Failure not an option

I was captivated the other day by an extraordinary sign on the door of US Navy SEAL who was recovering from terrible wounds received in Iraq. It got me thinking: why do some people succeed against all odds, while other people find it hard to succeed even if the game is handed to them on a silver platter?

I think there are a couple basic things that successful people always do:

1) set crystal clear, compelling goals;

2) figure out the states they’ll need to achieve the goals; and

3) create the mental conditions to maintain the states.

This Navy SEAL seems to have figured it out:

Crystal-clear goal: a full recovery… the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover … plus 20% more through sheer mental tenacity

Necessary states: fun, optimism, intense rapid re-growth

Mental conditions: “the wounds I received I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love”; “I am incredibly tough”; “If you are not prepared for [reinforcing the states I need], go elsewhere”

What are the chances this guy will fail? Miniscule, I would say. He’s already succeeded just by the way he’s framed the problem.

What happens with individuals, teams and organizations that are as clear with their goals, states, and mental conditions as this SEAL? I would argue: just about anything you can imagine.

Imagine if walking into your office was as clear and compelling as walking into this injured man’s hospital room. I would also argue: we all have the capacity to be this clear, and to create the preconditions for success. It’s not just a Navy SEAL skill.


2009-01-26 Peter A