With the passing of Veteran’s Day a few weeks ago, I continue to reflect on the dedication and sacrifice the men and women of the Armed Forces have made historically and currently. I have always been fascinated by Special Operation Forces, particularly the Navy Seals. Every time I watch Zero Dark Thirty, American Sniper, Captain Phillips, and even The Pacifier – it is like I am viewing it for the first time.
Many active and retired SEALs have entered the business marketplace with fitness products, books, videos, keynote speaking, etc. I tried to summarize three key areas from SEAL routines that ordinary folks like you and I can implement into our lives to become more successful.
- SEALs are incredibly punctual – Even though retired, Commander Jocko Willink still sets his alarm for 4:30 am every day. Not only that, he sets three alarms: “One electric, one battery, one wind up. That way, there is not excuse for not getting out of bed, especially with all that rests on that decisive moment.” (Extreme Ownership) You and I – What would happen if we got up 15-30 minutes earlier every day? Think of our increased productivity. Or possibly time to sit still and have a devotional time before things start getting crazy. Commander Willink learned from his instructor to take extensive measures never to be late. What if we treated other’s time with the same respect and value? If someone is going to be late, it won’t be us.
- SEALs push their bodies and minds to the extreme – An early part of a SEAL candidate’s training is called “Hell Week”. This week consists of six days of cold, wet, brutally difficult operational training on fewer than four hours of sleep. On average, only 25% of SEAL candidates make it through Hell Week. However, those that survive it, describe the accomplishment as “the greatest achievement of their lives.” (navyseal.com) While facing extreme exhaustion, retired Commander Mark Devine was once yelled at during a drill, “You guys are capable of at least twenty times what you think you are!” (The Way of the Navy Seal)
You and I – What negative mental barriers do we cling to and refuse to let go of? What if we approached every day with the thought, “I’m going to do one positive thing today that nobody else will?” In our families, work, churches, and communities – what can we do to push through physical and psychological challenges so we can experience “the greatest achievements of our lives?” What area in our lives do we want a major breakthrough? Where can we do five, ten, even twenty times better than we already are right now? Bottom line, are you and I willing to make extreme changes, toughen up, dig deep inside, and be uncomfortable for a while to achieve our goals?
SEALs carefully select what words they use – Realizing the word/mind/belief/action connection, a Navy Seal approaches missions with an offensive mindset, not defensive. Any “failure” during a mission, is used as a learning experience to improve themselves and a motivator to keep moving forward until the mission is finalized. Here is a small sample of the words they intentionally replace: Good vs. Great. Maybe vs. Definitely. Can’t vs. Will. Try vs. Do. Failed vs. Learned.
- You and I – What if we consistently replaced our vocabulary with some of the above listed words? What if we approached life with an offensive, pro-active approach vs. a defensive and reactive? I remember hearing a speaker years ago encouraging the audience to replace the word “but” in our vocabulary with either the words “however” or “and”. For example: “Son, you played a great game, but you did miss several tackles.” Instead: “Son, you played a great game, and I can only see you getting better at tackling.” Try it, you’ll be amazed at the positive flow of energy that comes from just changing the way we habitually talk.