Know what’s really interesting? Learning how Navy SEALs build mental toughness to handle deadly situations.
Know what else is really interesting? Learning how Olympic athletes deal with the pressure of competition when the entire world is watching.
Know what’s the most interesting of all? When you find out they do a lot of the same things.
“Mental Links To Excellence” is a research study of what Olympians do to prepare for their big day. And so much of it lines up with what I learned researching SEAL training and talking to former Navy Seal Platoon Commander James Waters.
The best part is you and I can use these methods to perform better at work and in our personal lives.
Let’s find out how…
1) Talk Positively To Yourself
Your brain is always going. It’s estimated you say 300 to 1000 words to yourself per minute. Olympic athletes and SEALs agree: those words need to be positive.
One of the Olympians said:
SEALs use the same method — and they do it in a far more terrifying scenario. How terrifying?
You’re underwater with SCUBA gear. An instructor suddenly swims up behind you. He yanks the regulator out of your mouth. You can’t breathe. Then he ties your oxygen lines in a knot.
Your brain starts screaming, “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.” But you have to keep cool, stay underwater and follow procedure to get your gear back in working order so you can breathe again.
And this happens over and over — for 20 minutes. Welcome to the dreaded “pool comp” section of SEAL qualification.
You get 4 attempts. Why? Because you need them. Only one in five guys can do it the first time out.
Want to see just how scary it is? Watch this video from 8 mins to 10 mins, 5 seconds:
The danger here is panic. And SEALs are not allowed to panic… even when they cannot breathe. They must think positive to keep calm and pass “pool comp.”
So how can you use this?
Got a big presentation at work coming up? Encountering obstacles? You need to remember the 3 P’s.
Permanence, pervasiveness and whether it’s personal.
Pessimists tell themselves that bad events:
Will last a long time, or forever. (“I’ll never get this done.”)
Are universal. (“You can’t trust any of those people.”)
Are their own fault. (“I’m terrible at this.”)
Optimists look at setbacks in the exact opposite way:
Bad things are temporary. (“That happens occasionally but it’s no big deal.”)
Bad things have a specific cause and aren’t universal. (“When the weather is better that won’t be a problem.”)
It’s not their fault. (“I’m good at this but today wasn’t my lucky day.”)
When talking to yourself, be an optimist, not a pessimist.
(For more on how to think positively, click here.)
Okay, so you’re talking to yourself positively. What else do Olympians and SEALs agree on when you need to be at your best?
2) Setting Goals
You hear this a lot. But you probably don’t do it. Specifically, ask yourself what you need to achieve right now.
From the Olympian Study:
SEALs are taught to set goals too. Sometimes really small ones, but it’s enough to keep them going when every muscle in their body is screaming for them to quit:
And what happened when they achieved those goals? SEALs set new ones. The focus is on always improving. Here’s former SEAL Platoon Commander, James Waters:
So how can you use this?
Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to make this presentation better?”
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