Recently, I arranged for my oldest son to participate in a 2 day “SEAL Camp” at Sealfit in Encinitas, CA. It’s a crucible event, designed to test those who feel they have what it takes to be one of the absolute best and provide an envrionment that will test them to their core. It’s a helluva mountain to climb even for the most courageous. He trained hard for 3 and a half months and got himself into the best shape of his life and I was proud that he approached it with respect. Perhaps as result of his exposure to the Navy through my own “adventures’, he has followed and studied and dreamed of the Navy SEALS most of his 21 years, and often thought about testing himself to that standard, and so it seemed a natural gift for his 21st birthday.
So we set off to drop him off this past Friday and as we drove I could tell the nerves and the expectation of what lay ahead in the next 48 hours was weighing heavy on his mind. I watched as he got out of the car and headed over to the “grinder” to check in, he was nervous, perhaps scared, but he moved forward. During the day, we saw him and his cohorts running on the beach in their cammies, carrying their “weapons” stopping every so often for some pushups… he looked tired already and it was only 4 hours into the program. I thought about him a lot during the day, wondering how he was doing, hoping he was finding “the place”, creating for himself the understanding that no matter how hard it gets, no matter how high the mountain seems, that one step forward is still forward….
Well, the call came about 9pm. “Dad…. I”m done, I got nothin left…” He sounded so dejected, so far away… We made the trip down to pick him up, and it was a quiet ride home… Understandably he felt disappointed, he was tired, worn out, he felt beaten. While my heart ached for my boy, and I wanted to tell him ”It’s okay”, I couldn’t find the words. What could I possibly say that would make him feel different, to understand that he had just accomplished what so few others even dare to dream of. Instead I just listened. And as the day(s) went on and he relived his 9 hour experience, I began to hear and see a different man emerge. I could tell at his core he had received the gift I had hoped to give.
To understand that all of life is a test. We are all presented with opportunities to find out if we have what it takes, presented with dreams that are only meant for us, to see glimpses of what can be, of what we might become and contribute to the world… and it is up to us to find the strength, the will, the courage to step out and try…. to be willing to fail, to risk what we have in order to find a deeper meaning, a greater truth, to find as we say, “the place”.
Perhaps you are harboring such a dream, a desire to do something different, be something more, contribute something special, to explore and discover strengths you never knew you had. And perhaps you are holding back, afraid that you might not achieve your goal, might look foolish if you fail….
Today I look at my son with a greater sense of respect. I have a greater appreciation for his courage and his willingness to reach higher and to go farther than even he thought that he could.
Words are just words. They can inspire, the can cajole, they can motivate… but they are just words. Action determines outcomes.
So as you consider your career and where you might take your Company of 1, remember this…. when the moment comes to decide, all of the motivating and inspiring words will fade away and you will be left with only yourself, your desire and your willingness to take action.
And truly I would rather have laid it all out on the field and failed, than to never have tried.
Proud of you buddy, now you know “why”…..
“So others may live”