- Paperback: 138 pages
- Publisher: Special Operations Media; 8/13/13 edition (September 12, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0989822907
- ISBN-13: 978-0989822909
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,165,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Navy SEAL Training Guide: Mental Toughness Paperback – September 12, 2013
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I will try to be brief (not my strong-point), but here are my notes on the book. I am doing this because the author is obviously not making any more money on the sale of these books and I am trying to save other people from the disappointment of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on what amounts to a good 4-5 Star, $15 book. It ain't the author's fault that people are trying to sell this book for a grand or more. I agree that if one applies the simple steps in this book that one can accomplish many things. But this ain’t $10,000 or $1000 material (insert rebuttal of, well if it makes you 1k, then it's worth 1k...but not when you can get the info for $20 or less).
It’s 127 pages. Font is large, like a self-pub’d book, and so it took me 2 hours to read. It might take someone else one hour, I read slow.
The first 26 pages are just background on SEALs to set up how difficult mentally and physically hell week is, in the BUDS training. Failure rate is about 75% and it is not the most physically gifted who make it through, it is the most mentally tough.
Page 27 starts the Four Pillars of Mental Toughness. Those Pillars are:
1. Goal Setting using the SMART method which can be found anywhere.
2. Mental Imagery - imagining success at each step of the process to attain your goal, including alternate scenarios that might present obstacles. Do this EVERY DAY.
3. Positive Self Talk - Stuff like “Im a winner. If other people have done this in the past, so can I.”
4. Arousal Control - understand your body’s reaction to fear and anxiety. Use 4x4 breath (4 second inhale, 4 second exhale) to counter it.
All this and the discussion of Fear takes us to about page 52, where we learn the Rapid Response Technique that SEALS use to respond when plans go immediately awry. It is a modification of Four Pillars:
1. Arousal Control
2. Self Talk
3. Assess Situation - is it a threat to your safety or to the mission?
4. Consider appropriate action to take.
5. Take that action
6. Assess again
7. Repeat until situation is resolved
Again, not earth-shattering, but simple and effective, IF YOU USE IT. Try to use it daily.
Next chapter is on Self-Confidence, a 3 Step Process to get you going on developing Self-Confidence:
1. Set Your Goal (Personal or Professional)
2. Prepare for it - Through study, knowledge acquisition of how to accomplish it, etc.
3. Visualize Success - and I’ll add a bonus, DO SOMETHING.
The next chapter is on goal setting. Again, it is all using the SMART method, which is common and free on the interwebz. A couple other thoughts around that is that SEALs often breakdown parts of their difficult training into little blocks and then congratulate themselves via self talk on the successes. Since SEALs are graded on everything, it’s a matter of look at each step as a micro goal. I woke up and did the best job I could do shaving. Success. I put together my bunk nice and neat. Success. I jogged to the mess hall. Success. I ran the first mile of our run. Success.
The next Chapter is on Practice and Preparation. Basically, Perfect Practice makes Perfect. And there are other non-$10,000 books that cover this in more depth like Talent and Talent Code. Or if you can find Dr. Anders Ericcson’s work on the web. Recommendations by the author in this chapter are to Read a lot, Learn from the Best, and to seek Expert Feedback from coaches, support groups or mentors.
There’s a short chapter on Health which gives you no actionable suggestions. In fact it is more there to reassure you that you don’t need to be a SEAL to be Mentally Tough.
Then there is a chapter on SEALs Mindset. Basically SEALs have a high belief in their training. If they can get through their training, they can accomplish just about anything. They see themselves as winners, and Focus on Why They Will Succeed (mostly they remind themselves of past successes, or of others who have succeeded that are no more talented than they are). They clear out doubt with positive self-talk and being action oriented to take steps to rectifying whatever may be under their locus of control. They think, feel and project confidence, again by reminding themselves of past successes. They prepare Strategies and Game Plans, and also have extensive Standard Operating Procedures that are available. I suggest reading Work The System by Carpenter to learn more about the importance of Procedures. I have them for work and Personal stuff. Knowing that Game Plans often go awry, SEALs also plan for the unexpected. Again, back to the practice of Visualizing success at every conceivable scenario, DAILY. SEALs also have the ability to know when Patience is the best course of action.
This takes us through page 87. The next 30 pages are a few transcript interviews from retired SEALs. There are four or five of these transcripts where they talk about how they got through BUDs. In a couple cases they talked about how they applied the mental training to the existing word. “How” is probably the wrong word. The technique is to simply use the Four Pillars, and to ignore the people clamoring for you to fail. SEALs have to withstand their superiors yelling, lying, pushing them to the brink to weed out the quitters. So if you use the Four Pillars and ignore the detractors, you can then concentrate on what you control, and that is the steps to accomplish your goal.
Then the last five pages are just a synopsis of the book: Have Clear Goals, Prepare and Practice, Have Confidence, Control Your Fear (with breathing), Control Your Thoughts.
Again…nothing earth shaking here, but it is a solid plan that can be quelled from the web or library, or other books you’ve likely already read. Personally I prefer the book Red Gold by Grigori Raiport that was written in the 80’s about the Soviet domination of the Olympics at that time. There are more actionable exercises in there, but it’s also out of print and will probably cost you $200 or more to find. If you search on the web for the title of that book there’s a nice write up by a Trainer about how he applied Red Gold to his life. I have no affiliation and still bought the book after reading his write-up.
You have to take responsibility for your own Mental Training, and since few of us will be thrown in to SEALs training and go through H*ll Week, you have to start with where you are at. Build small successes, and use the Four Pillars. Be clear on your goals and how to get there. I use Structural Tension charts and work backwards from my end state to determine each prior step, with a due date for each. Then I get started at the bottom. I think that tip came from Robert Fritz’s Your Life as Art, which as of this writing, is NOT out of print. I found Structural Tension Charts the only useful thing in that book, and found much of it difficult to wade through. However, it’s helped me write novels, run marathons/triathlons, write/record music albums…and still I sit here thinking I’m not maximizing my potential because I’ve been inundated by these books that I am not enough…that I should be reaching for more. Maybe that’s true, but my 43 year old self would tell my 18 year old self to try to relax and enjoy the ride. I haven’t relaxed, and I haven’t enjoyed the ride. When I've performed at my best in the past, it's because I've either instinctively used the Four Pillars, or consciously used them after reading about them in many other Self-help books.
Lastly, advice to myself and to you. STOP SEARCHING, START LIVING. After thirty years of personally reading books on this stuff, most of it can be condensed in a pamphlet and if you actually DO the things in the pamphlet, EVERYDAY, you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.
And please don't ask me to sell the book to you. I heavily highlight, dog-ear, write notes that only make sense to me and if a book is moderately useful, I keep it. That said, I don't have too many books on my shelves that I've kept. You HAVE everything you need to know about this book, written above.