A reader had written in to comment on my post on commanding your body despite the pain with his own story of his time in the military. I asked him to share his story with me — and with you. So here it is – a great piece by Gund from New Zealand.
When I left school, as a know-it-all 17 year old, it was compulsory to enlist for a year. I had a Sergeant Major who pretty much resembled Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket. He was a hard man whose mum never washed his mouth with soap as a kid. In retrospect, he was a misunderstood man and his oppressive regiment was not designed to break us down (although some kids did), but to make us exacting and predictable machines. He shared some wisdom with us over that year which pretty much shaped my thinking in terms of discipline.
Only for the first night did I think I would have trouble getting up at 5am for a full inspection in subzero temperatures. Only on the first day did I think there was no way I’d run a 2.4 before and after each meal of the day. If you are the kind of person who rolls over each morning and hits ‘snooze’ so you can throw away another 10 minutes of opportunity, this man had a practice grenade he would casually throw into your dorm to help you see the light.
In retrospect, although he didn’t say it, everybody was capable of everything with just the right motivation. If you failed, it was because you didn’t want it bad enough. And he was just the guy to make you want to succeed, no matter what. He didn’t wave a bigger paycheck, success or promotion in front of his platoon, such as the luxuries that are freely available to you now, his approach was the opposite – he would make you really want to not fail, at all costs. In his mind, there was no option but to continue, he lived on a battlefield and everybody was going to make it.
You are capable, he would imply, you just didn’t know it. Continue reading →