Adapt to the Unexpected with the Overcome Mind-Set

Adapt to the Unexpected with the Overcome Mind-Set
Image by Engin Akyurt 

Narrated by Marie T. Russell

Video version

The only thing that makes life unfair
is the delusion that it should be fair.
                                                   -- Steve Maraboli

Guess what? Life is unfair, and combat is unequivocally unfair.

Crazy things happen in combat that you don’t expect and can’t plan for. A bomb could blow up, killing everyone around you, while you escape without a scratch. The best soldier in a platoon could be wounded in action, while the worst goes unscathed. There’s no rhyme or reason.

SEAL instructors want to prepare you for that from day one, and in training, they’re looking for individuals who can deal with heavy doses of bone-crushing, unfair punishment and still drive forward to get things done. Even something as simple as a room inspection is an opportunity to learn “fairness,” or the lack thereof.

Before room inspection, the instructors will tell you exactly how your room needs to be cleaned. It’s not rocket science. You clean your room perfectly. When the room inspection begins, you stand at attention listening to the chaos move through the building. As the instructors approach your room, you hear curses and shouting as each room fails.

Not me, you think. My room is perfect.

When they finally step into your room, you begin to sweat as you watch students run by your room dripping in sand and salt water after they failed and got their punishment on the beach.

On one room inspection, my squadmates and I knew we had achieved perfection. When the instructors entered our room, they walked around and talked about how perfect the room was.

“THIS is the cleanest room I have ever seen,” one instruc­tor said.

Another nodded. “We should have the rest of the class come in here and see how it is done. This is the level everyone should be working to achieve.”

“It’s a triumph,” the first instructor said, checking the final corner.

At nineteen years old, I actually believed them.

The instructor in the corner stepped to the middle of the room, frowning. “You know what’s wrong with this room?” He pointed to a spot on the floor. We looked to where he pointed like a bunch of dummies, staring at a gleaming, shining floor that Mr. Clean himself would have been proud of. Suddenly, the senior chief instructor pulled a handful of sand out of his pocket and dropped it on the floor.

“There’s sand on the floor,” he said. “Fail!”

We ran to the beach with the rest of the unit.

This is bullshit, I thought. They cheated!

I didn’t get the lesson they were teaching until years later. No matter how perfect your preparation, you can still be wrong and fail in an absolutely catastrophic and unexpected way.

The key isn't to avoid failure. That's impossible. The key lies in how you get past that failure and how quickly you motivate and inspire the people around you to drive forward.

In an unfair world, you have to adapt. You have to OVERCOME.


One key component of adaptation is thinking through what might happen. If you can visualize possible outcomes, you can plan to mitigate the effects of those worst-case scenarios. 

In the SEAL teams, every team member brainstorms the scenarios, plans contingencies, and talks about the absolute worst-case scenarios. Then we train to deal with as many as pos­sible. We might not see any of the scenarios we create, but the exercise teaches us to adapt to changing conditions. The practice runs show us a variety of ways to meet those challenges, and if we do encounter something similar on the battlefield, we are not trying to come up with solutions in a crisis situation when time is of the essence.

The same principle applies in life. To adapt and overcome, you have to think ahead, pay attention to signs, and plan for the worst.

When the doctor tells you, “Man, if you don’t make a change to your diet and exercise, you are putting yourself at risk," you owe it to yourself, at least for a few minutes, to ask, "If I continue to avoid dealing with this problem, what's the worst-case scenario?" You could have a heart attack or a stroke. Ask your doctor for the worst-case scenario if you can't identify it for yourself. It's better to have straight answers than to rely on guesswork.

Once you know the worst-case scenario, be proactive to prevent that ambush from happening. I meet so many people who step into a life ambush and say, "Oh my God, that was so unexpected!" but when they dig into what happened to them, it turns out they had been given multiple signs beforehand but failed or procrastinated to take action. They let the ambush happen from laziness and ignorance.


I remember going through close quarters combat training years ago. Close quarters combat is a fancy name for clearing a building or house with guns and explosives. There are multiple tactics and strategies to do this safely, efficiently, and as quickly as possible. In this scenario we were using live role players and paint-filled bullets in our guns called Simunition. On this iteration, they had told us a specific door was off-limits, meaning to ignore it. No one was supposed to come through that door. They had put a big X with caution tape on the door to signify it was “out of play.”

After a half day of doing iterations through the house, the instructors quietly removed the X from the door. As we made our next run through the house, we had been conditioned to ignore that door, but this time it was in play, and as the instructors expected, we did not cover that door. We blew right by it. As soon as we called that room secure and were moving our people past it, some­one opened the door and started shooting our guys in the back.

A bad leader would say, “You told us that nobody would come in from this door over there, that it was off-limits, so we didn’t check it!”

But it was our fault for not being aware that something had changed. The unexpected had happened, as it always will. SEALs do that on purpose, always training for the unexpected, because we want our people to constantly recognize that the unexpected can happen.

We have a saying: “Despite your best plan, the enemy always has a vote.” This applies in business too. Despite your best plans, the market and your competition always have a vote. Are you ready to adapt to their unexpected actions?

In the real world, thankfully, failing to adapt doesn’t usually result in immediate death. But a lack of reaction time can still ruin a great business deal, meeting opportunity, or signifi­cant event. Resolve to act and drive forward, no matter what, no matter how.


Life isn’t fair. If you think it will go easy on you, think again. Just because you’ve found some success at some point in your life, it doesn’t mean you can coast on your achievements.

The good news is that you are tough enough to deal with it. You can overcome. You can look the obstacle in the face and say, “I don’t know how, but I am going to accomplish my mission. It means too much to me to give up now.”

That doesn’t mean you can do it alone. You won’t be able to accomplish your mission without the help and support of the people around you.

But no one can support you unless you give them something to support. It begins with you. When life treats you unfairly, are you going to give in and let the world have its way? Or are you going to adapt? Are you going to shift tactics, try something new, get some help, and then launch afresh?

Are you going to overcome?

Remember that you have the Overcome Mind-Set to push through when you want to quit. No quitting! You are tak­ing control of your life through self-discipline, and you are much stronger than your mind is going to let you believe.

As you take action, write down your progress!

Copyright 2020 by Jason Redman. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Center Street,
a divn. of Hachette Book Group. 

Article Source

Overcome: Crush Adversity with the Leadership Techniques of America's Toughest Warriors
by Jason Redman

book cover: Overcome: Crush Adversity with the Leadership Techniques of America's Toughest Warriors by Jason RedmanTriumph over adversity using proven Special Operations habits and mindsets with this inspiring guide from retired Navy SEAL and New York Times bestselling author Jason Redman.  

Adversity can often catch you by surprise and leave you struggling with what to do next. What if you could confront any adversity, from the biggest challenges -- the loss of your job, divorce, health issues, bankruptcy -- to normal daily challenges -- a late flight, a disappointing phone call, a missed promotion, a bad day -- and not just survive it, but thrive afterwards?

Jason Redman was horrifically wounded in Iraq in 2007. He came back from this experience stronger than ever -- despite carrying scars and injuries he will have for the rest of his life. He went on to launch two successful companies and speaks all over the country on how to build better leaders through his Overcome mindset.

For more info and/or to order this book, click here.

About the Author

photo of: Jason RedmanJason Redman is a retired Navy Lieutenant who spent eleven years as an enlisted Navy SEAL, and almost ten years as a SEAL officer. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, five Navy Achievement Medals, and two Combat Action Ribbons.

After being severely wounded in Iraq in 2007, Jason returned to active duty before retiring in 2013. He is the founder of the Combat Wounded Coalition, a nonprofit corporation that inspires warriors to overcome adversity through leadership courses, events, and opportunities. He speaks about motivation and leadership across the country. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir The Trident

More Articles By This Author

You May Also Like




happy woman 's face
How To Experience A Mystical State of Consciousness
by Ora Nadrich
Whatever it is we seek pleasure from, relying on external things to give us the high or a feeling…
a blurred clock expanding over a starry background
Horoscope Current Week: December 6 - 12, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
12 05 from rigidity to change 647528 complete
From Rigidity to Change
by Marie T. Russell,
In order for things, or people, to change they need to be flexible. A willow tree bends in the wind…
man and dog in front of giant sequoia trees in California
The Art of Constant Wonder: Thank you, Life, for this day
by Pierre Pradervand
One of the greatest secrets of life is to know how to constantly marvel at existence and at the…
Photo: Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017.
Horoscope: Week of November 29 - December 5, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
young boy looking through binoculars
The Power of Five: Five Weeks, Five Months, Five Years
by Shelly Tygielski
At times, we have to let go of what is to make room for what will be. Of course, the very idea of…
man eating fast food
It's Not About the Food: Overeating, Addictions, and Emotions
by Jude Bijou
What if I told you a new diet called the "It's Not About the Food" is gaining popularity and…
woman dancing in the middle of an empty highway with a city skyline in the background
Having the Courage to Be True to Ourselves
by Marie T. Russell,
Each one of us is a unique individual, and thus it seems to follow that each one of us has a…
How To Shift Away from Overwhelm, Burnout, and Self-Sacrifice
How To Shift Away from Overwhelm, Burnout, and Self-Sacrifice
by Christine Arylo
The first step in changing what’s not working for you is awareness — becoming conscious of what you…
Take What'cha Got and Make What'cha Want
Take What'cha Got and Make What'cha Want
by Alan Cohen
Many years ago my mentor told me, Take whatcha got and make whatcha want. We all want to change our…
Dignity: The Hallmark of a Great Soul
How To Grow Into Dignity -- The Hallmark of a Great Soul
by Sarah Mane
Think of someone you know, or know of, someone with a quiet self-assurance, a person with a strong…

Selected for InnerSelf Magazine


How Living On The Coast Is Linked To Poor Health
How Living On The Coast Is Linked To Poor Health
by Jackie Cassell, Professor of Primary Care Epidemiology, Honorary Consultant in Public Health, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
The precarious economies of many traditional seaside towns have declined still further since the…
The Most Common Issues for Earth Angels: Love, Fear, and Trust
The Most Common Issues for Earth Angels: Love, Fear, and Trust
by Sonja Grace
As you experience being an earth angel, you will discover that the path of service is riddled with…
How Can I Know What's Best For Me?
How Can I Know What's Best For Me?
by Barbara Berger
One of the biggest things I've discovered working with clients everyday is how extremely difficult…
Honesty: The Only Hope for New Relationships
Honesty: The Only Hope for New Relationships
by Susan Campbell, Ph.D.
According to most of the singles I have met in my travels, the typical dating situation is fraught…
An Astrologer introduces the Nine Dangers of Astrology
An Astrologer introduces the Nine Dangers of Astrology
by Tracy Marks
Astrology is a powerful art, capable of enhancing our lives by enabling us to understand our own…
Giving Up All Hope Could Be Beneficial For You
Giving Up All Hope Could Be Beneficial For You
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
If you're waiting for a change and frustrated it's not happening, maybe it would be beneficial to…
Chakra Healing Therapy: Dancing toward the Inner Champion
Chakra Healing Therapy: Dancing toward the Inner Champion
by Glen Park
Flamenco dancing is a delight to watch. A good flamenco dancer exudes an exuberant self-confidence…
Taking A Step Toward Peace by Changing Our Relationship With Thought
Stepping Toward Peace by Changing Our Relationship With Thought
by John Ptacek
We spend our lives immersed in a flood of thoughts, unaware that another dimension of consciousness…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities | | | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.