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Surviving ‘hell’ to become a Navy SEAL

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Profiles in Leadership

Eric Greitens became a Navy SEAL by becoming a leader.

He figured the best way to start Hell Week would be to pull together a team of seven and keep them together, using the chaos of night to their advantage.

As air-raid sirens blared, artillery simulators exploded and guns ripped through rounds of ammunition, ­Greitens diverted his team from the “grinder,” an infamous concrete compound where soaked, exhausted men were doing pushups.

They paused, ran down to the beach and planned. After another pause, Greitens said: “Gentlemen, let’s go join the party. Stay connected. Hold on tight to the man in front of you. We are about to have a great time.”

Once inside the grinder, they continued their subversive tactics, knowing that hell lay ahead.

SEALs, Greitens says, are supposed to take advantage of chaos, and he felt they’d won the first round, even though he’d been told it was harder to lead than to follow.

“It seemed to me that leading could, in fact, be easier,” he says. “For fear to take hold of you, it needed to be given room to run. As a leader, all the space in your mind was taken up by a focus on your men.”

— Adapted from The Warrior’s Heart, Eric Greitens, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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