Be More Than You Can Be

Be more than you can be. Do not just accept who you are. You could be way more than you think you could ever be. What do you want to be? Do you want to be who you are today? Or, do you want to strive toward what is better?

Whatever you think you can be, you can do better, much better. You cannot know how much better you can be. But you will if you set your mind to it.

When I joined the U.S. Army many years ago, I met Drill Sergeant Jones. My introduction to Sergeant Jones was not a happy one for the other recruits in my Basic Combat Training platoon. I was about to learn that it takes more than intellect and physical strength to be a good person, to be satisfied with life, and to be someone others look up to as credible. I hated Sergeant Jones because I saw him as an arrogant jerk and he made my life miserable, but he showed us newbies how to be real Soldiers and that he was going to show us we could do much more than we thought possible.

For me, the Army was an introduction to humility. The military experience showed me that there was an element of humanness that transcends the intellect. It also taught me that I was a novice in understanding people and also that I was poorly adapted to using human-made tools (weapons, armored vehicles, and such). Most importantly, I learned that I could be more than I thought I could ever be.

I learned in the military that my “potential” as a Soldier was more than I could imagine possible and that I had to be more. This philosophy has driven my life more than anything else; that I can improve my future self and do so consciously. Joining the Army was a way that allowed me to meet reality and understand human nature and what it is like to be more than a good person.

Laying on his desk in his office, located at the back of our wooden barracks was a book titled, “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.” Published in 1967, this self-help book by psychiatrist Thomas Harris was a best seller on the New York Times bestseller list in 1972. Sergeant Jones had me standing at attention in front of him (for some minor infraction) and spent a full five minutes screaming at me for being stupid. He picks up the book and says, “Ransom, you ain’t okay because you gonna be a Soldier.” I was scared to death and didn’t really understand his point.

Many years later, I was walking through the City airport when I stopped to buy a book. On the discount table was the book, “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.” Sergeant Jones’s message clicked in my head. Yeah, I’d finally figured out what he meant. He wanted me and “his” platoon to push beyond the impossible. If he said, “attack that hill,” we would do so without hesitation and we would win. Too many people are satisfied with their station in life or are afraid to make improvements. Sergeant Jones made us better and convinced us that we had the power to do so ourselves.

I also learned that the goal of life is not drinking beer on the beach and watching the waves roll in. Thanks, Sergeant Jones for trashing that idea.


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