By Jeff Gonzales
What have you done to earn it today? It’s a straightforward question focusing on what have you done to better yourself, your position or your lot in life. That also extends, of course to your shooting skills.
The Forging Process
The concept and desire for continual improvement was instilled into my very being early in my military career by amazing mentors who urged me to earn my Trident every day. I learned that I have to choose to improve…that excellence doesn’t happen by accident.
While I was welcomed into the community by my peers, that didn’t mean the work was over. In fact, it was just beginning. I have carried this philosophy with me to this day. Each and every day I reflect on what I’ve done to earn my Trident.
Now that I’m out of uniform, that ethos will never die. Getting to where I am today was no accident. It wasn’t easy, but it is was simple; put in the hard work — and lots of it — because hard work pays off.
Knowledge, Body & Skills
How can you adopt this philosophy for yourself? Again the answer is simple. The effort required is far from easy, though.
I break things down into three categories; knowledge, body and skills. Every day I work to make improvements in at least one if not all of these areas. This pursuit of excellence is about consistency and forming good habits.
I wasn’t always a book reader. I’ve come to appreciate the value of continuous education through reading and research. Sometimes it’s in the area of my profession, but not always.
I’m also a big fan of puzzles particularly those requiring the use of logic. They’re frequently the most challenging, but also provide the greatest feedback and relate to my profession in a big way.
Stronger, Faster and Meaner
The best investment you can make is in getting yourself stronger and more physically fit. Take the time to educate yourself about the right routines and techniques to get the most out of your workout time. Then, to see real gains you have to get outside your comfort zone. That can be a double-edge sword, though, because that’s where you can find yourself getting injured.
I take a broad approach to physical fitness and training. Of particular importance is injury prevention. I don’t do myself or my family much good if I’m injured and can’t perform or work.
I’ve learned that warming up, activating my body and priming my CNS for a workout is as important as the workout itself. My mobility game has come a long way and while I have long way to go, I’m happy with the results. I can see them on a daily basis.
No matter who you are or what your physical capabilities may be, fitness is not only important, but required for a good living. Getting old isn’t for the weak.
The Pursuit of Excellence
When it comes to improving my skills, that effort doesn’t just apply to those I use in my job. It’s about all the things in my life. It’s a never-ending pursuit of improvement. This ties into working toward peak fitness so I can continue to push myself in all areas.
It doesn’t matter what you do to improve your skills — one day it could be ten minutes of draw and dry fire practice at home, another it could be live fire training at the range — you want to do something that’s going to have a positive effect on your performance every day.
Finding a good training partner and working together to push each other can be a huge help in getting yourself motivated and pushing yourself to the next level. I’ve been lucky to have some amazing friends and training partners over the years. I’ve found it almost a necessity in order to get to get to the level I want to be.
Life isn’t easy. It’s not fair and it’s frequently not pretty. But that is no excuse not to work to improve your life, in big and small ways, every day. Get at it now.
“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” – Aristotle
Jeff Gonzales is a former US. Navy SEAL and preeminent weapons and tactics instructor. He brings his Naval Special Warfare mindset, operational success and lessons learned unapologetically to the world at large. Currently he is the Director of Training at The Range at Austin. Learn more about his passion and what he does at therangeuastin.com.