Tony Robbins said, “If I’d had the mother I wanted I wouldn’t be the man I am proud to be”. What is he talking about? Due to his horrific childhood, many times at fear for his life from his mother, he has evolved into what many struggle to be. Carl Jung said, “I’m not what happened, it’s what I choose to become”. It’s about creating change, folks. The ability to have clarity in chaos will enable you to make thoughtful decisions. Tom Brady is probably the master of this. If you watch him, immediately after the snap, it seems that he has an eternity to make a decision. During the chaos of the noise from the crowd, teammates smashing into the opponents, being chased like prey, he still makes a sound and precise decision; then executes his decision with precision. Clarity in the midst of chaos. It’s really a beautiful thing. Tony Robbins was so driven by fear, anger and optimism that, among the chaos of his daily life, he had enough clarity to make decisions in his life to lead him to a billion dollar empire. By the way, I could really care less about football. Like him or hate him, Tom Brady is very good.

How does this help you/us? Simple. Create space to think, for starters. Tom Brady has his linemen to help him to create space to take a moment to think. In that moment of confrontation you can create space as well. Don’t react immediately. As soldiers, our entire career has been based upon “React”. React to Indirect Fire, React to Ambush, React to NBC attack, etc, etc. Not one common task says, “Respond”or, tells us to use our heart and mind and develop a response. Granted, taking too much time may get you killed so we must react immediately. But what that training has done is it has wired us in such a way that it seems almost impossible to change it. A guy takes your parking spot. So, you react by pulling him out through the driver’s window and beating him. Or, a guy takes your parking spot and you STOP, think and wonder to yourself, “Maybe he needs to park closer than me because he just had a surgery”. Or, “Maybe he has a sick child at home and needs medicine”. We have choices on how we CHOOSE to respond to any situation.

The future? “I am what I repeatedly do”. The old adage of “Fake it til you make it” has some truth to it. We can choose how we want to live our life and what we want our life to be. The most important factor is the Courage piece. Are you bold enough to make that change? “I’m a combat vet sooooo, I’m a tough son of a bitch and I hate civilians cause they’re stupid”. “Men who haven’t served are pussies”. We can, and should, change that perception. We make our own choices and have made our choices. Now we must live with them. We choose how our life is lived in front of us. We can’t change how life was lived behind us. We can choose to be happy or bitter old assholes. One reason we feel like that is because now we feel we have no purpose and we’re just waiting for the next fight. What to do, what to do? We can still choose to thrive regardless of the lull we have in this firefight we call life.

The story of the labyrinth is a great one. The meaning of it, actually. Warriors who were sons, brothers, husbands would enter the labyrinth, just prior to marching off to combat, as sons, brothers, husbands. In the center of it they would set down their identity, momentarily. When they emerged from the labyrinth they emerged as a warrior prepared for battle. Upon their return from battle they entered the labyrinth as a warrior. In the middle they would set their combat experience on the ground, leaving it there, and emerge from the labyrinth as sons, brothers, husbands. Many modern-day warriors have not done that, yet. We still carry our war experience with us. That clashes with our identity as citizens of our society, functioning as sons, brother, husbands. CN4A3249There in lies the problem. Combat vets playing combat looking for the next fight but finding nothing. So, we create chaos of our own. Be it, drugs, alcohol, crime. What I urge combat vets to do is PAUSE, create space and be Tom Brady. Combat veterans are masters of making tough decisions quickly and under extreme pressure and chaotic circumstances. So, why not do it now? We can do this with our children, our spouses, our neighbors and our fellow countrymen and women. We can be Tony Robbins and be successful despite what our past has branded onto us. Our experiences make us the great people we are today. We are battle proven, battle hardened and we are survivors. We have proven we can rise against the odds and be successful. It boils down to our choice. The choice to live and thrive or drown. What will you choose to become?

“DBAP” – Miss ya, buddy!

“Dictated but not read” –Abraham Lincoln