“Your achievement can be no greater than your PLANS are sound.” Napoleon Hill
Have you ever heard the phrase “Adversity builds Character?” In life we will all face challenges that seem impossible to handle and for most people who fear challenges, they will run because they believe they have no other choice. Challenges and trials are inevitable, you will have to face them. And with the right mental attitude backed with persistence you can overcome any obstacle that comes your way. There is no way around it but Adversity builds Character. Adversity is good because it the challenge of being in the fire that will forge the steel within your soul. Steel is forged in the hottest temperatures to ensure that it is strong and ready for the heavy duty tasks that it was made for. Challenges will build character and that character will launch you into your destiny. When some people see a challenge, they see defeat and they complain but I want you to see opportunity in the challenge. If you have the attitude of, “I can do it!” you’re already on your way to success. Every single successful personal throughout history has had to face challenges. Kind David had to face Goliath, Joseph had to face slavery and then prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Jesus Christ had to face Roman torture and crucifixion, Andrew Carnegie had to overcome poverty, John D Rockefeller had to face fierce business rivals, and the list goes on.
Allow me to share a personal story of a challenge I faced when I was 20 years old. When I joined the Navy in 2002, I started where all new recruits start; in Great Lakes, Illinois. And like all new recruits in the Navy, I was alone and far from home. I’m not going to lie, being away from all that I knew and that was comfortable was quite scary. At this time, I knew I was still being taken care of with somewhere to sleep, having basic clothing and food to eat. I still missed home but in the end I knew that the military was a way for me to have a better life.
Bootcamp Division 312
Boot camp challenges every area of your life. Imagine, as an adult, having someone tell you when to wake up and how to fold your uniforms. Every person has survival instincts and those instincts will keep you going when it gets really tough. It is through these intense times that your character is formed and that you find out what you are really made of. You will either fall flat on your face and give up or you will keep on going when the going gets tough. For some people, emotions will dictate their actions and for others, they will keep their emotions in check so that they can get through whatever task comes in front of them.
So going into boot camp I had no idea how to shine boots or iron my clothes because up until this point in my life I had never really had to do it. I made friends quickly who knew how to do those things well and I was able to learn. They would kindly show me how to do things that I struggled with. The one thing that I have always had is the ability to adapt to my surroundings. So I paid close attention to detail because it was going to get me through my inspections. I got better at shining my boots along with other things, but the one most critical thing, and this is true in all military branch boot camps, is the bed inspection! In Naval boot camp everyone has a bunk bed partner and when your RDC (Recruit Division Commander) shows you how to make your bed, they allow you to use your bunk bed partner to help you. The reason for this is, #1, you are timed and #2, the sheets and pillows have to be folded and placed a certain way. Well, during the bed inspections I had no one to help me because the guy who was sleeping above me was exempt from inspection due to medical issues. So during times we were not doing much I would take the initiative to learn how to perform my duties proficiently on my own.
Everyone in Naval boot camp is given a small spiral notebook and within the spiral notebook is information that you have to memorize, such as Enlisted Ranks, Officer Insignias, and who is in various leadership positions. So having this spiral notebook was like having a partner to help in properly making my bed. I utilized this spiral notebook to help me succeed. When our Division had our first bed inspection by a Chief, I remember the Chief calling, “Port-Side, you have 5 minutes to strip your rack accordingly… Go!” So I stripped my rack and made my smiley face with my blankets and my thick blanket was at the end of my rack. That was easy. But the real challenge was making the bed. When the Chief yelled, “Port-Side you have 15 minutes to make your rack according to inspection … Go!”, it was sink or swim at that moment and I refused to go down without a fight! While everyone was making their racks with their partner… I was by myself. I would quickly put the first sheet on and the second sheet with the 45 degree angles and then run to the other side of my rack and do the same. I was focused and determined to make my bed how I was told to do so. Nothing was on my mind but following directions. Now this is where my spiral notebook came in handy. As I would lay the second sheet down I would put the spiral notebook at the top of the sheet so it could hold it in place as I gently tuck in the sheet at the foot of the bed. I looked at the others making their partners’ beds and I was already done. I had 5 minutes to spare and I was making sure that my rack was good to go!!! I had the time to inspect my own work, making sure everything was perfect, and I did it all by myself. At this point in my life, I knew that as a young Christian, God was with me and I learned that adversity builds character. Because it built my own character. He had put me in this position to strengthen me deep down inside. Now that I am over 30 years old, I can now see that God was preparing me to handle tougher situations where I would be alone. And as time has passed, I have been through dark times where no one was nearby. No one! I would cry and no one would hear me. But as soon as the crying would stop, I would pick myself up and begin to declare with my mouth that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Yes, I would begin to pray and worship God right where I was, and by doing this, I would give myself spiritual strength. The whole point of this story is to share that, whatever struggles you are going through, you can and will get through them. Look at all challenges as tests. Tests are to see what you are made of. This is one small story in my life. I hope you enjoyed it.
Here are a few pictures of me on Active Duty. These were some of the best times in my life.
USS Ronald Reagan Commissioning
FLY1 USS Ronald Reagan
What is one challenge that you faced in life where you didn’t know if you would make it through, but in the end, you did? I would like to hear it.
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