When troops want to put themselves to the test and become members of the Special Operations Forces community, the Selection courses are frequently a source of treading in unknown waters. You’ll be asked to conduct exercises that may seem alien or unknown and you’ll frequently be in the dark until the last possible moment.
That is on purpose, it is part of what the course is designed to do, keep the candidates in the unknown. And for many candidates, it is a tough pill to swallow.
Most guys, myself included, always want to know what’s going on and how everything works. A prime example of that was when I worked as a Security Advisor for the film industry. While on the set, I was fascinated by the creative process of filmmaking and would constantly ask other crew members about their own small (or sometimes large) part of the process.
It actually had little to do with my own job which was to ensure that everyone on the set was safe and that we had safeguards in place to ensure it stayed that way. But to see the countless people behind the camera doing their jobs is part of what makes the magic that appears on the screen either good, great or poor many times.
But in Selection, the best piece of advice I’d give to anyone is to trust the process and go with the flow. So what does that mean? It is simple although when it comes to matters of Selection, there are times when the answer is so simple that it is hard to comprehend.
You’re there to pass Selection, you should have it in your mind that you are there to do everything in your power to ensure that you are standing in the formation at the end of the happy souls that are being selected and not the long, sad faces of those who are not.
Remember that you’re there until they send you back at the end, you’re always being evaluated…ALWAYS and it doesn’t matter what they’re going to ask you to do, just do it to the utmost of your abilities. Even when it seems trivial and unimportant, it isn’t. Everything is a test and everything is applicable.
Too many guys waste too much time and energy trying to G-2 the course and the Cadre and find out what is going on in every minute of every day. Don’t be one of those guys and don’t fall into that trap. It is a losing proposition.
Ignore the noise. I got an email about a year ago from a guy who asked about that specific thing and how to combat it. My advice to him then and to you, all now is to bring a book. When you have a few minutes of precious downtime between events or are waiting on the next word from the cadre, don’t get caught up in the old ladies’ sewing circle of rumors of what’s coming next, or how the cadre graded the last event or what torture they’re designing at that very moment. It is self-defeating and worthless of your time and energy.
As I have mentioned in the past, while a cadre member at Selection many moons ago, we’d move thru the barracks area at night dressed similar to the candidates and listen to the chatter. And 99.9997 percent of the time, it was woefully inaccurate.
The events that had already been conducted were the past, let them go. You can’t control anything from those events. Don’t worry about your performance on those. Only concern yourself with the next one or the event that you are conducting right now.
Everything else is completely out of your hands. As long as you are standing in the formation every day, you are part of the class. Focus only on the events at hand. Trying to figure out what event is next up is a complete waste of your energy, and trust me, you will need every last ounce of it.
Now, this doesn’t pertain to the whiteboards that the cadre leave out to signify the next formation and what uniform and equipment that is needed for each event that is upcoming. A good rule of thumb is to have people watching those for any updates from the cadre. The last thing you want to be is late or out of uniform. And they will get updated …frequently. (Don’t need to heel stomp that one…right?)
Now, the next thing about respecting the process is probably the most dangerous game to try to play. Every class that I was involved in and I have no doubt that it still happens, some joker will come up with a cockamamie idea that they have “figured out the most important events” to pass and which ones won’t matter to the cadre evaluating them.
This… more than just about anything else will get your ass put on a truck headed back to Ft. Living Room with a really long face. Believe it or not, you’ll hear a candidate in your class trying to sell you woof tickets that they know which events they have to go all for and which ones they can coast on.
I’ve heard these fairy tales with my own ears, as we walked around the candidates and if you hear one of your fellow candidates’ mouths these fallacies, avoid him like the plague. He’s on the fast track to Palookaville. He won’t pass go, he won’t collect $200 and he certainly won’t be selected.
The cadre members have seen it all and their job is to watch and evaluate everything you do. If they see this kind of behavior, you’re signing your own ticket out of Special Operations. If you put in so much time and effort into preparing to go to Selection, it is absolutely unfathomable and borderline criminal not to go all out once you are in the course. But yet in every class, there will be that candidate that tries to overthink it and play the course, when in fact he’s gotten played…by his own mind.
You’ve waited for the chance, put everything into it, every day and pass or fail, there will be no regrets.
Remember you are always being evaluated, don’t be late, don’t be light, and don’t be out of uniform. Eat every bit of food in your MREs, you’ll need it. And drink water until it is coming out of your ears, you will more than need that.