The Fit Student – Learning the Art of War: Navy SEAL Style

What student wouldn’t love to bask in the Navy SEAL mindset during exam time? If you don’t idealize parachuting out of planes into frigid, turbulent waters or sentencing yourself to Hell Week, at least you can take comfort that the Navy SEAL mindset also applies to everyday things, such as studies and work.

What have I learned about life’s challenges? From my experiences, combative arts, such as martial arts, serves as a prime example of how to roll with the punches of life. Believe it or not, as a martial arts student, after getting kicked in the stomach hundreds of times, I started to, oddly, enjoy the impact. Yet, missing too many martial arts classes can make a simple punch to the face completely rock my world. That’s part of the importance of persistence. The more you learn to take hits and the more you stick with the training regime, the more you grow. That’s life.

But what can a Navy SEAL teach on how to face life’s obstacles? Apparently, volumes. Many books get published by SEALs on human excellence, on high performance, and even on business or life. Rob Roy, a longstanding Navy SEAL, crafted the book The Navy SEAL Art of War to highlight lessons on facing life’s challenges headlong. Without further ado, let’s explore his practical wisdom, a wisdom referred to in some circles as “phronesis”.

Defy All Limitations
Do you often find yourself saying, I will do one more item on my list and then quit? I do. I often transcribe audio clips for an hour some days, or for eight minutes of audio, whichever comes first. I plan on reading fifteen pages of a technical book each day, stopping once I reach twenty pages. I even read two pages of the dictionary every night, without fail.

Rob Roy takes this mindset further, arguing that one should never impose a limit. He advises to tell yourself to do “at least” an amount rather than to target a specific amount. He advises on not counting reps during a workout, but going to failure. He even advises to make your sales goals start with a minimum amount rather than, once again, a target amount. That’s how you defy limitations in your thinking.

Interestingly, I’ve learned that the more you rethink things, the more ingrained in your psyche the new way of thinking becomes. By making a tiny shift in thinking away from limitations the opportunity for growth and expansion arises. Want to make a higher grade? Use your ideal grade as the minimum, and step it up from there.

“Embrace the Suck”
You face an exam you prepared poorly for. Your hands tremble. Your body sweats, and the deadline looms for you to seat yourself in the examination room. The scenario clearly sucks. So, how do you go about embracing the suck?

Rob Roy suggests you incorporate as much humour as possible?and a big smile. Instead of angst and anxiety, find yourself giggling over the scenario, making light of it, smiling at your circumstances. Of course, ill preparation for an exam should be avoided at all costs, but when it does happen, take it with a smile and as much humour as you can muster. The greatest of leaders use humour to their advantage, as people respond favourably to a leader who doesn’t panic at the first sign of defeat.

Passion Leads to Monumental Change
At my prior position, I lacked passion. I begrudged the daily grind, although I frequently read books on how to find happiness at work. My passions for entrepreneurial or creative initiatives suffered, and I longed to alter my life’s course. However, a time came when my contract finalized and I could explore what truly excited me.

Now, I aspire to tap into my passions on a daily basis, scouting out what truly engages me, what truly provides meaning.

Rob Roy implores you to find passion in your life?to him passion is contagious. If a leader exudes passion on some action, the staff will more readily follow suit. Passion makes activity collaborative and cooperative, infused with excitement, rather than merely working the grind for someone else’s pursuit.

Roy says that to find passion you need to love challenging yourself; you must find meaning in your identity and your actions; you should surround yourself with favourable people; you need to love what inspires others before you include them in your inner circle; you would benefit from standing behind people’s passions outside of work.

Engage the Vision
Developing a vision vitalizes life’s meaning. I envision serving my loved ones and serving God to the fullest. I also hope to build ecommerce businesses. Originally, I intended to say that I also hope to dabble in ecommerce businesses, but that would defeat the point of creating a vision that counts. Roy implores you to make your vision grandiose?a vision you can sink your teeth into.

Roy also advises to put your vision to writing. Yes, get it down on paper, as writing increases the likelihood of realizing the goal. He encourages you to announce your vision to a wide audience?to the world, in fact?as this creates a greater climate of accountability to that goal.

So, if your goal is to graduate with honours, why not step it up to graduating with honours and applying for graduate studies. If your goal is to pass, move it on up to a goal of getting straight A’s, and then devour books on how to write academically and how to memorize most anything.

Treat Yourself with Care
I love exercise. I just don’t do it. Exercising seems to bring out the bear in me. I once could bench press 110 pounds (with absolutely no steroids), however, which is exceptional for a small-framed woman. Yet, I find many other ways to treat myself with care, mostly from spending time relaxing with a good nonfiction book and eating lots of spinach, berries, and nuts.

Rob Roy suggests we spend thirty minutes three or four days a week engaged in physical exercise. Exercise reduces the risk of depression and increases creativity, confidence, and focus. Roy’s view involves pushing yourself to perform at higher levels than those around you. By engaging in fitness regularly, we create even greater opportunities for staying healthy.

If you want to release stress from an exam, visit a gym, push and pull weights, cycle, run, you name it. The worries wash away with each repetition, leaving you refreshed by the end of the workout. So keep your mind and body fit to discover your apogee in academic performance.

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