On this Memorial Day, let’s reflect and remember the great men and women who gave their lives to uphold the values of our military and nation.
In the US Navy, these values are Commitment, Courage, and Honor.
First, We Commit. In the service, commitment is often deeper than ordinary because the risks to fulfill it are so high. There is also a hierarchy to the commitment. First is to serve this great nation, followed by the commitment to your service branch mission, then to your command mission, then the immediate team’s mission and finally to your teammates themselves. This hierarchy is experienced the opposite direction when in the heat of battle. We commit to our teammates to serve them in their mission, which is the same as yours. We fight for our teammate’s first, and that commitment leads to the second value: Courage.
Courage can be only be experienced after a deep commitment to your teammates and mission is made – intellectually and emotionally. Courage is not just about brazen acts of valor – though those rare moments certainly require personal bravery. It is more realistically found in the day to day grind of the deployed troops facing a mortal enemy and the desperation of unending separation from family. It takes immense courage to maintain resiliency and a mission focus in those conditions, and that leads to the third and final value, honor.
Honor is not heroic either. Rather, it is found by showing up and doing the right things, at the right times for the right reasons. Honor cannot exist without personal integrity, which requires courage and commitment.
So we can see how the three values of the US Navy are linked and exist in mutual dependency. They require patient practice and are a lived experience by our service men and women. On this memorial day, let’s humbly acknowledge the almost unbelievable level of commitment, courage, and honor our military men and women exhibit, and have displayed in the past to protect our nation. These people and the values they represent are a true beacon of hope for this country during challenging times.
Part 2: In Just Ten Minutes…
Today, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and gratitude to all of the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve this beautiful country of ours. For many like myself, today is a celebration of our nation’s heroes; it also marks the unofficial start to the summer season…
Just Ten Minutes
One of the powerful social memes we experience is the summer break, where our patterns are disrupted and we find ourselves running this way and that. I have found that taking care of yourself and maintaining forward momentum during these months requires effort. I have found that taking care of yourself and maintaining forward momentum during these months requires effort but we are so busy and distracted that we can’t focus on the important things. I recommend that you practice just focusing on your breath for ten minutes a day to conquer this problem.
For just ten minutes a day, find a quiet place where you can sit down and avoid disruptions. Get comfortable with deep diaphragmatic breathing – in through the nose and out through the mouth with an “Ahhhh” sound. Then begin to inhale through the nose with an internally heard “Hmmmm” sound, and then exhale through the nose with a “Sooooo” sound. This practice of just paying attention to the inhale and exhale while repeating the sounds will center you, calm you down and train your focusing skills. By doing this every day this summer will build a reliable habit, like brushing your teeth. This practice can be done as part of your morning or evening routine, or even before or after a workout.
You may wonder, how will this practice will help me stay focused on the right things and not get off track?
The deep focusing skills developed in the Hmmm-Soooo breath practice will also cultivate a deeper self-awareness. In the moments just after you complete your ten minutes of practice you are highly receptive to new ideas and to experiencing your “inner voice.” This is when you will ask more empowering questions to gain clarity on purpose and direction in life. I believe that maximum potential is impossible unless you develop a deep sense of purpose in what you choose to focus on in life. When you have a deep sense of purpose, you will not let even the sunniest summer day or a trip to Disneyland derail you from your goals.
Purpose is either sensed from within (that inner voice), or it is found by attaching more meaning and passion to what you already do. Asking yourself some version of the below questions after your ten-minute practice will help you clarify your purpose so you can remain focused and on target:
• What have you been conditioned to think you’re supposed to do with your life?
• What do you think, and feel, you are really supposed to do with your life?
• Is there a tiny voice of doubt deep within you suggesting you are on the wrong track?
• Is that same voice nudging you forward with the sensation that you are on the right track?
• What ONE thing do you think you are here for? Would you focus on it if you had nothing holding you back?
• What would you do differently now if you knew you had one year to live?
• Why do you train your body and mind, or your five mountains?
Developing self-awareness and uncovering deeper purpose requires serious follow-up in the form of action. Action eliminates doubt, helps you overcome fear, moves you off the stationary bubble and creates learning moments. This is a hugely important point. Your ten-minute daily focusing practice will strengthen your mind and help you know why you must do or not do certain things. But without action on the things you are meant to do, and ceasing action on the things you aren’t’ meant to do, you remain distracted by the next shiny thing.
‘This all sounds fine and good Mark, but I am too busy to add ten minutes to my daily routine’. If this is your inner-dialogue, then I suggest you break it and feed the courage wolf instead. Chances are you are focusing on the urgent and unimportant things, while ignoring the non-urgent but crucial ones, such as defining a purpose or fueling, training and recovering for performance. These last three disciplines provide a foundation for excellence that will allow you to make better decisions because your cognitive functions will be peaked and you will have more confidence. Dialing up your awareness and discipline of how you fuel, recover and train will help you remove unnecessary commitments and time sucks. I train a number of CEO’s who are also avid triathletes. The ones who are over 40, they are often burned out and broken. The reason is over-training combined with inadequate fueling and recovery, resulting in a grossly overstretched nervous system, hormonal imbalance, and degradation of performance. They are unable to focus on anything BUT the most urgent tasks in front of them. Ten minutes of focus training a day helps them combat this challenge, leading to more balance and better decisions.
One last point – Special Operators are not Rambos (out to save the world alone) and nor should you be. I encourage you to join a practice group like those who are going through Kokoro Yoga Online or the Unbeatable Mind Academy (click here for a free 30-day trial run). A dedicated application of the ten-minute practice through the summer will enhance your resiliency and keep you focused on the important things.
And to that I say Hooyah!