It was the end of Week 5 of SEAL training. We were about to enter into Week 6 which was better known as “Hell Week”. This was the week where the instructors really worked to separate the wheat from the chaff. It involved little sleep and lots of physical pain. It was a potent combination designed to break us both physically and mentally. Now here’s the irony. Every Navy SEAL wanted us to make it through this week of training. Despite the publicity of the SEAL Teams, our nation is in need of more SEALs and there just aren’t enough making it through training. That said, our instructors had a job to do and there was no way in hell that they would lower their standards in order to help us.
So they brought in some outsiders to give us a pre-Hell Week pep talk. I still remember one of the Senior Frogmen that came to talk with us. He was a big and tough guy and graduated from SEAL class #105. I was in SEAL class #205 so he had been in the teams for a while. He talked about getting to “The Next Moment” and I sat back and thought “now that’s something I can use”.
Here’s how it worked. SEAL training is an astounding amount of pain interrupted by meals. Meals were the one time when you could consume fuel and rest without an instructor screaming at you (most of the time anyway!). I used that to my advantage.
When I was standing in the ocean shivering uncontrollably and working hard not to drown I would think about getting to the next meal. My world would shrink and I’d think about surviving whatever was in front of me in order to get to that next meal. I’d think about nothing else. At some point the pain would end and I’d be having that next meal.
And sometimes that didn’t work. I didn’t think I would make it to the next meal so I’d think about getting to the next hour.
And then that didn’t work. So I’d focus on getting to the next minute. 60 seconds. I could do anything for 60 seconds…until I couldn’t.
Log Physical Training*
Those were the worst times. Brutal. When it is not possible to hang in there for 60 seconds what do you do? Focus on the next moment. I’d focus on doing whatever I had to do to get to the next moment. That moment might have been a wave that wanted to knock me off my feet or a heavy log* that I was holding in the air and was trying to crush me. It didn’t matter what was happening or what I felt. Just get to the next moment. Then the next. Then the next. Then – BOOM! – it was meal time. A short reprieve followed by pain and lots of reaching for that next moment.
The best business leaders I’ve worked with intuitively understand the idea of getting to the next moment. The business world is unforgiving. Things go wrong. Products aren’t ready on time. Deals are lost to the competition. The next round of financing doesn’t come in on time. When times get tough the best leaders shrink the time frame and they focus just like I did when facing that next frozen ocean wave. They think about getting their company or their team or themselves to the next moment. They grind it out. Do the work. Problem solve. They get to the next moment and get the product out the door, the deal closed or the financing secured.
“Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul.” -General Douglas MacArthur
That’s one of my favorite quotes. It gets to the heart of what the next moment is all about. Don’t quit…
If you are in sales then make one more phone call.
If you are an engineer then test one more design.
If you are an artist then paint one more canvas.
Just do one more. One more of whatever it is that you need to do in order to accomplish your goal. If you make it a habit of doing “one more” you will find that those “one mores” add up to lots of progress and success follows.
When you shrink your view and focus all of your energy and attention you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. Use this to your advantage and enjoy all of those tasty meals.