You Only Think You Can’t

This is another article I found that I feel is worth sharing over and over again. So much truth to it. Having personal experience with these types of programs and enduring the agony and mind games that happens is what drives me to this very day. The author of the article is unknown.

Originally posted February 26, 2014. The other day, I was at a friend and fellow martial artist’s office. I saw this picture on the wall and did a double take:

I know Ben is a seasoned military veteran and was a member of the Marines’ special forces  for 20 years. I ask him what’s going on in the picture.These men are training for the Marine Force Reconnaissance group. Their hands and feet are bound. Then they’re thrown off a 25 foot high diving board into a deep pool. Plummeting to the bottom of the pool, they must orient themselves and kick up to reach the surface and quickly draw a breath before sinking back down. They have to do this for ONE HOUR. After that, they get their face masks ripped off and must dive down to retrieve them with their hands and feet still bound.

I ask Ben if he did that. Of course he did. He ended up becoming one of the instructors for the program. Surprisingly, Ben told me that when he first entered the Marines, he almost drowned during his basic training swimming test.

I took the opportunity to ask him about the insights he gained on his journey from a recruit that could barely swim, to surviving this crazy test, to becoming an instructor and using the test to train some of the most elite warriors on the planet.

Here are the insights:
Quitting is Addictive: Once you begin to think about quitting something, you’re almost certainly finished. Your brain will start to subconsciously develop new and elaborate excuses why you can’t or shouldn’t follow through.  Once you make that leap and take the action to quit, it becomes easier and easier to quit the next thing. You learn how to apply excuses you’ve used in the past in original and innovative ways to convince yourself to quit new things in the future.  Quitting is habit forming. Don’t start something unless you are committed to it. Then don’t quit. Perseverance is just as habit forming as quitting. Follow through with one thing, and build confidence to persevere through everything.

You Only Think You Can’t: In addition to teaching naval warfare, Ben also led wilderness survival instruction for special forces recruits. He told me that 90% of people that die in wilderness survival challenges give up within ¼ mile of safety.  That means that 9/10 of those that died, could have walked for 5 more minutes and survived.Our nature is to impose artificial barriers on ourselves. Whether it’s a physical, mental, or emotional challenge, your limits are much higher than you believe. You only think you can’t.If you have a mentor, in any discipline, they will know your limits better than you. A trusted mentor can guide you past your self-imposed limits and help you break through them. If you don’t have a mentor, be your own. Find something that’s a reasonable challenge with a finite duration; do it and don’t quit. Gain confidence. Repeat.  

Quitting is Toxic: Quitting happens when one is faced with a challenge. Without challenge, one cannot learn or grow. Without growth, we are as good as dead.There are so many paths each of us can take to develop ourselves, become awesome human beings, and create unique life stories worth remembering. The road is paved with challenges. Perseverance powers your engine. Feed that engine.  


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