“Leave it all on the field,” they say. “Give it all you got”, “Do your best,” “Don’t give up.” Maxims and motivational phrases about trying hard, if I name ‘em, I’m sure you’ve heard ‘em. But what are all those quotes worth when you fail?
In SEAL training everybody has their mountain, their own obstacle to overcome.
For some it’s the water, or running(me). For others maybe the obstacle course or a specific skill required, like shooting or diving.
I remember a guy, let’s call him Jim. Jim was an insane runner, but Jim struggled on the obstacle course. He didn’t struggle for cardio, but he struggled on some of the more challenging obstacles. Two things really hang guys up on the Obstacle Course: balance logs and the rope swing. He hated both.
The balance logs are a set of 3 consecutive telephone polls that roll back and forth between two vertical columns that you have to walk (or run) across.
The rope swing is difficult to describe, but I’ll do my best. Feel free to watch this video to see it clearly. (BTW his form on rope swing in this video isn't my favorite, but his time is excellent) The rope swing is kind of a Tarzan vault with a rope that you use to swing up onto a flat piece of wood. You can’t hit the side of the wood you just have to land on the top, balanced.
If you fail an obstacle, you re-attempt the obstacle. If you fail any obstacle 3 times, you fail the entire O-course.
I remember Jim would spend hours and hours out there on the O-course practicing the rope swing or the balance logs in his free time. Like, relentless practice. He was determined to beat them. His persistence was impressive. He gave it his very best... but his very best wasn’t good enough. Eventually, Jim was removed from training for too many O-course failures. He didn’t quit, but he failed out. His dream was ripped away from him because he couldn’t swing on a rope.
I forgot to tell you that Jim was an extremely strong candidate. One of the best runners and swimmers in the class, highly disciplined, composed, and well liked.
But Jim didn’t really get kicked of training over a rope swing, he was assessed as lacking because he could not transform to overcome the challenge.
Jim was good at things because he tried really hard and put in a lot of serious, hard work. Let me break down a lie you might have been believing for a long time. Efforts do not always equal results. The way Jim was trying, you could have given him 100 years, he would have never mastered the O-course the way others do.
There’s no secret, it’s all in the mind. Jim possessed 110% of the physical ability required to succeed, but he failed in his mind. Reps don’t matter if you’re doing it wrong. Overcoming is not 1,000 revolutions, just 1 Evolution.
Here’s why Jim failed: Jim had a transactional relationship with success, for every ounce of effort he gave, he received an ounce of results. That’s why he was so good at running and swimming. The more work he put in, the better he got. But unfortunately, Life is a little more dynamic then one foot in front of the other, at least if you want to be good at it.
Sorry if I just popped your bubble.
Remember it was Epictetus who said, “People are not disturbed by things, but by the view, they take of them.”
So you’re asking me, you still don’t get it, “what if my best isn’t good enough? What do I do?”
If you’re Jim here’s what you got to do. And if you don’t know if you are Jim here’s a clue: You don’t understand why you keep failing at something.
Assess. Figure out if a mindset you have is single dimensional in success. What worked in the past may not always work in the future. You can drive nails all day with a hammer until someone hands you a box of screws. You are not just assessing your own mindset, but also evaluate each problem for its own uniqueness.
Let it go. Jim was scared, scared of letting go of what had given him so much success in his life till that point. He thought he just needed more of what had worked in the past. (Effort)
Adapt. Try new things. Quickly throw out what’s not working. Visualize what achieving it looks like and works backward from the success. Then stick the landing.
SEALs say they guarantee 100% mission success every time. Even on things that have never been done before. How??? They have mastered overcoming obstacles.
Set yourself free from the limitations of your past successes and prepare your mind for whatever obstacles lie ahead.