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A Navy SEAL’s steely attitude

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Rear Admiral Garry Bonelli, a U.S. Navy SEAL, knows that attitude can drive success. He’s the first and only reservist ever to command an active-duty SEAL team.

When Bonelli enlisted in the Navy in 1968, a chief petty officer asked for volunteers to join the then-new SEAL team, and Bonelli’s hand shot up. But to qualify, he needed to pass a series of tough physical challenges.

He performed well in swimming and calisthenics, but failed the timed 1.5-mile distance run by a few seconds. Rather than give up, Bonelli asked his instructor if he could try again.

Given the go-ahead to try again, the instructor was sure Bonelli would run an even slower race. Indeed, Bonelli’s time was 55 seconds slower than his first attempt.

But his instructor admired his attitude, and he earned acceptance into the SEAL unit for his grit and determination.

After advancing through various stages of SEAL training, Bonelli began “Hell Week,” a grueling series of physical tests. Slower than some of his peers, Bonelli persevered through the first part of the week.

But just as he was close to graduation, he fell 30 feet when navigating an obstacle course. Breaking his collarbone, he had a choice: give up becoming a SEAL and take a normal Navy job or restart Hell Week.

Bonelli went for another Hell Week, which he completed. In his career, he has served admirably in Vietnam, Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

— Adapted from Stronger, George Everly, Douglas Strouse and Dennis McCormack, AMACOM.

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