Sprinting to the next pain station on the top of an empty parking lot at 0545 after doing 20 burpees and 50 big-boy situps brings a heightened level of clarity to one’s life. I am in downtown Houston at the Marathon AO, a balmy 88 degrees, with 95% humidity. I am about to splash Merlot as I jump up and begin the last run over to the PAX, all of whom are now in plank position waiting on YHC to arrive. The eight men patiently waiting before me are all very strong athletes, and our Q – an Army Veteran  – has many more exercises in store for us. But whatever else he has up his sleeve, one thing is clear…..

I am the last one today. I am the 6. There is no shame in this and I embrace it, because there are other days when I am the 12. But today I am last.

It’s not fun to be the 6, but the reality is that most of us have been in this position at least once during an F3 workout. The F3 AO is, in the words of Adm. William McRaven, a “great equalizer.” The asymmetrical nature of our Q rotation means that different Qs play to different strengths, and in turn, each PAX will at some point experience his own personal crucible and wind up facing the backs of his Brothers in the Gloom. We will all be the 6 at some point during our F3 workouts. If you don’t have this problem yet, then you haven’t posted to the Marathon.

With the reality of the 6 in mind, it is critical to appreciate that the 6 is actually one of the most important positions in our AO. Remember that the mission of F3 is “to plant, grow and serve small workout groups for men for the invigoration of male community leadership.” The F3 acorn is re-planted every time an FNG steps up to an AO and is welcomed by PAX who hopefully take him under their wing and support him during his first workout. That FNG may be a triathlete who works out 5 times a week, a guy with a Goruck Heavy patch on his hat….. or he may be an FNG who is 60 pounds overweight and has not seen the inside of a gym in 10 years. Of course, the F3 workout transition is often easy for the FNG who is in excellent shape, but it can be extremely physically and mentally challenging for the struggling FNG who now finds himself at the 6 a few minutes into his virgin F3 experience.

Fortunately, the Q and PAX are in command of shaping that experience. There are two paths here: if the PAX do not step up to support the struggling FNG, if they blow off on an Indian run or merkin festival and leave him in the dust, if they don’t “put themselves Third” and step up to support the struggling FNG, then that FNG will probably not come back. It will be his last AO. Reciprocally, if the strong PAX stand next to that FNG on his first day and give him support, if they sacrifice their own solid workout by “throttling down” to help the FNG, then they will hopefully motivate him that day and instill within him the concept of You vs You. They will push the FNG to push himself. Push him to come back to the AO two days later for a second helping. Push him to set a goal to do F3 for just one more week. One more month. One year. One year later, that overweight FNG might be your Q.

The correct path is clear, and is fostered by each of us respecting and encouraging the 6 when he shows up to our AOs. I was certainly supported by the PAX on top of the Marathon parking lot that morning, thanks Brothers for the positive motivation. If you see a similar guy show up, you support him, push him, and push yourself to lead.  In the opinion of YHC, encouraging the 6 is precisely what F3 is all about. ISI, and see you ITG as we all push ourselves toward the 12.

–        Shots Fired!