RECOVER! The Will to Get Up, Stand Strong and Move Onward

Recovery begins from the darkest moment.” Sir John Major

Life can hand us measureable shares of obstacles, exhaustive moments and setbacks. I’ve learned (in hindsight) to appreciate a few of them, for at times these discomforts have become the launching platform for testing my ability to RECOVER.

One of my most meaningful exhaustive moments came during the summer of 1979 when I was enrolled in the US Army’s Officer Candidate School.  This grueling 14-week program was a ‘defining moment’ from which I recognized immediately that I was going to have to go through something to get something, and it wasn’t going to be easy. What loomed as my ‘get’ were those gold bars, signifying my commission as a Second Lieutenant.

The training scenario at times was harsh. Marching through the dusty and sometimes muddy roads winding through the dense woods of Fort Benning, Georgia challenged each step I took. With a heavy ruck sack strapped to my back, I held tightly to my M16 rifle as my body silently begged for a rest stop.

Pile on continuous exercising with numerous push-ups and obstacle courses while enduring mental taunts from the tactical officers, the emotional and physical strains were enormous. Standing close to my face, those charged with molding me into an officer would ask in rapid fire, “Do you have a burning desire to get your commission, Candidate Parker? Then put it in your tennis shoes and run faster. Make a decision, right or wrong. So you think you need a nap? Keep going.” But I knew that if I persevered, the tactical officers would eventually yell the commanding word, RECOVER!

RECOVER signaled a period in which I could take a posture that lessened the exertion long enough for me to recoup strength. A release from the push-up position allowed me to stand and flail my arms to ‘shake-it-off’ for better muscle function. While out on road marches, I occasionally stumbled, but stopped for a minute to regain my footing. The barrage of comments would cease so I could have a moment to reflect on the questions and procure more resolve. Because I knew many more difficult days loomed and every source of motivation possible was needed for me to push on. Which I did and graduated from Officer Candidate School, standing strong in victory as those gold bars were pinned on my uniform.

For now I was stocked with lessons that readied me for more recovering and leading forward.

Because in life we will encounter obstacle courses, one thing or another, to get over in succession. Whether they are physical or mental, career, family or community obstacles, the list can be long.

After illnesses, surgery or injuries, there is a needed healing period to return to normal.

Grief beckons a road to recovery from the loss of loved ones. After disappointments, we look to regain a sense of hope.

Financial downturns cause a repositioning of assets.

Personal mistakes can be a necessary route for reinvention.

Bad leadership decisions bring about a rallying to reorganize the strategy.

Catastrophes yield efforts to recoup personal and structural footing.

All of these situations reemphasize the importance of moving on to the next phase, again exerting this type of energy is not always easy. Since 1979 I’ve had my share of setbacks—a cancer battle and my mother’s death, major ones from which exercising a RECOVER strategy was tough. But forging onward stood as an essential act to reconnect to my purpose and faith.

I know that I’m not alone in this quest to regenerate. Then where do we find the tools to help us RECOVER to make a comeback? Let’s try these tips below.

  • Get in touch with your inner will— a type of grit that keeps you going
  • Know your goals and direct movement from darkness to light
  • Stay anchored to your purpose
  • Build on your victories, big and small
  • Understand  the timing of your break cycle – when to ‘shake it off’

 So what’s your RECOVER story?

Parts excerpted from my motivational autobiography, Navigating Life’s Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration for Your Journey


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