Before I joined the Army, I couldn’t run a block or do a push up. Actually, before my 3 years in Army ROTC, I spent half a semester in Air Force ROTC. I still remember my very first physical fitness test there. I did 7 - count ‘em 7 - push ups, and ran a mile and a half in about 17 minutes. The only event I passed was the sit-ups and that was only barely.
After my decision to join Army ROTC and commit to 4 years active duty upon college graduation, I began really disciplining myself physically. I woke up early to run before class, I did-push ups and sit-ups every night before bed, and I even recall once going on a 4-mile ruck run by myself on Thanksgiving (running with a huge pack on my back). I would run laps around a track or in a gym and force myself not to cut corners, or quit before my planned distance was achieved. I wouldn’t let myself walk, no matter how exhausted I was. I remember thinking that it was all up to me and by taking it easy on myself, although no one would ever know, I would just end up hurting myself.
Lately, I’ve been thinking more about that mentality. I’ve been here for nearly a year pursuing a music career. And when I list the things I’ve done, it sounds okay on paper, but I know what I’m really accomplishing because I know if I’ve given it my all or not. I ask myself every day, “Am I doing everything I can today to pursue my goal?” And even when I know the answer is yes, I still try and give a little more.
It’s like every physical fitness test I ever took, if I got less than my desired score, I knew deep in my heart it was because I didn’t work hard enough. I skipped a running day. I didn’t give my all on the last push. I remember what an awful feeling of regret that was for me. When this whole thing is over and I’m either a musician, or I’m not, I could never live with that feeling of knowing that I could have given just a little more. Maybe one extra effort could have been the difference between success or failure. If I’m not giving it my all, I may as well be giving nothing.