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Definition of Mental Toughness

Last night I had a dream…

…well two actually…but I won’t go in depth about the one involving Cerie from 30 Rock. All I’ll say is something happened that she doesn’t exactly like, but she respects when it’s done well. ;)

The other one though…the one I will do into some detail about…was about basic training. Go figure right?

Well it’s not as bad as you’d expect. While I absolutely hated it while I was there, living and breathing it as a dumb 18 year old. Reflecting, and in turn dreaming about it, as a mature* 25 year old offers a brand new perspective on the training and how it affected my mental toughness.

So the dream went like this, we’re running around doing our training in the first few days and someone messes up. They’re out of step, or they say “yeah” instead of “YES DRILL SERGEANT!”, or their boots aren’t shined. It doesn’t matter what happened, but the next thing we know we’re on our backs doing flutter kicks.

Now if you’ve never done them before (99% of my platoon, including myself, hadn’t) you’ll be able to get 15-20 before it burns like crazy. Well we started out at 50 the first time. And this scene played its self out many, many times over the first week. Literally upwards of a thousand flutter kicks.

If you’ve ever been in the military, or around any sort of basic training, you’ll know the mistakes don’t just go away. Sure the little ones do, but then you start getting punished (smoked) for other stuff.

Weapon not on safe? 50 flutter kicks.

Someones late for formation? 50 flutter kicks.

Fall asleep in class? 50 flutter kicks.

Keep in mind that all 40 of us were punished even if it was an individual mistake.

So one day while getting smoked the Drill Sergeant goes past 50. We expected 50, so at 49 we stopped mentally and thought or day would go on like normal. Next thing you know he’s at 55.

So you start thinking, “ok…..we are going to 60.”

Now you’re at 65.

Then 75.

So you say “100. That’s it. We’ll stop when we get to 100″

But then what happens when you hear 101…102…103…104…105…106?

You will look all around and hear groans and feet collapsing and hitting the dirt. Why? We picked a number. We were all saying to ourselves “He’ll stop at 50, or 65, or 75.”

When you know when something is going to end, you subconsciously stop short. Remember the first time you ran a race and had to be told to run through the line? Exact same concept.

Trust me, the number of pushups, flutter kicks, squats, etc you can do or the miles you can run much higher than you can imagine right now. We had to learn to stop thinking that a scheduled 5-mile run would stop at 5-miles.

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Who cares? Keep yourself in the game even if the tasks, conditions and standards change on the fly.

This is the definition of mental toughness.

Knowing that something hard was supposed to end, but for some reason is still going.

Open your mind now to the possibility that you may be running (or pushing) forever  and you will be waaaaaaay ahead of your peers who simply stop when it gets too uncomfortable.

Your mind is an amazing machine that can take your body far, far beyond what your body can do by its self.

*Mature on the same level as a 12 year old

1 comment… add one

  • Sean March 23, 2011, 10:26 pm

    Ahh.. butterfly kicks.. a great punishment past time. Gewd memories.. lol.

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