“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
In 1982, I made a decision to join the United States Air Force. It was a life changing decision. In August 1983, I arrived at Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas to start my introduction to the Air Force in Basic Military Training (BMT). It was the start of an inspiring journey that would last 28 years and take me to 32 different countries and all 50 States.
Upon arrival to BMT, I realized a few things right of way. First, Texas is hot and muggy in August and you break a sweat just by breathing air. Second, I had no control of my life for the next eight weeks. I was now the official property of the United States Air Force. However, it was the life lessons that I learned at BMT change my outlook on life. There are seven life lessons that I took away from BMT that I started me on my journey.
- Self-Discipline – If you want to succeed in BMT you need self-discipline. Upon arrival to Lackland Air Force Base, you learn the meaning of discipline. You learn to fold you clothes, you learn how to march, you learn how report to your leaders, and you learn how to make your bed in accordance with the standards. It teaches you to have discipline and ultimately self-discipline.Lesson learned: To be successful in life you need self-discipline, self-control, and self-motivation. You need to train and develop yourself to prepare for the uncertainty of life’s challenges. Furthermore, you need to be a self-starter and be able to create and maintain your own motivation. You need a discipline approach to living your life.
- Hard Work – BMT teaches you that hard work is a part of day-to-day life. So get used to it. Nothing is free or easy in the military. If it is important to you and you want to achieve it you need to work hard for it.Lesson learned: Hard work is the price you pay to achieve great things in your life. Let me reemphasize this point. There are no free rides everything has a cost. Hard work achieves great things in life. Free rides achieve mediocrity. You have to pay the price to be Unstoppable.
- Decisions – My Training Instructor (TI) informed us on the third day of BMT that “You will make or break your military career on the quality of your decisions. Everything you do from this day forward is a result of the decisions you make.” His words ring true today.Lesson Learned: All life is a decision. No matter what you do, you are making choices and decisions. Some decisions will work the way you planned and some will not. Nevertheless, you own the decision and its outcome. So take the time to think about the outcome before you make the decision.
- Planning and Preparation – During BMT each day is planned and organized to maximize your day. There is no wasted time in BMT. Each day builds on the next and moves you closer to the goal of graduating and moving on to your technical school. This disciplined approach prepares you for a career in the military.Lesson Learned: If you want to move ahead in the life you must learn how to plan and prepare to maximize your time to achieve your life goals. Time is short so use it wisely.
- Responsibility and Accountability – Along with my TI’s information on decisions he constantly drilled into us that we are responsible and accountable for our actions in the Air Force. He did not want to hear our excuses or hear us pass the blame on circumstances or on another person. You are responsible and accountable for how your Air Force career turned out. NO ONE ELSE. Lesson learned: You are responsible and accountable for your life and its eventual outcome. No one else is responsible or accountable for how your life turns out. Your life is the product of your decisions, how well you planned your life, and your actions.
- Actions – Each order given during BMT required some type of action in order to carry out the order. Marching is a good example of action applied to a command or order. When the TI yelled “Forward, March”, you put your feet and brain into action to carry out the command. You move forward. When the TI said “Right, Face” you turned right. Lesson Learned: Your decisions require actions to make them a reality. A decision to do something without an action applied is just a passing thought and useless. Your actions to your decisions will determine what you can and will achieve. You must take action in life to achieve success.
- Persistence and Perseverance – The best BMT lesson I learned was to never give up on yourself or your goals. BMT is intended to break you down then build you up so you are ready for the challenges of the military. BMT teaches you to persevere and reach for your goals. Basic Military Training provided a foundation for growth and development through a disciplined and focused approach to life. It taught me that whatever you want or need in life take time, action, and hard work to achieve. These lessons have been invaluable to me throughout my career and in life. These valuable life lessons helped me shape and mold my Air Force Career and life through a disciplined approach to life. Lesson Learned: I will be the first to tell you that the military life is not easy nor is it for everyone. It takes time to learn how to adapt and adopt your life to military standards. However, you learn very quickly what you are made of and what you are capable of doing. It teaches you to persist and persevere if you want to have successful career.