Monday, June 9, 2014

The Power of Action

Decades ago an entrepreneur named Napoleon Hill wrote a timeless work titled Think and Grow Rich. While read by millions since, most readers focus on the initial title word, “think,” and relatively few grasp the core concept. Hill urges readers to visualize the end they seek then move with absolute commitment toward attainment of that goal by acting in a decisive, well-planned manner.

In other words, thought without action equates to form without substance. Form may have value as a step toward awareness or as a means of calling attention to a goal, but absent action will always remain ineffectual.

Why do most people avoid this conclusion? Because action means work, hard work, and human nature tends to look for the easy way out. Action means getting dirty and sweating. That’s why form alone is so appealing.

Many of us deal daily with form. Social media tends to encourage form without action. Simply clicking on a “like” button, for example, gives one the impression that action has been taken, but in truth it merely falsely validates a non-action.

Scads of pictures and memes about veterans ranging from sad to inspirational are common on social media, as is the occasional essay on how terrible the situation is for veterans. Most posters draw the conclusion that fixing these ills is someone else’s responsibility, and dammit, why aren’t they getting it done!

Valhalla Project is all about action. Our founding notion incorporated action from the beginning: ours and our veteran participants. For example: we built Valhalla and a veteran must personally contact us before coming to participate. Action required from both parties from the outset.

We began with basic concepts that many share: transition from the military to civilian life is difficult; combat duty changes individuals; institutions such as the Veterans Administration are failing in their job; veteran suicide rates are far too high; and the cultural divide between the military and civilian worlds is huge and a bridge is necessary to cross successfully from one to the other.

We chose to get it done. And at Valhalla we are. Step by step, individual veteran by individual veteran. We offer assistance to those who wish to be helped. The basic premise is that you help yourself and simultaneously help other vets. Simple and effective. But it takes actions to succeed.

There is no pretense of grandiosity here. It is impossible for an operation like Valhalla to handle adequately the entire veteran population. We recognize this reality. As presently configured we can handle 8-10 vets comfortably. In time we expect to grow capacity to 50, but that involves a lot of capital and sweat investment. Even at that number we’re barely scratching the surface of the need.

Therefore we find our effectiveness is two ways: we work with individual vets who might benefit from a stay here, and, we offer details of our operation as a general model for any person who might wish to emulate it.

For the veteran Valhalla participant there are plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy life. However, the day revolves around movement. Taking care of livestock and poultry morning and evening is required. Without that action animals die.

Projects don’t take care of themselves. They must be planned, discussed, materials assembled and ordered, schedules formulated, and action initiated. Valhalla participants are involved in the process from beginning to completion.

Personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment are a direct result of action. A vet who may have been consumed with introspection and self-doubt discovers that self-absorption stops at the entrance gate. At Valhalla too many creatures and things are dependent on you being on top of your game and that means focus on goals.

A vet quickly learns that when a flock of ducks surrounds him in the evening, quacking impatiently for evening chow, ready to be secured in their pen from nightly predators, they really aren’t interested in what may be bothering him. Without being aware of it his focus has shifted from his own problems to those of critters who are completely dependent on his action.

Life lessons take hold through actions, not words. When you can see, hear, and touch something – plant, animal, construction project – that depends for success on your actions alone, then their success becomes your success.

The vet learns that action and responsibility go hand in glove and that people make their own success. More responsibility – more action – means more success and without conscious realization life becomes more meaningful and productive.

For our veteran participants this has proven a winning formula. It may not suit all or even most. We accept that premise because we understand our limitations, and that, too, is a valuable life lesson gleaned from Valhalla participation.

Bottom line: wanting to support American veterans is a worthy and laudable trait. But define your own support in terms of form or action. Are you happy simply placing a magnetic yellow ribbon on the fridge or car? If you want to do more, you can, at Valhalla Project or others.

First, though, check out the organization. Are the leaders action oriented focused on the veteran, or are they content to draw large salaries and blow through contributions on fancy perquisites?

At Valhalla Project no one in leadership draws a dime in salary and our newest vehicle is 11 years old. We’re not in it for a fancy lifestyle or glamour. We spend our days down and dirty and – if you’re thinking about coming here – plan on getting dirty, too.

Not much form here, but a helluva lot a action!
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The Valhalla Project needs your help and support
Just getting a project like Valhalla up and running has required a significant investment in time, money, and labor. With roughly $500,000 already invested over the last two years into the Valhalla Project for property acquisition, feeding and housing Soldier participants, infrastructure and facility improvements, animal purchases and feed, tools and building supplies, forest and pasture management expenses, and much much more, resources are running thin. We need YOUR help to keep Valhalla functioning efficiently - while at the same time expanding vitally important programs to assist post-9/11 combat Soldiers and war zone civilian workers to transition back into the civilian world. 

The Valhalla Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity recognized by the IRS.
Nobody, including cadre or board members, draws a paycheck here, nor will they ever: we simply give everything we have to make Valhalla possible. 100% of your donation via Paypal will go directly to program expenses, period. If you'd prefer to instead directly donate four new tractor tire, a truckload of straw bales, a pallet of dimension lumber, or even a few dozen 10' sheets of forest green tin roofing, that would be absolutely wonderful - yet perhaps polking the "Donate" button above to contribute $10, $20, 
$50 or even more might be a little easier and more practical!

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