Many people in sports, business, and the military have served in leadership positions. When you look at these leaders, those who don't just use their words have the greatest respect, admiration, and loyalty. They lead with their actions.
Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Philson Tavernier of the US Army works to be a leader who is followed and revered for his actions and example, rather than just issuing orders. He wants to be recognized as a leader not only when you hear him, but even when you see him. He works to see the role. He renews this commitment every day.
"It's one of my main philosophies," Tavernier said. "I think credibility goes a long way."
Tavernier made this point about fitness in particular, but it could be applied to all aspects of his life. The husband and father sees himself as a leader both in his career and in raising his daughter.
"I think it's important that we have credibility and that we exemplify the behavior that we expect from those we train."
Born in the Caribbean on a small island called Dominica, Tavernier spent much of his childhood before moving to New York City as a teenager. He admitted he didn't have the leadership qualities he's proud of today.
"I got into big trouble, followed the wrong people and did things I shouldn't have done," Tavernier recalled. "I found myself on the wrong side of law enforcement and that wasn't good. I actually had to look at myself in the mirror and ask what I was doing. What was my goal?
When he asked himself this question in the mirror, he had to act on it. Therefore, after graduation, he decided to do military service. He was a first-generation service member, so he knew very little about what he was signing up for. He just knew it was the right move for him at this time in his life.
“The recruiter asked me what I wanted to do. I said, 'I don't know. Shoot cannons and drive big trucks. That sounds like what soldiers do," he said, laughing. "The rest is history."
He described his transition from citizen to soldier as "relatively easy". It certainly surpassed previous jobs he'd had, like working at a delivery service on a bike, where he revealed he'd been hit by a taxi or a bus multiple times. Tavernier originally joined because he wanted to support himself financially through college while also pursuing his passion for art. He was very fond of working on graphic designs and drawing. However, he made the ministry his full-time career and has now dedicated over 26 years of his life to the country he calls home. Tavernier, who is currently based at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, is both happy and proud of his career to date.
"It was fun."
Philson Tavernier shared that over 60% of the soldiers who join the Army go through Fort Jackson for training. This means that he has direct influence on more than half of the soldiers who will later play a key role in protecting freedom.
One component of his career and life that has served as an anchor is fitness. In addition to his usual physical training, he also works out with weights several times a week. A commitment to being his physical best self has been an integral part of his success in both his career and his life as a whole.
"I've always grown up physically and that's a part I'm proud of, whether it's running, basketball or soccer, I've always tried to get involved in anything physical because physical activity really motivates me.”
As he would learn upon enlistment, joining the military requires a different level of training. He described the workout as a marathon, not a sprint.
"It's a total fitness mindset, and if you think you're going to stay there long-term and you don't condition yourself properly, you're in for something else."
Many people see an apprenticeship as a requirement for the job or as a must. Tavernier excels at fitness because of his mindset, as he does in his career.
"I see it as a way of life," he said. "It's about body, mind and soul. “If you can commit yourself to staying physically fit, that also has to do with the mental aspect. It depends on the individual discipline.”
Philson Tavernier is now working to not only defend liberty now, but also to prepare future members of the armed forces. He takes part in the preparation course for future soldiers in the army. According to the US Army's website, the program is designed to "prepare recruits who are en route to initial military training to meet or exceed (their) rigorous standards." As someone who was once a commoner who made this transition himself, Tavernier sees it as his duty and privilege to help these future heroes bring out the best in them.
"That was one of my most important tasks," explained Tavernier. "It has given me a chance to shape not only the future of that person but of our nation."
While he is obviously happy when someone decides to make ministry a full-time, lifelong career, he sees even the benefits of helping someone who decides to serve, even for a short time.
“They might only do three years and drop out. The values we instill in these young children are the values that will bring them back into our society and make our nation and the world a better place.”
Programs like the FSPC are vital to recruiting and maintaining a strong military, which has been an all-volunteer movement since 1973. There have been rumors that standards will be lowered or lowered to maximize the number of future recruits, but Tavernier confirms this is not the case. Standards are not lowered. They work to get the citizens to reach the high standards. This applies to both the ASVAB test and physical fitness.
"They are in a controlled environment where we educate them about the importance of eating right and exercising," he revealed. “We have instructors who teach them some of the basic math and English skills they need to actually pass the (ASVAB) exam. This gives them a better opportunity to feel more comfortable.”
As our nation needs future heroes and all the benefits that can come with service in the Army, Tavernier offers his hand, which he hopes others will accept, as an invitation to join and reap all the benefits he can has seen firsthand. In his eyes, as in many others, there is nothing more rewarding than playing a role in protecting liberty and serving our nation and the people in it.
"I strongly encourage anyone who is concerned to raise their right hand and serve," he shared. "It's a privilege and an honor that we should take advantage of."
To learn more about the FSPC, you can visit the US Army website or contact Fort Jackson for more information.
Follow Philson on Instagram @philsontavernier_