By Tim Hipps, U.S. Army North Public AffairsJanuary 25, 2017
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Jan. 20, 2017) -- Soldiers learned the differences between fixed, mixed and growth mindsets -- among other performance techniques -- during a four-hour Executive Resilience and Performance course Jan. 20 at the Fort Sam Houston Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Training Center.
"This gives me self-reflection of whether my attitude is fixed or a growth attitude, and how to recognize that among our subordinates, as well," 106th Signal Brigade Sgt. Maj. Maurice Greening said after completing the course. "It will help me recognize and notice the attitudes of those around me and how I interact with folks, too."
Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, or CSF2, represents the Army's investment in the readiness of the force, and the quality of life of Soldiers, their family members, and Army civilians. The Army provides Ready and Resilient, or R2, capabilities to commanders and leaders so they can achieve and sustain personal readiness and optimize human performance in environments of uncertainty and persistent danger.
"Our focus is to give a snapshot of what the skill really is and the content really is of this very big program that CSF2 has to offer in terms of training curriculum," said Jill Wierzba, one of six Master Resilience Trainer Performance Experts at the Fort Sam Houston training center. "If we can give them a taste like we did with the fixed and growth mindset, which is out of the performance curriculum, it makes a whole lot more sense. They know what it is. They would know how to use it within their organization.
"More importantly, they know exactly what to talk to their local MRTs to push into their training schedule so it becomes a little bit more deliberate and focused in terms of the training that the commander can take ownership over instead of 'Oh, resilience training -- yeah, whatever.' It's very much more deliberate and purposeful training when everybody's going into their unit-level training."
CSF2 supports the R2 vision of building and sustaining a culture of trust and developing personal and unit readiness to meet demanding current and emerging Army requirements.
"I think it's beneficial for a couple of reasons," said Col. Bradford Davis of 106th Signal Brigade. "Number one, and probably the most important, is it brings together a group of peers external to our organization to take time to discuss these things. We get viewpoints from folks in the medical community, sister brigades, other battalions coming in, brigade commanders, battalion commanders -- so it gives us a peer group that is beyond what we normally get at our own unit to work through some of these things. There's a lot of peer learning and peer teaching.
"It's also time out," Davis continued. "We get time out to pull away as best we can from the Blackberry, from the boss calling, from the front office running in and saying, 'Hey, Sir, somebody's on the phone can you come for five minutes?' It gives us time to just reflect on this one topic. Normally, we have to reflect on topics at two to three-minute chunks. … It buys us time to think."
The overarching goals of the training reinforce Army professionalism and positive behaviors, leading to sustained personal readiness and resilience of Soldiers, Army civilians and family members, thereby enhancing unit readiness.
First Sgt. Antwine Brunson said he could think of a specific Soldier from his 19 years in the Army that fit the mold of nearly scenario discussed during the training session.
"With each thing that came up, I thought of someone, and how I might view certain individuals," Brunson said. "It's not about how I might view myself, but what I'm actually doing within my unit to build up the NCOs and the Soldiers. And things I can add or try."
Resilience is the mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral ability to face and cope with adversity, adapt to change, recover, learn and grow from setbacks. Resilience also is defined as the ability to withstand, recover, and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands. A resilient individual is better able to leverage intellectual and emotional skills and behaviors that promote enhanced performance.
Instructors must discover ways to keep the "buzz" in the words resilience and resiliency.
"It's an easy buzzword to just spout out because every person's interpretation is completely different," Wierzba said. "You're going to interpret that word in a way that's meaningful and that you like. That's actually a part of what we try to deconstruct as part of our training here: Let's stop saying resilient because at this point it's meaningless. What are we really talking about of a person who's able to overcome adversity? What is that really like?"
Resilience competencies increase one's ability to cope with stress, overcome setbacks, solve problems, remain task-focused, and perform under pressure. The competencies also increase self-confidence, while lessening senses of helplessness, depression, and anxiety.
CSF2 is an integral part of the Army's Ready and Resilient initiatives, which promote physical and psychological fitness and encourage personal and professional growth.
"Recently, a new R2 op order was published around the November timeframe," said Eduardo Bojorquez, a retired Army first sergeant who manages the training center at Fort Sam Houston. "The performance and the resilience training is part of that R2 campaign and efforts of changing the culture at the organizational level, a culture of trust and self-accountability -- all those things that are integral parts to personal readiness."
Online self-development opportunities also are available. The R2 ArmyFit platform helps participants meet the Army's Performance Triad goals of improved performance through optimal sleep, activity and nutrition. A global assessment tool for measuring success is available at https://armyfit.army.mil.
The Executive Resilience and Performance courses are available for company, battalion and brigade-level command teams, as well as GS-12 and above supervisors.
"One of the things we strive really hard for, while it's nice to have expertise from outside sources, we also want to be very cognizant of their world -- common issues and things that they address -- so we can make the content very applicable to the individual," said instructor Amy Guillen, PhD. "That's why you can see the head nods and the shakes, like 'Oh, yeah, this is where it comes up.' We also know energy levels and we're able to create discussion, have them talk amongst themselves, get up and get moving.
"It's by design that we have them flip-charting and presenting to each other," added Guillen, who noted that all of instructors have at least a master's degree in sport and performance psychology. "That way, they're not just learning from us, but also from each other."
Wierzba elaborated on that concept.
"From our own professional development perspective, it's important to be able to relay the information very meaningfully to Soldiers," she said. "We've learned about their lives and how they talk and the important things that come up that are relevant from a performance-psychology standpoint. That, to me, is a point of personal pride that I can relate to you because I know that this is such meaningful information and it does impact peoples' lives."
Other courses specifically designed for transition battalions/unit Soldiers, cadre, staff and family members are offered at the Fort Sam Houston Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Training Center, along with Master Resilience Trainer, or MRT, courses. For more details, call (210) 808-6089 or visit http://csf2.army.mil.