Let me share with you how a Mission Mindset allowed me to pick myself up, brush myself off, and accomplish one of my biggest goals in life.
But first, you should learn about Recon.
US Marine Reconnaissance and Force Reconnaissance (Recon) are two elite Special Operations units inside the US Marine Corps. I served for 8 years in both a Recon unit and Force Recon unit. From Private to Corporal, then Second Lieutenant to Captain.
It almost didn’t happen.
Shortly after boot camp, I learned of an upcoming Recon Indoctrination Test (Indoc) to solicit qualified volunteers. This is why I joined the Marine Corps.
I was excited and scared. So scared in fact, that I found a reason to miss the upcoming test.
Think about that for a moment.
I’d been thinking about joining the Marines and joining Recon for years.
Here I am, a Marine, at Infantry Training School, with the opportunity to try out for the unit I joined the Marine Corps for. And I found a way to avoid taking the test.
The Mindset of Fear.
That’s the power of mindset. I allowed my fear to take me out. To keep me from trying out for something I’d been dreaming about.
You see, I had heard stories about Recon and what they did. Our instructors warned us not to join because “those guys are crazy.”
Stories about eating snakes, and swimming miles in the ocean at night, or being dropped off with just a knife in the jungle. All true by the way, but that’s not the hard stuff.
I let that fear multiply in my head and worried about failing. What if I didn’t make it? What if I couldn’t do it. It was a momentary but strong fear that paralyzed me.
Have you ever let your mindset (fear) keep you from doing something you really wanted to do?
Was there a pretty girl you never asked out? Perhaps a business you haven’t started. Or maybe it’s a new product line or expanding your current business.
Fear shows up in a lot of places.
The regret I felt giving in to that fear was horrible. I felt like I let myself down (I did). I felt ashamed that I allowed my mind to take me out.
When I think back to these few weeks, I can connect with that deep regret. I don’t like feeling that way.
Luckily for me, a few weeks later, they administered another tryout for volunteers. Another Indoc. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity go by.
It’s an all day, unpleasant, 8-hour or so test, usually administered on a Saturday, outside your normal training hours.
They don’t tell us everything on the test, or how long it’s going to take. We’re told what gear to bring, what time the trucks arrive to pick us up, and to block off the whole day.
The test involves many different tests, to include; running the obstacle course within a prescribed time, swimming drills, running with a weighted-down backpack, and a few other challenging events and tests.
It should be noted that if you fail one obstacle or event, you’re done, disqualified, and you’re sent to wait in the uncomfortable military truck you arrived in. You wait until the testing is complete.
Bringing My Mission Mindset
I showed up that cold October Saturday morning in North Carolina very different than the kid who let his fear almost keep him from this a few weeks earlier.
This time I was on a Mission.
My mission was to get into Recon. I had to adjust my mindset to this reality. And I would be tested almost immediately.
During the first test of the day, we had to run the obstacle course in 2 minutes or less. That’s a very tight margin.
When you hear “Go,” start running. This is not the time to hesitate.
I launch off the starting line, leap over the first log, and toward the next obstacle. I am to step up onto a horizontal log and leap up and grab a crossbar, then shimmy down poles to the next obstacle.
I’ve done this obstacle course dozens of times over the past months, and am feeling confident.
I step up and leap for the crossbar. Quickly realizing I pushed too hard, my cold hands slap the crossbar, not quite grasping it as my legs start swinging up too high.
Now I’m horizontal, about eight feet off the ground and I don’t have a grasp of the crossbar. This isn’t good.
Everything slows down.
I start falling to the ground and I’m thinking about the timer. Two minutes go fast, there’s no time to mess up or fall.
I slam into the ground.
There’s a feeling of weightlessness as I literally feel myself bounce off the ground.
Gasps are heard from my Commanding Officer and others watch.
The Mindset of Success
In that moment of weightlessness, I am thinking of one thing only, my mission. I’m passing this Indoc. That requires me to get up and get to the next obstacle. I don’t have time to wonder if I’m hurt, or what others think, I only know I have to keep going.
I spring back up, repeat that obstacle and keep going. My already high heart rate now pounding.
I crossed the finish line of the obstacle course with a few seconds to spare.
Throughout the day, I completed all the obstacles, tests, events and scenarios we were put through.
Of the 50 Marines that took the test that day, only I and two others passed.
A couple of months later, I joined Recon and began an eight-year adventure with these amazing men.
When I think back to that time, I recognize two very different lessons about mindset.
Fear – Can Take Me Out
I prepared and trained to take the Indoc. Based on my preparation, I was ready.
And yet it almost took me out.
Mission is Everything
Without my mission, I would not have hung in there, fought through my fear, and accomplished my objective.
A mission is an important assignment. Missions can be short-term (get X done today) or long-term (Protect and Provide for My Family). They can involve others or just me.
My mission on that cold October Saturday was to pass the Indoc and get into Recon. I prepared for that mission for months, if not years.
When I’m clear on my mission, I’m unstoppable.
When I let fear and doubt creep in, I can get taken out.
I learned a lot about what I call “Mission Mindset” that day, and over the years I served in Recon.
And when I launched my first business in warehousing and distribution, I applied those same principles to growing from a startup to $5 million in three years.
I’ve solidified the essential elements of a Mission Mindset below. Apply them to your own life and become unstoppable.
Mission Mindset Defined
Use the following steps to get what you want.
1 – Formalize Your Mission
What’s your important assignment? What do you want to accomplish? Be sure to include; who, what, where, when, how and why.
“I (who) was going to pass the Indoc (what) on Saturday (when) at Onslow Beach (where) through thorough preparation (how) so that I could become a Recon Marine (why).”
Another example from my first business:
“I (who) was going to surpass $100,000 revenue for a single month (what) by my twelfth month in business (when & where) to become a million dollar company (why).
2 – Create a Plan
Do you have the capabilities and resources? This is tricky and where such poisons as fear and doubt creep in.
For the Indoc: I had been training mentally and physically for years to prepare. This strengthened my confidence and gave me the stamina and willpower (resources) to succeed.
In my first business: building a warehousing and distribution company, I studied what others were doing and charted a “Path to $1 million.”
3 – Put Yourself Out There
This is about taking action.
For the Indoc: Yes, I had to train, prepare and get my gear together. Ultimately, I had to show up, and that meant getting on that truck on a cold Saturday morning in North Carolina.
In my first business: It meant showing up every day and dealing with the frustration, disappointments and other challenges that small business deals with.
4 – Stay Focused on Your Mission
For the Indoc: like the Marines, it’s all about “Accomplish Your Mission.” Everything else is secondary. So, regardless of my wipeout seconds into the test, I was focused on the finish line and didn’t let obstacles, literally, stand in my way.
In my first business: There are numerous opportunities to get distracted from your core business. Vendors showed up with all types of products that would change my focus. Customers requested products and services, some of which would have lead me astray. I had to identify and stay true to our core competency.
5 – Find Mentors
For the Indoc: My Commanding Officer at Infantry School spoke to me a lot about Recon and what it would take to pass the test and be successful. Once in the unit, there were higher-ranking, been-there-done-that Marines who lead the way to success, while pointing out the obstacles and how to overcome them.
In my first business: I solicited the advice of local complimentary business leaders who mentored me with lessons learned and obstacles to avoid.
Activating Your Mission Mindset
Your thoughts can work for you or against you.
Left to their own devices, could be like leaving your teenagers home alone for the weekend…not always the best plan.
But, properly cultivated, your mind can be trained to focus on what you want (Mission) and learn strategies to deal with and overcome the obstacles that come up.
And those obstacles will present themselves, at the most inopportune times.
Will you be ready?
How about a partner to help you come up with a plan for the obstacles? To help you up after you’ve fallen or to just strategize?
Mission Mindset for Small Business Owners
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Mission Mindset for Coaches, Consultants and other Practitioners
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