Saturday, May 24, 2014

10 life lessons from the SEAL who led mission for Bin Laden

In The News:

10 life lessons from the SEAL who led mission for Bin Laden

William H. McRaven is a Navy admiral, former commander of SEAL Team 3 and current commander of the US Special Operations Command — the man who led the mission to get Osama bin Laden. On May 17, he gave the commencement address for his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, which touched graduates with its earnest, simple advice about living a better life. This Memorial Day, an excerpt:
If you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better world.
And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform.
It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status.
Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward — changing ourselves and the world around us — will apply equally to all.
I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, California.
Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.
It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.
But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships.
To me basic SEAL training was a lifetime of challenges crammed into six months.
So, here are the 10 lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life:
Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room, and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.
If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack — rack, that’s Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs — but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
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Photo: Getty Images
During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students — three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy.
Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surf zone and paddle several miles down the coast.
In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in.
Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.
For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.
You can’t change the world alone — you will need some help — and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.
If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
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Photo: Corbis
Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class, which started with 150 men, was down to just 42. There were now six boat crews of seven men each.
I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the the little guys — the munchkin crew we called them — no one was over about 5-foot-5.
The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African-American, one Polish-American, one Greek-American, one Italian-American, and two tough kids from the Midwest. They outpaddled, outran and outswam all the other boat crews.
The big men in the other boat crews would always make good-natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim.
But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the nation and the world, always had the last laugh — swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.
SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.
If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
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Photo: Getty Images
Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough.
Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.
But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle — it just wasn’t good enough.
The instructors would find “something” wrong.
For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed into the surf zone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand.
The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day — cold, wet and sandy.
There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right — it was unappreciated.
Those students didn’t make it through training.
Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.
Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie.
It’s just the way life is sometimes.
If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
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Photo: Getty Images
Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events—long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics—something designed to test your mettle.
Every event had standards — times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to — a “circus.”
A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics — designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.
No one wanted a circus.
A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue—and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.
But at some time during SEAL training, everyone — everyone — made the circus list.
But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Overtime those students — who did two hours of extra calisthenics — got stronger and stronger.
The pain of the circuses built inner strength-built physical resiliency.
Life is filled with circuses.
You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.
But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
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Photo: Zuma Press
At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot-high wall, a 30-foot cargo net and a barbed-wire crawl to name a few.
But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three-level, 30-foot tower at one end and a one-level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot-long rope.
You had to climb the three-tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.
The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977.
The record seemed unbeatable until one day a student decided to go down the slide for life — head-first.
Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward.
It was a dangerous move — seemingly foolish and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training.
Without hesitation — the student slid down the rope — perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.
If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head-first.
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Photo: Corbis
During the land-warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island, which lies off the coast of San Diego.
The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for the great white sharks.
To pass SEAL training there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One is the night swim.
Before the swim, the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente.
They assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark — at least not recently.
But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position — stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid.
And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you — then summons up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.
There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim, you will have to deal with them.
So, if you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
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Photo: Getty Images
As Navy SEALs, one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. We practiced this technique extensively during basic training.
The ship-attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over two miles — underwater — using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target.
During the entire swim, even well below the surface there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is open water above you.
But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight — it blocks the surrounding street lamps — it blocks all ambient light.
To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel — the centerline and the deepest part of the ship.
This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship — where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.
Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission — is the time when you must be calm, composed — when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.
If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
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Photo: Getty Images
The ninth week of training is referred to as “Hell Week.” It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and — one special day at the Mud Flats. The Mud Flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slue’s — a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.
It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing-cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors.
As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud.
The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit — just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.
Looking around the mud flat, it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up — eight more hours of bone-chilling cold.
The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything and then, one voice began to echo through the night — one voice raised in song.
The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm.
One voice became two, and two became three, and before long everyone in the class was singing.
We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well.
The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing — but the singing persisted.
And somehow — the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.
If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person — Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala — one person can change the world by giving people hope.
So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
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Photo: Getty Images
Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.
All you have to do to quit — is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing-cold swims.
Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT — and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.
Just ring the bell.
If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.
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Photo: Getty Images

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

What Makes Me Tick?...Faith.

I've survived a lot. I had a great deal of difficulty getting back on my feet because of the circumstances that were beyond my control sometimes. I've been asked a couple of things: "why do you even bother?" and "how do you do it.?"

Good questions. During the worst periods of my life I often felt alone and problems (to put it mildly) could have been insurmountable. But I turned inward; I had an innate sense of my self worth and knew that my pain was valid and that I was invaluable. It helped me block the malice of the outside world out when I looked within: "I began to feel when I focused on the real. (me)" (Oh my God, it hurt.)

When you're younger and inexperienced and vulnerable to harrowing circumstances, it hurts a lot when you don't know what to do at first. All I knew was that I matter(ed) and that God matter(ed). "You will be hated because of me," said the Lord. It helped me get back up every time. Comparing the malice on the outside to what I was inside and to what He is, really helped. Grounding myself in my core values was what I ended up learning how to do. You can weather anything after a while ("to weather the weather vanes", I thought to myself." You become stronger, centered. You begin to laugh at the malice in the outside world. "You can be in the world, but not of the world", He said. (Don't isolate.) He said.

I began to read Sarah Young, Jesus Calling when I was older; two years now and counting and she hasn't let me down: "[t]he daughter of a college professor, I had been encouraged to read widely and think for myself", Sarah Young. This is my motto too: "think for yourself, just do it." She helped deeply wounded women and I could relate back then. Still do.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future", Sarah Young, Jesus Calling. This made sense to me. When I was younger and I was diligently reading scripture while undergoing trials, I didn't realize that I was angry with Him. When someone wanted to pray with me, I walked away in anger. But it wasn't intentional. I did it more often than once and it bothered me after a while. (I never hated Him; I just couldn't understand my anger.) I called a friend, Laura, and asked her "Is it normal to be angry with God? (Why am I angry?)" She told me "maybe you didn't realize that He was there for you the entire time, [and got you through.]" SHOCK!

I think I regained my faith that day. "...[I]t was then that I carried you." (Footsteps, the Lord). I was in shock to realize He was there the entire time. Laura was very comforting to me. I haven't turned on Him (because that's what it feels like I did) since then. So every time something painful and malicious happened to me, I turned to Him; it's second nature now. No question.

Strength comes from within and without (Him). I am limited as a human being, and I am ok with it. Control freakiness is not healthy for me nor is it realistic. Catastrophising doesn't help. Predicting the future is not normal. (It's not the same thing as extrapolating or planning ahead.) One day at a time. "Nurture yourself" (I told myself.) I am valuable (and He loves me!) Unconditionally. "Persistence is what He looks for, not perfection." That's being human, and being humane to myself. I learned all of this from reading Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, and a healer of deeply wounded women. It resonated.

It's discipline that matters too. Every day, I do what I can to take care of myself. I pay attention to detail. (Try to enjoy life.) The process matters; you'll get there eventually. Every day, I make progress to reach my goals. It's how you get there that counts."Joy is the sign that God is near." Laugh. Love people. Love you. Have hope.  No matter what. He's a good God. Becoming toxic, complaining, dark, malicious, criminal -- all of this kills. It builds up over time, the toxicity. I've seen it and have experienced it from those who have meant me harm. They don't realize that it kills (i.e. bad health, cancer, ulcers, rage, hatred). It kills. It also kills the Spirit within. And they are the ones responsible for their own misery.

I win. They don't. (*wink*).

Oftentimes (now), I am amused at how far people will go to take another down just because they-are-HAPPY. "What power you give me," I think (snicker, snicker). I'm still going through a lot, but I'm also still growing, healing, loving, smiling, and spite of some pain. Sometimes I feel exasperated, "WTF!!??! Argh!!!". But I'm not the "woe is me" type and never have been." Negative people, toxic, selfish, petty, ignorant, criminal, inhumane, in short, GHETTO. People, regardless of what or how much they do or do not have will always blame others like me for *their* M-I-S-E-R-Y (individual). Period.

Don't allow it. Period.

I believe in sharing information. I believe in sharing knowledge and I believe in self-empowerment. I believe that I set my own limitations if I choose to do so. Instead, I "live above [my] , circumstances." (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling.) I maintain my faith (my faith in God, in good people, in family (my brothers in particular), and in myself, something they have tried to beat out of me through their own filth. I haven't changed. I'm *not* going to change. Faith moves mountains. "The greatest act of faith is getting up and facing another day." Faith works wonders. Period. They haven't managed to beat the humanity out of me and never will.

Beat the odds."Pearls of Wisdom"

*Stand straight and tall.
*Stop Violence Against Women. (Always.)
*"Joy is the sign that God is near."
*"Be vigilant in guarding your thoughts." Sarah Young, Jesus Calling.
"The curse of this age is overstimulation of the senses, which blocks out awareness of the unseen world." Sarah Young, Jesus Calling.
*Carino Inspira Carino.
*"Be with those that bring out the best in you, not the stress in you."--A knowledgeable person.
*"Focus is keeping your head when everyone around you is losing theirs." -- commercial, 5 hr energy drink
*Don't let your limitations overshadow your talents.--Fortune in a fortune cookie.
***"Be smart. Don't hide. Be Yourself." -Advice I received from a male worker from HELP Women's Resource Center, Brooklyn, New York
*"Knowledge of the Self is the mother of all knowledge." Khalil Gibran
*"Disarm: Be Yourself, Live a Little." Sylvia Lydia Morelos, 2014
*"Reclaim Your Autonomy", Sylvia Lydia Morelos, 2014
*"Stand Up and Be Counted." --a knowlegeable person
*Breathe. Reflect. Have fun. Vote!
*"Don't Compromise Yourself. You are all you've got." Janis Japlin.
*"I keep my ideals because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are basically good at heart." Anne Franke.
*"The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud."--Coco Chanel
*"Ultimately, love is self-approval." Sondray Ray
*"Holding Promise," A Work in Progress, Sylvia Lydia Morelos, 2014
*"Where do we find the Courage to Do What is Right?", Deploy Joy.
*"Redefining Your Basic Truths is a Catalyst for Change." Sylvia Lydia Morelos, 2014
*"[Enlighten You Intellect]."---Dr. P.M. Forni
*"Preserving Beauty, Preserving Life." -- A Work in Progress, Sylvia Lydia Morelos, 2014
*An antidote to dis-ease is? Sylvia Lydia Morelos, 2014
*Engage. Foster. Develop. Cultivate. Grow. Blossom.
*"Knowing More About the World Makes It A Safer Place."
*"Great spirits have always been opposed by violent opposition."--a world leader
*"Stop Listening to Bullshit." Sylvia Lydia Morelos, 2014
*Attitude is everything. Sylvia Lydia Morelos
*"Rise Above It." Tom Petty, Refugee
*Discipline Yourself.
*"You Are Here Not to Shrink Down to Less, but to Blossom Into More of Who You Really Are." --Oprah Winfrey.
*"In Being Ever So Limited." Sylvia Lydia Morelos, 2014
*"Combat the Uncivil With Knowledge." Sylvia Lydia Morelos, 2014
*"Today you are you. That Is Truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you." Dr. Seuss
*"To love beauty is to see light." --Victor Hugo
*"Open your eyes, look within; Are you satisfied with the life you're living?" Bob Marley
*"Man is free at the Moment He Wishes to Be." --Voltaire
*"By appreciation, we make excellence in others our own property." James Joyce
*"Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted."--John Lennon
*"Reward Yourself for Small Successes."--Legacy Health
***"The Vile Common: The Common Bile.", Sylvia Lydia Morelos, 2012, 2014...
*"Seek My face with a teachable spirit." --God
*"There is a meaning to my non-madness.", Sylvia Lydia Morelos, 2014
*"The curse of this age is overstimulation of the senses, which blocks out awareness of the unseen world.", Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
*"Character is how you treat another who can do nothing for you." ---a knowledgeable person.
*"Intelligence + Character = [real] education. --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.