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Novum Inceptum

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- As this new year begins, I'd like to share a few ideas associated with the term "Novum Inceptum". This is a Latin phrase that translates to: "A New Beginning". In case you were wondering, I didn't come up with this phrase on my own; it was my class motto at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

We all understand that change is part of life, and often, change offers us the opportunity for our own "Novum Inceptum." In order to make our future "new beginnings" as constructive as possible, we should strive to build our resiliency. Resiliency is that quality that allows us as humans to survive, persevere, and capitalize on changes in our environment. It's no secret that human society is in a period of ever-increasing change in an exploding age of information, technology, and protest. Resiliency allows us to adapt to, influence, and embrace change, indeed; to make change into our own "new beginning."

I recognize three ingredients that I consider important to build and maintain my resiliency, they are; control, expectancy, and toughness.

Control is a funny concept. Most of us dislike the idea of "being" controlled, yet most of us seek a higher degree of control over the events in our lives. I view life's events as falling into three general categories; those you control, those that you influence, and those that just happen (many times "to" you). Events that you truly control, when you're honest with yourself, are infrequent. They can include the words you use or the emotions you display. A much larger category of events are those you can influence, some to a greater degree than others. Finally, the largest category is those events that occur with no means to manipulate or manage. A healthy understanding of control can inform and guide our goal-setting process and provide essential tools for managing anxiety. In other words, don't sweat what you have no control over.

Expectancy is also an important consideration as it relates to resiliency. In my experience as a commander, I find a person's expectation of an event, and how closely that expectation is met, is a very strong motivator (or de-motivator). Hence, we should take great care when setting expectations for future events. Perhaps we should consider setting expectations based on our ability to control or influence the event? Thus the concepts of control and expectancy are interrelated and they should be carefully considered as we reinforce our resiliency. Remember that expectations are something the individual sets for themselves! The process of setting expectations should be carefully managed and constantly re-evaluated.

What does it mean to be "tough?" Are you tough? Have you ever asked yourself this question? Toughness is a very important aspect of resiliency. There are many kinds of toughness; mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Careful analysis of you own weaknesses and better self-awareness are keys to building toughness. Our relative toughness in each of these areas can increase or decrease throughout our life, so constant re-assessment of emerging weaknesses is always instructive. I find building toughness requires specific identification of weakness joined with deliberately planned trials and exercises to conquer them over time.

So why spend all of my writing space on these concepts? Because I believe these concepts contribute directly to my own sense of resiliency, and I hope each of you can find something here that is useful. A high degree of resiliency is what permits us to seize change, own it, and shape it into our own personal "new beginning."

To all of my fellow Airmen;

Happy New Year 2012 "Novum Inceptum"