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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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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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