If you don’t hold an unreasonably high standard, then violence of action will just create a mess. If you aren’t holding yourself to the highest standard, then your attempts to build total situational awareness will just become diffused attention and create a scattered focus. And without uncompromising excellence, front sight focus is just putting on the blinders. Because, how do you know you’re focusing on the right things?

When we were approaching the end of our work on The Red Circle, my writing partner, John Mann, and I started asking ourselves, why were we writing this book. Yes, I wanted to tell my story. But bottom line, what was the point? We decided to see if we could capture the essential message of the whole 400-page book in the last page or two.

Here’s what we wrote:

“I’ve thought long and hard about why I am writing this book and what I want it to say. I think the message I want my story to get across boils down to two words: Excellence matters.

Throughout my time with the Navy and within the SEAL community, I’ve seen poor leadership and exceptional leadership. I’ve seen training that was simply good, training that was great, and training so transcendingly amazing it blew my mind. And I’ve seen the difference it makes.

In political matters, I have always been a down-the-middle- line person. When it comes to leaders, I care less about their party affiliation and more about their character and competence. I don’t care how they would vote on school prayer, or abortion, or gay marriage, or gun laws. I want to know that they know what the hell they’re doing, and that they are made of that kind of unswerving steel that will not be rattled in moments that count, no matter what is coming at them. I want to know that they won’t flinch in the face of debate, danger, or death.

I want to know that they excel at what they do.

A free society looks as if it rests on big principles and lofty ideals, and maybe it does for much of the time. But in the dark times, those times that count most, what it comes down to is not reason or rhetoric but pure commitment, honed over time into the fabric of excellence.

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