Building Mental Toughness

DasBoot

Ranger
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Apr 12, 2011
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What helped you develop the strength to get through your respective SOF selection courses?
Was it your faith, words of a mentor, or just a personal desire to test yourself?
 

amlove21

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The City of Destiny
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Balls. Next question.
A father who never allowed me to think it is acceptable to do anything but excel.
Both of these are correct. There is no magical answer. You know what the answer is? Whatever works for you. For me it was "I want to always do exactly what I said." By that I mean, it took about a year for my cross training packet to get approved. In that process, I assured many people that I could make it, and I would never quit. I related very viscerally to it; I literally got so angry/pumped up/motivated by the thought of never ever being considered a liar that I would have eaten rocks to prove it.

In my opinion, the key is to find something that you can hold on to when nothing else will help. Guys use tons of stuff- God, family, testicles, whatever. But that thing better be there when all else fails, cause it will. It better be real. You just need to find what works for you.

AIt still holds true to me today, but those words are now the PJ Creed. That's what I said I would do, and I will be damned if any situation proves that otherwise.

Remember- selection is only the beginning.
 

DasBoot

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Joined
Apr 12, 2011
Messages
1,383
Both of these are correct. There is no magical answer. You know what the answer is? Whatever works for you. For me it was "I want to always do exactly what I said." By that I mean, it took about a year for my cross training packet to get approved. In that process, I assured many people that I could make it, and I would never quit. I related very viscerally to it; I literally got so angry/pumped up/motivated by the thought of never ever being considered a liar that I would have eaten rocks to prove it.

In my opinion, the key is to find something that you can hold on to when nothing else will help. Guys use tons of stuff- God, family, testicles, whatever. But that thing better be there when all else fails, cause it will. It better be real. You just need to find what works for you.

AIt still holds true to me today, but those words are now the PJ Creed. That's what I said I would do, and I will be damned if any situation proves that otherwise.

Remember- selection is only the beginning.

Great post. Thank you for the insight.
 

Viper1

Special Forces
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Apr 9, 2008
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2,441
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Cajun Land
1) I quit my first job in HS. Worst decision I ever made, and I still regret it because my boss was a good man who treated me well. Living with yourself, knowing that you quit something, is worse than the experience of going through it and finishing what you signed on to do. I was too lazy, stupid, and dumb to live up to my responsibility. I've never quit anything since.
2) Going to Ranger School and realizing I would have to live up to the tab for LIFE.
3) Seeing my friends and family go into combat and come back wounded or dead. How can I quit when my cousin got blasted by a 500LB VBIED and lost a finger? How can I quit when I lost my Ranger buddy and my college roommate in one year? How can I quit when a guy who lost his leg overseas gets a prosthetic and goes back overseas in combat. No Army course is worth quitting after seeing stuff like that.
4) The humble heroes of my family history. My Dad is a Vietnam vet who recieved the Soldier's Medal for running BACK into a burning ammo building that had just exploded and blew him out of it. Quitting doesn't live up to that. His uncles fought in WWII at places like Cherbourg, Italy, Philippines, Normandy. One uncle was lost in the USS Barbel off the Philippines 6 months before the war ended. My Dad and his uncles never played up their service. They were just happy to do their part. As am I.
5) Seeing others accomplish what I want. Seeing my bros get their berets and tabs kept me motivated to keep on gunning. If they can do it, so can I.
6) The guidance and mentorship of my friends, co workers, and family. Sometimes we can be our own worst critics and doubt ourselves. While we may see the worst in ourselves, they see what we want to become and they stoke the flames that forge the hardened sword of iron that will sally forth and accomplish the goals set.
7) Once you accomplish one tough thing (i.e. Ranger School, first combat rotation), you want more. It's addicted because your true self comes to light. You strip back the fluff of your life and the mask of your life to see your true self. You want to see that person, you want to become one with him, develop him, make him stronger, make him better. It's a special feeling, and you want to experience it again.
 

DasBoot

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1) I quit my first job in HS. Worst decision I ever made, and I still regret it because my boss was a good man who treated me well. Living with yourself, knowing that you quit something, is worse than the experience of going through it and finishing what you signed on to do. I was too lazy, stupid, and dumb to live up to my responsibility. I've never quit anything since.
2) Going to Ranger School and realizing I would have to live up to the tab for LIFE.
3) Seeing my friends and family go into combat and come back wounded or dead. How can I quit when my cousin got blasted by a 500LB VBIED and lost a finger? How can I quit when I lost my Ranger buddy and my college roommate in one year? How can I quit when a guy who lost his leg overseas gets a prosthetic and goes back overseas in combat. No Army course is worth quitting after seeing stuff like that.
4) The humble heroes of my family history. My Dad is a Vietnam vet who recieved the Soldier's Medal for running BACK into a burning ammo building that had just exploded and blew him out of it. Quitting doesn't live up to that. His uncles fought in WWII at places like Cherbourg, Italy, Philippines, Normandy. One uncle was lost in the USS Barbel off the Philippines 6 months before the war ended. My Dad and his uncles never played up their service. They were just happy to do their part. As am I.
5) Seeing others accomplish what I want. Seeing my bros get their berets and tabs kept me motivated to keep on gunning. If they can do it, so can I.
6) The guidance and mentorship of my friends, co workers, and family. Sometimes we can be our own worst critics and doubt ourselves. While we may see the worst in ourselves, they see what we want to become and they stoke the flames that forge the hardened sword of iron that will sally forth and accomplish the goals set.
7) Once you accomplish one tough thing (i.e. Ranger School, first combat rotation), you want more. It's addicted because your true self comes to light. You strip back the fluff of your life and the mask of your life to see your true self. You want to see that person, you want to become one with him, develop him, make him stronger, make him better. It's a special feeling, and you want to experience it again.

Great points. I can understand the 3 and 4 right now as a civi. Point 7 is my motivation for pursuing SOF. Thank you for your wisdom Viper1
 

Viper1

Special Forces
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2,441
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Cajun Land
You're welcome. Wisdom might be a stretch but I'll says thanks all the same :)

Good hunting and keep at it! It's an awesome ride.
 

x SF med

the Troll
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Not far from the south of Canada, 'Murica!
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What helped you develop the strength to get through your respective SOF selection courses?
Was it your faith, words of a mentor, or just a personal desire to test yourself?

Life... a desire to test my absolute limits, not allowing myself to fail, my personal integrity and honor, the lessons of my parents, the example of true warriors... I guess, just who I am developed that strength.
 

Pistol_Pete

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Apr 11, 2011
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West of Charlotte, NC
I think you either have it or you don't as far as mental toughness goes. Either you want it bad enough or you don't. The SF qualification course was the hardest thing I ever did. Being on a team nearly so. Hard doesn't necessarily mean bad. Hard can be very enjoyable - especially for the right personalities. You want to be with the best and will accept nothing else. I think words of certain mentors do help. Also - doubters can help you too, they can piss you off enough to want to prove them wrong. That said, we have all seen good guys who were good candidates who fell along the way due to physical injuries. Just bad luck for the most part.
 

Etype

Special Forces
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Sep 18, 2010
Messages
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If you're a decently fit, determined, and educated person, there's probably not too many people in the world that truly impress me. Now imagine seeing someone who you consider comparable (or maybe lesser, not trying to be a DB here, just being honest) than yourself who has something you don't, just because he showed up and performed. You can do that, you can get up in the morning (or late night for that matter) and toe the line and do any-damn-thing that guy did- so you go prove yourself in the same forum. Next thing you know, you've got your eyes on the next guy...

You ever think, "I'm gonna beat this guy next to me," when you're doing a group run? Then you pull out ahead of him and realize that wasn't good enough, so you catch the guy in front of you? Sooner or later, you catch your breath and it's not enough to just run next to that dude, so you set your sights on the next one. Same concept.
 
B

BearW

Guest
Beyond mental toughness you need to have a degree of modesty, and leave the self pity aside. Let's face it, theres lots of mental 'tough guys' out there, though few lack self pity, and, fewer still are humble. Those destined to succeed aren't the ones who would sit around feeling sorry for themselves when it all comes down around around them; those truly hard of head and heart let'er buck and crack on.

Accomplished and noteworthy gunfighters-the guys you look at and say: "He's the model SOF soldier. How can I be more like that guy?" don't think about all their accomplishments and accolades they've earned as they fall asleep at night.... the last thing that haunts those so few driven individuals before they succumb to sleep are the things they've failed at in their life and how they never ever want to feel that way again-no matter what.

And thats why we are the way we are.
 

goon175

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Jedi Center of Excellence
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Do something that sucks and than don't quit it. repeat. That is how you condition mental toughness.

In the job I am in right now, it is more than easy to get soft. So I hung up a picture of SSG Cory Remsburg in my office. It is like the others have said, its something different for everyone.
 
B

BearW

Guest
I met a guy who did something similar. He was an old Airborne Pathfinder (which is a position of significance, here up north) type guy who hurt himself on a jump and over the years of heavy rucksacks, and just ignorance about taking care of yourself. Now he's a broken old CSM who says everyday he gets out of bed, it feels like he's done a marathon the day before.

Anyway-he has a picture of himself in his prime years with his crew of buddies, some of which have passed away, on the desk he now works at everyday as a reminder. For a select few it holds true that though you may be able to take the warrior out of the fight; you can't take the fight out of the warrior...I am not one of those guys lol.... once i'm out of the fight i'm going into Jimmy Buffet mode.
 

The Hate Ape

MARSOC
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Joined
Oct 6, 2011
Messages
599
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West Coast
1) I quit my first job in HS. Worst decision I ever made, and I still regret it because my boss was a good man who treated me well. Living with yourself, knowing that you quit something, is worse than the experience of going through it and finishing what you signed on to do. I was too lazy, stupid, and dumb to live up to my responsibility. I've never quit anything since.
2) Going to Ranger School and realizing I would have to live up to the tab for LIFE.
3) Seeing my friends and family go into combat and come back wounded or dead. How can I quit when my cousin got blasted by a 500LB VBIED and lost a finger? How can I quit when I lost my Ranger buddy and my college roommate in one year? How can I quit when a guy who lost his leg overseas gets a prosthetic and goes back overseas in combat. No Army course is worth quitting after seeing stuff like that.
4) The humble heroes of my family history. My Dad is a Vietnam vet who recieved the Soldier's Medal for running BACK into a burning ammo building that had just exploded and blew him out of it. Quitting doesn't live up to that. His uncles fought in WWII at places like Cherbourg, Italy, Philippines, Normandy. One uncle was lost in the USS Barbel off the Philippines 6 months before the war ended. My Dad and his uncles never played up their service. They were just happy to do their part. As am I.
5) Seeing others accomplish what I want. Seeing my bros get their berets and tabs kept me motivated to keep on gunning. If they can do it, so can I.
6) The guidance and mentorship of my friends, co workers, and family. Sometimes we can be our own worst critics and doubt ourselves. While we may see the worst in ourselves, they see what we want to become and they stoke the flames that forge the hardened sword of iron that will sally forth and accomplish the goals set.
7) Once you accomplish one tough thing (i.e. Ranger School, first combat rotation), you want more. It's addicted because your true self comes to light. You strip back the fluff of your life and the mask of your life to see your true self. You want to see that person, you want to become one with him, develop him, make him stronger, make him better. It's a special feeling, and you want to experience it again.

I wish I could buy you a beer.
 

x SF med

the Troll
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The men that inspired me are legends... Bob Howard, Jon Cavianni, Drew Dix, Nick Rowe, John Plaster, and the like... I had to make the decision that I could follow in their footsteps - never fill them - but try my damndest to live up to the inspiration.

Keeping up wth Bob Howard on ruck marches in the Q course was a test..

Just shut off your mind to pain, and keep going until your heart explodes.
 

TLDR20

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Joined
Jan 7, 2009
Messages
5,436
I want to add to this, the thought if quitting crossed my mind at a particularly dark, wet cold time, it left when I realized what a disappointment I would be to everyone including myself if I followed through, I don't even forgive myself for having those thoughts. That was 5 years ago, I laugh now thinking how miserable I was, but I might be crying if I had quit!
 
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