Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Make it to the Next Meal

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What could be more difficult than Navy Seals training? I doubt much.

And nothing is easier to quit. All you have to do is ring the bell.

So how do the few who make it, do it?

photo by Official U.S. Navy Imagery

photo by Official U.S. Navy Imagery

The Secret

In all three books I read, all of the men used the same strategy. They focused on making it to the next meal.

They didn’t know for sure if they could get through all of the training. They didn’t know if they could make it through the next week. They didn’t know if they could even make it through the day.

And of course, they didn’t know for sure they could make it to the next meal, but it did seem possible. The Navy doesn’t purposefully starve the sailors.They keep them well fed. They won’t kill you, they only try to make you wish you were dead.

In Navy Seals training there only two guarantees. One is that it will be impossibly hard. The second is that you will get to eat.

And the next meal is coming. Not even the instructors can stop time.

In the early morning, they focused on making it to breakfast. If it was after breakfast, they struggled through to lunch. In the afternoon, they fought their way to dinner.

And that’s the secret.

Letting Go

Actually, it turns out not to be much of a secret at all. The instructors even tell the sailors this. They give them advice on how to survive, but still so few do it.

When faced with the task of all of the training, it would quickly overwhelm. Who can do all of that?

But it helped them to focus on finishing what they were being asked do at that very moment. They didn’t plan for tomorrow. They didn’t even plan for later that day. They only focused on now.

They focused on putting one foot in front of the other. They focused on breathing. They focused on holding their breath. They focused on running faster. They focused on swimming. They focused on surviving.

And they had to let go of what they thought it would be like some day to be a Navy Seal. And then become a survivor. A do’er of the now. An eater of breakfast or lunch or dinner.

And in the middle of the mess, the current step is more than enough.

Letting Go of the Ending

When we choose our own story, far too often we begin by writing the ending. Our dreams are wrapped up in what we want the story to become eventually. We are more in love with the fairy tale ending than we are with who we must become.

We want all of the recognition, but none of the becoming. We want the rewards, but not the process.

And then, in the middle of the mess, the story becomes difficult. The outcome is uncertain. Obstacles come out of no where. Impossible situations develop that need to be overcome. And guess what happens? We give up. We ring the bell.

When trying to write a better story there is one simple way to keep moving forward. Focus on the next thing. Focus on what you have to do today. Focus on the now.

And let go of the future. Stop worrying about whether or not anybody will hear about your story. Forget about awards. Let go of recognition.

The process itself is the focus. The work is what you need to do. You need to live in the now. You need to make it to the next step. Nothing more.

Letting Go Allows us to Become

Who we want to become stands in the way of what we need to do to become.

Which is better? To be given the title of a Navy Seal? Or to be the person who pushed through? To be one of the few who didn’t ring the bell?

Of course, for those who do push through, specific training soon follows. And in the case of the Seals, they become the best in the world at it. But only because they first became Navy Seals.

For you to become who you want to be, you first have to become. And the only way any of us will change is through pain.

Nobody changes by drinking coffee, eating donuts, and staying warm.

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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10 Replies

  1. Dwayne Baldwin

    Jeremy – I almost never click on articles as I look at my wife’s Facebook page (I don’t have one). However, I often click on your links when you have them. I really apppreciate this article as I am preparing my family to move to E. Europe as full-time missionaries. There’s a lot about the process of “becoming” a missionary that’s overwhelming. I don’t really focus on reward or recognition. However, I tend to focus on ONLY the difficulty of the process many times. It’s helpful to remember to look at what the Lord has put in front of you to do, just today, just right now. I especially like the line, “Nobody changes by drinking coffee, eating donuts, and staying warm.” Thanks for the article. – Dwayne Baldwin

  2. Jeremy Statton

    Good for you on the Facebook page. They aren’t worth much. I can only imagine what all of you feel as you prepare to move. I’m sure you are thinking stuff like, Why are we doing this? This is nuts. Or asking yourself, how do we do this? These are questions we asks ourselves too. I’m glad the words were encouraging. You and your family are doing good. Keep moving forward as pitifully as you can.

  3. This is a great post Jeremy. “Who we want to become stands in the way of what we need to do to become.” That is so true. Distraction on everything other than “right now” is often the biggest thing standing in our way.

  4. Jo Inglis

    Thanks for this. Was talking with a counsellor about a situation I find hard & wishing I could be rid of it. But there is much we can learn from the hard if allow it – strength for today and all.

  5. Andy

    Great post. But how does this fit with the old saying, “Begin with the end in mind”?

  6. That’s a good question. I think it has everything to do with the end. When the sailors begin, they must know what they are shooting for. Otherwise the training would be pointless. They do have a goal.

    But they have chosen an end so difficult, that if you they are more in love with the dream than the work, they will quit. If you don’t make it to lunch, then there is no end.

  7. Often, we aren’t just distracted from now, but we don’t like now. But now is part of the process.

  8. I like the way you put it, “But there is much we can learn from the hard if we allow it…”

  9. Good to hear from you, Dwayne. I know that yesterday was a big day for you, and I bet that thinks are going to become even more difficult for you. I believe your purpose and goal are worth it. They are good things. You will be blessed, not necessarily in the ways that make your task easier. You may not have enough money. You may never feel like you have enough courage. But you will never regret what you are choosing to do.

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