During a recent road trip work, I found myself riding shotgun talking to my Air Force boss about life, work and family. My boss was an older gentleman, an O-6 Colonel in the Air Force. He was nearing retirement and had accomplished so much during his career. He was well respected amongst his peers, a prior group commander and an accomplished medical doctor. And although once upon a time, he was a college kid without a clue, he dedicated his earlier years of life to putting his head down and grinding out the hard things early on so that he would be setup for the rest of his life. And indeed he was.
Alternatively, my boss spoke of his kids- who were all good people. They pursued careers out of high school, such as law enforcement, military service (enlisted) and such and made decent livings. But his kids struggled to become successful like their father had. Although my boss attempted to instill the ‘work hard early’ life lessons in his children, they chose a different path and struggled into adult-hood. They sometimes scraped by month to month to make ends meat while they worked their middle/low income jobs in high income areas. As they attempt now to re-define their career paths, they are putting in the hard hours like their father did but ultimately will never amount to the stability their dad has because they have already fallen too far behind the power curve. And as I listened to my boss speak of his kids, I felt a sense of sadness in his voice as I sensed he would have liked to have seen his kids turn out more like he did.
The point that my boss was trying to make to me was the principle, and timing of work ethic. While it is important to be a hard worker, the timing of your hard work may be even more critical. The opportunity to get ahead in life should be taken as soon as possible- to get a jump on the power curve of success. The blood, sweat and tears should be sacrificed earlier rather than later, because the road blocks that will inevitably arise in life will most likely prohibit you from ever catching up.
The same principles are critical to your training mindset. As you are grinding away in the gym/in the pool/on the track towards your Battlefield Airmen dreams, your efforts now will set the tone for how your selection course will play out. There are moments in training where you will be drained, tired and unmotivated- it happens. But what should keep you driven is the thought that you can put in the work now or you can pay for it at selection. If you are successful at putting the work in early, you will literally thank yourself at selection for putting in the maximum amount of work before hand. Conversely you will kick yourself if you arrive at selection unprepared- because you know the pain you are about to experience is much more because of your lack of action during training.
Think about it: Would you rather puke during your workouts now on your terms or at the selection course with an instructor in your face as you are trying to prove you have what it takes? This should be an easy answer. Lance Armstrong once said, “I’m not happy if I’m not doing some physical suffering, like going out on a bike ride or running. First, it’s good for you. No. 2, it sort of clears my mind on a daily basis. And it’s a job. My job is to suffer. I make the suffering in training hard so that the races are not full of suffering.” Armstrong was a guy that would ride grueling, debilitating mountain climbs once a month when his competitors would ride them once a year. Because he was a beast due to his preparation, he was one of the most prolific cyclists ever. Channel your inner Lance Armstrong and suffer now (except don’t do drugs, don’t be a dick and don’t lose a testicle).
Putting the same mindset to work is your key to success. Pay now or pay later; its your choice. I suggest the former.