When I was a young infantry officer with the 101st Airborne Division, we always started a mission from a base of operations. When we were on a small patrol, we would establish a patrol base to secure and then send small teams out for various missions. On a much grander scale, we established and occupied Forward Operating Base Cobra, 90 kilometers inside Iraq during the First Gulf War. As a young leader, it was very effective to have a home base. The home base was secure (for the most part), it was where key updates on the enemy situation were provided, a new mission was disseminated, weapons and food were replenished.
Recent events across the globe and in our own country, consistently remind us of the challenging times we live in today. As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, it is important for us to maintain a base of operations to effectively deal with uncertainty and change.
During challenging times, we have a tendency to look to large groups or organizations for the “great ideas” or the foundation to deal with the challenges we face today. Political leaders, leaders in education, business, churches, and community groups play an important part in supporting our ability, as individuals and as a society, to effectively deal with change and challenge. However, the base of operations with the greatest potential to deal with change and challenge is the family.
The foundation of the family has the potential to be the most effective base of operations for support in dealing with a challenging world. Family is where many first learn:
(1) The value of education from a parent reading to a young child
(2) The value of sacrifice by seeing a parent work in and/or outside the home to provide
(3) The value of service by seeing a family member serve our nation, our community, or others in need
(4) The value of compassion by seeing family gather around a sick loved one
(5) The value of living an intentional life as we remember the legacy of grandparents and parents
Most teachers would agree that the critical factor in the growth and development of a student is not some new curriculum or assessment tool, it is family involvement. When families care about the education of their children, they learn and grow at a much greater rate.
The same can be said about so many other aspects of society. It is the foundation of family that helps minimize crime, poverty, and many of the ills of society. It is the foundation of family that also ignites that first spark of innovation, dreams, and passion that set about a course for positive change in our world.
For all of us, it does not matter what kind of home base of operations we came from or what condition our family is in today. We cannot rewrite the past.
What matters most is what we do going forward to build a strong base of operations to help our family deal with change and challenge.
We will always remain a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a parent or grandparent, a spouse or ex-spouse. The foundation of family will always be with us.
As we build and strengthen our character, an important question we need to continually ask ourselves is, “What are we doing to establish an effective base of our operations within our family?”
Here are a few ideas:
(1) Be Intentional. If we “wing it,” we will fall short of our potential. The risks are too great. We need to be intentional about our thoughts, decisions, and actions within the home.
(2) Find Time. Time is a great asset to the family. For many families, evenings provide an opportunity for greater connection or greater disconnection. We need to be careful in this day of personal electronics that we all don’t “go to our separate corners” and miss an important chance to connect in the evenings.
(3) Create Conversation. Just talking is a great start for many of us. Taking it to the next level would be having a conversation to truly understand the concerns of the day and be a listening ear to a voice that needs to be heard. We need to create to a forum for conversation and be prepared to listen.
(4) Build Hope. Our world is full of challenges and not enough encouragement. The base of operations for a family should be the source of hope for a better tomorrow and a bright light on the path to reach our dreams. The family should be that one point we can all count on to ensure hope is alive as we continue our journey.
As we guide our thoughts, decisions, and actions based on principles, like understanding, patience, and perseverance we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® for our family to be a strong base of operations for us to deal with change and challenge in our lives.