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  • Writer's pictureDavid Redding


It was 0500 in Sarasota, Florida and the men of GTE18 had been at it for almost twelve hours

They had just come off a good dunking in the Atlantic Ocean bearing fifty-pound sandbags that they hadn’t seen coming and were moving back to the log cache to pick up the backbreaking logs that they thought they had dumped for good before they went on the sand. You could see their shoulders sagging and heads dropping with each step they took toward the cache. Morale was low.

Because they didn’t have watches, the men of GTE18 didn’t know that it was BMNT (begin morning nautical twilight). BMNT is the darkness before the dawn when the Indians chose to attack because they knew that the spirits of soldiers would be at their lowest.

The lower a man’s spirits the less fight will be in him. Limited visibility has that effect on a man

As is the goal of the Ruck phase of the GTE, the cadre had managed to apply HSLM (high stress and limited visibility) to the maximum point right at the moment that the men’s natural cycles would have them at their minimum ability to overcome it.

HSLM + BMNT = Adversity and overcoming Adversity is what builds character.

The cadre had quick huddle to decide how to frame up the next evolution. It was 2.5 miles from the log cache to the man-kissing-woman-statue that was the next objective. Each platoon of 22 men had to carry one of the logs and eight of the sandbags. But these weren’t exercise sandbags with handles and balance. They were working sandbags made from burlap that were designed to prop up a levee during a flood. There was no good way to carry them and they leaked sand down a man’s back to the places where they would grate the most.

So the cadre decided to make it a race

The cadre told the platoon leaders that there was no time standard to move to the man-kissing-woman-statue, but there would be a consequence (bad) for the losing platoon and a reward (good) for the winning platoon. When they heard that, the platoon leaders heads both popped up. Suddenly they were energized and engaged. Such is the power of competition.

F3 defines Competition as the healthy process of pitting oneself against another man in an objectively measurable endeavor. It's a wonderful thing. But it's a concept that (like masculinity) has been affixed by Goo Nation with adjectives that has morphed it into a pejorative. So, just as “toxic masculinity” is the root of all evil, “ruinous competition” is viewed by Goo as destructive to the economy, the classroom and anywhere else it is not tightly restricted.

The problem with Goo’s pejorative modification of concepts like masculinity and competition is that over time the adjectives inevitably fall away leaving nothing but the concept itself, now tainted and conjoined with the modifier. So, it’s not just that toxic masculinity is bad, it’s that masculinity itself is toxic. Likewise competition, all competition in the eyes of Goo, is ruinous. But this is a lie.

The need for competition is as strong in human beings as the desire to be loved. Competition is not ruinous, it’s elemental to humanity. God gave it to us in the same way he gave us alcohol, to be used properly. If you get drunk on either, that has negative consequences. But in the proper dram, competition (like good bourbon) is something to be savored and enjoyed.

The Red Platoon got the jump on the White Platoon as GTE18 left the log cache

And, for a time, it looked a lost cause as the men in White Platoon started to accept the fact that they were going to lose. You could see it in their eyes. But, as is often the case, a few key Leaders decided they were not willing to just let that happen. They weren't willing to lose without a fight. So they inspired the other men not to quit. To stay in the fight. To pick up the pace. And they did.

They also got lucky, because the last stop light before the man-kissing-woman-statute changed to the White Platoon’s advantage and allowed it to close the gap and pass the Red Platoon with a quarter mile to go.

But Red Platoon was having none of it. Gus (F3 Nation’s Q of GTE) happened to be in the Red Platoon. He went to the front of his platoon's log and pushed his brothers into a shuffling double-time that White Platoon could not match. Red Platoon won by a nose with that one last-ditch effort.

They probably didn’t notice it, but the sun had come up during that final push

The log race had forced the men of both platoons to dig down into the bottom of their reserves for everything they had, and they discovered that they had more than they knew. Competition had helped them overcome the powerful effects of HSLV + BMNT.

As the men gathered around the man-kissing-woman-statue for the Sunriser, they were the new owners of something they had not previously recognized was within them: the ability to overcome extreme Adversity.

Such is the power of Competition.



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