Phase 1 of Navy SEAL Buds training is the hardest challenge for any human to achieve. We have seen so many photos of recruits’ helmets lying in the quad after candidates quit. The SEAL instructors love getting someone to leave; it is their goal. The odds of anyone completing SEAL training are not favorable: 1 in 4. Each year, about 1,000 recruits make it to SEAL training and only 250 complete their training and join approximately 2,000 more active SEALs, who work among nine active-duty teams. The Navy spends time and large sums of money to recruit members to their SEAL program, and each person qualified can easily do all the tests. So, why then does the Navy selection process miss on three out of every four applicants? Volume. Yes, it’s the amount; not the work.
Every candidate can easily pass the test, everyone can do a week of the testing, the hard part starts when days pile on top of one another, and the volume of work wears a person down. We see this happen with athletes, business people, and many that start diets. The first week is not hard; the second and third week becomes the challenge, in part due to being able to stay focused. Volume is a killer.
How do we avoid the volume of work getting the best of us? Easy, don’t acknowledge the amount of work. This notion is demonstrated in David Simon’s brilliant show The Wire; an American Crime Drama set in the inner city of Baltimore. When Avon Barksdale, one of the leading characters and drug lords, is sent to prison, he never acknowledges the amount of time of his incarceration. Only expressing there are two days when entering prison: the day you get in and the day you get out — nothing in between. The SEALS take a similar approach telling candidates to focus only on the current drill—never allow your mind to get ahead of itself.
In The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington, the authors' challenge the reader to redefine their "year" to be 12 weeks long. There are no longer four periods in a year; that's old thinking. There is just a twelve-week year, followed by the next twelve-week year. Each twelve-week period stands on its own; which is similar to Barksdale's theory of only two days.
Narrow the scope, cut down thinking about the volume, and focus on short intervals.
We all need to do the same when evaluating the talent around us. Some start fast, fade, and cannot handle the volume; others start slow and build, embracing the amount of work.
Be aware of the volume and remember there are only two days.
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