The military, although technically an executive arm of the government’s policy, still must operate like a business.  Efficiency, proficiency and maintenance are vital keys that keep America’s fighting force ready to act, quickly and lethally, around the globe.  But, these traits, and their (mis)application, have costly price tags either way they’re applied.  And, the applicability lesson is typically only learned through heartache, or experience… like most good life lessons!

The various branches are each known for their own catchphrases and slogans; there was one that I learned early in my active duty time that proved exceptionally useful not only to executing a ship upon the seas, but also in daily life today.  On my first ship, our engineering maintenance officer loved to proclaim:

“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.”

Admittedly, at age 23, it pushed every wrong button I had, very likely because I wasn’t prepared – well in advance – for much at that young age in my life.  But, this valuable advice, while a strategic, rational and – best of all – calm and disciplined way to maintain the world’s most lethal fighting force, has also had impacts on any successful person’s lifestyle.  As Jocko Willink, a retired Navy SEAL combat leader, states it very succinctly,

“discipline equals freedom.”

Now, consider: where does this wisdom now apply to an area of your life?  Your physical fitness?  Check!  Financial stability and capability?  Check!  Romantic, personal and professional relationships?  Check!  Personal development?  Check!  The list is rather endless, but that’s not the most valuable lesson this mantra teaches us.

No, the important lesson to gleam from this slogan is more about daily habits.  Staying ready involves daily, or 3-, 4-, or 5- days a week – putting an effort toward your goal.  And, through the work of that consistent habit, the reward becomes apparent: smaller efforts, done on a consistent scale, deliver much greater results than enormous efforts done occasionally, without repeated discipline.

Of course, I did not fully grasp this valuable lesson as a young 23 year old, full of my own opinions that were surely enough to change the world!  (So, I’d thought…)  But, somehow, 15 years later, I now reflect and write blogs about how incredibly valuable that sage wisdom was, and remains today!   #stayready

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