Was yesterday. A few years ago I read a book written by a member of the SEAL Team Six, called “No Easy Day”. In the book he talks a little about his life as a SEAL, the training that they do and the mission that led to Bin Laden’s demise. Now, what stuck with me from that book was how he dealt with BUD/S, or Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training. It’s basically a 24-week training camp where they put the SEAL candidates’ mental and physical abilities through the ringer. It’s only one of several training courses that they do. But it’s said to be one of the most challenging ones. In the book, the author writes about how he got through the training; by knowing how to eat an elephant. There’s a saying: “How do you eat an elephant?” Simple, “one bite at the time.” So his mantra was basically “Make it to breakfast, train hard until lunch, and focus until dinner. Repeat.”
So why is that important? I’ve written a little about the internal dialogue before and this is sort of related to it. I’ll give you a little glimpse of it from my perspective. I’m feeling a bit feverish, my throat is hurting and my nose is running. On top of that, I’m sore from training and this oncoming flu/cold is making my joints hurt. I still have an elephant left to eat, four more days of training. If I, during the first training session tomorrow keep thinking about all the hours of training I have left, how everything is going to hurt even more because my body is in a weak state and so on; I probably won’t make it though the first hour of training. I have to focus on what I have in front of me right now, not in an hour, not after lunch, not tomorrow morning; right now. I have to silence my internal dialogue that wants me to worry about how I will feel tomorrow, or in two days or by the end of the course. It doesn’t exist. All that exists is now. Deal with the now, don’t worry about the later.
There isn’t much to say about today’s training. Or rather, there’s a lot to say. Too much. But I felt that this was more important to write about. We spend too much time inside our own heads, filling it up with self-doubt and self-created problems, worrying about the future. The next time you’re facing a greater challenge i.e. your own elephant; chop it up into pieces and eat it one bite at the time.
The “The easy day was yesterday” quote is also from the book. It’s a Navy SEAL saying. The only easy day was yesterday, because it has already passed, you’ve already done it. Stay in the now. Stay strong.
No elephants were harmed (or chopped up) while writing this post.