I could have been anything. I chose to fight. I chose to fight both necessary and unnecessary wars. When you fight a necessary war, you know you’ve done something that was needed. When you fight an unnecessary war, you walk away from it knowing that you made a terrible mistake you can never take back.

Anyone who has ever had to fight for anything in their life has made the mistake of fighting an unnecessary war. It is what leads you to hoard emotions, memories and even deep-seated feelings of guilt.

It’s human nature to collect objects, memorabilia and people–and then resist or struggle when it’s time to let it go. We’re all secret hoarders. We have closets full of clothes we never wear, shelves packed with food we will never eat, and lists full of tasks we never get around to doing. Our memories are littered; not only by all the things we didn’t do, but all the things we did.

Our desire to hoard both the intangible and tangible aspects of life is a phenomena that psychologists call The Endowment Effect. We put more value on what we have–and what we could have had–than what it is actually worth. It’s pure psychological torture and we do it to ourselves everyday because our minds are undisciplined monkeys that need a good old-fashioned dose of military training.

Imagine if you made a list of everything you are working on or want to work on. What half-finished or half-imagined projects are clogging up your mental capacity? Are you going to complete it or let it go? Or better yet, you can just walk away from it and pretend the whole thing never actually happened.

Once you make the decision to let go and redirect your focus and your energy to projects you are going to invest in–everything will change immediately. In the military, I learned that focus is everything. Daydreaming was not allowed. Imagine if you were standing guard and you had to protect a very important person. Their life depended upon you doing your job. Even one moment of movement matters.

I barely speak. I can speak when I need to, but most of the time I choose not to. My work in the armed forces taught me that observation is everything. You may not notice me or know that I am there–but I am there, watching everything. That is my job.

People who work in the military are demonised a lot. But for someone like me, I see it as my role to defend and safeguard. Military also taught me a lot about honouring my appearance. I can’t look shoddy. It looks bad, not just on me, but on what I have the honour to represent. We are all part of a team. Bad behaviour from one person in uniform reflects on every man and woman in uniform.

When there is an event–which is everyday–you have to look your best. Your hair, your clothes, your shoes–everything needs to be immaculate. There is focus that goes into everything. There is a precision that goes into everything. There is unparalleled discipline.

I understand this lifestyle is not for everybody. I have no regrets. But that does not mean I have not made mistakes. When I’ve made a mistake, I redirect my mind and my energy and focus on new goals. The military taught me discipline. It taught me to fight. It taught me to stand up for my rights through action–not words.

It taught me what it means to be a man.

Guan Yu, Ancient Chinese Military Leader

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