With a large majority of questions and requests to discuss mental fortitude, resiliency, and competency this post is meant to expand on some basic ideas and stimulate thought. Once finished reading this short posting, it would be my goal that it stirs more questions and conversation.


Everyone always talks about if a candidates has ‘it’, does this person have what ‘it’ takes to make it through a physically and mentally challenging scenario? There is a general consensuses as to what physical requirements we need in order to be physically successful within the special warfare community. Meeting these minimum physical requirements before shipping to BMT does imply that there is a basis of personal responsibility, and at least some self-motivation. 

I like to visualize personal responsibility and self-motivation as a bucket. When the bucket is full, waking up at 4am to ruck to the pool and swim 2 miles is just as easy as hitting the snooze button when our bucket is empty. Our individual buckets vary in capacity, someone that has known diversity, hardship, and challenge from a young point in their life likely has very large capacity for personal responsibility and self-motivation. However it doesn’t mean their bucket doesn’t have holes, limiting that capacity. Defeat, self-doubt, ridicule, injury, public image, negative self-talk are all things that put holes into our buckets. Comradery, success, achievement, recognition, positive visualization, positive self-talk are capable of patching these holes and filling/expanding our capacity. When these buckets are running low, small things get in the way of your goals, it’s easier to make excuses and fall into bad habits. When your bucket is empty, you feel defeated, you know what needs to be done to achieve your goals, but taking a small step feels like moving a refrigerator a mile down a gravel road. If your bucket is empty, but you find success, that success needs to be owned, matched with positive self-talk and internal recognition, otherwise you are not patching any of the holes in your bucket. I call this taking the win. 

‘Just take the win’ is something I tell people often. Our tendency is to dwell on failure to the point that we cannot see our own successes. So you failed the PAST? Pick out what you have done well give yourself those wins and move on. That doesn’t mean you pretend you are a winner and don’t have anything you need to work on, it means you recognize your strengths and weaknesses without dwelling on the overarching failure. 

During a physical evaluation years ago I was experiencing opposing leg cramps, meaning when I straightened my leg my quadriceps would cramp, but then when I bent my leg my hamstring would cramp. It was a debilitating pain that I was trying to stretch and massage out when the Cadre told me that if I do not finish the evolution I will have quit by action. In order to finish the exercise I had about 75 feet of lunges to perform while holding a 45lb rubber plate above my head. Overhead lunges require legs and core strength, stability and coordination, I was lacking in all of those categories due fatigue, dehydration and the severe cramping. I refused to quit, I told myself just to do one rep and see how it goes… the weight crashed onto my head as my legs buckled underneath me and I fell to the ground. I tried again, it was a struggle to stand and as I looked towards the end of the path I was having significant self-doubt about my ability to even do a single lunge much less get the weight overhead. I pushed through and somehow managed to complete one rep. I smiled, knowing immediately that I can do it, I told myself ‘I can do it’ and I knew if I can do one single rep I can endure, grinding out every single step until completion. I gave myself the win and it changed my mindset completely. 

To be continued…

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