Physical performance or mental performance? What is a greater asset?
There is no greater asset than the thing between your ears. During my time within NZSOF I have seen and know of many great athletes who mentally crumbled when coming through the pipeline.
You know what makes SOF different? It isn't the physical, it is the mental, the differential is the ability of the average operator to endure extreme stress, handle more pressure and make better decisions during these times of intense mental duress.
Now, don't get me wrong, the physical is important, you can't be piece of shit physically, but when it comes to performance and life, the mental is what will take you from good to great.
That leads me into the main point of this blog, PROTECT YOUR HEAD.
Right now times are tough and we are seeing an ever growing war on mental health. Something I learned at a young age working around negative people was that YOU create your own environment. No matter what is going on in the external, it is up to you what is going on in the internal.
Here are 3 tips for protecting your head and forging a strong mindset:
1. AUDIT WHAT IS GOING IN - This is by far the most important, what goes in, is what you see when you look out. This means whatever you're listening to, watching or reading is how you build your world view. When I look around the social media space I see a lot of people turning septic, people who were once so inspirational are now coming off as very pessimistic, call it what you want to call it but it's not healthy.
Motivation and inspiration come in all forms, I am partial to the odd bit of dark side motivation but consistent negatively geared views are not healthy. I have watched good people create enemies that are not there, drowning in their own darkness, they begin to spread and bathe in negativity.
The solution, vary your sources of motivation and information, seek positivity in your life and make sure a good portion of what you're ingesting is positively geared.
2. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY - Full disclosure, I still struggle with this one. I think this was one of the biggest flaws within NZSOF and a bad habit that most of us leave the unit with. Now if quantity is all you have as an option, then head down and get after it, but often that is not the case.
This point ties into point number 1, you have all of these "gurus" telling you to work harder, to stop being a little bitch, and that your competition is outworking you. Hey, at some point that is 100% true and you should stop being a little bitch, but you should also prevent burnout and depression by stopping to work out or to go hunting or doing whatever it is that brings you happiness.
Why? As Dan Hooker said, he is a dangerous man when he is happy and I bet you are to.
When I sat down to interview Dan "The Hangman" Hooker we spoke on this exact subject. He has attested to the fact that after many years as an elite athlete he has learned that quality will always beat quantity. When he is in the gym he gives it his 100% effort, then when he is out of the gym he allows himself time to rest, recover and spend time with family.
A lot of the young men I speak to struggle with this one, never feeling like they're doing enough, being stuck in this state will take its toll, I have seen it and experienced it leading to anxiety and depression.
Take it from me, from someone who has operated among the elite, someone who has had the overuse injuries and the inevitable surgery that follows. Quantity will always triumph quantity and it will improve your longevity.
3. POSITIVE CONFIRMATION - Again in a sea of dudes shouting about how many hours a day they work (yeah I have been guilty of this), how much success they're having (most of it is fugazi), and how you're a piece of shit who is not doing enough, it is so important that you back yourself up.
Now let me make this very clear, this point only applies to you IF you're in fact putting in the work. I assume by reading this blog and being apart of the WA community that you are in fact putting in the work, I digress.
Make sure you take the time to back yourself up, to remind yourself that you're on the right path and that with consistent work you WILL achieve your goals.
Self talk is extremely underrated as a tool. More often than not people are worried about external input rather than internal beliefs. Do you know how many times I was told in my life I wouldn't do something by external sources? Do you know how many times those external opinions did nothing to effect the outcome? You get the point.
Believe in yourself, believe in the process and believe it is only a matter of time before you break through and achieve mission success.
A poisonous mind will destroy a capable body, protect your head at all times.