Category Archives: Transitions

If You Know This You’ll Avoid Disappointment

Military life is so efficient compared to civilian life. Systems for avoiding disappointment abound. In my case, platform building is a crucial task. Many days revolve around developing relationships. That way when service members need help my they'll seek me out. As a chaplain, it's not uncommon to build hundreds of connections in a few months, sometimes thousands in a couple of years.

If You Know This You’ll Avoid Disappointment

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Clarity Versus Messiness

Grasping this is key to understanding the frustration veterans experience transitioning to civilian life. We are used to having clear lines of communication and authority that if followed yield results. Even when stymied by red tape, the workaround paths are well worn. Limits are generally self-imposed, such as committing terminal stupidity.

Civilian life is much messier and indirect. Discovering the road to success takes time. Traveling it takes more time. Unanticipated setbacks and dead ends, often no one’s fault, impede progress. For people used to the private sector, disappointment can result. Imagine how much more difficult it is for a veteran trained in a military system reasonably free of such impediments.

For veterans and civilians, the solution is the same:

The military can plan and launch a major campaign in a short period of time with a high expectancy of success. But for individuals rarely is forward movement so swift and dramatic. Life is the continual process of doing mostly menial tasks that when added together over the long-term lead to success.

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When the Temple still stood in Jerusalem day in and day out the priests made an offering called the Tamid, or continual offering. Weekday or holiday, each morning and afternoon, they performed this sacrifice, over 700 times a year. You can reach any goal following the same plan.

4 Steps to Blocking Disappointment

As you reach for success, make this your practice:

  1. Determine which tasks you must perform every day. Get down to absolute essentials. Your time is precious so don't waste it.
  2. Figure out the best way to do them. How can you do them most effectively and efficiently?
  3. Schedule time to do them. Even though they're daily tasks, put them on your task list. When you plan your day (Do so the night before) give them top priority. Then each day, recommit to completing them as efficiently as possible.
  4. Each day, check them off as you complete them. Every time you finish one of your daily tasks you've taken a step closer to your goal. Take a moment to savor your progress.

With life so filled with unforeseen happenings, fog layers the road to success. By focusing on the daily tasks that will lead you toward your goals you experience numerous triumphs each day. They will inoculate you from the disappointment of your success delayed.

How do you maintain enthusiasm for doing the routine tasks of your life?

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When Words Speak Louder Than Actions

Being genuine about who you are and what you desire from life is the indispensable prerequisite to personal development. How can you live intentionally if your words and actions are out of sync?

When Words Speak Louder Than Actions

Thinking back to my navy training experiences, one stands out. After five weeks of Officer Indoctrination School, chaplains moved on to Chaplain School. About two-thirds of the way through the course we had AMEX, an outdoor training designed to prepare us for serving with the Marine Corps.

We went to a National Guard training camp and lived in tents. We ate MREs (meals ready-to-eat). Every day we hiked or ran the obstacle course (well, only the parts the leadership thought would not injure us). We even learned to dig a foxhole. For one exercise, in small groups, we had to run until the instructor yelled drop. At that point, we had to hit the dirt not matter what. My group decided we would purposely run through a flooded area knowing we would be told to drop in the water. When the order came we all belly flopped with our hands out, soaking ourselves but also anyone, including the instructor, who was nearby! Our actions didn't please him.

At the end of the seven days, we had a “Warrior Dinner.” After a week of MREs, we could have anything we wanted. People requested Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonalds. I asked for fresh fruit. The instructor’s chin virtually hit the deck.

“It’s a Warrior Dinner! You can’t have fruit!” Quietly I insisted I could, since the rules were we could have anything we wanted. After further pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth, he agreed.

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On the night of the dinner, probably thinking he'd teach me a lesson, he brought me a bag of fruit big enough to feed a platoon. After a week of highly processed food, I happily gorged on apples, oranges, and grapes

Then a funny thing happened. One by one my colleagues came by to ask me if I had any to spare. The chicken and hamburgers were fine, but the fruit was the icing on the cake.

Throughout Chaplain School the instructors preached that we had to be real with our sailors and Marines, which I took to mean genuine. Yet when I expressed my authentic desire for fruit at the Warriors Dinner, their actions pressured me to conform. Although lost on me at the time, the irony is evident now.

Even among those who advocate that you be real, they may try to mold you to their idea of what you should be. When you resist the pressure to conform applied by those who claim to support your authenticity, you will be firmly on the road to personal development and you are #LivingIntentionally.

How do resist the pressure to conform?

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Veterans Program Launches Today!

I am thrilled to announce the launch of A HIGHER CALLING – Chaplains for Veterans

Round-the-clock chaplain access to veterans and their family members
Helping Hand for Veterans

By dialing toll-free, (800) 80-VETS-4 [800-808-3874], any veteran from World War II to the Gulf Wars can speak to a chaplain. So can their family members. They will not be asked in which branch they served, whether they were wounded or disabled, what type of discharge they received, or if they have a religious affiliation. They will have to answer only one question:

“How may I help you?”
For many service members a chaplain was their lifeline at a time of dire need. Spiritual crisis, emotional trauma, physical debility, a chaplain is there for active duty personnel. But such difficulties do not end when a veteran sheds his uniform for the last time. Confronted with transitioning to civilian life, the need for chaplain support can be greater. But . . .

  • Active duty chaplains are busy taking care of their soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, and Coastguardsmen. Many of them are deployed with their people. They simply cannot shoulder the responsibility of caring for veterans.
  • The Veterans Administration does not have enough chaplains to minister to the patients in their hospitals, let alone their clinics and other facilities.
  • Wounded Warriors, The Soldiers Project, and other worthwhile organizations are taking care of the critically wounded, physically and emotionally, or training heath care professionals to do so better.

What about the veterans who do not have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or are not disabled to the point where they rate care at a VA facility? To where can they turn at a moment of crisis and know they can speak to someone who understands their situation, has shared their experiences?

Two of my colleagues, Father Christopher Allen and Dr. Bryan Dove, and I started A HIGHER CALLING – Chaplains for Veterans to fill this gap. You can learn more about this exciting new venture at the website for the Institute for Living Intentionally.

Do you know a veteran who needs help? Pass along our number, (800) 80-VETS-4 [800-808-3874]. Heck, tell anyone who is willing to listen we are here to help veterans and their families.

Would you like to support our work? Come on active duty with us. You will not have to go to boot camp and have a drill sergeant scream at you day and night (unless you want to – we will arrange it)! By contributing a minimum of $18 per month, the cost to help one veteran, you can enlist in A HIGHER CALLING – Chaplains for Veterans Active Duty Program and be our partner in helping veterans secure a share of the American dream they fought to preserve. Donate here.

Please pass our number along to one veteran that you know and then join us on Active Duty here! Comment here.


You Must Have This to Meet Your Goals

It is the time of year for setting goals. Last week I had my personal planning conference during which I examined the year about to pass and planned for the coming one.

You Must Have This to Meet Your Goals

I had several good accomplishments including seeing my mother more often now that I live closer to her, helping a lot of sailors at Submarine Squadron 11, and overcoming a debilitating back problem. Some of my shortfalls were disappointing: Lapses of speaking properly to Melanie and being patient enough with Madeleine.

Goals → Your Life's Mission

The sum total of my year: success. How do I know? Because I spent the year pursuing my life mission: To be a servant leader who helps people develop their fitness in the physical, mental, and spiritual realms by being a source of inspiration and information. The 11 goals I set for 2013 all supported meeting this mission. So despite having met only 8 of them, I can head into 2014 with a positive outlook and momentum.

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How will you know if a goal is worth pursuing? Does it fit into your life’s mission statement? If you do not have one, learn how to write one here.

If a Goal Does Not Support Your Life’s Mission You Probably Will Not Meet It

Do you want to lose weight, make more money, get promoted at work? All are worthy goals - if they fit into your life plan. I was borderline obese for many years. Dieting and exercise didn't work. I would lose a few pounds then put on even more.

After I got married, having a long, fulfilling marriage with Melanie and setting a good example of physical fitness, were crucial to my life mission. If I could not meet this mission for my family, why would anyone else want to follow me? Within six months I had overhauled my diet and exercise plan and lost 30 pounds.

Before you set your goals for 2014:

Make sure you have a well considered, inspiring personal mission statement.

Then as you set your objectives, make sure they support your mission. The combination is virtually unbeatable. And to boot, you are #LivingIntentionally.

What are you on a mission to do in 2014?

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Create the Future You Deeply Desire

"Those who feared the word of the Almighty from the servants of Pharaoh brought his servants and his cattle into the houses. And those who did not pay attention to the word of the Almighty left their servants and cattle in the field." (Shemos/Exodus 9:20-21). Wouldn’t you think that everybody would have sheltered their servants and animals just to be on the safe side? After all, this was flaming-hot hail!

Create the Future You Deeply Desire

The parsha for this Sabbath is Va’eira. It begins with G-d reassuring Moses that the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be fulfilled. Nonetheless, twice Moses tries to get G-d to release him from leading the Jewish people. The rest of the parsha describes the first seven plagues that G-d wrought on Egypt in pursuit of the redemption of the Children of Israel.

Moses warns Pharaoh and the Egyptians that a devastating hail will destroy living creatures remaining out in the open. Notice anything strange about the two categories of people?

The first group of people, who believed the warning, was struck with fear and awe. For the second group the issue was not belief in Moses's warning, rather they ignored it. Here you see the two archetype responses to G-d.

Regarding these verses, Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz asked: Why didn’t the servants flee to safety?  They should have feared for their own lives and run to find shelter. His answer: they did not pay attention. So when you ignore something it is as if it doesn't exist.

Knowledge is meaningless unless you take it to heart. So plenty of people who could do things that would greatly improve or imperil their spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. But they deny the multiple facets of existence or do not take the dangers seriously, leading to all kinds of impulsive behavior that have painful and damaging repercussions.

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The Talmud (Tamid 32a) teaches that the wise person sees the future consequences of his behavior. The Chofetz Chaim writes that the Sages used the term "seeing" so that you will have a means of making future events real. The path is:

Knowledge → Awareness → Visualization

Use the power of your imagination to see the future as if it is actually occurring in the present. Try one of these:

  • Write down a word picture of your future
  • Clip magazine or Internet pictures that illustrate your future – Paste them on your mirror
  • Create a mantra that projects the future you want
  • Find a song that expresses your yearning for the future

The strength and endurance of creating a vivid image before your eyes impacts you more indelibly than just thinking or hearing about it. Your link to the future rests in you mind.

How do you make the future more real…

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.


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