Embrace the Suck, Brent Gleeson
Build resilience and unlock your true potential.
How many times a day do you wish for an easy way out or someone to take away your pain?
The truth is that we all face challenges, but how we deal with them is what separates us.
In Brent Gleeson’s Embrace the Suck, we’ll look at three key aspects of cultivating resilience – Challenge, Commitment, and Control. First, we’ll examine how resilience experts view challenges. Then we’ll learn how they use problems to grow. Finally, we’ll see how they stay focused on their goals.
So, if you want the tools and ammunition to find your purpose and live an extraordinary life, this is for you. Get ready to turn pain into peak performance by embracing the suck.
Turn pain into motivation and face challenges with positivity.
Brent Gleeson and his fellow trainees faced the ultimate test of strength and resilience: the six-day Navy SEAL selection course called “Hell Week.” The program is designed to push soldiers to their limits. But explosions, smoke grenades, and machine gun fire are just the beginning. The real challenge comes from surf torture, a grueling regimen involving constant exposure to the freezing ocean. As a result, the course has a failure rate of 70 to 80 percent. Crazy, right? But here’s the thing. Those who survive the verbal and physical onslaught share one crucial trait: they embrace the suck.
Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training isn’t for the faint-hearted. To succeed, applicants must learn to transform their pain into a powerful source of motivation. The question is, how do they do it? What separates those pushing through from those who ring the bell and quit? To answer this, we need to delve deeper into psychology.
Have you ever faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge? Perhaps you’ve even considered quitting before you began. It’s natural to try and avoid pain and adversity, but the problem is that doing so prevents you from achieving your full potential. So, how can you overcome your fears and build your resilience? Here’s where embracing the suck comes into play.
Retired SEAL Jason Redman is a true fighter in every way. Despite being shot seven times in battle, he refused to see himself as a victim. Instead, he focused on his recovery, declaring his hospital room a pity-free zone. Redman accepted his injuries, pain, suffering, and uncertainty with remarkable bravery. With an unwavering determination, he achieved a full physical recovery. His story shows that anyone can overcome even the harshest obstacles with the right mindset and attitude.
Embracing the suck is about confronting problems head-on. It’s about accepting that we don’t always have control over what happens to us, but we do have control over how we react to it. We can develop the skills and resilience needed to handle even the most difficult situations by approaching our challenges with a positive mindset. Then, rather than seeing obstacles as roadblocks, we begin to see them as opportunities for growth and improvement. This shift in perspective empowers us to take action and tackle future challenges with greater energy and resolve.
Before using painful experiences to fuel your growth, though, you need to understand where you are now. One practical way to answer this is to describe your core values. These are the fundamental beliefs and principles that guide your actions and decisions. They reflect your personality and the legacy you wish to leave. Are you ready to identify those values?
Great! Grab a stack of Post-it notes and jot down four to six core values. Don’t overthink it – focus on capturing what matters to you most. You might include values such as health, family, faith, or integrity, to name but a few.
Before moving on to the next step, you should be aware that it isn’t enough to simply acknowledge your core values; you should embody them, too. For that reason, take action and actively integrate them into your daily life.
After identifying your core values, the next step is to develop supporting behaviors that align with them.
These supportive behaviors must be specific, measurable, and achievable. For example, if one of your core values is health, you could develop a diet plan, exercise regularly, prepare nutritious meals, and ensure you get enough sleep. Similarly, one of your core values might be integrity. In that case, supporting behaviors might include honest and transparent communication; fulfilling your commitments and responsibilities; and standing up for what’s right, even when it’s difficult.
Remember that small, deliberate actions can have a substantial impact over time. Actions, as they say, speak louder than words. But staying on track can be tough with the constant distractions of your hectic life. So, how can you remain focused and committed to your values?
Consider using a calendar or a goal-setting app to jumpstart your progress. Improving your accountability is crucial to living out your core values. So display your supporting behaviors in a prominent location, such as on your wall or in the notes app on your phone. The more often you see them, the more likely you are to take action. Try experimenting with different accountability methods until you find the best one.
Of course, setbacks and mistakes are inevitable. When they happen, it’s important not to be too hard on yourself. Instead, use the time to reflect on your approach and the supporting behaviors you’ve put in place to figure out where you went wrong. Perhaps overindulging in sweets derailed your diet, or failing to schedule your time correctly cut your workout short. By analyzing your actions and identifying areas for improvement, you can develop mental resilience and a grittier mindset. As Gleeson puts it, you’re building up your brain calluses.
So, embrace the suck, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward. By reframing your obstacles, you can realize your full potential and become the best version of yourself. So, take some time to consider your values and devise strategies to implement them. Focus on your goals and recognize that every challenge you overcome is a plus for your growth. Because embracing the suck builds wisdom and strength, it helps you understand what truly matters in your life and commit to your values and priorities.
In the following section, we’ll look at the importance of commitment.
Use stress and failure to learn and grow.
The SEAL team’s objective is clear: locate a high-value target in rural Iraq. But fate intervenes. As the team approaches its destination, one of the Humvee tires blows out, forcing an abrupt halt. The team sets up security and then replaces the wheel. But the troubles are just beginning. As the elite soldiers approach the secluded farmhouse, they encounter unexpected resistance in the form of some bullheaded livestock. After corralling the troublesome goats, the team moves in. Yet, their luck worsens when Gleeson falls waist-deep in muck. Aside from uncovering a weapons cache, their mission is a bust.
Despite the setbacks, Gleeson quickly loads the weapons onto the Humvees for extraction. As the team returns to base, one of the convoy loan vehicles collides with a bridge, causing a traffic pile-up. Unfortunately, it takes two hours to clear the roads. Eventually, the SEALs move out, leaving the damaged Mercedes behind. After completing their mission and delivering the weapons, the team returns to retrieve the $300,000 vehicle, only to find that it’s been stripped of its parts. The only option left is to write a check to cover the damages. Wow. What a day. So why are they all so chill?
There’s a simple explanation – at the core of SEAL training lies perseverance. Giving up isn’t an option. Well, it is, but not for those who want a career in the special forces. The key point here is to view failure as a learning experience. By embracing the hardships that come our way, we can learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The question is, how can we shift our mindsets and deal with setbacks efficiently? Well, we can start by examining the realities of failure.
First, we need to accept that failure can distort our view of our goals and abilities, leading us to believe false things. Failure can also lead to feelings of helplessness and fear, which, in turn, result in a failure complex. Another disadvantage of failure is the possibility of self-sabotage. So, to succeed, we have to confront our fears. And because willpower is a muscle, we must exercise it, or it’ll be lost. Finally, when dealing with failure, we need to concentrate on what we can control.
To recap, accepting these realities can help you navigate failure more effectively and develop a resilient mindset. Yes, it’s true: when used correctly, stress and anxiety are powerful growth tools. How can that be? Well, think back to when you excelled at something, like learning a new language or taking a test. Stress and anxiety were almost certainly present, shaping your results and who you are today. With this in mind, psychologists Alia and Thomas Crum have developed a three-step model to help people harness the creative power of stress. Here’s how it works:
Step one: see it. Acknowledge and recognize the stress you are experiencing, reframing it as an opportunity to grow. Investigate its potential root causes.
Step two: own it. Take ownership of your stress response, recognizing that you can choose how you react.
Step three: use it. Channel negative energy into constructive action, using it as a tool for growth and development.
Learning to confront and express difficult emotions can be tough, but it’s vital for personal growth. Accepting and processing your feelings allows you to gain a better understanding of yourself and how you prioritize your experiences. Also, being comfortable with discomfort and facing obstacles is the only way to move forward positively. In other words, the key to personal growth is to embrace the suck and learn from it. By doing so, you become more self-aware, empathetic, and resilient, capable of crushing any obstacle that comes your way.
Are you settling for an unfulfilling job or relationship? Are you letting grudges, laziness, or quitting hold you back? To live an extraordinary life, you have to commit to embracing pain. Falling into a comfortable routine is easy, but this isn’t the path to success. So are you ready to bust out of your comfort zone? Great. How can you do it? The answer might be simpler than you think – do something that sucks every day.
After you’ve selected your goals and whittled them down to the ones that genuinely excite you, the next step is to list specific actions for each, including parts that suck. All this is great practice for regularly testing yourself and your comfort zone. So collect your courage and take action. It may sometimes feel unsettling, but you’ll be proud of yourself for making positive life changes. Now let’s move on to your execution strategy.
Master the SEAL mindset: self-discipline and strategy.
So far, you’ve learned that pain is a pathway, and being comfortable with discomfort is a key factor in achieving success. Now, you can start putting this all into practice. By modeling the SEAL mindset for execution, you can live beyond your comfort zone. So what’s your next move? Let’s begin by breaking the tasks down.
SEAL operations require strategic planning. Setting goals and identifying controllable threats is the first step. Next, the team evaluates the resources needed and assesses mission feasibility, drawing from past experiences. Finally, each team member’s role and responsibilities are defined to establish accountability, and outside experts are consulted for additional perspectives. Contingency plans are also developed to prepare for unexpected issues.
How can you make sure this model works? To execute any plan, you need self-discipline. Do you routinely put off tasks that you plan to complete first thing in the morning? If so, it’s time to take another page from the Navy SEAL playbook. These elite combatants are highly skilled in close-quarters combat and follow the training motto, “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” They learn how to overcome subconscious limitations and improve their self-control, and so can you.
The problem is that discipline involves more than just willpower. It’s also about recognizing your flaws and taking preventive steps to avoid temptation. When you make mistakes, Gleeson stresses the importance of reflection, using missteps to identify triggers and create plans to stay on track. For instance, if you want to drink less, you should remove alcohol from the house. Likewise, muting your phone can help you avoid distractions. By taking these steps, you can develop the discipline needed to achieve your goals and live your best life. Ultimately, self-discipline is a crucial skill you can master with the right approach. You must have self-awareness, a clear plan, and realistic expectations to achieve this.
Previously, we mentioned the realities of failure. When you encounter such setbacks, do your best to overcome your guilt, anger, or frustration and embrace these challenges. Remember to learn from your slip-ups and go easy on yourself when things don’t go as planned. The fact is, life is short. So why not make the most of your time here? We, humans, have the unique power to influence our future by accepting responsibility for our actions and actively working toward something more meaningful. Living purposefully means rising above fleeting distractions and hollow relationships to pursue something more valuable: a life free of regrets.
Fear should never hold you back. Not if you take control of your life and plan your future with the end in mind. Imagine the possibilities if you accepted pain as a necessary part of your journey to success. So don’t leave your life to chance. Instead, ask yourself what truly matters, and prioritize your goals accordingly. Then, take deliberate action to build an extraordinary future and strive to leave a legacy you can be proud of.
Instead of avoiding pain, embrace it and use it to propel you forward. By aligning your actions with your core values, you can face problems while remaining focused on your goals. Setting realistic targets and making steady progress requires self-discipline and self-awareness. So take small, incremental steps outside of your comfort zone to promote growth.
Then, using the “See it, Own it, and Use it” model, you can use stress and fear to your advantage. So, embrace the suck and don’t let failure cloud your vision of success – you are capable of overcoming any obstacle.