Among the wisdom that floats through the Interwebs are many sayings the suggest a way to help yourself, to support yourself, and to encourage yourself, is to help, support, and encourage others. “Be the one to encourage others” or the more specific “Be the one to encourage someone else.” Yes, that makes a difference. You can encourage “others” by saying the right words at the right time and hope that “others” will hear your message. But encouraging a specific “someone else” takes addressing a specific something at a specific time. It takes making a commitment to that “someone else.” Maybe for only a few moments but for those moments you have to be all in.
Years ago, Michael, of the Diem and Michael who bring you ROAMcare, was a young U.S. Army Lieutenant attending Officers Basic Training in one of the hottest end of summers to hit Texas. Those young adults were all medical personnel, not the typical brawny bunch that usually train for combat readiness, strategic maneuvering, and general physical fitness. But whatever role one may fill in the army hospital upon completion of training was secondary to the role filled for the army, and the training was the same a transportation, flight, intelligence, or combat officer would receive.
A requirement to pass the OBT course was to pass a basic physical fitness test. At that time the test included activities like a two mile run, push-ups, sit ups, and pull ups. All of the activities were timed and based on gender and age. The run had to completed within a maximum allowed time, and the calisthenic exercises had specific numbers of repetitions to be completed in a specific time. For example, a 25-30 year old male officer had to complete at least 20 push-ups in 2 minutes.
For most candidates, the fitness tests were not difficult. The general activity during the weeks of training kept most individuals fit enough to meet the minimum requirements. One young officer, let’s call him Kevin, had difficulty with his push-ups. He easily passed all the other tests but could not get that last push-up up. It was the last event of a long day and he had already attempted it once and failed. A second failure would exempt him from service beyond his initial obligated tour. He wanted to make the Army his career and knew it all rode on him completing push-up #20. Michael was in position for his first attempt in the slot next to Kevin. Michael kept his eye on his fellow exerciser while he quickly worked his way the repetitions to one short of his minimum. “Kevin, you can do it! Juist concentrate on your next pushup. I’m not going anywhere until you catch up with me!” Kevin lowered his body, his arms holding his chest just off the ground and then he fully extended his arms, locking his elbows in a straight arm position. “Seventeen!” shouted the monitor. “Three more Kev! I’m still holding here, waiting for you.” Michael added. A small crowd gathered while Kevin dropped and raised his body on his arms two more times. “Eighteen!” “Come on Kevin!” The crowd was now firmly behind Kevin and cheering him on. “How much time?” Michael asked. “The monitor called back, four seconds,” and then “Nineteen!” “Okay Kevin, will do this one together! Lots of time!” Michael shouted over the crowd. “I’m with you!” Kevin answered, and together they lowered themselves to just off the ground. “Two seconds!” the monitor yelled out. Kevin pushed up, extended his arms and locked himself into position for his twentieth push-up! Kevin bounced up and pumped his fist into the air. “Thank you!” He looked around to find Michael to thank him and saw Michael laying on the ground. He had held himself in the upright position so long, when he attempted to push his body back up on arms tired from being held extended all that time, he couldn’t straighten them again and had collapsed. “You’re welcome,” Michael called up to Kevin. “But you can really thank me by being my cheering section when I get to do this again!”
Those few moments Michael spent encouraging Kevin meant the world to Kevin. It turned out he had indeed made a career out of the army and twenty-some years later retired from the Army Medical Service Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel. Michael went on to do 20-some more push-up, left active duty after three years to complete his service as an Army Reserve officer, eventually retiring and co-founding ROAMcare with Diem. Over the years Michael and Kevin saw little of each other, at most only a few minutes at professional conferences they were attending but Kevin always stopped Michael and thank him for believing he could do it. One year Michael told him, “I didn’t believe you could do. You believed you could. I just reminded you.”
There is much wisdom that floats through the Interwebs that suggest a way to help, support, and encourage yourself, is to help, support, and encourage others. We suggest a better way is to help, support, and encourage a specific “someone else” when you can. Yes, it will take a commitment, maybe only for a few moments, perhaps just a minute or two, but the results can make a difference that lasts for a lifetime - and may remind you of just how much you can do with a little encouragement.