Veterans Day is a day to honor and appreciate America's service members, both past and present. It is such a noble thing to have served our country; however, many veterans face many challenges after they leave the military, including difficulties in finding employment, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), poor mental health, and other issues. The majority of veterans readjust to life off the battlefield with little to no difficulties, but a significant number of them say they’ve had problems readjusting after their return.
Are veterans getting the help they need? According to an article in The Science Behind Health, in many ways, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), which provides health care to a great number of veterans, offers care that is as good as or better than that provided by private or non-VHA public practices. But the accessibility and quality of services vary across the system. Several studies have shown, for example, that a large number of veterans don’t receive any treatment following diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorder, or depression. Many veterans don’t know how to apply for veterans’ mental health care benefits, are unsure if they are eligible, or are unaware that mental health care benefits are even available.
As a veteran, what can you do? Be the leader you were trained to be. I invite you to take great pride in your service and ensure that you are honoring yourself every day of the year. Take extreme ownership over your life and start leading just like you did when you were in the military. Jocko Willink, author of the book Extreme Ownership says “Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.”
As a leader, how well are you leading yourself? According to leadership expert Craig Groeschel, self-leadership is the most essential quality that a leader can develop, and it takes practice. But it all starts with you. If it’s challenging or difficult to access government resources, then where else can you go? As a leader, you must step into responsibility, be accountable for your behavior, and realize that unless you are succeeding at leading yourself, you are going to have a difficult time in life.
Being a leader means that you have committed to leading your own life, a life of meaning and purpose; and are contributing to others and positively impacting their lives. It all starts by making the choice that you will reach your full potential. Leading yourself requires that you invest in your growth and development and that you make self-leadership a practice. If you don’t, you will struggle to become great. When you fail at leading yourself, you fail at leading, period.
There are inevitable challenges that are associated with becoming a great leader so being at the helm of your life through every twist and turn is key. Personal development plays a crucial role in ensuring you are equipped to face these challenges and investing in yourself - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually - is paramount because when you fail at leading yourself, you fail at leading, period.
Self-leadership is ultimately about self-mastery and at the root of self-mastery is self-awareness. This means you are aware of and managing your strengths and weaknesses. The ability to recognize and manage your thoughts and feelings in a healthy way is what will allow you, as a leader, to let go of your limiting beliefs and defensive habits. Self-awareness will also enable you to connect more deeply with yourself and your values and help your leadership presence flow naturally. This allows you to be more authentically engaged in and with life.
Socrates, the ancient philosopher, said that if you don't examine your life, you're not living life to its fullest. It can be hard to find time to reflect on your life and figure out what you want to do, but if you want to achieve your goals, you need to know who you are. Until you know your goals, you won't be able to make much progress. A lot of us don't spend enough time thinking about ourselves. Self-awareness is important for being a good leader, and introspection is one way to develop self-awareness.
There are many ways to become more self-aware. One of the best is by developing a mindfulness practice. According to mindful.org, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
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Remember, leadership starts with you. It starts with leading yourself first.