It’s Armistice Day, or as we know it in the U.S. – Veteran’s Day. An international day of remembrance and hope for a better future.
Scanning through my Facebook feed, I’m reminded of how many former classmates and colleagues have served, how many grandparents, brothers, Dads and Moms. For some, the military became their defining choice; for others, it was a stepping stone to a less structured life.
But for me, Veteran’s day is always about one man. The boy who signed up in college, became a man clearing mines in Iraq, and counted stars for me in Afghanistan while my life and career went dark back home. Although he hung up his uniform two years ago, my ex, soul mate, and to-this-day support system showed me the meaning of service and integrity.
He taught me how to give wholeheartedly, show up genuinely and always ask for the best in myself. His example helps me be a better woman, a kinder friend, and a more inspiring life coach.
Most importantly, what I learned became the foundation of my business and the beliefs the shape my life:
1. It takes courage to show up and change.
As a life coach, I’m ruthless in pursuing personal excellence. It’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to service members – they’ve stepped up and made the personal commitment to being the best version of themselves.
The difference is that when I fail to meet my own expectations, I’m the only one who knows. But when you fail in the military, everyone knows.
The first email I send to clients when they sign up for coaching says congratulations. I don’t mean it glibly – it takes incredible courage to decide you want more from yourself and then enlist another person to hold you accountable.
It’s cliche to say the first step is hardest, but for many of us it is. Whether you know up front what it entails or stumble across it once you’re on the journey, at some point you face the decision to stay as you are or risk life as you know it and change. The brave choose change.
2. Sometimes others see your potential better than you do.
When you join the military, the standards for your actions, abilities and behavior are often set outside of you. In training, you’re challenged to push the limits on what you believe is possible for yourself – in character, fortitude and determination. If you’re committed to the work, you end up proving you are capable of far more than you thought.
The system works because, honestly, who would ever push themselves to those extremes alone?
I remind myself of this every time I show up for a client. The inner work of self discovery – of coming into integrity with who you truly want and know you can be – is grueling, painful, and downright difficult at times. Alone, you might not see how to overcome obstacles in your path or remember why you’re working so hard in the first place.
We all need a champion to keep pointing us forward.
3. It’s okay to be selfish and have a purpose.
War is shitty. You have to dig deep and find a motivation far beyond your paycheck to rationalize the mental, emotional and physical strain. Maybe it’s your team, your country, your faith, the smiles on the kids in the bazaar – it doesn’t matter as long as it keeps you going.
But you can’t live in a Hallmark movie all the time. Sometimes, most of the time, you’ve got to switch off your emotions and just do the work.
Your ego wants a raise, an award, a nice house, and an easy-to-please boss in return for what you do. That doesn’t make you shallow or any less of a person, that makes you human. It’s okay to go through the daily motions of life and succeed on that level.
But on those days when you want to throw your computer through the window or hide in bed till retirement comes, reconnect with your deeper meaning. Your true purpose is always there to remind you why you do what you do and reinvigorate you to keep going.
If you’ve been feeling lost lately or wondering what you’re doing with your life and who you’ve become, you’re not alone. Take a moment today to consider where in your life you could step up and be your own hero. You don’t have to fix everything today, but you can decide to take the first step and show up and try.
Please share a story about your favorite Veteran in the comments.