By Sgt. Justin Naylor 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade Public Affairs 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Division-NorthAugust 27, 2011
CONTINEGENCY OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq -- There are many ways to improve yourself while deployed. A group of Soldiers and Airmen worked on self-development during a class at Contingency Operating Base, Warhorse, Aug. 2.
The goal of the class was to help participants learn which habits will help them to be more effective in their careers and personal lives, explained Chaplain (Capt.) Alfred Matthews, chaplain for 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Division -- North, and a Houston native.
The beginning of the class focused on improving personal habits such as being proactive, planning things out, and organizing goals to make them easier to accomplish. Matthews related some personal anecdotes that helped the participants connect with the subjects.
Before a recent trip to a major family theme park, Matthews said he conducted hours of research about the best days to visit certain areas of the park, which restaurants were busiest at certain times of the day, and how to avoid long lines.
By spending time preparing before he went to the park, his family maximized the amount of time they could spend having fun there, he explained.
Matthews said servicemembers should try to do this is in their day-to-day lives by spending time planning and building a blueprint for how you want your life to look; decide what is important to you and focus on accomplishing that.
"This will help the Soldiers be better able to handle any situation, civilian or military," said Matthews, as he talked about developing good habits at work.
In the military, individuals can't think about putting themselves first, they have to strive for team success, he said. Servicemembers must also work to better understand their teammates, and take the feelings of those they work with into account.
It will help their team function better as a whole, he continued. Servicemembers also need to think about their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of their teammates, when they are making plans. By planning around personal strengths, teams can better combine their efforts.
For the servicemembers participating in the class, it was a chance to learn new ways to improve themselves personally and professionally.
"This class showed me how to effectively use my time to become a more professional, and all around better, Soldier," said Spc. Thomas Donahue, a mechanic with 2nd AAB, 1st Cav. Div., and a Boston, native.
I can apply the habits we talked about here directly to my life, and they will help me be a better teammate as well, he added.
Donahue said the class was refreshing because it was a chance to step back from work and focus on developing himself as an individual. If he's going to be in Iraq, why not use some of his time to better himself, he said.
The class was the third course the chaplains of 2nd AAB, 1st Cav. Div., have hosted, all of which have focused on improving resiliency.
Learning new skills and habits, and building our personal resiliencies, is what helps us get through the tough times in life, such as during a deployment, said Matthews. "Resiliency is just being comfortable with who we are, and the mission we have."
Another resiliency class has already been planned and will focus on helping service members manage personal finances.
"Resiliency training is about how to be successful not just as a Soldier, but as a person," he said.