Even now, I couldn’t tell you the exact day. All I know is this: I had gone into this building with an assault team and now found myself standing alone in what looked like an abandoned warehouse, a dimly-lit clear-span space about the size of an average high school gymnasium. And I was in it, deep. Whoever the anonymous characters were who occupied this place, I knew their mission was to break me down to my constituent parts. I was pretty sure I would be more useful to them alive than dead. But you can never be completely sure about these things.

In the faint light, I began surveying my surroundings.

The walls were painted black, lending an even darker aspect to the intimidating pall of my new digs. Loud rock music blared from oversized speakers, adding to the sense of confusion and disorientation. At my feet, I could make out a large red circle painted crudely onto the floor, as if I were standing in the middle of a target and I were the bull’s-eye. I smiled briefly. My old friend, the red circle. Maybe this wasn’t a simile or metaphor. Maybe this was a target. Maybe I was the bull’s-eye. All I knew was that a world of hurt was coming my way, and I’d be damned if I was going to give ground. They could attack me, hurt me, even try their level best to kill me, but I wasn’t about to cave in or back down.

I was going to hold this damned red circle no matter what came at me.

As I stood there thinking these thoughts, there was motion behind me as a hood suddenly came down over my head and I was pitched into blackness. Didn’t hear him coming. Whoever this sonofabitch was, he had already impressed me. Of course, with those speakers filling the room with their godawful din it wasn’t all that hard to stay under the sound radar. Still, my hearing is pretty damn good — and I hadn’t heard a thing.

Whatever came next, it was going to be serious. The people who brought me here were doing everything they could to throw me off balance. I knew they expected me to panic, but I would not be giving them that satisfaction — or the advantage. My SEAL training taught me to prepare for situations and moves like this. I had already rehearsed a range of worst-case scenarios in my head and was ready for whatever they might throw at me.

Let the punishment begin.

Nothing happened.

I continued standing there, blinded inside my hood, reflexes ready, senses as acute as I could muster. My ears strained to hear past the distorted cacophony of hyperamplified rock; my nostrils flared to pick up any scent I could through the thick cloth. Who was out there beyond the confines of this dark hood? Hostiles, clearly. How many? Empty seconds ticked by. Despite myself, I started to relax ever so slightly — and the instant I did so my unsensed enemy yanked the hood off my head and punched me square in the face, hard.

My head snapped back, and I was temporarily blinded by the brilliant light that invariably follows a strong blow to the head. My training kicked in faster than any conscious thought process. My body had been trained to stand in a way that protects posture and ensures a balanced stance, and — to their surprise, I hoped — I did not lose my balance. Instead, my head jerked back upright and my vision returned, and I instantly took in my situation: There was one immediate threat in front of me (the guy who had just clocked me in the face) and two more at a slight distance, coming at me from the far end of the room, both armed.

I saw that my quick recovery from his frontal blow had caught Target Number One by surprise, slowing his reaction time by the barest fraction of a second, and I used that fractional gap to my immediate advantage. Instantly I slammed the guy, delivering a quick muzzle strike with my M-4 that put him down on the floor, prying open my advantage another two seconds — two seconds I was fully prepared to use with lethal finality. I snapped my rifle into position and unloaded two rounds to his head. Target One down and out.

Now Target Two and Target Three were running at me full tilt, 10 feet and closing fast. No time to think. I shot the closest one first, two rounds to the head — but as I squeezed the trigger to put a third round into him, something screwed up. It was the kind of glitch you hope never happens, but you know that if it does, it will be at the worst possible moment: My M-4 malfunctioned.

No time to curse, not even time to think.

In situations like this, you can’t afford to stop and deal with the malfunction. The M-4 was already gone from my mind as my fingers let go of it, my focus shifting single-mindedly to Target Three. The M-4 was slung in a way that caused it to swing down and to the left, out of the way of my secondary weapon, a Glock 17 holstered at my right side. As the rifle dropped and swung, my right hand had already drawn the pistol. I pumped four rounds into the last guy coming at me, and he, too, went down. As he fell he got off one shot, and it clipped my right forearm. It barely registered. My total focus was on Targets Two and Three, making sure they were down — all the way down. They were.

Then there was nothing but stillness around me and the sound of hard, slow panting, a sound I realized was coming from me. I was hit but still standing. Breathing hard with sweat dripping down my face, I felt the salt sting in my eyes. I wiped my forehead, looked down — and smiled.

I’d held my red circle.

After another few moments, the three men I’d taken down began to stir. Gradually they got back to their feet. They were, obviously, not dead. We’d been using simulated ammunition. Still, while not lethal, these were high-velocity rounds. When one of these things hits you, you’re hit, and you know it. These guys would be sore for a while.

It was good to have completed my first scenario, especially good that I’d acquitted myself well. The scenarios to follow would get increasingly more difficult, designed to induce the maximum amount of stress.

I was no longer in the U.S. Navy SEALs. I was on my own, in a facility somewhere in or around DC participating in a one-week refresher course in close-quarters battle. Soon I would be driving the streets of Iraq, providing mission support for an intelligence unit, part of an outfit that we referred to only as the Client. Whatever I might be called upon to do there, whoever I’d be working with and whatever situations, operations, or emergencies I might face, I knew one thing: I would stand my ground and hold whatever red circle I was given to hold.

– Excerpt From The Red Circle, by Brandon Webb

Over the years I’ve spoken to several mastermind groups and was always impressed with the people in the room. “Why not create this for the SOFREP community and my crew who’ve read my performance books?” I thought to myself. “AND, I’ll teach the same mental toughness principles and give the same coaching that I did to my students during the Navy SEAL sniper program?”

So now, I’m going to help a select few stand their own ground with me as we create an elite group of doers in the Red Circle Group mastermind, because “Excellence Matters.”

This isn’t for everyone, my team is interviewing all applicants by phone. Nobody gets into our group unless they’re serious about pushing themselves into a new zone of performance.

What can you expect?

-You’ll identify and find “Purpose” in your career, family, and self.

-You’ll set concrete and actionable goals in these categories.

-Excellence Matters. This group will drive you to achieve and hold you accountable for action.

Our theme for the year is Rebirth because that’s what we’re going to do in 2021 together.

If you’re up for the challenge and want to change your environment up, then sign up here. Because The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday.