There are some moments in our lives that stick with us as vivid memories. It is funny how a single moment or day can feel like yesterday but others you have no recollection of. There is one day from my time in the Army that I remember very clearly. It was nothing significant, it was not some action packed experience or witnessing a heroic act but a valuable lesson learnt. I remember it like it was yesterday, where I was standing, the soldiers that where standing next to me and the heavy due on the grass on a wet season morning in the Northern Territory.

I returned home from my first deployment to  Iraq just before Christmas. It was great timing because my unit was heading into 4 weeks of leave. I spent my leave holidaying enjoying the freedoms of life and relaxing from the previous 6 months. I remember the day I returned to work after 4 weeks of indulgence. This day has stood out in my mind ever since. That morning we had a brand new Lieutenant who had just marched into the unit, fresh out of training. A brand new Lieutenant “Suby” as we would call them, has gone through 2 to 3 years of training to get this point, so they are normally pretty keen to get into it. Well on this morning, I met politician Mr Andrew Hastie MP Assistant Minister of Defence. At this point in his career he was Lieutenant Hastie, Troop Leader of 2 Troop A Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment.  On this day Lt Hastie was taking the mornings Physical Training session and decided that he would test our fitness by going through the Army Basic Fitness Assessment (BFA). Well, the 6 weeks of indulgence, drinking, partying and no exercise came to light. I got through the sit ups no worries, 100 to a cadence. I got through the push ups no worries, 40 unbroken, but then I struggled on the run. I would normally have no problem on the run, a 2.4km in under 11:19 but my legs where heavy, the Darwin wet season humidity was overwhelming, my lungs could not keep up with the oxygen demand it required to keep me at a 4:50km Pace and I crossed the finish line behind the cut off time at 11:50. The slowest I would ever run a 2.4km.

Lt Hastie was not impressed. He gathered up all the soldiers that had failed and gave them one of those disappointed parent addresses. What I remember the most,  is what I was thinking. This arrogant young soldier just back from Iraq , dismissing Lt Hastie’s disappointment. In my mind I had every excuse why I had failed. I was thinking “I’m not climatized to the heat, I’m just back off 4 weeks leave, I just spent 6 months in Iraq driving a Light Armoured Vehicles all day long with no time to train”. In this cocky 20 year olds mind, I was in the right and the Suby had no idea what he was talking about. Well I remember him saying and will never forget “We will be heading to Afghanistan this year, you should be ready, you should always be ready, there is no excuse”

Lt Hastie was right in so many ways. We would be heading back over seas on another deployment, it wouldn’t be long until we deployed, the deployment would be nothing like the one I had just returned from and I had no excuse for not being ready.

This lesson has stuck with me and is probably why I remember the day so vividly. I was wrong, I got cough out and I was too arrogant to see it.

The problem is, we always find an excuse why we can’t exercise. It’s too cold, I have no motivation, the gym is closed, but this is your mind justifying your lazy behaviour. You are looking for a way out. Like I was using every excuse i could find for why I could not pass the basic fitness Assessment to be in the Army. I was justifying my lazy behaviour.

I would like to say this was my turning point and from here on out I was always striving to be at a pinnacle of physical fitness, but that is not the truth. It would still take a few more hard lessons before I would reach that point.

It was however, a very important lesson to learn. The lesson I learnt on this day was, There is no reason why you can’t exercise, just excuses. Understanding that they are excuses and not reasons,  is the first step. Every time a “reason” stops you, acknowledge it as an excuse. Do not give it any justification in your own mind. From their your outlook will change and you will be ready for the next lesson.