I recently spoke at a conference called ChiroFest and started the talk with a moment of silent gratitude for all the military warriors who serve and protect. It was nice to see 700+ Doctors honor the veterans – and it got me thinking about how I was personally drawn to serve.
I was in New York City well into my first career as an auditor and consultant. The bloom of newness had worn off, and I was feeling a bit depressed by the relentless boredom and mindless grind of the money game. I found peace during intense workouts at the dojo, on the meditation bench and on long runs through the morning streets. I had surrendered to an altered reality, where by day I was a pretender in a suit, and by weekend a frustrated athlete escaping to a simulated adventure.
I was fortunate to find my own escape route when I ran past a Navy recruiting station and was stopped dead in my tracks by a poster titled “Be Someone Special.” The message was riveting, mainly because in no way did I feel special then. In fact, I felt like a bit of a fraud in the big corporate lifestyle. The allure of doing something special, and being someone special, was alluring.
Why not, I thought. Why not be someone special? In that moment, I imagined operating as a SEAL, on the outer reaches of performance, where I was needed not just to be clever to earn a buck, but to be physically and mentally strong, to be resilient and wise, and to dare greatly in the arena of action. Why not challenge myself and be a leader of warriors?
The seed was planted and a year later I was graduating from SEAL training, patriotic, optimistic and eager to accept whatever challenges lay in store. One hundred and eighty-five candidates had started training, and nineteen of us earned the SEAL trident that day. I knew that the trident identified us as “someone special” in the military. It represented our mindset as modern day Spartans who would train harder than anyone else, learn relentlessly, and work together courageously to accomplish the mission. We felt invincible, we were winners and we intended to prove it in the ‘Teams.’
Soon after that day of self-appreciation, I came to greatly appreciate and respect the work and commitment of ALL veterans. As the glory of BUDS wore off, I quickly realized that we couldn’t do a single thing without the support of countless others in all branches of service. The military operates in an inter-connected web of teams, mutually supporting each other. There are the submarine crews who launched our nighttime aquatic adventures, the mechanics who kept our Humvees rolling with pillared parts, the pilots, navigators and crewmen of the aircraft who flew us to our targets in dust storms and in pitch dark, the intel, logistic, communications experts and countless others who supported our missions. All these amazing individuals also dared greatly, and sacrificed much, and are also “someone special.” I now understand that the poster I wandered past many years ago…was speaking of all the warriors. The message changed the trajectory of my life and allowed me to serve alongside some of the finest men and women I have ever known.
This Friday, Novmber 11th, is Veterans Day. Please take some time this week to reflect on the freedom and rights your enjoy (including your right to vote on Nov 8th) and honor the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve our great nation.