You leave the military with plenty of awesome sayings and cliches:
“Think outside the box”
“High speed, low drag”
“Every dog has its day”
“Nothing good comes easy”
“The only easy day was yesterday.” (Had to put this one in so my Navy SEAL friends would keep reading…)
But my favorite, and the one that sticks true for me as a Former Action Guy, is this one: “Embrace the suck.”
It’s an understatement to say Special Operations training in the military is difficult. By it’s very design it’s meant to weed out the many who only “want” to be there and only select those worthy of the time and energy necessary to hone into a world-class unconventional warrior.
But how does it work?
Let me tell you a story. My wife has worked in the medical research field for years. When we were stationed outside of Nasvhville, Tennessee she worked at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Many of her friends were fellow military spouses and the bulk of them were married to officers. I was on an ODA (A-team) and at any social gathering I’d be asked by her friend’s husbands the trick to making it into Special Forces (as if there is just one thing you need to know, like an insider’s stock tip…)
For years the question really irritated me and I didn’t know what to say. I’d normally give them pearls of wisdom like “Don’t quit” or “Just remember the Three E’s: Everything Eventually Ends.” but these seemed a bit contrite/passive aggressive and I didn’t want to be as ass or act like I had an inflated ego.
But, as is normal for me, I ended up giving the topic quite a bit of thought.
One of the best things I realized about the Q Course (Special Forces Qualification Course) was the design and the various methods through which they’d “shift your paradigm” to make each candidate learn to “Embrace the Suck”.
When we started off at Phase 1 (which was SFAS or “Selection” when I went through) EVERYTHING we did had me thinking how much it sucked. Everything I did sucked. Raw, primal, SUCK. The kind of suck which makes you think time stands still. The kind that makes you think the event will never end.
But… The events did end. Eventually. And then Selection ended. Finally.
And then those of us selected went to the next phase of training. And (if you worked hard enough, learned quick enough, and recovered from injuries quick enough) you’d go on to the next phase.
And each phase sucked. I’ll clarify: Each phase had an element of really hard core “suck” embedded in it. Some phases were highly academic in nature – but the cadre always took special care to make sure there were many elements of suck embedded throughout. It seemed comfort was their enemy and they made damn sure we were never comfortable.
But an amazing thing started to happen. I began to care less about what was next on the schedule or how bad it was going to suck. In fact, I learned to embrace it and welcome it because I knew it was par for the course. It was going to occur whether I wanted it to or not. Where I, and others, had been fearful of it (or at the very least resistant to it) I now learned to expect it. To love it. The embrace it.
I knew it was the fire in which I was to be forged. Without meaning to sound like a “Successories” poster on the wall featuring a soaring eagle and a snow-capped mountain background: my mind truly is my greatest weapon. Keeping a vigilant eye on maintaining the proper mindset was incredibly important to my future – especially if I ever hoped to be deemed worthy enough to earn the Green Beret.
Learning to Embrace the Suck not only helped make me a Special Forces soldier, but also prepared me to be an entrepreneur, businessman, husband, and father.
I know things are going to go wrong, I know life is going to be hard, I know plans won’t happen, I know money won’t come as I expect – but I embrace it as par for the course.
Why? Because I realize that no matter how great or prepared I think I am – life may have other plans for me and in order to achieve my goals I need to Embrace the Suck and get on with it.
You’d be better off if you were able to do this as well – trust me.