2017: A Veteran's Year in Review

January 2017 seems like it was just yesterday. I declared that 2017 would be the year that everything changes. It would be the year where a pivotal part of my life would take place.

The momentum of life would sky rocket. That momentum looked so good until January 20 when I ruptured my Achilles tendon. All my plans that I had in mind and how it would go altered. Life went on, the year went on and I survived.

November 25 (my birthday) made me think about if 2017 has been that pivotal year. At age 31, I still felt I had let the year gone by and not satisfy my expectations.

The last week of December, I started to think about the year. In reality, 2017 has been amazing. It HAS been a pivotal year. So much growth, discovery, learning, connections have been made this year and if that injury never occurred...everything that I created on this journey would not have happened.

Personal development has been a leading theme for me the past 2 years and more intensely in 2017. The most important skill that I have learned and grown from these events is the art of communication.  What fascinates me about communication is how our language, our actions or lack of actions can have drastic influences on people or the environment. So for 2018, I made it a mission to be a master communicator.

If I had to sum up everything of what I learned in what makes an effective communicator in three words, this is what it would be:

1) Connect
2) Listen
3) Gratitude

Connect

We're built for community. We're made to connect. I found the importance of reaching out to people and connect. Reach people we haven't talked to in awhile. Reach out to our friends our family. Simply ask the question, "how are you?" Or "what have you been up to?" So many things can come up with that simple interaction. The conversation be turn to become inspiring for both people. The conversation can lead into possible connections to other people. The conversation can lead into a bigger opportunity we never would have expected. It's having those conversations more frequently and consistently that will enable us to move in a direction of growth and accomplishment.

Listen

This is probably one of the greatest skill to always improve. So many negative events have happened just because we don't take the time to listen but instead try to make sure "we're" heard. Stephen Covey states in his book, "7 habits of Highly Effective People", to 

"seek first to understand, then to be understood." 

The idea is to not necessarily understand everything that the person is saying, but to acknowledge them first before acknowledging ourselves. People appreciate a good listener; not necessarily a good "understander". Listening can make or break relationships. Listening can be the sole decider of making or breaking a deal. Growing up, people have always told me that I am a good listener. I never understood why that is until I was taught the science behind the psychology of good listening techniques. These techniques are something I naturally do in a conversation. And now that I have awareness of what I am doing - those techniques are 10 times more powerful. 

Author, Celeste Headlee, explains in her recent article the difference between "supporting responses" and "shifting responses". Knowing these types of responses have helped me in my coaching profession by allowing my clients to feel kept as the focus of a "spicy" conversation. To understand completely what the other person may be going through is not necessarily important. It is acknowledging what they are going through is all that makes the difference. 

Gratitude

Gratitude has the potential of giving someone value in its simplest form. Showing gratitude to others not only can make someone's day (cash register clerk, waitress, baurista, Walmart 'welcomer') but it can have the same affect on ourselves. We get to be grateful with what we have and what opportunities have become available.

I'm grateful and honored to have gone to the 10+ events and conferences in 2017. My most fulfilling event would have to be the one where my name tag says "coach" on it. Everything that I had experienced throughout the beginning of the year trained me for that moment of coaching a group of fine individuals looking for that sense of purpose. Being part of a story of changing and transforming lives is an amazing feeling. I am so honored to be a part of the growth and journey with multiple organizations to include the Life on Fire organization. What I learned from them will accel my influence to the Veteran community.

Continued Growth

The journey to become a master communicator has not stopped here. My skills as a coach and as a trainer will continue to develop and enhance as new challenges are always being created. "Sharpening the Axe" will allow me to be ready for any obstacle or opportunity that arises. "When the student is ready, the master will appear." Preparation is a constant in my life. Will the "Master" ever appear? Not sure, but I am committed to being prepared when that happens. Life to me is a continuous cycle of learning. The moment I stop learning is the moment I become irrelevant. It's another form of complacency. In the Marine Corps, we are taught that complacency kills. This still holds true for me today. Each day takes place on a "battlefield". The battlefield of Life.