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Success Lesson from the Special Forces Green Berets

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Success Lesson from the Special Forces Green Berets

Success Lesson from the Special Forces Green Berets

    I spent over twenty years in the military. The last thirteen years I was a Special Forces Green Beret. Due to the critical nature of our missions, training in the Special Forces was a high priority.  We trained on every aspect of  whatever the particular mission was at hand e.g reconnaissance, ambush, hostage rescue.  A big part of our training was mindset.  We put specific items in the training event to boost our confidence in our abilities.  Doubt could be a  mission stopper.

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    Use Confidence Boosters

    One of the confidence boosters that we used in the Green Berets was that we trained for success.  Don’t get me wrong, we had contingency plan upon contingency plan in case something went wrong.  We used the acronym PACE – Primary, Alternate, Contingency Emergency. Each critical step of the mission had a PACE sequence.  If the primary way in would not work, we went to the alternate, then to the contingency, and finally to the emergency.  This was all done in planning and we would rehearse and even drill each other on the team on the different PACE variations for different parts of the mission.

    What I mean though by training for success is that we did not expect failure.  “Failure is not an option” has become trite after its use in the media, but it was reality for us.  First, what you think of has a way of becoming real. We did not focus on what would happen if we did not succeed.  We focused on making ourselves the best and best prepared to accomplish whatever the mission was.  We did not think about things going wrong.  We thought about fluid situations and how we would improvise, adapt and overcome for mission success. It is a totally different mindset from thinking what is going to go wrong.

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    Train to Win

    Also we trained to win.  Every mission was rehearsed, sometimes to the point of ad nausea.  Even we were totally sick of training and rehearsing, we always… always won at the end.  When we cleared a building and rescued the hostages, we might get shot if we were using paintballs against real people acting as the bad guys.  The Special Forces team members would never go down, even if shot by the paintballs.  To do so would be to train our minds for failure.  We would keep moving, finishing the mission with the rest of the team.  Later on, we would get the ribbing about the red paint marks on our uniforms and reflect what we could have done better to have avoided being shot.

    We did this because, it might give us a few more seconds in real combat. By training ourselves to instantly fall if shot by paintballs, we would have been training ourselves to instantly fall when shot in real life.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Many times you can continue to move after taking a round and perhaps eliminate the threat that put the bullet in you. To immediately lay down would be a death sentence.

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    What are you doing in your life where you immediately lay down when something doesn’t go right?  Train yourself to continue to drive on, finishing up what you started. If you practice expecting success and not laying down for failure you will start seeing more and more successful moments instead of others.

    (Photo credit: Man jump through the gap via Shutterstock)

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