Think you can do something or that you can’t. You’ll be right in both cases.
Self-imposed barriers are a big thing that I want to tackle separately here.
We’ve all been there before and chances are we’ll have this internal struggle with what we are “good at” until we drift away into the ether like a smoldering campfire. But, and there is a but, we can always improve ourselves, and this is good news.
An example of a self-imposed barrier: “I’m just not good with names.”
That declaration has just made it impossible for you to get good at remembering them. It’s such a simple thing but if we learn what we want to change, we can fix it by changing the way we limit ourselves.
I saw the power of this change first in my own students when I was a sniper instructor, and later in my kids. It can be transformational both for kids and adults. Just ask Marcus Luttrell if he still reflects on the mental management training he received when I was his instructor at sniper school.
My own personal story of change.
I didn’t grow up fixing mechanical things. I saw how hard my father worked with his hands fixing truck engines, plumbing, electrical circuits, and the slew of other things that came up in the construction business. It was enough to make me want a different job when I grew up. Fast forward and one of the best lessons I learned in the SEAL teams was this: “Hey new guy, we need a forklift operator, go learn it.” And learn it I did, for fear of death or ending up in some SEAL hazing that would make college hazing videos look like a vacation in the Bahamas.
You just got shit done as a new guy. Don’t know how to fix a Draeger rebreather? Go to Pittsburgh and take a factory course and learn it. Can’t sew? Go to Army parachute rigger school and learn to sew…
Years later, during my time studying mental management, this mindset would serve me well when I learned that it was imperative to keep an open mind about things we think we can or can’t do. I would learn from some of the best on the subject during my time as a Navy SEAL sniper instructor.
Most of us can do it if we open ourselves up to it and declare it.
“I’m just not good at fixing things.”
When I became a pilot and started flying Yaks with a great group of former military fighter pilots, one of my mentors, “Bones,” took me under his wing. “Sell that Cessna and come fly with us. There’s a Yak 52 for sale up north. Go buy it,” Bones would say. A few weeks later and I was taxing my new ugly white Yak 52, which was painted some nasty USSR scheme I would later change to desert camo. You can find it on my Instagram @brandontwebb.
Flying air combat with this group would change my life and make me a better pilot in so many ways. But it also changed the way I thought of myself. Before, Brandon was not a mechanic. After working with this group Brandon was a mechanic.
“Why don’t you rip the gear of that old Yak? I have to rebuild the gear and could use the help”, Bones said to me one Saturday morning in San Diego. “Where’s the manual?” I asked. “You’ll figure it out once you start pulling it apart.” And I did. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still an advocate of looking at the manual, but in this case, the gear system was simple enough.
This would be the small mindset shift I needed to start thinking of myself as mechanically inclined. It would give me the confidence to change my air pump, install a new exhaust system, and more.
“I AM good at fixing things.”
Once we change the way we think about ourselves, only then will we able to make the transformation happen. Math, public speaking, mechanical stuff, swimming, flying — you name it — you can overcome it.
So please pay attention to the way you talk to yourselves and others. Words are powerful and can be transformational to so many, especially to kids.
I’ll host a live Q&A on my experiences with mental management in the sniper course for the SOFREP community soon.
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