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Home » Confidence Building, Decision Making, Featured, Headline, Inspirational, Motivation, Problem Solving, Self Esteem

STOP Thinking START Living

Submitted by on February 12, 2012 – 11:45 pmNo Comment

by John Cane

Years ago when I didn’t really think things through I made a decision that changed my life for the better, although at the time I remember thinking, “What the hell did I do!?  There’s no turning back on this one.”

Sometimes things turn out in ways that you think you have no control over, yet the control which you are living in is better than what you think.  When I was seventeen years old I joined the US Air Force.  Up until that time I was pretty much like any other teenager; I took things for granted, I didn’t realize how much my parents really cared about me, I didn’t see how important it was to have a home to go to and a safe place to stay.  For the most part I had it easy.  In my own defense however I did work since I was thirteen years old (newspaper route) and in restaurants until I went into the USAF.  My work ethic is another thing I wasn’t grateful for at the time either.  That was my parents doing…thanks mom and dad.

Okay, so back to the decision of going into the Air Force.  When I arrived at Lackland AFB, Texas, a new reality was thrown at me (almost literally).  It no longer mattered where I was from, what I did before, who I was or what I had to say.  I was suddenly a number with a buzzed head and an olive-drab uniform just like everyone else…I guess that was the point—to be like everyone else, start from scratch.  I would have to say, there wasn’t any favoritism.  Everyone was yelled at equally in Basic Training, unless you really pissed off one of the Sergeants.  I did once—I smiled when he was shouting at me an inch from my face.  Actually when I look back on it now, it was pretty funny.  I mean his spit was hitting me as I smiled (my mom always said I was a happy baby).  I stopped smiling when he said he was going to knock the smile off my face.

Just before I boarded the plane to leave for Lackland AFB, my dad said, “Just do as they ask”.  Basic Training was about doing without thinking too much.  So taking my father’s advice, I just did what was asked (actually told) to do.  I mean these were things I never did: polish my three different types of shoes and combat boots so I could see my reflection in them and make sure they were ‘grounded’ (each had to be touching each other under my bed and touching the bed leg) at night before I went to bed, uniforms ironed and folded neatly on my foot locker, all items in the foot locker had to be perfectly arranged according to precise specifications, in bed at 10pm up at 6am, dressed, bed made and in formation outside to march to the chow hall by 6:10am (and by the way, we marched everywhere).

Every day was filled with some kind of activity which always had the underlying intent of discipline.  There really wasn’t much time to do any thinking anyway.  It was actually mentioned by one of the instructors that thinking only leads to some form of unhappiness and that wasn’t useful.  None the less with a few tears I managed to make it through Basic Training.

After Basic Training I was given the opportunity to get out of the military due to the falling through of my ‘guaranteed job’.  I wanted to go home, and almost did. After two days of anxious deliberation, I decided to stay in.  At the time I was a little confused as to why I did…but I did.  After my decision, the truth clearly surfaced—I needed to follow through on my commitment.  Boy what an uncomfortable feeling that was.  I think that’s part of growing up.

Letting Change Happen

Many times when we say we are going to do something and don’t do it, we can experience a feeling of self doubt for the next time we take on a challenge or worse yet we might start making excuses for why we don’t take on challenges or follow through—excuses we start to believe are true.  But in reality we are covering up a weakness we could have made stronger by taking on challenges and following through.

Basic Training didn’t give me a choice to follow old habits.  It was a situation where doing things the way I use to wasn’t an option, so I had to make new choices.  In the process my strengths and abilities were given the opportunity to be free.  They were always there, I just didn’t challenge myself in the right ways in the past to experience them and give them freedom.

Does everyone need to go into the military to realize their innate strengths and potential?  I don’t think so, but it wouldn’t hurt.  The Inoculation theory in psychology basically says that the more challenges we take on, the more comfortable we will be when taking on new challenges.  So the bottom line is, put yourself in situations which may be a leap of faith for you to accomplish—ones that make you feel uncomfortable and a bit scared of, but deep down there is a voice telling you, you need to do.

The Universe works in magical and powerful ways.  All you will need to accomplish what you need to do will be there to help you along.  The power it takes to light a star is in you too.

About the Author

John Cane is a motivational speaker and writer who develops and implements confidence and self-esteem workshops in North Carolina, South Carolina, and New York. With a background in Psychology, John has six separate certifications in Personal Growth and Development.  His Journal Books, ‘Important Things I Remember from My Parents’ are used in schools and as an aid in gaining strength in self identity in the United States and Europe.

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