New Girl’s Nick Miller on Quantum and National Security

Hey there, defense peeps. It’s your boy Nick Miller coming at ya with some hot takes on quantum science and its potential applications in the Department of Defense.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But Nicky boy, isn’t quantum just a bunch of debunked sci-fi nonsense?” Well, let me tell you something: you don’t need to be Eye-stein to understand this stuff. Quantum is real, it’s happening now, and it’s about to revolutionize how we do defense.

Now, if you know me, you know that I believe in a lot of things that people just aren’t there on yet. For example, I believe that horses are from outer space. With that in mind, let’s discuss two other commons myths…these are about quantum:

Myth number one: quantum is only relevant for theoretical physicists with an overactive imagination. False! In fact, companies like Google and IBM are already building commercially available quantum computers that will transform computing as we know it.

Myth number two: Quantum will take years or even decades to become applicable to everyday life – Wrong! In reality, the era of practical quantum computing has already arrived in many scientific fields from drug discovery to materials design.

Now that we’ve talked about those crazy misconceptions, let’s discuss how quantum is actually being used right now, you crazy STEM girls:

1. Secure communications: Quantum cryptography enables unbreakable encryption by using the laws of physics to transmit messages securely. This technology would be particularly useful for high-level military and intelligence communication where secure transmission is crucial.

2. Navigation & timing: GPS signals are vulnerable to disruptions from both physical and electronic attacks, but quantum sensors offer a potential solution that can detect precise time and location even under harsh conditions.

3. Improved weather forecasting: Quantum computing drastically improve weather forecasting models through simulations that take into account complex atmospheric interactions with greater accuracy than current classical supercomputers allow.

Now sure, I could plan a military operation, conventional, with a bunch of forms on paper and line-of-sight communications…but then I grew up. Now I only want to plan a military operation that an algorithm would want. Straightforward. Efficient. Something that says, ‘I’m a machine here to win all the wars.” That’s why I’m keeping my eyes peeled on the next steps for quantum in national security:

1. Efficient logistics optimization: Quantum computers have the ability to solve complex logistical problems much faster than classical computers which could result in more efficient use of resources for massive supply chains responsible for supporting a global military presence.

2. Superior AI abilities – As neural networks trained and operated through conventional computing technologies reach their limitations due to the exponentially increasing amounts of data, quantum computers can handle such complex computations more efficiently. This would allow for faster and more robust artificial intelligence applications in areas such as decision-making, target recognition, and autonomous systems across a variety of defense contexts.

3. Quantum sensors – Low-cost quantum systems could detect threats ranging from stealth aircraft to hidden weapons by measuring subatomic particles that are supposed to be 100% predictable. In contrast to classical sensors which depend on photons or radio waves emitted by equipment under test (EUT), opportunistic measurements offer new possibilities for detection without requiring any additional energy usage or communication with the outside world.

Source: IBM

Oh, quantum entanglement. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? No, a summer’s day is not spooky action at a distance.

And who knows? Maybe someday we’ll all be wearing helmets powered by tiny little chirpy dudes who communicate with each other using quantum entanglement.

All I’m saying is I’ve seen the science. I believe the science. If you think about it, I’m a guy who gets science.

But don’t just take ol’ Nicky Blue Eyes’s word for it. Grab yourself a quantum scientist and talk about how your program office or unit is setting up to take full advantage of the coming quantum era.

*This post was written by ChatGPT 3.5 from the following prompt: “In the style of the character Nick Miller from the TV show ‘New Girl,” write a blog post of approximately 1,000 words outlining the current and future use cases of quantum science in national security.” Links are mine!


The Rule of Thirds

Alexi Pappas is one of my favorite people on the planet. Not just because she is an accomplished distance runner and role model for mid-pack bipeds like me. Not just because she relentlessly pursues big dreams like running in the Olympics, making and starring in a movie, or writing a book.

Alexi is one of my favorite people because she is open and honest about the realities of chasing big dreams.

In the clip above, she talks about how to handle the inevitable setbacks on the road to doing hard things. This is how she describes the “Rule of Thirds” through her Olympic coach:

“When you’re chasing a dream or doing anything hard, you’re meant to feel good a third of hte time, OK a third of the time, and crappy a third of a time. And if the ratio is roughly in that range, then you’re doing fine.”

When we’re doing hard things – whether that’s parenting, in the office, or training towards a physical goal – we can treat setbacks like the end of the world. Any time a particular session doesn’t go our way, it can seem like the world is crashing down around us.

But, as Alexi and her coach point out, the pursuit of anything truly meaningful in our daily lives is not meant to be a perfect, smooth path. And by overreacting to the bumps along the road, we can risk giving up on ourselves too soon and failing to achieve our goals – and I’d argue that giving up on yourself is a fate far worse than failing at one particular task or goal.

So here are a few tips to help you adapt the Rule of Thirds to your daily life, whatever your goals may be. When you feel yourself having a bad moment of parenting, a bad day at the office, or you can’t seem to hit your running splits or weightroom goals:

  1. Zoom out. Remember that whatever moment you are in is just one moment. Put things into appropriate perspective and remember that the sample size of your life is much larger than this moment.
  2. Reset. Take a few deep breaths. Pour yourself a cup of water or coffee. Put on some uplifting music. Recognize what you’re feeling, allow yourself to feel that way, and then remind yourself that the next moment – the next interaction with your kids, the next rep, the next milestone – is a new one, and it will be a better one.
  3. Recover. This one is the trickiest. Give yourself some time to do a little self-diagnostic. Did you react poorly because you’re tired? Injured? Burnt out? The Rule of Thirds is all about putting the ups and downs of chasing big dreams into appropriate perspective, but if you feel consistently crappy for much more than a third of the time, you need to recover, and for that we need help. See a doctor, a therapist, or loved ones who can help you get back on track.

It also helps to be intentional and track your progress when chasing big goals. This will help you overcome the inevitable feeling that “nothing is going right.” If you can look at a training log, a journal, or something similar in those moments, you will have visual evidence that the single data point you are currently experiencing is an outlier.

It’s OK to feel crappy. It’s OK to just feel OK. And it’s OK to feel great, too! Don’t overstress about how you’re feeling – allow yourself to feel, grow, and continue striving for great things.

You can find Alexi’s book, Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas, here.


The Shame Stops Here

As parents, we often carry weight of our past traumas and experiences, many of which can be traced back to our own childhood. It is our responsibility to break the cycle, to ensure that our children do not suffer the same pain and shame that we once did. In my Medium post, “The First Shame I Felt, and Still Feel,” I shared my own experiences with shame and the impact it had on my life. Today, I want to talk about how we, as parents, can balance our mental health during our children’s early development, and why it is crucial to do so.

The first step in breaking the cycle of shame is to confront it head-on. We must examine our own childhood experiences and recognize how they have shaped our lives. This is not an easy task, but it is a necessary one. By acknowledging and understanding the roots of our shame, we can begin to heal and move forward.

It is essential to recognize that our mental health directly impacts our children’s development. As parents, we are their first role models, their guides, and their support system. If we are struggling with unresolved trauma, it can manifest in our parenting, potentially causing harm to our children. It is our duty to prioritize our mental health, not only for our own well-being but also for the well-being of our children.

Here are some strategies for balancing mental health during your children’s early development:

1. Seek professional help: If you’re struggling with unresolved trauma or mental health issues, consider seeking the guidance of a therapist or counselor. They can help you work through your past experiences and provide coping strategies for managing stress and anxiety. And the reality is: nearly everyone needs help working through either past trauma or the current difficulties of parenting – and many of us need help with both.

2. Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself is crucial for maintaining a healthy mental state. Make time for activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and a sense of accomplishment. This can include exercise, hobbies, or spending time with friends and loved ones. Love yourself – for some of us, the first step in this is to allow ourselves to be seen as somebody worthy of love.

3. Set boundaries: Establishing healthy boundaries with both your children and other adults in your life is essential for maintaining your mental health. Learn to say “no” when necessary, and prioritize your own needs and well-being. It is perfectly acceptable to decline something in order to do nothing (speaking for my fellow introverts)!

4. Communicate openly: Be open and honest with your partner or support system about your mental health struggles. Having a strong support network can make a significant difference in your ability to cope with stress and maintain a healthy mindset. Do not feel like you have to keep the struggles of parenting only to yourself; we are all feeling it, and we all need to talk more about it.

5. Educate yourself: Learn about child development and parenting strategies that promote a healthy and nurturing environment for your children. Understanding the impact of your actions on your children’s growth will help you make better decisions and avoid passing on your own traumas. A therapist or counselor can help you here, too.

6. Practice patience and forgiveness: This one is huge, and it is hard. Recognize that you are human, and you will make mistakes. Be patient with yourself and your children, and practice forgiveness when things don’t go as planned. This will help create a more positive and supportive environment for your family.

Our past experiences have shaped us, but they do not have to define us. We have the power to break the cycle of shame and create a better future for our children. We must be relentless in our pursuit of healing and growth. We must refuse to let our past traumas dictate the course of our lives and the lives of our children. We must be resolute in our belief that we are worthy of love, acceptance, and happiness – and that our children deserve nothing less.

We can change the narrative. We can rewrite our stories and those of our children. We can heal, grow, and transform.

By prioritizing our mental health, seeking help, and implementing coping strategies, we can create a nurturing and supportive environment for our families. It is our responsibility to break the cycle of shame and trauma and ensure that our children do not suffer as we once did. The shame stops here, and together, we can create a better future for ourselves and our children.


“Somebody Had It Harder Than Me.”

There are a few phrases that I just can’t stand. “Yeah, but…” is near the top of that list.

As an advocate, I have heard it used hundreds of times by all kinds of people to prevent themselves even the most basic of human decency.

When it comes to mental health – and for former servicemembers, accessing veterans benefits – “Yeah, but…” is followed quickly by “somebody had it harder than me.”

I once sat down with a prominent elected official. During the course of our conversation, the topic of veterans benefits came up. I asked the official – a veteran himself – how he handled accessing these benefits in his own life given his busy schedule. “I don’t,” he said. “I didn’t really do anything in uniform.”

I was shocked. There is no “must have to prove your usefulness” or “must have been shot at” requirements to access veterans benefits! Failing to access the benefits you have earned means there will be fewer available for the veterans who come after you.

The excuse “somebody had it harder than me” is a pernicious fallacy that prevents too many from seeking the mental health care and benefits they have rightfully earned. Some veterans believe their struggles pale in comparison to what others went through, so they avoid claiming benefits or opening up to a therapist. They implicitly compare the realities of modern military service to a competition, as if only the “winner” deserves support.

Nothing could be further from the truth. From a military perspective, each job (or Military Occupational Specialty, MOS) has intrinsic and equal value. There is a culture of “operators” looking down at “support” personnel, but the truth is that without every single supporting person, operators could not train, deploy, and come home safely to complain. Every military occupation is essential.

Furthermore, every military occupational setting has the potential to create pain and trauma. And the hard truth is: trauma is trauma. Trauma acquired from a firefight is not better or worse than trauma acquired from years of a tyrannical, toxic workplace or experiencing sexual assault. Each person has a threshold for pain, and once you exceed yours, the degrees of suffering become irrelevant. A breakdown is a breakdown, regardless of the cause. Mental wounds do not discriminate.

Avoiding care out of some misplaced sense of weakness or inconvenience is shortsighted and counterproductive. Your feelings and needs matter, even if they seem trivial in the grander scheme. Do not fall for the false choice between being “strong” and taking care of yourself. Vulnerability and strength can co-exist.

There are also civilians who make the same grievous mistake. Any struggle, from trauma to loss to chronic illness, is worthy of support. Do not compare sorrows or make suffering a competition. Any pain that disrupts your life deserves attention and accommodation.

When in doubt, reach out. There is no penalty for doing so; no boogeyman waiting on the other end of the line to use this information against you. Self-care should never be an afterthought or a sign of defeat. Fight the urge to ignore your needs out of a misplaced scarcity mindset or unjustified shame. You matter, and your wellbeing must be the priority. Your struggles are valid and they deserve care.


“Rumination vs Reflection” with Military Mentors

Wonderful email from Military Mentors this morning on the difference between rumination and reflection. (Read the whole thing here)

“Where self-reflection is purposefully thinking about and processing our experiences with the intent of learning, rumination is when we think over and over and over about something in the past (or even something from the future) with an associative set of negative emotions and overly critical self-talk.”

I have often found that high-stakes, high-stress environments like the campaign trail, start-up space, and defense contracting world make it easier for rumination to creep in.

“Rumination often manifests itself as “what ifs” as a form of what really amounts to exploration without action. Appropriately reflecting can be about solutions, with a bent toward self-compassion, self-care, and having a plan of action, actively engaging in a positive process. Ruminating involves a much more vicious cycle of re-rehearsing, rehashing, replaying, and getting stuck in frustration and thinking traps, as well as potential depression and self-harm.”

There are lots of things you can do to keep rumination at bay, and the authors offer ways to maximize your reflection time and minimize the rumination.

“Leaders should analyze, recognize, and resolve issues through reflection, fostering growth, rather than just analyzing and repeating whatever happened through rumination. We should also be mindful to be aware of what our teammates and subordinates have a tendency to do (i.e., ruminate or reflect), but also help coach and teach them on how to reflect. Part of it may be just sharing how you approach it.”

I would also add a few more things that you can do to escape a rumination spiral:

  • Deep, slow, full breathing
  • At least 45 minutes of exercise
  • Write down what you’re feeling (use a pen and paper, people!)
  • Give yourself permission to feel the underlying emotion fully
  • Call up your therapist or make an appointment

I really appreciate how Military Mentors incorporates mental health into conversations about mentorship and leadership. Good mental and physical health are at the core of being a good leader!


Mental Health is National Security

There was a monologue I had to memorize as a plebe (freshman) at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Compiled by Augustus Bell from letters written by the legendary John Paul Jones, “Qualifications of a Naval Officer” was rote fare for prospective officers in the Navy and Marine Corps.

The crux of these qualifications, according to Jones, was that Navy leaders “should be the soul of tact, patience, justice, firmness, kindness, and charity.”

Jones led a fledgling United States Navy during a time of great uncertainty and volatility. Many characteristics were required during these hard days in our maritime past: toughness, physical strength, a high tolerance for bad food.

It is notable, then, that this revered progenitor of America’s Navy did not cite “hard” qualities, like the ability to lift heavy objects, sprint across the deck quickly, or raise a sheet efficiently. Instead, he focused on what we would consider “soft” qualities: tact, patience, justice, firmness, kindness, charity.


They didn’t call it this at the time, but Jones was telling his followers that mental health – and managing it among those in your care – was the key to good leadership. He understood that how we deal with uncertainty, fear, and failure were as important as how swiftly we sailed our ships or manned our guns. Maintaining and fostering mental health offers a powerful and vital advantage in times of crisis.

In short: mental health is national security.

And today, America’s is in peril.

According to a 2020 report by the Defense Health Agency, 44% of active-duty personnel reported experiencing “some degree of functional impairment due to psychological symptoms.” This is alarming and indicative of a growing problem in our military ranks. Soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines struggling with untreated mental health issues can lead to increased rates of attrition, decreased morale and cohesiveness, and a diminished ability to execute critical missions.

But it’s not just the military that is impacted by mental health challenges. Civilian leaders and policy professionals are subject to the same stressors brought on by managing uncertainty and navigating complex problems. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the critical importance of leadership decision-making in high-stress situations. The World Health Organization reports that the pandemic led to a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide in 2020 compared to 2019.

Troublingly, the next generation of military and civilian leaders in national security is at risk, too. Higher rates of anxiety, depression, and even suicide among American children and teens is both tragic and limits the potential pool of the future defense workforce.

So how can we right this ship? The answer, for both military and civilian leaders, lies in proper mental health management. This starts with establishing systems that promote access to quality mental health care, reducing stigma, and cultivating a culture of resilience.

For the military, we must build upon efforts like the Defense Department’s psychological health programs and continue to ensure that mental health care is integrated into the comprehensive care provided to service members [3]. Encouraging troops to seek professional help when needed is critical in changing the cultural perception about mental health, which promotes preparedness for rapid adaptation to the evolving battlespace. Leaders should talk about how they manage their mental health as much as they talk about the proper push-up form or how to crush it at the gym.

For civilian leaders, fostering mental health starts with prioritizing self-care, destigmatizing conversations around mental health, and normalizing seeking mental health care as essential to maintaining peak performance. Just like physical fitness, mental health maintenance should be an essential part of professional development. And critically, we need to prioritize making space for this instead of packing more work into already-packed bureaucratic schedules.

The effectiveness of our national security apparatus depends on its adaptability, its readiness, and its resilience. A “whole of government” approach that ensures mental health is a recognized and supported aspect of national security, will undoubtedly make our nation safer and more prepared for the challenges and uncertainties ahead.

By normalizing mental health with leadership, as John Paul Jones did, we can weave mental health management into the very fabric of national security. It is time we recognize that tending to the mind is as vital as tending to the body in ensuring our nation’s security, both for those in uniform and those in policymaking positions.


[1] Defense Health Agency. (2020). Psychological Health Annual Report. Retrieved from
[2] World Health Organization. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on mental, neurological, and substance use services. Retrieved from
[3] U.S. Department of Defense. (2018). DoD Psychotropic Medication Guidance. Retrieved from


The Grind? Or Grinding to a Halt? Burnout & Mental Health in Start-ups, Campaigns, and National Security.

We’ve all heard about “The Grind.” It’s the idea that, if you have a big dream or goal, you need to work ruthlessly and relentlessly until it becomes reality. The Grind exists for entrepreneurs, political candidates, and everybody who takes big risks in pursuit of a larger goal.

There are no shortage of blog posts, YouTube videos, and self-help books talking about how you just need to wake up at 4:00 am every day, or how you need to optimize your productivity down to the minute, or how you need to fit 48 hours of work into a 24 hour day in order to be successful on “The Grind.”

This isn’t to say that The Grind isn’t important. At its core, it is a convenient vehicle to describe the need to be organized, persistent, and optimistic about the path that we’re on. But The Grind won’t get us anywhere if it grinds us to a halt instead.

That’s why mental health is so important. And why burnout is so dangerous.

Burnout is like a dark cloud that settles over your life, casting a shadow on everything you do. It’s a feeling of exhaustion that goes beyond physical fatigue – it’s a bone-deep weariness that seeps into your soul. You wake up in the morning and already feel like you’ve run a marathon. Every task feels like an insurmountable obstacle, and even the smallest decisions feel overwhelming. You feel like you’re on autopilot, just going through the motions of your day without really engaging or feeling present. Your emotions are flattened, like someone turned down the volume on your life. You might feel irritable, disconnected, or numb. Burnout can make it hard to concentrate, remember things, or make decisions. It can also affect your sleep, appetite, and physical health. Overall, burnout is a deeply unpleasant experience that can leave you feeling drained, hopeless, and disconnected from yourself and others.

Burnout affects everyone – particularly those trying to change the world around them.

Entrepreneurs often pride themselves on their resilience, perseverance, and ability to take risks. However, entrepreneurship can be a high-stress profession that can take a toll on one’s mental health. A study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that entrepreneurs are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues than the general population. This is due to the long hours, high pressure, and uncertainty that come with running a business.

Mental health plays a critical role in an entrepreneur’s success. When an entrepreneur is mentally healthy, they can think more clearly, make better decisions, and handle stress more effectively. On the other hand, poor mental health can lead to burnout, decreased productivity, and reduced creativity. As such, it is essential for entrepreneurs to prioritize their mental health by developing and implementing a mental health plan.

Likewise, political candidates are intimately familiar with the realities of The Grind. The political landscape is incredibly competitive and can be a source of significant stress for candidates. Political campaigns are often accompanied by intense scrutiny, long hours, and a relentless schedule of fundraising jammed into every aspect of a candidate’s life. These factors can take a significant toll on a candidate’s mental health.

Research has shown that political candidates are more likely to experience mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A study by the American Psychiatric Association found that 18% of political candidates reported experiencing symptoms of depression and 11% reported experiencing symptoms of PTSD (and responses to these queries are likely vastly under-reported). The same study found that political campaigns can exacerbate pre-existing mental health issues.

The mental health of political candidates is critical on its own, but especially so as candidates become elected officials. Mental health in political public service is a significantly under-analyzed problem in America. Mental health issues can lead to poor decision-making, decreased productivity, and deteriorating relationships with loved ones. This is why it is so important for candidates to develop their own mental health plans, and why they should offer mental health resources to their staff to ensure support is available.

Finally, those working in national security and defense work in high-stress environments that can be emotionally taxing, too. They are often exposed to traumatic events such as violence, terrorism, and war, which can lead to mental health issues such as PTSD. Depending on the type of role, these jobs can also involve long hours in often-sedentary settings.

A 2020 survey by the Government Business Council found that 84% of federal workers in national security roles reported experiencing mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. According to a 2018 report by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, the high stress and intensity of national security work can lead to chronic stress and burnout, which can contribute to mental health problems among government workers.

Burnout is not just an unpleasant experience – it’s a serious threat to your success and wellbeing. When you’re burnt out, you’re not operating at your best, and that makes it harder to achieve your goals. In business or on the campaign trail, burnout can mean missed opportunities, mistakes, and setbacks. You might find yourself making decisions based on survival instead of strategy, or reacting impulsively instead of acting intentionally. Burnout can also affect your relationships, both personal and professional. When you’re feeling burnt out, it’s harder to connect with others, to communicate effectively, and to be a good leader. Overall, burnout is a major impediment to success, and it’s something that needs to be taken seriously.

The best way to stave off burnout is to create and implement your own mental health plan. But it’s important to know that a mental health plan isn’t about preventing negative feelings or emotions – that is probably not possible. Rather, your mental health plan is your key to resilience. It’s about how you bounce back and return to the emotional center line despite what is happening around you.

Above all, remember that part of The Grind needs to be about maximizing your fulfillment, contentment, and personal growth, too. Consider that you can achieve results in business, elections, or government and still not feel successful if you leave yourself out of the process. Your mental health is the most important – and first! – consideration when trying to make the world a better place, no matter your role.


What is a Mental Health Plan?

Let’s get right down to it. The first question I ask prospective political candidates, entrepreneurs, and national security innovators is both simple and profoundly important:

Do you have a mental health plan?

Mental health is an integral part of our overall well-being, and it affects everything we do. Without good mental health, we can struggle with daily activities, relationships, and our overall quality of life. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of mental health, and as a result, mental health plans have become an essential tool for managing our mental well-being.

I had to learn most of this the hard way during my transition off of active duty in the military and while jumping headfirst into a competitive campaign for the US House of Representatives. I don’t want you to repeat my mistakes.

What is a Mental Health Plan?

A mental health plan is a written document that outlines the steps you will take to manage your mental health. It is a personalized plan that takes into account your individual needs and circumstances. A mental health plan can include various strategies to help you manage stress, anxiety, depression, or any other mental health condition. It is an actionable plan that can help you achieve your mental health goals and improve your overall well-being.

The most successful mental health plans are those that are developed in conjunction with a mental health professional. In a future post, we will discuss low- and no-cost mental health resources available to veterans, candidates, entrepreneurs, and more.

Why is a Mental Health Plan Important?

According to the World Health Organization, at least one in four people worldwide will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives. Mental health problems can manifest in various ways, including anxiety, depression, mood disorders, substance abuse, and even loss of life. Mental health conditions can have a significant impact on a person’s life, affecting their relationships, work, and quality of life. Unfortunately, many people do not seek help for their mental health problems, either due to stigma or lack of access to mental health services.

A mental health plan is essential for several reasons. First, it provides a roadmap for managing your mental health. With a plan in place, you can take proactive steps to manage your mental health and prevent the onset of mental health problems. Second, it can help you identify triggers and warning signs of mental health problems, allowing you to take action before they escalate. Finally, a mental health plan can help you access the appropriate mental health services and support when you need it.

How to Create Your Own Mental Health Plan

Creating a mental health plan can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure where to start. It is also very difficult to create one while you’re in the midst of a health crisis. Here are several concrete steps you can take to make a mental health plan today:

Step 1: Identify Your Mental Health Goals

The first step in creating a mental health plan is to identify your mental health goals. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to manage stress better, improve your mood, or overcome anxiety? Once you have identified your mental health goals, you can start to develop a plan to achieve them.

For those about to begin stressful, vulnerable, or uncertain roles such as startup-founder, candidate, staffer, or even parent, mental health goals can be less about the “ends,” and more about the “means.” When you start feeling overwhelmed, how will you recognize your condition and what steps will you take to put yourself back in a comfortable state of being? How will you frame your performance in a particular role to keep the inevitable volatility of your undertaking in appropriate, healthy perspective?

Step 2: Identify Your Triggers and Warning Signs

The next step is to identify your triggers and warning signs. What situations or events tend to trigger your mental health problems? What warning signs do you experience when your mental health is starting to decline? Identifying your triggers and warning signs can help you take proactive steps to manage your mental health before it becomes a problem.

You might not consider yourself as someone who has “mental health problems.” That is OK! I promise you, though, that in the dark depths of campaign fundraising, startup seed rounds, or defense contract negotiations, you will not feel like your best self. One of my favorite tools to help me identify my triggers and warning signs is to ask the question, “What will I feel like if I feel at this? What will happen to me?” This is a tough exercise, but if I can write down what my potential feelings might be before I begin the journey, I can pair them with effective coping strategies below to help me stay as close as possible to my best self.

Step 3: Develop Coping Strategies

Once you have identified your mental health goals and triggers, the next step is to develop coping strategies. Coping strategies are the tools and techniques you will use to manage your mental health. Coping strategies can include things like exercise, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, talking to a therapist or support group, and more. Choose coping strategies that work best for you and your lifestyle.

Again, it is best to develop these strategies with a mental health professional. It is also perfectly acceptable to have coping strategies that don’t appear to make sense on paper or seem obliquly related to mental health. Some of my tried-and-tested, if rather unorthodox, coping stragies include going to a coffee shop to read a book, taking a hot shower, or even changing my socks. I know, it sounds crazy, but iterate until you find what works for you!

Step 4: Create a Support Network

Creating a support network is essential for managing your mental health. Your support network can include family, friends, mental health professionals, and support groups. Identify people who you can turn to for help and support when you need it.

Without alarming them, let these folks know that things might get pretty rough for you. Let them know what they’re getting themselves into. A support network is an important trust relationship, and it requires real, authentic effort from its members. If someone asks you to be a part of their support network, check in with them regularly and remember to treat them the way you’d like to be treated if the roles were reversed. Above all, know that you don’t have to go through mental health problems alone.

Step 5: Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress is essential for staying motivated and on track with your mental health goals. Keep a journal or use a mental health app to track your progress and note any improvements or setbacks. Tracking your progress can help you identify what coping strategies are working and what changes you may need to make to your mental health plan.

The best way to track your progress during a busy campaign, start-up, or contract pursuit? Attend regular meetings with a mental health professional!

Step 6: Make Adjustments as Needed

Creating a mental health plan is not a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process that requires regular evaluation and adjustment. As you track your progress, you may find that some coping strategies are not as effective as you thought, or you may encounter new triggers that you need to address. Be open to making adjustments as needed and be willing to seek help if your mental health condition is affecting your daily life.

Step 7: Don’t Forget About Your Physical Health!

In this post, I’ve separated mental health from physical health, but the two go hand-in-hand. Your overall health includes appropriate exercise, rest, and growth for your brain as well as your arms, legs, and lungs. You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete, run long distances, or lift heavy weights. But almost every study on the subject has shown that maintaining a consistent physical health routine improves both our mental health and our professional productivity. A physical health plan is just as important as a mental health plan and must be safeguarded throughout your campaign, contracting, or business journey.

It is no accident that the first detailed post on this site is about creating a mental health plan. This concept will underpin everything we talk about in the posts to come, from innovation and starting a business to military service and political campaigns. It is also one of the most overlooked, under-utilized concepts in modern professional life.

Creating a mental health plan is an essential step in managing your mental health. It’s an actionable plan that can help you achieve your mental health goals and improve your overall well-being. By following these concrete steps, you can create a mental health plan today that is tailored to your individual needs and circumstances.

Remember: mental health is just as important as physical health, and taking care of your mental health is a crucial aspect of living a healthy and fulfilling life. If you’re struggling with mental health problems, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional or support group. With the right support and a well-developed mental health plan, you can manage your mental health and live your best life.


On Boldness & Resilience

Welcome to my new corner of the internet! If this were a bar, now would be about the time I slid you over a frosty mug of your favorite beer.

I am excited to engage with you on this platform to talk about the intersection of mental health, politics, defense, and innovation. My goal here is to provide thought-provoking content that sparks conversations and inspires action.

I have long believed – since I was a young boy growing up in rural America – that building bold things is essential to creating a better world. Whether it’s a new defense technology, a policy proposal that advances mental health, or a political movement that actually delivers policy results, we need the spark of boldness to drive change.

But building bold things isn’t easy. It requires risk-taking, vulnerability, and perseverance. And while we celebrate the accomplishments of those who build bold things, we also recognize the toll it can take on mental and physical health.

That’s why I am committed to creating a space where we can talk openly and honestly about the challenges of building bold things. We will explore how mental health intersects with politics, defense, and innovation. We will discuss strategies for self-care and resilience. And we will showcase examples of people who are building bold things while prioritizing their well-being.

I want this site to be a resource for anyone who is passionate about creating positive change in the world. Whether you are a policymaker, an entrepreneur, a researcher, or an activist, I hope that this content will inspire you to think bigger, take risks, and prioritize your health.

In the coming days, I’ll be publishing articles, interviews, and opinion pieces that explore the themes of mental health, politics, defense, and innovation. Together, we’ll talk about the challenges and opportunities of building bold things in these areas, and I’ll offer concrete tips and advice for staying healthy and resilient while doing so.

I hope that you’ll join me on this journey. Together, we can build bold things and make a difference.