Yesterday I had the honor of co-hosting our 3rd annual Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month(SAAPM) 5k Color Run/Walk Event at Rickenbacker (Columbus), Ohio. This was a joint operation that involved four branches of services.
Reference my post: SAAPM 2018 for additional information about Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month.
This event was designed to bring awareness to sexual assault survivors, sexual harassment, and prevention/bystander intervention. I want to personally thank the victim advocates, chain of command, volunteers, the participants (100+), and most importantly, my friend and mentor, Captain J. Green (121 ARW SARC).
I can honestly say, the entire month was a huge success. The In Their Honor event on the 20th was truly unique, we had tons of participation for National Denim Day on the 25th. The culminating event was the 5k Color Run/Walk Event on the 27th of April.
Again, I want to thank everyone for this amazing journey and I am positive the 2019 events will be even better.
“We are the force behind the fight to achieve culture change.”
Note: The photo used for the cover is from the 2017 5k Color/Walk Run Event. The official photos have not been published, yet.
In May of 2019, I will retire from the military. This will be the conclusion to a very important chapter of my life that started on 30 July, 1997.
This journey has been an amazing experience, specifically due to the people I’ve had the honor of serving with. Without these people, my experiences would not be the same and more than likely, I would forget about them.
I joined the U.S. Army at the age of 18 and if I’m being honest, I was very naive about the real world. I grew up in a very small community so my perception of the world was very limited. I always remind myself: where you came from is extremely important but it doesn’t have anything to do with where you’re going.
I would love to list all the courses I attended during my 20+ years but I don’t want to bore people with the names of 50-60 courses. Instead, I will focus on the 2 courses that had a major impact in my life:
SHARP Foundation Course
Master Resilience Trainer (MRT)
Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC): Due to completing the SHARP Foundation Course, I eventually became the SARC for my Brigade, along with my role as a Victim Advocate (VA). I also perform advocacy for my Contingent SARN Advocate position (non-military). I’ve been working in this field for approximately 8 years. Equality is incredibly important to me and I hope to pass on this passion to my children.
Master Resilience Trainer (MRT): Without question, this is the best course I’ve ever completed. Because of this course (certification) I’ve had the pleasure of certifying over 150 Resilience Trainer Assistants (RTA).
This training is a huge contributing factor to how I managed to turn my life around. I can’t wait to share some new processes that I created for my upcoming book: The Best Version of You. It will be finished in 2018 and will be my 3rd book. This will be my first Self Help book.
In conclusion: I want to thank everyone that has helped me along this journey. I never deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) so to some people, my 20+ years might not mean very much. I believed that for almost 10 years.
But that’s not true. As a leader, my job was to take care of people regardless of the location. Therefore, I still contributed to the Army’s mission. I do not regret anything about my career because everything contributed to the person I am today. For that, I love the military and I will truly miss it and the amazing people.
As a long-time Victim Advocate (VA) and Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), I cannot begin to express how important this month is to the advocacy community. This is our opportunity to honor survivors and co-survivors of sexual assault, as well as victims of sexual harassment.
This field is extremely challenging due to the ongoing shift in our culture. But no matter what, we will not take our focus off the goal: eradicating sexual assault and sexual harassment. Yes, we realize this is an uphill battle. However, the obstacle is the path.
What are some obstacles?
Misconceptions or lack of education in dealing with consent. No, does not mean yes. Consent is ongoing. A “yes” five minutes ago does not translate to a “yes,” now.
Objectification of women and men, primarily in movies, music, and all social media platforms. (Sex sells…)
Stereotypes, to include ones that jeopardize the welfare of the LGBTQI community.
I will not lie, the fact that I’m a male Victim Advocate motivates me, daily. It motivates me to keep moving forward, every time I hear:
“But you’re a guy, why do you care?”
“Men don’t care about this issue.”
“All men are the same.”
“People will not take you serious.”
Although I respect people when they ask me these types of questions, I do remind them:
I care about people, regardless of their gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and beliefs. People are people and their story matters to me.
Men do in fact, care. So do women. People always have the capacity to love.
No, not all men are the same. There are some incredible men and women on this planet. We must not blame an entire gender, based on the negative actions of the bad ones. My mentors are both men and women.
“I don’t take you serious,” is an opinion, not your reality. The best way to demonstrate your authenticity is to show people. Talking about what you’re capable and willing to do, is not enough.
At the end of the day, the focus must always be on empowering survivors. The recovery process is a long road and they do not deserve to take that journey without the right resources. I hope you can participate in a SAAPM event. (Color run, In Their Honor, Denim Day, etc.)
Have you ever wondered what causes your stress? What about your emotions? Where do they come from? Your mind is a battlefield and the following things are the enemy:
Lack of empathy
Your ego: Your ego (h-ego or sh-ego) is the voice that tells you, “You’re the best at what you do and you don’t require correction or change.” The problem is, your ego only serves you. Other people, organizations, and businesses are not the priority. Your ego will slowly destroy communication.
Regardless of what you believe or what your peers (the ones like you) keep telling you, no one enjoys arrogant people. Confidence is acceptable. You should be confident about certain things. When you make other people uncomfortable, based on your opinion of yourself, you will eventually find yourself alone on the island that you created.
Lack of empathy: Let’s face it, we are a busy society that I like to call, Instant Gratification Society. We want results and want them yesterday. Because of this, we no longer know how to talk to people. We completely disregard emotions and go immediately after what we want.
Example: “John, why are you so distracted, lately? Your projects are all over the place and the leadership is starting to take notice. If you don’t fix whatever is wrong with you, I won’t hesitate to get rid of you.” Is that being empathetic? Will this get you or other people back on track or make things worse?
Let’s fix this – “John, why are you so distracted, lately? Your projects are all over the place and the leadership is starting to take notice. Is everything okay with you? I’m concerned.”
“No, I lost my father two weeks ago.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Would you like to go to my office and talk about it?” That’s what empathy looks like. This is also how leaders should treat their employees. This builds rapport and will help the organization, down the road. People are people, not a project. Reconsider how you talk to people.
Complacency: “Why should I work on our relationship? We’ve been together for over ten years.” This statement tells one story: I don’t need to worry about us and I’ll allocate my focus on external things.
Complacency is tunnel vision and only exists because you are comfortable. When you’re comfortable, you stop growing as a person and your relationships pay the price, too. What makes you comfortable can jeopardize your future.
Therefore, “We’ve always done things, this way,” will eventually fuel disappointment. You must adapt to your environment, embrace change, and never stop growing. If you’re not careful, you could die via fratricide.
Toxic relationships: Theseare relationships where two people do not share the same values and because of that, there is a lot of tension and negative energy. The problem is, we’re not always aware that we’re even involved in a toxic relationship. We think, No way, none of my friends are capable of that. Unfortunately, it is possible.
Toxic relationships will increase your anxiety, undermine trust, and could cause you to question your own judgement. Why do I choose to associate with these type of people? Am I like them? Toxic people are not interested in you. Just like your ego, they’re only focused on themselves and their agenda. They do not generate success and growth.
Bottom Line: If you want to survive daily operations, you must eliminate these things from your life. They do not serve you and if they’re not mitigated at their earliest stages, they could cause:
Happy Monday! I can’t even lie, I absolutely love Monday’s! (reference: Happy Monday) This is the first (work) day for you to execute your morning rituals. Do you know that how youstartyour day will help determine your level of success? Be honest with yourself and answer this question: When you wake up in the morning, do you:
a) check e-mails
b) check text messages
c) check social media
d) focus on your morning goals and rituals
e) none of the above
If you answered a, b, or c, did this answer surprise you? Most people don’t realize it but, this is actually a very habit that you need to try and break as soon as possible.
Why? When you check e-mails, text messages, and social media, first thing in the morning, you switch on your reactive habits instead of your goal oriented habits.
“Oh, Bob sent me an e-mail about the upcoming conference, I better validate that everything is good to go.” Meanwhile, you just missed breakfast.
“I better respond to this text from Ashley, she probably wants to talk about last night’s crazy episode of that show.” Is this an emergency? Meanwhile, you were supposed to leave for the gym at 6:00am and you’re 20 minutes behind schedule.
“I wonder if Ryan posted those pictures from the Ohio State Buckeyes game, last night? He had some amazing seats. I better check Facebook, real quick.” If the pictures are posted, are they going to disappear in the upcoming hours? Remember when you wrote out your schedule for the day? Are those things still important? (reference: Setting Yourself up to Win | Make a Schedule)
I’m not saying that these things are not important. Staying connected with your family, friends, and employer are incredibly important. The problem is, you have to learn how to prioritize how you approach, aka attack, the day. When you start off your day, doing these things, you become reactive by allowing external things to dictate your day. Your schedule is pushed out of the way and these things become the new focus. Would it really hurt you to wait until 9:00 or 10:00am before you checked external things?
I get it though, it’s hard to break these habits because regardless if we like it or not, we’re a instant gratification society. If you want a new product, hop on Amazon and get it in 2 days. If you want to watch a tv show, forget about waiting week-to-week, stream the entire season on Netflix. If want to know what your friends are doing, send them a text and get a response in less than 45 seconds.
This is why so many people are programmed to check their phone (e-mails, text messages, and social media) when they first wake up. They do it because they know that they can get what they want, instantaneously. But consider this: does instant gratification help you reach your goals? I’ll answer for you – no, it does not. Achieving your goals requires:
Bottom line: Take control of your morning by giving yourself a few hours (example: wait until 9:00 or 10:00am) before you start addressing external things. If you have to, consider this a reward for you taking care of your morning rituals, aka setting yourself up to win. You can do this once you make the commitment and stick with it. Your future is worth it and you are worth it.
Face-to-face conversations are the most effective way to communicate and create growth. Text messaging and emailing are a way to communicate but not the most effective, because there’s no connection.
For example: If I told you, “Hey Michelle, that shirt looks very good on you,” would telling you via a text be as impactful as telling you face-to-face?
The answer is no because anyone can text that. Texting and emailing require noemotions and usually do not generate connection. All you have to do is just type and press send.
If you want to become a better communicator, have a face-to-face conversation, whenever it is possible. By doing so, it conveys: What you have to say, is important to me.
Having face-to-face conversations, also develop your communication skills, outside of your personal relationships. Just because we have multiple platforms such as: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, doesn’t mean we have to use them for every aspect of communication. “Sure I have time, Bob, pull up a chair and let’s talk,” demonstrates authenticity.