In the military tradition, as well as in the sea/air-faring professions, when you see them, you know you’re dealing with a person of rank. And rank isn’t assigned without justification. Rank is earned. Rank comes after struggle, but not just struggle, but struggles overcome. Rank says, ‘I survived; now I can tell the tale; now I can lead others to overcome.’
Where am I going with this? Journey with me…let’s earn this together.
Epaulettes are worn on the shoulder(s). They’re prominently affixed to the officer’s shoulders. You spot them a mile off. No one hides their epaulettes. In fact, I’m sure it’s an offence and downright an insult to one’s profession not to wear one’s epaulettes, or to wear them in a defaced, damaged or tattered state.
As I’ve said before, epaulettes signify rank, and rank signifies accomplishment. Rank signifies performance. Rank signifies the capacity to overcome. Rank signifies courage under fire.
And, while rank says all of these things in military and other environments, we, who have slain our Goliaths, hide our ‘epaulettes’. What are the struggles that you have been through? What are the battles that you’ve endured? What are the sweeping tides that have rushed over you, yet didn’t drown you? What are the challenges that saw your emotional grit fire you to phenomenal levels of courage?
Listen you – I challenge you to list them, stick them up where you can see them and remind yourself of what YOU have overcome. Go a step further – state what about yourself allowed you to overcome it.
Why? I’ll give you a few good reasons:
- It heals: Who can heal an ailment that has not been acknowledged? Owning your struggles is the first step towards healing. Note well, owning your struggles isn’t the same as reminding yourself of just how much life has been unkind to you and working yourself into a good pity-party. No! There’s a difference. Owning your struggle says, ‘I acknowledge my past, but I forget (not deny) what lies behind and I strive forward to the prize’. And when you own your struggle, you prepare yourself for healing. Healing makes you whole. Healing restores. Healing regenerates. Healing rejuvenates and revives. Healing, most importantly, sets you up to face what’s next.
- It unites: If there’s anything that unites humanity is struggle, pain, and challenge. Show me anyone who’s never been through a struggle and I’ll show you someone who has not yet been conceived. Even an embryo goes through a struggle to develop into a healthy baby, and then to be born. Returning though, to the military reference, have you ever seen movies of war heroes recounting their battles? That story unites them with others who’ve been through similar battles, and even with those who have not been through that battle. Through the bonding effect of battles fought, there is a strengthening of the team and a reinforcing of the individual.
- It liberates: Let me be clear: owning your struggle isn’t holding on to your struggle. It’s about acknowledging that you have faced challenges. Those challenges bruised you, they set you back, they even threw you down. But more importantly, those challenges strengthened you for what was next and you have that to be grateful for. Learn to see the link between your past hurts and your future glory. When you look at your struggles and challenges this way, it liberates you from the dulling and debilitating effect of the hurt. Therefore, they cannot confine you.
So friends, own your struggle. Own your hurts. Own your pain. It’s the only way you’ll see your ‘epaulettes’ and when you see your ‘epaulettes’, the world will acknowledge your rank. Ten-hut!