For some time now, accounts of the heroic deeds of the Navy SEAL team have dominated the news. The acronym “SEAL” describes this special forces members’ abilities to operate in the sea or air and on the land, but their ability to work underwater truly separates the SEALs from most other military units. Navy SEALs deploy on a wide variety of missions, including direct action, special reconnaissance operations, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, hostage rescue, and counter-terrorism.
These faceless, nameless heroes have much to teach us about exceptional performance and valiance.
SEALs must pass prove themselves exceptional before they can enter the program. Once admitted, they subject themselves to weeks of specialized, grueling training. Few, however, realize what happens then: Hell Week.
A typical SEALs class will lose 70-80% of its members before Hell Week ends. No one can deny the physical demands of the week, which includes being wet and staying awake for days at a time, but most say it’s the mental challenge that breaks them.
Corporate America can learn some lessons from the SEALS. They don’t admit people who are less than stellar, and then they set such high standards, that even excellent candidates must constantly prove themselves to stay among the elite.
If you want exceptional performance, you need to learn three lessons from the SEALS.
- Give your attention to your top 20%. They will drive 80% of your productivity and results.
- Surround your stars with other stars. SEALs don’t make a great deal of money, but they take enormous pride in belonging to the universe’s superior special forces team.
- Continue to set the bar higher. Exceptional people thrive on challenges.
SEALs have several axioms they live by: “Ready to lead, ready to follow, never quit,” and “The only easy day was yesterday.”
What mottos does your team live by? Spoken or implied, it should mean you and others can count on them to deliver extraordinary performance.