Battle-weary or battle-hardened?


Isn’t life exciting!

Two weeks after leaving my job, I have found joy in doing a course that, provided I pass, will qualify me to provide guided Tours. I’ve loved thinking about what information to include, which route to follow, and meeting new people who are working through the same course.

Best of all, has been conducting the necessary research. I’m focusing on the role my home town, Carrickfergus, played during the Second World War. Factories were converted to produce parachutes and tanks for the troops, and most interesting has been discovering the details around how the United States used this town as the selection centre to create the US Rangers elite Special Forces Battalion.

I knew the basics, but the more I delved into it, the more engrossing it became.

Then, almost by accident, I came across the story of one of these new recruits. No spoiler, as I’m saving the full story for a tour (if I ever get it off the ground), but it is truly remarkable and inspiring. Yet another story of a seemingly ordinary young man, a farmer from Iowa in this case, doing extraordinary things.

His story is a lesson to us all.

The first battle he was involved in was an overall disaster, mainly due to insufficient pre-attack military intelligence, lack of experience within those involved in the battle, and poor planning. However, this individual did his job to perfection, supporting and protecting others in his unit to allow them to complete their specific objective exactly as required. Despite his best efforts, the loss of the battle was out of his control.

This can sometimes be how it feels for any one of us. We do our bit to the very best of our ability, but the bigger picture we are part of may not be going as well as expected. That can be very frustrating. It can be so easy to shrug the shoulder, accept defeat and give up. After all, what’s the point?

Of course, if we all had that attitude, then the battle is over before it starts.

Much better to continue to do your best, for yourself and those most closely involved. Let the bigger picture paint itself. By doing that, you actually make it easier for those looking after the main deal get on with it, without the distraction of having to worry about you too.

I recall the story of the janitor at Cape Canaveral who, when asked, said his role was helping send men to the moon. What a great way to value his job, feeling part of that monumental project.

There are times where you need to ask yourself:

  • Do you feel part of something big, in work, at home, through your hobby?
  • Do you try to do your best to be a leader of others, or do you sit back, complain and wait to be led?

Do what you can to the best of your ability, particularly when times are tough.

Try to influence those around you to do likewise.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Steve Jobs

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