It's early yet, but did you fail today? Did you fail at something yesterday? How about some other time during your life?
It's pretty much how we learn as a species. We try something, new or not, and if successful, it's not really much of a lesson, But if we fail, it gives us the opportunity to learn from that mistake, change course, make adjustments, and try again for success.
So it is very curious to read about a proposed change to the Air Force physical fitness exam - it may soon feature a "No Fail" option.
Airmen who fall under Air Force Materiel Command will start to see a new option when it comes to their physical fitness test.
Starting Jan. 20, the command will begin "beta testing" the diagnostic PT test, similar to an idea first unveiled by Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright last year. It is a no-fail trial PT test that, if passed, would count as the airman's official score.
"Physical fitness is crucial to our ability to meet mission requirements," said AFMC commander Gen. Arnold Bunch in a recent service release.
"The diagnostic assessments will give airmen an idea of their current fitness level and where they may need to improve prior to their test due date," he added. "This is part of an overall effort to continue to encourage a culture of fitness among all of our airmen that includes year-round physical conditioning and healthy eating habits."
For the diagnostic test, "airmen who are current on their fitness assessments may attempt up to three diagnostic assessments, or 'mock tests,' during the time period ranging from 45 days prior to their official assessment month and up to 15 days prior to their assessment due date," the service release states.
An airman may also be able to apply the diagnostic test for certain components, such as a trial run for the push-ups only.
If the airman completes the test, he or she may elect to use the score as their official score within the Air Force Fitness Management System, according to the release.
"Once an assessment is recorded, the airman may not take another diagnostic test until 45 days prior to the start of their next testing cycle," the release states.
Officials are creating specific guidance tailored for each AFMC unit prior to Jan. 20 start date, it adds.
I don't pretend to understand how this works. In civilian life, there's a few jobs where you'd expect some level of physical fitness among the participants. Emergency Medical Services, Law Enforcement, and some service work comes to mind. Admit it - we've all seen that overweight-looking police officer out there directing traffic. How would he react in a crisis? I wouldn't want our military men and women in that same position, because it would be easy for them to end up dead.
But I also wonder where it's coming from. Unfortunately, I have a good idea, and it's a generational shift in the offing. As you well know, I've been involved in a training program called "Woodbadge" through scouting since about 2014. There have been significant changes to the program since the last time I was on staff. On the surface - all the "fun" is being taken out. Millenials, apparently, don't like competition. They don't like being different from one another. They don't like to stand out. And they most certainly don't like to do things to attract attention to themselves. Or so 'National' tells us.
Curiously enough, there's part of that training, called "Generations in Scouting", that highlights those differences and looks at the different ways each generation communicates and learns. It is among the more interesting parts of the course, an now it also seems to be par for the course as well.
But that's scouting. We're supposed to be welcoming and accessible to every youth, no matter what their station in life, or mental or physical capacity. For things like Law Enforcement, Fire Services, or the Military, isn't that counter-intuitive?
These things are not for everybody, and it is probably true that there are some that simply cannot perform to the level required to be successful at these things. Do we maintain our standards, or is it more damaging to lower everyone's expectations?