Advice for Warriors
Do not be afraid of failure. Fear of failure will result in never trying. This fear of failure and the will to try will haunt you until the end of your days…
It is inherent in the military for Warriors to test themselves by seeking out selection courses. Selection is a form of recognition that will move them up the ladder of warriorness. For the Army that’s Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP), Special Forces selection and Unit selection. There are many selections out there but I’m speaking from what I have experienced. I have received all kinds of advice over the years. For me the guy that tells you what to do because he went last month is cool. However, on more than one occasion knowing too much has set me up for failure. Looking back I realized what helped me most was as simple as something I could keep telling my self over and over.
In Ranger school man I’m telling you, I must have quit 1,000 times in my mind. I would say to myself “If my shoulders break off my body and my rucksack hits the ground, at that point, it’s all over but the crying.” I even had this running joke with my Ranger buddy when times were tough and the suck factor was high we would Quit. You read that right. But we would only utter those words to each other and even then, it would be in a whisper. This was so no one would hear. When things suck and we were mad as a raging bull whispering was a good way to calm down enough to say “F-this I quit”. We would even quit on good days for no reason. It was always as a morale booster and good laugh. Once we got our quitting out of the way for the day we drove on hard charging and refreshed. I never really quit and passed Ranger school in 6 phases even though there were only 4 back then. I’ll let you do the math.
I wanted to give you the best advice I ever received. It’s vague and was passed on to me by the biggest hearted, best Ranger I ever met. He was the guy you always counted on to never fall behind, never falter and always be there standing next to you when the smoke cleared. The problem was he was dumb as a bag of hammers. Warrior to Warrior, I want to share what he told me in order to help you for your selection, school or any challenge you might face. In fact, I recently told this to someone very close to me who I always look up to. This was my chance to maybe share something so personal, with someone very important and I wanted to share this with you because I believe it to the depths of my Warrior core. It’s my mantra.
You have to say this over and over in your head. When you wake up, when times are tough throughout the day and when you go to bed. That is, if you even get sleep since it’s a luxury, lol. You say this in your darkest hour and when you’re riding on easy street. For all you smart Warriors don’t read into it too much or you’ll only mentally screw yourself (you know who you are). To the rest of the Warriors read into it and apply this to every situation you find yourself in. Trust this as you trust your compass to always point north. Oh yeah, I’m writing this exactly as you should say this in your head for those, well never mind.
“There is nothing that I will do today that I cannot do.” Simple, but we always loose sight of the big picture especially when we think we can’t go on. However, there are also times when you have to survive off smaller pieces but never lose sight of your goals. Always do your best. If that isn’t good enough, then no shame because you did your best.
Set Goals For Yourself.
Know what you want. People, break those goals down into short and long-term. Cool, got it, but as I’m writing this I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. So if you know your goals, cool. If your goals are more flexible, then follow your heart. If you pursue something and find it’s not for you then tell some one. No shame. Everyone’s path is different. For example, mine has been more just busting brush through the woods than a path. So you may not be able to absolutely define your goals and they may just fit you. if so, that’s ok. Lastly, for the true professional you will never just do something unless it’s perfect. But this will slow you down or hinder your achievements. Perfectionist, there comes a time that you will have to say “it’s good enough” and send it, move on.
“Don’t Let The Past Dictate The Future. Today is Today, Yesterday Is Gone. Do The Task At Hand.“.
These are all you need to succeed. This implies so many things that I would have to hire a psycho head doc to get into the details. But essentially it tells you to let go of the past and do the task at hand. If life sucked for you yesterday or even 2 minutes ago, screw it and move on, doing your best. Learn from your mistakes, keep your head and keep going. Also know whatever class, selection or school in America is set up for you not to die. Having said that “there is nothing that you will have to do on a day-to-day basis that you can not do.” Otherwise, you would not be where you are.
Keep Going, Don’t Stop.
There are never donuts and hot coffee over the hill. It’s a trap and don’t fall for it. Another key and I want to stress this one, if you’re in the middle of who the F knows and you want to quit, fine…Cool. However, you will have to still keep moving and continue to do so. This is because you’re in the middle of no-F’ing-where and Scotty isn’t beaming you up. So you will quit and still have to walk with everyone else. And know in your heart after you went the extra mile and finished that everyone else is getting lobster. You’re getting shit on for a movement you made anyway. So even if you want to quit keep your mouth shut and next time you’ll get lobster and not a kick in the ass for something you did anyway.
Keep your head, be smart and live event-to-event, live day-to-day, second by second.
Keeping life small seems to make the big picture not suck so bad. Stay mentally strong. If the mind is going your body will follow. No matter how tired your body is, if your mind says “giddy up” it’s time to go bitches, it’s time to GO. Keep your mind right. I saw in RIP as a private the 1SG some Arnold terminator dude talk a kid into passing out so he could stick him with an IV. Crazy shit. He was like “You’re looking light headed. Feeling weak, huh? I’m gonna stick you when you pass out”. Then bam on the floor and stuck like a pig. No shit, I was a Private thinking I want learn that ninja jedi shit one day. Only I was thinking about the ladies and how this could seriously up my game, know what I’m saying? Keep your mind right and your ass will follow. It’s simple.
No System That Is Worth Its Weight Will Allow You To Fail
Listen to what they teach you, then apply it the way they told you. Do your best and do not get cocky, even if it’s your strongest point. This will only set you up for some character building (failure). Stay humble, focused and give it your best. Think proactive and be ready for the next move. Don’t give it everything you’ve got up to a certain point then find out you’re only half way. Be smart. If there’s more, take a deep breathe and say in your head “There is nothing today that I cannot do,” and keep moving.
I know the world today is less forgiving for anyone making mistakes but without them, none of us would be here today. Caveman made mistakes and it cost them his life. You making mistakes is how people learn. You can learn something by seeing, reading, or hearing. There are plenty of ways to learn but humans learn best by their mistakes. So try your best and if you make a mistake admit it, know what happened and learn. Guaranteed it won’t happen again.
Don’t Let Your Ego Beat You
This is the down fall of most proud Alpha types. You will never be good at anything and are holding yourself back from achieving greatness by your ego. First off, lose it and lose it now! No one knows everything. Because you’re whatever, Special Forces or a SEAL for example, does not mean you can shoot or that you even make good decisions. It just means you passed their school. The sooner you see this the sooner you’re on your way to getting better at everything you do. It’s ok to have confidence but having ego issues will only hold you back from your potential. Ego sadly enough, has cost many a Warrior his life in combat and this continues to happen, even as we speak. Although hardly a warrior, Hitler’s ego gave way to hubris and it was so bad that no one had the stones to say “Hey boss, you are F-ing this up big time,” because telling the truth would have got you shot in the face on the spot without the decency of a last cigarette.
SGM (ret) John McPhee served a distinguished career in U.S. Army Special Operations for over 20 years, retiring in 2011.
John has spent his adult life in Special Operations and Special Mission Units. He is a Master Instructor in all aspects of special activities, missions and operations. He has over 6 years of private special activities consulting and is a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in: Special Activities, Operational Preparations, Limited Signature Operations, Reconnaissance, Singleton Operations, High Threat Dignitary Protective Services, Extreme Long Range, Designated Marksman, Advanced Precision Rifle Marksmanship, Combat Marksmanship, Live Fire CQB/CQC, Advanced Pistol Marksmanship, Advanced Carbine Marksmanship, Aeriel Gunnery (Rifles, Shotguns, Ariel Personnel and Vehicle Interdictions, Mechanical, Ballistic and Explosive Breaching, Freefall Instructor Programs, Infiltration/ Exfiltration Techniques, Ground Mobility, Unit Pre-Deployment Training, and Research and Development of; Soldier Systems, Weapons, Ammunition, Thermal and Night Optics.
Special Forces Target Interdiction Course
US Army Sniper School
NRA Rifle, Pistol and Shotgun, Instructor
NRA Range Safety Officer
Advanced Mountain Sniper Course, Instructor
Advanced Freefall, Instructor (Ratings Current)
Freefall Coach (Ratings Current)
California Personal/ Executive Body Guard Certification (Rating Current)
2005 Budweiser World Cup Super Heavyweight Jiu-Jitsu Champion
2004 Presidential Security Detail (Ariel Heavy) Cartagena, Colombia
He has trained countless U.S. Special Operations forces, thousands of International Tier 1 Operators and Special Forces around the world. He is one of the handful of operators with over a decade of combat having served in multiple theaters from Bosnia and South America to recent war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer some words of wisdom.