A Great 10 Minute Full Body Calisthenics Routine – The 20 / 20 Warm-up

This is an excellent warm-up before any workout. If you are short on time, it might even suffice as a quick workout. Only takes 10 minutes. Full-body, cardiovascular, spinal, large joint, small joint…gets the blood flowing and some sweat going. I call it the 20/20 Warm-up. It’s 9 different exercises interrupted by a set of 20 situps followed by 20 pushups.

I understand we all have different preferences, but for me, I have to get a good warm up before I can get a good workout. And I don’t like to stretch cold muscles.

Anyways, here it is:

20 – 3 count overhead jumping jacks

This should flow right into the next exercise:

20 – 3 count seal jumping jacks

20 situps / 20 pushups

30 – 3 count cherry pickers

20 situps / 20 pushups 

30 body Squats

15 lunges each leg

10 one legged toe touch each leg 

20 situps / 20 pushups 

20 – 3 count Flutter Kicks 

20 situps / 20 pushups

10 Burpees

20 situps / 20 pushups

Arm Circles -Forward big / Backward big / Forward small / Backward small

NOW YOUR READY TO GO!

Let me know what you all think in the comments. I find this to be a great warm up especially for boxing, martial arts and any kind of defensive tactics training where the joints and body are going to be manipulated.

Take Care and God bless!

Brandon Anderson

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The 21 Day P.A.R.O.L.E. Leadership & Wellness Challenge

21 day wellness challengeBelow are 6 elements for total wellness referred to as “Life On P.A.R.O.L.E.”. However, it’s a different kind of “parole” which actually lets us live free from the restrictions we often placed on our own lives. These are strategies that we can apply to optimize our wellbeing both personally and professionally, getting us ON MISSION through a life of service and accountability. The whole idea is to make each of these steps a habit and ultimately a way of being. Doing this will require both disciple and consistency, and will also require taking ownership of your life. However, in the end it will be worth it. There is no greater way to live, than to live ON MISSION for God, your family and yourself. Make no excuses, start taking ownership of your life today, and get ON MISSION through P.A.R.O.L.E. What you feed and nurture will grow, but what you starve and neglect will die.

Below are the 6 elements of P.A.R.O.L.E.

PUnderstand and stay rooted in PURPOSE:

Purpose is the foundation of “why” we do what we do. It is easy to explain to someone “what” you do and “how” you do it, but it takes deeper thought to explain to someone “why” you do what you do. The “why” is the driving force that makes life worth living, provides us with meaning and value, and keeps us grounded in knowing the greater purpose in life. When you ask yourself “how can I help” and make it a daily goal to leave people and things better off than the way you found them, as simple as it is, that alone is enough to drive your “why” each day.

Constantly evaluate your purpose, and whenever you think about giving up, fall back to remembering why you started. Living ON MISSION for God is incredibly noble, and even though it may be implicit, you are making a difference each day you serve God and serve others.

As much as you should take pride and be committed to a successful career, it should never take priority over your faith, your family and your home life. It is critical to keep your home life and work life separate. Purpose runs deeper than just your career, however, it is not unlikely that if your purpose is to make a difference, it is fitting for both realms. Yes you should view success as retiring when and how you want to, looking back at an honorable career of service, but if you fail to go home and love your family, you are missing the bigger picture of success itself. The destination of success is only one part of purpose, so don’t miss the journey. Ultimately, the true value of life and success is measured by how much of life itself you are willing to give away in service.

A – Find ACCOMPLISHMENT through ACCOUNTABILITY:

At the end of the day, we all look for a true sense of accomplishment, and people often over complicate it. It’s not about being better than others, it’s about being better that you were before. It’s also about making others better. In fact, the more it is about doing unto others, and the less it is about personal gain, the more fulfilling that sense of accomplishment is. The little things really matter when it comes to fulfilling purpose, value and accomplishment, and they come in all shapes and sizes. You do not need to move mountains to make a difference. Sometimes a random act of kindness makes the largest impact. There is also a deep intrinsic sense of accomplishment when you help someone out in need. As you recapitulate at the end of the day, a random act of kindness can be the very thing that you find gratitude in, which you can then express, and in turn strengthens relationships, promotes positive thought and emotion, and makes life truly fulfilling.

This doesn’t mean stop setting goals for yourself. Just don’t make those goals the defining factor of accomplishment. Also, each time your brain has a success, do not change the goal post for what success is supposed to look like, just continue to set realistic goals, and stay disciplined in accomplishing those goals one step at a time. Find accomplishment in the present, don’t define it just by the future.

The quickest way to tear down the bridge between goals and accomplishment is both a lack of discipline and a victim mentality. Discipline, consistency, and having an “I can” attitude despite the circumstances is what bridges the gap between goals and accomplishment. This takes practical wisdom in knowing the right way to do the right thing, with particular people at particular times. Cutting through the black and white, and into the grey of situations. It’s knowing how to play and win the game, placing principle before rules, without compromising safety, integrity and honesty. When you learn to master this craft in doing not only the right thing, but the wise thing as a servant, you start to find victory in even the smallest successes.

Additionally, you must also have accountability in your life. Someone or something has to hold you accountable to the accomplishment you set for yourself. You must acknowledge and own the problems and challenges that occur, as well as your current circumstances. If we have nothing to hold us accountable, we tend to cheat ourselves. Accountability requires courage, discipline and consistency, which in turn pave the path to accomplishment. You must do the best you can, with what you’ve got, in your current circumstances, leaning on friends and mentors for support, wisdom and accountability. It’s perpetually reminding yourself that as long as you’re breathing, you never lose, you either win or you learn.

R – Maintain meaningful and authentic RELATIONSHIPS:

As social animals, people were made to be in relationship with one another. Relationships and healthy human connections are one of the most vital aspects of life, as they enhance trust and unity amongst each other. It is easy to feel isolated and get caught up in the tasks demands of the day. However, tasks do not override people and relationships. You need strong, healthy and meaningful relationships and those do not exist without trust. While you should trust carefully, you should also keep a mindset of curiosity rather than suspicion, looking at intention over perception. Make it a goal to acquire trust from those you interact with and especially those you live life with. This requires practicing good emotional intelligence in recognizing and regulating emotion. It’s okay to have bad days, but be able to own it and recognize it. This falls back to servanthood and purpose, in asking “who and how can I help?” Negative and broken relationships can not only cripple the flow of a fulfilling life, but also affect your wellbeing. However, strong, meaningful, positive and authentic relationships can be the driver in flourishing life and a thriving culture.

Again, relationships at home are the most important. Your family always comes first, so don’t neglect them. Go to work, work hard, then go home and love your family. Family needs constant investment and nurturing. Nurture positive, meaningful and authentic relationships, remembering they are one of the most important aspects of life.

O – Stay perpetually OPTIMISTIC:

It’s easy to look for the negative in everything, but it’s not productive. The difference between pessimism and optimism is the same comparison as a victim and a survivor. One loses, the other either wins or learns. So don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.

Yes, the small things matter, and it is important that you pay attention and do not compromise the small things. However, that does not mean you should sweat the small things, just fix them. You have to surround yourself with positive relationships but not expect everyone and everything to be compatible with you all the time. We must remain flexible, empathetic, and open minded in how we harmonize with the flow of life and our relationships. Optimism starts with managing positive thought and emotion and staying mentally and emotionally fit. This is paramount in solving problems. You have the choice to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Gossip, complaining and pessimism are all cancerous vices that will pollute a culture and damage relationships. However, being part of the solution fills the void of achievement and accomplishment, and is the easiest way as a leader to humbly set the example in solving problems. Ideas are important, innovation matters, and having a creative mind will not only promote positive thought and emotion, but create safer and more effective operations. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

L – Live with LOVE and gratitude:

Life is full of both battles and blessings, so we have to stay strong, fight the good fight and live with gratitude and love.  Love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves. Gratitude is one of the most powerful and healthiest emotions we have and it is one of the purest forms of love. It is incredibly contagious, and the more gratitude we identify and express, the more that expression of gratitude becomes a daily way of being. Despite any circumstance, there is always something to be grateful for. It is a matter of perspective, and when we are rooted in purpose, and realistically optimistic, gratitude is literally the cherry on top to our mental and emotional wellbeing. Make it a habit to journal 1 to 3 things you are grateful for at the beginning or end of each day. You can learn to relive positive experiences. However, do not just capture that gratitude, but express it as well. It is not enough to just feel grateful, but the expression of gratitude completes the circle for meaningful and successful relationships, and successful relationships complete the circle of a successful life.

Gratitude stems from thought, so you must also manage your thoughts and emotions. With the millions of operations it performs each second, and the 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts it has each day, your brain is one of the most powerful tools you have in determining the course of your life. Many think that it is the circumstances themselves that define happiness, when in reality, you hold the key to almost every situation. Your thoughts are the very thing that shape your subconscious, and your subconscious that ultimately shapes your reality. Sure genetics and circumstances can definitely be factors in your state of happiness, but approximately 40% of that happiness is your choice. Be mindful and perpetually optimistic of the past, present and the future. Also, be very careful where you spend your thoughts and energy. Unmanaged depleting emotion and unhealthy thought will only cripple relationships and a fulfilling life.

Keeping a glass half-full perspective will not only improve your view of work, but your relationships, creativity and performance. Studies show that humans are actually 31% more productive in the positive, than in the negative, neutral or stressed. In a work environment, not only are you more productive in the positive, but safer as well; and safety is always the top priority. James Allen said it in this way a man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all of his thoughts.” While God has ultimate control over all, He gave us control over our thoughts, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. It is okay to have depleting emotion such as anger and frustration, but we must recognize and regulate that emotion so that we can use it for good purpose. Our own mind can sometimes be our biggest enemy. So as you go throughout your day, look at things through a positive lens under Gods will. As you practice emotional intelligence, don’t just be good at recognizing emotion, but master the regulation of your emotion and use it appropriately. Constantly ask yourself “how do I feel, and how do I make others feel?” Constantly ask yourself “how and who can I help?” Constantly ask yourself “is the lens in which I am viewing things the right lens?” If not, change it. Remember that love and gratitude are not based on conditions or compatibility, they are base on principle, choice and action.

E – EXERCISE and find flow:

Living in vitality means staying resilient, coherent and fit. Often when people think about the term fitness, they think salads and treadmills. Bottom line is that your physical health is only a quarter of your overall resilience in being fully fit in life. There are 4 domains to resilience, and they should all flow with one another as they deplete and renew throughout the day. Below are the 4 domains of resilience:

  • Physical – nutrition, proper rest, exercise
  • Mental – positive thoughts, optimism, proper rest, exercise
  • Emotional – positive relationships, positive thoughts, flexibility, patience
  • Spiritual – faith, morals, values, tolerance, servanthood, PURPOSE!

It is easiest to think of each of these 4 domains as rechargeable batteries that all sync with one another, and require balance and charge. The heart, the mind, the soul and the body all require exercise. When you exercise physically, generally you feel better mentally. When you think positive, you generally feel better emotionally. Staying rooted in purpose, thinking positive and expressing gratitude as listed earlier, are just practicing habits that keep your mental, emotional and spiritual batteries charged. This leaves the one domain that people often neglect, and requires discipline and consistency in eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, “I don’t have time” and “I don’t have a gym” is not a valid excuse. All you need is 10 minutes a day to get up an move. Remember, exercise is also a contributing factor to your mental and emotional wellbeing. Below is a simple Tabata exercise that requires no equipment and only takes about 10 minutes of your day depending on the number of sets you decide to do:

THE TABATA:

  • 20 Seconds: Exercise (push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, burpees, planks, body squats)
  • 10 Seconds: Rest
  • Repeat 8 times (4 minutes total)
  • Do at least 2 sets (8 minutes total)
  • Rest 1 minute in-between sets
  • Try to alternate between exercises (push-ups, rests, sit-ups, rest, body squats, rest, repeat)

Life can be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, so stay disciplined and keep those batteries charged. Exercise regularly, eat healthy, and get adequate rest. Most importantly, don’t forget to breathe. Heart focused breathing is the quickest and most effective way to align the heart and mind, and come back to a state of coherence. When safe to do so, clear your mind, close your eyes, find that feeling of inner ease, breathe in for 4-5 seconds, hold it for 4-5 seconds, exhale for 4-5 seconds and hold it for 4-5 seconds. Focus on your heart as you do this for 1 to 2 minutes. This is like the CTRL, ALT, DELETE for the human body, and we all need a reset every once in awhile.

Remember that there is a deeper meaning to the term “fit”. Fitness and vitality requires balance, discipline and consistency, and when you become engaged with life and find your flow, you’ll realize that a body in motion stays in motion. Get out there, get moving and start fighting the good fight.

It’s important to also remember that practical wisdom and a survival mindset play a critical role in not only your metal and emotional wellness, but are key players in finding daily flow. This doesn’t mean choosing the path of least resistance, it means learning how to improvise, adapt and overcome while staying balanced and in control.

Bottom line is, your wellness matters, so take charge of the life God has given you. Each day is a gift and tomorrow is never promised. These are steps that you can apply starting today that will help you change that pattern and lens through which your brain perceives reality, and help your body, mind and soul harmonize with the current flow of life. A happier and healthier you, means a happier, healthier and safer work culture, more effective operations, a happier family and an overall better life. You have to take care of yourself because you cannot pour from an empty glass.

Getting ON MISSION starts with you.

MY WHY / PERSONAL MISSION

The first step of this packet starts with defining your WHY. Write out a person mission statement that you can live by and reflect on each day, and bring you back to the WHY of your life, helping you stay rooted in purpose.

My WHY and personal mission is:

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

RECAPITULATION AND EVALUATION

It is critical to take time to recapitulate and re-evaluate at the end of every day. Along with taking time to journal thoughts, problems and ideas, mentally replay your day and your interactions and ask yourself:

  • what happened today?”
  • so what did I do?”
  • now what do I need to do?”
  • “Is my attitude productive and beneficial to me or others?
  • “Am I giving my best, or is my best yet to come?”
  • “ Where and how can I do better?”

Re-evaluate your purpose, your attitude towards life, friends, family, and your career. Do you need to control alt delete? I think we all do every once in awhile.

21 DAY CHALLENGE

  • Find flow for 21 days in a row by going through each of the following steps:
  • Start your day early and thank God for it. Each day is a gift to be grateful for, so own your current circumstances, smile and find flow with the day. Reflect on your purpose by asking yourself “what’s my why?
  • Spend some time in prayer, asking God to guide your thoughts, words, actions and decisions for the present day.
  • Journal 1 thing about the day that you are truly grateful for, and ask yourself “how can I express it?
  • Ask yourself “how can I serve, and who and how can I help?
  • Serve through a random acts of kindness with anyone or everyone. Maybe it is simply expressing your gratitude to someone and letting them know they are appreciated, whether it is verbally, or through a letter or text.
  • Find a safe, quiet and calm place of solitude; sit down, relax, close your eyes, and practice 2 minutes of heart focused breathing, or several rounds of power breathing. Meditate on the promises of God and your purpose according to his will, and the positive emotion that puts you at ease.
  • Complete at least 10 minutes of physical exercise even if it is simply getting out to move.
  • Drink 8 glasses of water and maintain a healthy diet, the mind and body need it.
  • Journal all thoughts, ideas and problems that come to your mind. All ideas are worth writing down, and all problems have a solution. Ask yourself “where and how can I do better?” Journal the “what” about the day, then ask yourself “so what, and now what?” Put words into action.

The whole idea is to make each of these steps a habit and ultimately a way of being, turning 21 days into everyday. Doing this will require both disciple and consistency, but in the end it will be worth it. There is no greater way to live, than to live ON MISSION for God, your family and yourself. Make no excuses! If you miss a step or even a day, just pick up where you left off and get back on P.A.R.O.L.E and back ON MISSION.

RELATIONSHIPS AND ACCOUNTABILITY

If you thought you were doing this on your own you were wrong. Getting through P.A.R.O.L.E. will also require support, encouragement and accountability.

Identify 1 to 3 friends and mentors that you can surround your self with and lean on for support, wisdom and accountability.

  1. _________________________________________
  2. _________________________________________
  3. _________________________________________

It is encouraged that you make time to meet with one or more of the above people mentioned. Discuss simply how things are going, and be honest with each other. Build each other up. Go over one or more of the promises of God that have really stuck out in your current circumstances, and pray for one another. Heck, maybe even find time to exercise together.

The final step of this challenge, is planning a serve experience with no other intentions in mind than to serve a person, a family in need or the community with the individuals listed above. This might be giving back to the community through volunteer service or simply helping a family or person in need. Plan it, organize it and make it happen. You will be glad you did.

SERVE EXPERIENCE

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You’re not given a good day and you’re are not given a bad day, you are given a day, and it is up to you to make it good or bad. Each day is a gift and tomorrow is never promised, so be grateful for the present day and own it. Stay disciplined in fighting the good fight, love God, love people, and let everything else fall in place according to His will.


Below are 21 Bible verses you can bring to memory, and God will bring them to your mind when you need them most. Meditate on these promises of God, loving God himself, and loving His people.

GOD LOVES YOU

JOHN 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

GOD IS FOR YOU

ROMANS 8:31 – What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

ALL WHO CALL UPON THE NAME OF JESUS ARE SAVED

ACTS 2:21 – And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

YOU CAN’T SAVE YOURSELF, HIS GRACE IS A GIFT

EPHESIANS 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can.

WE ARE ALL BROKEN AND NEED HIS GRACE

ROMANS 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

CHRIST IS THE ONLY WAY

JOHN 14:6 – I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

WE ARE A NEW CREATION IN CHRIST

2 CORINTHIANS 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

TIME IS LIMITED, LIVE WISELY

EPHESIANS 5:15-16 – Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

PLAN YOUR LIFE BUT TRUST IN GOD

PROVERBS 16:9 – In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

FEAR NOT

2 TIMOTHY 1:17 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.

STAY DISCIPLINED AND FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT

1 TIMOTHY 6:12 – Fight the good fight of the faith.

KEEP YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT AND LIVE FOR THE KINGDOM

MATTHEW 6:33 – But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.

CONSTANTLY ASK FOR WISDOM

JAMES 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.

MAKE WISE DECISIONS

PROVERBS 15:22 – Plans fail for a lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.

GUARD YOUR TONGUE AND SPEAK KINDLY

EPHESIANS 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

RESIST THE TEMPTATION

1 CORINTHIANS 10:13 – The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

STAY HUMBLE

PHILIPPIANS 2:3-4 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

DON’T WORRY OR BE ANXIOUS

 PHILIPPIANS 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

STAY IN SCRIPTURE

JOHN 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

LIVE WITH LOVE

1 CORINTHIANS 16:14 – Do everything in love.

A NEW COMMAND I GIVE YOU: LOVE GOD AND LOVE PEOPLE

LUKE 10:27 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.


Below is a checklist template for tracking your progress:

21 Day Wellness Challenge Checklist

21 Day Challenge

on mission

The Nobility of Corrections

As Corrections Officers we serve something much greater than ourselves. We take pride in our profession and the cause in which we serve. We are the final step of the criminal justice process, and our role is vital; entrusted by the law to uphold the law behind those walls. We are Law Enforcement. We are not just a stepping stone job to policing, or a job for washed out cops. We are not “guards” and we are no longer just “jailers”. Additionally, we are not JUST Corrections Officers, WE ARE Corrections Officers, and we are proud of that title.

Corrections is often under-recognized for the noble professional it is. Understaffed, overpopulated, outnumbered and overworked. We manage sometimes over a hundred inmates without the reliance of a firearm. It’s us, the inmates and our ability as a leaders to manage them through influence, wisdom and respect. It’s no easy task, but it’s necessary and takes a special character with a unique heartset and mindset to do our job. We have to be firm in our principles, fair in our treatment and consistent in our actions and decisions.

Our job is not to punish, that’s for the courts. Rather our role as Corrections Officers is one of many hats. We are the first responders to every crisis that occurs. At times we fill the roles of mental health and medical staff. We are negotiators, diplomats, confronters and enforcers. While we are sometimes disciplinarians, we are also teachers, counselors and role models, for many who have lacked that kind of figure in their lives. But most importantly we are master communicators. Our profession has evolved and our roles have changed. Our training, knowledge and skill has to constantly adapt to these changes and needs of our communities. The rise in mentally ill inmates has risen to over 65% in our jails and 53% in our prisons across the nation. The heroin epidemic has created a revolving door and increasing death toll to our jails. Now we’re facing a synthetic drug rise that is bringing officer safety to a whole new level. Everything we do in the glass house we work in is scrutinized by the public, but it doesn’t stop us from our unconditional service. We are perpetually optimistic and our values are unwavering. Everything we do is objective and done with good purpose. It’s that purpose that defines our action, and practical wisdom that shapes our decisions. A mindset that is legal, professional and safe. We train to win as warriors of a noble cause, and all strength and force is applied with good purpose.

While we are warriors always, we are guardians first. Defenders, protectors and keepers. We defend that blue line and we defend the constitution. We protect our communities from the most dangerous and damaging members of society; those who have been cast out. Some who are manipulative, violent predators with nothing but evil intentions, and nothing to lose. But we still watch over them, protect their rights, and protect them from one another. We do so because we believe in accountability, and that people who commit crime should be held accountable for their actions. And when people say “how can you serve, protect and respect the criminal?” We say it is not because we respect who they are or what they’ve done; but because we respect ourselves, the situation, the profession and the cause we serve. One can’t give what they don’t have, and one can’t expect what they don’t give. Respect starts with us. And while there are a small percentage that are truly evil, majority are not. And most people who walk through our intake doors are at the lowest points of their lives. Struggling, broken addicts who made poor decisions. But they are still people, human beings we took an oath to serve. Sometimes people we know and love. We are the first step of reentry for these people, and sometimes the last light of hope. True reentry starts with us, through dignity and respect. Our desire to leave people better off than the way we found them; hoping to remind them that their past and current situation should remind but it should not define. We know that every interaction leaves an impact, and every interaction has an opportunity to make a difference through the power of influence. It can be a negative one that is damaging and discrediting to the profession and all we do, or it can be a positive one that is corrective and life giving, helping restore trust and confidence from the communities and people we serve.

We are not naive, and our way of being is not soft. It’s just good tactics, making operations safer and more efficient, and it makes each day worth living. We are mission focused and purpose led. We are tactically sound and we are mindfully aware. We leave our ego and judgment at the door, and replace it with curiosity and confidence. We are friendly without being familiar, and we do not demonize. We are fit physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually; constantly sharpening our saw. But most importantly, we too are just human. We make mistakes and we have bad days. We become emotionally and mentally drained, and sometimes detached. Our fitness is often put to the test during conflict and crisis. We are humbly reminded that we too are but one bad decision away from being on the other side of the badge. But we know that no matter what, we never lose, we either win or we learn, because we are professionals.

No kid ever grows up wanting to be a Corrections Officer, but almost every kid grows up wanting to make a difference. That is exactly what we CO’s are doing each and everyday. Even if we only reach one out of a hundred, we are doing our job. And we will do that with pride and honor until we retire when and how we want to. That is success. And this is why Corrections is so incredibly noble.

 

Brandon Anderson

 

 

Corrections Wellness – A new meaning to life on P.A.R.O.L.E.

corrections wellness

Below are 6 principles to live by that will optimize your safety and wellbeing as a corrections officer.

So much of corrections related training and demands are focused solely around the tasks, liabilities and things that help move the organization towards achieving “its” mission. This is very important, unfortunately, it can often be forgotten that it is “the people” that make operations run and that relationships require just as much investment as operations. The people are a priority, and investing in them is not a task, as “life” itself is the core of all core values. We owe a service to our communities, and we cannot serve and protect our communities at full potential if we do not take care of ourselves and take care of each other.

Corrections officers walk one of the toughest and most challenging beats out there as first responders behind the walls, with the risks and rigors they are faced with each day. They spend 8, 12, sometimes 16 hours supervising those who have literally been cast out of society, responding to suicides, fights, assaults, overdoses and other crisis. With the challenges of such a noble and necessary profession, taking care of “self” is probably one of the most critical elements in truly optimizing the best out of the person, the people and the agency.

A corrections officer can train significantly on how “not” to become a victim to inmate manipulation and assaults, but if they fall victim to themselves, they have already been compromised. Sometimes a corrections officer is his or her own worst enemy. Our corrections staff deserve better, and they also owe that duty to themselves to look after their own personal health and wellness.

Below are 6 elements for total wellness I refer to as “Life on P.A.R.O.L.E.”. However, it’s a different kind of “parole” which actually lets you live free from the restrictions we often place on our own lives. These are strategies that you can apply to optimize our wellbeing both personally and professionally, getting you ON MISSION through a life of service and accountability. The whole idea is to make each of these steps a habit and ultimately a way of being. Doing this will require both disciple and consistency, and will also require taking ownership of your life. However, in the end it will be worth it. There is no greater way to live, than to live ON MISSION for your faith, your family and yourself. Make no excuses, start taking ownership of your life today, and get ON MISSION through P.A.R.O.L.E. What you feed and nurture will grow, but what you starve and neglect will die.

Below are the 6 elements of P.A.R.O.L.E.

PUnderstand and stay rooted in PURPOSE:

Purpose is the foundation of “why” we do what we do. It is easy to explain to someone “what” you do and “how” you do it, but it takes deeper thought to explain to someone “why” you do what you do. The “why” is the driving force that what makes life worth living, provides us with meaning and value, and keeps us grounded in knowing the greater purpose in life. Many entered this career with a service heartset and mindset, and that is where you should stay rooted. When you ask yourself “how and who can I help” and make it a daily goal to leave people and things better off than the way you found them, as simple as it is, that alone is enough to drive your “why” each day.

Constantly evaluate your purpose, and whenever you think about giving up, fall back to remembering why you started. Corrections is an incredibly noble profession, and even though it may be implicit, you are making a difference each day you work behind the walls.

As much as you should take pride and be committed to the profession, it should never take priority over your faith, your family and your home life. It is critical to keep your home life and work life separate. Purpose runs deeper than just your career, however, it is not unlikely that if your purpose is to make a difference, it is fitting for both realms. Yes, you should view success as retiring when and how you want to, looking back at an honorable career of service, but if you fail to go home and love your family, you’re missing the bigger picture of success itself. Success is only one part of purpose, so don’t miss the journey. Ultimately, the true value of life and success may simply be measured by how much of life itself you are willing to give away in service.

A – Find ACCOMPLISHMENT through ACCOUNTABILITY:

At the end of the day, we all look for a true sense of accomplishment, and people often over complicate it. In fact we sometimes tend to overcomplicate corrections itself. It’s not about being better than others, it’s about being better that you were before. It’s also about making others better. In fact, the more it is about doing unto others, and the less it is about personal gain, the more fulfilling that sense of accomplishment is. The little things really matter when it comes to fulfilling purpose, value and accomplishment, and they come in all shapes and sizes. The little things are especially relevant in corrections. You do not need to move mountains to make a difference. Sometimes a random act of kindness makes the largest impact. There is also a deep intrinsic sense of accomplishment when you help someone out in need. As you recapitulate at the end of the day, a random act of kindness can be the very thing that you find gratitude in, which you can then express, and in turn strengthens relationships, promotes positive thought and emotion, and makes life truly fulfilling.

This doesn’t mean stop setting goals for yourself. Just don’t make those goals the defining factor of accomplishment. Also, each time your brain has a success, do not change the goal post for what success is supposed to look like, just continue to set realistic goals, and stay disciplined in accomplishing those goals one step at a time. Find accomplishment in the present, don’t define it by the future.

The quickest way to tear down the bridge between goals and accomplishment is both a lack of discipline and a victim mentality. Discipline, consistency, and having an “I can” attitude despite the circumstances is what bridges the gap between goals and accomplishment. This takes practical wisdom in knowing the right way to do the right thing, with particular people at particular times. Cutting through the black and white, and into the grey of situations. It’s knowing how to play and win the game, placing principle before rules, without compromising safety, integrity and honesty. When you learn to master this craft in doing not only the right thing, but the wise thing as a servant, you start to find victory in even the smallest successes.

Additionally, you must also have accountability in your life. Someone or something has to hold you accountable to the accomplishment you set for yourself. You must acknowledge and own the problems and challenges that occur, as well as your current circumstances. If we have nothing to hold us accountable, we tend to cheat ourselves. Accountability requires courage, discipline and consistency, which in turn pave the path to accomplishment. You must do the best you can, with what you’ve got, in your current circumstances, leaning on friends and mentors for support, wisdom and accountability. It’s perpetually reminding yourself that as long as you’re breathing, you never lose, you either win or you learn.

R – Maintain meaningful and authentic RELATIONSHIPS:

As social animals, people were made to be in relationship with one another. Relationships and healthy human connections are one of the most vital aspects of life, as they enhance trust and unity amongst each other. In corrections, it is easy to feel isolated in a POD surrounded by inmates, working 12 hours out of sight and out of mind from the rest of the community. It is easy to get caught up in the tasks demands and operational needs of the day. However, tasks and operations do not override people and relationships. People first, mission always. You literally depend on strong professional relationships with your peers and supervisors, and strong professional relationships do not exist without trust. Fostering and maintaining a culture of trust and transparency can sometimes be an obstacle in itself. While you should trust carefully, you should also keep a mindset of curiosity rather than suspicion, looking at intention over perception. Make it a goal to acquire trust from not only the peers you work with, but the inmates you supervise. This requires practicing good emotional intelligence in recognizing and regulating emotion. Corrections can be an emotionally challenging and depleting environment, and it’s okay to have bad days. As a peer, it is important to not only recognize this, but be supportive of this as well. This falls back to servanthood and purpose, in asking “how and who can I help?” Think of your peers as family, not just-co-workers; family united behind the walls. Negative and broken relationships can not only cripple operations, but also affect your wellbeing. However, strong, meaningful, positive and authentic relationships can be the driver in flourishing operations and a thriving culture.

Again, relationships at home are the most important. Your family always comes first, so don’t neglect them. Go to work, work hard, then go home and love your family. Family needs constant investment and nurturing. Nurture positive, meaningful and authentic relationships, remembering they are one of the most important aspects of life.

O – Stay perpetually OPTIMISTIC:

It’s easy to look for the negative in everything, but it’s not productive. The difference between pessimism and optimism is the same comparison as a victim and a survivor. One loses, the other either wins or learns. So don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.

Yes, the small things matter in corrections, and it is important that you pay attention and do not compromise the small things. However, that does not mean you should sweat the small things, just fix them. You have to surround yourself with positive relationships but not expect everyone and everything to be compatible with you all the time. We must remain flexible, empathetic, and open minded in how we harmonize with the flow of life and our relationships. Optimism starts with managing positive thought and emotion and staying mentally and emotionally fit. This is paramount in solving problems. You have the choice to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Gossip, complaining and pessimism are all cancerous vices that will pollute an organization and damage relationships. However, being part of the solution fills the void of achievement and accomplishment, and is the easiest way as a leader to humbly set the example in solving problems. Ideas are important, innovation matters, and having a creative mind will not only promote positive thought and emotion, but create safer and more effective operations.

L – Live with LOVE and gratitude:

Life is full of both battles and blessings, so we have to stay strong, fight the good fight and live with gratitude and love. Gratitude alone is one of the most powerful and healthiest emotions you have and it is one of the purest forms of love. It is incredibly contagious, and the more gratitude you identify and express, the more that expression of gratitude becomes a daily way of being. Despite any circumstance, there is always something to be grateful for. It is a matter of perspective, and when you are rooted in purpose, and realistically optimistic, gratitude is literally the cherry on top to your mental and emotional wellbeing. Make it a habit to journal 1 to 3 things you are grateful for at the beginning or end of each day. You will relive those positive experiences. However, do not just capture that gratitude, but express it as well. It is not enough to just feel grateful, but the expression of gratitude completes the circle for meaningful and successful relationships, and successful relationships complete the circle of successful operations.

Gratitude stems from thought, so you must also manage your thoughts and emotions. With the millions of operations it performs each second, and the 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts it has each day, your brain is one of the most powerful tools you have in determining the course of your life. Many think that it is the circumstances themselves that define happiness, when in reality, you hold the key to almost every situation. Your thoughts are the very thing that shape your subconscious, and your subconscious that ultimately shapes your reality. Sure genetics and circumstances can definitely be factors in your state of happiness, but approximately 40% of that happiness is your choice. Be mindful and perpetually optimistic of the past, present and the future. Also, be very careful where you spend your thoughts and energy, especially in your facility where many would label as a negative environment. Unmanaged depleting emotion and unhealthy thought will only cripple operations, relationships and a fulfilling life.

Keeping a glass half-full perspective will not only improve your view of work, but your relationships, creativity and performance. Studies show that humans are actually 31% more productive in the positive, than in the negative, neutral or stressed. With corrections, not only are you more productive in the positive, but safer as well; and safety will always be the top priority. James Allen said it in this way “a man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all of his thoughts.” While God has ultimate control over all, God gave us control over your thoughts, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. It is okay to have depleting emotion such as anger and frustration, but we must recognize and regulate that emotion so that we can use it for good purpose. Our own mind can sometimes be our biggest enemy. So as you go throughout your day, learn to scan the world for the positive. As you practice emotional intelligence, don’t just be good at recognizing emotion, but master the regulation of your emotion and use it appropriately. Constantly ask yourself “how do I feel, and how do I make others feel?” Constantly ask yourself “how and who can I help?” Constantly ask yourself “is the lens in which I am viewing things the right lens?” If not, change it. Remember that love and gratitude are not based on conditions or compatibility, they are base on principle, choice and action.

E – EXERCISE and find flow:

Living in vitality means staying resilient, coherent and fit. Often when people think about the term fitness, they think salads and treadmills. Bottom line is that your physical health is only a quarter of your overall resilience in being fully fit for duty. There are 4 domains to resilience, and they should all flow with one another as they deplete and renew throughout the day. Below are the 4 domains of resilience:

Physical – nutrition, proper rest, exercise

Mental – positive thoughts, optimism, proper rest, exercise

Emotional – positive relationships, positive thoughts, flexibility, patience

Spiritual – faith, morals, values, tolerance, servanthood, PURPOSE!

It is easiest to think of each of these 4 domains as rechargeable batteries that all sync with one another, and require balance and charge. The heart, the mind, the soul and the body all require exercise. When you exercise physically, generally you feel better mentally. When you think positive, you generally feel better emotionally. Staying rooted in purpose, thinking positive and expressing gratitude as listed earlier, are just practicing habits that keep your mental, emotional and spiritual batteries charged. This leaves the one domain that people often neglect, and requires discipline and consistency in eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, “I don’t have time” and “I don’t have a gym” is not a valid excuse. All you need is 10 minutes a day. Remember, exercise is also a contributing factor to your mental and emotional wellbeing. Below is a simple Tabata exercise that requires no equipment and only takes about 10 minutes of your day depending on the number of sets you decide to do:

THE TABATA:

  • 20 Seconds: Exercise (push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, burpees, planks, body squats)
  • 10 Seconds: Rest
  • Repeat 8 times (4 minutes total)
  • Do at least 2 sets (8 minutes total)
  • Rest 1 minute in-between sets
  • Try to alternate between exercises (push-ups, rests, sit-ups, rest, body squats, rest, repeat)

Corrections can be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, so stay disciplined and keep those batteries charged. Exercise regularly, eat healthy, and get adequate rest. Most importantly, don’t forget to breathe. Heart focused breathing is the quickest and most effective way to align the heart and mind, and come back to a state of coherence. When safe to do so, clear your mind, close your eyes, find that feeling of inner ease, breathe in for 4-5 seconds, hold it for 4-5 seconds, exhale for 4-5 seconds and hold it for 4-5 seconds. Focus on your heart as you do this for 1 to 2 minutes. This is like the CTRL, ALT, DELETE for the human body, and we all need a reset every once in awhile.

The Kansas Highway Patrol have a saying that goes “when you chose law enforcement, you lose the right to be unfit”. The only thing to remember, is that there is a deeper meaning to the term “fit”. Fitness and vitality requires balance, discipline and consistency, and when you become engaged with life and find your flow, you’ll realize that a body in motion stays in motion.

It’s important to also remember that practical wisdom and a survival mindset play a critical role in not only your metal and emotional wellness, but are key players in finding daily flow. This doesn’t mean choosing the path of least resistance, it means learning how to improvise, adapt and overcome while staying balanced and in control.

Recapitulation and evaluation

Finally, it is critical to take time to recapitulate and re-evaluate at the end of every day. Along with taking time to journal thoughts, problems and ideas, mentally replay your day and your interactions and ask yourself:

  • what happened today?”
  • so what did I do?”
  • now what do I need to do?”
  • “Is my attitude productive and beneficial to me or others?
  • “Am I giving my best, or is my best yet to come?”
  • “Where and how can I do better?”

Re-evaluate your purpose, your attitude towards life, friends, family, and your career. Do you need to control alt delete? I think we all do every once in awhile.

Bottom line is, your wellness matters, so take charge of the life you have been given in such a noble profession. Each day is a gift and tomorrow is never promised. These are steps that you can apply starting today that will help you change that pattern and lens through which your brain perceives reality, and help your body, mind and soul harmonize with the current flow of life. A happier and healthier you, means a happier, healthier and safer work culture, more effective operations, a happier family and an overall better life. You have to take care of yourself because you cannot pour from an empty glass. Getting ON MISSION starts with you.

I challenge you…

21 day challenge

Find flow for 21 days in a row by going through each of the following steps:

  • Start your day early and be thankful for it. Each day is a gift to be grateful for, so own your current circumstances, smile and find flow with the day. Reflect on your purpose by asking yourself “what’s my why?
  • Journal 1 thing about the day that you are truly grateful for, and ask yourself “how can I express it?
  • Ask yourself “how can I serve, and who and how can I help?
  • Serve through a random acts of kindness. Maybe it is simply expressing your gratitude to someone and letting them know they are appreciated, whether it is verbally, or through a letter or text.
  • Find a safe, quiet and calm place of solitude; sit down, relax, close your eyes, and practice 2 minutes of heart focused breathing, or several rounds of power breathing. Capture and hold on to that positive emotion that puts you at ease.
  • Complete at least 10 minutes of physical exercise even if it is simply getting out and moving.
  • Drink 8 glasses of water and maintain a healthy diet, the mind and body need it.
  • Journal all thoughts, ideas and problems that come to your mind. All ideas are worth writing down, and all problems have a solution. Ask yourself “where and how can I do better?” Journal the “what” about the day, then ask yourself “so what, and now what?” Put words into action.

Here is the simplified checklist you can use to take you through this new journey of P.A.R.O.L.E. and get you ON MISSION:

☐ Own the day, your current circumstances and smile / “What’s my why?”

☐ Gratitude / “What am I grateful for and how can I express it?”

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

☐ Random act of kindness / “How can I serve and how or who can I help?” ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

☐ Get out and move! (At least 10 minutes of exercise)

☐ Hydrate (8 glasses of water)

☐ Heart focused breathing / Meditation (At least 2 minutes)

☐ Thoughts, problems and ideas / “Where and how can I do better?” / What, so what, now what?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I hope this helps, because your wellness matters.

God bless,

Brandon Anderson

 

Battles And Blessings

Child, each day is a gift and tomorrow is never promised. Be grateful always and express it often.

You are guaranteed 2 things in life:

Battles and blessings.

Even the battles are blessings, as they only make you stronger, and they define your story.

With the battles you face and the blessings you are given, there are 2 things you need to know how to do:

Love and fight.

Fight the good fight, and apply all strength with good purpose. Fight courageously and don’t lose the fight within. Your integrity is all you have.

Keep it simple. Love God, and love you neighbor. Everything else will fall where it needs to. Let your love be unconditional and your kindness be genuine. Leave people and things better off than the way you found them.

When it is hard, stay in the fight, and when it is dark, stay in the light.

Love with everything you have, and always do right.

You can’t lose in this life, you either win or you learn.

You can’t lose in this life, because the war has already been won.

What none of us could ever do, He has already done.

Understaffed, outnumbered, overpopulated & overworked – This is corrections

A prisoner in stripes behind bars, a locked door, and a “guard” on the other side with a set of keys. This is the general conception of corrections with the lack of transparency there is about the profession.

What this doesn’t capture is the entirety of the service corrections professionals conduct, and the challenges they face in such a noble and overlooked profession. It might take a person nine months to get hired on as a corrections officer, where it may only take one shift to realize it takes a certain character to effectively work behind the walls.

Our facilities are scrambling to retain quality staff, yet the ones who push through for the long term are nearly being pushed to their end. In an ever evolving profession fighting to stay in compliance with new laws, standards and practices, our facilities are overpopulating, while remaining understaffed, causing the current staff to be outnumbered and overworked; sometimes 74 inmates to one officer, and that officer being mandated to work a 16 hour shift for coverage.

Studies show that the average life span of a corrections officer is 59 years of age, and the suicide rate for corrections professionals is 39% higher than any other profession. The PTSD rate in corrections is over double than what is found with military veterans due to the cumulative vicarious trauma as well the individual critical incidents. Whether it is cutting down an inmate who has just attempted to hang themselves, or protecting yourself from an inmate who has just assaulted you, each day is just as unpredictable as the next. The implicit effects of hyper-vigilance are very real, and often remedied with caffeine and a jaded sense of humor, while the toll it takes on that person and their family is unrepairable.

A corrections professional can’t forget some of the things they’ve seen dealing with some of the most dangerous members of society, however, many that are successful in this profession are only successful because they remain rooted in purpose and the cause they serve. Having the right heartset and mindset is everything if you want to survive in this career field. However, it is also the responsibility of management to proactively invest in the needs, safety and well-being of their staff.

Crime isn’t stopping, mental illness is rising, and the opiate epidemic and use of illicit drugs is bringing officer safety and liability through the roof. The individuals in custody are becoming more challenging to deal with and the risks are becoming greater, yet as easy as it is to put heads in beds as an industry, our agencies can’t fill the staffing vacancies, nor can they retain the staff they have.

This has certainly been one of the biggest challenges in corrections this past year for both the staff and the agencies. It is going to take some serious attention and work for the professional to unite and put a stop to the understaffed, outnumbered, overpopulated and overworked problem we have. It is plain unsafe, and along with integrity, safety is the something that should never be compromised.

Are Corrections Officers First Responders?

To many, this is a silly question. To some, it is almost insulting that you would even question it. The answer is without a doubt “yes”. Similar to asking whether or not corrections is law enforcement as the final spoke of the criminal justice wheel, the CO has a very critical place in the realm of law enforcement as a first responder behind the walls.

There is little if no transparency of what actually goes on behind the walls. Just misguided and misinformed perceptions based off of tv shows and movies. There is a stigma of being the washed out cop, or the red headed stepchild that we own partial responsibility for. However, it doesn’t discredit the nobility of what we do, nor the fact that if it wasn’t for corrections, law enforcement would just be a catch and release program.

Whether we are a corrections professional in a jail or a corrections professional in a prison, we are a first responder, bottom line.

From being that officer managing a POD of inmates and witnessing and responding to an inmate who has just jumped off the top-tier head first. To being the first officer to respond to a cell and cut down a lifeless inmate hanging by a bedsheet. To being the first to respond to an inmate who has just overdosed on drugs and providing CPR for several minutes until medical aid arrives. To being the first to respond to an inmate who is choking on food, and conducting the Heimlich maneuver as other inmates just watch. To being the first to respond to a unit or cell to control a violent inmate who is undergoing excited delirium, high on drugs and an immediate threat to himself or others. To being spit in the eyes by a hepatitis C carrying inmate and fighting with them until backup arrives. To being the first officer to respond to an assault or riot where an inmate has just been stabbed more than 80 times by an edged weapon made in the facility. The list goes on, as some of these can be daily occurrences.

We literally spend over half the year behind the walls in uniform responding to crisis, ensuring that the safety of our staff and our inmates and security of our facility is not compromised. When we are not responding, we are waiting to respond. Hypervigilance implicitly takes its course. This is on top of all the ongoing nuisance inmate attempts to manipulate you as you are outnumbered 74 to 1. This is on top of the threats you have just received in regards to you and your families safety. This is on top of being overwhelmed by the task demands and expectations of this ever evolving profession fighting to stay in compliance. This is on top of actually trying to make a difference in some of the lives of the inmates we supervise in helping them reenter the community. Most importantly, this is on top of doing our best not to personalize conflict or compartmentalize recent crisis, staying professional, objective and rooted in purpose.

We are Corrections Officers, and we are first responders. As the final step of the criminal justice process, please respect us as the first responders we are; analogous to our brothers and sisters on patrol and fire.

Respectfully,

Brandon Anderson