By Jeremiah Johnson, Ready Nutrition |
This article’s purpose is to provide you with a framework of ideas for self-assessment. The piece is Part I of two parts. It is one of the U.S. Army’s Principles of Leadership to know yourself and seek self-improvement. This is rooted in a principle that goes back to the time of the Bible, that he who knows himself and controls his passions is stronger than the conqueror of a city. As conquerors of cities run, few were as adept as Sun Tzu, ancient Chinese warlord, and strategist. Sun Tzu said to know yourself and to know your enemy, with emphasis on the first part. It is this part that we concentrate our focus.
Do you know yourself? It is a fair question. Survivalist and prepper, yes, but do you really know yourself? One of the problems that we face in life is that we find our identity, the “who we are” within our interests…of what we do. If a guy works with electrical outlets and wiring buildings, then he is an electrician and calls himself as such. Akin to the zombies in George Romero’s movie, “Night of the Living Dead,” we plod through life and live and die within our professions, perhaps changing from one profession to another, but always self-identifying with what we do: a utilitarian identity.
But who are we? Do we know ourselves?
Perhaps this is confusing; however, rather than leave you with the question to sort out, let’s place some feedback and framework into it. Let’s answer a question by asking ourselves more questions. YOU SHOULD WRITE THESE DOWN ON PAPER, to review. Let’s do it!
- How do you see yourself outright, in what roles in their totality? A husband and father who is a college graduate and works as a master mechanic. That is an example of a potential “first impression” of yourself.
- Now…how have you challenged yourself, physically, in your life? Were you an athlete? Are you still? What did you accomplish with sports? What were your awards? What was your greatest athletic accomplishment, the one you were the proudest of…and why were you proud of it?
- Who are your friends? [An old saying: Show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are]. Are you tightly-knit, akin to a family? Are they “winners” in life, meaning successful at taking care of themselves and their families? Or are they huddled around a 55-gallon drum with a fire in it, passing around the Popov?
- How have you challenged yourself academically and mentally? What are your greatest accomplishments from a scholastic (and perhaps competitive) perspective? Were you a chess champion? An “Avalon Hill” game tournament winner? An excellent speech and debate practitioner? Do you write?
- Service: How have you served something greater than yourself? The Red Cross? Your church? In the military, or the Peace Corps? What were your greatest accomplishments there? Have you ever saved someone’s life…in peacetime, or in war? Have you ever been recognized by your peers for your accomplishments?
- What are your greatest strengths?
- What are your weaknesses, physical, mental, and emotional? Are you prone to a violent temper? Are you docile to the point of being afraid of confrontation, either verbal or physical?
- What skills do you possess? List them all…yes, all of them. What do you know how to do? What have you done? There is a difference between those two parts. Knowing how to do it is being “technically proficient.” Actually being able to get it done is being “tactically proficient.”
- What are your three greatest skills and strengths?
- What is your number one strength…the one that you could match up with anyone in the world that you know of? What is that area where you are a master technician and tactician, performing it so well that you move in the fluid manner of an artist…that when you perform what you do best, it is more akin to an art form?
These are your starting points. A good self-assessment. If you are honest with yourself, you will really have some great material to look back on and to use as a tool to find out your goals and how you’re going to achieve them.
Then, #11. For number 11? Take one person whom you trust and know will be honest with you…and have them read all of it. Then ask for their opinion of all of it…especially asking them to be honest with their assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.
How is that for a challenge? Not only do you have to be honest with yourself, but you should trust someone who you believe in…and face honesty from them. In this manner, you will be able to form a truly beneficial assessment, and put together two of the component parts:
- Who we see ourselves as being, and
- Who others see us as being.
When are these determined? We can then better answer number 3. Do you know this one? It returns to the first question I asked you, and the hardest thing to learn:
- Who we are.
What a challenge: to find out who you are…take criticism (self and others) to heart, to improve yourself. You’ll need the courage to do it. In the end, we can defeat many battles in the fight to prepare and survive.
But the greatest battle you’ll ever face and the toughest opponent will be yourself. Stay in that good fight, assess yourself, know yourself, and seek self-improvement. Part 2 we will detail how to know your enemy. Good luck and God bless! JJ out!
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.