2nd Lt. Brian Butz credits mental training with his local Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Training Center for helping him to pass the Expert Infantry Badge (EIB) test at Fort Carson, Colorado in August.
As part of the EIB training, Soldiers must demonstrate a mastery of critical tasks that build the core foundation of individual proficiency, allowing them to complete missions with precision. Upon successfully completing the test, Soldiers receive the badge and are recognized as Expert Infantrymen who are able to perform at the highest standards. Soldiers have to pass with at least an 80 percent on the Army Physical Fitness Test and 100 percent on over 30 individual tasks.
"The badge is about honing infantry skills so others can learn from you and you can demonstrate important leadership skills to your fellow Soldiers," said Butz.
Butz was one of over 200 Soldiers testing, 17 to pass and one of only four in his unit to pass.
Butz first met Kelly O'Brien, a Master Resilience Trainer-Performance Expert with the Fort Carson CSF2 Training Center when his battalion received performance training. Following the training, the Soldiers were advised on how mental skills could benefit a variety of areas. He then decided to do one-on-one training with O'Brien to help him prepare for EIB and other future endurance challenges.
"When I first started working with 2nd Lt. Butz, he had a fixed mindset in regards to the endurance event, which can limit your potential. My goal was to assist him in developing a growth mindset and channel his thinking so that it was working for him rather than against him. In addition, I wanted 2nd Lt. Butz to understand the importance of being able to compartmentalize and focus only on the task at hand -- a technique that would prove invaluable during EIB," states O'Brien.
O'Brien chose to teach Butz the skills of Attention Control and Building Confidence. "Attention control is about maintaining your focus. It is being in the present and focusing on the process rather than the outcome. Building confidence is about thoughts. Thoughts can instill confidence in us and facilitate our performance," states O'Brien.
"Kelly taught me to use cue words, or buzz words. I repeated my cue word during each lane of competition and it helped me focus. My cue word has very personal meaning for me and it helped me talk myself down when I felt overwhelmed. I was able to control my mindset and practice the mental skills," said Butz.
A foundation of CSF2's performance training is the Thought-Performance-Connection. This is recognizing that you may not have control over the events that drive your thoughts, but you do have control over how you interpret those events and subsequent thoughts. Being aware of your thoughts can lead to more productive emotional and physical reactions, which, in turn, lead to more optimal performance.
"Your mindset is very important. It helps in daily life with integrity. I learned if you can control your brain and your thoughts and actually utilize them, you can stay focused on the task at hand," says Butz. "Once you do one good thing and become grateful for things you do have, you can build on that."
Butz wants to pay his knowledge gained forward to his fellow Soldiers.
"In EIB I helped my buddy focus on the current lane we were at. I presented the techniques I learned in an infantrymen way -- a relatable way," said Butz. "I've learned a lot from the CSF2 Training Center and the performance training I received from them. There is no subject that is finite; there is more to learn. I recommend mental training from the CSF2 Training Center to those who are willing to learn. You need to humble yourself to do better," he said. "My next plan is to continue to work with my platoon to train and execute the good mission."
CSF2 Training Centers provide performance training that helps improve the mental state for optimal performance. There are 25 CSF2 Training Centers located across the Army. To locate one near you visit http://csf2.army.mil/training-centers.html.