The biggest take-away I’ve had from my military experience is a stoic attitude toward many things. Or at least, a stoic aspiration.
At basic training, your comfort doesn’t matter. At all. They repeatedly put you in uncomfortable situations to get you used to it. Our minds and priorities tend to shift when we’re incredibly hungry, have been standing in formation for hours holding weapons and rucksacks, it’s 95 degrees, and you’re constantly getting yelled at.
In those moments, sitting becomes incredibly tempting while beds seem like the most glorious things ever invented. For me, I realized in those moments I wasn’t focused on tv, games, friends, or other luxuries at home – I wanted comfort above all else. I wanted to take it easy. I wanted to try but only so hard. At it’s core, I wanted to settle.
While Basic Training has a large physical conditioning aspect, the real objective is mental conditioning.
Even simple, basic tasks become difficult both physically and mentally in those conditions. Looking a certain direction, picking up objects or walking become something terrible in that moment.
Yet in Basic, there is no option to give up. That choice is taken away.
Not having the option to give up is powerful. Incredibly powerful. Look at how many people go through basic and come out in better physical shape and ready for combat? Every single person could have exercised and studied on their own, but they needed that choice to settle or rationalize an excuse taken away so they could be the best version of themselves.
The only reason why anyone makes it through basic training is because they make it through basic training. No Drill Sergeant can do it for you.
Now for most people, settling is always an option. Nothing is stopping you from:
- Giving up when confronted with an obstacle
- Having an excuse ready instead of finding a solution
- Choosing comfort over accomplishment
And alot of people choose those options. At times it’s smart and reasonable to do so – but many people tend to choose those options as a default rather than an exception in their lives. Or, they use other people settling around them as validation and permission for allowing themselves to settle.
To succeed, all anyone needs is the option to settle taken away. In order to achieve this, they can put themselves in a situation where they can’t give up (like basic training), or they can take that option away themselves.
Training yourself to have the internal motivation to not choose ease and comfort is something people spend a lifetime developing.
It’s definitely not easy, but there’s something pretty motivating when you truly understand that in order to be the best version of yourself, all you have to do is make that choice.