There are no tips or tricks to Navy SEAL training. Everyone has to do the push-ups that make your fingers bleed and the 100-foot rope climbs that tear callouses off hands. Everyone has to endure the brutality of a cold, dark, and unforgiving Pacific ocean.
I started class 215 of BUD/S training (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) with roughly 220 candidates. Seven months later, only 23 of the original (not counting the roll-ins) candidates would finish.
The first six weeks for me were brutal. But eventually, you adapt to any environment, even in the harshest of conditions. Viktor Frankly talks about this in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to be a Navy SEAL.
In short, there are no cheat codes, no hall passes. You’ll just have to get on with it. And that’s why 90 percent fail. They just don’t understand what training really involves. So here are three steps I’ll share with any prospective Navy SEAL.
Step One: Do Your Homework
Really understand what you’re getting into. How many times have I heard the sob story of some SEAL quitter packing his bags and telling me and my friends he didn’t know what he was getting himself into. A funny sidenote: We had an Egyptian show up to Navy SEAL training. He thought he was supposed to be in navy dive school. “Why the fucking logs?!” he would squeal. Doom on you for not doing your research.
Our complete guide to Navy SEALs is a great place to start.
Step Two: Get in Mental Shape
Take one of the SEAL preparation courses. I recommend Mark Divine’s SEAL Fit in Encinitas California. Mark doesn’t fool around and you’ll come out of his prep course in great mental and physical shape. I’ve seen too many candidates show up in peak physical shape only to get mentally beaten a few days in. My story was the opposite: I was mentally prepared and not as prepared physically, something that I paid dearly for with ripped-off bloody callouses and a lot worse. But, since my mind was ready, my body would soon follow and I would be out of the hurt locker.
Step Three: Find Your Purpose
You need to really think about the purpose of why you are doing what you’re doing because it will help shape your life and career. Read Man’s Search for Meaning, and any books about SEAL training that you can get your hands on. I talk about my training in The Red Circle, and there are plenty of other books out there. Study as much as you can and then ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? For what purpose?”
Follow the three simple steps and the odds are just a sliver better for you. And remember, nobody likes a quitter.
Tune into my next Instagram live on my personal page @BrandonTwebb as I’m always available to answer well-thought-out questions.
This article was originally published in December 2020.
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