There he was, sweat streaming down his brow. Heart racing like a prized greyhound. There was no knowing if he’d ever make it home, with his head high. It was the fog of war.
Speedy Gonzalez was the most recent guest on The BDDT Podcast. He shares his path into the Marine Corps. He talks about taking “the ASVAB” (The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery–a basic skills test). He took that test 4 damn times to become a Marine. Not exactly what folks think of when they hear “war story”.
In this story, we didn’t see the blood and carnage. The trials and tribulations. Courageous leadership. Perseverance. Bravery in the face of gargantuan, invincible villains.
You see, Speedy was on the brink of a downward spiral. His friends were all on the streets. They had no drive and no direction. Still, they were all he had. He was just a kid. His choice was to walk with them down the same familiar road. The road of purgatory. Where things can’t get much worse and won’t get much better. Or, he could find a new tribe. A new program. A new way of life.
He found an Army Recruiter, who treated him like a hopeless kid. When Speedy failed the ASVAB for the first time, the recruiter was passive. He said, “Don’t worry. You can take it again ‘when you’re ready’.” That recruiter, like everyone else in his life to that point, was content. Was willing to except that things would not get better.
After some time, Speedy walked back into the recruiting station. This time a Marine recruiter snatched him up. The Marine signed Speedy up for a retest. Speedy failed again. But this recruiter held Speedy accountable.
“You said you wanted this! I committed my time to you, and you let me down. More importantly, you let yourself down!”
Speedy felt it. He went back home and studied like hell to pass that test. He came back for his third trial. This time, he passed by such a large margin that they thought he cheated. Perseverance.
I don’t want to hype up the ASVAB–it’s just a tiny test after all. But not all war stories are bloody. Kids like Speedy are fighting for their life. That Marine Corps recruiter changed everything for this kid–and probably a lot of other similar kids.
Everybody fights a battle. Be intentional about how you do your work, because you could be that courageous leader for someone. You can change everything.