We all like to have fun…and some days sitting on a couch playing Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands online with some friends is all the fun you want to have. (It’s a great game, buy it! It requires tactical communication and tactical thinking). This is a perfect example of easy fun…it doesn’t get any easier than sitting on a couch with a controller and a beer beside you. Or how about you go to the range, and shoot some basic target drills. Or you go to the gym out of a personal sense of obligation, but you don’t really push yourself, holding yourself to the same basic routine you’ve been using for the last year. More easy fun. It’s fun because you know what is coming up, you enjoy it, but there isn’t really a challenge.
And this is where hard fun comes in: when the fun comes from the sense of satisfaction from pushing yourself and succeeding. Take the field portion of basic training as an example. You go out to the field, and push yourself harder than you ever imagined you were capable of. You embrace the suck, and deal with the piss poor weather conditions, the bad food, the yelling and screaming by instructors, the lack of sleep, the complete absence of quality sleep, and you hate every minute of it. You question every aspect of why you thought joining the military was a good idea…and then you finish the field ex, and you go back to the barracks. You get some sleep, and when you wake up, you sit back and evaluate the field portion of the course, you realize that you are capable of so much more than you ever realized. You realized that you actually had a lot of fun, but you were too stressed out to pick up on it when it happened. The people you were close to before the field portion are now some of your closest friends, because of what you went through together.
If you talk to veterans who have finished basic training 30+ years ago, and ask them about basic training, the stories will be about embracing the suck: the times when the instructors were really hard on them, the rainstorm that flooded their trench and sleeping in 3 inches of water, the moments that started turning them into true warriors. Those are the moments that are remembered: the classroom lectures, the basic inspections, the drill lessons, will all be forgotten, but the suck? That is remembered forever.
So, we know what “easy fun” is; when was the last time you went out and had “Hard Fun”? When was the last time you really pushed yourself at the range? At the gym? Read a book that increases your warrior mindset over playing some Xbox?
I challenge each and every one of you to get out and have some real fun. Grab some friends and do that rough 3 day backpacking hike. Do some hard-core training, try something new and challenging at the gym. Build those lasting friendships, and remind yourself what you are truly capable of. Let go of comfort, embrace the suck, and have some “Hard Fun” that will make memories that last a lifetime. Remind yourself that you are still a warrior, and that you can do anything you set your mind to.