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Service out of Uniform

22 Sep

“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above…” C.S. Lewis


The moment we feel “better” than someone else we have excluded ourselves from excellent living. One of the most surprising aspects of community involvement is how humbling it is to give your own time and energy to help someone else. That feeling of gratitude and personal accomplishment can overcome even the most stressful week you’ve had at home or work. Exercise, alcohol, and any other diversion you normally provide for yourself pales in comparison to a great volunteer event.

Volunteering has a wonderful way of giving you so much more than you ever expected to receive in return. I have; discovered new friends, improved my personal relationships, and found new business associates all by giving a little of my time and energy. Don’t get me wrong, it required a positive attitude and an open mind.

Too many of us vets seem to think that our service somehow gives us a license to look down on the rest of society. In the worst cases we come out of uniform with some sick sense of entitlement. We feel we “rate” something more than the paycheck and numerous benefits available at separation. This attitude poisons your ability to achieve your greatest potential. The World owes you nothing for your service but a THANK YOU.

I found that after picking up my DD214 people respected me more as a vet for what I gave back to society than what I wanted from it. The best vet is recognized for not only what he did on the battlefield but also for what he gives back to make his friends, family, and neighborhood a little better place. I challenge each and every one of you to go out and give something back to our communities, churches, and country. You’ll be surprised how much your help will mean to everyone involved.



Bad Advice sounds Pretty Good

9 Sep

The worst advice I have ever heard given was at an “inspirational” gathering in rural Oklahoma.  The Speaker (with every bit of spirit he had) said that, “If you surround yourself with those who agree with you, you will never be wrong.”  On the other hand, you’ll never know when you’re right.

                It is important to surround yourself with people who will cheer you on, inspire you, and generally support your efforts and carry you through the failures.  That does not mean they will not offer you some cold hard truth when they see the ship sailing toward the iceberg.  After all, would you rather suffer a little prideful hurt or risk losing everything while the crowd cheers?

sinkng ship

                Not everyone you know will be as committed to your success as you are.  Seeing you go out and develop a winning strategy for your life will make them nervous or even jealous.  In an attempt to make their self feel better, they will do the only thing they can think to do.  They will drag you down to their level, and many of them will do it with a smile.  These “friends” will make every excuse under the sun for why their life is not living up to their expectations, and they will want you to do the same.

                As you develop, your own plan for success, refuse to surround yourself with “yes men”.  Choose people who support your effort more than your own ego and pride.  The right people will support you when the effort costs more than you expect.  They will work beside you patiently and never suggest you take short cuts or jump on the “get rich quick” bandwagon.  They will love you through the failures and the triumphs.  Most importantly, they will offer the sort of sound advice that prepares you for any of life’s challenges.

This week make a list of the most important people in your life.  Ask yourself if they are truly encouraging you.  Why wait to replace them if the answer is no?