5 Navy SEAL Secrets to Success

by Derek Loosvelt | May 09, 2011

1. Laser-like focus on the target.
"At Camp Pendleton in California, where I did my initial weapons training," writes Eric Greitens, a SEAL in the U.S. Navy Reserve, in a recent Wall Street Journal article, "we must have fired thousands of rounds at practice-range targets printed with the likeness of Osama bin Laden. To take the real shot, the one that brought down bin Laden, was the dream of every Navy SEAL." Okay, so your goal might be a tad less dramatic than taking out the world's most wanted man. Perhaps it's to work for the world's most prestigious bank. Or to earn more than a million dollars a year. Or to become a chief executive officer. Or to start your own hedge fund, asset manager, accounting firm, or baby diaper company (like these two MBAs). Whatever it may be, don't be afraid to dream large, and then visualize yourself attaining that big dream. Once you have the goal in your sights, only then will you be able to -- someday -- take it down.

navy seals in water2. Dedication, dedication, dedication.
If real estate is all about location, success/reaching your goal is all about dedication. Listen to Greitens: "He [the SEAL who killed Osama] and the others who descended on bin Laden's lair would have put in relentless practice for weeks beforehand -- assaulting mock compounds, discussing contingencies and planning every detail of the operation. Most of the men on that mission had dedicated the past decade of their lives to this fight, and they -- and their families -- had made great personal sacrifices." That is, once you have your dream in your sights, don't let anything get in your way of achieving it. And enlist your family, friends, acquaintances, dogs, cats, and neighbors to help out, too.

3. Practice might not make perfect, but it will lead to success (and make you bleed a lot less).
You've got your dream, you're dedicated, and now you must, of course, train. And train hard. Says Greitens, "To be able to undertake such missions, SEALs undergo intense training and practice. As some of my SEAL instructors would say, 'The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in war.' It's impossible to account for everything that can go wrong on an operation, but professional warriors aim to leave nothing to chance -- the slightest details are accounted for beforehand." That is, intense practice, as Greitens explains, cannot be underestimated, or underemphasized. If you want to be great and tackle great dreams, you will have to put in the hours and practice, train, research, simulate, and plan. And then once you're done with that, you will have to practice, train, research, simulate, and plan some more. Talent does not attain goals; discipline and perseverance does.

4. Stay flexible.
In case you're not aware what the SEAL acronym stands for, it's this: sea, land, and air (the SEALs were born under President John F. Kennedy's watch on January 1, 1962). Says Greitens, "Though SEALs remain the nation's elite maritime special operations force, part of what Kennedy wanted and needed from them -- and what the nation still asks of SEALs -- is that they be a flexible force, capable of operating in any environment." In other words, in order to succeed you have to remain nimble -- and train yourself to be able to withstand a myriad of potential problems. Metaphorically, you must be able to swim, run, and fly.

5. Play above the pain, not through it; remember, the mind is more powerful than the body.
There will come a time when you find yourself staring up at a great obstacle that might appear to be insurmountable. When you do, remember that the obstacle is there for one reason and one reason only: to see if you have what it takes to succeed. According to Greitens, "Some men who seemed impossibly weak at the beginning of SEAL training -- men who puked on runs and had trouble with pull-ups -- made it. Some men who were skinny and short and whose teeth chattered just looking at the ocean also made it. Some men who were visibly afraid, sometimes to the point of shaking, made it too. Almost all the men who survived possessed one common quality. Even in great pain, faced with the test of their lives, they had the ability to step outside of their own pain, put aside their own fear and ask: How can I help the guy next to me?" And so, when the going gets tough, you must rise above yourself, your ego, your body, and its own petty concerns, and then, and only then, will you find yourself with a clean shot at the target.

(WSJ: The SEAL Sensibility)

Filed Under: Finance


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