I joined the army in 1987 and never made it out of Basic Training- I had major problems passing the firing range tests (as in, couldn’t pass them)- my instructors did everything to help me pass the test, including giving me tons of ammo to just fire away- never came close- long story behind that connected to my double vision I’ve had all my life- but- though I did not get through, I passed everything else in Basic Training.
It was the first time I really worked to succeed at anything- I pushed myself 10 times past what I thought I could do- I was a skinny weakling who struggled with PT- but in the end- I was the only kid in my platoon that never cheated, even when the DI was not looking- I took it all very seriously- I ran a 10k race and finished in the top 100- starting at the back of a pack of about 5000 runners. I began throwing up with 2 miles left.
I kept running because I was determined not just to finish- but finish strong- not getting through was devastating to me- I had failed- the only thing, up to that point, I ever really tried to succeed in and I failed- but- that time in the army was the turning point in my life in understanding and being driven to be disciplined- I spent many years afterwards living in the faiilure before I ever understood the success, which became living out the discipline I learned in the army.
This kind of determination to be excellent is what is missing in our country today