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I Am Clever


A Fine Line - Between Chaos and Creation

Everybody seems to think I'm lazy; I don't mind, I think they're crazy...

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Sunday, Week 9 - What Cadets/Military Has Taught Me
Driver Picks the Music
Hello, all - I'm back! Done my one course, but I just found out that I'll be starting another one on April 6. No rest for the wicked awesome, apparently.

Oh well. Conveniently ignoring the fact that Week 8 never got finished, here's the kick-off to Week 9, with two things the military or cadets has taught me.

17. Time management

I covered the topic of punctuality in Week 8's 2 things I've learned, so I figured what better way to follow up than with this?

Cadets has taught me the fine art of what I call "backwards planning". How does it work, you may ask? Like this (scenario; I'm at lunch, trying to plan out my time for that short block of time that is lunch break before the next set of classes in the afternoon. Time = 1200):

Schedule says class start time = 1315
Therefore; arrive at class = 1310
Therefore; leave blocks as a division = 1305
Therefore; be forming up outside blocks = 1300
Therefore; wrap up whatever thing I'm doing in blocks = 1255
Therefore; finish eating lunch/head back to blocks = before 1250 (slightly more flexible to factor in socializing, but ideally finish lunch and go to blocks by 1230)

See what I mean? You really had to think ahead and work your way backwards to make sure you were on time for things. It's a skill that's really served me well.

18. Anything is possible if you put the work in

Some of you may know this already, but when I joined cadets, I was a full year behind (technically a year and a half, but who's counting?). You're eligible to become a cadet once you reach the golden age of 12, but I didn't join until I was 13, and due to the time of year of my birthday, it meant that I turned 14 halfway through my first year. I was one of the oldest ones in that group. It was unfortunate, but I figured I was stuck there, as it was my own fault for not joining sooner.

However, when I went to HMCS Quadra next summer, I met a guy who was in the exact same boat as I was (almost exactly, actually - our birthdays were only a month apart). He said he was going to try to skip a rank. I didn't think you were able to do that, but he seemed awfully sure that you could if you did it when you were still near the bottom of the rank ladder.

The idea stuck with me, and I asked about it shortly after I got home and cadets restarted. It turned out that yes, I could, due to my age, still being near the bottom of the rank/training structure, and being a dedicated cadet. However, it wouldn't be skipping a rank so much as it was fast-tracking me, they clarified.

Therefore, I got more opportunities to be in low-level leadership positions that year, and thus got promoted to the next rank up early, and then about a month later, I got promoted again to be where I would have been if I'd joined a year earlier.

As for the 'work' aspect of the header, though, that didn't end with just making the effort to see whether this could happen - I basically had to teach myself a lot of the material I'd be missing (due to not being able to sit in on multiple classes simultaneously).

While I was given extra training assistance whenever the officers could provide it (I was a unique case, so priority went to the masses), I basically was given the extra training manual for the higher level I wanted to skip through, and a lot of the knowledge-based part of the work was left to me to teach myself to be ready for the end of year test (a test you were meant to pass to be promoted).

I ultimately succeeded (being one of the few people who passed the first time; there was an oddly high number of failed tests that year); a fact that I'm still proud of to this day.

So while credit does go to those officers and staff members who helped make it possible for me to fast-track through the way I did (which you can't do anymore, apparently - you can fast-promote certain low-level ranks, but they still have to sit in on the same level of classes, making the rank more of a figurehead than anything... but I digress), a lot of it was me being willing to push myself and teach myself the information at home as well. I think I drove my mom nuts by repeatedly asking her to help quiz me on the Principles of Leadership and the Characteristics of a Leader sheets I had. Sorry, Mom - if it makes you feel any better, you were a great help to a scared and slightly paranoid 15YO who just didn't want to fail!

It makes me proud to think that because I pushed myself like this, I managed to make my way up through the ranks and age out at the highest rank achievable to cadets: Chief Petty Officer First Class (CPO1). I don't think that I would have gotten it if I hadn't pushed myself ahead like that; not in the 5.5 years I got in the program, as opposed to the usual 7.

Achieving your goals is possible - you really just need to be willing to put the work in.

See you all tomorrow, when I get back to ruining the WtJ!