It’s not about what’s on your helmet. It’s about what’s in your head.
Let’s go back and cover that again. I’m not so sure I got it all the first time. Fort Dix, New Jersey, the summer of 1987. My company is standing behind an earthen embankment on the live grenade range. Private Smith (not her real name) is coming down the dirt road approaching the Training Instructor, TI. We all see the two very large eyes drawn on her helmet. She enters the concrete stall. She takes the live grenade from the TI. She crouches down; she pulls the pin. She stands up; pops the spoon, and DROPS THE GRENADE IN THE STALL AT HER FEET!!! Do you understand what just happened? In about three seconds, Private Smith and the TI will no longer be on this earth.
Everyone froze, the earth stood still, and we all held our breath. Then the TI grabs Smith, throws her over the wall into the stall next to them, and jumps in after. He covers her with his body to protect her. At this time, I don’t think I’ve breathed yet, and the world is still frozen. Then it explodes into a million pieces. Debris hits the windows and the earth shakes. The entire company is like statues. Then it really gets crazy.
Private Smith is thrown out the back of the stall. The TI is shouting and pointing off to the right. She takes off running and we realize what the eyes mean. They mean; look out. Beware! She might kill you! We all want to know what is on our helmets. We want to know if we were measured and found lacking. We turn to our ranger buddies and ask, “WHAT’S ON MY HELMET?”
This is the part I wish my mature self could go back to. The part I look back on and say to my young inexperienced self. “What are you doing? It doesn’t matter. You are a go at this station. You were successful. Stop worrying what someone else thought of you and look at what you accomplished.”
I was the platoon leader. I was in charge. I should have said something. I should have said, “It’s not about what’s on your helmet. It’s about what you believe about yourself. It’s about what you have accomplished. It’s about the fact that you are on this side of the embankment. It’s about the fact that you were successful.”
I can forgive my young self. I didn’t know then what I know now. I didn’t know then that I decide how I feel about myself, that I build and choose my self-esteem. I place determine my personal value.
That is no longer an excuse. I know better. I can no longer remain silent and allow others to give false information to my children or yours. I can no longer stand by while adults feel bad because someone said something to them years ago that left a scar.
You bully proof yourself with your belief in who you are. You decide what you believe about yourself and others just validate you. No one can bully you without your permission.
You will never control what others say to you or about you, but you can control how it impacts you. Charles Swindoll says, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
Mean words only leave a mark if you let them. When you know you are valuable, you’re rubber and they’re glue for real. What they say does bounce off you because you have a different belief. Their opinion does not matter because you know differently.
It is my mission to step into my power as a leader, trainer, parent, and human and let you know that it doesn’t matter what someone has written on your helmet. It matters what you believe about yourself. It matters what you tell yourself.
What is your internal dialog? Keep track of it for a week. Put a piece of paper in your pocket and for the next seven days write down the things you say to yourself. Then listen to what others say to you. I bet you say worse things than they do. STOP IT. Harness the power of your mind and make it work for you instead of against you. You control your mind. No one else can, so you better.
Remind yourself of all the things you have accomplished in your life. Remind yourself that you are a magnificent being created for an important purpose. Now take action to live that purpose. Step into your power and live your life.
I never saw Private Smith again, but I hope she realized that she can always fix a mistake. With perseverance and the ability to measure, monitor, and adjust she can create any future she wants. I like to think she is an expert on the grenade range, maybe even a high ranking officer. Whatever she chose, I know you can leave the victim story behind and step into your power and create the life you want.
Make the decision that you are who you are not what someone says you are.
Until next time,