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The Power of Commitment

It's odd, but my involvements often, without my planning them, run along similar lines for a while before parting and prompting me to pursue other things. And the alignment of those events always ends up teaching me something I never knew or more about something of which I knew only a little.

What on earth are you talking about?! you might be wondering.

Let me give you just the latest example.

As my last post indicated, I've been enamored of the reporting of former Army Ranger and current freelance journalist Chuck Holton. I read his book Bulletproof and was further impressed by how he took his own experiences, learned important life lessons from them, and shared them with his readers.

Shortly after writing that post, I visited my brother Dale, and he loaned me two books he thought I'd enjoy. In short order, I read them both and learned a lot about the Navy SEALs, their training, and some of the special operations in which they engaged.

The first book was The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama Bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior by Robert O'Neill. The second one was Perfectly Wounded: A Memoir about What Happens after a Miracle by Robert Vera, which tells about his training and how he took 27 hits by bullets fired by al-Qaeda soldiers during a firefight in Iraq--and lived to tell about it and the lessons it taught him.

Both books give readers a detailed explanation of how SEAL teams are trained. Both books show how that training develops the character and commitment of the trainees. (I only wish it could help them develop their vocabulary so they wouldn't think it necessary to depend on the plethora of gratuitous profanity that characterizes their books! If you should happen to read them, be forewarned!)

But the unplanned connections of subject matter continued beyond those books. I next "just happened" to view during my reading a TV biographical documentary on the life of Pat Tillman. Already enjoying a promising career with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals football team, Tillman rejected a three-year, multimillion-dollar contract to join the Army and become a Ranger following the 9-11 terrorist attacks on America. Tillman ultimately was killed in a firefight with the enemy in Afghanistan, but not before he behaved heroically, saving his fellow team members. (Defense Department officials later admitted that Tillman had been the victim of "friendly fire," but that doesn't decrease the importance of Tillman's commendatory actions and patriotic sacrifice.)

Each of these men--Holton, O'Neill, Vera, and Tillman--in his own way is an exemplar of commitment to a cause greater than one's self.

As Vera wrote in his book, the SEAL training regimen is "designed a lot like life itself: it identifies our individual flaws, highlights our weaknesses, and forces us to adapt accordingly. If we have the humility and will to recognize them, we can train to correct our flaws and eliminate our weaknesses. I was impatient and had to learn to deal with it. When I was weak, I had to learn to be strong. When I was fearful, I had to learn courage. When I felt terror, I had to find calm and focus. All the lessons built the confidence required to get through the next test."

What are YOU learning from life's tests? Are you committed to something greater than yourself?

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