This blog started as an idea from a design project in grad school to “Reimagine” how we share the Wounded Warrior experience with American society. I was wounded in Iraq in 2004, suffering a severe internal injury. Now I TICK WHEN I RUN. You will read stories on how endurance sports have helped me CRUSH adversity, conquering my injuries both mentally and physically. Physical fitness, especially endurance sports, changes lives for the better. FIRED UP!
Monday, May 9, 2016
How to Design Your Life After the Military: Veterans and Design Thinking
When I transitioned out of the Army last year, I was
pretty excited about becoming a civilian and re-entering society as a Veteran.
It was going to be a new adventure—and adventure that I was really looking
One of the lessons I learned in the Army is that
people with fixed mindsets who don't learn and adapt quickly become irrelevant.
As an officer who served in heavy combat in Iraq, I saw firsthand the negative consequences
that can result from failing to adapt to the situation on the ground. In my new
environment as a Veteran, I knew I wasn’t going to have to face anything as dangerous
as combat, but still, I quickly found I needed to be able to adapt.
During the first few weeks of civilian life, I really
enjoyed my new freedoms and slept in, not worried about maintaining any sort of
daily routine. I had spent years waking at the crack of dawn, working out
daily. Physical fitness was part of the routine and tied to my ability to do my
job as a leader. Once I took my uniform off for the last time, I realized my
routine was whatever I wanted it to be.
While I enjoyed the routine of not having a routine during
those first few weeks, I eventually began missing more and more physical
fitness workouts. This had a largely unexpected, negative impact on my mood and
the amount of positive energy I had starting off each day. As I reflected on
this, I realized how in the Army physical fitness had a positive effect on my
mood and helped me feel better prepared to take on the challenges of the day.
Once I had this realization, I knew I had to adapt and take a design thinking approach to "redesigning" my daily experience now that I was a
I have lots of experience helping others figure out
what they need to do to be successful. In addition to my day job, I run my own
leadership development firm and have led design thinking workshops for several
different clients since I transitioned from the Army. However, this was the
first time I ever designed an experience for myself. I started out by doing a
journey map, which is a process of gaining empathy of a user’s experience. In
this case I was using it to gain understanding of my own daily experience. I
created a timeline and charted my moods throughout the day for a week. The
journey map showed me that on days I worked out in the morning I had a positive
energy that stayed with me throughout the day. On days where I did not workout,
my mood was not as positive.
Seeing this data displayed visually on a journey map
was eye opening to me. I have always known physical fitness was important, but I
never really saw the connection to my daily mood and positive energy flow. By
gaining an understanding of myself, I was able to define the problem, ideate,come up with a “prototype” daily routine, and test it. I am in my third
iteration now, but I’m happy to report that I am fueled daily by a positive
energy and regularly looking at how to raise the level of energy in myself and
Jonathan, the 300 K Man, is
an experienced leader and coach with a proven record of leading and developing
others to perform at higher levels and improve their overall effectiveness. He
has a passion for learning and developing others to improve as leaders. Jonathan
brings lessons from over 25 years of experience leading in U.S. Army Infantry,
Cavalry, and Armor units in a wide range of assignments, to include leading
soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. He is a decorated veteran and a
recipient of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. Jonathan served as
a faculty member at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY before
transitioning from the Army in 2015. He is a certified Executive Coach and
operates his own leadership coaching business: http://www.quicksmartsleadership.com