Learn from a child (redux)

Okay, I’ve been asked about my son that was mentioned in yesterday’s post. I’ll try not to sound like a proud parent, and I’ll be brief:

From the age of seven, my son knew he wanted to attend one of the military academies. First, it was the Air Force Academy, then West Point, then the Naval Academy. (West Point was very, very brief.)

He planned on being a fighter pilot, then a Special Forces team member, then a Navy Seal. When I asked him why he decided against being a pilot, he told me “if I can’t fly fighters, I’ll be a glorified taxi driver. Not interested.” He has since decided that he’ll train as a Seal AND attend flight school.

So what can we learn from this youngster/now-young-man?

From the start, he knew he had to set goals. Okay, so he’s a kid with goals. Big deal.

But then, and on his own, he began to break down his Big Goal into “sub-goals”. The sub-goals he broke down into small, manageable, and measurable steps. Then, to double check his plan of attack, he devoured every bit of information that he could that identified what the “perfect” Academy candidate looked like. Then he became that candidate.

He was always a good student, but he decided to really apply himself in mathematics and the sciences. When he didn’t take AP English, I questioned him about it. His response? “Doesn’t matter, Dad. I’m better off focusing on AP Sciences and AP Calculus.”

He was always active and played various sports. But being prepared for Buds training (the prerequisite of the Navy Seal program) means being very, very physically fit. He started running, and ultimately he was named Captain of his Cross Country team in his Junior and Senior years and Captain of his Track team in his senior year. He’s not a big fan of ab work or push ups, but he works out every morning trying to improve the number of sit ups he can do in two minutes and the total number of push ups he can max out.

To mix it up a little, he took up Fencing. He’s Captain of that team too. He’s a State ranked fencer (Top Ten) with hopes of being Number One this year. To prepare for fencing, he started doing exercises and footwork drills over the summer between 6th and 7th grades. Fencers don’t touch a weapon until they reach High School in his program, and they rarely compete until their junior year. Starting as early as he did was not very exciting. But! He was a Varsity fencer in his freshman year due to his early preparation before Middle School.

Everything he did was done with a purpose and a goal in mind. He decided to join Sea Cadets (a kind of junior, Junior ROTC program). He attended Boot Camp after his freshman year. Out of 140 cadets (many much older than him), he was named Honor Cadet of the program. The following summer he was named Honor Cadet of each training session he attended.

Is he a natural? Far from it. This kid will do whatever it takes to succeed. He works harder than anyone else in the family to accomplish the things that he does. And he never loses sight of the ultimate goal.

Break the big things down into little steps. Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Be honest with yourself and be accountable. Have fun. Enjoy your success. These are the things I see my son do on a daily basis, and I am inspired by him and I learn from him every day.

He is one amazing young man. And yes, that’s a biased opinion.

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