02 March 2012

Green to Gold

It is 0730 on Friday morning, I am sitting in my car after PT with a big smile on my face. Why? Well, let me tell you. (This blog post is not aimed to sound like I am bragging or self-indulged. It is simply a way for me to express my excitement about what just happened.)

PT has never been my strong suit. Going back as far as high school, I've never been the biggest, strongest or fastest. I hate running more than just about anything in this world. After about a half of a mile, my legs turn to concrete, my breathing becomes labored and my mind tells me that I nees to give up. Sadly, for many years, with few exceptions, I have given in. I've always thought that good enough is good enough.

Now, however, I have reason and incentive to work harder than I ever have. I am attempting to become an officer in the US Army. There is a program called Green to Gold that will allow someone with two years of college completed, to get paid a salary to finish school and earn a commission upon graduation. It is an extremely competitive program, and is by no means a lock.

Officers in the Army should be PT studs. They lead company, battery, batallion runs. They can't fall out, or else their soldiers will lose respect for them. After all, how can an officer ask his soldiers and NCOs to do something that he cannot do himself.

Since deciding to attempt to become an Officer, my mindset has been forced to change. Good enough is no longer good enough. I have to be better than most. I have worked harder in the last few weeks to watch what I eat and perform better at PT, than I have in the past. It gets discouraging though, because I don't see a change yet.

However, the reason I am smiling now? I just completed a batallion run. For the first time ever, I completed it without falling out. I didn't fall back to the rear of formation, I didn't even allow someone else to pass me in an attempt to catch my breath. I finished the run, in formation. I went along with the cadence caller, found myself encouraging other soldiers who were struggling, and for the first time ever, finished at the same time as everyone else.

Yes, my legs still turned to concrete. Yes, my breathing got labored. Yes, I wanted to quit. Today, though, I had a driving force behind me. I have to succeed at PT if I want to be accepted to Green to Gold. Back in Basic or AIT I remember an NCO telling a struggling soldier, "your body is stronger than your mind." I have tried to use that as motivation in the past, but only fleetingly. Today, I had to believe it. When we got to our turn around point I realized that I was good. I was smiling at a funny cadence and I realized that I was still up front with my company. We started heading back, and we passed all the soldiers who had fallen out, and I said out loud, "that's not me today!" I thought I said it to myself, but someone in front of me heard and turned and said, "Damn Dugan! You still with us?" From that point through the rest of the run I was smiling. I knew that I was going to make it.

Why put this all down in a blog post? Because, I truly believe that God paves a path for his direction in a persons life. I don't believe he puts speed bumps and potholes in that road. I believe that we allow others, and ourselves, to put those obstacles in the way.

Maybe, God just wants me to be more physically fit in order to live a longer, healthier life. Maybe, He has His mind set on me becoming an officer. I don't know what is at the end of that road. However, I do know that going down this path is encouraging and exciting. I do know that God has allowed me, not to be prideful and boisterous, but proud of myself for this moment. It is only through His grace that I wake up in the morning and complete tasks everyday. But, with His grace, I can accomplish tasks that I have not been able to in the past.

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