My dad walked on top of over 100 Marines that were face down on hot Arizona pavement as I watched from a restaurant window on a military base when I was 16 years old.
One of the many stories and memories I have of my dad.
My dad turns 66 today and I want to tell you a little bit about how growing up as a Marine Corps Sergeant Major's (the toughest men known to mankind) daughter created life skills that I just can't shake. Lucky for me.
For the most part, being a "military brat" didn't make me a brat at all. It helped me level up my work ethic and it required a lot of grit. My first heavy squat was in a Marine Corps gym at Camp Pendleton at 11 years old and at that time my dad was a Drill Instructor. He was built like a mix of the Hulk and Arnold Schwarzenegger and I was learning how mental toughness is everything inside the gym, and outside the gym for that matter.
That's one of the few pictures I have with my dad. We had a house fire when I was 10 and most of our family pictures were lost.
That mindset of a Marine is unlike anything I have ever seen. Oorah is used as a symbol of brotherhood excitement and commonly used to ignite fierce comradery. A lesson we don’t get taught very often in this day and age. The lone wolf mentality is common and the “oorah” is far and few between. I learned that having an “oorah” mentality in the gym is the only way to truly tap into the next level of intensity in your training. We need support, a “spotter” is necessary when you are about to breakdown, collapse under the weight of a barbell, or fall off the treadmill or into a trench for that matter. Pushing past your stopping point in the gym or the marching line is where the “oorah” mentality is vital to your success and for a Marine your life.
“Improvise, adapt, and overcome.”
My dad taught me, “no matter what you get up”. I know some may perceive that as a harsh way to live a young life, but for me, there was no other way. I didn’t know there was another option. Ferocity was the norm. I was surrounded by tough as nails men and I knew that the only way to win was to fight. I also was taught that there are more ways than one to overcome an adversary and win. Being nimble, flexible and able to adjust quickly because were transferred from city to city often was the battle I had to constantly overcome. I learned social skills young, ones that propelled me forward. I learned about different cultures and how to be a chameleon, but at the same time how to stand out in a crowd. And ultimately how to overcome rejection, being the new kid and then how to win them over. Those skills have served me in my career and business.
That means suck it the f— up. I usually got a “buttercup” at the end of mine. Stop complaining, stop making excuses, get done what needs to get done and then be grateful you get to be apart of the solution. I watched my dad as a Drill Instructor on Camp Pendleton make grown men cry. I never thought twice about it. It had to be done. Marines are warriors. Mental toughness is all you have when life or the battlefield gets the best of you. In life and battle, you have to be 100% personally responsible for everything. Every action, choice, decision, mistake, and success gets to be yours. You don’t get a hall pass, not in life, in business, in fitness or when you are knee-deep in artillery fire.
Dad is and was gritty. Grit should have been his middle name. Enlisting in the Marine corps before he was a legal adult and becoming a sniper before his 18th Birthday made him one of the deadliest humans I have met. Spending most of his career in Special ops I was used to midnight house calls from uniformed men and long durations with him overseas. He had so much courage that it oozed onto my brother and me so we picked it up by osmosis. He taught us that character is the only thing you have in life, that service for something bigger than yourself is key and having the “cajones” to pursue it no matter what is true bravery. Finishing what you start, following through on your goals and your word is the fastest way to self-confidence which is the clear path to success in all aspects of your life including your business, relationships, and fitness. If I say I am going to run a marathon my dad would say run two.
This is the term my dad used for cleaning. Now hear me out. Organization and cleanliness teach structure and self-respect. I learned to take care of my things, I learned to be respectful of my environment and be personally responsible for myself. We did chores but never got paid it was expected as personal responsibility. This wasn’t an option. We weren’t spoon-fed. I learned because I was not enabled. Our society likes to be enablers, helicopter parents and we wonder why we have a generation that doesn’t understand the value of work ethic, a dollar or even how to take care of our things. I learned to take care of my health because it was my responsibility. I wasn’t looking for someone to give me a fast fix pill, a magic solution or to do the heavy lifting for me. Nope. “Figure it out” was a common theme in my house. I raised my daughter this way and she cleans, folds, cooks and organizes without being told. It's her responsibility and my “figure it out” parenting style that flowed into my home the way it flowed through my dad’s veins. I have to admit as I get older I am less tidy yet still structured but that responsibility was taught through “field day”
That day my dad had 100 Marines on their face was because they needed to learn respect and personal responsibility. My dad was the head guy, like the top guy on vase and these Marines were visiting from another state on a weapons training mission and decided it would be a good idea to verbally disrespect me from their barracks as I was walking to the restaurant on base with my dad (he was in civilian clothes). This was like World War III broke out. Needless to say, those Marines were on a cargo plane the next morning back to Camp Lejeune.
I don’t consider myself a “military brat” I consider myself the daughter of a man I am honored to call my father and I am grateful for the life lessons learned on the squat racks in Marine Corps gyms, during the long runs on hot pavement during my summer vacations, on the military bases for the morning Bugle horns that woke me up and taught me a morning routine long before that was a thing and most of all the grit that is required to live a life of service, integrity, and purpose.
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