Many of us have heard the above words in one phrase or another. But how many of us truly took the words to heart and tried to apply them? I can truthfully say that throughout my military career I have. And a lot of times the learning curve was very damn steep. But I always did it for my professional life only.
In the past couple of years I started working on it for my personal life. I surrounded myself with people with Bachelors, Masters, MBAs, and PhDs. Who were educated but more importantly saw the world with open-minded views. In the last couple years I sought out entrepreneurs, social media gurus, aspiring weightlifters, and other intellectuals from various disciplines. I tried to learn as much as possible from everyone. I gave them as much of myself as they gave me of them.
One example was a young Officer who resigned his commission and was moving to Norway to obtain his Masters. In working with him I learned that he came from an affluent family and could do nothing else for the rest of his life if he wanted. I realized in our short time together that he wanted to be surrounded by the best in his chosen field. He wanted to become better.
This past Sunday I took the challenge of writing for five days straight from someone I consider my writing Mentor. What I didn’t know when I joined that group was I was doing what that young Officer did by studying in Norway. I was jumping into the deep end to become better. This morning I posted my blog post and waited for others to follow suit. I quickly realized that there were some serious top-notch writers in this group as they started to post. One by one I felt myself getting overwhelmed by the stories and intoxicated by the words flowing off the screen. Is that even possible?
I went back and looked at my page and realized that I needed to take my own advice. I needed to conquer my own fear of being a better writer. So I went back and read everyone one of the posts in the group and wrote comments about how I felt. I took notes on how they used metaphors, drew their conclusions and tied the stories all together in the end of each post. Smart choice in the end.
I know that this is the best thing for me right now. To sink a little, but at the same time embrace the suck to become better. Subconsciously I surrounded myself with the right people. People better at something entirely different from me. Who will challenge me without even knowing it.
A challenge to become a better writer. More importantly a better man.
Note: The above picture is of Major Richard Winters (far left) with men of Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. This is towards the end of the World War II at The Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s compound.