…speak to several groups of financial professionals. It was my intent to do my thing and deliver some game-changing performance knowledge—formulas for success, new mindsets, paradigms, mental toughness. You know, the stuff people can actually use.
But, as I was entering Manhattan, crossing over the Manhattan bridge in the back seat of my Uber driver’s Suburban, something flooded my brain. I think it was a bit of the “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” spirit that New York City exudes, mixing with a faint memory of SEAL training that I was indulging myself in as I looked over the textured waters of the Hudson.
Whatever it was, I knew the days of just telling SEAL stories about superhuman performance was over. It was time to teach others how to perform at those levels themselves—not just because I got a wild hair all of a sudden, but because I had realized that if those I work with were to survive and thrive in this new world, they’d have no choice but to elevate their ability to perform at or above the pace of their competition.
You see, while I was prepping for the talk, I had come across a book titled Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, The Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists are Revolutionizing the Way we Live and Work, by Steven Kotler. This was the first time I’d ever read an outsider’s recognition of the ability to repurpose the performance principles of the SEAL teams for life and business.
The book describes how SEALs tap into an altered state of consciousness to do what they do—what Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a “state of flow” in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, a book that I’ve had sitting by my side for several years now.
It also describes our brotherhood and what it looks like when we begin to tap into things like “group flow” and “group genius.” The author reported on what he’d been able to glimpse while observing us in training and in action. It was fun to read that others were starting to get a small notion of some of the things that allow small numbers of SEALs to dominate entire battlefields.
At first, I was a bit worried. I mean, this had been my secret sauce for years, and now it’s out in the public?
But as I kept reading, I realized that although others are starting to recognize the altered states of consciousness, refined operating procedures, and our tribal culture of violent execution, they were still nowhere close to being able to replicate it in others. At least not within the private sector en masse.
In other words, it seemed like the author was able to observe the outcomes and contributing factors of superhuman performance, but was unable to identify how the actual components of those altered states can be intentionally and repetitively trained and developed in any situation.
Yes, others knew about the “secret sauce”—could taste it, observe it, write about it—but they didn’t truly understand the ingredients or the recipe required to deliver it to others.
I was happy to realize that my secret was still safe, but it was in the back of that Suburban that I realized I was going to have to give it up because it was clear to me that people were starting to stumble upon these heightened levels of performance. These high performers were beginning to show up enough that they’re now affecting the way we all live and work; both personally and professionally. Why am I Telling You This?