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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© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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