The Buddy System Works – But…
There are countless benefits to having a buddy who shares the same journey and goals as you. The right buddy helps keep you motivated, inspired, and disciplined to get things done, show up on time, and push yourself to higher levels of performance. And if this is a mutally beneficial relationship, you do the same for your buddy. That is how the buddy system works. Being accountable to each other puts a positive peer pressure on you that helps you find the energy to get things done and at perhaps a higher level than if by yourself.
How The Buddy System Helps Us..
I have been doing free group training for young men and women seeking to serve their country or community in the tactical professions (military, police, fire) for nearly 20 years. These are actually my own workouts that I used to do by myself, (more than 500 hours a year), the buddy system has done the following for me and everyone in the group:
1 - Accountability - Made me show up every day at 6am even when I do not feel like it. Those that show up are my responsibility and they give me purpose when it is real easy to stay asleep. For many it is their first taste of military style training and I take that responsibility seriously. Besides - those who find me, give me hope for the future.
2 - Pushing Each Other - The group has made us work harder with our weaknesses. We all push ourselves to be better each day. No one wants to be last in this group as a source of pride and getting better each day is a group goal.
3 - You Have to See It To Believe It - Our buddy system / group has helped people see what level of fitness they need to be in prior to departing. By seeing the people who are ahead of them in the training pipeline, they see where they need to be on PT scores, strength, speed, timed cardio events, and more. Then hearing those people made it through selection reaffirms that level of performance as a goal. It is not a timeline - it is a performance starting line.
4 - Friends for Life - Though many go their different ways, Many of these buddies see each other in various schools, other countries, and programs while serving. It is fun to get pictures from two people who worked with us 5-10 years ago with each other again working missions in another country, or meet back up at the same command.
5 - Team Player - The buddy system allows for you and your team to actually be better team players, leaders, and followers. When you become an active member of a tactical unit, this is a requirement. There are no Rambos or loners on a team, so you cannot be one in your preparation either. But any activity like sports, activty groups, and community offer the ability to practice being a good team player along your life journey to joining a tactical group.
The Buddy Systems is Great - But It Has Weaknesses....
There is a component that is also needed when enduring challenging selection programs and tough tactical professions and that is self discipline.
Here is why self-discipline is important and why you have to step out of the buddy system often in order to develop it.
1 - By Yourself - Working out / studying / preparing by yourself is just different. When you have only your thoughts to challenge you, it is easy to listen to the voice in your head that says, "back off, ease up, don't work so hard, hit the snooze button", etc. You have to learn how to TALK TO YOURSELF - NOT LISTEN TO YOURSELF and you only get that by doing things by yourself.
2 - That Moment - There will be moments that test your will. The moment of truth when you are cold, tired, wet, dirty, hungry, and everything hurts to move will be tested one day. What is the answer you give to the voice you hear when your thoughts are talking to you - what do you tell yourself? That is just you - you may not have your buddy there at this moment. It might be just you, an instructor providing plenty of negative feedback to sift through and your pain. What do you do?
3 - Get Focused - This "me time" you give yourself can lead to better focus of your priorities and goals and can reduce idle chit chat that confuses the thought process - so take advantage of being alone and build the mind and body to work together.
4 - Training Life is Easier - LIfe is a bit easier when you are on your own. As decisions on what to do, an organized structure, and your general perspective improves when you see progress in your training when on your own. Self-discipline builds confidence in your abilities. How do you compare to others on the journey - Assess Yourself.
5 - Your Own Boss - When you are your own boss, if you want to see progress toward your goals, you have to be driven by results and values of hard work. This requires disciplined habits that do not need external motivation to work. But you cannot get distracted by the typical bad habits or distractions that do not help you toward your goal. Remember this quote to ask yourself:
"Does this support the life I am trying to create for myself"
If you want to be more accountable to yourself "ask yourself that question in everything you do, every minute, of every day....if the answer is no, stop and remove it from your life or simply relax, take a deep breath, and find a different path." ~ Bert Kuntz
In the end, we need a good mix of both: Reliable buddies, mentors, and friends / family who support you as well as YOU. You need YOU to be ALL-IN and be ready to lay down all you have in order to bring your A-game if you want to see success. By experiencing both, you will learn your self-worth. You will have control of how you perceive the world and how you react to changes in your plans that are out of your control, but you keep moving. When it comes back to you and your will, you will be able to categorize the desire for the long term reward and not settle for the easy way out or instant gratification. Be patient and keep preparing.
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