I can recall my “shark attack” as vividly as the day it occurred. It was March of 2005 down in Fort Benning, GA and I had reported to the post for One Station Unit Training (OSUT) as party of my basic training as an infantryman with the Army. When we first arrived we all got stuck at the reception battalion known as 30th AG…the time spent there was so misleading because all of the Drill Sergeants were very toned down and low key…it was nothing like what I had expected it to be from seeing movies and talking to other friends who had joined other services. Little did I know…30th AG was not Sand Hill.
The day we were marched from the reception battalion to our actual training battalions was a nice spring day down in Georgia. I remember being in a company sized formation (toward the rear) marching down a paved road and then all of a sudden I began to see the front of the formation begin to disperse in a very disorganized fashion, but I didn’t understand why…a few seconds later I heard them…our new drill sergeants had descended on our formation and began to “motivate” us rather loudly to move to the nearby PT field (with a sense of urgency). I’m not going to lie…I was scared shitless because I had no idea what was going on…and in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had gotten myself into.
For the next fourteen weeks I went through some of the longest most sleep-deprived and toughest days of my life (at least up until then). The days (and nights) were filled with runs, marches, heavy rucksacks, and plenty of quality time with our drill sergeants (which involved a lot of push-ups, flutter kicks, iron mikes, and whatever else they could devise on a whim). I hated every almost every moment of it…but in the end…I look back on that time with fondness. Talk about being f$%cked in the head. All in all, the time I spent at Fort Benning made me a stronger person both mentally and physically and showed me what I could accomplish with a little mental fortitude.
I liken the time I spent with my last employer to my time in basic. It wasn’t as physically intense, but I had some early mornings, late nights, short deadlines, and constant employee and client/customer issues. Needless to say that there were times when I felt I wanted to throw the towel in and say “F$%ck It, I’m Out!,” but I didn’t.
I think the only thing stopping me from quitting prematurely was my need for income…which tends to keep the majority of us in place when we’re not so happy with our employment situation.
Today, I get to close the chapter of my time spent in retail management, and yes it’s a huge relief! Actually, I’m trying not to stumble over myself as I run out the door. Yet, as much as I hated being at work sometimes (this is called disengaged…in HR speak), the experiences that I went through have prepared me to meet the new challenges of the role which I’m moving into. In the end I know I will look back one day and appreciate both the good and the bad of my time spent in retail – not today! but one day.
Moral of the story: there is good in the outcome of a not so pleasant experience. Take the time to do some self-reflection and you’ll identify how each situation, interaction, and relationship changes you. Don’t focus on the bad…identify the good and continue to build yourself up from there. Who knows…maybe you’ll even look back on rough times with some nostalgia.