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17 Navy SEAL Quotes That [If Applied] Will Make You Stronger Than Anyone Else

“Start singing when you are up to your neck in mud.”

By S M Mamunur RahmanPublished 5 months ago 14 min read
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BUDS trainees mud. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

George Bernard Shaw says, "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."

The U.S. Navy SEALs believe the same as they create themselves from scratch to become the best in the world of combat.

SEALs are the silent professionals who seek no recognition yet do the most challenging job in combats. Put them in any dangerous situation, they will remain cool as a cucumber and strong like a stone. They are the epitome of extraordinary leadership and incredible dedication.

But how do they achieve such mental strength and agility?

To answer that question, we must look at what they believe in - the things that make them who they are - the guiding principles that bring the best out of them.

So, let's have a look at those and learn a thing or two to make our body and mind stronger as well.

1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

"Those mornings that I stayed in the barracks I would roll out of my Navy "rack" and immediately begin the process of making my bed. It was the first task of the day. A day that I knew would be filled with uniform inspections, long swims, longer runs, obstacle courses, and constant harassment from the SEAL instructors," Admiral William H. McCraven wrote in his book, Make Your Bed.

Every SEAL's day begins with making the bed. It may sound trivial, but it's a task of high importance. As they say, morning shows the day. Similarly, your ability to make your bed perfectly in the morning shows how you will do throughout the day.

Admiral McCraven explained, "Making my bed correctly was not going to be an opportunity for praise. It was expected of me. It was my first task of the day, and doing it right was important. It demonstrated my discipline. It showed my attention to detail, and at the end of the day it would be a reminder that I had done something well, something to be proud of, no matter how small the task."

Making your bed every morning gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride. It also reinforces the fact that little things in life matter and without paying attention to them, you cannot achieve something big.

2. Pain is weakness leaving the body.

To become a SEAL, you have to pass rigorous training and tests beyond your wildest imagination. From BUD/S to SQT to TRP, each training program is a test to see how much mental and physical pain you can endure and be relaxed in tough situations.

Pain makes or breaks a man. When you get used to it, you achieve what it takes to become a SEAL.

SEALs believe that the more they are exposed to pain, the stronger they become. Their extraordinary ability to handle pain is what makes them the best.

Not only for SEALs, but it's also true for all of us.

For example, you will feel terrible pain if you suddenly punch a concrete wall. But if you do it every day for a year, your hands will grow stronger with time, and the pain will leave your body.

3. You don't have to like it, you just have to do it.

SEALs always follow their leader's orders. Whether they like it or not - they do it with full conviction. And that's what makes the mission a success.

If anybody in the team acts differently, not liking the commander's order, the entire team will fall in danger. So, they trust their commander 100% and do what they are ordered to do.

Not everyone is lucky enough to do what they like all the time. We all do things in life that we don't like at all.

For example, nobody feels elevated while paying their house rent, mortgage, or monthly bills. But if you stop paying those just because you don't like it, you will certainly be in big trouble.

So, whether you like it or not - do what needs to be done.

4. When your mind says you are done, you're just 40% done.

This is called "the 40% rule." This rule inspires you to do more when all you want is to quit and take a rest. It's the secret behind the SEAL's extraordinary physical ability.

Imagine you are working out in the gym, and after spending one-hour doing squats, push-ups, crunches, and Kettlebell swing, you think you are done for today. Your mind says you're exhausted and cannot go any further. But if you believe in the 40% rule like the SEALs, you will realize that you can do more than what you think you are capable of.

It's your mind that holds you back as it's lazy and always seeks comfort. But if you push yourself more, keeping this 40% rule in mind, you can uncover your hidden energy and do wonders.

5. Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.

In their book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin mention, "In the SEAL program, it is all about the Team. The sum is far greater than the parts."

The SEALs even call themselves "team guys." Because in a team, everyone trusts one another and works to achieve a common goal. It helps them beat all odds.

Everyone knows it, right?

When you work in a team instead of working alone, you get so many new ideas or innovative ways to solve your problem. In addition, working in teams gives you more confidence and makes you stronger than ever.

6. Don't ever - ever - ring the bell.

In SEAL training, there is a brass bell hanging in the center of the compound. All you have to do is to ring the bell if you want to quit the training.

Ring the bell, and you are free. You no longer need to go through the hardship of the training. Instead, you will be offered good food. Because when you ring the bell, you are out.

That's why nobody dares to ever - ever - ring the bell.

No matter how challenging the freezing cold swim is - no matter how many times your body protests during the obstacle course or endurance test - no matter how deadly the 'Hell Week' seems, they don't ring the bell.

In SEAL training and in life - when you ring the bell, you are out of the game. Your possibility of achieving something great hits the dust.

So, put your heart and soul into what you believe in and keep going until you win.

7. Your mind is the epicenter of sustained personal growth. Strengthen it in silence.

Plutarch said, "The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled." The SEALs believe the same. According to them, your mind is the epicenter of your personal growth.

But how can you take control of your mind and avoid the chaos the world throws at you at every moment?

Well, you can reclaim the control of your mind using silence. You can do it by meditation or yoga. If that sounds fancy, apply this - sit quietly in a room and focus on your breath. Breathe in, breathe out. Try to empty your mind and be fully present in the moment.

Strengthen your mind in silence and control your thoughts. If you can do so, you will remain calm in any difficult situation and be able to make the correct decision.

8. Start singing when you are up to your neck in mud.

Admiral McRaven shared a very inspiring story in his book, Make Your Bed. It's the story of the Hell Week he went through during SEAL training.

If you don't know, Hell Week consists of six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment, and one particular day at the mudflats.

On that special day, one needs to survive at least fifteen hours in the freezing cold mud, the howling wind, and the constant pressure from the instructors to quit. It's the ultimate test that determines who is a SEAL and who lacks what it takes to be one.

Admiral McRaven wrote, "As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some 'egregious infraction of the rules,' was ordered into the mud. The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit; just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold. As I looked around the mudflats, it was apparent that some students were about to give up.

It was still over eight hours till the sun came up, eight more hours of bone-chilling cold. The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything. And then, one voice began to echo through the night, one voice raised in song.

The song was terribly out of tune but sung with great enthusiasm. One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing."

Soon they realize that if one man could rise about the misery, they could all do it. The song gave them hope, and they kept pushing themselves. Ultimately, they made it to the end.

When you fall into similar situations like Admiral McRaven, don't forget to start singing to inspire yourself and others around you. Remember, no matter how dark the tunnel seems, there's light waiting for you on the other side.

9. The only easy day was yesterday.

From now on, everything will be more challenging and demanding. Easy days are long gone. Instead, you'll be thrown into new challenges every day.

Every SEAL knows this very well.

They know it right from the moment they enter the training. So they train themselves well - both physically and mentally - to confront the challenges ahead.

Adopt this mindset for your personal and professional life. It will keep you calm and relaxed in any unprecedented situation.

10. It pays to be a winner.

There is no free lunch for anybody.

No matter who you are, if you want to win, you must pay for it. Admit the fact that nothing significant in life comes easily. It takes a lot of sweat and blood to come out victorious.

This quote reminds us of this crucial lesson if you do nothing yet expect something, you are living in a fool's paradise.

So, move your ass, and earn your crown by working hard.

11. Looking good, feeling good, oughta be in Hollywood.

In his book, The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed, former Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine mentioned that in SEAL training, he used the mantra, "Feeling good, looking good, ought to be in Hollywood!" to maintain his energy and focus in the grind.

He says, "You must talk to yourself in a new way to override any lurking negativity and prevent new destructive thoughts from creeping in."

Moreover, in 2007, Mark developed an elite-level physical fitness and mental toughness program named SEALFIT to train athletes. He taught this mantra to them as well.

The idea behind this is very simple - if you look and feel good about yourself, you will be more confident and motivated to perform to the best of your ability.

12. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

SEALs are so admired because they handle uncomfortable situations exceptionally well. This is what they are trained for. This is why they are the best.

Right from the beginning of their training, they adopt this mindset.

They endure surf torture, spend hours after hours in the mud, lift telephone-pole-size logs, do drown proofing, do physical endurance tests, and pass through Hell Week. Thus, they destroy their comfort zones and get used to pushing their limits to the extreme.

But you don't have to be a SEAL to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Do at least one thing a week that forces you to come out of your comfort zone. It will be enough. It can be anything like public speaking, hitting the gym for extra hours, a day off from using the smartphone or social media, talking to strangers, etc.

Your comfort zone is like a bubble around you that you can expand by pushing your limit little by little.

13. There are two ways to do something … the right way, and again.

Do it the right way. If you fail, try again.

There is no magic formula to solve any problem. You have to figure it out by trying again and again. Sometimes, you'll find the right way quickly. Other times, you will gather knowledge from the failed attempts and eventually succeed.

When you put all your knowledge, energy, and time into understanding the problem, you get the solution quickly.

There is no 'wrong way.' Whether you make it right or you learn.

14. The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.

The U.S. Navy SEAL training program is designed to test the trainee's stamina, leadership quality, and teamwork to the extreme.

With a 24-week Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training and a 26-week SEAL Qualification Training (SQT), their physical and mental endurance get tested beyond limits.

The trainees literally swim in their own sweat during this time. But it has to be done to ensure that they are the right ones for this world's best fighting force. Moreover, this tough training is what keeps them alive in the combats.

So, the more they sweat in training, the less they bleed in the battle.

Similarly, the more you train your body and mind to deal with difficult situations, the easier your life will be.

15. Lions mustn't concern themselves with the opinion of lambs.

Sheep follow one another blindly. They live life as a reaction to stimuli and, very often, become the victim of their own circumstances. But lions are not like them.

Lions use everything they have in their arsenal - logic, experience, and might - to make a decision. Before attacking the prey, they observe its behavior, wait patiently, and move when it's time.

So, if you are a lion, you will never get advice from the sheep. When you really need others' opinions about yourself, seek it from another lion like you.

Never get influenced by people who have no understanding of what you do and why.

16. Under pressure, you don't rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. Train well!

This came from a 2500-year-old quote from Archilochus 'We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.'

SEALs use this to motivate themselves in the training ground. Because their success in anything depends on how well they are prepared for the journey it takes.

Hard training beats everything.

So, train well!!

17. You must be your very best in the darkest moments.

During an operation in Iraq, Leif Babin, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, found himself in a dangerous situation.

While chasing a potential terrorist, he and one of his team members got totally separated from the team. However, as soon as they caught the man, they noticed a movement nearby.

In the book, Extreme Ownership, he described the event like this -

"As I looked down the alleyway through my night-vision goggles, suddenly seven or eight men rounded the corner not forty yards from us. They were heavily armed and rapidly moving toward us. For a split second, my mind questioned what my eyes were seeing. But there it was: the unmistakable outlines of AK-47 rifles, an RPG-72 shoulder-fired rocket, and at least one belt-fed machine gun. They weren't there to shake our hands. These were armed enemy fighters maneuvering to attack."

How did Babin come out of that darkest moment?

Babin recalled the lessons he learned from his SEAL commander. He murmured, "Relax. Look around. Make a call." So he did. First, he relaxed himself, then looked around to understand the whole situation. After that, he prioritized his actions and executed them immediately.

In his words, "Of all the pressing tasks at hand, if I didn't first handle the armed enemy fighters bearing down on us within the next few seconds nothing else would matter. We would be dead. Worse, the enemy fighters would continue their attack and might kill more of our SEAL assault force. This was my highest priority."

Using his knowledge, hard-earned experience, and skills, Babin confronted the situation bravely and succeeded in killing a few terrorists and gathering valuable intelligence information.

Remember, how you act in the most challenging situations defines who you are as a person. Your actions during the darkest moments talk louder than anything else.

So, make sure you exhibit the best in you when you pass through the darkest night.

Navy SEAL Team Platoon. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Recap for memory

I hope you will apply these Navy SEALs quotes in your daily life. If you do so, you will be mentally and physically stronger than ever before.

So, keep the quotes close to your heart and allow them to make you a better version of yourself.

  1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
  2. Pain is weakness leaving the body.
  3. You don't have to like it, you just have to do it.
  4. When your mind says you are done, you're just 40% done.
  5. Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.
  6. Don't ever - ever - ring the bell.
  7. Your mind is the epicenter of sustained personal growth. Strengthen it in silence.
  8. Start singing when you are up to your neck in mud.
  9. The only easy day was yesterday.
  10. It pays to be a winner.
  11. Looking good, feeling good, oughta be in Hollywood.
  12. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  13. There are two ways to do something … the right way, and again.
  14. The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.
  15. Lions mustn't concern themselves with the opinion of lambs.
  16. Under pressure, you don't rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. Train well!
  17. You must be your very best in the darkest moments.

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*Originally published on Medium (link)

advicegoalshappinessquotesself helpsuccesshealing
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About the Creator

S M Mamunur Rahman

Freelance Writer | Blogger | Editor of The Masterpiece

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