How are Metastatic Stage 4 Breast Cancer women like Navy Seals?
"What starts here changes the world". Admiral McRaven commencement speech at University of Texas, May 19, 2014.
Here are 10 lessons learned in basic Seal training and think how they apply to Metastatic Stage 4 Breast Cancer Women:
1. Every morning we were required to make our bed for inspection - a simple mundane act. If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. It reinforces the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can't do the little things right; you can't do the big things right. And, at the end of the day if things have not gone well for you, you will come home to a made bed and the notion that things will be better. So if you want to change the world - start off by making your bed.
2. In Seal training the students are broken down into boat crews of 7. During the winter the surf is high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle unless everyone digs in. For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle and exert equal effort. You can't change the world alone. You need the help of friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong leader to guide you. If you want to change the world find someone to help you paddle.
3. Seal training was a great equalizer. There was one boat for the little guys, those under 5'5". We made fun of them and their little flippers. They out swam, out paddled, and out dove all the other boats. They excelled because nothing mattered but your will to succeed; not your ethnic background, not your color, not your education, not your social status. If you want to change the world measure a person by the size of their hearts, not by the size of their flippers.
4. Several times a week the instructor did a uniform inspection. No matter the effort to make your uniform perfect the instructors would find something wrong. The effect was that you had to run into the surf fully clothed then roll around in the sand until you were totally covered in sand. The effect was called sugar cookie. You stayed in the uniform the rest of the day cold, wet, and sandy. There were many students who didn't make it through training. They didn't understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform. The instructors weren't going to allow it. Sometimes no matter how well you prepare, no matter how well you perform; you still end up as a sugar cookie. It's just the way life is sometimes. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and just move forward.
5. Every day you had to perform certain drills and if you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and you were invited to a circus of 2 hours of additional calisthenics designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit. No one wanted a circus. But those students who were on the list time after time got stronger, became more resilient, and the pain of the circuses built inner strength. Life is filled with circuses. You will fail; you will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core. If you want to change the world don't be afraid of the circuses.
6. At least twice a week the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The most challenging obstacle was the Slide for Life. The record had stood for many years until my class of 1977. The record seemed unbeatable until one day a student decided to go down the Slide for Life head first. It was a dangerous move seemingly foolish and fraught with risk. By the end of the course he had broken the record. If you want to change the world sometimes you need to slide down the obstacles head first.
7. In the land warfare phase of training the students are flown to San Clemente island whose waters are breeding grounds for the Great White Sharks. To pass Seal training there are a series of swims, one being the night swim. You were taught that if a shark circles your position in the swim stand your ground. Do not swim away; do not act afraid. If the shark sees you as a midnight snack and swims towards you, summon up all your strength and punch it in the snout and he will turn and swim away. There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them. If you want to change the world; don't back down from the sharks!
8. As Navy Seals one of our jobs is to practice underwater attacks against enemy shipping. The divers are dropped off 2 miles out and swim under water to the target using nothing but a depth gauge and compass. During part of the swim there is some light from above but as you approach the ship the light begins to fade. The ship blocks all ambient light. To be successful you must find the keel line in the center of the ship. This is the darkest part of the ship. Every Seal knows that at the keel, the darkest moment of the mission, you need to be calm. All of your tactical power, your inner strength must be brought to bear. If you want to change the world you must be your very best in your darkest moments.
9. On Wednesday of Hell Week you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing cold, the howling wind, and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors. We were in up to our necks in the mud in the cold and wind. The instructors told us that we could leave the mud if only 5 of us would quit - only 5, just 5 men and we could get out of the oppressive cold. It was evident that some of the trainees were about to give up. There were 8 more hours of the bone chilling cold left before the sun would come up. And then one voice began to echo in the night; one voice raised in song. One voice became 2 and then more voices and soon everyone in the class was singing. The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we didn't quit singing. If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world it is the power of HOPE. The power of one person a Washington, a Lincoln, a Mandela, the power of a little girl in Pakistan - one person can change the world by giving people HOPE. So if you want to change the world start singing when you are up to your neck in mud.
10. Finally in Seal training there is a bell hanging in the center of the yard for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit; all you have to do to quit is to ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5:00 am; ring the bell and you no longer have to be in the freezing cold swims; ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course; and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.
IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD DON'T EVER, EVER RING THE BELL!