The soldier is taught self discipline and learn to become disciplined
Military discipline and effectiveness is built on the foundation of obedience to orders. The soldier is taught to obey, immediately and without question, orders from their superiors, right from day-one at the training camp.
Understand that mental toughness is a whole lot of things which is rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. In addition to, and most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined mental fortitude and toughness that refuses to give in. It is the state of mind - one could call, a character in action.
As soon as a person enlist into the military, his first taste of discipline is external. His drill sergeants and his platoon sergeant have the belief that the recruit has no self discipline and as a result or the consequence of this assumption seek to install it; left to his own desires and inclinations, the soldier, sailor, or airman would be slovenly and too preoccupied with his own emotions to succeed.
Given that the new recruit chose another life, college or a civilian job, his time away from the classroom or the shop would have been his own. He could have decided on his own when to get up, when to study and what to do after hours. No one would have spoken to him about the shine on his shoes and the type of haircut to get.
This is not to say that the young civilian would not find discipline in his life. He would develop as a person and realizing he must please his boss or his teacher if he ever wanted to succeed. However, his path to maturity can be slower.
The military man has gone into a profession calling for intensive effort and attention. His country depends on him for its very survival. He is going to be asked to risk or give his life for his fellow soldiers and for the nation. He has to grow up fast and be ready to do things that the civilian cannot.
So his first days in the military, aren’t pleasant ones. Discipline must be instilled in him. He has to gain physical strength, endurance, knowledge, and spirit quickly.
Twenty-four hours each day, morning and night, he is pushed to do more than he thinks he can. He is forced to stand tall and look sharp. He must run everywhere and never give an excuse for failure.
At first he is forced to do these things. He is watched, yelled at, and punished for every little violation or infringement of the law. Bit by bit, though, he starts to internalize the code of the military.
He starts to care if his fellow soldiers succeed or not. He starts to care about the military code. He stands tall, not because someone has told him to, but because of the pride inside him. He is fit and ready for the hard life ahead of him.
This determination and spirit does not depart permanently from the soldier when he is done with the military. He will conduct and evaluate tasks in the civilian world with the same self discipline that he learned and developed years back as a anxious and apprehensive young recruit.
Now a confident individual, he is ready to take on and tackle any collaborative enterprise that those around him think and fear are very difficult to deal with.
He knows, first of all, the value of organization. He can put things into perspective. He sees that the impossible project is only a series of little tasks.
He learned long ago that self discipline is the first step towards leadership, and now he is ready to step to the front of the group and assign those tasks to others.
He realizes the importance of following through on a task and following up on the people assigned to it. He knows that the self discipline that rests in his breast may not be present in his non-military team mates.
He is ready to lead by example or push from behind. Whatever the moment requires, he can do. He is not afraid to praise or to punish. As the job nears completion, he sees that same spirit of comradeship and pride beginning to grow the same way it did for him when the military taught him all about self discipline.
WO I Nana Akwah
Ex-Regimental Sergeant Major
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