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Building a NCO: Your Personal Mission Training Plan


J. D. Pendry


I am the master of my fate; I am the master of my soul.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Ė W.E. Henley


An important part of your trip toward becoming a NCO through personal battle focus is developing and following a Personal Mission Training Plan.The plan is actually a road map that breaks your trip into manageable increments.Up until now, everything has been static - just sitting there on paper.Your training plan sets it all into motion.


So far, youíve answered three critical questions about yourself: Where you are now, where you want to be, and what you must do to get there.The self-assessment you conducted and the assessment of your values told you where you are.Your personal vision and goals tell you where you want to be.Your mission points you toward where you want to be.Your mission essential tasks outline what you have to do to achieve the mission that gets you where you want to be.Your training plan is the tool you use to schedule the things you must accomplish to get where you want to be.


Remember how personal integrity is about making and keeping commitments to yourself?The heart of your training plan is your ability to make and keep commitments to yourself.This is the hard part.It is where the values of commitment, competence, and personal integrity become very important.Condition and discipline yourself to keep commitments made to yourself until it becomes a habit.When keeping them becomes a habit, you're ready for the next level.


You make commitments in the form of a training plan or calendar much like the training plan or calendar used with unit training plans.If youíve never kept a personal calendar in your leaderís book, now is the time to start.It doesn't have to be anything elaborate or fancy.A plain calendar works as well as the most elaborate day planner does and neither works worth a hoot unless you use them.


         Your Training Plan:


Your best bet is to work from a yearly or 12 month training calendar.Identify clear and attainable goals for the year and plan a timeline for achieving each.Remember as you plan the year, that each goal has a number of smaller goals. Also, place on your calendar the essential tasks that you must train to and ensure you identify all of the supporting tasks that go along with them.To achieve a goal or become proficient in an essential task itís necessary to complete all of their supporting tasks or goals first.A good way to approach this is to backward plan.You do this by placing the goal on the calendar at the point where you want to have it completed.After doing that, you schedule all the supporting goals or tasks in the time that leads up to attaining the goal.


Your calendar has to be flexible, but once you lock in an event you must follow through otherwise the plan and the work youíve done until now becomes useless. What is also critical is to remember that although your personal plan is important it must be secondary to your commitments to your unit and soldiers.In other words, youíll always place onto your training calendar those parts of your unitís training plan that are pertinent to you and your soldiers.Once youíve done that, go back and fit your plan into whatís left.Also, remember that you have commitments to family and others.They too need to be a part of your plan.


         Assessment points:


A part of your plan must be programmed assessment points.Put them on your calendar periodically too.At least every few months, but as frequently as you want.An assessment point is where you conduct a personal after action review (AAR) to see how well your plan is working.Place them on your calendar near to where you anticipate completing specific goals.During your training plan assessment, answer the following questions:


         Where was I?


         What was my plan?


         Did I follow my plan?


         Where am I now in relation to where I want to be?


         Is the plan moving me toward the goal?


Follow this simple diagram.















         Assess: Conduct your self-assessment, it tells you where you are now.

         Plan: Based on your self-assessment and mission statement develop a plan that gets you where you want to be - accomplishing your mission and reaching for your vision.

         Execute: Execute your plan.

         Assess:How well is your plan working?Adjust the plan if necessary, then execute again.


This is called a cycle of continuous improvement.It functions like the battle focused training management cycle, which is also a continuous improvement model for units.The product of this cycle is much like a commanderís quarterly training plan for his or her unit.This cycle never ends.


You should now have a self-assessment, a working vision and mission statement, a mission essential task list and the start of a training plan that sets it all into motion.Next time weíll review each piece of Personal Battle Focus before we finish up by defining leadership.


This is the fifth in a series of seven articles on NCO Self-development. CSM (ret) James D. Pendry is Author of The Three Meter Zone: Common Sense Leadership for NCOs.


Copyright © 1999, James D. Pendry, All Right Reserved.