Society has painted a picture of what it means to succeed. I used to think it meant a life of luxury. That all changed when I joined the Army.
I’ll never forget 1st Sergeant Reid. He was a stoney man in his early 50s. He had a bulldog-like jowl that made him look perpetually stoic. I never saw him smile. Reid once roused me from a severe asthma attack--by slapping me in the face.
Reid’s first words to our company always stuck with me, and I think his advice applies to more than just soldiers preparing for war:
Privates, it is my goal that during these 9 weeks, you will be entirely uncomfortable. I want you cold, wet, hungry, and tired at all times! You may assume that the Iraqi insurgent is your enemy, but you’d be wrong. He is not your enemy, and thinking that way will get you killed.
The enemy lives inside each and every one of you. Comfort is your enemy. It takes many shapes. Comfort can be laziness. Many of you don’t want to do the demanding work that awaits. You’re tired. You want to go home and be with your families. But that’s not the life of the warrior. The warrior does what must be done. True warriors don’t seek comfort, we seek adversity, because we know that obstacles make us stronger.
Another form of comfort is fear. You may question whether or not you’re capable of this duty. Some of you may die in battle, and that worries you. You fear that leaving your life of comfort will result in the ultimate loss, but what if you looked at it differently? What if by forsaking your comfort today, you became something more tomorrow?
Privates, you didn’t come here to do something easy. Trust me, this job won’t be easy. It will hurt. You’ll want to quit, but we won’t allow it. Take advantage of this opportunity to prove your stength. The insurgents will test our mettle, but we will win because we shrug off luxuries that other men deem vital. Our strength comes not from external surroundings, but from within.