Two weeks ago at the Tugboat Institute Summit, I had the privilege of meeting Commander Rorke Denver and listening to his talk on leadership. Rorke was a Commander in the Navy Seals, the most elite and exclusive unit of the US military. Seals are sent on the most dangerous missions in the world (e.g. capturing Osama Ben Laden). 80% of the people accepted to the Seals training program do not make it through to completion, despite representing the elite of the Navy. 

Leadership and training are cornerstones of the Seals’ operations because people are likely to die when mistakes are made on a mission. When asked what leadership lessons he would impart from his Seal experience, there were three things that Rorke shared with us.

1.  Look at Less & You Will See More: While the story he told was about scanning a mountainside for enemies, the implication is that when we try to do too much, we miss a lot. We are all more successful when we focus on and do a few things well.

2.  Choose Your Ruck Wisely: When the Seals head out on a mission, they need to be very thoughtful about their gear. There is no going back if they forgot something and they need to be nimble. In life, Rorke suggested we choose a “ruck” (backpack) that won’t tempt us to overpack. We often need less than we believe, but we fill our lives with things that weigh us down and don’t enhance our lives in any way.

3.  Play Without a Safety Net: This one really hit home for me as I like to have a plan B. However, time and time again, I’ve heard incredible stories of success from individuals who didn’t leave the option for or have the luxury of a plan B. Reward does not come without risk in life or business.  Rorke lamented the addition of a safety net to a famous obstacle at Seal training camp that was responsible for numerous injures in training, yet it represented a very common obstacle in battle with more serious consequences for failure.

Society today is full of safety nets, but it begs the question – are they really protecting us or just holding us back?

Here are some more inspirational quotes from Navy SEAL Training.  

1.   There Are Two Ways to Do Something … the Right Way and Again
2.  We’re Not Going to Stop Until We Get at Least One Quitter
3.  Nothing Lasts Forever
4.  You Don’t Have to Like It, You Just Have to Do It
5.  If You’re Gonna Be Stupid, You Better Be Hard


Have a great weekend!