Monday, September 14, 2009

Advantage of Adversity Pt 1

Teammates, with all this talk about tough times, I want to discuss the benefits of adversity with you. HUH? Adversity and Benefits – since when do those two words co-exist!?! Hear me out … When I use the word adversity I mean it defined as: an overwhelming challenge – a seemingly insurmountable obstacle – a wall so thick that you have no idea how you’re going to get through it, over it, under it or around it. For most, adversity is not a welcome word, and why should it be, after all we’re human and humans are wired to avoid pain and pursue pleasure … and adversity is directly associated with pain. So it’s no wonder when folks hear about adversity their first instinct is to avoid it. A totally natural and completely understandable reaction, but here’s the rub. There’s a silver lining to adversity that is critical to know – it’s the confidence you gain from overcoming it that can’t be earned any other way. This confidence is the cornerstone of your attitude, it’s the engine of your persistence and it stokes your ability to dream bigger dreams which in turn – and paradoxically – puts you on a path to encounter greater adversity.

In the world of SEAL Team training, candidates are tested daily with all types of physical and mental adversity, such as running a 4 mile timed run only to find out (as you’re puking at the finish line) that it’s actually a 10 mile run. Perhaps the most well known military training adversity is SEAL training’s Hellweek where three shifts of SEAL instructors dish out around the clock mental and physical punishment while depriving you of all but 3 hours of sleep (total!) over 5 days. It should come as no surprise that a dramatic number of candidates decide to quit during Hellweek. However, those that make it through Hellweek, which is actually early in SEAL training (wk 6 of 35 wks when I went through) are different – they have a swagger about them, an attitude of “bring it on” – “give me all ya got” – “you’re not going to stop me” attitude. And that is exactly the attitude the SEAL instructors want to develop. This attitude becomes the foundation for creating a special breed of warrior, and it can only come from experiencing and overcoming an adversity as intense as Hellweek. My point, you can’t learn the confidence adversity teaches you in a classroom or from a book – you can’t fake it – you learn it from experience – there’s no short cut – period.

Stay tuned for Part 2: how do these lessons from SEAL Hellweek relate to you?


Picture of the Great Wall of China courtesy of


AKO said...

Alden-- Very inspirational. You are completely and 100% right. Confidence stems from adversity, and makes them better suited to handle more. Great post...can't wait for part two.

Unknown said...

Tough times don't last, Tough people do.

There are 2 types of "tough " People:

One thinks he can do anything because all his life he/she was told how special they are, But when Shale hits the fan, they crash and burn faster then Husain's army during Desert Storm, and run back to their safety net to be coddled like a new born until they start believing that they are special again. What this type of person does not understand is that safety net will not always be there. Generally they are rich elite punk kids from the mean streets of South central East Hampton New York.( Where the lawyers do their fighting and not them!) They have a choice and always take the easy road in life. Come to think of it, Husain's 2 sons are perfect example of the above.

Then there is a driven person. That is a person from a eerily age always wanted to be the best or gave it their all or practiced until they dropped from exhaustion. They always seem to come out fighting when it is appropriate, they never walk like they can wash the toilet with you BUT they know they can at the drop of the hat do that, AND without thinking protect others because it is what is right. This person is a winner, and if they don't win they want to know why and practice on their "weakness". This is a person who said they will run 100 miles in 3 days and do it. This person is a leader.

what one are you?

MadMaxMMA on twitter.