If you are of a certain age, I’m sure that you remember that iconic ad campaign for the U.S. Army. The jingle is probably running through your mind right now. (You’re welcome!) It ran from 1980 until 2001 and it was the Army’s most successful advertising venture, coming in as one of the top 20 advertising campaigns of the 20th century. But what does it really mean? For me, as a senior in high school in the 1980s, I took it at face value that I could literally be more than myself by joining the Army. It turned out that I was right, but as I got older and wiser the slogan took on new, deeper meanings.
For example, the idea of “being all that you can be” can be used to encourage others to reach the heights of their potentials and to pursue their dreams without fear. I have written about living without fear before, yet it still eludes me sometimes. It’s in those moments that I reflect back on all of the hard times that I survived while in the service. Being “all you can be” takes time and it requires work, sacrifice, and most of all – determination.
Another way of looking at it is to do some introspective thinking and consider how you feel at the end of a day. Did you waste your time or did you use it to your advantage? Did you make that phone call that you have been putting off or did you make an excuse? Are you satisfied with what you accomplished or did you let yourself down? These questions are sometimes hard to answer, but not answering them doesn’t make them go away, which can take you further away from your true self.
Parents, teachers, coaches, and other great leaders have been requiring our best effort since time immemorial. Where would we be without their sage advice, their expectations of excellence? They saw something in us that we could not see in ourselves. Without them pushing us we would have never achieved anything worthwhile. Everyone has a mentor or someone that they looked up to for guidance and motivation at some point in their lives, and from time to time we move between the roles of student and teacher. Always leading, always learning and always focused on something greater – I think that’s pretty much what life is supposed to be about.
So, here we are in a brandnew year. Are you going to “Be all you can be” this year? Are you going to challenge yourself or maybe challenge someone else to reach their full potential? I hope so. Are you going to ask yourself some of those deep personal questions to better know thyself? It will only help you if you do. Are you going to make a list of new years resolutions? It might surprise you to know that I’m not. Nope – not me, but I will question myself and challenge myself early and often. The thing is that a year is just way too long for me to keep my focus on anything. The best I can do is to “Be all that I can be” every single day in every position that I hold and in all of my thoughts, words and deeds. Didn’t Jesus say something like that? He would have made a great Army recruiter.
Alan Shoalmire is a resident in Grimes County and the owner of Grill Sergeant Hotdogs and submits a column to the Navasota Examiner every other week.