“When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he must accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.”
—Dr. Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.
Why do I start this article quoting a great man’s learning about suffering? Because life offers so many opportunities to do so.
As a physician, I treated life stresses as often as I treated most other diseases. I feel qualified to comment on the learning gleaned from decades serving those dealing with stress.
There is not an uncomplicated way to tell you what it takes to be a winner. Every man who completes Navy SEAL training, graduates, and is accepted into the special operations community will be a better person for the experience.
Clearly, having tried and failed a first time (as some do) is a great motivator for success a second time. Previous life-challenging experiences add greatly to success.
Every man that goes to SEAL training swears to himself and others that he will never quit. Each event, every day, is designed to challenge that promise.
Faith in one’s self cannot be allowed to waiver. The end is usually a defined point, but each challenge offered and met, must be viewed as just one step towards that end.
To allow one’s self to measure the time until a challenge ends is to invite doubt. When you doubt if you can stay in the chilly water one more second, or doubt your ability to run one more step, you must reach inside and pull the faith in yourself back to the present. Faith in one more step, faith in one more minute of endurance, and faith that the end will come when it comes. If the person next to you can endure, so can you.
Two of my starting SEAL class officers would try again and fail again. When faced with the brutality of their situations, they would lose faith in themselves a second time. I suspect it was, in part, due to their previous life successes. They had not yet failed enough or been tested enough by life’s many available hard events and surprises. They allowed themselves to think ahead. The distance to the finish line was too far away. They had other places that they could go and still feel good about those options.
Winners know in their hearts, what they feel deep in their bones, and is engraved permanently in their souls… “I have seen worse. I can and will go on.”
An unwillingness to accept any option other than staying the course to the end—and an ability to embrace the essential concept that “the only easy day was yesterday”—will prove to be a learned life blessing, and salvation.
Those that endure life’s many challenges, and incorporate their eventual winning as part of themselves, will succeed in most later endeavors.
Endure, and survive the challenges that life throws at you – especially those that you cannot control – and the future will be yours to manage.
When selecting a future business or life leader to thrive in a challenging environment, it is likely that past overcome challenges and hurdles will prove to be the principal distinguishing predictor of success.
** To read the best description of Hell Week ever written, read Dr. Bob’s Six Days of Impossible: Navy SEAL Hell Week- A Doctor Looks Back
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