bar scene - Don’t ask the bartender to pour you a stiff drink on the first round before you’ve tipped him. Show your value as a customer first and slide a few bucks across the counter as an investment in round two. That said, the bartender is likely to lead with a little extra whiskey in hopes you’ll notice and respond in kind. Regardless of whether you’re the patron or the bartender, your investment is a faith based value add with no guaranteed reciprocation.
As former Marine, Coach, and industry thought leader Jason Clark says, “They might know your product but they don’t know your value.” It’s up to you to prove your worth without sacrificing your integrity. You are employed to serve those who serve, not to serve your own ego. Sometimes that means sacrificing your ideals for the sake of progress, integrating yourself into their world effectively while earning their trust, instead of trying to get them to buyin to your world just because that’s how it worked when you were an assistant coach working with collegiate athletes.
Don’t wait for big budget solutions to do and be better. Your fitness is your own responsibility. You are only a victim if you allow yourself to be one. It does not take a blank check or even leadership aligning the stars of policy for you to prioritize your physical and mental health, wellness, and performance. Make it happen for yourself and those under your charge.