Army basic training taught me some really valuable lessons… although I have to admit that at the grand old age of eighteen I really didn’t appreciate the lessons. Now, a bit later in life, I understand them more and therefore appreciate them – sometimes quite a bit. One of those lessons learned is held in this quote: “You don’t have to like it; you just have to do it.” One of my Drill Instructors said that to a recruit next to me when the recruit (very respectfully) asked why we had to do physical training (PT – exercise) every day. The recruit didn’t LIKE doing PT. As he was told: he didn’t have to like it – he just had to do it.
Why? A month later when we took a physical fitness test, the improvements in strength, flexibility and speed were apparent. Those improvements didn’t happen in our sleep; they happened as a result of the daily exercise we did. The thirty to forty-five minutes of calisthenics we did every morning followed by a run CHANGED us; strengthened us; increased our ability to perform. Every one of us LIKED passing the fitness test and although we might not have liked exercising every day, it was the price we paid to pass the test with a better score every time. It was an investment (if you prefer to view it that way as I do).
The same philosophy applies to a great many things we have to do in life: school, work, travel, cooking, cleaning… Think about how much you ENJOY scrubbing your bathroom at home. Now think about how much you enjoy going into ANY bathroom (including your own) that hasn’t been cleaned in month. Yeah… if you don’t want that experience on a daily basis, then at some point you have to clean your bathroom at home. You don’t have to LIKE doing it; you just have to do it.
Having to do things you don’t like to do becomes easier if you understand the motivation: what you get to enjoy as a reward or result from having done what you didn’t enjoy. “Embrace the suck,” as so many people in uniform say today. You have to accomplish X task; you know you’re not going to enjoy it; you’d rather not have to do it. BUT you know you can’t avoid it; you ARE going to do it, and having a miserable attitude about it will only make it even less enjoyable. SO, the opposite approach, ironically, becomes the best approach: Embrace the suck. Approach the task with energy and motivation (you are, after all, going to do it either way) so you get it done better and faster and behind you sooner.
As a closing observation I’d like to relate the perfect example of this philosophy, demonstrated in a movie with an actor many of us enjoy: Clint Eastwood. As he played Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Highway in the movie “Heartbreak Ridge,” Gunny Highway was in a scene where he was having to parachute into a training scenario. With him was his platoon, but in particular one big Marine nicknamed “The Swede.” As they approached the door to jump, The Swede admitted to Gunny Highway that he was afraid of heights. Gunny Highway smiled and admitted that he too was afraid of heights but, since they had no choice, they might as well do it right and enjoy the view.
They didn’t have to like it; they just had to do it.
Gunny Highway embraced the suck.
His outlook toward the undesirable task made it more tolerable.
THAT is the lesson I learned (well, one of them) at the age of 18 from one of my Drill Instructors. It is a lesson that makes some unpleasant portions of day to day life all the more tolerable and far less unpleasant.
If you appreciated this blog entry, please check out the author’s book, “Above Dirt: Motivational Thoughts Supporting A Positive Outlook,” available on Kindle HERE.