If You “Why” is Strong Enough, You Can Do Virtually Anything.
I recently pondered the brutal training Navy Seal candidates go through during their training – especially hell week. Hell week comes early in the training to weed out any man not totally committed to the calling. Yes, I said calling.
Consider the following (from navyseals.com):
Hell Week is the defining event of BUD/S training. It is held early on – in SEAL operational training. Hell Week consists of 5 1/2 days of cold, wet, brutally difficult operational training on fewer than four hours of sleep. Hell Week tests physical endurance, mental toughness, pain and cold tolerance, teamwork, attitude, and your ability to perform work under high physical and mental stress, and sleep deprivation. Above all, it tests determination and desire. On average, only 25% of SEAL candidates make it through Hell Week, the toughest training in the U.S. Military.
Over the years, research has been done to determine a common trait in those individuals who make it through Hell Week, without definitive answer. They are not necessarily the largest or strongest men, nor the fastest swimmers, but those with burning desire to be SEALs. BUD/S Instructors have observed only one true predictor of which candidates will ultimately succeed – it’s those who want it the most — you can see it in their EYES!
It’s important, in my view and experience, to pay special attention to the phrase above – “it’s those who want it most.” This phrase begins to uncover the central theme in how men and women perform at high levels through unthinkable circumstances.
Those who want it most, as the BUDs instructors report, are fueled by an unyielding intent to defeat any and all barriers placed before them through an internal purpose – clearly defined – that repeatedly answers the most important internal question echoing in the mind. Why am I putting myself through this? If the WHY answer is strong and clear and consistent, the trainee will succeed in his or her task or die trying.
It’s my own personal WHY which has kept me going for nearly 20 years in Krav Maga training, driven me to substantial financial risk, called me to train and teach other instructors, and continues to call me from my bed at 0430 hours most days of the week to guide the morning trainees in the Advanced Programming groups.
I still recall how difficult the early phase training was before phase instructors were eventually reeled in. I remember day one hour one of PT, where a newly minted instructor named Wade clearly thought his job was to weed out the weak and keep only the strongest and most committed. I vividly recall collapsing on the training mats in a pool of sweat after 75 minutes of non-stop line sprinting and wheelbarrow races. The end of our initial PT came during my stint as the wheelbarrow. “Time” was called and my arms gave way with the right side of my face landing on the mat with the full force of my weight following just behind it. I didn’t care. I was just satisfied it was over for the moment. But, I remember thinking – I’m going to die here before I quit. I meant it. I had moved from what researcher/author Daniel Coyle calls ignition (after being robbed at gun point months earlier) into a search for masterful coaching and continued deep practice.
There are too many events and injuries and pain-filled circumstances over these many years – particularly the first ten years – to recount in this article. But through the bloodletting, bruises the size of loaves of bread, broken bones, and pride stealing moments, my WHY never quit. When the hardships of training or circumstance begged the question – Why? – my internal answer always prevailed. The truth is, through it all I never hesitated or even entertained the idea of quitting – never once. Something inside me NEEDED this in the most foundational way.
I’m absolutely sure that same type of internal drive and deeply personal need is what spurs on the military trainees that conquer Tier One Indoctrination and Operational training.
And, I’m just as sure that you can conquer whatever obstacles are put in your path if your WHY is strong enough.
In a strange way, I miss the rigors of tough and (at times) dangerous training. Enough so, I’m developing my own personal training paradigm for 2017 to mix things up and challenge body, mind, and spirit. Stay tuned…this could be a very interesting 2017.