I always like military-related things, perhaps because I like the high standard that the military demands. It uses the best technologies and expects excellent performance from its people. Yes, there are many things that could go wrong with the military, but in many cases I find it inspiring.
That was the case when I read No Easy Day, a book about the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. The story itself was interesting, but the important thing for me was that it inspired me to think and act like a winner.
The book talks about the author’s experiences in an elite unit called DEVGRU. DEVGRU is more than an elite unit actually; it’s an elite within an elite. To become a member of DEVGRU, you must already become a member of the Navy SEAL which is an elite unit. But then only the best SEALs can make it to DEVGRU. That’s why I call it an elite within an elite.
From the stories in the book, I learned about how the members of such a unit think and act. I can’t give you the background story of each lesson (since it will take too much space), but I hope I describe the lessons clear enough so that you can apply them in your life.
Here are 13 lessons I learned on how to think and act like a winner:
1. Don’t make excuses
Sometimes you might find yourself in the midst of an unfair situation. In such a situation, it’s easy to make excuses and most people do. But winners are different. They don’t make excuses or blame the situation. Instead, they focus on what they can do to get the most out of it.
2. Be comfortable being uncomfortable
Like it or not, growing in life often means moving out of your comfort zone. Why? Because in order to grow you need to expand your personal capacity and that requires you to take on new challenges. For that reason, you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Only then can you do the things that are necessary for your personal growth.
3. Have a strong desire to perform and excel
For the winners, simply meeting the standard is not enough. Their goal is exceptional performance. That’s why they often become their own worst critic. Whatever it is you are doing, strive to become the best that you can be.
4. Focus; one step at a time
To get things done, you need focus. But it’s difficult to do that if you look at the whole thing. So you should instead focus on just the current small step that you are in. In the author’s case, when going through a very difficult training, he simply focused on getting to the next meal. By focusing on doing that, he eventually overcame the big challenge.
5. Don’t dwell on past mistakes
Winners make mistakes just like other people, but what makes them different is their attitude toward mistakes. They don’t dwell on them nor let them hinder their actions. Instead, they learn their lessons, block the negative thoughts, and move on.
6. Know your window of opportunity
Whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, you should be aware of its window of opportunity. Something that looks promising today might become worthless a few months from now. By knowing the window of opportunity, you can use your resources wisely.
The world is changing and changing fast. So if you want to thrive, you must be able to adapt. Some people insist on doing things the old way, but winners know that they need to change. They are willing to adopt a new way of doing things.
8. Make simple plans
Related to the point before, there is no point in making complicated plans. Why? Because they may become obsolete before you can execute them. So just create simple plans and go from there. This way you can react more quickly to new developments.
9. Be humble
Many people want to take credit for themselves, but winners know that they can’t achieve things by themselves. They also realize that there are others out there who can do what they do. So instead of bragging about their achievements, they stay humble.
10. Master throttle control
Winners know when to wait and when to act. When they need to wait, they wait patiently. When they need to act, they act decisively. They know how to read the situation.
11. Prepare for contingencies
Winners prepare themselves for bad situations. They know that things could go wrong so they prepare themselves beforehand. Do you have a plan B for your career? Have you built an emergency fund? Good preparation helps you recover quickly when things go wrong.
12. Be a team player
Winners know that they work best by being in a solid team, so they become good team players. They work with teammates with whom trust and responsibility are the norm. Working in a solid team will multiply your effectiveness.
13. Stack the odds in your favor
Though they work hard to improve their skills, winners know that luck still plays a role. That’s why they do what they can to stack the odds in their favor. Sometimes it means waiting until the time is right before taking action. Sometimes it means building a support system. Whatever it is, you need to learn how to maximize your chances.
Interesting lessons, aren’t they? It will take time to learn to apply them, but I believe we can all think and act like winners.
Photo by The U.S. Army