Why Military Decision-Making Is So Important in Both Training and Fitness

(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Asa Bingham)

Life is about making decisions and managing the consequences of those decisions. In tactical training, it is no different. Your journey to, through and after your training, testing or selection process is full of daily decisions that will determine your fate. Whether you are making strategic decisions or following tactical decisions, getting good at decision-making is, in essence, what separates the U.S. military from others around the world.

From the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) to the Tactical Planning Process (TPP) and more immediate or intuitive decision-making processes like the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act), the military has not only created an effective decision-making process but uses training opportunities to develop and evolve it under some of the most stressful situations.

Decision-Making Starts Early -- Get Good at It

Serving in the military is a calling, as well as a sense of duty for many people. But for some, it is one of the few ways for that person to get out of their current situation. Regardless, deciding to serve should not be done on a whim just because you have nowhere else to go. The military can offer many opportunities if you research what branch of service and occupation or training is best for you.

Deciding to serve and getting yourself prepared to go into the military is just the first phase of this journey. Preparing yourself requires building good training habits, researching the process and learning what career in the military is right for you.

Deciding to Quit or Not Quit

On your journey toward a military occupation, there will be tough training. Getting through this training will be tough, as you could be learning a skill like flying, diving or driving a billion-dollar submarine. Lives often depend on your ability to perform under stress. During these high-stress training moments, you may be uncomfortable physically, mentally and emotionally; your decision to make the correct decision tactically is just as important as your decision not to quit when times get hard.

How you react when your will is tested is important in the tactical professions, as your team needs you to do the right thing in the moment. Still, you cannot look at quitting something you started as a failure. It has to be a learning experience, and you need to keep moving forward.

These decisions can drive direction in your own life one way or another, but the direction can always be diverted by a new decision at any time throughout your life.

Experience vs. Procedural Decisions

Throughout your military career, you will constantly gain experience as daily decisions continue to fill your day. You will learn and teach others around you. You will also learn that there are procedural decisions (in the form of things like standard operating procedures) or emergency procedures (ones that are created and memorized to get the job done and save lives).

A lot of procedures created in the military are often "written in blood," meaning someone was seriously injured or died doing something a certain way. Through experience, you may have learned a better way to do something that saves time and money -- and is safe. These procedural and experiential decisions play an important role in your daily life in the military. Pay attention and learn these skills so you can make better-informed decisions. Then, teach and mentor others around you.

There are so many types of decisions to make each day of our lives. From ethical to behavioral decisions, our constant journey through life is one decision after another. Some are quick and easy, while others require thought and information. If you are curious about an outcome, test it for the most optimal outcome.

As Yogi Berra once said, "If there is a fork in the road -- take it."

Better Decision-Making

Being fit, strong and knowledgeable in your craft will also boost your confidence, which is imperative to making tactical decisions and getting tasks accomplished successfully. If you make a poor decision, the key is to move on and take the other road at the fork. Sometimes changing direction is the part of a decision-making process that gets you back on track.

Why Is Being a Better Decision-Maker Important?

Decisions start actions. You are one decision away from reaching your goals; a decision to start a new habit and the action of breaking an old habit. The decision to do so and the action to begin is where the magic happens. From fitness goals and professional goals to other life goals, decisions drive your actions.

Then, these continued actions create habits. As with everything, consistency is key. Keep moving and training as your fitness can be a catalyst to improvement in other areas of your professional and personal life.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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