You told talk radio host Jim Rome that 140 candidates entered your BUDS class and 27 finished. What separated the people who quit from the people who finished?
I would like to say it was something physical or maybe it was just luck, but I think it was mental toughness. It's the way you show up mentally and you refuse to give up on yourself. You have to keep showing up, you have to keep moving forward. You have to go through injury, and your perspective has to be, "I am going to make it. I am going to force myself to get through this. One evolution at a time. One moment at a time. I think the guys who are able to stay in that moment and really focus on how they're going to get something done rather than the guys who are fixated on how cold, miserable, broken, or injured. That's the thing that makes the difference.
Did you ever think of quitting?
I don't want to sound like I'm bragging. I was incredibly concerned about my mental capabilities. I was really young. I was 19 at the time. I wanted it so bad. I told the other guys: If you see me going to the bell (SEAL candidates quit the program by ringing a bell), I've lost my mind. Turn me, grab me, bring me back. Do whatever you have to do.
To be honest, the hardest weeks for me were the two weeks after Hell Week. That's when I realized that this was a team and teammates pay when one team member drops the ball. I didn't want to cost my teammates a mistake. But if someone does drop the ball, everyone on the team is responsible for picking it up and getting the job done.
I just really didn't understand the team concept. It's not called "SEAL." You're a member of SEAL Team. You have to be a member of the team. It's not an individual event. You have to be able to do this as a team. The hardest thing for me was getting into that team mentality. I always understood how I was responsible on an individual level. I wasn't so aware of it as a team thing. I had to be taught that. I had to be forced through that.
What aspects of your military training shaped your career afterward?
SEAL Team is a place where you have to complete the mission. You have to get the job done. SEAL team was also a big jumping off point for me mentally and physically. It gave me a physical standard. It gave me a mental standard.
Even now, I am a representative of SEAL team. My job is to make SEAL team look good. To prove that their confidence in me and the time, energy, and investment they put into me has been worth it.
I am grateful for everything they ever gave me because without SEAL team at some level my life wouldn't be what my life is. And my life is pretty fantastic.