Here’s a story recently submitted to us from Mark Green. Mark has quite a story of overcoming difficult circumstances to triumph. If you’ve ever wondered why misfortunes seem to happen in bunches, Mark’s story will fill you with hope, becoming a champion taekwondo athlete on the first team to be officially recognized by the military, being named “Soldier of the Year” for his battalion, to work his way up to becoming an officer, serving as an Inspector General in Afghanistan, and (as if that wasn’t enough) earning a law degree. We think you’ll enjoy how Mark took whatever life threw at him and result to change it for the better.
What I learned from overcoming the misfortunes of adversity
By Mark Green
to this story by X: THC.
I am a 34-year Army Veteran who grew up in Missouri, the son of a coal miner’s daughter. Life was simple until my eighth birthday when my father abandoned our family of six children.
After that my childhood and teen years were filled with anger, adversity and dysfunction. Soon I was on the wrong path. After the divorce, our family relied on welfare and lived in a $4,000 mobile home where the pipes froze in the winter and the toilet clogged continually. Sometimes when you’d sit on the toilet the aluminum wiring would send a jolt of electricity through you.
The tally of destruction for our family resulted from that environment: 13 divorces, three step fathers, one brother killed in an unsolved murder, the other one shot in the back, two sisters pregnant at 15 and 16, near death experiences, lots of stitches, physical, mental and sexual abuse, bankruptcy, alienation from others around us and that is not all of it.
I joined the Army as an enlisted soldier and signed on with 82nd Airborne. After completing basic training, I came home on leave to see our new baby and surprise my bride. She’d pawned her wedding ring and left our daughter with her mother for a night out on the town. She was surprised alright. I filed for divorce as soon as I returned to the base.
And with that, I began to turn my life around.
At Fort Bragg, I joined a team of world class athletes who became one of the first pioneers of the All Army Taekwondo team. I fought in two National Championships. I discovered the book “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz, Ph.D. I read through it over and over again until the pages started to come out of it.
Despite the claim by my second wife — long since an ex — that I’d never be an officer, I got my college degree and became an officer candidate. I met my wife Denise while I was in officer’s school. I steadily was promoted.
I was deployed to Afghanistan as an Inspector General where during the last month of my deployment in Afghanistan, I aggravated an old hip injury. I had to learn to walk again within a four-month period, or I would be ineligible for my next promotion. With Denise’s help, I not only learned to walk again — I completed a triathalon within a year of my hip replacement.
That experience changed everything for me. I started the journey to better resilience by thinking about what I had to do using what I call the 7 Steps to Resilience that I created: to rest, reconnect with myself and others, remove problems, resolve issues, recon my future and be ready to re-engage. I also learned the power of journal–ing. I changed some bad habits by replacing negative thoughts with positive quotes and affirmations. I envisioned my future and what I wanted it to look like, and I hired a meditation coach to calm my mind.
I knew I wanted to share my story and what I’ve learned through my life experiences. I signed up for the Army Corporate Partners Program. Lisa Sharkey, who used to be the senior producer of Good Morning America and is now Vice President of Creative Development at Harper Collins, became my mentor. I told her some of my story. She said, “Mark, your story is not powerful because you had a hard life. Your story is powerful, because you are a warrior and a fighter. You never gave up!
Now my wife Denise and I have been married 22 years, and I retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after 34 years of continuous service, including two stints as Inspector General. I graduated from law school in 2013 and finished a master’s degree in organizational management. Late this past year, I sat on my lanai of the home I own in Hawaii, I realized that I never gave up.
I am grateful for every teacher and mentor who has crossed my path. My story in the book Step Out, Step Up: Lessons Learned from a Lifetime of Military Service is a top #readtolead pick for 2017 and the companion book Warrior’s Code 001 was selected as a pick by the largest book club in the world as a pick for 2018.
My co-author and I are creating curriculum to help military veterans and their families improve resiliency and their transition into civilian life. I have been knocked down so many times I lost count. Resilience comes from bouncing back. I like to think of it as “Resilience with a Kick” to honor the discipline I’ve learned from the practice of taekwondo.
What I learned from the misfortune of adversity in my life is that it is not the event that has the power, it is our response to those events that will make the outcome be what it is.
I learned that if we take responsibility and remove excuses and blaming, we can truly live the life we want to live.
If I can make these changes, so can you!
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Mark. If anyone would like to visit Mark’s website, please check out http://www.mark.green and support his good work helping veterans and their families.