There we were five other team members and me, running through the mountains of Afghanistan, dodging enemy from all side. We had C-130 lighting up the hillside in every direction. We were so close to the C-130’s delivery that we found ourselves running through the smoke left behind. Barely able to look back and see everyone, I was sure my teammates couldn’t see me. We naturally came closer together to increase visibility and effectiveness. Our destination in sight we had to stay together and keep communication. Everyone understood their responsibility no matter their position. After about 30-45 minutes we made it through, and our ride picked us up, quickly getting us back to base.
How was all of this possible? Shooting and moving in the dark with little to no visibility. My teammates were moving in every direction, and aircraft shooting from above. We trained for this. It didn’t matter how big or small. We would train constantly running through scenarios that were as close to realistic as possible. In the movies, everyone sees the amazing and almost impossible abilities SEALs have. However, the movies do not display the thousands and thousands of hours Team guys put in. We would train constantly, sometimes repeating scenarios so many times, with such frequency we found ourselves dreaming about it.
The basics. From day one of SEAL training we focused on mastering the basics. When we started a platoon, we would go back to the basics. During workups and deployments, we would go to the range, and ensure the basics were still mastered. Do you get the point? The basics are paramount for anything. The basics fortify our foundation.
Everyone would like to think the elite sports stars, military, scientist, etc. are just elite. Or the successful are just created that way. But the fact is anyone who wants to achieve anything regardless of what it is. You have to train. You have to learn the basics and master them. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, or what your about to do you have to train.
After one of my deployments I came back and decided I wanted to get my pilots license. I was told it usually takes a person 6 to 12 months to get their single-engine private pilot’s license. One of the instructors said to me, “those time frames are if you are lucky.” I felt a challenge was presented and unbeknownst to him I accepted.
I looked at this like any other mission or training event. I started to train, taking in all the radio calls, engine indicators, understanding all the instruments. Sometimes I would find myself reciting the radio calls in my head or visualizing the controls and motioning the proper technique. I did this constantly, so when it was time I could do it without thinking. I studied all the gauges and potential indicators associated with them. Playing out scenarios in my head to understand the steps to resolve them or in some cases land safely.
Mastery of the basics was my only option if I was to get my license in 3 months. Also, remember I was still operating full time as a SEAL so I had to be creative but would never give myself an excuse. Every opportunity I had I would fly, and every time I got up in the air, my instructor noticed the improvements. In one month I found myself doing my first solo flight. When I got up in the air for my solo, I found myself with the unique opportunity to do some emergency procedures. Doing emergency procedures was against my instructor’s wishes. All he wanted me to do was practice landings at the other airfield. In my mind, I was given the opportunity to train in a semi-realistic fashion. No one was there, what better time than the present to figure out my pitfalls.
After I returned successfully from my first solo, all I had to do was get more hours. At this point, I needed to amass as many hours as possible. I took every opportunity I had to get in the air. Eventually and to the initial instructor’s amazement, I received my pilot’s license within 3 months. It was a great feeling.
All of this would not have been possible if I did not focus on the basics. Radio calls, starting the engine, pre-flight checks, landing, taking off, turning. You get the point. There are a lot of things to train on and master, in anything we do.
In business, it is no different. If you are a public figure, what do you think you should train on? If you are a business consultant what do you think you should train on? If you are a graphics designer what do you think you should train on? That is step one.
1. What to Train on.
It makes a lot of sense right? If you are a public figure, you should probably focus on how social media works. What are the latest trends and algorithm changes? A public figure that doesn’t do this will struggle with getting themselves noticed for longer than they should. By the same extent, a graphics designer should know file formats, software, and the tools necessary to produce what the client wants.
To illustrate this point. When I lived in San Diego, my wife and I owned a bike shop. Before I opened the bike shop, I knew one of the most important things for a bike shop was the reputation of its service department. Understanding the importance of service, I sought out the best training I could find. Learning how to do things right the first time meant our shop would gain the right reputation. I trained relentlessly learning everything. Our repair shop was always full of people’s bikes who wanted fast, friendly and competent service. The real reason for this is because I trained hard for it because I believed in it.
2. Ensure you Believe in it.
Once you figure out what you need to train on. The next thing to figure out is if you are willing to do what is necessary to achieve mastery. If you go into it, thinking you will train here and there but never take it seriously. You will never get serious results. It is impossible in some cases to achieve your desired result.
Take for example the public figure that has awesome content, inspiring lives, but doesn’t understand or is unwilling to learn how to get their message out there. The person may experience a false sense of who he or she can help. All because they did not take it seriously enough to get their message out there and train with the tools necessary.
Ultimately, that is the thing. You have to make sure you are all in to train effectively. Your goal has been set, you understand what it is you need to train on, now look at the list. Is it exciting or daunting? Do you find yourself unwilling to learn? If you are reluctant to learn and train beyond the next standard, you will go the way of most brick and mortar retail stores. It should excite you that you have the opportunity to help more people. Just by ensuring you are a master that deserves the attention and time of the people you want to help.
Train and train hard, never give up on training yourself. Just as fitness is not a one-time gig. You have to consistently train yourself to understand your tools, movements, sales process, scripts, etc. Roleplay, imagine scenarios, do practical training, be creative and the results will manifest.
With focused training that is done the right way consistently and frequently, we all can be great. Do not forget every one of us can do something amazing. Too many people have been sedated to think there is only one way to do something and truly there is more than one way. Furthermore, the only way you would find the other ways is by constantly training to the scenarios. Remember we as Team Guys did not get as good as we are at our job without thousands of hours of training. Long days and long nights, dissecting problems, and creating solutions made us smarter and more effective.
Take it from me, the only way to go from great to greater is by having the willingness to train. Start today. How are you going to start training today that will make you that much more effective?