- On September 13, 2010
I just spent an incredible week volunteering to help out at the VET Foundation COMPASS program working with wounded warriors. Originally founded in 2006, the Veteran Employment Transition (VET) Foundation is ”a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to providing service-disabled veterans with career resources and comprehensive transition support to ultimately secure meaningful employment in the civilian workplace.” It is an incredibly powerful and worthwhile program; I’d go so far as to say life-changing. I’m a vet myself and knew I had to take some action to dispel the Department of Labor prediction that veterans aged 18-24 are three times more likely to be unemployed than the national average. I’ll talk more about the transition issues in future posts, but right now I want to focus on one of the core tenets of the program—assessing and fixing the balance focus in your life.
Where are you centered? A right question to ask in an individual sense, a family sense, and a corporate or organizational sense. The term taught at COMPASS is MEPS: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. The four fundamental aspects of living a centered, balanced life. It is graphically shown as an equilateral triangle with the E in the center. It becomes the centerpiece and foundation for all the skills and techniques they teach these wounded warriors for transitioning to a successful post-military life. I learned as much as they did and realize that my “MEPS” had become seriously out of whack over the last two years. Here is how it works:
M—Mental—not your smarts or education, this aspect has to do with applying your intelligence to design a workable plan to achieve your goals
E—Emotional–your passion, your commitment, what you are put on this earth to do and how you serve. Really you’ve got to figure this one out first. That’s why it is in the center.
P—Physical–this has much less to do with fitness and strength, although that certainly is a factor in your ability to do what you want to do in your life. This is your ability to execute the plan, identify and overcome obstacles.
S—Spiritual—While your belief system in religion or your God can certainly support your foundation for decision-making, the Spiritual aspect is your moral compass. We have seen in the last eight or ten years what a lack of a moral compass can do to businesses, starting with Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay at Enron, and leading into the more recent sub-prime mortgage problems and Bernie Maddoff Ponzi schemes.
Give yourself—and your organization—a score from 1-10 in each of these (10 is best). If you charted each side out, would your equilateral triangle look more like a lean-to with one side almost devoid of effort? Would there be an empty space in the center? Multiply each element out—M x E x P x S–ideally you should be at 10K. If you are not, start asking the right questions: Whyt? What to focus on? How to improve? Where to start? Who needs to be involved?
Each of the wounded warrior participants in this program gets a small red triangle to take home. I made one up and put it in my wallet as a constant reminder. Every morning I imagine looking through the center of a balanced triangle and it helps me center on what I really should be focused on and avoid the distractions which pull me away from my true purpose.