TN50#1, Selection Is An Ongoing Process, 04 January 2021

As I look back over 5 decades of life on this amazing planet and wrap up a nice break at the beginning of 2021. I find the following sentence top of mind: SELECTION IS AN ONGOING PROCESS (SIAOP). As best I recall I first heard this amazing 5-word proclamation in 1999, the year I went to Selection and began OTC (Operator Training Course) at the Unit. I don’t know if anyone else who ever heard these words experienced the clarity in purpose that I experienced back then but I can honestly say this little phrase had a massive impact on my military career and ultimately continues to improve my life to this day

The year 1999 was an amazing year for me. Five days before the year kicked-off I had somehow sealed the deal on the ultimate selection process, Carly and I tied the knot on 26 December, 1998. In addition to this I was scheduled to go to Selection in the spring of ‘99 which I did successfully! Two of the most important selections of my life successfully completed within the same 5-month period, not bad! Back then I didn’t realize the absolute utility of SIAOP, this is because my life had a singular focus and that was to become an OPERATOR (OPE).  

So that we are on the same sheet of music let me explain how SIAOP works in my brain. Many times a day during OTC I would find myself in a “Selection” moment. This was a moment when I could choose to do A) The HARD action that will provide a POSITIVE outcome, or B) The EASY action that will provide a NEGATIVE outcome. These decisions were often in the “important/not-urgent” corner of Steven Covey’s Four Quadrants, so the immediate result was not positive or negative.

Hundreds of times a day, SIAOP. 

Here are some example thoughts from OTC:

I am tired and it is really hard to focus on this block of instruction on dry firing a pistol, I should stand up and move around a bit to wake up, SIAOP.

A scalding hot piece of 5.56 brass from my mate’s M4 just landed on the bare skin of my back, now it’s being pressed in by the weight of my rack (body armor and kit), ouch, ouch, ouch, I should take a knee and get that out of my BDU top (This internal dialogue tock about .017 seconds), SIAOP.

I have been here for 16 hours and I just want to go home, I can get my gear reorganized tomorrow when I am not so tired, SIAOP.

In these examples I believe I made A-decisions based on the fact that I passed OTC and retired from the Unit after a fairly successful career over 17 years of service there. I did get up and move so I could pay attention, I stayed in the fight on the up drills and had a sweet 5.56 branded back for many years after OTC and I always squared my gear away before calling it a night during OTC and ever since. I’m sure I made a lot of B-decisions during OTC as well but on the average must have leaned toward the A-decisions.  

Flash forward to today, over the last 20+ years, SIAOP has saved me from many a self-inflicted NEGATIVE tail spin. I know, I know, I can hear Danny P. (one of my best friends) now, “Alex you aren’t an OPERATOR anymore, none of this stuff matters.” For those of you who were never a real-life Steve Austin, Chuck Norris, G.I. Joe all rolled into one Commando like me the list below may make more sense. This list will include every aspect of your life where you should have skin in the game. Notice I didn’t say where you DO have skin in the game, that is a concept for another day.

Here are the first 10 things that come to mind for me in 2021:  

  1. Husband
  2. Dad
  3. Son
  4. Friend
  5. Coach
  6. Christian
  7. Citizen 
  8. Manager 
  9. Owner
  10. Brother

I imagine your Top 10 list comes to mind quickly as well. Those same A) or B) decisions are in play many times a day. As I look at my list, I see a lot of areas where I am making too many B-decisions and that needs to change and as long as I still have air in my lungs, SIAOP, there is time to improve!  

Here are some EAT – SLEEP – MOVE examples:

I am super fit for 50, I can eat whatever I want who cares about what it is doing to me on the insides, SIAOP.

Science-schmiance, I have rocked it getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night for decades, why try and change now, SIAOP.

I can’t believe how bad my thumbs hurt from this stupid Squat Clean workout I am doing, I should just quit, SIAOP.

You get the idea; in all of these made-up examples it would be better to make the A-Decision as well. Now please don’t think that I always make the A-Decision because I absolutely don’t, but I would like to think that I am maintaining a solid B on averages on the A – F Grading Scale (1980’s version).

Ok, to bring it home, we are running in multiple Selections, daily, and in each we have hundreds of opportunities to make decision A) Hard/Positive Outcome, or decision B) Easy/Negative Outcome. Either choice won’t have a remarkable effect in the moment, so pause and remember – SELECTION IS AN ONGOING PROCESS.