The Many Benefits of Competition
There is nothing I enjoy more about my job in the Army than traveling and talking to our great leaders and Soldiers. In my discussions, I like to ask Soldiers specifically what they enjoy most about the Army. Without a doubt, the answers I hear the most are the comradery and opportunity the Army gives them to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I couldn’t agree more. When I ask them what they’d like to do more often- the resounding response is they’d like to spend more time doing their jobs (what they came here to do). With all the Army’s mandatory and continuing requirements, leaders often find it challenging to keep the main thing, the main thing.
As we come into the peak season of the annual Best Warrior Competition (BWC), I think of the enormous opportunity this competition provides our Soldiers to do exactly what they tell me they want to do–Army Stuff! We all see the pictures and enjoy watching the competitors get after it in the physically and mentally challenging events at various levels of competition. But how many of us are actively encouraging our best and brightest Soldiers and NCOs to challenge themselves to take part in the BWC? How many of us are explaining the opportunities these sorts of events offer all competitors, let alone the winners? What about the other Band of Excellence opportunities offered each year to Soldiers of all ranks throughout the USAR such as Expert Soldier Badge (ESB), Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB), and the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (GAFPB).
Like many of you, I have personally witnessed and taken part in many of these events. Aside from enjoying the events themselves, I’m always awed by the tremendous amount of teamwork I see as the Soldiers work their way through the events. In fact, most competitors establish lasting, even life-long, relationships with their counterparts whom they might’ve never met had they not volunteered to compete. Almost as a side effect, these Soldiers and NCOs expand their networks and come away motivated and re-energized having been given the opportunity to do things they never thought they may have the chance to do in their Army careers. Nearly all of them return to their units ready to build the next cohort of future competitors. Support staff reap many of the same rewards as they work within their CMF and utilize their knowledge and skills to provide quality events for the competitors.
Aside from teamwork, the Soldiers involved in these events often have the chance to be heard by senior leaders and VIPs who come to show their support. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had Soldiers at these events tell me how the Army could be even better, and I always listen. This is a prime opportunity for them to be seen and extend their influence beyond their assigned units. More times than not, I come away with a new perspective on something I hadn’t considered in the past- ultimately, I grow as a leader and am able to re-energize and even re-prioritize initiatives.
It’s no secret that some units are better than others at getting the word out to their Soldiers about these great opportunities, but just think of them like the holidays. The BWC events are always planned backwards from the HQDA BWC, and so, are always held at the same time each year. That said, the time is now to start getting the word out on next year’s BWC event. Leaders–I challenge you to identify and engage potential competitors in your units. Soldiers–I challenge each of you to step up and challenge yourselves to take part in these amazing opportunities.
If these sorts of competitions aren’t right for you as a Soldier, then seek out and exploit other opportunities to stand out amongst your peers and become more competitive for promotion. Some ways to do this include, exceeding course standards while attending your PME (Honor Graduate / Distinguished Honor Graduate), completing online training such as the Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education (SEJPME levels 1 &2) courses available for free on the JKO website (jkodirect.jten.mil), becoming a member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club or other branch specific clubs, excelling in civilian education, becoming a member of local committees, or simply volunteering for local charities and events.
There are many ways to compete in the U.S. Army Reserve, the key is to ask questions, be persistent, and stay engaged in setting after and achieving your personal goals.
Best of luck to each of you!
First in Training!
–CSM Mooso | Griffon 7