That old Army advertisement struck a chord in me. I was young and “be all that you can be” did the trick. The tune was catchy, the imagery was macho, and the dotted line was calling my name. When I considered my life back then before the Army, I knew I was not maximizing my potential. What I wanted was to be all that I could be, and therefore I joined the Army.
What I learned about the Army, after the fact, was that without a good mentor and a solid plan going into it, the quest of being all that one can be is not as easy as the jingle made it out to be. Becoming it in four years is a task near impossible. And when I left the Army, I was a long way from that maximum potential.
I used to blame the Army and/or the universe for a bad draw. I could have done so much better if only I had the opportunity. But in this game of life, we never get to pick the cards we are dealt. We can only make the best use of the hand we have. It was not the Army’s job to make me become the “all” I could be. It was mine. I was not supposed to take a passive approach. Instead, I was supposed to go and find my own opportunities.
These days, my primary focus is moving that needle a little closer to my max potential. It is a long, slow grind, but it is the only way to secure any possible fruits of labor.
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self. -Ernest Hemingway
When I consider my “why,” it is not to lord it over others or to be arrogant in my attitude. It is my own personal quest to be better than I was the day before, to become better than that foolish soldier who failed to become all that he could be.
Do you want to find true nobility? Become better than who you were yesterday. Move the needle a little closer to your maximum potential.
Today, I was thinking about a new piece of exercise equipment for my home gym. What can I get that is shiny and new? What will take me to the next level in my fitness? As I thought about this, my current inventory of equipment came to mind. Am I using what I have to the best of my ability? Has my interest in the older equipment begun to wane?
The desire for having more stuff, for having something new, is constantly weighing on me. Why do I need more? Is there something wrong with what I have? This goes beyond gym equipment. There is always a new tool that I need or would really like to have. Shoes, clothes, tech. There is always something that I think I am missing.
Beyond “stuff” is the very essence of me. I am my own biggest critic. Often, I think upon my shortcomings. It is one thing to think of how to improve, but it is quite another to use my “have-nots” as an excuse for why I –have not. If certain genes are missing from my double helix, I can’t change it. It is out of my control and wanting it will not change anything. I am who I am.
Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is. –Ernest Hemingway
There are those exceptional athletes that despite not fitting the ideal profile for their sport have gone on to great success. They weren’t handicapped by supposed shortcomings. Instead, they allowed their desire to fuel them to overcome the stereotypes. They worked with what they had and went on to amaze the world.
I shouldn’t listen to the self-conjured imaginary naysayers that prevent me from where I want to go. The voices in my head* are a form of resistance reluctant to leave the comfort zone. They want to impose limitations on what is possible. To listen to the chatter would be disastrous.
The courageous do not make excuses for why it can’t be done. They make the most out of the gifts they were given. As Abraham Maslow said, “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” We can overcome a lack in natural talent with persistence and courage.
*I say this jokingly lest anybody would consider locking me up.