Unusual expression isn’t it.
It was born out of a desire to explain to my bosses why I always got there whatever I did at my pace, not someone else’s.
It led to all sorts of problems in the forces and I was described as achieving only what I needed to, no less, no more. No drive, just “dependable”. Bad assessments, no “go”, no desire for promotion. Just enough to get by, not “good material”, just coasting.
In the forces there was always the push to “better oneself”.
Go for a run and guys used watches to improve on their times.
Seconds counted in the testosterone rich world, except to me.
First 2 mile run, 8 minutes. Last run after 12 weeks of PE, 8 minutes.
Circuit training, “Always do one more XYZ than last time”.
I did 8 of xyz at first, I did 8 in the end.
It drove the PI’s mad, YET when it came to endurance, the athletes sprinted off and I trudged along behind.
Week one, 8 miles, 2 hours, week 12, 8 miles, 2 hours.
So round everyone went again in hell week.
2 hours again but up the list of finishers a bit.
Round again, Top three, but still 2 hours.
Last round, me and another stubborn cuss, both finished as a pair, passing the fallen heroes, 2 hours.
Nothing worked to improve things from yelling, cajoling, punishment, reward, nothing improved things, 2 hours or what I wanted to do. It set a pattern which certain instructors were looking for. Suddenly the “sluggards” as one PI called us got pulled to one side for special attention. Weapons.
Now I love to shoot and hunt but speed is not what you need to hunt, you need attention to detail and a methodical way about you.
So once the “forces” way of shooting was drilled into us, things gently improved with practice and the one thing the forces LOVE is practice. Suited me down to a tee.
06h to 08h armory maintaining weapons, 6 days a week.
Then a progression from start to finish, early to next day, morning, noon , and night, bang sticking away and field work, day after day, night after night.
One particular week we were shooting against the USMC.
Gawd those guys were fit. We? Just our usual mess.
They, running round as a team, pumped up to hell and back again, me and my mate? We got there, as usual, first of the second group.
Now these guys knew a bit about sniping.
So it’ll come as no surprise that they were better than us.
During the week of “fun”, they creamed the runs, scrambled further than we did in a given time, and easily out shot us.
Right up till the last 24 hour exercise.
Us against them. Stalking one another.
From the word go they came unstuck. They knew our tactics, we knew there’s BUT the difference was we didn’t follow the book and just went to ground.
Patience is a wonderful thing and they broke first on the 22nd hour and came to look for us. Cold, wet, and mightily peed off they walked right up to our hide and jumped out of their skins when we let off two shots just behind their legs. For some reason their officer said we were cheating and hadn’t stalked his men.
Our RSM (equiv. to a gunny) just smiled and said “Like all good wild animals, if you just wait ‘sir’, curiosity will get the better of them and they will come to you”. Dunno what happened after that because we returned to our barracks for two days of sleep. Having been thoroughly thrashed all week we ultimately won by doing what we did best, carrying out our craft at our speed not anyone else’s.
I’m still doing it, not first of the second group as my mobility is running down and I’m more 1st of the 102nd group. Yet nothing changes. Hunting, I’ll sit and wait. I’ve had deer come up and sniff me, been peed on by fox cubs, and had a sparrow sit on my gun barrel before now. Perfectly safe and instinctively knowing they weren’t the focus of my attention.
Patience? More a state of mind than something you can teach.
Curiosity? That what killed the cat.