How to survive the 5%

Fairly long post warning:

The alarm went off at 3:52 (don’t ask me why I set it at such a random time — I just did). I rolled over and with the precision of a Swiss Watch, I reset it for 4:52. I would sleep an hour more and run in the neighborhood.

The 4 a.m. Wake-Up Club could soldier on without me.

But one eye wouldn’t close. I had gotten seven hours of sleep. I had no other excuse for missing my bootcamp. I pondered the situation and at 3:55, I turned off the alarm and got ready.

Paul Lacoste had me get up before the workout and talk about something we had spoken about yesterday. One of my favorite motivational books is a book called Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy SEAL Leader by Jason Redman. Redman became a SEAL before 9/11, went to college to become an officer, rejoined the teams in Afghanistan. With dated skills, he soon found himself making mistakes — and having bad attitude explosions. After a serious mistake while on a mission, he found himself being sent to U.S. Army Ranger school. While there, Redman’s attitude continued to haunt him as he made more mistakes and was hounded because he was a Navy SEAL. He finally had had enough and decided to quit.

That’s when things began to change for him.

When telling the commanding officer of his wishes (and how everything was everyone else’s fault), the officer replied that he needed to talk to one more person before he walked away from his career. That person was a friend of the officer — and also Redman’s mentor, Captain Peterson. (Small world). Peterson told Redman he could redeem himself but that it would require a change in his actions and attitudes.

Of course, Redman could not graduate with his current class, so he was forced to go through the training AGAIN. But first, he had to go to “Ranger jail” and pick up cigarette butts until the next class began. That’s when he had his epiphany. All the people he blamed for his problems weren’t his problem after all.

He was.

Of course, he excelled through the course up until one moment when he snapped and chewed out a teammate for his incompetence. The commanding officer, who had been watching him, said, “I’ve noticed something about you. You’re a great leader 95% of the time. But it’s the 5% that keeps you from being successful. That’s when you tear yourself down.” Redman thought about it. He thought about all of the times he had thrown pity parties. He thought about all the times he had shot himself in his own foot. He changed, graduated Ranger school with high marks and eventually regained the respect of this fellow SEALS.

Redman’s story goes on from there — he was later seriously injured in Iraq by a machine gun shot to the face. His attitude helped him recover and thrive. If you get a chance, read the book. The audio book is good as well.

What hit me, and why I shared this story with my team, was that I am very guilty of succeeding 95% of the time and then imploding the other 5%. It can be self-pity, laziness or just being an selfish a-hole. It also can be that little voice of self-doubt in the back of my head that says, “You’re not good enough.” I don’t know. But I stumble when I think about the outcome. When I worry what others think. And when I don’t focus on the process.

That’s when I fail.

Success will happen. But you have to be very careful when you define what that success truly is. It’s something that has to generate from within you and a higher source. You can’t wait for the praise of those around you. You have to have the confidence to know that you’ve done your very best during the process.

That’s when life happens. Not in the future when you think you’ll be successful.

Yes, this is a long post. But that was my message this morning. I went out on the field and tried to do my best at each exercise. And when I was done, I felt a very powerful high. It might of been endorphins. But I think it was just the satisfaction of not turning off the alarm and getting my butt out of bed.

Have a good day. Enjoy the moment and enjoy the process.

About Marshall Ramsey