Many people in sports, business, and the military have served in leadership roles. When looking at these leaders, the ones that have the most respect, admiration, and loyalty are those that don’t only use their words. They lead with their actions.
Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Philson Tavernier of the United States Army works to be a leader that is followed and revered for his actions and example instead of only by 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 look the part. This commitment is one he renews every day.
“This is one of my most important philosophies,” Tavernier said. “I think credibility goes a long way.”
Tavernier was explaining this point about fitness in particular, but it could be applied in all aspects of his life. The husband and father sees himself as a leader in both his career and while raising his daughter.
“I think it’s important that we have credibility and that we model the behavior we expect of those we’re educating.”
Tavernier was born and spent much of his childhood in the Caribbean on a small island called Dominica before moving to New York City as a teenager. He admitted that he didn’t have the leadership qualities that he takes pride in now.
“I found myself getting into a lot of trouble, following the wrong crowds, and doing things I shouldn’t have been doing,” Tavernier recalled. “I found myself on the wrong side with law enforcement, and that wasn’t good. I had to actually look at myself in the mirror and ask what I was doing. What was my purpose?”
Once he asked himself that question in the mirror, he had to follow it with action. That’s why after he graduated, he opted to join the Army. He was a first-generation service member, so he knew very little about what he was signing up for. He just knew that it was the right move for him at that time of his life.
“The recruiter asked what I wanted to do. I said ‘I don’t know. Shoot guns and drive big trucks. That sounds like what soldiers do,’” he said with a laugh. “The rest is history.”
He described his transition from citizen to soldier as “relatively easy.” It certainly beat prior jobs he had such as working on a delivery service on a bike, where he revealed he had several close calls of being hit by a taxicab or a bus. Tavernier initially enlisted because he wanted to financially support himself through college while pursuing his passion for art. He really enjoyed working on graphic designs and drawing. However, he made service his full-time career, and has now committed over 26 years of his life to the country he calls home. Currently stationed in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Tavernier is both glad and proud of his career thus far.
“It’s been fun.”
Philson Tavernier shared that over 60% of the soldiers that join the Army go through Fort Jackson for training. That means that he has direct influence over more than half of the soldiers that will go on to play pivotal roles in protecting freedom.
One component of his career and life that has served as an anchor is fitness. Aside from his usual physical training, he also trains with weights several times a week. Committing to be his best physical self has been an integral part of his success both in his career and his overall life.
“I had always been physical growing up, and that’s one part that I take pride in, whether it was running, playing basketball or football, I always tried to get involved in anything that involved being physical because being physical really motivates me.”
As he would learn upon enlisting, joining the military requires another level of training. He described training as a marathon, not a sprint.
“It’s a total fitness mindset, and if you think you’re going to be there for the long term and you don’t condition yourself properly, you’re in for something else.”
Many people see training as a requirement for the job or a must-do. Tavernier excels at fitness like he does in his career because of his mindset.
“I see it as a way of life,” he stated. “It’s all about mind, body, and soul. “If you can support yourself to the commitment of staying physically fit, that also ties to the mental aspect. It all comes down to individual discipline.”
Philson Tavernier is working now to not only defend freedom now but prepare future members of the Armed Forces as well. He’s a part of the Army’s Future Soldier Preparatory Course program. 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 citizen making that transition himself, Tavernier feels it’s his duty and privilege to help these future heroes be the best they can be.
“It’s been one of my most important assignments,” explained Tavernier. “It’s given me the chance to shape the future of not only that person, but our nation as well.”
While he is obviously glad when someone opts to make service a full-time career for life, he even sees the positives from helping someone that decides to serve for a short time as well.
“They may just do three years and get out. The values that we instill into those young kids are the values that they are taking back to our society and making our nation and world a better place.”
Programs such as the FSPC are vital for recruitment and maintaining a strong military that has been an all-volunteer movement since 1973. There have been rumors that standards are or will be lowered in order to maximize the number of future recruits, but Tavernier confirms that is not the case. Standards are not being lowered. They are working to elevate citizens to reach the high standards in place. This applies to both the ASVAB test and physical fitness levels.
“They are in a controlled enviroment where we are educating them on the importance of eating properly and exercising.” he revealed. “We have instructors that are teaching them some of the basic math and English they need to actually pass the (ASVAB) exam. This gives them a better opportunity to be more comfortable.”
With our nation in need of future heroes and all the benefits that can come with serving in the Army, Tavernier offers a hand that he hopes others will accept as an invitation to join and reap all the benefits that he has seen firsthand. In his eyes as well as many others, nothing can beat playing a role in protecting freedom and serving our nation and the people in it.
“I absolutely encourage anyone that is concerned to raise their right hand and serve,” he shared. “It is a privilege and honor that we should capitalize on.”
To learn more about the FSPC, you can go to the US Army website or contact Fort Jackson for more information.
Follow Philson on Instagram @philsontavernier_