Last night, I was reading one of my favorite books of all time, “Can’t Hurt Me”, by David Goggins. I came across the below paragraph – which more or less resonated with me to the core. THIS is who I am, and how I’ve perceived the world around me. It’s not that people aren’t motivated – it’s that there are voices always around telling you where your place in life is supposed to be. I have always listened to myself.
I have failed at things more times than I can count to live the “perfect” life. Quitting smoking, eating better, running, business deals, work relationships, etc. As I’ve always said, it’s not about getting knocked down, it’s how you come up swinging that ultimately defines you.
Also – you don’t always want to be swinging for the fences. Life is, generally speaking, about driving the ball for a good average, having a good eye and drawing the walk when possible – and driving the gaps for the occasional double. You hit the ball where it’s pitched. So many times in baseball, you see the massive left handed first baseman step to the plate trying to hit a homer and pulling it to right. You see the shift is on. All he needs to do is hit it to the left side of the field enough and they will stop doing the shift. Instead, all the guy does is keep trying to pull it. And his average suffers.
Life is not always swinging for the fences or pulling the ball. When opportunities strike, you need to evaluate and determine if you are passing on it, taking a level swing, driving it to the other side of the field – or digging in to take it yard.
I have written recently about how I’ve been wanting to get into the military at 43. A few things happened that placed a ball right down the middle of the plate for me, and I’m trying to take it yard. However, what was unsuspecting, was that there’s a whole peanut gallery in my life telling me to take the pitch. Pass. It’s too hard. You’re going to get killed. You don’t know what you are doing. You’re still too fat.
It’s these voices, I believe, that make most common people….common. They listen to people trying to beat them into some sort of mold of themselves. Too scared to ever take that big risk. Too scared to step up. Too timid to evaluate something bigger than themselves. Too complex to contemplate what greatness can be.
This opportunity has not been there for me….since perhaps high school.
In high school, I had thoughts of the military. But I was not interested in being “private potato peeler”. I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone with that, it was just that wasn’t the direction I saw my life going as an E1 or the like. From the time I was small, I really looked up to the senior military leaders and wanted to be them. No one from the military ever spoke at our high school. I was not on the cross country team and graduated with a few extra pounds. I wanted to go into the FBI at the time. I had no concept of how to even become a military officer, and didn’t even know at the time you could do some form of ROTC – not until a bunch of my HS friends started doing it. By then, it was too late – and I was already accepted at my college.
In college, I tried to take a semester off to go into the reserves, and my mom forbid it. By then, I was 250 pounds and probably would not have even been permitted. I just remembered military movies where fat guys show up and boot camp gets them into shape.
But I digress…a few things have occurred to create a really good opportunity. Check this out.
- Over the last few years, they have increased the ages where you could join. At age 29, I thought it was game over. Today, at 43, there is a path for me with my age.
- I spent a lot of time in college, and my two master’s degrees seem to give me a huge edge over my competition
- I have had a LOT of technical leadership in my career, about 15 years. This also puts me in rare air, so to speak.
- Some branches of the service have “direct commission” for people with my skills. Most of you know chaplains, doctors, and lawyers can join – but many don’t realize those with some IT skills can also be directly commissioned.
- Direct commission does not have a boot camp. My 43 year old body would not have been able to go through the rigors of a boot camp.
- I have finally figured out the mystery of the root of my overweight issues, and solved them to the tune of 140+ pounds lost.
- I have been running a lot the past 5 months, and in the best shape of my life.
- Going through the entrance documents – it seems I am 99.99% eligible. I might have a medical issue that is a DQ, but might be able to get a waiver for this.
- I already have the working background and clearances needed.
- I already have the advanced degrees and certifications that are usually needed to be competitive for the O4 boards from O3. This might be a huge benefit to me for accession interviews for an O1.
- The reserves have a component for what I am looking to do.
At this point in my life – the stars have aligned, I’ve been on a hot streak, and the ball is a meatball coming down the plate at 90 mph. I’ve been sitting on this fastball, and ready to unfurl into a devastating Bonds-like swing.
David Goggins likes to talk about the voice that says – “why am I doing this?” – and then he’s going into the cookie jar when things get hard.
I am reminded of Pat Tillman. The guy was an all pro football player and gave it all up to go fight after 9/11. He was KIA. I’m not looking to go Tillman – but I do have the same calling to service that he had. My calling has me working with a keyboard in an office and dealing with communications. It’s a lot safer than the conditions he signed up for, but the point is – I’ve always had that voice calling me.
I was just never called to the plate to take a swing.
I feel like that guy who was the last man on the roster and he’s finally getting his chance to step up. I want to show what I have. I want an accounting of my life. I want to give back some of what I know.
The pitch is on its way…..
What happens next?
What I wanted to share, mostly, was this quote from his book and how it hit me hard. So many people want you to always play it safe. Sometimes, you have to man the fuck up and do what you feel is right, despite what people tell you….and perhaps, in SPITE of what people tell you. I’ve always been the happy, jolly, agreeable fat guy to others. I’m not that person on the inside. To use some of the language of David Goggins – I’ve been trying to become that “hard motherfucker” that he built over years. The amount of pain and suffering I have gone through over the last 27 months in this weight loss has been helping me build those callouses.
Anything is possible, if you step the fuck up to the plate. Sometimes you get curveballs and have to take. Sometimes you are sitting at a 3-0 count and a meatball comes down the plate. Are you looking for a walk? Or, are you going to seize that shit and take a shot?
I might swing and miss. But I will know I did everything I could and left it all out on the field. Most people might be filled with regrets when they get old. I don’t want to be one of them.