Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life

I finished Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life, and below I share the lessons from it.


I realized how important it is to push beyond your own psychological barriers.

Are you worried you can’t finish your side project because you need to get sleep before work tomorrow? What if you just function on 4 hours of sleep? Do you think you can’t do that?

Maybe you don’t think you can work every day for 7 days in a row. You just don’t have the mental willpower to do it.

Or finally, maybe you think whatever system you’re following to go after one of your goals just can’t work for you. You tried, and you’re about to give up. You know that it worked for people in similar situations as yourself, but they must have had some quality that you don’t have. For you, it’s just not possible.

This week, try ignoring those voices a few times. Tell yourself it will be “okay” to function the next day on 4 hours of sleep.

I did this recently, and I wound up with amazing, unexpected successes on the goals I was working on.

The Navy SEALS are examples of people who routinely push beyond commonly accepted limits.

So enjoy my notes and highlights.

The graduation rate at BUDs is something like 15%. In recent years, they upgraded all of their equipment trying to reduce the attrition rates. They gave recruits better shoes to improve their runs, better shorts to improve leg chaffing, and a dozen other small things.

Guess what? The attrition rate stayed the exact same.

The change starts with your internal attitude; it has very little to do with outside forces.

Most people are terribly affected by their environments—weather, people, and everything external to them. We all are, yet cold is cold. Cold is neither bad nor good. What most people don’t realize is they are giving meaning to their environment and thus living a life that is totally shaped by their outside world. 

 On quitting, complaining etc:

My personal saying is “This is who I am. Times may suck, but I am a SEAL.” These simple, factual Internal Dialogues are actually the biggest miracle in human performance. Because the opposite is what quitters and nonperformers say, such as, “This sucks. I wish this was over. I hate this place.” Or even “I can’t wait to go home.”

On why we do this:

We weren’t really into this to rescue him in particular—this was more about rescuing ourselves from the boredom of a mundane life.

When you have no evidence to support that you can achieve what you want:

A fully engaged Internal Dialogue, controlled by you, screaming into the void of the life you want even if you have no evidence to support it, serves to put the emotionally uncommitted roller coaster to rest for a time.

On feeling like there is no end in sight:

I can tell you of a story I read as a young man, clearly showing how the middle of a big adventure is the most critical time. Son, I want to tell you something. Never look for a way out. Always look for every way possible to get back in the game, whatever the game is.

On knowledge and thinking you have specific rules that wll work 100% of the time:

The older I get, I absolutely know that nothing is clear. I laugh at people who suggest hard-and-fast rules exist that cannot be broken. 

On the successful people at BUDs:

This simple act of not being comfortable speaking about quitting—or even acknowledging such thoughts of quitting at all—struck me as a far more important discovery.

When you’re getting bogged down by tiny bullshit:

So shift your dialogue to something greater or harder, and you will see the small problems get worked out more quickly than you ever could have thought.

On perseverance:

Perseverance will expand the known world into a larger unknown world full of possibilities.

On living life:

“You cannot avoid death by running from life. Death will come when it wants to. Walk forward and live. Sit here, or go back and die the miserable life of fear.”

On negative people:

Everywhere there are men and women who do not get it. You will notice them in your life. They will often make you feel uncomfortable, and even more so, they will make your Internal Dialogue very loud. And since they don’t have access to performance in their own lives, they will make your Internal Dialogue differ from what you say externally. The reason I am sharing this experience is so that you will know, when you have these people in your life, to be clear and commit to your own Internal Dialogue first. If and when this doesn’t work out for you and your efforts, push those people away; get away from them, isolate them

On complaining about people:

An Internal Dialogue saying, “I hate this man” or “This man is stupid” or “I wish this man would buy a bullet,” tends to rob us all of energy and of being available to whatever the moment brings. Obviously, in combat as in life, being 100 percent present counts. I am sure you will experience these kinds of moments, too.