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Blood in the Water: What I learned from my week with a Navy SEAL Sniper Instructor

Blood in the Water: What I learned from my week with a Navy SEAL Sniper Instructor

August 19, 2018
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Earlier this year, I visited Southern California for a trip that will have an impact on me forever. This excursion was set up by one of my business coaches, Joe Delisi, in our Memphis office. Joe’s personal coach is Eric Davis (pretty generic name, definitely not a generic background). For you avid readers or folks drawn to all things military, you might recognize Eric's name from his book Raising Men, from some of the TV appearances he's made. I'd encourage all of you to follow Eric on social media to learn more about his background and what he does, but to summarize, he's a former U.S. Navy SEAL and has been recognized as one of the top sniper instructors in the U.S. Military. Some of his trainees were Chris Kyle (American Sniper) and Marcus Lutrell (Lone Survivor). If you've read Lutrell's Lone Survivor, Eric and his training are referenced as one of the things that motivated Lutrell to overcome the obstacles he faced in his story that ultimately became a blockbuster hit movie. 

My coach, Joe, is a member of one of Eric's Strategic Training Groups, a group designed for high achievers striving to reach their maximum potential in life and business, highlighted by annual excursions focused on the sea, air, and land. Through Joe, we got to "get out there" for a sea excursion that included "surf torture,” 4-mile runs soaking wet on the beach, bike rides through the California hills, and paddle boarding in the Pacific. The last full day was highlighted by a reef run where we were in the water for 2-3 miles hundreds of yards offshore and scaling rocks in between coves for another 1-2 miles. It was the first time in a while that I was truly out of my comfort zone and a huge wakeup call that I need to continue overcoming fears and pushing myself to grow mentally, physically, professionally, etc.

I truly believe it was the trip of a lifetime and thought I'd share with you my big takeaways. Take a look.

What I learned from my week with a SEAL Sniper: 

1. Collective Courage

If I took you to San Clemente, California and Three Arch Bay and told you just to swim out past that cove and around those rocks and into the next beach, out around the next cove and into the next beach and so on, would you do it? After looking at what we did, there was NO WAY I'd ever do anything like that alone. What pushed me to keep going was my friends and teammates; the fact that I was out there with them. I was able to keep going even though there was not one second that went by that I wasn’t thinking about the sharks around me. It taught me that I need a TEAM to go far. I need colleagues, friends, and family that are moving in a similar direction that I can lean on and share a common goal. 

Do you feel like you have a team? I don't mean simply beer drinking buddies. I mean people who get after it in life and not only push you to be better, but you can rely on one another to be there during each other's fights? This world we share is too dynamic and competitive to be the lone wolf.

“Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

2. Move at the Speed of Instruction 

During our excursion, I had Eric Davis leading our group, my coach Joe who had done the excursion before, and Ed Inman from my office who’s a former EMT. I let each one lead me during the excursion and when it came time to execute a swim technique to come under a wave or to swim through a current, I moved at their speed of instruction. What I mean by that is there was no "think about it" or "On the plane, I read on Google to do it another way." When you're in the heat of a high stakes game, you must move quickly. So many of us with our own experts and professionals drag our feet, procrastinate, take advice from Google (look up the author on Twitter and decide if you want to follow their guidance on that topic or not) and some people will be either left behind, or they won't come close to their full potential. Paralysis by analysis. 

The whole "move at the speed of instruction" didn't even come from Eric. I learned here that you don't even have to be in charge in order to help the team win, a perfect example of organic leadership. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. 

 3. What is my Mission?

After the "big swim" on our last day or paddle boarding or a run, we would meet in Eric's office and debrief on what we learned. We spent a lot of time on our mission. 

I think by design that your mission is a work in progress. This isn't supposed to be a "mission statement" on your website that you can't even remember verbatim. The latest rough draft of mine is to "Always pursue my best life so that I can lead others to do the same."

This reminds me of the boarding process on commercial flights when the attendant always reminds us that in the event of low pressure in the cabin, put your mask on FIRST and then help others. If you pass out, you're not helping yourself or anyone else. If I'm not constantly trying to be my best, how can I lead Melinda or my clients or my family to be their best? On the flip side, only leading Melinda and myself to our best life isn't enough, I have to help others. 

4. What is a “good” life?

To me, a good life is to constantly pursue my best life, the journey not the destination. I'm a golf nerd and there are some similarities here in that it'll never be perfect. I can't imagine being PERFECTLY dialed in all areas of my life at one time with Melinda, my health, faith, financially, professionally, family. I don’t mean what your friends mean by “living my best life” in their Instagram captions either…

5. Does what I’m doing now support my mission? 

Since this trip, it has become a little easier knowing when to say "yes" or "no" to something. You know that gut feeling when there is an offer out there to do something and your instinct is naturally leading you towards yes or no? It becomes much easier to quantify this when you can ask, "Does this event support what I'm trying to do?" Time is becoming more and more of a precious resource, we only have 24 hours in a day. 

6. Depleting the Batteries

Eric's dog, India, or lovingly known as Indie, is a Belgian Malinois. Do a quick Google search here, or better yet, YouTube search. These dogs are incredible and are commonly leveraged by our military. Indie when not "worked," trained, or exercised would physically shake. When she got it all out of her system, drained her batteries, calm. Now as people, yes, we can control it where we aren't physically shaking if we don't "drain the batteries," but it’s so critical. I'm amazed by what happens to my mood if I can play one round of golf per week. How can 4 hours on a Sunday make me a better person in business or a better husband? You have to deplete your batteries. Spend time with family, exercise, practice your faith, go drain your batteries, because when we don't, you can see some self-medicating; Alcohol, drugs, gambling, you name it. 

We all are under the impression that we work 100 hours per week so that we can then go play. Maybe it’s the opposite; what if we tried something different? Maybe we should play so that we can work hard instead of working hard so that we can go play.

7. “Different is better than better.” How standing out as a unique individual can develop trust and authority.

In business, it seems a race to be better. Better technology, performance, product. I'm just going to be me and see how the cards play out. We all have a gift, a talent. Go find it, work your face off and see what happens.

I don't have it all figured out. I'm obviously no seal or psychology expert, but I'm trying to improve, trying to chase it all down. I have so far to go but fortunately, there's no end zone. If you enjoyed this article, go check out Eric Davis on social media and at http://www.ericdavis215.com/ and Joe Delisi at https://www.foxholepartner.com/.

Finally, if you're done waiting and ready to take your finances to the next level and would like to schedule a complimentary strategy call, send me an email at andrewmatthieson@ashfordadvisors.net or call our office at 678-281-9110. 

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