I recently attended an event where a highly-decorated Navy SEAL veteran of 23 years spoke. Oddly enough, he didn’t recount any of his SEAL experiences. Instead, he spoke of two overall keys to success. They are both simple principles, yet are quite difficult for many people to practice daily.
Navy SEALs are the elite of all specialized military forces. This “Sea, Air and Land Team” are always prepared for any type of situation. Their training is intense. Their awareness of their surroundings is well-tuned. Their commitment to one another is fierce and unwavering. It has to be, given the missions they are called to achieve.
The two keys to success according to this Navy SEAL are:
- Honor your word.
- Never give up.
Seems simple, right? But as I reflected on these statements along with the other information he shared, I realized how truly profound they are.
Honor Your Word – This is not a part-time or most-of-the-time option. This is an all-the-time mandate. As a leader, we are called to make many decisions and commitments. Honoring your word means you follow through and deliver on what you decided or committed to – from the largest commitment of accomplishing a strategic goal to the smallest commitment to be home for dinner on time.
There will be obstacles in every leader’s day-to-day life. Honoring your word means you will overcome any obstacle that is presented so you can deliver what was promised. It means following a credo that says, “If I committed to it, it will happen, no matter what.”
When you honor your word, you don’t blame outside circumstances or other people for your failure to deliver. You are fully accountable to deliver results. In the words of my colleague Craig Hickman, from his book The Oz Principle, leaders who are fully accountable “See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It.”™ They don’t employ the blame game. Instead, they take action to see the problem, own the problem, solve the problem (with the help of others when necessary), and implement the solutions that will fix the problem entirely.
Think about how many times a day or week you make a commitment. Some of us, myself included, have made commitments to deliver on something which in the moment seemed like the “right thing to do.” But afterwards when we actually took the time to think it through, we realized it might take a miracle to deliver on the commitment.
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Maybe you think you are exempt from this:
- How about the time you didn’t show up at your kid’s game or music recital because something came up?
- How about the time you told your boss you’d get the report to him by noon and you finally delivered it at 6pm…the next day?
- How about the time you exaggerated the amount of time you spent on something to impress someone?
In this SEAL’s experience, honoring his word means doing it all the time, no exceptions.
Never Give Up – This concept is pretty easy to comprehend for a Navy SEAL, right? Yet this SEAL applies this principle to everything. Never give up hope. Never give up thinking there must be a solution. Never give up on the confidence you have to complete something.
This reminds me of the key principle of persistence that Napoleon Hill writes about in his book, Think and Grow Rich. He states, “The majority of people are ready to throw their aims and purposes overboard, and give up at the first sign of opposition or misfortune. A few carry on DESPITE all opposition, until they attain their goal.” He goes on to say, “If one does not possess persistence, one does not achieve noteworthy success in any calling.” This idea of persistence echoes the Navy SEAL’s staunch determination to fulfill his commitments.
I fully acknowledge how extremely difficult it can be to never give up. There are times when information or conditions change and necessitate altering plans or refining desired outcomes. Yet, what if this degree of tenacity is the secret sauce our most successful leaders continually focus on?
Hopefully, you find these two keys to success worthy of further reflection, as I have. If you are willing, I’d enjoy helping you discover how these principles can manifest in your life as a leader. Interested? Let me know.
PS, By no means have I “achieved” success status in these two areas and I work on them every day. However, if you want to partner with me to increase your commitment and performance in these 2 areas, I’d be honored to walk along side of you.