What I Learned From a Navy Seal

A friend sent this speech my way a few weeks ago. It was a timely message. The speaker is a Navy Seal (an admiral if memory is correct) by the name of William McRaven. His experiences inspired, and challenged the way I look at everyday life as well. I wrote this post a few years ago about the Seals. It made so much sense back then. Admiral McRaven”s experiences are meant for all of us.

Here’s what I learned from this Navy Seal:

Our culture is upside down. We live in a land that pushes out messages designed (on purpose or not) to convince us to seek pleasure and comfort. The truth is we all are Seals. Uniquely.

We don’t know our limits. Limits hurt, but they help. They allow us to operate in places yet seen. With disruption all around, being able to see what is yet seen is vital

We live as voyeurs. Admiral McRaven is special, even though he makes it clear that he is not, in our heads. It’s as if we feel we can watch the Navy Seal and live vicariously through him. Epic living is not a spectator sport.

Safety, security and stability are not our friends. Once again, our culture says I’m crazy. The sad irony is when we pursue those three fakes, we insure our loss of the real version of them. This deception is very subtle, so be on guard.

You will be laughed at, you will lose the hangers-on. Our perspective in America on failure is warped. So many are living to not lose. Nobody wishes for failure. However, when it occurs it’s a clarity and wisdom-giver. Success won’t help you here.

Remember, your life is relative to mine, as mine is to Admiral McRaven. The key is finding your limits and honestly pursuing them.

 

Identity and Career

Rare is the man or woman who can walk with graceful indifference to their career. I once had a music teacher advise me to learn all the theory I could, and then forget it.

Be the best you can be in your craft and then let it go. Really.

Identity and career are two parts of life that should never meet. If they do, it can be lethal, and very difficult to separate. Career can take over and leave true identity on life support. I speak from experience. It takes a long time to regain, or replace, what you lose.

I’ve found these dangers in the mixing of identity and career:

  • Quiet resignation. This occurs when we get older or have been at something for awhile. The lie we tell ourselves is “we’re in too deep, and it could be worse.”
  • The high. It feels good in the moment, so we desire the thrill. We enjoy being seduced by flattery and accomplishment. Nothing quite like being the one to watch.
  • The ghost of our father. This one is so subtle. We watched a man, or a woman, toss away life for not much in the end. That script then becomes our own.
  • The payback. Somewhere we got wounded and the chip appeared. This is the closet sociopath coming out to wreck the place.
  • The false obligation. We pull out all the noble reasons for staying. “I have a mortgage, I have my kid’s college education.” It’s as if we think we’ll be excused for our fear in the end.

The choice is mine, the choice is yours. We have to remember that career is a great dance when the identity is kept separate. The battle is found in living in a culture that values the opposite.

Wellbeing on Your Terms

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We live in the age of the prescription. The list is long and varied. Drugs (legal) are prescribed to mask or fix health issues. Fitness gurus will prescribe workout plans to help you lose that extra 15 pounds. All in all, we’re in an age of being told what to do. Aren’t you a little tired of that? In some areas of life, prescribing is appropriate. However, it can be a slippery slope.

What if wellbeing should be on your terms? What if your uniqueness should drive how you approach wellbeing?

In my work, I help people find wellbeing that fits who they are and who they aspire to be. Wellbeing that sticks is found here. Far too often people exchange their identity for someone else’s. That someone usually lives in a world way beyond the reach. Ceding identity is a recipe for long term failure.

The best approach is to embrace who you are, and the gifts you’ve been given. Sound simple? It is and it isn’t. The simple part is you’ve got a choice in the matter. The complex part is dealing with all the insecurities and fears. This two-headed beast is ferocious. Many people try to lock up the beast and hope not to have to deal with it, or worse, surrender.

I have areas in my life that have taken, for what seems like a lifetime, much effort and time to be at peace with. I don’t always like to look in the eyes of what hurts me, but  making peace allows me to move forward whole and inspired. The trick is having the faith that what lies past your insecurities is the place you’ve always wanted to be. Wellbeing on your terms is the only way to get there.

5 Questions with Master DDnard, Author of The Compass of Now

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I’m so pleased today to share my conversation with Master DDnard, author of The Compass of Now. Her insights into keeping yourself in the moment truly inspired. Master DDnard will help you to remember that life is well lived in the moment.

 

What do you think is the greatest block to personal happiness?

Too much searching and not knowing how and when to stop. When your mind is reaching out, you can’t be happy. You can only try to find something or someone with the hope that they will make you happy. Happiness is very shy, it manifests when you stop searching and start feeling. Joy is always there whenever you want, just smile to yourself and be happy anytime, anywhere.

Many are running their lives at break-neck speed. What advice would you give to those who have a longing to be in the now?

Be in the now while running. Since you are good at multi-tasking and being a high achiever, no matter how fast you run, just set the compass in your mind to always come back to your body and mind whenever you can remember. Start now while you are reading this, and smile to yourself. Now you are in the here and now.

It helps to remember to come back to your breathing and body movement as an anchor for your mindfulness.

What inspired you to write The Compass of Now?

When my husband passed away while my son was only eleven months old and left us with $3 million USD not in cash but in debt, I was taken out of grief and fear by just a few words of someone I hardly knew. I knew since then that when everything seems so dark, words can lighten up our days. So I wrote The Compass of Now for everyone who knows how important it is to have a positive spirit because our circumstances are the reflection of our inner states.

In the book you state that parents can teach their children through good deeds. Is this a case of influencing through how we act, versus only what we say?

Both what we say and act matters. Words are very powerful, especially with children. You can’t just be a good provider and a hard-working parent without expressing your love, care and understanding if you want your child to be happy growing up.

We show our children how we react to things, what we say and do, how we contribute, how we do business, and it sinks into our children’s minds.

Is it ever okay to be unhappy?

Yes, but not for too long. You may get the habit of it. So allow yourself to be unhappy for a short time and then say to yourself: “Time’s up- it’s time to be happy and enjoy the best life brings.” Also, don’t forget to look for the good things in disguise.

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Master DDnard is a renowned spiritual teacher and best-selling author of the Compass book series, including The Compass of Now.

DDNard also conducts her charitable Compass Meditation Retreats four times a year at a mountain resort in Thailand, where hundreds of participants come to meditate and everything is paid for by her special charity fund. She also conducts free Happiness Compass Seminars four times a year.

Today she leads a quiet life on the beautiful river bank of Bangpakong, Thailand, meditating, gardening and playing with her son.has been invited to give her insights on hundreds of TV shows, magazines, and organizations.

 

What Do You Expect?

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There’s something to setting proper expectations. Especially, in a world that has changed, but still looks and often feels the same. In our gut, we know it’s important to set proper expectations. It’s just so hard. The war is found in our mind. Are we willing to be laughed at by the herd for seeing things as they truly are? Many walk away.

So, what do you expect?

I’ve had more than a few seasons of looking for the old version of success and accomplishment. I’ve had more than a few seasons where I’ve thought those closest to me had written me off. I was easily seduced by the old static days. The sweet dance and embrace of holding onto something not really there. At least until I had fallen hard. These all were fantasy expectations around ego and hiding grounds.

The unwind is a very difficult business.

Many are looking hard. Looking for answers and direction. This is all happening in a time of mass disruption. Imagine living in between the old and the new. Transition, as my friend Terry would say. Proper expectations as you make your way through is a vital art.

Consider this:

  • Can your relationships really deliver the movement and growth you need? Do you find yourself asking someone immature to give you encouragement? Maybe you just want them to be what they can’t. Only you know if the relationship is toxic in nature or just one that needs a reset. Watch out for radical movements in this area.
  • Are you looking for someone or something to make you happy. Do you jump from person to person expecting them to solve you? There is only one person who can make you happy, go to the mirror and you will find them.
  • Do you expect your employer to take care of you? Really big dangers here. Many misconstrue the emotional high found at work for authentic care. Just keep in mind, most publicly traded companies have allegiances to about 5 things (shareholders, Wall Street analysts, profits, customers, and expense control) other than you, the employee. Only you can know if being number 6 is okay. Again, what do you expect in this area of life?
  • Do you expect that your life will always be an unending winning streak? More people than you think, are petrified by the thought of loss. They rationalize, they prepare in order to protect themselves from that dreaded day when the score shows one for the loss column. Losing for me is not the thing to be afraid of, not learning is the great risk.
  • Are you waiting for someone else to speak up and exhibit leadership? Dr. Andrew Thorn says leadership is a behavior, not a skill. I agree. Go ahead and say something, go ahead and be willing to be a voice for those lacking.

 

5 Questions with Dr. Andrew Thorn, Author of Leading with Your Legacy In Mind

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This edition of 5 Questions features Dr. Andrew Thorn. Dr. Thorn wrote a guest post on legacy last year, so I was excited when I had the opportunity to interview him about his new book Leading with Your Legacy In Mind. I know you’ll love our conversation and the book as well.

 

In the preface for the book, you give a personal take on the struggle between career and family. What’s one strategy from the book that could help someone breakthrough?

Choose to be guided by purpose instead of passion. The purpose of your work is not to be passionate, it is to be useful, to be honorable, and to be of value to your community. When we align with our passion we are constantly caught in the struggle of trying to feed our own self-interests. When we align with our purpose we make a difference, we add value, and we connect our actions to our values.

In our society, fame (even on a small scale), money and status drive many of us to leave our legacy in the dust. Is legacy becoming a forgotten art?

We have forgotten what legacy means and so naturally creating a legacy is a forgotten art. Too often we confuse it with impact, but that is what others feel. We carry our legacy with us. It is the ultimate answer to the question “Who am I?” That is why it is so important for each of us to live and lead with our legacy in mind.

You have a chapter in the book addressing the move from change to growth. What’s that all about?

Change is always driven by external pressures. None of us change because we want to, or because we like to. We may tell ourselves that we do it for those reasons, but in our most truthful moments, we recognize that we only change when we have to. When we do for external reasons, we rarely can sustain the change.

Growth on the other hand is internally motivated. It is the answer to our deepest yearnings and aspirations. It comes about as a result of true desire. This is what makes growth easier to sustain. There are still challenges and trials along the way, but we are committed to our own idea, so we keep at it when the going gets tough.

I read recently, that organizations spend billions on leadership development annually. Are we getting a good ROI in developing leaders?

Sadly, most leadership development initiatives fail to live up to their promise. This is because they are generally focused on the wrong things. Leadership is not a competency or a skill. It is a behavior. Most organizations are ill equipped to measure and manage behavior, but they are very effective at measuring and managing performance. Naturally, and without a lot of effort, most leadership development initiatives become nothing more than just another performance management strategy. When a leadership initiative becomes tied to performance the game is over. Instead of reaching deep into authenticity, it remains an effort to cover up weaknesses and threats. To grow, our weaknesses and threats need to be exposed so that we can understand them and even use them to our advantage.

Another reason why so many initiatives fail is because we forget that leadership is an individual journey. This makes it difficult to teach it in a group setting, but organizations are afraid that it will be too expensive to work with each individual. They know they have to do something so they invest in ineffective strategies, just so they can check the box. We can never check the box on our leadership development efforts. It must be ongoing or we will create a stagnant culture. No one wants that.

Do you believe we’d have better balance in life, if we made legacy a top-of-mind matter? What kind of positive outcomes might we see there?

I think balance happens naturally, so the only time we feel unbalanced is when something is wrong. In life and in work, the unbalances we feel are directly related to our own inability to focus on the things that matter most. We are easily distracted by our business and busyness and we run out of time and energy to deal with what really matters. This is an easy problem to fix. All we need to do is adjust our focus. This doesn’t mean that we forget the things that matter least, which would be impossible because they are directly tied to short-term demands. It simply means that we take time each day to put the big picture in perspective and then do our best to allow our short-term actions to be aligned with bringing that picture to life. When we do this, our legacy is strengthened and we are happy. Most people are surprised by how easy it is to focus and recalibrate their life and work experiences.

 

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A pioneer and leader in the field of work/life balance; Dr. Andrew Thorn is widely recognized for his breakthrough thinking on how to help people discover their sense of purpose and create greater meaning from their personal and professional experiences. He personally guided 2 of the top 50 business thinkers, currently listed on The Thinkers 50. His work extends to over 50 major corporate clients and over 250 Senior Leaders from many of the Fortune 500 Companies.

Graduating with a Masters in Business Administration from Pepperdine University, Dr. Thorn also holds a PhD in Consulting Psychology and a Masters in Personal and Executive Coaching.

He resides near Los Angeles, CA with his wife of 25 years, Stacy, and their seven children.