May 2014

May 2014 Blog of Education

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  Aristotle


A brand new BRK Fox River (top) and Marty's 9 year old plus BRK Fox River. Scratches don't lie. Marty's knife is a user.

A brand new BRK Fox River (top) and Marty’s 9 year old plus BRK Fox River. Scratches don’t lie. Marty’s knife is a user.


There is something to be said about consistency. Take for example my good friend and outdoors mentor Marty Simon. As long as I’ve known Marty, he has always carried his knife in the same location; just behind his pant leg seam on his right hip. You might be thinking “big deal, so do I” but let me temper my statement with another. He has carried the same knife, a Bark River Knife and Tool Fox River, for at least 9 years and when compared to a fresh out of the box model, the blade is considerably smaller from repeated use and resharpening (see the photo Marty sent me earlier).  There are plenty of knife guys out there who carry something new every week never really learning from their knife or with it. Marty carries other items on his person in other locations but always the same other locations like his knife. I’ve learned a lot from Marty over the years and from his life experiences. Marty defends his daily routine and order as habit and from his military experience in Vietnam. Trained habit, after all, can save lives when reaching for something you have carried in the same manner consistently and not wasting time frisking your body for it. If consistent habit is good in the field, it is good on a daily basis too.

Consistency is a habit, not an act and according to Aristotle, we must repeatedly be consistent if we wish to be excellent in what we do. Having the means to start fire once in a while is not the same as consistently having it. Even though I don’t smoke, I carry a lighter in my left pocket daily. Marty has instilled in me the virtue of consistency in many respects. The lessons I’ve learned in the field about consistently carrying certain gear, responding to a challenge  in a certain way or teaching skills in a particular manner have become habits. I actually feel guilty or a sense of disappointment in myself if I don’t maintain consistency in my professionalism and dedication.  Maybe it is the Catholic school boy guilt or maybe it is my understanding and acceptance I made a mistake in my pursuit of excellence. The wilderness survival habits I have carry over into my everyday life too. While consistency in the outdoors leads to safe habits, consistency in your regular life, I argue, leads to better time management, health, peace of mind and much more.

Think about how consistency plays out in your life. Think about how lack of consistency can monkey with your quality of life. Do you always leave your keys in the same location at the end of the day or do you find yourself searching for them frequently? Do you consistently stick to a strict diet or does it yo-yo? Do you consistently assess your skills through testing your ability or do you rely on your past performance from years prior? I guarantee you have friends who have no consistency and  their lack of structure cripples their efforts. It is tough as a “type A” person to give advice to someone who doesn’t recognize it as helpful or someone who mocks or criticizes you for being “rigid”, “predictable” or “stiff.” These aren’t bad words to be labeled when you think of the type of person who usually casts them out. Consistency in my daily life means I sweep my house for dangers and threats before I leave and upon returning. Consistency means showing up to work ready to teach with a smile on my face because I know my students deserve that. Consistency means more to me than most.

My friend Marty is truly an excellent Survival Instructor, friend and confidant. Every call I make, he always answers or calls back. Any plant ID question I have, he always finds an answer. I think about how consistency has helped Marty survive in combat, in the dog-eat-dog survival industry, and how it has shaped him into a man of great character. There is something to be said about consistency and how that attribute only guarantees success in anything you do. With May upon us and Spring in the air, think about being more consistent in some aspect of your life. You can be excellent from it or mediocre without it. You decide.