Thy Will Be Done

Thy Will Be Done


Around 70 thousand years ago, something happened to the brains of our ancestors that would change the course of our species forever.  Perhaps a genetic mutation or divine intervention?  This event, known as the cognitive revolution, caused our brains to do something that no other organism on the planet could do until that point and has not been able to do 70 thousand years later.  This ability is something that we take for granted; however, it is part of the very fabric that makes us human.  This ability is the notion that we, as humans, believe in and decide to believe in things that are not physically real and are in our imagination.  This belief in concepts and ideas is the cornerstone of our existence as humans, and is the reason why we dominate the planet, both technologically and societally.  Believing in such things as our countries, the financial systems, our legal systems; all these things do not physically exist and we cannot necessarily see them, but our very existence and order depends on them.  In fact, we sometimes tend to make things more real than they truly are, for example giving human names to hurricanes and storms; in fact giving them life, even though they are nothing more than planetary events caused by temperature changes, atmospheric pressures, and other naturally occurring phenomena.  Believing in concepts and laws is part of what psychologists call, higher level thinking.  Embedded in this concept of higher level thinking is the ability of humans, unlike any other animal on the planet, to have free will that often times may even go against the very genetic code that brought us to where we are today.


Human Behaviors: Your Will Defines You


Very few animals on the planet exhibit the level of emotional connectedness that we humans exhibit.  We are connected technologically by world networks that broadcast the latest news in real time.  We receive instant messages from far away relatives and friends, letting us know in intricate detail the feelings and actions that are being manifested in the moment that they are experienced.  Is this technology the byproduct of our emotional connections?  Or is it the technology that has brought us closer together?  I believe that the former is true.  We have always been more emotionally and cognitively in tune with each other.  It’s what makes us human and both a blessing and a curse.  Our ability to choose a more positive approach, even in the face of a negative shower defines us as humans.  We have the ability to behave and energize both ourselves and those around us during dire situations, and with the proper training we can even overcome some of the most dangerous and stressful situations that may even threaten our own lives and those around us.  


Bad Things Defined


I remember shortly after my father died, my mother read the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People.  After my time in the military, and countless analysis of performances during missions, I realized that the definitions of good and bad are left up to the interpretations of those who define the terms.  Furthermore, if you study Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Cognitive Re-Training, you begin to understand that no single event in your life is inherently good or bad; everything is a learning experience to build your character and help others who have not experienced what you have experienced.  If you approach life with this paradigm, you feel effective, happy, and empowered and are less likely to fall prey to depression and feelings of being overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations of life.  


Our Decisions Define Who We Are

In the end, we are the sum total of all the decisions that we have made in our lives.  Our free will drives the decisions that we make or do not make.  Even not making a decision is a decision.  I learned this early on in my military career when learning how to survive an ambush.  Not making a decision in the critical fatal funnel of an ambush was a decision, a decision that would likely get everyone, including myself, killed.  Making decisions based on knowledge, experience and  training defines who we are today and sets the stage on who we will become tomorrow.  When something happens in your life that causes you stress, view it as an opportunity to rise to the occasion and define who you will become in the event.  Your actions during those situations will not only define you in the present moment, but will define you as part of your legacy. 


Assignment

Tune into your free will this week.  Identify certain events in your life that bring your stress and see how you can use them as learning experiences instead of having them control you.  What steps can you take to accomplish this mission?  How can you view your situation as a learning experience to help others in the future?  Understand that when you view your life through this lens, you elevate your own tragedy into something that not only gives you meaning, but may even potentially help someone else in some future predicament.  

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N















Decision Making

Decision Making

 

Decision making is something that we do as humans. Of course other beings make decisions, but to be human involves much more complex thought and often times, collaboration to make the right (or wrong) decision.  What goes into your decision making?  Is it emotion or logic?  Perhaps a combination of both?  Rational decisions during times of crisis can mean the difference between life and death; however, do emotions play a role as well in these situations?

 

Emotion

 

Humans need emotions.  Put simply, if emotions were not necessary for our survival, we would not have them or express them so readily.  Emotions can be heard over the phone when you talk with someone.  They are easily seen on someone’s face when they are excited or sad.  Emotions even are part of our smartphones when we text using emoticons.  That is how important emotions are to us. Emotions are the glue that binds us all together as humans, making our communication (and decision making) effective, especially in critical situations.  When someone runs into a room and yells, “Fire!” everyone knows what to do and quickly, unless it is some sick prank.  We are all connected emotionally to one another.  Essential for survival, it is easy to see why emotions play such an important role in our decision making.

 

Logic

 

On the other side of the decision-making matrix is logic.  We have the capacity to systematically break down or analyze a situation or issue to get to the root of what it is that we need to do.  Analysis takes time and effort to do it properly.  When we have the time, we can use our rational brains to come up with innovative solutions.  This is where collaboration or brain storming comes into effect.  We can collaborate as a team to make a more informed, collective decision with more perspective than a single individual.  By using critical thinking, we take the emotion out of the decision-making equation and just look at the facts. 

 

Emotion or Logic 

 

When should we use emotion and when should we use logic?  Yes. What kind of an answer is that you ask? We should use both logic and emotion to make our decisions, because both bring a certain aspect of what it means to be human to the decision-making table.  We use logic to decipher and analyze when we have the time and use emotion to communicate the decision in real time, in order to effectively communicate what is going on.  If you leave the emotion out of your communication, individuals may get the wrong impression of what it is you wish to do or not do.  Emotions are very important to decision making.  On the other hand, if one does not analyze and construct an objective matrix from which to make a decision, then the decision will lack the direction and support needed to come to fruition.  I have seen both decisions made from pure emotion or pure logic fail miserably; you need a combination of both for a decision to succeed in the long-run. 

 

Assignment

 

This week, take notice of the decisions that you make.  Are they based on logic or emotion?  What side of the equation do you like to make most of your decisions.  Work on the side where you are weaker.  Remember that when you are introspective, you must be honest with yourself in order to improve.  Ask one of your peers or significant other for input into your decision making.  Are your decisions more logical or more emotional?  Does your self-analysis differ from what they think?  Why?  Remember that a healthy combination of both emotion and logic are necessary for a decision to make it in the long-run.

 

Dr. N

Prescription: Nature

Prescription: Nature

The little things are the big things.  When you do little things well enough and consistently enough, they add up to the big things and make an exponential difference in your life. Communing with Nature is one of those little things, if done every day and consistently enough, can have huge impacts on your physical and psychological wellness.  We have all heard the age old story, “when I was a kid, I would stay outside all day until the lights came on, and that was my signal to go back home.”  These stories are as common as the air that we breathe; however, how many of our trips outside have been replaced with trips to the computer, or worse, simply lifting our cell phones to our faces when we feel a buzz or hear a warning sound?

Where Time Began

I have always been fascinated with history and how our forefathers lived and what they did.  I think, to a certain extent, we all are fascinated with how we go here.  We may not know 100% about how our ancestors lived, but one thing that we know for sure is that they spent more time outside than we did.  How much time?  That depends how far back in history you go.  Hunting and Gathering societies were dominant around 12.000 years ago, when we had the beginning of the Agricultural revolution and the beginning of permanent settlements to farm the land.  Hunters and Gathering groups spent the majority of their time outside, and even farmers spend a fair amount of time outside and perhaps even more connected to nature and the land then their ancestors.  Somewhere around 200 years ago, we had the Industrial Revolution and what we call modern times.  It’s safe to say that our brains are wired to be outside, since only until recently we have moved indoors and travel in artificial machines, propelling us around the planet at unimaginable speeds to our ancestors that walked all over the planet, making primitive fires to stay alive.  

Insidious Stress

If you are a fan of Star Wars, you will understand the meaning of what is by far the greatest villain to ever visit you in a galaxy far far away.  Darth Sidious was the quintessential Sith Lord, fooling even the most powerful Jedi Knights into believing that he was not evil even though he was, and whole time right under their noses!  Stress is like Darth Sidious in that it can be present even if you don’t now it is.  The foods that we eat, the unhealthy relationships that we foster (steeped in gossip and other unhealthy behaviors), the artificial lives that we lead, the noises that are exposed to, the toxins that are present in the air that we breath; all these stresses play a role in our health, or unhealthfulness.  So what do we do about it?  Nothing?  Enter Nature.

Nature as a Spiritual Remedy

Communing with nature may be our easiest way to combat the hidden stresses of our lives.  The definition of communing is simple, sharing oneself on an intimate and spiritual level.  This does not happen by accident or by simply stepping outside of your car or house.  Communing implies purposeful action on a spiritual level. Communing with nature predicates purposeful, mindful action, perhaps with some friends or perhaps by yourself, whichever works specifically for you.  When you commune with nature, your goal should be to become part of the system and actually feel yourself connected with the entire ecosystem that you find yourself in.  The keystone to communing is being eternally grateful and in awe of everything that is around you, while at the same time placing yourself as part of a force much greater than yourself.  Let yourself feel the awe, you may feel vulnerable, but that is OK.  If you are in the mountains, be still and feel the wind blowing through the trees.  Take it all in.  If you are near the ocean, place your feet in the ocean and tune yourself into all the living things that are now touching you, by virtue of the water rushing past you.  Allow yourself this basic communion, the rewards will be priceless and reduce your stress.

Assignment

Dedicate some time every day to commune with nature, wherever you are.  Don’t simply go outside with a computer and call it communion.  Come from a place of gratitude and awe and allow yourself to feel.  Simply feel.  Think about how primitive humans were in touch with the environment around them and let yourself go there.  Remember that you are hard wired to feel this; you are here right now reading this because of that innate feeling.  When you get back inside, write down what and how you felt about the experience.  Share your feelings with others who are doing the same exercise.  After the week has gone by, write down what you learned from the experience of communion.  If you do this long enough, you won’t feel the same unless you have your daily communion with nature.  All it takes is going outside…

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N




Teams and Groups

Teams and Groups

This week, we talk about groups and teams and the similarities and differences between them. Have you ever been on a winning team? What did that feel like? Conversely, have you ever been in a group of individuals that you wish performed more like a team? Groups and teams are fascinating concepts that are as old as Homo Sapiens themselves; both essential for survival and both complicated entities that we need to study further.

Team

A team is a group of individuals that come together with a common mission and purpose; furthermore, they are trained to do that mission and accomplish its purpose. When a team is newly formed, one could say that the team is still a group and not a team. The team must undergo the classic 4 stage process to become a fully developed and operational team: forming, storming, norming and performing.

Forming

The forming stage is when the team is more like a group than a team; the individuals figure out what they are going to do and where they will fit in the future team, and they learn about the mission and purpose what they will be doing.

Storming

This phase is when individuals of the team test themselves against each other, where egos emerge and eventually get set aside for operational effectiveness. The storming phase is where the individuals of the team get to know each other, whether they want to or not!

Norming

The norming phase is when values are perfected, and roles are learned and practiced. This is my favorite part of the phase because it involves training. Training is the lifeblood of the team and the quality of this training determines how seamlessly the team flows into the final phase of the team.

Performing

The performing phase of the team is when individuals are operating at their most effective level. This phase is difficult to get to and involves all the previous phases going through their life cycles. Even in the performing phase, however, we can see elements of the previous phases (hopefully briefly) manifesting themselves if things go wrong. This is normal and hopefully whatever happens can be solved quickly and effectively so that performing returns to the highest level possible.

Group

We, as Homo Sapiens, have an uncanny ability to gather together in large groups and be orderly. This ability is derived from the notion that we believe in fictitious phenomena, such as laws, governments, corporations, and even money (Harari, 2015). These items are not concrete in nature. One cannot “see” the government or money. They are just symbols that stand for something that makes us feel a certain way, or act in a certain direction. Because of these beliefs, we gather in orderly groups and even have fun doing so. I remember seeing the Eagles in concert when I was in college (I am dating myself I know) and the Stadium in San Diego (Jack Murphy Stadium) was packed with thousands of people. This group was orderly, did not destroy the place, and had a lot of fun that night. No other animal on the planet could have gathered in such an orderly manner. Imagine what the stadium would have looked like with thousands of chimpanzees watching the concert. Pure chaos. The difference between a group and a team is that a team takes effort, purpose, training and execution to harness its energy. A group is simply individuals gathered together but not working together towards a common purpose.

Assignment

Look at the associations that you have in your life. Do you belong to more groups or teams? Teams take more effort, but are in the end more rewarding to be on and much more fun. Groups really don’t know where they are going and lack purpose. As you know, we all need purpose in our lives. That’s what teams provide. Look at your own family group or even the relationship that you have with your spouse or significant other. Are you part of a group or team there? If you are part of a group, what steps do you need to take to transform that group into a team? You know that it will take some effort and even some meticulous planning, but with the proper planning and execution, anything is possible. The incredible feeling that you get when you are part of a team; all individuals working together, helping each other out, and working towards a common goal, is truly life changing.

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N

Who is Your Swim Buddy?

Swim Buddies are critical in SEAL operations.  In resilience training, swim buddies are critical as well, but in a different way.  In training, we were taught not to be more than 6 feet away from your swim buddy.  During 100% Oxygen operations, this is critical because the symptoms of Oxygen Toxicity, a condition that can happen at any time during oxygen diving, can be deadly.  Your swim buddy can save your life.  In my resilience classes, individuals have a difficult time relating some of the military concepts that I teach to a more "normal" and safe life.  The principles of the swim buddy apply 100% to civilian life.  Let me explain how.  A swim buddy can be a close friend, spouse, even a sibling who has been there for you during difficult times.  A swim buddy holds you accountable and is not afraid to let you know that you screwed up.  A swim buddy is a sounding board during a crisis or life changing event.  At a minimum, when you call a swim buddy, they will answer the phone or get back with you fairly quickly.  

Accountability is a huge part of developing a resilient life style and developing the concept of self-leadership.  A swim buddy is their to hold you accountable.  However, accountability works in both directions.  By nature of the relationship, you are the swim buddy to your swim buddy.  That means that you have to be there for them just as much as they are there for you.  I remember an exercise in dive training where we would buddy breath off of the same closed circuit rebreather.  This was very complicated because it involved extra steps that are not the same as in traditional open circuit SCUBA.  The extra steps meant more time without life giving oxygen, and the steps required practice and trust.  Swim buddy in the SEAL Teams takes on a whole new meaning when you are in the dark, cold, and without oxygen!  

Remember to always be there for your swim buddy.  Think of some attributes that you have in your swim buddy.  What are some of the characteristics that you have that make you a great swim buddy?  Write down a list of people that you consider your swim buddies and then a list of people that consider you to be their swim buddy.  This week, introduce this concept to individuals who have not heard of it.  Remember, we were meant to face adversity with close friends who can count on us as much as we can count on them!

Dr. N

The Past

The Past

No other word in the English language can conjure up both joy and sorrow, evoke both a smile and sadness (sometimes in the same memory).  The past is something that humans have written about, study, and in certain circumstances regret.  All in all, our pasts help us define who we are today; this depends on how much power you decide to give to your past, and whether or not your have the foresight to learn from your mistakes or miscalculations.  


The Good

Our pasts are full of memories, some good and some not so good.  That is normal.  Most individuals have a mix memories that they remember with joy and memories that haunt them even into old age.  The key is to harness the power of the past in order to affect our present life.  That is just about the only useful thing that we can do with our past.  We can also talk about the past with fond remembrance.  This usually occurs in a group setting where individuals have a shared experience that they love to relive.  This recently happened to me at the dinner table where my family recounted the time when I trained obsessively for a local inline skating race, only to be demolished by former Olympians that showed up with equipment and training that was no match for my inexperience.  The laughs that we get from some memories are priceless, and these are the memories to be cherished and told, as long as they only enhance the present moment and don’t cannibalize it.  


The Bad and The Ugly

When individuals regret the past, this can be an issue, especially if their present moments are affected by the regret.  Regretting the past can cause just as much stress as over anticipation of a future event.  The present moment is a beautiful place where stress does not exist.  The corruption from the past can become a systemic issue for some individuals, leading to ineffective coping mechanisms (drugs, alcohol, over-eating) and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD can be treated with Cognitive Re-Training, a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy where past negative events are analyzed and detached from emotional states, thereby leading the individual to a more logical, emotion free explanation of the past event.  PTSD can be crippling, a manifestation of the past that has been buried deep inside the minds of an individual who is obviously suffering in the present.  


Redemption and Gratitude


The key to not letting your past control your present emotions is to be grateful for what you have in the present.  We all have things to be grateful for.  Just the fact that you are reading these words indicates that you have vision and the cognitive knowledge to understand what I am saying.  That, in an of itself, is a miracle to the majority of life on this planet.  Imagine the insanity of walking into your living room and seeing your dog curled up on the couch reading Lord of the Flies in utter disgust!  Being grateful is not only the key to putting your past behind you but also the key ingredient to living, totally engaged and enthralled in the present moment.  Take awe in the things around you and you will be redeemed of the past.  Respect and thank the past for bringing you here, yes.  But understand that the only thing that truly matters is what you do in the now.  


Assignment

Take pause this week and remember your past.  What events specifically show up in your mind’s eye?  Are these events good events or bad events?  Perhaps both?  Become aware of the present moment and how the past does not even enter into the equation, if you are fully immersed in it.  Pay your respects to past events but do not let yourself obsess over them. Make two columns on a sheet of paper. Write down some lessons that you can take forward from your past events in one column and in the other column write down as many things that you can that you are grateful for.  Understand how the past can link into your present moment, but realize that understanding the past should not be misunderstood with dwelling in it.  The past should only be a tool to unlocking and understanding the present and perhaps preparing, albeit briefly, for future events.


“Lean into it!”


Dr. N






Impact

Impact

 

 

the effect or influence of one person, thing, or action, on another

 

 

When you stop and think about it, life can be quite fascinating.  Paddling this morning in the darkness, I saw a fin surface about 20 feet from my board.  The movement was sudden and deliberate.  Since I have been paddling in the dark, almost every day for the better part of 8 years, I was not startled and new instantly that it was a dolphin.  I never stop getting fascinated with these common events; from a bald eagle catching a fish out of the water with its talons to a sea turtle surfacing to take a look at me; a pelican catching a fish in a break neck dive splash.  Life and death in one quick flash.  We realize fairly early in life that actions have equal and opposite reactions.  If you remember Physics and Newton’s third law of motion, you realize that everything that you do affects something else.  You cause something to happen.  You make an impact.  Conversely, when things happen, whether good or bad, you are impacted by something or someone.  For good or bad, 

 

Good or Bad?

 

We all have our bad days.  Things are not going right.  You wake up late.  You forget to take out the garbage.  You neglect to eat the right foods and have a stomach ache.  Your spouse tells you something hurtful.  You make a mistake at work and your boss reprimands you. You begin to realize that you are not in a job that you like.  We have all had days like that.  There is a country song called The Bug by Mary Chapin Carpenter the explains it all, “Sometimes your the windshield, sometimes your the bug…”  Life is not fun when you are the bug, but relish in being a bug so that when you are a windshield, you can truly appreciate it.  The impacts we make on the bad days are real, but truly feeling the good impacts can be difficult because sometimes, we take things for granted.

 

When good things happen to us, or when we are the windshield, we are happy. We impact ourselves in a positive way.  When we make others happy or help them, our impacts are greater and our happiness is greater, much greater.  Helping others is hardwired into our brains.  The dopamine that is released chemically in the brain when we help others is exponentially greater than when we are helping ourselves.  That is how we were designed as humans.  The impact that we make on others cannot be understated.  

 

The Importance of Impact

 

Everything that we say, do or think, has an impact on ourselves and others.  Everything.  That is why we must strive not to take anything for granted and pay attention to everything that we do or say to ourselves and others.  Being mindful of everything that we say or do is the key.  From letting strangers pass through in automobile traffic to saying some kind words to our family members when we are tired from a long day at work or just “not in the mood;” everything that we say or do has an effect on other people or the environment.  That Newtonian Law holds equally well with people and events as it does with inanimate objects in time and space.  I still remember words that were said to me almost half a century ago by my father and other influential people.  Stop and listen, and you will also hear words or see events long past.  These are the impacts that drive our lives; and these are the impacts that you are making right now, to all of those around you, and, even to yourself.  

 

Our Thoughts

 

Our thoughts have a tremendous amount of impact on our subconscious minds.  Thoughts are essentially the unspoken words that we tell ourselves.  As you can realize, thoughts have an incredible amount of impact on how we live our lives.  Have too many negative or self defeating thoughts?  Your journey down the pathway of life will not be too pleasant.  On the other hand, having positive and thoughts filled with learning and encouragement can lead to success and happiness.  Just having a positive attitude or some genuine and honest kind words to others can have a strong impact.  Sometimes, not thinking at all can be the best recipe to living in the moment, and this has the most effective impact of all.  The art of not thinking and disconnecting from everything and just being is a state that we, as a society, have ventured away from.  If you genuinely are stressed when you have nothing to do, or your mind is always racing and pondering something, this message is for you.  Sometimes having the most impact involves controlling your mind to not think about anything at all.  Counterintuitive but true.

 

Assignment

 

Think about all the people that have made a positive and negative impact in your life.  Some of them could be famous, like Mozart or Steve Jobs.  These individuals have made lasting impacts that will hundreds of years (Mozart already has; Jobs remains to be seen), but the ones that you choose may be more personal.  How much of an impact have these individuals had on your life?  Why?  Now look at your own impacts that you make on a daily basis.  Remember that everything that you say or do (including to yourself) has an impact in one way or another.  Paying attention to this fact, what steps are you going to take (if any) to become more cognizant of the impacts that you make?  Finally, take time this week to find a period of time each day to quiet your mind so that you can be more effective and deliberate when your brain is switched on.  Remember that the most impactful “action” that you can do for yourself is to quiet your mind and not think at all and allow yourself to just be in the moment, taking everything in and being grateful for living another day.  Sometimes doing and thinking about nothing, can, at least for yourself, have the most impact.

 

“Lean into it!”

 

Dr. N 

 

 

Conquer Your Fears

Conquer Your Fears

I have been a swimmer for most of my life. I swam when the shot of a gun started a race and Mark Spitz was the immortal god of swimming. I went on through high school and college teaching the sport I loved more than anything. So when the chance to learn to scuba dive crossed my path, I was ecstatic. I was teaching elementary music at the time when my principal announced to the staff that the Navy was looking for 10 school teachers from Bay County, FL to certify in diving. The program was to be known as, “The Teacher Aquanauts.”

The school board wanted teachers to start implementing more science into the classrooms and thought this program would be an exciting way to introduce kids to the underwater world. The teachers were informed that there were many applicants with an extensive interview process. But I was ready and confident for anything thrown my way. After the lengthy application process and rigorous interviews, my goal was obtained and I made the official Teacher Aquanaut team.

After months of class work and countless Physical Training Evolutions (the Navy’s funny way of saying exercise), it was time to hit the water. Everything was perfect; our scuba gear was assembled, dive buddies paired up, and the water was a perfect temperature. So why was my heart beating out of my chest? Why were my palms sweating profusely? What could possibly be wrong? All I could think was, “This cannot be fear that I am feeling! I am a good swimmer for goodness sake! This was a really difficult program to get into. You can’t let your students down! What the heck is wrong with me?” Yes, that old, unwanted friend we call fear had paid a visit, and slowly started creeping in. I literally did not want to step foot into the water.  In order to conquer this initial fear, I actually visualized myself as a professional Navy diver and mentally rehearsed all the classroom training that we had done all the previous weeks. With that done, I was a little more confident and ready to give diving a try.

As we descended down into the unknown deep, uh.... pool that is, I could not get over the fact that I was able to breathe underwater. I know that sounds odd- after all, Scuba stands for: Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, but the thought of breathing underwater freaked me out. I kept feeling that natural urge to push myself to the surface and take a breath, something I had been trained to do my whole life as a swimmer. In diving, however, going to the surface can be very dangerous, even deadly. Especially if you hold your breath (something one naturally does when scared). I didn’t like the feeling of all the heavy equipment on my back, or having to equalize my ears the further we descended into the water. I wanted so badly to say, “I am sorry, you picked the wrong person for this program. I want out!” But pride has always had a history with me, and quitting has never been an option. So I felt the fear, and did it anyway.

Feeling fear is not as important as how you react to it. When I felt the fear and panic coming on, I relaxed my breathing and self talked my way out of the problem. I kept a constant mantra to “relax” over and over, until my body was commanded by my mind to do it. Easier said than done when one is in such a different and unforgiving environment, i.e. high stress.

I finally got the hang of it and went on to do several open water dives. Do I like diving now? No. Not at all. I’d rather sing in front of a million people. But I did it and actually motivated a lot of kids to want to try it out. The Teacher Aquanauts lasted only two years, but they were the best two years of my life. Diving not only gave me a new found respect for the underwater world, but also taught me to “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” 

Hooyah to that!

Conquer your Fears and Lean into it! 

Casey Naggiar

Assignment

What is your biggest fear?  This week I want you to go out and take some serious steps in how you will conquer that fear.  It could be speaking in public perhaps.  How do you get over this fear?  You guessed it, by speaking in public.  Take some public speaking classes or join a toastmasters group.  Take small steps to train yourself to conquer your fear.  What happens next is amazing.  Once you conquer your biggest fear, other smaller fears simply melt away and you gain more and more confidence.  You enter what I call a zone of controlled invincibility, where anything is possible.  All you have to do is get out of your own way!

Dr. N

Epic Engagement

Epic Engagement

My father was born on May 9th, 1924 in Damascus, Syria, and grew up in the shadows of World War II.  By age 20, he had seen and lived through life threatening events such as the bombing of Alexandria, Egypt, where he witnessed friends being cut in half by German bombs.  He seldom talked about his experiences and he died when I was too young to even comprehend their meaning when he did talk about them.  I would like to share the biggest lesson that I learned from him now.  The lesson of Epic Engagement.

Decision

Epic Engagement begins when we decide to do something.  It is born from a drive to do something correctly and not make any mistakes.  Some actions, as you can imagine, are more serious than others.  Driving a car, for example, has much more dire consequences when done incorrectly than playing a game of dominos.  However, while playing dominos may not have dangerous consequences if not done correctly, the methodology of not being engaged while playing dominos has long lasting effects on other actions.

Habit

Just as quitting becomes a habit, so does doing things in a partially engaged status.  Doing things while being distracted or with a bad attitude can have habitual effects when the action becomes more important.  “Like what you do; don’t do what you like.”  These were the words that my father would utter to me.  He told me that even if you sweep a floor, you should do it with as much passion and love as you do other activities that you love to do.  The wisdom behind those words are far reaching and poignant.  Liking what one does is important because there will be many more times that we must sweep the floor because it needs to be done.  So why not like it?  Developing the habit of epic engagement starts with the mundane and seemingly tedious tasks that we must do everyday in order to progress.

Passion

For epic engagement to take hold, we must have energy and passion in everything that we do.  Don’t reserve your motivation for the things that you like to do.  That’s too easy.  Passionately attack things that you don’t like to do, if for no other reason to practice and develop the concept of epic engagement.  Passion fuels our interest and drives us to flow, that inner state where we lose ourselves and find ourselves at the same time, moving smoothly and efficiently through our actions and harnessing a deep desire to perform at the top of our game.  And yes, you can achieve this while sweeping the floor, doing your taxes, surfing a 30 foot wave.  Anything.  Passion is the magic ingredient.  

Planning and Self Improvement

Just like with anything else that we do, proper planning and critical analysis after the action are essential to achieve epic engagement.  Plan/Act/Improve.  For epic engagement to take place, you must be deliberate in all aspects of the task; before, during and after all need to be synchronized and firing on all cylinders, and they all need to feed off of each other for optimal effectiveness.  Let’s say that you do a task flawlessly but don’t write down what you did or even remember how you did it next time.  You may take longer to learn the task or not learn it as effectively as you could if you wrote down and captured the details in the improvement phase.  Conversely, if you set off to do a task, but forget to grab the right broom and choose the on with the wrong bristles, you may end up sweeping the floor a lot longer or not do it well enough so you don’t have to do sweep it again.  The stages all feed each other, and they all lead us down the road to epic engagement.

Assignment

This is something that you can practice this week with everything that you do, from driving a car to a complex assignment that you need to accomplish for work.  Activate the Plan/Act/Improve sequence and write something down on paper.  Plan your dive, dive your plan, and then sit down and write down any improvements that you need to make for next time.  While you are in the action phase of the epic engagement, fully concentrate in the task and take in all the nuances and details of the action.  Take every aspect of what you are doing in and let yourself become in awe of the situation.  This will active your passion and drive yourself into a sense of focus that you have never felt before.  What you complete that task, sit down and write out any lessons that you can capture for the next time you complete the same (or a similar) action.  

 

Epic Engagement takes time and energy to do it correctly; however, the rewards are priceless.  Even sweeping the floor can become an action that you will look forward to!  

 

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N

Thank Your Enemies

THANK YOUR ENEMIES

 

Resilience is a dish best served cold...to be truly resilient, one must thank one's enemies.  

 

When you look up the definition of an oxymoron in the dictionary, you get: "a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction."  Thanking your enemy is as ludicrous as hating your loved ones; but, that is exactly what I am proposing that you do in this article.  As a Navy SEAL, this may sound completely ludicrous and weak.  But let me propose this: by thanking your enemies you make yourself stronger and more powerful, both psychologically and physically.  Here is the secret.  

Enemies often wore helmets to conceal their true identities, to intimidate their opponents, and to protect their heads...

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Your enemy is any threat in combat.  But enemies don't always have to be people trying to kill you.  Off the battlefield, they can be people that want to see you fail or that you perceive as wanting to see you fail.  Sometimes, the biggest enemy that you will face will be yourself.  This internal enemy is the most powerful and dangerous of all.  This enemy can kill you much faster than any external enemy can even dream of doing.  That is where the line in the sand must be drawn.  By seeing your enemy (and your own negative thoughts) as a challenge and not an overpowering force, you begin to gain control over them.  

SEEING A THREAT AS A CHALLENGE AND ACTING ON THAT CHALLENGE IS ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE COPING MECHANISMS THAT YOU POSSESS.  

It is very empowering.  You change the way you perceive your "enemy."  Your enemy becomes something to be learned, analyzed, and defeated.  Taking action will most certainly make you feel better.  Taking calculated and planned action will make you feel better AND increase the likelihood of success.  Think back to high school when your "enemy" was that super difficult professor that did not give you an inch on an assignment.  Or how about that rival school in football that was always taunting your team and made you feel like crap?  They were most certainly the "enemy."  Think back to how you felt about both of the above situations.  Did you feel helpless, angry, or frustrated?  Feeling this way is OK if it drives you to action.  Sometimes, we NEED to feel this way in order to drive us to a new level.  Using anger as fuel is OK, as long as you know what you are doing and don't burn yourself with it... 

AS LONG AS WE RECOGNIZE THESE NEGATIVE FEELINGS AS A TRANSITION POINT OR CALL TO ACTION; THAT IS OK.  

 Embrace those feelings.  Let them fuel your challenge hormones and plan a countermove.  Train harder.  Study more effectively.  That is the only way to succeed in those situations.  Complaining about your teacher or lashing back at the rival team will not help you.  In fact, it may even damage you and sink you further into the self fulfilling prophecy of failure.

In 1985 I decided that I wanted to go into the Navy to pay for my college.  Neither of my parents had been in the military, and I had no relatives or friends that had been in the military.  I had never fired a gun and couldn't run, swim, or do pull-ups to save my own life.  But something inside of me said that I should join the a Navy and become a SEAL.  Maybe it was BECAUSE I was so opposite of what I would eventually become. I think it started with my own internal enemy telling me that I was not going to make it.  The "enemy" inside of me said that I was crazy.  All of my relatives said that I was crazy.  Even my own father said that I did not have "what it takes" to be a SEAL.  And yet, I still wanted to be one, bad.  The final straw came years later when my Marine Instructor in college brought me into his office and alluded to the fact that I would not make it through SEAL Training.  That was the last straw.  My anger swelled inside of me and I left his office knowing that I would make it through training, or die trying.  

All those "enemies" (and I use the term loosely here when mentioning my father) did not accomplish what they set out to accomplish because of my internal passion and relentless stubbornness to achieve my objective.  That is the secret to success in any endeavor.  Using the doubters (including your own self doubts) to activate your internal passion and finding a way to success.  It is not going to be easy; but it is well worth it in the end.  

Assignment

In conclusion then, it makes sense that we should thank our enemies.   Without their catalytic attempts to stop us, they fuel us to go on.  Any obstacle, whether internal or external, should be viewed in this manner if you want to succeed.   Don't run away from your enemies.  Face them, embrace them, and thank them.  Thank them.  Without enemies, it would be more difficult to train and be ready.  Without enemies, we would not feel the call to action.  Without enemies, we would not strive for excellence.  So the next time someone doubts you or worse you doubt yourself and feel the enemy within rearing its ugly head; think about embracing your doubts and finding a logical solution that involves action, passion, and direction.

"Lean into it!"

Ed Naggiar