The only Easy Day was Yesterday-
Those words are engraved on a wooden sign that hangs over the 1st Phase grinder at BUD/s. A grinder, for the non-military types, is simply a large concrete pad. This particular grinder is where students spend a lot of time during the first weeks of training. When someone quits, their helmet remains underneath a brass bell, a constant visual reminder to everyone else. I like to think of this grinder as the place where dreams go to die. Countless men have had theirs washed away in the sweat, sand, and salt water commonly found there.
If there is anything that makes SEALs unique, it is that we don’t give up, ever. We can and do get knocked down, knocked out, bruised and bloodied, but we are still coming for you. Things often don’t go as planned, regardless of the planning we put in, and it doesn’t matter. Becoming a SEAL is not the end state; it is just the beginning. You are not defined by what you did yesterday, you will be measured by what you accomplish tomorrow.
Greatness is not a gift, and it is certainly not an accident. It is the result of effort, over longer periods of time than most can fathom. Regardless of what you choose to do, or who you want to become, to be great you have to put in the work. It’s not the work of one day, but hours, days, months, and years. You have to accept that the hard work you do today is merely preparing you for the hard work that will be required tomorrow. This lesson must be taught. For some of you, this lesson still needs to be learned.
There is nothing that I value more than my children, but I do not tell them they are special. I tell them I am proud. I tell them I am proud to be their father, proud of who they are, and proud of who they are becoming. When they fall, I don’t rush to pick them up. I rush to make sure they are OK, and then I teach them to pick themselves up. I teach them to value work, honor, integrity, and family. We discuss accountability, responsibility, and the consequences of words and actions. I tell them that the most valuable and powerful weapon in this world is their mind. I teach them to stay calm, regardless of what others are doing around them. I teach them about violence, and do not shy away from the darker aspects of who we are as a human race. They need to understand that evil exists, and that there are those that would do them harm, and that it should be fought, every time.
I want them to see me challenged, physically, mentally, and emotionally, so they understand that it is ok, that it should be expected, that it is essential. I want them to understand that you do not run from ideas that are foreign. You educate yourself, and seek to understand them. I am not afraid to let them see me fail, and it happens more often than I would like to admit. They need to see it; it is going to happen to them. It is what you choose to do in the moments after failure that matter.
My kids are the single most important job I will ever have. It keeps me up at night worrying about whether or not I am doing a good enough job. I hope it keeps you up at night too. I want them to change the world, but it will never happen if they believe it owes them something. It will never happen, unless they are willing to work for it, regardless of the path they choose. The most important lesson they will ever learn is to never, under any circumstances, give up. When they succeed, it will not be due to luck or good fortune. It will be from hard work. It will be because they know that rent is due, every single day, and they are prepared to pay it. They will learn these things from me.
Be an example, it is the most effective teaching tool you have.
You may think you are a unique snowflake, but the rest of the world will not. You may have been raised in a bubble, but the world is full of needles, and those that have never been tested will always be the easiest targets.
Six words. A motto, with elegance in its simplicity. It is a mindset. It is the difference between someone willing to work, struggle, grind, and fight for what they want and believe, and those that will be a victim of the world around them.