HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – Don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, Lone Survivor. However, it would definitely be worth your time and dime. The movie is tremendous and based on the story of four Navy seals set out on a mission to kill or capture infamous al Qaeda leader Ahmad Shahd, back in late June 2005. Of those four brave men, Marcus Luttrell, Danny Dietz, Matthew Axelson, and Michael Murphey, Luttrell was the Lone Survivor who made it from the mountains of Afghanistan back to America. Again, it is a tremendous story.
We reference the movie to stress how difficult it is to become a member of one of America’s elite protectors, the Navy Seals. Their training is documented as one of the most arduous of all. Earning the right to wear the coveted Navy SEAL Trident insignia on their uniform requires BUD/S or Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal training and it is not for the faint of heart.
It’s a six-month-plus course that teaches conditioning, diving, and land warfare. According to former Navy Seal and Acumen Performance CEO, Bill Hart, the drop-out rate of BUD/S has traditionally been 75%. That means only 1 of every 4 candidates survive the program.
“That’s not the number of people who quit,” said the seemingly soft-spoken, but firm, Hart. “That’s the number of people who show up, want to go through the program, and for one reason or another.” Hart didn’t finish that statement. As I continued talking with him, I could only gather that he was not one to toot his own horn or relish in the downfall of others just because he made it through.
Hart enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1992 and completed Basic Underwater Demolition/ SEAL Training in 1994. His operational history as a SEAL Team member includes multiple combat tours to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Philippines.
Today, he along with Dr.Wendy Borlabi, co-founder and former Navy Seals, Mark Walker and Scott Bauer, spend 100 percent of their time helping individuals conquer adversity. It’s the same training they learned to survive their many combat tours.
“What we try to do is give the client the nuts and bolts of what stress actually looks like, feels like, and here are the tools you can use to get past that adversity.”
One of the key attributes of successful sports teams and major corporations is the ability to function in stressful situations. However, the meaning of adversity for either group can’t compare to that of Navy Seals in their job functions when considering trouble, difficulty, hardship, distress, disaster, and in some cases, misfortune. Seals are trained to work through all of these. So, who better to provide the necessary coaching?
“We started out focusing on sports teams. But, more recently we’ve had a lot of success and a lot of interest from corporate clients,” says Hart. “These are just really regular people with regular jobs that want to be able to take their business to another level of performance.”
Beyond average performance is demanded from today’s Corporate America, professional, and college sports teams. Major corporations, like professional sports teams, are requiring employees to produce more with less which causes stress in the workplace.
“When the timelines come and people start going at each other, instead of that way, they want to see people pulling together, start hitting these deadlines, and start performing like they say they want to. They just need the tools to do it.”
PREPARING ATHLETES MENTALLY
Professional and collegiate teams go through the physical grind of preparing for the season. However, the mental aspect of preparation is just as critical. Hart says that’s where he sees lots of growth.
“We’ll go out with a professional athletic team, sit down have dinner with them (the night before), talk real nice to them and we’ll say, I’ll tell you what – (on tomorrow), you people are not going to be able to do ten pushups properly. You’re going to be well-rested, first thing in the morning, and you won’t be able to it.”
Hart says the players can’t do it. They’re expecting the drill-instructor type to the party, the guy who is going to get in their face and yell. But, Hart says, not so.
“I don’t have to do that. I just give you a simple task and I wait for you to screw it up. But, what we do see that’s interesting with professional level athletes is a lot of these are guys that have been very, very talented. They have always been the biggest fish in their pond. So, they’ve never failed at anything.”
However, the Houston Texans failed as a team in 2013. They, like other pro, college, and high school teams, could use the Navy Seals mental approach.
“It’s that huge pulling together effort that makes a football team win,” says Hart. “It’s not just the things that you do well. It also seems like the things that you don’t screw up. For instance, a team leader will say we’re playing really well on offense. Yes – but how many penalties did you get? How many interceptions did your guy throw? How many routes got screwed up? Where were the mistakes?”
Those are the critical questions that must be answered to become better at execution. However, execution of the action really happens prior to the actual moment. The ability to mentally and physically perform and win under the most adverse circumstances is what helps to change a culture. Hart says his team is ready to help.
“That’s a lot of what we bring to the table – helping the client to think clearly about what they’re doing even when things get really sideways. It’s where they can go yeah, it’s a tough situation but I’ve rehearsed this in my mind and I know what I need to do and can go out and do it without making a mistake.”