4 Surprising Tips from Navy Seal Training for Surviving Sacred Seclusion

Almost half the worlds population is under some form of ‘stay at home’ order. By definition, anytime we’re ‘forced’ to do something, it’s harder than if we’d chosen it. We do have a secret weapon though to defeat any obstacle in our path: the ability to learn.

Why not learn from the best then? Listening to an interview with retired Navy Seal Andy Stumpf recently, he shared some insights into Navy Seal training new to me. As trainee and trainer, he’s uniquely positioned to understand what it takes to make it through.

Navy Seal training or BUDs (Basic Underwater Demolition) is some of the most grueling in the world – it’s difficult to find definitive numbers but it looks like only 6% of men that enter this training complete it. Considering there’s only about a 3% difference in physical capabilities, there’s clearly something else that separates those that complete the training – from those that drop out.

I’m immediately drawn in by his humility as, while trying to make sense of the corona situation, he states:

‘I’m not an expert at all, uh – probably on anything in my life. But one thing I have experience in, is surviving and thriving in high risk situations with high stress… the most dangerous thing you can do, is lose control of your emotions or let your emotions take over your decision making cycle’

‘We need to start talking about we more than me’

That is the sentence that perked me up and primed me for the wisdom that followed.

Here are the 4 biggest lessons I took away from his chat

  1. Focus on what’s in your control

The training’s designed to teach recruits to let go of things outside of their control and to focus on what’s within their control.  

Things outside my control right now is the virus and government responses. Which is probably why you reading this at home. No real choice there; but we do have choice over how we decide to view staying at home.

‘I’m being forced to stay home’ versus ‘I can stay safe at home’ is a vastly different mindset.

Did you notice the title? I used ‘Sacred Seclusion’ instead of Lock down. Language is important and I loved that term I heard yesterday.

While at home we have the choice to consume 4000 extra calories or find innovative new ways to exercise at home. It’s easy to sit on the couch and watch movies all day, but it’s just as easy to choose to learn a new language, start researching how to build an online business – write that book you’ve always wanted to. It’s in your control.

I suggest using the time you’d normally commute to work as your time to build a new habit.

As Mandela lived – ‘use your time wisely, you have a limited time on earth’

PRO TIP: Break the ‘difficult’ goal into the simplest action it takes to start. The scary prospect of writing a whole book becomes easy when starting with ‘write a sentence’. Starting an exercise regime becomes ‘get dressed in active wear and do 1 sit up’.

2. Keep your world small

Photo Credit: Spec Ops Magazine

This resonated with me because it’s what I used to complete my challenge to climb Table Mountain in Cape Town every day for a year. I was forced to think of a way that didn’t overwhelm me. A whole year?? Yeah that can freak me out a bit. One day at a time – step by step? I can manage that.

Put yourself in the shoes of a student in BUDs. You’re in a constant world of pain with no idea of what’s coming next. I can only imagine how debilitating that must be when day one is hell – and there’s another 179 days ahead. You’re just trying to survive.

It was as an instructor that Andy saw the story arc of what was happening and why they did this – it’s a physical test for sure: but they’re using the body to test the mind.

When guys quit as a student they disappear. As an instructor he was able to question them.

‘Why? You said this was your lifelong goal it’s all you ever wanted to do. Why?’

‘I got overwhelmed’

They did the opposite of keeping their world small.

There’s two ways to look at BUDs: it’s 180 days; or a sunrise and a sunset – 180 times. Think about how quickly our world changed and how many weeks have passed already. At the time of writing this its April already. You can keep your mind strong by adopting this principle.

The ultimate test in BUD’s is ‘hell week’ and this is where that principle gets drilled down even further. Already four weeks into training, it starts on Sunday evening and ends Friday afternoon with only 2 hours sleep on Wednesday. Most guys who quit, do so before Tuesday.

‘Don’t look at it as five days. Just make it to your next meal – they have to feed you every six hours.’

Stacking six hours on another six hours and focusing on the next meal – no matter how much pain or cold you’re in – gets you to that next meal which is a reprieve and mental reset to continue.

Makes sacred seclusion look like Christmas every day!

Stressed, tired, hungry, hypothermia, exhaustion induced hallucinations – these extreme conditions allow the instructors to strip away all the layers of ego, revealing who has one important quality.

3. We over Me

Photo Credit: New York Post

This is tested immediately, everyone’s assigned a swim buddy you can’t be more than six feet away from at any time. Suddenly, you’re ordered ‘go swim!’ and forget about the buddy dashing off. That inevitably leads to being punished for leaving him behind and the buddy gets punished too.

They’re being taught there’s penalties for forgetting him and other people suffer consequences by the way you act.

Slowly but surely – two weeks builds ‘we’ and not me until it becomes ingrained. BUD’s is not about finding the fittest men alive; it’s about finding the ones that can work together as a team. You don’t want to be in the most high pressure stressed environment second guessing the person next to you.

Right now we’re in a ‘we instead of me’ training camp – only we’re separated in our homes.  We’re seeing how important our own actions can be, when collectively done together. Imagine what other social challenges we can collectively tackle when combining forces like this? Some people want to put out petitions to government to open up alcohol sales again while others are turning their homes or businesses into factories to make protective gear for health care workers.

Do they feed the Navy Seals alcohol? Here’s another important component about staying home we must learn from them:

The BEST Me, Empowers We

I agree that the training is set up to ingrain a ‘We’ mentality – but the truth is it’s done in conjunction with developing the best me. They’re not mutually exclusive.

This is the philosophy I follow – How do I develop the best Me to serve We?

No matter how we feel – we’re all in this uncertain time together. Some only allowed to leave home for groceries. Some at home but allowed to move freely, some are terrifies about where their next meals coming from not being able to work but essentially our home has become our world. We’ve all just entered our own BUD’s training, except it’s not voluntary.

So what if you flip it round to pretend this is voluntary?

Next, let’s be positive expecting the best but preparing for the worst. Say this ‘home time’ lasts until June 30 – that’s 77 days away at the time of writing – or sunrise and sunset; 77 times. The days wrack up just as quickly whether we do something – or nothing.

Great news though – all you have to think about is today.

Meditation, Exercise, Learning, Researching, whatever your new habit. All it takes is a decision to start and incorporate it into your daily life. Then suddenly you’ll find yourself 22 days into a habit of meditating five minutes every day; exercising three weeks in a row – and feeling better equipped to handle stress.

Resilience is your ability to get bent and come back better than before. What a wonderful opportunity this is to apply that resilience to your goal from a digestible perspective – and you’ll be well on your way to achieve an insane amount.

Can you ignore the big and focus on the small? And not get overwhelmed no matter what the news says? The best you is exactly what We need.

4. Make it a Priority

A habit you prioritize is kept through consistency. Even the fittest Navy Seals can go off the rails once their service ends.

It’s far easier to build smaller daily consistent actions than try a couple big sessions a week. Just think about the reverse – we pick up weight at a rate unnoticeable because we slowly but surely do less and less, and eat more and more.

Our lifestyles pre coronavirus have been put under a microscope. We have the time now to objectively evaluate what is working and what isn’t. Then the plan we put in place should be for a sustainable lifestyle, so if you’re training during your usual commute to the office – don’t give it up when you start again. You’ve built the habit, now keep making it a priority.

While many of us will experience the pain of losing a loved one and cannot be ignored – the rest of us are being given the gift of using our homes as a cocoon.

I hope you emerge a magnificent butterfly.

Feeling Overwhelmed by the Coronavirus? 6 actions to help you break out of the fear loop

PHOTO CREDIT: www.asianefficency.com

This is something that effects all of us. We’re in this together. You’re reading this because it feels like we’re waiting for ‘the storm of the century’ to make landfall, and you don’t know which weather station to believe. It’s unsettling – and that’s why I’m focusing on the mental aspect of this to help minimise the stress you’re exerting on your body.

Let’s be honest – this isn’t the first time the media have focused heavily on feeding us a diet of fear. Even before this it was easy to feel overwhelmed wasn’t it? We have more access to problems all over the world every minute of every day than ever before. While Coronavirus is top of mind for everybody, I invite you to think about how this plays out in other ways keeping you in a fear cycle of ‘Oh no! What’s next’ – so you can start to be proactive and make better mental wealth decisions for future events.

Right off the bat the first action is a must when the information coming at you is fear based.

ACTION 1: Get Informed

That means listening to reputable sources, in the coronavirus case – it’s organisations like W.H.O (World Health Organisation), scientists and medical doctors that have educated knowledge.

Case in point – take the time to listen to the two videos included at the end of the article. One is from Dr Mike tackling the media’s poor coverage and how they’re spreading misinformation. It highlights how out of touch the media really is, while providing sound alternatives.

The other video I highly recommend is Joe Rogan’s interview with Michael Osterholm. The beauty of his podcast format is you get 90 minutes of discussion instead of trying to create click bait headlines or a five minute sound bite to keep viewers tuned in. This man is an internationally recognized expert in infectious disease epidemiology.

He is Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, a professor in the Technological Leadership Institute, College of Science and Engineering, and an adjunct professor in the Medical School, all at the University of Minnesota. That’s credibility to take seriously.

Genuine concern about this is fine – panicking and acting irrationally based on misinformation is not. Listening to the experts feeds the next action.

ACTION 2: Take the Wheel of your mind

Understand that all the negativity in the world and external factors are outside of our control. Focusing on what you can do will empower yourself. If you’ve practicing to action one, then you know your actions are driven by facts and not fear. Rather know the worst case and how it effects you and what you can do – than listening to uneducated rhetoric causing you to panic and create unnecessary stress in your body.

Yes, this is a highly contagious infectious disease. Yes people are dying. Yes there are other diseases killing more people. The reality is no matter which way you slice statistics, it’s still a disease we dealing with. Are you being proactive in life or reactive? That brings us to the next action.

ACTION 3: Develop Healthy Habits

We live in a world where disease is all around us. Just in the last 20 years we’ve had SARS 2003 – 813 died (https://www.who.int/csr/sars/country/2003_07_11/en/) ; Bird Flu 2005 – 415 died (https://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/2020_01_20_tableH5N1.pdf?ua=1) ; Swine Flu 2009 – 203 000 deaths (

https://www.livescience.com/41539-2009-swine-flu-death-toll-higher.html) and Ebola 2014 – 11 325 deaths (https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/history/2014-2016-outbreak/index.html) are just a few.

Look at these facts based on the information we have available – bear in mind as this spreads, this can change.

This isn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last, but worrying is like a rocking chair – it keeps you busy but it doesn’t get you anywhere. A better focus is how to strengthen what you’re naturally born with – Your Immune system.

You can immediately start by adding things like garlic, ginger, broccoli, turmeric, spinach and citrus fruit to your existing diet. It’s also time to take stock of behaviours like:

  • Smoking
  • Are you exercising? 
  • Are you maintaining a healthy weight?
  • Do you drink alcohol in moderation?
  • Are you sleeping enough?
  • What are your hygiene habits? How often do you clean your hands?

As important as physical health is what are you doing to boost your mental health? Pay attention to how much negative news takes up your day. What would happen if you replaced that with uplifting stories of what people ARE doing or new things to learn yourself?

Don’t know where to start? Sign up HERE for my 11 day course to guide you and help build a ‘power hour’ of productive healthy habits.

ACTION 4: Practice Gratitude

Expressing gratitude daily has been proven to boost both your immune system and your nervous system. You can say this out loud gargling through the foam as you brush your teeth. That’s two minutes twice a day giving you an opportunity to express gratitude for what you have in the morning, and what happened that day at night. Bonus points for writing them down!

Check out Dr John Demartini’s explanation on the healing properties, especially when dealing with trauma.

The important part of expressing Gratitude, is that you’re alive now. If the thought of catching this virus scares you to death because you want to do more, that’s where the next lesson comes in.

ACTION 5: Take Action!

If you were faced with death tomorrow, what would you do?

I wouldn’t want to spend it trying to do ‘stuff’ – I’d make sure I spent every waking moment with those that matter most to me. That sobering thought should make you look back and think ‘yep, I’ve been doing my best to do what inspires me’ and not ‘oh shit there’s so much more to do!!’

Write. It. Down. You don’t need permission to do everything possible to make it happen. Experience the beauty in this world, take risks so that whatever next ‘catastrophe’ the world throws at us – not only are you mentally prepared but you’re already living your best life.

ACTION 6: Get Involved

It might not particularly apply here unless you have medical experience and are in a high contamination zone, but if a particular news story overwhelms you – I’ve learned the best way to turn that into a powerful force for inner peace and fulfilment: is to get involved.

There is no such thing as too little. Volunteering 20 minutes a month is not measured by your time – but by the impact it has on the person / animal / cause you’re passionate about. Tying back to lesson two, asking ‘how can I help’ creates meaningful dialogue with those closest to you about solutions, instead of moaning. It gets you searching for people already tackling the problem near you, instead of following the rabbit hole trapped in a fear loop. Imagine being involved in drastically changing the course of someone’s life? How would that feel compared to the hopelessness of reading another depressing article?

If you’d like to explore this further but not sure where to start – why not sign up HERE for our ‘Take back your power: building purpose’ course.

Breathe

This is serious, but we’re all in this together. Let’s be sensible about our decisions. If you’re sick, stay home. If it persists – see a doctor. If you have unhealthy habits that put you at risk, start converting them into healthy ones. If you have pre-existing conditions that put you at risk, avoid public gatherings.

Help out the elderly and people suffering from pre-existing conditions that are most at risk of this. Use this as a positive reminder of what’s most important in life.

And focus on that, every day going forward.