Life in the SEALs and my time as the head sniper instructor, taught me invaluable lessons, chief among them being resilient.
But how do we ensure we have resilience for life?
As I transitioned from the precision of a sniper’s sight to the entrepreneurial landscape’s volatility, parallels emerged from the most unexpected quarters. Robert Frost’s proclamation of the road less traveled rang true, encapsulating every new career move—always a venture into the unknown.
So why do some scale unparalleled heights in one field and falter in another? Observing so many former SEAL teammates at the pinnacle of achievement in the navy, only to plummet into despair and addiction, left me grappling with this conundrum. The realization dawned—resilience, although cultivated in one realm, might not seamlessly translate to another.
It’s also why I’ve written about senior leadership establishing an alumni network for the SEAL Teams, currently there is none.
The essence of resilience isn’t a solitary endeavor but a harmonious blend of elements. These elements can be mapped out and need to be re-created if we find ourselves switching careers.
What are they?
Self-awareness played a pivotal role. I had to confront and understand my emotions, strengths, and vulnerabilities, grounding every decision and reaction. My SEAL sniper training had instilled in me an unshakeable optimism, viewing every challenge not as a setback but a hurdle to be surmounted.
Yet, resilience isn’t just about the individual. The SEAL Teams highlighted the criticality of a strong social network—comrades who had your back, mentors who provided guidance, and a community that collectively faced adversity. On leaving the SEALs, the void was palpable. But the entrepreneurial realm required a recalibration of these networks. Continuous learning became crucial as I sought to redefine professional relationships, tapping into the collective wisdom of groups like the Entrepreneurs network, YPO.org, and the Harvard Business OPM program.
I also turned to Viktor Frankl’s insights on purpose. Identifying my ‘why’ was akin to finding a compass, offering direction amidst chaos. Coupled with a renewed purpose was the necessity of mental flexibility—the ability to pivot and adapt, to perceive situations from diverse vantage points.
Amidst this whirlwind of change, emotion regulation became imperative. Keeping emotions in check, especially when treading unfamiliar terrain, ensured clarity and decisive action. The teachings of Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit further underscored the importance of cultivating active coping mechanisms. Personal and professional habits required redefinition to foster resilience in this new realm.
Being at Harvard Business School, surrounded by brilliant minds, and being part of YPO.org, with global leaders, epitomized the adage—we truly are the sum of our associations. We are who we surround ourselves with. Both institutions underscored the importance of the environment in shaping resilience, ambitions, and success.
In conclusion, resilience is an intricate tapestry. It’s spun from threads of individual determination, interwoven with a clear purpose, and underpinned by a robust support network.
As I write my next book about building unyielding resilience, I’m constantly reminded that our journey is shaped not just by our individual mettle, but by the collective strength of those we surround ourselves with. As you contemplate career transitions or face life’s multifaceted challenges, remember resilience is a dance of individual grit, purpose, and the synergy of our support systems that need to be purposefully built.