The younger you are when you learn ways to separate yourself and your skillsets from others, the greater the payoff will be. Ironically, we often find in our teenage years that we consciously and unconsciously seek ways to fit in, to be like the group. This herd mentality is wired into us as humans and as youth. However, as we move into our professional aspirations and careers, it is the differences that create all the difference.
As you get older and slowly are attributed more responsibility for your own life, the opportunities to acquire skills, learn for lost costs also evaporate. Our schools and athletic departments are full of people willing to help and educate us in the direction of our ambitions. You must first be willing to ask. Then be willing to put in some time. The skills in sports and in life that separate us are earned through commitment and consistency. Practice the things others overlook.
With each passing day we are not afforded the opportunity to go back and get more training or acquire the skills needed for today’s challenges. A friend of mine who served 12 years in the US military special forces shared this story with a team a was working with. I had Rick on season one of the Elev8 Podcast, you can find that here.
He told a story about an experience he had in Africa on one of his many deployments. Rick was also a medic. And this night, a plane had crashed in the jungle.
A knock came to his door, where a man, knowing he was the medic, would be needed. Rick was essentially in his pajamas, he tells, some gym shorts and hoodie. Just a few steps outside of their encampment was exactly as you might imagine being dropped in an African jungle. There are animals in proximity that will eat you without thinking about it. Creatures that will poison you without noticing you. And you are in search of a crashed airplane on fire.
They get into a SUV with two other Army medic’s and travel down a dark road into the jungle. They spot the flaming wreckage miles away. The road ends and the rest of the trek must be done on foot through the dark jungle. Eventually the brush gets so thick and Rick compares it to crawling through barbed wire bushes. This ensues for a long time.
The other two with him, while amazing patriots, did not have the levels of training and preparation as Rick. Rick had been through Navy Seal & Green Beret training. A rare combo for some of our most elite soldiers. Blanketed in darkness they used planes overhead and a radio in hand to guide them to the flaming wreckage. As the outlook faded for survivors and perhaps their own well being, the other two with Rick started to give way a bit.
He recalls the female solder beginning to cry and the other one beginning to pray. As they slugged along, Rick recalls him stating in his head that he was made for this or prepared for this; something to that vibe. They went on to recover one living soul, Rick strapped him to a gurney, shot him up with Morphine. With the crash victims skinned mostly burned, Rick recalled having to practice injecting medication into another human without his vision, exactly the skills required this night.
The group survived, except the uncertainty if the man recovered lived on to tell a tale of his own. Rick talked about how that night they were either going to have honed and prepped their skills enough to survive this mission through carnivorous jungles or else others would have to save them.
You can’t go back and get more training. When the moment arrives, the moment is. There is no time out, re-scheduling, or freebies. It was nights like this that made many mundane repetitions in training become tools to survive by.
Time is precious and if you are preparing for difficult tasks and challenges, each day, rep and training session must count. There is a saying in the SEAL community that Rick lived out on this mission: we don’t rise to the occasion, but sink to the level of our habits & training.
Are you getting the most out of today? You can't go back tomorrow.