DrDan’s Toolkit – Camels, Compasses & 1% Better

I recently read a post by someone quoting Navy Seal Commander Mark Divine: “Be 1% better than yesterday.”

I often tell this story on myself in my trainings to illustrate a similar philosophy when it comes to suicide intervention: by helping someone considering ending their own life make a very small shift in thought or perspective, we can make a significant difference in that person’s life.

My camel example: During the 1st Gulf War, I was assigned to the 1st Armored Division as the division psychologist. CPT S. was the psychiatrist of our team, and she and I daily drove around the desert, visiting troops and command staff prior to the start of the ground war.

This was before the commonality of GPS, so to drive from one unit to another, we needed a compass heading to the next unit, say 97 degrees, and a distance between the two points, say 14 kilometers.  To advance, we picked a point on the horizon in a straight line with 97 degrees and drove to that spot, then picked another point on the horizon, and drove to that spot, until we accumulated the distance and, hopefully, arrived at the next unit we were visiting.

And, we always hoped that the person giving directions did not utter those fateful words – “You cannot miss it…”

One day, CPT S. was driving our HMMWV and she suddenly stopped.  Since we were nowhere near any visible units or vehicles, I was first puzzled, then worried.  After asking her why she stopped multiple times, she finally responded in an apprehensive voice, “We are in deep trouble. The last point we picked on the horizon are camels walking across the desert!”

This meant we had drifted off of our planned course, and were somewhere unknown in a combat zone! Fortunately, our story ends happily. Two soldiers driving a water truck knew their exact location and were quite happy to help two ‘lost’ medical officers find their way to safety.

The point? All it took was the pace of a camel walking across the horizon to significantly alter our course.

If you have changes you’d like to make in life, remember “Be 1% better than yesterday.” Small changes add up over time.

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