October 22, 2013
Lessons Learned as a Navy SEAL and
SEAL Sniper Instructor
"Jack of All Trades" is the number one job description of a Navy SEAL. To fulfil their demanding role SEALs must become "experts at becoming experts". Relying only on effective and proven fundamental performance principles, Navy SEALs have demonstrated their ability to deliver time and time again.
GovX has asked former Navy SEAL and human performance expert Eric Davis to share these proven principles with our readers.
Each week, Eric will share the lessons he's learned and how he's successfully repurposed them in his professional life as well as his life after work. Eric will also test and demonstrate some of the unique and uncommon things that can be done with some of the gear we offer here at GovX.
Distracted, overcommitted, stressed, stagnant.
Distracted, overcommitted, stressed, and stagnant. These words describe too many of us. As life passes us by, at what seems to be a steadily increasing pace, we begin desperately taking on anything and everything that we believe might get us where we want to go. Eventually, if we're lucky enough to notice, we'll find that our lives have become more organized around keeping busy than they are organized around actually getting anything real accomplished.
To remedy this,"deadlock" state of life, requires focus. I can think of few others who demonstrate focus better than military snipers.
How snipers beat distraction
In sniper school, students are tested in many disciplines that all require a high degree of focus, but there is one drill in particular that tests and develops focus like none other. This drill is called an "Edge Shot".
As instructors we would place a sniper team on the range and dictate their area of responsibility and describe their targets to them. Once in place we would call the range "Hot" (they can fire their guns) and then let them sit. Typically we would have 7 to 13 sniper teams on the range at the same time so there would be plenty of commotion to tempt the easily distracted.
After a few minutes we would raise a few targets to get their collective blood flowing. Then we would let them sit some more. After maybe 30 minutes of sitting in the desert heat, after the sweat started to burn their eyes, we would send up a few more targets and then a fake target to see if someone jumps and tries to shoot it. Regardless of the students' reaction, the instructors would add commentary to start working the nerves of the teams who had yet to see a target. This commentary was a form of marketing and it was designed to produce dissatisfaction around their current situation.
"Team 6! Are you sure your target hasn't popped up already? Did you miss it?" If the target had come up and the team failed to engage it, they'd receive a zero. It doesn't take too many zeros to fail out of sniper school.
"Team 4! It doesn't look like you're watching the right target area. Maybe you should consider looking elsewhere."
Then we would let more time go by and pile on more verbal confusion in a continuous attempt to break their focus and have them come off target. Sound familiar yet?
Though I was there to test these men and be the source of their dissatisfaction I ultimately wanted them to succeed. I was always amazed to watch them sit there. Flies crawling into their eyes, sweat burning their bodies as it seeped through their clothes and dried in layered cakes of salt. Pure misery and pure focus. The ones who progressed through training were the ones who were able to remain completely focused on what really mattered while ignoring the things that would have to wait.
Imagine the sniper student in the "Edge Drill". What would happen to him and his team if he kept looking over to the target sites of the other teams? What would his chances of success be if he kept changing his fields of fire? The sniper doesn't overcommit because he knows he has a job to do. A mission. His purpose is much larger than himself and more importantly his purpose has been well defined. His purpose can only be fulfilled through focus.
As a sniper instructor I had the opportunity to train with some amazing people, one of whom was an Olympic Gold medalist who taught "Mental Management". Perhaps one of the most valuable things I learned from this gentlemen was how to create and work through specific mental processes that would allow me to remain focused even under the worst conditions.
FOLLOW THE SERIES
Next week I'll discuss some of these mental processes in detail, but I'd like to hear from you first. The discussion: Focus-or lack thereof-is something we've all had to deal with and overcome. What are some of the ways you've found yourself distracted to the point of a standstill and what techniques have you used to regain focus?
Please post your comments below.
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