Filtered by frigid Pacific waters and forged through adversity, the Navy SEAL’s are notorious for their feats of human performance and succeeding at all costs. The uninitiated describes them as “Winners,” but labels like these obscure reality by covering up the muddy, battered and bruised truth about these men. Navy SEALs are born to lose, and that’s what makes them unstoppable.
It’s often said (and I agree) that SEAL training is 90% mental and 10% physical, but few understand the operating principles making this true. We’ve become a society of comfort and conceit. We pass out awards for everything and wrap our kids in warm, buttery blankets trying to protect them from the frosty waters of failure. SEAL training is 90% mental because we have to test and teach these men the discourse of failure, and the only way to produce failure is through adversity. The ones who don’t make it? They never learned how to fail. They never got used to the water.
Don’t Overcome Adversity – Crawl Right Through It
Too often we try to “overcome” adversity by trying to go over it. Consider adversity an obstacle course. If you went over or around it, you would never gain the skills or strength the course was designed to deliver. We see this a lot with parents. They are constantly holding their kids up with strings. They never allow them to go through anything that may result in failure. This means they never produce any immunity to adversity, leaving them weak and defenseless. Like a sick child, they remain dependent on their parents care forever.
Patience, Perseverance and those Mother “F-ing” Stairs!
Crawling through adversity isn’t always pretty. Sometimes we get stuck and things become extremely painful. This is a good thing. It teaches patience and perseverance.
Patience demands that one endures pain or provocation without complaint. Because it’s our human nature to desire and value the uncommon, patience truly becomes a virtue. Those who are able to endure are able to produce or reach the things that others can not, a rare feat that produces the uncommon results which others value.
Most people fail in life because they can’t “stick” with anything. Diets, exercise, business ventures, training… you name it. You see them going back and forth from one idea to another, always rumbling in a minor fit of panic, they never stay the course.
They never persevere.
Perseverance is about holding on through thick and thin, and most importantly, not quitting on what I call “The steps to the gates of achievement.” The last, unexpected, very steep, littered with bodies and abandoned dreams set of stairs that stop all but a few. I have a love-hate relationship with these steps. I love them because they tell me I’m always there. I hate them because no matter what I do, no matter how much I prepare and plan, they seem to stretch themselves just past what I thought I had left in me.
Adversity is a Muscle to be Developed and Maintained
Most peoples’ adversity “muscle” is so atrophied that they are unable to overcome the weakest manifestation of adversity called “Not feeling like doing something.” Adversity works much the same as a muscle. Have you ever allowed yourself to get out of shape? When we’re not fi,t simple things like climbing the stairs or running 5 miles in the hills can wear us out.
Adversity is no different. If your “adversity muscles” are out of shape, even the simplest of things, like starting a workout regime, will squeeze you to the point of abandonment. Many of us have been there. Many of us are there right now and have no idea that there is a solution, besides the bankrupt notion of motivation, or the terminal diagnosis of having a lack of discipline.
Now that you know adversity is like a muscle, you can rehab and strengthen it, you can build this muscle so strong that the things you could never bring yourself to do can become your favorite activities.
Welcome back to your life!
We Have to Have a Part II
Part II of this paper is going to discuss all of the ways we can build our adversity muscle to the point that the things we can’t bear now don’t even register for us in the future. Like if you can run a marathon, 10-mile runs become enjoyable outings.
The reason we need to break this thing into two parts is because it’s important that I hear from you before I complete the second half.
What are the ways you’ve developed your adversity muscle? What adversities are you, have you and will you be facing that you haven’t found a way to power up and move through? The idea of the “Adversity Muscle” is too obscure to just “get it.” We need real examples, some back and forth. Lets go.
(Featured Image Courtesy: FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. — Airmen with the 336th Training Group here haul 65-pound rucksacks on a 14-mile march as part of their Ranger School test. Successful completion of this test will advance them as candidates to pre-Ranger School. The march is only a portion of the 12-hour test they had to finish. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Nathan Putz)