Forget Luck! Five Real Life Lessons from the Movie "Lone Survivor"
When we watch or read a story like "Lone Survivor" we’re not just pulled in because of the extraordinary ability of these men to persevere and overcome incredible adversity. We’re pulled in because they demonstrate what a human being is actually capable of. They inspire and awaken us to our own unrealized potential. It’s not about luck or admiration – it’s about learning and taking action from their exemplary example.
We think these men are heroes because of the fierce battles fought and the ultimate sacrifices made.
We honor them for protecting and securing our physical freedoms; but winning a battle is the least of what they have done to make us free.
Yes, these men are special, but they are also just human like you and me, and their stories, if you know where to look, free us to shatter our preconceived notions of what’s possible. They allow us to dream again as they shove the reality of our true potential in our face. Violent, uncensored and unrestricted. Pure and true freedom.
We don’t watch these movies to only be in awe of these amazing people. We watch them to be in awe of how much more we’ve got in us.
One could easily write a book on all of the applicable life lessons to be learned from this movie, but today we only have time for five. The first four are taken from the beginning of the movie when they show SEAL training and the last one comes from Murphy near the end of the movie.
"Make up your mind whether you want to pass or choose to fail"
A SEAL instructor forces these words out of his mouth as if he was telling someone that the sky is blue for the thousandth time. The struggling student, who still doesn’t realize that both success and failure are choices, takes it in with hopes of someday seeing what the instructor sees.
As a culture, we forsake our own freedom by becoming victims of circumstance. We give our power away to pop culture and predispositions as if they were fixed. Contrary to popular opinion, and really good rap lyrics, we can change; BUT only if we WANT to.
If you feel like a failure, in whatever you’re doing, stop. Right now stop choosing to lose. Yesterday no longer matters. Be who you want to be today. It’s your choice.
"Winning here is a conscious decision"
If you’re paying attention, you will notice that a lot of the commentary thrusts both the responsibility and opportunity of winning back to the individual. As a SEAL instructor, the greatest challenge is to get someone to believe that they are in control of their circumstance and its outcome. Once someone gets that there is no stopping them.
The word they use here is "decision" which literally means "cut off". So when we "decide" on something, like wining, we cut off all other possibilities. There’s freedom in that and it’s powerful. Very powerful.
Before Marcus and his team were inserted in that mission they had all already decided to stay together and win. Anyone who ever watches the movie will never question for a moment that all four of those men were 100% committed to winning.
Being "all in" never guarantees success, but it does guarantee love and peace. Though these men ultimately met their end, not a one of them had a regret because they gave everything they had. As Axe said, "Tell her I died with a full heart."
There are not very many things in this world we should "decide" upon, but the few things that we do will define who we are whether you live to 100 or 27.
What have you decided to win at?
"Take all this shaking and all this cold, harness it, and turn it into aggression"
"They shot my drawing hand and that pisses me off!" Danny Dietz replied when asked if he could still fight.
There are multiple ways to deal with that which sucks, but when things get real bad there is one sure fire way to go. Pure aggression.
The men of "Lone Survivor" were in a terrible situation. As bad as it gets as they became overwhelmed by their circumstance. Time and again we saw the team respond with a fierce and controlled aggression as they dealt with the situation.
It might feel like a bit of a stretch to compare a combat situation with our daily lives, but being overwhelmed is being overwhelmed regardless of the cause or circumstance.
The next time you find your self in a situation that stretches you beyond your limits remember these two things:
- 1. You’re not being shot at, blown up or thrown from a cliff. (Unless you are)
- 2. Go ahead and get pissed at it.
Now I’m not talking about yelling out loud or punching a wall here. I’m talking about setting your sights on what’s taking you down and knocking the shit out of it. Get it past you as fast as possible.
"You just prove to your bodies – through your mind – that you can push yourself further than you thought possible"
We can’t begin to guess how many times the men of that mission must have thought they were done for. Bullet wound after bullet wound had to take its toll. Broken and battered beyond belief they had no choice but to keep going so long as oxygenated blood was reaching their brains. Their resolve and ability to continue shows us all how much more we have left in us.
Our bodies are lifeless mindless things that send signals to our brain. It’s up to us how we interpret and act upon those signals. Your body might be sending you signals that it’s hurt, tired or even broken, but it has a lot more in it than we think. You just need to teach your body who’s boss.
When you see a human being perform an incredible act, be it amazing and heroic or disgusting and demented, it’s a result of conditioning their body to obey their brain and not the other way around. You’re in control.
"You’re never out of the fight"
Before Murphy left Marcus he told him to never leave the fight. In the moment it was clear that he was referring to the fight at hand, but for those of us in the audience it meant so much more.
We were not put on this earth to sit around and do nothing. Each and every one of us has a purpose and we’re not meant to let it go. Ever.
When you’re after something bigger than yourself all of the little things seem to stop existing. Little petty problems, gossip and irritants all go away when you’re after something big.
And if you were thinking about taking it easy some day, you can just let that go now. As long as you’re here on this earth you’re never out of the fight, so you can stop worrying about that now and just get to work.
Amazing stories resonate so well with us not just because of the story, but they give us a glimpse of what a human being is capable of and for a moment we understand that we are capable of the same.
For me, I believe these men are heroes because they show us all what’s really inside of us. Greatness! We just need to choose it.
About Eric Davis
Eric Davis served our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL and decorated veteran of the Global War on Terror. Eric has been recognized as one of the premier sniper instructors in the U.S. military and has served as a Master Training Specialist at the SEAL sniper school. Davis is also the host of The Loadout Room, author at SOFREP, a GovX "Insider" and founder of the human performance company Average Frog. Follow him, and all his exploits, on Twitter @EricDavis215