Passionately Suffering!

Let’s take a moment and talk about how cold the world is! I woke up this morning dreading a long drive, away from my family. The sky is gray, mist coming from my mouth as I exhale. Its cold, dark and bitter! The season is changing from fall to winter. Amazingly though no matter the season my mind is the same. The world finally looks to everyone else the way it does to me daily.

I went deer hunting this weekend. I sat in my tree stand in 34-degree weather. I had on cargo pants and a hoodie. I shivered, I froze, I couldn’t feel my fingertips or toes. The rain drizzled on me and soaked my feet through the holes in the shoes on my feet. Pain entered my body in so many ways, cramps in my feet, numbness and burning sensations in my thighs. I was miserable as I sat in that tree, shaking like a leaf in the wind…

Yet, as I shook, I found comfort in one fact. My body finally knew what it feels like to be my mind. To be cold, with no warmth. To feel a constant variety of pain. My feet were soaked much as my brain is flooded and drowning with negative thoughts and pain.

What is the difference? When I got out of that tree and went home to drink some hot coffee, my body warmed. The pain went away, the chill disappeared, and my body felt great. My mind however, never changed, still drowning in thoughts and pain. No release or comfort for the brain.

Now, back to today! I am dreading leaving my family… I feel no joy, no drive, no excitement, I barely feel alive. How should I handle the drive, listen to music that brings emotions to surface? Cry! Get angry! Hate Life! Should I drive in silence… trapped in my head! Seems I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. A feeling I am all too familiar with.

This writing is dark, I know, and someone may read it and think I need to reach out to him. This suffering isn’t new! The pain didn’t just start. I have suffered in silence for months. I have two people that have reached out to check on me. My amazing wife, who is suffering… more than me. She still clings to me and lets me lean on her. At least she is my rock, for me to lean on while the waves of life thrash against my mind. My friend Kevin stepped up more than anyone I could believe. He checks on me nearly daily. I vented to him, told him the deep, dark truth. The mindset I am lost in. The battle I cannot win. He forced my hand, made me reach out for help.

I’ve talked and talked to so many people. I cannot be completely honest with them. My thoughts are so dark, I can’t allow them to escape my head. They do not and will not understand. I have suffered in silence, cried out for help. There is no relief, nothing makes this mindset go away. I cry, I swear, I get angry, yet when all that is done. My body is exhausted, and my brain keeps chugging away, mentally draining me. No relief…

What adds to the pain… is the fact that everyone says I am a giver, including my counselor. I give and give; I will support you until the end. Yet, what do I get in return. I have two people in my life that check on me, care about me and try to provide support. Kevin, who was a superior of mine, not long ago. Stepped up and cared more than family. I guess I know what respect, loyalty and love is. I also know what it isn’t. My mind is in conflict, a civil war. I thank god for my wife and Kevin for their support.

I decided to write this as a way to procrastinate. I don’t want to leave this home, my family. I don’t want to drive away, watch my wife cry, and struggle inside. I don’t want to be on the road, lost in my thoughts and heading to my own personal prison cell. My house in Charleston is a prison to me. I don’t eat, don’t sleep, find no peace and stuck with these terrible thoughts that won’t go away. Until, Friday I will be all alone, in a prison cell called home. I get to leave every day for what we will call a work release program. I have no satisfaction, no drive or love for what I do. I have never felt this way about my career. Almost 13 years for the same organization, and the last six months have been mindless and draining. I have no passion, compassion or motivation. I am an emotionless person, playing a game that will eventually lose.

This writing just goes on and on it seems. Much like the thoughts in my head. I should be proud of myself. I completed my first graduate level class… what’s sad is that I don’t know the topic or what it was supposed to be. I can’t reflect on what I did, needed to do. All I know is, its done and I have many more to go. Its weird to me. I am a man of passion. Fire is what I need. Yet, my mind is on autocomplete. I guess that is what happens when you suffer and can’t find relief. You shut down, suffer internally.

So, I have said don’t eat a couple of times. I am wasting away in body and mind. Since July 31st I have lost 28 pounds. I was stout and powerful at 222lbs. My mind was weak but had hope. I pushed myself to continue, for the good would come. Since that day, I have dwindled away. Mental exercise is an amazing way to lose weight. Except I mentally can’t quit. Worse case scenarios run through my head. I need freedom and relief.

I would ask what you think I have. Is it an illness, disease or make believe? Anyone who knows me, knows how passionate I am. This has truly become my downfall. I am now PASSIONATELY SUFFERING. Depression is a pain, I cannot kick. I’ve been alive 31 years and never felt like this. These emotions I didn’t know could exist. How do you combat and enemy that you didn’t know existed. How do you defeat the beast that is in your own head?

One final note, that is of interest. All the people I have talked to about my condition. Tell me it’s a good thing that I feel these feelings. That it is showing me how much my family matters to me! That is great! I am glad you think, drowning in mental anguish is a good thing. Its true though, my mother died when I was 17. I never felt anything close to what I do now, watching the suffering of my family. As I drive away. Knowing I can’t comfort them, love them or do anything. I am a failure at everything I do currently. Emotionally dying, mentally drowning and PASSIONATELY SUFFERING.

I am tired of emotionally and mentally suffering in silence. I want everyone to know some of what I feel. This is the edited version. No one will know the unedited and dark truths in my head. I want people to know why I can’t put everything into everyone. Why I feel I am failing at all roles my life has. Why I am distant, inattentive and in the background hidden. Just remember that everyone, needs someone to truly check on them. Its amazing, how many people don’t see through a painted-on smile. Be a friend and check on someone. The strong ones could very well be suffering silently.

Author: Bradley Armentrout

Why Military Service Members want to go on Deployment.

The general public usually has a difficult time understanding why military men and women want to deploy to combat zones. To most people this seems like an irrational decision. To choose to put one’s self in harm’s way, in combat, is not something most people would choose. So why do the military service members desire to do just that? This blog is going to break down some of the basic reasons our brave men and women in the military volunteer for combat deployments.

Garrison Stress versus Deployment Stress

Combat is stressful! However, combat is a simple stress. The primary stress of being in combat is protecting the soldier’s life and their brothers and sisters in arms. Following rules of engagement and ensuring everyone comes back home, alive and safe. This is a very stressful position to be in!

However, compared to civilian life is combat truly that stressful? Let us look at the stress of Garrison (Non deployed) life. A plethora of bills to be paid, by their due date. Money is not the issue; time is the issue when it comes to paying these bills. Those due dates can slip right by as a service member is in the field doing training with their unit. Also combat pay and tax-free pay is a mighty amazing thing. The bills that remain while in combat seem a lot smaller when the government isn’t taking their large share.

Traffic! Traffic is everywhere, especially on post. The worry of making formation on time due to the limited number of entrance gates open to post every morning. Sitting in lines to drop kids off at school, pick kids up at school, even to just grab a bite to eat from the local burger joint!

Arguments with family. When service members are in combat, communication is minimal and must be taken advantage of. Misunderstandings, fights, disagreements these are often dismissed as to prevent either party of the relationship from getting upset during a deployment. However, back home, these fights are happening. The peace of family in combat can become a personal warzone for these soldiers when they are home.

A Soldiers Life Needs Purpose.

Many people all over the world feel resentment toward their employer. They feel as though they are disposable and serve no greater purpose. Service members on deployment have a mission. They are instructed on their role for that mission and how they are important for that mission. Each mission matters and they get to see that mission to completion. Feeling a sense of purpose is a major factor in motivation.

The need to do what they trained for!

For this section lets discuss a hypothetical situation. Congratulations! You have completed your education and residence as a doctor specializing in surgery! You have studied, worked and applied yourself to this pursuit for so long and cannot wait to get into the operating room. Unfortunately, you are now going to flip burgers at a restaurant. How would you feel? Assuming this situation it would be valid to feel overqualified, disappointed, stressed, no purpose, no motivation, feel like a failure, extremely unhappy.

Now service members have done just that. Service members went through their basic training and job training. They passed all the test, maintain physical fitness and constantly train with their units to perform their specialty. When deployed service members feel accomplished! All the handwork, determination and training has paid off and they are performing their “surgery”. When not deployed they may be given several minute tasks that they are not interested in doing. This is where unhappiness occurs. When people, military or not, are unable to do the job they are trained to do. They will be extremely unhappy.

Support our service members!

Service members love the United States! Maybe not every aspect of it, but it is their home and they are proud of the United States of America. The stress of everyday life is far more stressful than the normal days on deployment. Deployment provides a sense of purpose and drive to the service members that they cannot obtain when they are not deployed. Also doing the job they are trained to do! Afterall, very few surgeons want to flip burgers for a living!

Save Me!

The world seemed so bright. The light shined upon me warming my soul. Every day was the greatest adventure of my life. I had that pep in my step and greeted the world with a glimmer in my eye, a smile on my face. My heart beated with joy, my lungs drawn in the crisp, clean air. Life was bright and everything was right.

Suddenly the world has turned dim. The brightness is gone, turned to bleak and gray. My skin and soul feel deprived of life, suffering, crying, dying inside. What happened? Am I ill? I lived for the moment and driven by thrill. Now, it all seems so long ago, my spirit is fading… where did it go?

Gone! This world has crushed me deep into the ground. Buried me alive, suffering in the dark. My mind was sharp and quick with a quip. Now I am tired, dull and feel sick. Boulder upon boulder sits on my shoulders. Pinning me down. My body is collapsing under the great weight. My lungs can’t draw a breath, my body begins to shake.

I was strong, now I am weak. I suffer in silence, afraid to make a peep. The pain is severe, my body is fine. My mind though… my mind is circling, can’t concentrate, can’t make sense. Every blessing seems like a curse. I scream for help from deep within my soul, my mouth is shut for fear the world be told.

What can I do? The sky is getting darker. The world is slowing down. I suffer! It isn’t quick! It weighs on me and brings me down. This is how it feels to be sick in the head with a disease. Suffering in silence, putting on a show. Hoping the world doesn’t see, what dwells below.

Depression has its claws sunk into me. I can’t pull free and I feel so weak. The world is bleaker, laughter is rare. I wish for one solid breath of fresh air, I’m drowning…all alone here. Revive me, save me, lift me up high. I need help breaking free from the disease in my mind. What friends do I have? Who really cares? My mind is dwindling! How do I stop? What can be done? I can’t get out of my head! I need help. Someone offer a hand and pull me out. Set me right, show me the light. Set my mind free and make my world bright. I beg of thee, please…save me.

Author: Bradley Armentrout

Date: 01 October 2019

Difficulties Raising Christian Children in a Blended Family!

Click the Sound Bar below for a moment from the author!


The Intent!

Life is what it is, and the past is the past. We as Christians are not infallible like God is. This blog is to assist with those awkward conversations that many Christians are going to have to have with our children. The conversations where if handled incorrectly we can seem hypocritical and a bad reference for our children’s faith and futures.

I am writing this because I have been having to have these conversations with my two biological children. When they talk about God, their mother (ex-wife) and my current wife. Appropriate handling and rationale of these questions will in the long run help save the relationship my children have with me and their mother. It also will assist with strengthening my family’s relationship, faith, trust and love for our God.

Honor your family, raise them with faith in God!

A Little Back Story!

First, let me paint the picture of my previous marriage. The relationship was toxic to say the least. Trust issues were paramount, and I accept blame on my role in this. I failed at quitting smoking multiple times, instead of being truthful, I lied to my ex about it. I also enjoyed coffee and online mobile games financially more than I should have. These were my massive failing as a husband at that time. I won’t go into the blame game, just accepting my faults. The relationship was emotionally, physically, spiritually traumatizing and absent. To put the relationship in very basic terms, it was toxic. I truly believe that we married the wrong people.

However, the blessings that came from this relationship are my son and daughter. They are half of my family and blessings truly by God. The other half of my family is my wife and stepson. Together I have never been so blessed! Meeting my wife, led me to salvation. I knew that God had to exist because of her creation, and I wanted to give thanks to the creator for the perfect wife that she is.

I found God through trial, tribulations and his Blessing and Grace!

So, as you can see my story went from sad to happy to happier. Everything is great right?!? Explaining the broken relationship and blessed blended family is difficult to my son and daughter who are only five and six. Afterall, I may have had a bad relationship…but I do not want to damage the relationship they have with their mother.

The First Uncomfortable Situation

First lesson! God loves everyone and wants us to love everyone. Matthew 5:44 states so eloquently “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” I have taught my children this, as many of us Christians do. What about when they ask, “do you love mommy?” I am not going to lie and say that I do not get angry and hurt when they ask this! In my head, I am screaming NO I DON’T LOVE HER! However, that is wrong and the wrong thing to tell my children.

Let us teach our children to LOVE!

Wording is essential and comparisons drive the nail into the board. This is what I told them. “I love your mommy, but I do not like her.” A little harsh, but here is the comparison that I told them. “Hey guys! When you get in trouble and daddy puts you in time out, do you like daddy?” They both responded with No! (Obviously) “Do you guys still love daddy when you’re in timeout?” They responded with yes! The comparison drove home the conversation. I as a Christian, no matter the toxicity of a person must love them, pray for them, give them food or water if they need it. However, I do not have to enjoy being around them.

One Situation Down, One To Go!

Next lesson! Blended family’s equal kids from two separate relationships. What we commonly call stepchildren. I am very blessed with my stepson. He truly has made my life fun, easy and reminds me daily of the blessings God gives me. I love him truly as I do my own. However, this can cause a little of an issue as children grow older. Obviously… the kids look different, spend time with different parents and get jealous over their parent spending time with other children. This can create a division in our blended families across the world if handled in the wrong manner.

One passage that I give my children is Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” I know what were thinking? That states nothing of stepchildren!?! I also let my children know these passages as well. Matthew 18: 4-6 (4) Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5) And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (6) If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

These passages help my children understand the situation. I’ve told them many times, “I love all of God’s children, my job is to be a father to all the children I can.” Another, phrase I say makes them laugh. “Every child on this planet is Gods child. So, I am a stepfather to all children in my life. They are blessed to me to care for and teach but they all are Gods.”

God is Never Ending, This Blog However Is!

Gods love is never ending! Believe in him, guide our children to him and be blessed!

I hope this blog can help some of my Christian, blended families out there. We are to mentor, teach and love all of Gods children. Our children are to honor and obey their parents. Whether God blessed them biologically or through marriage, the kids are ours to raise the way God would want. Blended families have the same responsibilities as normal families. Trials and tribulations will befall all our families. As parents we must keep our children safe. The more people that love them, the merrier.

Author: Bradley Armentrout

Date: 30 September 2019

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple Sclerosis or (MS) is a chronic disease that can potentially affect a patient’s brain, spinal cord and optic nerves in the eyes. This disease is still being studied and has proven quite difficult to diagnosis. Symptoms for patients can vary from sever to very mild, some requiring treatment, some not. This disease can also steadily progress or be remittent, where symptoms flare up and then improve over time.  According to the National MS Society over 2.2 million people world-wide are diagnosed with the disease (National MS Society, 2019). To give an idea of the amount of people this disease affects, this number is four times the population of Wyoming.

Signs and Symptoms of MS

Symptoms of MS can vary based on the patient and the severity level of the disease. Symptoms include numbness and tingling, fatigue, blurred vision, double vision, weakness, poor coordination, imbalance, pain, depression and problems with memory. More severe symptoms include paralysis, tremors and blindness. These symptoms can cause the patient to become disabled and greatly affects their quality of life. This drastic effect on quality of life can bring on severe depression and other mental health issues.

Curable?

MS is not currently able to be cured. However, the disease is treatable. The national MS Society states that “There are now FDA-approved medications that have been shown to “modify” the course of MS by limiting new areas of damage in the CNS, reducing the number of relapses and delaying progression of disability. In addition, many therapeutic and technological advances are helping with more effective symptom management. Advances in treating and understanding MS are made every year, hopefully moving research closer to identifying a cure” (National MS Society, 2019). Hopefully, in the future, enough research in a cure will be conducted and eradicate this disease.

Direct effect on our Life.

My wonderful wife was diagnosed with MS about 14 years ago, when she was in her twenties. She will have to deal with this disease and the ramifications on her life for the fifty plus years. She has handled the disease as gracefully that I could ever ask for. I firsthand have seen the severe symptoms of this disease and seen how it directly affects the quality of life for her. I’ve been beside her when she stopped being able to walk. I watched as doctors attempted to get a reflex, but she couldn’t feel a thing. I’ve driven her because she couldn’t see out of one eye. I have pushed her in a wheelchair and lifted her into bed. She has remittent MS, so her symptoms come and go. We have good months and bad months. Someone with this disease needs to be supported and cared for when the symptoms arise. While having MS doesn’t take a lot of life expectancy off the patient, only seven years on average. The major issue is the quality of life. Every person in this world, should be able to enjoy their lives. Let’s support our partners, friends and family through their very difficult, life altering disease.

However, with this disease and everything it brings with it…I wouldn’t trade my wife for anyone in the world. To have someone in my life that has been dealt a bad hand, yet is the most caring, empathetic and sympathetic person I have ever met. She worries about being a burden on me. She isn’t a burden. She is a blessing!

My wife is a gentle soul. Loves all breathing creatures.

Author: Bradley Armentrout

Date: 27 September 2019

References

National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2019. Multiple Sclerosis FAQs. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/MS-FAQ-s#question-What-are-the-typical-symptoms-of-MS

Click the link below to donate to the National MS Society

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When do we stop?

A word from the author! Click the sound bar.

As a father of three wonderful children, two boys, and a little girl, my heart is so full of emotions. I am blessed beyond means with my children. The happiness they bring to my wife and I is immeasurable. I long for their achievements, new words, learning in school, first girlfriend or boyfriend. I enjoy listening to their creative stories, laughing at the many crazy things that they say. Not all emotions are good though! I fear for their safety. Wince when they hurt themselves. Discipline them so that they know right from wrong. Parenting truly is a roller coaster of ups and downs!

           Every parent wants their children to be successful. Therefore, parents put children in private schools, hoping it gives them a leg up over the rest of the children. Therefore, we push our children to pursue after school activities to broaden their interest and improve the collegiate application. In my profession, I speak with parents daily about their children’s futures, aspirations and goals. I speak with the children about their aspirations and goals. Want to know what I realized?

What the parents want, and what the child wants are usually two separate things. Parents tell me they want little Timmy to be a doctor, lawyer, nurse, engineer. Timmy tells me he wants to write, make movies, create video games and be a mechanic. It truly amazes me how little parents know about the dreams of their children. Do they not know, or are they trying to change their minds?

           As parents, we want the best for our children. I want all three of my children to be successful in their ways. I want them to achieve an education, formal or informal. I want them to be productive members of society. If every child had to become what the parents wanted our economy would crash! As I have never been told by a parent “I want my child to be a pipe cutter in a factory.” Our production, creation, development, transportation, and sales would be non-existent because no one would have those positions.

           Here lies the problem! What if our child wants to do a job that we as parents do not believe in or like? What if our child wants to have a career that is dangerous such as a combat soldier, firefighter or police officer? What do we do in that situation? 

           What I have seen is that parents will make almost any excuse in the book not to support their children when it comes to these positions. The child that will be doing the job is not scared, it’s the parents that are scared. When should we step back, out of the way, and support our children? I will tell you when…NOW!

We must realize that our lives have been led, and our children have their own to lead. We must mentor, guide, challenge and love them. However, we must also support them! We must let them fail, get back up and fail again. We need to allow them to struggle, to build resilience, determination, and confidence. We need to get out of their way! 

I write this article because of something I witnessed today. A young man that has had a rougher life than any child should, looked at positions in the Army with me today. A bright young man with a bright future in whatever he chooses to do in life. His family asked me to tell him about all the benefits, training, certifications of a support job. I did this and I gave him every fact that I could about the job. This young man wanted to be a Calvary Scout, he wanted to have excitement, adrenaline and loved everything about the job. 

           After everything I told him about every other job, he still wanted Calvary scout. So, I reserved that position for him! He was so excited…his family, on the other hand, was not. He left the office at noon. Later this afternoon he messaged me and said he wanted to change his job. I drove to his family’s house to speak with him. I changed his job as he requested and started talking with him about why he changed his mind. By the time I left his house the young man was in tears. He had the job that he wanted, his family destroyed his confidence in his decision, and he picked a different job to make them happy. 

           I left as his eyes swelled and one single tear ran down both cheeks. This proud, bright, respectful young man… had been crushed. Crushed by his family and their fears! Today I hated my position, I regretted ever initially talking with the young man. I had built him up, only to have him destroyed.

           So, with that, I leave you with this. Let us get out of our children’s ways. Let them make their educated decisions. Let’s trust our children to follow THEIR dreams. It is their life, let them live it. If they fail, pick them up. Earn their respect by supporting them, versus earn their resentment by stifling them. Our children are growing lets water them and help them versus suffocate them. Let’s be our children’s parents, not their keepers. 

           Grow, fly and enjoy life children. Life is short and you deserve your version of life’s happiness. 

Every child has dreams!

Written by: Bradley Armentrout

Date: 23 September 2019

Where’s the problem?

Press the sound bar for an important note from the author.


A gentleman that I recently befriended through my writing, gave me an insight into the corporate American views on leadership. He stated “Leaders tend to get more work done whereas managers, in my opinion, slow the process down. Leaders are not politically driven whereas managers are.  Corporate America is more interested in managing for their profit benefit and fail to understand more profit and results occur with leadership.” This gentleman worked in corporate America for well over thirty years before he retired.

I wanted to touch on a leadership issue, as a result of our conversation. An organizations profit is the primary focus of most people within the organization. Customers drive the profit of the organization. Who is to take care of the customers? Do the leaders? Do the CEO, CFO, managers, and president? No, the entry-level employees, representatives, salesmen, technicians do! If entry-level employees take care of the customers and customers drive the profit of the organization, what is the point of management, leaders and upper-echelon personnel?

Everyone above entry-level is to serve the employees under them. As the CEO of a company, you typically have zero interaction with any customers. However, those employees under your leadership, programs, policies, and procedures do! Creating a work environment that promotes creativity, teamwork and positivity will directly reflect on the bottom line of the company. Employees that are motivated and have high morale will work harder and buy-in to the organizational goals.

Unfortunately, most upper-echelon personnel are looking after themselves. They believe in the power of manipulation over persuasion. Manipulation is a tempory solution to a permanent problem. With upper-echelon personnel not being leaders and manipulating subordinates you will have an extremely high turnover rate in entry-level employees. As each level of management is manipulating those below them, you will also end up with subordinate leaders building resumes and fleeing the company.

This constant turnover rate is a massive loss of profit in multiple perspectives. More time dedicated to training, less time to productivity, lost hours of work, more destroyed product and services and disgruntled employees serving your consumers. Seems like a lot of headaches and wasted profit, that is easily preventable.

The solution is simple. Focus on building a company that values the employees. Promote those that demonstrate leadership potential versus a yes man or managerial potential. Enhance the company benefits package and allow the newest and lowest employee on the totem pole to have a say. Companies need employees that get things done and done right. Having leaders guiding, mentoring, coaching, teaching and caring about their subordinates will create a positive work environment and promote growth in morale, work ethic and buy-in for the organization.

A team is as weak as its weakest link! Oftentimes organizations believe the bottom of the organization is the weakest…..maybe it’s the top!

Who is the true weakest link?

Written by: Bradley Armentrout

Date: 22 September 2019

The Selfish, Cowardly, Quitter

Click the sound bar to hear the authors reading of this touching post

Let us take a very dark look at an act so traumatizing that the world stops,
friends cry, and everyone wants to ask why? Thoughts and prayers and remember
them by this and that! You know what I am talking about? The ending of one’s
own life, a term known as Suicide! This isn’t a post for the weak or meek so if it offends turn the other cheek.

Everyone has heard that this world is for the brave and the bold, not those
that are weak, meek and ready to fold. This world is harsh, the edge is a
razor. As hard as you climb, gravity pushes you down, cutting you on the razors
edge. When you reach the mountain top, bloodied and battered. You get hit hard one
final time and fall down the hill. Look up at where you were, how far you’ve
fallen. You are done, lost it all… giving up… becoming a quitter!

I stand beside you, as you have fallen. You are my brother, mother, sister,
lover, father, friend. I extend my hand, but you slap it away. You have quit,
you feel defeated, but you cut me deeper than any enemy. You are my Ride n Die,
my BFF, my bestie, my lover, my friend…. all the terms of endearment mean
nothing to thee. You’re a quitter…a selfish quitter.

We’ve been through everything, thick and thin, fought and became friends.
Rebellious, dangerous, savage and fabulous. We have fallen on hard times, but I
am still your rock! Lean on me, climb on me, fight your way to the TOP! Don’t
quit on me, don’t give up, keep fighting…I know it’s tough…

One day it becomes too much, my friend slits their wrist or takes a bunch of
pills. Maybe slam their car into a tree, jump off a bridge into eternity. Now
everyone cries! everyone asks why? everyone says they never seen a clue, “if
only I knew they were hurting…” It’s like the blind leading the blind,
the dead don’t talk but the living do. Now that’s all I ever hear is how great
you had it. Where you were going to go. All the good you would do, such a
bright future in you. Man, were they ever so wrong about you… coward.

It was me and you versus the world. We could take everything. I was your
rock! You were my rock! Yet look at me now, as life beats me down. I don’t have
a rock to lean on, hold me, prop me up, keep me up right and in this fight. No,
my rock was fragile and shattered to dust. Now I am left alone, angry
constantly being crushed. Wanting to give up!

All we were going through, your free… that’s great… what about me? I am
still facing those enemies. They are coming strong because they know I am weak,
alone, scared and in pain. I had a friend, but they turned their back on me.
They got to feel the sweet release! They left me here adding pressure on me!
Where is my release, my freedom, no pain? I want to give up….

I can’t though! I look at the pain you added to me. All the extra pressure I
didn’t need. I live this life alone with an empty hole in my chest. Why? So
that you can rest sweetly, six feet deep, away from me. I won’t do this to
anyone! When I am the rock! I won’t shatter to dust. I won’t add pressure to
those that need aid. I will never give up! When death comes, a fight is in
store. I won’t volunteer, I’ll kick and scream, bite and fight, more and more!
See the difference between you and me…

I am the rock…you are a selfish, cowardly, quitter.

This blog/poem is from me to you. It is from my heart, opinions and feelings. According to the World Health Organization “800,000 people die every year from suicide, that equals 3,000 people a day.” (WHO, 2019) This poem isn’t for the survivor… it is for the one considering ending it all. Don’t give up! Choose to be the ROCK! Don’t be the selfish, cowardly, quitter! Someone needs you and if you need to talk then message me!

Written by: Bradley Armentrout

Date: 18 September 2019

References:

World Health Organization, 2019. Mental Health, Suicide Data. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/

Balance!!!

Balance is an essential aspect of our lives. With relationships we balance the pros and cons to determine if that relationship meets our needs. We balance our budget to ensure that we have money for bills and what we want. We try to balance out time between families and professions so that we can have the best of both worlds.

The constant battle of balancing pros and cons!

In the business world balance is also essential. As stated yesterday a balance needs to occur within an organization between best for the organization and best for the employees. If the organization is significantly unbalanced toward the bottom line and profit, you will end up with a very high turnover rate as employees feel unappreciated. However, if the balance falls to favor the employees to much, the organization could have to downsize due to lack of profits. This would result in loss of jobs for the employees. A perfect balance needs to occur to be able to ensure employee loyalty and the profit margin adequate.

As leaders and managers inside of an organization we need to promote this balance. Leaders that focus solely on the employees will upset the balance. Managers that focus purely on the organization will upset the balance. However, having an even number of both, or having leaders that possess the skills of management or managers that possess leadership skills will maintain the balance.

Organizations need to have training for both skills, leadership and management. Business needs to promote the balance and lead, mentor and guide every employee to blossom the leadership and managerial skills to grow and develop the organization. The great thing about balancing an organization is a scale will constantly fluctuate and will require continuous rebalancing.

The need to rebalance will occur naturally in an organization!

This requires an organization, leaders and employees to have a level of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence will be the topic of the next blog. Emotional intelligence is a trait that managers and leaders need to have!

Written by: Bradley Armentrout

Date: 15 September 2019

Leader or manager… what is the difference?

The topic of leadership and management is one that is often interchanged, when they shouldn’t be. Leaders and managers are two different roles in the same organization. As a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership candidate at the University of Charleston in West Virginia and having a B.A. in Management with a concentration in leadership, this is a topic I am passionate about. Leaders and managers are different roles in an organization. A supervisor can play the role as both a manager and a leader, but it requires a great deal of balance.

Lets talk about a basic difference between the two roles. Bennis stated that “The manager focuses on systems and structures; the leaders focus on people”(Bennis, 2009). What Bennis is talking about with this quote is that the manager will focus on the organizations policies, procedures, equipment, concept and mission. The managers role is to ensure the required task are completed and all regulations are followed to prevent liability. A manager is a position ASSIGNED by the organization and for the organization.

As Bennis states “the leader focus on people” (Bennis, 2009). This is true to the word. A leader is not a position that is assigned, it is EARNED by those subordinates that choose to follow that person as a leader. A leader has less loyalty to the organization and more to their team. A leader will focus on improving, maintaining, rewarding, coaching, mentoring, guiding and benefiting the team. A leader can be an informal or formal leader depending on their position. The newest, least experience member of a team or organization can become an informal leader.

The difference is the leader is assisting and the manager is directing!

What does the organization need? An organization can be successful with just managers in place! The work environment and morale of the employees will be low, but the job will get done. With only leaders in the organization, the organization can be successful as well. Because, a leader must ensure that his team has jobs to take care of their family. There can not be a leader if there is no team! A blended organization will have the highest potential for extreme success. Having leaders, managers and people with both skills will have the best outcome on the organization and team combined. Let me give you a military example.

I was stationed in Hawaii and was the second highest ranking individual in my platoon of 35 people. The platoon sergeant was the highest. The platoon sergeant was a manager in this situation. No one in the platoon listened to him because they wanted to, it was because they had to. The platoon sergeant focused solely on mission accomplishment. He demanded everyone be where he assigned and did not care if you had medical, personal, financial issues in your life. He very much so was a leader that lived up to the sang “If the Army wanted you to have a family, they would have issued one to you.”

I as the next level down in rank took up the role as the leader! Every soldier came to me with their situation and I counseled them, gave them a plan of action and allocated the time for them to do what needed done. I was the one that answered to the platoon sergeant where they were. I knew that our platoon need a leader and I spoke with the platoon sergeant about this. I stated “If you delegate the task down to me, I will get it done because I know the issues in the soldiers’ lives. You focus on the mission and I will focus on the soldiers.” The platoon was successful because we had managers and leaders. We had balance!

Some of the key differences in the role of managers and leaders.

The next two blogs will continue the conversation on this topic. Tomorrow will be on balance and what is implied by that term. The one after that will be on emotional intelligence!

Written by: Bradley Armentrout

Date: 14 September 2019

References:

Bennis, W. G. (2009). On Becoming a Leader (Vol. 20th anniversary ed., and updated). New York: Basic       Books. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=sso&db=nlebk&AN=267334&site=eds-live&scope=site 004d73786d6c3

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