What’s special about a Navy SEAL?
I mean, if a Navy SEAL invented it, it has to make you fitter, right?
It seems that if you were once a Navy SEAL you will have a guaranteed follow-on career as a fitness expert. So far, Navy SEALs have given us TRX Bands, the Perfect Push-up and even the Fit Deck….
But you know, as well as I do, using their products will not bring you to their level. No, it’s their grit, which can’t be packaged and sold, that makes them unique.
But what else?
Over the past 2+ years I have had the opportunity to work with, workout with and train next to some of the most elite human beings on the planet. This included Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, but more importantly, and primarily I was with Air Force Special Operations: Special Tactics – a little-known, but highly elite, ground fighting force within the United States Air Force. I am not talking about any of their training, as far as HALO jumps or becoming a combat diver…I’m talking about their fitness.
You can learn a lot working out with these guys, and I did. They even put me through some of their human performance testing, to see exactly where I stacked up against special operations (as a whole) – and those details will be coming to the blog soon as a testament to what we are doing here at End of Three Fitness.
But what did I learn? I can tell you I didn’t learn any secret tips on how to get faster, a new revolutionary way to train strength and conditioning or anything like that. Special operators aren’t fitness experts, they are grit experts. What I did learn, working out next to some of these guys, were a few enduring truths.
Truths that if applied to your daily life will certainly make you a better human.
Here they are:
- Try hard…For the sake of trying hard! – This is something I live by, and it was reinforced by working out with some of the fittest people on the planet. It’s true in fitness, at work, with your family, etc. If you are going to do something…DO IT! Give it 100% and make sure it is the best quality you could imagine. Once you start putting qualifiers in your life, or in your workouts, like; “What’s it for?”, “Does this activity really require 100%?”, “How hard do I NEED to try?”…you start to become average, or worse. Avoid that! If you have decided to do something…give your full effort. If you are doing something half way, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it at all.
- Wanting to quit is normal, but quitting is different – We all have quit-moments. It’s in your head somewhere to avoid discomfort no matter how tough you are…but don’t quit. What type of quitting am I talking about? Not smoking or bad diets…The type of quitting I’m talking about is the kind which will leave you with any sort of regret whether you regret the decision in 10 minutes or 10 years….That’s the kind of quitting you need to avoid. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do one more rep…so you don’t, then you are standing there wishing you could have done more. Avoid your quit-moments and you will see more success.
- Friendly competitions don’t exist – I consider myself to be a pretty competitive dude, but some of the guys I worked with took it to a whole new level. We could be best friends in any other setting, but once it was turned into a competition…game over. You may as well be the enemy at that point. Some people get turned off by extremely competitive individuals, but you have to ask yourself (as I did many times), are you truly not interested in the competition? Or are you afraid of the competition? Most of the time I would realize I just need to compete (it doesn’t matter what it was) and see what I learn in the process. So the real lesson learned is; never be afraid to compete…even if you think you will come in last place. Sitting on the sidelines, as a spectator, is much worse.
- Your grit is your reputation – There are very few places where you can been instantly judged, classed and labeled based off of your grit. There are also very few professions where people even get to see you the slightest bit outside your comfort zone, in the physical sense. However, what I did learn was if you are there, you better show up and put out your best effort. Don’t wait till next time, don’t ease yourself into it, just go at it wholeheartedly. You don’t have to be the best, the fastest or the strongest, but if you can prove that you are willing to give your maximum effort every time…that’s all that matters.
- You only get one shot – If you show up and don’t give your best effort, you have already lost respect. How many times have you seen this to be true in your life? First impressions, no matter where you are, are very important. It doesn’t matter what you may have going on, you need to make sure you give your best effort.
- The tortoise will actually win the race – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this to be true. I won’t spend a lot of time explaining because I am sure you have, at some point, read The Tortoise and the Hare…but it is nearly factual that slow and steady will win the race in most cases. Pace yourself, but not overly so, and you will win.
- Occasionally, you have to run a little diesel through the engine – This is perhaps my favorite lesson. Some of the older, more seasoned operators would often make fun of the new generation who had these really strict Paleo or Zone diets. They would tell me, the guys who were the most disciplined in their diets, and who were inflexible, were normally the first ones to fall out once in the field (real life survival). They would never argue the health benefits, or performance advantage, just simply state that a clean diet is great…but occasionally you need to run a little diesel through the engine (eat whatever you want/can) because you won’t always have the premium high-octane stuff available.
I hope you find one or two of these lessons as valuable as I do. Thanks for reading!