Lesson 21: Keep all your hopes and dreams to yourself

It is important to keep all your hopes and dreams alive for as long as possible.  Most things in life that are worthwhile take a lot of patience, hard work, and time.  It is easy, when denied a dream, to let that dream die, or adopt a new, lesser dream, for the sake of easier attainment.  We have all been there at one point in time.  It seems impossible or extremely unlikely so for the sake of your mental health and image, you compromise.  Or maybe, you get tired of all the talking and give up due to a lack of results.  How do you keep a dream alive?  How do you maintain hope in the face of uncertainty?  There are many answers.  I will tell you this, if you are in the military, regardless of which branch, one of the main answers is keeping your mouth shut. 

It is important to talk to people about things.  Discussion is a great way to brainstorm and come up with new ideas.  I have said it before and I will say it again, you already know everything you know, the only way to learn is to listen to what others know.  Whether they are right or wrong is not as important as the expansion of your knowledge and how you apply it to the way you want to live your life.  The more you talk and the more open you are with people you know and trust, the closer you will get every day to turning your dreams into a reality.  Unfortunately, I have never encountered a working environment with a more negative, hope vanquishing, dream killing attitude, than the military.  This is not a jab at our armed forces mind you.  This is a reality check.  There is a good reason for it.

The military is a harsh environment with a very strict culture.  The things you do daily, in many cases, are potentially dangerous to yourself and others.  The most important thing about service is the “others” that I just mentioned.  There is a lot of joking around that takes place and the sense of humor you will encounter is as dark as it gets.  It is this harsh attitude and sense of humor that allows for service members to maintain a more stable outlook on what is happening around them.  Focus is critical.  One seemingly innocent misstep can potentially cost lives.  Don’t believe me?  How about an example?

You are a mechanic prepping a plane that is tasked with transporting a security team on a rescue mission.  The plane is fueled and ready for takeoff.  You and your crew are doing your last checks, but you are all talking about what you are going to do when you separate in two months.  You are talking about your business idea and a member of your team misses a minor issue with the landing gear.  The plane departs without issue.  A few hours go by and the commander calls for you to report to his office immediately.  You enter and there is a dark look on his face.  He tells you that upon arrival, the rescue team’s aircraft attempted to land, but on contact with the ground, the landing gear collapsed, the plane crashed, and people were injured or killed.  Now, the original rescue efforts are not only delayed, now the rescue team needs rescue.  The snowball effect has taken over.

This is an extreme example, but it is not unheard of.  It is more common than you might think.  The point here is that your hopes and dreams are yours.  You have a right to them.  That does not give you the right to allow them to distract you or others from what you should be focusing on.  This is the reason I give that is specific to the military mission and the importance of focusing on doing your duty, so failure is less likely to impact others.  There are other reasons to keep them to yourself.  The military is not a place where therapy or personal desire is very much cared for.  Chances are, if you share your dream, it doesn’t matter what or how cool it is.  People will laugh at you.  People will make fun of you.  People will tell you to keep dreaming.  It will happen.  The only person that can protect your dream is you.  Protect it.

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