Challenge Yourself to Move…Out of the Comfort Zone


Maj. Michael Peterson, 4th Battalion, 414th Regiment (SROTC), 1st Brigade, 104th Training Division, (pictured second row, fifth from the left) stands with the Leadership Tri-cities program that celebrated its 25th anniversary.

I want to share a little bit about myself in order to establish context for guidance I wholeheartedly recommend; it has been around awhile but doesn’t appear to be out of style, as it has helped me to move out of my comfort zone and contribute something of importance to my community.


I was a former adjunct faculty from Eastern Washington University now serving as the 4th Battalion, 414th Regiment, Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps Battalion S3 Operations officer. I am a South Dakota National Guard Officer Candidate School Graduate with seven years active-duty experience and a multifunctional logistician with my advanced operations course now complete.

Military Experience

Late summer of 2020, I finished the advanced operations course and was able to use my leadership skills in my community. I had also enrolled in a volunteer community leadership program called Leadership Tri-cities and was nominated and subsequently accepted the position as class president for the 25th silver anniversary year of the program.

Maj. Michael Peterson


In August of 2020, the community leadership program was wrapping up all their instructional classes and had just finished their modified volunteer class project for the class year. The executive board held a meeting to discuss the plans for graduation.

At the board meeting, I was challenged to come up with a workable solution for a graduation ceremony to provide to the class for all the hard work they had done over the difficult year.

I used my most recent military decision making process experience to quickly develop a course of action and analysis, then presented it to the board for approval. The course of action was approved, and I was set as the lead planner for the ceremony. I worked with my class director and other board members to refine and finalize the plan for the class.

The Leadership Tri-cities 25th Anniversary coin is designed by Maj. Michael Peterson, 4th Battalion, 414th Regiment (SROTC), 1st Brigade, 104th Training Division. Peterson was a participant in the leadership program.

I then led a small team that designed and procured masks for each class member, procured photographer services for the event, and purchased plaques for each class member. I designed and planned the logistics of driving to each class members’ house where they would receive the plaque, graduation items, and be photographed for the program’s website. At each location I also setup a group text message with up to the minute photographs of each person along the route encourage the class to participate in the ceremony.

I also designed and purchased a military coin for the 25th anniversary of the program’s existence and gave it to each class member. A rope border signifies the first meeting of the class where we went to a ‘Ropes’ course designed to foster teamwork. The coin has the program image on the front showing the Leadership Tri-cities program logo. The back has our class values of Growth, Honesty, Integrity, Respect, Service, and Teamwork.


While it may not be readily apparent that the skills we learn in the military are transferable to the civilian world, stepping outside your comfort zone is the first action that you can take to help you use those skills we have been taught. According to the Stoics, the more we step outside our comfort zones, the better we get at facing the chaos of life.


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