Image by kinkate
Narrated by Marie T. Russell.
Tomorrow always will come.
It is up to you to be ready for it,
to shape it and make it what it will be.
-- Jason Redman
Ambushes don’t just happen in combat. In business and life, an ambush is a catastrophic event that leaves physical, emotional, and mental scars. It might be a health crisis, divorce, business failure, life-threatening disease, or horrific accident impacting you or those close to you, but make no mistake: it feels like you have been caught in a nightmare. No relief, no escape, and no hope.
Just like an enemy ambush, a life ambush damages almost every system of the body and often results in negative, unproductive responses. If you survive, you are likely physically, mentally, and emotionally wounded, injured, or otherwise incapacitated. You might be facing a medical emergency after you ignored the warning signs, believing you had more time or could just patch the problem up with short-term fixes. In a business crisis, you may be facing a takeover, a catastrophic failure, or a bankruptcy or lawsuit that threatens your solvency and reputation.
Anxiety, shame, grief, anger, and depression overwhelm your ability to take action. You might be alternately caught between wanting to hunker down and hoping it will go away, and running right into traps that further ensnare you in the difficulty.
Personal and professional relationships may be rife with conflict, chaotic or ineffective communication, and damaged credibility. The people around you may feel the impact of your crisis, and they may move toward you or away from you, depending on your condition and response.
You may feel like nothing can change, that you are trapped in your circumstances. Many people in life ambushes choose to self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, sex, or other risky behaviors to take off the edge or escape the reality of the crisis, further deepening the sense of self-failure.
Worst of all, you may feel empty and worthless, like life has lost its meaning. When you feel overwhelmed, helpless, paralyzed, or crushed, knowing something in your life has been irrevocably changed forever, you are likely in a life ambush.
All five senses are on overload in an ambush. In a firefight, smoke or shock may blur vision. In a life ambush, it is the emotional tidal wave you're riding that distorts your vision. Your heart rate is elevated. The emotional blast wave of stress incapacitates movement and clear thought. The noise and chaos make it difficult to hear. Every system in the body shuts down nonessential activity to put all resources into fight-or-flight mode and protect what’s left.
Because there seems to be no way out, you may feel the need to collapse or seek cover. You may be stunned in disbelief or active in your denial of what’s happened. Depending on the life ambush, you may have injuries that require immediate attention, but you feel too overwhelmed or incapacitated to address them.
After a loss, denial is a way to keep the full impact of grief away for a while. It allows you to process it incrementally. I experienced this shortly after my battlefield injuries. In the hospital, I tried to convince myself it was all a dream and I was going to wake up any minute and be in my bed back in Iraq. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I was in denial. While it might be a normal part of the grieving process, denial only keeps you from making progress.
Many people respond to an ambush with blame, lashing out at anyone and everyone within earshot. It’s normal to question the roles of everyone involved, however, neither finding someone to blame nor making accusations will get you out of the crisis immediately.
People in an ambush will do anything to relieve the pain and pressure, even if it means making the situation worse. When the lawsuit hit us, I started self-medicating by drinking to dull the pain I felt every night as I navigated the nightmare. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work.
Alcohol or drugs might seem to take the edge off of a difficult situation, but they can’t help you. Resist the urge to spiral down the path of self-medication. You’ll just have another problem to solve, as I did. I had to get a grip on that in the winter of 2015. I have strictly limited my consumption of alcohol ever since.
One of the worst things I see—and it happens frequently— is people become comfortable wallowing in their misery. You can get all the advice in the world, but the question you still have to face is, Am I unable to move, or am I unwilling? That’s really what it comes down to. If you’re unwilling, you’ve grown comfortable in your misery.
You have to maintain perspective as you face each day after an ambush. Your loss, failure, or grief might be profound and paralyzing, but you can hold out hope that you understand the fragility of life better because of your experiences. You have more to offer the world because of what you’ve survived. It won’t be easy, but I can guarantee you’ll be stronger. You just have to keep that Overcome Mind-Set with each evolution of life.
Change happens. Some of it will be good. Some will be bad. Some will be incredibly painful. If you don’t overcome every day, the world will overcome you.
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
There’s a saying in the SEAL teams: The only easy day was yesterday. It doesn’t mean that the easy stuff is behind you. It means there are always more challenges ahead. Yesterday only seems easy because of the way you are pushing yourself today.
Most people hope to make their lives more comfortable day by day. They want to do things the way they’ve always done them. What they don’t know is that if you are comfortable, you are in danger and likely not ready for the next ambush on the horizon.
Comfort is a myth, a temptation. It will only bring you down. The Overcome Mind-Set requires perpetual challenge. Resist settling for what’s easy. Ask yourself:
* How do I push myself a little harder?
* How do I do things just a little better?
* How can I make one small improvement in one area of my life today?
The SEAL teams constantly change our tactics, because we know comfort and the status quo are the enemy. At times, we’d step into a situation where what we were doing before didn’t work anymore. We had to adapt and change. You can too.
If you do it right, you’re always pushing, never peaking. You’re constantly trying to change. And change sucks. Nobody likes change, because change is hard. It takes work and patience, and it’s uncomfortable.
But that’s what ambush survivors do. That’s how they overcome.
Copyright 2020 by Jason Redman. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Center Street,
a divn. of Hachette Book Group. www.centerstreet.com
Overcome: Crush Adversity with the Leadership Techniques of America's Toughest Warriors
by Jason Redman
Triumph 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.
About the Author
Jason 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.