By Charles Bausman
I started working at MTI immediately after completing my time as a USMC Infantry Officer late last Spring. Seeking to gain experience in the X’s and O’s of running a small business, Rob brought me on as a Business and Operations intern.
I read the Amazon recommended readings for entrepreneurship, marketing strategies, and basic finance and looked forward to single handedly doubling Rob’s revenue.
I bombed. Hard. I was frustrated easily and attempted to use generic models for business improvement, which weren’t really needed.
Fortunately, I was afforded the opportunity to stay with MTI, albeit in a different role. I became more of a researcher and journalist, digging up information and cross-referencing the data with input from the MTI community. Topics range dramatically, but stay within the parameters of mission-direct, performance-improving research.
I had a basic foundation of knowledge on how the military works, but the other communities that MTI focuses on were largely a mystery to me. I’ve never fought a fire, climbed a serious mountain, or arrested a suspect. The learning curve has been steep.
I’ve worked here only a short time, and have certainly had my fair share of “slam my head against the wall” frustrations. That being said, I’m finding the work to be as intellectually stimulating as the military was in physical sense.
It’s been a tremendous rudder change, and forced me to shake some cobwebs out of my brain in order to think in a different manner. Here are my biggest takeaways…
What we’re doing is important
Rob’s strength and conditioning programming theories have seen significant positive results for athletes who take it seriously. However, fitness makes up only a small portion of the pie when it comes to these jobs.
What may be more important in the years to come is the evolution of mission direct research. At a minimum, it’s creating conversation amongst MTI athletes on the best ways to improve individual performance. At best, it might serve to change the way units, departments, and business’s face challenges, possibly even saving lives.
If we can figure out a way to take this conversation and turn it into a viable service to improve performance and leadership, then we’ll be on the right track. We’re still figuring it out, but I think we’re on our way.
The MTI community provides amazing feedback
I’m incredibly impressed every time we seek feedback on a subject dealing with the MTI professions.
We’ve asked some hard questions on the tactics and techniques of fire fighting, law enforcement, and mountain sports. Every time, we receive incredible responses, which open my eyes to the realities and challenges individuals face. I learn something new, every single time.
It opens up honest conversation from professionals on topics they might not be able to discuss otherwise. Leadership failures, training criticisms, and the effects of the job on mental health are all fair game. I doubt you’ll see this kind of honesty at a unit After Action Report.
Coaching athletes in Jackson is humbling
I fancied myself as something of an athlete before coming to Jackson. I’d always been able to perform at high levels when it came to physical training. The athletes here will make you feel like a rookie.
Elite level skiers, climbers, and military athletes frequent the MTI facility, and the things they have accomplished in their given profession are incredible. Being afforded the opportunity to coach and train alongside these folks has allowed me to refocus on my own fitness, and inspired for new goals outside of the gym.
If you ever happen to visit and train with us, you’ll never be the most accomplished athlete in the room. Not by a long shot. It’s awesome.
Rob’s developed an efficient and effective method of programming. He could probably step away from the business and put it on cruise control, and it would still be successful.
Despite this, we’re constantly reexamining plans and updating them based on the latest programming theories. Nothing is ever perfect, but it takes a certain kind of personality to reexamine your own work and decide that it needs improvement.
This mentality ranges across the spectrum of what we’re trying to do. Can we find new ways to improve performance? Are the theories used two years ago still relevant?
The difference between a company that flares brightly but dies quickly and one that sticks around for decades is the ability to self-evaluate and re-examine. If something needs to change, then get to work. No matter how temporarily painful it might be.
Working with MTI has been a graduate school level learning experience. It’s forced me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable intellectually. I learn something new daily. And frequently my work at MTI challenges the assumptions I considered as fact previously.
To give you an idea of my work here, below is a snapshot of the projects I’m working on now:
- Issues in the Military Award System. Has the increase in medals awarded for meritorious achievement taken away from the significance of medals awarded for valor? Are their too many awards, most of which have been created in the last fifty to sixty years? Has the criteria for meritorious achievement awards lowered to the point of making them irrelevant? Is it simply ornamental fashion?
- Should officers only approach traffic stops on the passenger side? Numerous officers are killed each year in accidents and shootings during traffic stops each year. We found one study which showed a passenger side approach was safer …. but amongst officers themselves, this argument is as old as Chevy vs. Ford.
- Performance Enhancing Drugs for Tactical Athletes. If PED’s increase speed, strength, and durability, why aren’t we giving them to tactical athletes whose lives rely on physical performance? If made legal, what PED’s should tactical athletes they be taking?
- Central Nervous System Finger Tap Test and Effect on Performance. Does the test correlate to physical performance in the gym? If a athlete tests low on a given day, should he/she be forced to take a rest day? Is this an easy test to monitor for overtraining?
- Snowmobile Avalanche Safety. Backcountry skiing and avalanche safety is a hot topic, but reports from Canada state that more snowmobilers are dying in avalanches. Are snowmobilers taking the proper precautions and educating themselves on avalanche conditions? Is the skier-driven avy-safety industry ignoring sledders?
- The Veteran Non-Profits Industry. The last 10-15 years have seen an explosion of new non-profits directed towards veterans, often started and run by veterans. Does the seemingly endless number of veteran non-profits indicate true need or financial opportunity which takes advantage of the fawning public adulation of veterans and the military today? Was questionable spending at the Wounded Warrior Project an outlier, or an indication of a trend. Are so many truly needed?