Don’t Forget About You

“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish…”

One of the best things about any leadership position is serving those around you. It’s about taking care of other people. The meetings, the people, the policies, the strategy, issues, and the triumphs…all take precedence over yourself.  Putting others first is an incredible trait for leaders in any position, and is a pillar of our Air Force core values, but it can also often lead to forgetting about yourself.

In my case, I have been blessed to be trusted with the reigns as a Squadron Commander.  My time in command has been incredible, with the predominant regret only that I could not do more for my squadron and my Airmen. I love every minute, even the tough ones, and wake up every morning excited to dive into another day.  But much of that passion and focus has been at the expense of myself.  One of my big failures in command is that I have not made enough time for myself for basic things like physical fitness, healthier eating, meditation, prayer, and better balance with family and my other priorities.  On the one hand, I wouldn’t change a thing, but on the other, I know I need to find better balance both for my family and for myself.  It’s better for them, better for me, and will also pay dividends to my squadron.

“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish… “

My eight-year-old son just ran 4 miles in under 30 minutes at school yesterday!  Incredible!  But it made me realize that I can no longer run a 7:30 min/mile pace (without some gut-wrenching), so I can’t keep up with my son right now.  It hit me like a lightning bolt…that I need to (re)start now to improve my own fitness.  If for nothing else, then just to keep up with my kids!  I’ve started and re-started many programs, had a New Year’s resolution to get back in shape (again), but my hope is that this realization, as well as putting pen to paper on the topic, will kickstart the habit that I lost a long time ago.

I can still pass the PT test, but I’m not where I want to be.  I can “get by,” but not in achieving the self-determined standards of excellence that I expect of myself.  So it’s time to refocus, shift gears, and adjust the balance between command and personal goals.  But here’s the thing.  My vision of a fitness program jumps right into 3-mile runs and 1-2 hour workouts.  I have expectations based on memories that no longer apply.  Therefore, step one (in any program) is setting realistic goals and expectations.  Can I train to run a half-marathon…yes.  Can I do it next month?  Probably not, at least not without significant pain and agony.  And all with a significant increase of time which will make that struggle for balance even more prescient.

The question then becomes, “How do I begin?”  The key lies with the reminder that it’s not where we start, but where we finish.  3-miles a day…a great goal, but not yet.  1-2 hour workouts…another great goal, but not yet.  One of the biggest killers of achieving goals and resolutions is by overexerting yourself too early in the process, trying to get there too quickly, and not realizing how much work it may take to get there.  Although that can seem overwhelming, it takes a steady plan and commitment to see it through.  So it’s not about where we start, it’s about where we finish.  But we have to start.  And starting is half the battle.  I’ll be honest, that may mean starting with 5-min runs a day…just a half mile each day in the first week.  That sounds really (really) light based on what I used to do, but at this point, it’s not about the distance or time, but about re-starting the habit.  It’s about being deliberate…about intentionally allotting that time each day.  Then as I re-develop the habit, I can add distance, time, variance, and continue to grow.

“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish… “

Before my change of command, I will run another half-marathon.  That gives me 4.3 months to start, build, train, and re-develop the habit of a focus on fitness and personal health. So as I renew my focus on personal fitness with a slow, steady plan for improvement, starting now, I challenge you to do the same.  Don’t compare to others, as “comparison is the thief of joy,” but determine what you want for yourself.  What will make you happier, healthier, and ultimately lead to a better you to then serve others more effectively?  Start now. With the many priorities clamoring for our time and energy, don’t forget about you…


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