I recently had the opportunity to listen to Mark Owen, author of “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden”. As a former SEAL Team 6 member, Mark chose not to focus on telling “war stories” but rather upon the quality (and quantity!) of the training that he and his fellow SEALs underwent to prepare them for their missions. While Mark emphasized over and over the importance of teamwork and selflessness, the episode he told that struck me most was a solitary one.
Mark’s particular weakness was heights and he attacked it aggressively, taking every opportunity he could to parachute and rock climb. One time he froze several hundred feet above the ground, his mind wandering to the dangers of what he was doing, the consequences of failure, and one distracting, non-helpful thought after another. His instructor solo climbed up beside him (Mark made it clear that he was wearing a safety rope and that, irrational fears aside, in reality the worst fate that could befall him was humiliation while his instructor was free climbing with no safety rope) and said words to the effect of “Mark! Remember the ‘3 foot rule’. Remember it, use it, follow it, and you will be fine.”
His instructor was telling him to keep his mind focused on the task in front of him, the 3 by 3 foot bit of cliff front that lay before him. Any other thoughts were off mission, of no use, worse than useless. Focus, focus, focus.
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” – Alexander Graham Bell
“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” – Denis Waitley
“The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.” – Brian Tracy
“The successful man is the average man, focused.” – Unknown
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.” – Tony Robbins
As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier