Many of you have kids who dream of being SEALS, Recon Marines, or members of some other special operations unit.
Some will try; a few will succeed. The reason those who try and fail don't make it, though, may come as a surprise.
While the physical requirements are high, they're nowhere out of reach for a normally healthy individual. The key to success is mental, a level of discipline that is out of reach to most. Not because it's hard, but because it's different.
Here are some of the qualities needed, and examples of how they can be developed in daily life. They can help your son (or, now, daughter) reach their goal of a very special life, and they can help all of us live better.
- God is in the details - in an unforgiving environment, everything can be important, and therefore laziness in attention to detail is unacceptable. And laziness, unfortunately, is a fact of modern life. Get into detail-oriented habits...for example, never let the trash pile up past the top of the bin, and when you take it out, replace the bin liner immediately, and properly. When you bring the full bag to the can outside, replace the lid correctly, not just any old way. And when you take the cans to the kerb, line them up straight and evenly spaced. It may sound silly, talking about the trash...but it's really about building a habit.
- Timeliness is important - for obvious reasons, things have to get done on time, and there are no acceptable excuses. Be on time for everything. School, work, church, family gatherings. "Fashionably late" is to be stricken from your vocabulary. Get into the habit of knowing what time it is, and of estimating how much time you need for certain tasks. Set deadlines for yourself beyond those imposed by "real life".
- Do it now - A small job left undone can all to easily be a vital job never done. Going back to the trash...when it has to be taken out, take it out now and replace the bin liner now. Not after American Idol. The cans go to the kerb the night before the truck comes, not rushed in the morning - you may miss it.
- Don't complain - whining breeds resentment, which breeds rebellion, which breeds failure. If you're reading this on your computer in your home, office, or a library, you have a life that millions of people could only dream of. You don't have anything to complain about. Do your work with good cheer, or at least in respectful silence. Silence is good. Whining is not.
- Respect authority - you may disagree with our legally constituted government or its agents, but the right way to address your concerns is through voting, involvement in politics, or expository writing. Sloganeering and clever jokes on bumper stickers, Twitter, and Facebook may be amusing, but they also undermine the fabric of dignity and respect which made our countries the best places on Earth, and in history, in which to live.
- You are not special - we generally allow ourselves a lot, from breaking a diet to buying more car than we can afford, because we think we deserve it. Well, that feeling of "specialness" does not extend beyond our own skin. To put it in military terms...a successful operation from which you, the individual, does not return is still a success. (yes, I know, you're loved and special to God. So was His Son. Reflect on that.)