Admiral William H. McRaven is a Retired U.S. Navy SEAL who served for thirty-seven years and commanded at every level.
As a Four-Star Admiral, his final assignment was as Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces. (During this time, he oversaw the covert mission that killed Osama bin Laden.)
In 2014, he gave the commencement address to the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin. Millions of people wound up watching his speech on ten lessons he learned from his Navy SEAL training. (You can watch it on YouTubehere.)
He wrote a great little book expanding on those ten lessons. It’s named after the first lesson:Make Your Bed. (Joining 5,000+ 5-star Amazon reviewers, I HIGHLY recommend it. Get a copy here.)
We’ll talk about why that’s his #1 tip soon.
Today we’re going to talk about lesson #4: “Life’s Not Fair—Drive On!” in which we get introduced to the SEAL version of a sugar cookie.
First, the wisdom.
McRaven tells us:“Itis easy to blame your lot in life on some outside force, to stop trying because you believe fate is against you. It is easy to think that where you were raised, how your parents treated you, or what school you went to is all that determines your future. Nothing could be further from the truth.The common people and the great men and women are all defined by how they deal with life’s unfairness: Helen Keller, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, Malala Yousafzai, and—Moki Martin.
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, you still end up a sugar cookie. Don’t complain. Don’t blame it on your misfortune. Stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!”
Each chapter-lesson features some wisdom gained from McRaven’s SEAL training along with some stories to bring the point home.
This lesson features a story about him becoming a sugar cookie.
In case you don’t know what a SEAL sugar cookie recipe looks like, it goes something like this: Run into the pounding surf wearing your boots and gear. Get yourself soaking wet from head to toe. Then roll in the sand until every inch of your body is covered in sand. Then go on with your day cold, wet and sandy as you enjoy that sugar cookie.
McRaven tells us about a time when he was forced to do a sugar cookie. He couldn’t figure out what standard he failed to meet that resulted in the reprimand.
Here’s the dialogue with his instructor:
“‘Mr. Mac, do you have any idea why you are a sugar cookie this morning?’ Martin said in a very calm but questioning manner.’
“‘No, Instructor Martin,’ I dutifully responded.
‘Because, Mr. Mac, life isn’t fair and the sooner you learn that the better off you will be.’”
You do everythingJUST right.
Bed’s made perfectly. Uniform is nice and crisp.
You’ve rocked all your fundies and executed your business (or energy or relationship) strategy perfectly.
And, even after doing your best...
Then we remind ourselves of the fact (!) that life’s not fair as we“standtall, look to the future, and drive on!”
btw: McRaven’s instructor in that story was a guy namedMoki Martin. He was the quintessential super-fit, perfect specimen of a SEAL. Then he got in an accident while training for a triathlon. Paralyzed from the legs down.“Forthe past thirty-five years, Moki has been in a wheelchair. In all those years, I never once heard him complain about his misfortune in life. Never once did I hear him ask,“Whyme?’ Never once did he display an ounce of pity for himself.”
Here’s to embracing the inevitable sugar cookies life serves up as we, one more time:“standtall, look to the future, and drive on!”
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that, if we could figure out how to take 30 EXPONENTIAL steps, we’d be able to hop in a rocket and go around the Earth two DOZEN times.
Rather than get 90 feet down the street, we’d get a few BILLION steps further in our joyful jaunt around the Earth.
And, well, that’s the power of aggregating and compoundingseemingly small changes that can have huge impacts on our lives as we watch the magic exponentially grow.
I LOVE all the metaphors we can use to think about the power of just showing up again and again and again.
We’ve talked aboutthe doubling penny,collecting coins,melting ice cubes,hitting the rock,figuring out combination locks, androcking marginal gains.
Obviously, the metaphors are just metaphors but they all make the same primary point: It’s all about CONSISTENCY.
We need toshow up again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and …
Which is why I was so fired up to make a little distinction while I was preparing for our Mastery Series session on Work in our Module on Carpe Diem.
The basic theme of the class is how to create “Genius Work vs. Mediocre Work.”
(I’ll save the details on that distinction for another +1.)
As I was preparing for the class, I knew I was going to focus on the equation we’ve been talking about lately:
Astonishing Work=Timex(EnergyxFocusxWhat’s Important Now)
Then I had a wonderful epiphany.
I added a little“C”right at the end of that equation.
A choir of angels began to sing as I thought through the implications of the new, Optimized equation:Genius Work =Timex(EnergyxFocusxWhat’s Important Now)Consistency
I quickly made some notes.
If your Energy is a 100 and your Focus is a 100 and you’re working on a 100-Level Important thing you’d get 1 million points of awesome.
That’s 1,000 (!) times more awesome than if your Energy, Focus and WIN was at a 10.
If we believe CONSISTENCY is an exponential force multiplier, then we’d be better off plodding along at the lower numbers but at least doing so consistently.
Although(100x 100 x 100) is 1,000,000 points of awesome, we’ve gotta know that if we get a ZERO in the consistency score then(100x 100 x 100)0= ZERO.
Whereas, although(10x 10 x 10) is only 1,000 points of awesome, we’ve gotta know that if we get a ONE HUNDRED in the consistency score then (10 x 10 x 10)100 = a HUGE number. It almost breaks the calculator coming in at 1e+300. ← That’s a 1 followed by THREE HUNDRED Zeros.
Continuing our brief foray throughJim Qwik’s brain and book, let’s talk about the power of getting into Flow.
Jim tells us that being able to flip the switch and drop into a powerful Flow state is one of the keys to tapping into our (Limitless!!) superpowers.
He quotes Steven Kotler inThe Rise of Supermanto make his point.
Here’s how Steven puts it:“Toput it another way: flow is the telephone booth where Clark Kent changes clothes, the place from where Superman emerges.”
I LOVE that image of Clark Kent stepping into the phone booth of Flow and coming out as Superman.
Reminds me of this+1 on Clark Kent flipping the switchand striking a power pose to get his Superman on.
As I read this passage (and chapter fromLimitless), I was reminded of ourrecent +1 on our new Astonishing Work Equation.
Recall, if we want to REALLY crush it, we’d be wise to focus on three variables:
Astonishing Quality Work = Time x(EnergyxFocusxW.I.N.)
I made the point that, math wise, if your Energy is at a 10 and your Focus is at a 10 and you’re working on the 10 What’s Important Now task, you can work ONE hour and still get a 1,000 on the Astonishing Quality Work scale.
If your Energy is at a 1 and your Focus is at a 1 and you’re working on a 1-level What’s Important Now task, you’d have to work 1,000(!)hours to match your Astonishing Quality Work score.
You know what? That’s actually not even accurate.
The reality is, when we’re REALLY plugged in, we can create at levels that are simply IMPOSSIBLE to create at in any non-awesome state.
As such, I think we should swap out our 1 to 10 scale for a 1 to 100 to make the point even more powerfully.
On a 1 to 100 scale, if your Energy is at a 100 and your Focus is at a 100 and you’re working on the 100 What’s Important Now task, you can work an hour and get 1 MILLION Astonishing Work points.
Drop your Energy to a 10 and your Focus to a 10 and your W.I.N. to a 10 and your 1,000 is 1/1000th of what you could have done.
That’s about right.
How’s your SuperFlow Math looking these days?
What’s working Energy + Focus + W.I.N.-wise?
What needs some work?
And whatcan will you do to Optimize?!
Here’s to stepping into the telephone booth of Flow and tapping into our Superpowers.