With the killing of Osama Bin Laden and earlier rescue in 2009 of Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates as examples, Navy SEALs are arguably the military’s “best of the best” – the elite military force that gets called upon to do all the tough, clandestine missions that no one else can do.
Becoming a Navy SEAL is not an easy task as you must go through what is widely considered to be the most physically and mentally demanding military training in existence with an attrition rate of about 90%. So, truthfully, most of us will never be Navy SEALs even if we did meet the minimal qualifications and had the desire to become one.
But, we can still learn from the Navy SEALs and what it means to be elite.
Terry Frei wrote an article in the Denver Post about Matt Slaydon, a combat wounded Air Force Veteran, who is competing in the shot put in the Wounded Warrior Games in Colorado Springs this week. Slaydon suffered gruesome injuries in Iraq when an IED (improvised explosive device) blew up almost in his face, throwing him 30 feet away and causing blindness, damage to his face and the loss of most of his left arm. In the article, Slaydon talks about wishing at times that he could just die.
Webster’s dictionary defines “elite” as “representing the most choice or select.”
I think Matt Slaydon is elite in his own way, too, because he is choosing to train and compete in the Wounded Warrior Games not to win, but perhaps more importantly to become someone better than he is today.
Navy SEALS live by the motto “The only easy day was yesterday.”
Tomorrow is the past and today is a new challenge to be tackled. Striving and challenging oursleves is how we learn and grow.
You see, elite can be a relative term to where you are today. Why not strive like Matt Slaydon to be elite, to be someone better – whether it’s a better athlete, a better student, a better businessman or a better parent – than you are today?
It may not be easy to become elite, but you can start by making a commitment to yourself to do it.
I will make that commitment, too.