The Will to Win
March 15, 2020
I just finished up reading a fascinating study conducted testing the effects of extreme environments on performance. The study wanted to see how exposure to extreme environments effected elite military operators and extreme athletes. They were specifically looking at how these extreme conditions affected their cognitive, emotional and physical stress levels. I’ll do my best to summarize the most important takeaways from the study below, however, I’ll leave link to the study for you to go read it you’re interested in diving deeper into the topic.
BUDS and Success Predictors
What are the main factors that create the perfect candidate to get through elite military training? The study I’m going through cited a study that was completed by BUDS instructors who were trying to identify the most important characteristics for success in training. They concluded that the key characteristics that were most consistent in differentiating successful candidates from failures was mental toughness, the will to win, physical strength and physical endurance. They also concluded that mental toughness and emotional stability and team orientation became increasingly more important the further along in training they went. This probably isn’t all that shocking to you right? It wasn’t to me. While these characteristics are known, we aren’t sure how to properly place them into candidate’s toolkits. These are the concepts that I seek to develop when I write my training programs and it was the main focus of my book.
In my opinion, having the will to win is the most important takeaway from the study. Rather than thinking about getting through a task and doing the bare minimum, you should be entirely focused on winning whatever evolution you’re going through even if you don’t really have a chance. During rescue swimmer school, when your class is in the middle of a pool session. You are in the middle of a really grueling set of 50m sprints followed by underwater laps. While you are nearing your physical limit your brain starts to ask questions like “why am I doing this?” or “this isn’t really worth it”, rather than listening to those questions you should be occupying your brain with more productive thoughts like, “where is the person in front of me?” and “how can I catch him this lap?”. If you switch your focus to winning each evolution, you’ll have no time to think about quitting. Keep that in mind during your next training session. These mindset shifts take months of repetition, but they become autonomous eventually.