Who Dares Wins: The Green Beret Way to Conquer Fear and Succeedby Bob Mayer
In these tough economic times, former Green Beret officer Bob Mayer uses military techniques to show readers how to succeed by conquering fear.
In today’s fast-moving world, change occurs constantly, competition is fierce, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to achieve success—both personal and professional. Bob Mayer argues
In these tough economic times, former Green Beret officer Bob Mayer uses military techniques to show readers how to succeed by conquering fear.
In today’s fast-moving world, change occurs constantly, competition is fierce, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to achieve success—both personal and professional. Bob Mayer argues that for most, the one most common obstacle standing in the way is fear.
Who Dares Wins shares the time-tested techniques of the Special Forces, proven elite warriors trained to conquer fear, dare to be different, and accomplish what others consider impossible. Mayer outlines specific steps for discovering what is holding you back and offers hands-on exercises for increasing motivation to reach those goals. Bringing his unique blend of practical Special Operations Strategies and Tactics mixed with the vision of an artist, Mayer helps readers get to know themselves, identify blind spots, and overcome fear to achieve success.
"Bob Mayer gives us a unique and valuable window into the shadowy world of our country’s elite fighting forces and how you can apply many of the concepts and strategies they use for success in your own life and organization." —Jack Canfield, creator of the Chicken Soup book series
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Read an Excerpt
"If you don't know where you are going, you are liable to end up somewhere else."
-- CASEY STENGEL
The one-sentence goal is the tool that will become the foundation of everything you do. Having an idea of where you're going, before you start on your path, is a key tenet of Green Beret operations. Then, being aware of the priority of goals and aligning the hierarchy can reduce conflict and enhance success.
Clearly understanding your goals keeps you on target to succeed.
SPECIAL FORCES ASSESSMENT AND SELECTION THOUGHT:
Take your eyes off the price and put them on the prize.
BLOOD LESSON: THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS
"Enterprises must be prepared, with specially trained troops of the hunter class, who can develop a reign of terror, leaving a trail of German corpses behind them."
-- WINSTON CHURCHILL
Let's look at a What for a complex, large-scale military problem that was successfully solved, beginning with a one-sentence goal.
In 1943, the Allies were poised to invade Europe after successfully invading North Africa. The next obvious place to attack was Sicily. To quote Churchill, "Anyone but a fool would realize it's Sicily."
There was a very big problem: how to stop the Germans from massing their forces in Sicily and defeating the invasion.
Solving this problem was tasked to an officer in MI5, the forerunner of the British Security Service. Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu decided the British needed to give the Germans solid evidence that the attack would occur elsewhere. Evidence that they would believe.
He boiled this complex problem down to this one-sentence What:
I will implement a plan to convince the Germans the attack is coming someplace other than Sicily long enough before the actual invasion to influence the German reaction.
This simple, one-sentence "What do I want to achieve?" led to a very complex plan to solve the problem:
Montagu found a corpse -- a homeless man who had died of pneumonia after ingesting rat poison. During an autopsy, such a death would appear very similar to that of a person who'd drowned.
He created a military persona for the man -- a complete identity, down to the smallest detail. The homeless corpse became Captain/Acting Major William Martin, Royal Marine.
Montagu went so far as to place theater stubs in Martin's pockets along with love letters from his "fiancée," a clerk in Montagu's office. In a briefcase chained to Major Martin's body, certain key documents were placed, all fakes: letters between generals discussing a dual attack on Sardinia and Corsica and on Greece. The letters said a deception plan was being implemented to fool the Germans into thinking the attack would really take place against Sicily.
The body, packed in ice, was put in a canister, placed aboard a British submarine, and sailed to a point off the Spanish coast. The submarine surfaced, the body was unpacked, a life jacket was placed around it, and it was cast into the ocean. The body was found by a Spanish fisherman the next day, and the documents eventually wound up in the hands of German agents. The body was turned over to the British consulate a few days later, sans briefcase. The British demanded the return of the documents, and the Spanish government complied. Examining them, the British discovered that they had been surreptitiously opened. The fake evidence had been read by the Germans.
With what results?
Hitler was so convinced of the authenticity of the documents that he ignored the logical idea that Sicily was the site of the next Allied attack. The Germans deployed forces to Sardinia, Corsica, and Greece. They also redeployed two Panzer divisions from the Russian front to Greece under the command of Field Marshal Rommel, weakening themselves in an area even Montagu couldn't have anticipated.
Montagu's clear understanding of the What of his mission paid off in dividends that changed the course of World War II even beyond the invasion of Sicily. During the invasion of Normandy, when the Germans captured real top-secret documents from an abandoned landing craft showing future Allied operations, Hitler refused to believe them, feeling they were another setup, even though they were real.
All this, from one simple What.
STATE YOUR GOALS IN ONE SENTENCE
For now, we'll focus on learning how to state goals in one sentence rather than on what the goals themselves are.
Here's what you're looking for in your sentence:
A positive verb that indicates the action that you want to achieve.
A verb that indicates an action you control.
Concise, understandable wording.
An external, visible outcome.
A time lock for accomplishing the goal, if applicable.
KEEP IT POSITIVE A NEGATIVE GOAL ACCEPTS DEFEAT.
A boxer with the goal "Not to get my head beaten off" is already down for the count. If you want to lose weight, avoid saying, "I don't want to be overweight." Where's the action? Perhaps what you mean instead is, "I want to work out for a minimum of thirty minutes each day to be physically fit." Then add a second goal: "I want to carefully watch what I eat and only consume healthy foods."
Don't define your goals in terms of whatever crisis you fear may be coming toward you. We'll plan for possible catastrophes later. It's enough for now to figure out a positive, understandable, external What. This clearly defined goal will keep you on your Circle of Success path when you're enmeshed in working with the other eight tools.
Most people spend their lives in crisis, overly focused on obstacles and fears, with no clear goal in mind. Thus they never change. A successful person must rise above crisis mode and continue to move toward his or her goals. When people do that, they begin to change.
In Special Forces, the mission statement drives everything else. The mission statement is the Green Beret's What. Each team is assigned specific goals. Each person on the team is also assigned specific goals that, when achieved, lead to mission success.
To live a successful life, you must clearly state all of your goals, both personal and professional.
Many people view their lives as a series of complex problems that require complex solutions, and they quickly become overwhelmed. But what if they narrowed their goals down to a simple, attainable series of What sentences?
To define your goals, you need to ask yourself several key questions regarding whatever it is you want to achieve:
Did anyone else achieve this goal? It is most likely you won't be the first person to attempt this.
What do you fear doing? Our greatest inhibitor to achieving our goals is usually a blind spot. Successful people walk directly into what they fear the most and conquer it.
Why did other people do it?
How will you know when you have achieved your goal?
What will be the external, visible result?
How did others define it?
How long did it take other people to achieve the goal?
Here is a simple example taken from the Green Berets, using these key questions:
THE GOAL: A Special Forces candidate will complete the twelve-mile forced march, carrying 55 pounds of equipment, in under three hours.
Why should anyone want to achieve this goal? It's been a standard for years. And there is a reason for the standard, as Special Forces soldiers spend a great deal of time making long overland movements with much heavier loads than this. The only person I ever had removed from my team was removed because he could not keep up on our overland movements under heavy loads.
What do you fear doing? Leading up to this twelve-mile march, candidates are tested at marching various distances without knowing what the time standard is. This forces them to make decisions that could determine whether or not they succeed, going directly at their greatest fear, that of failing the course.
Why did other people do it? Throughout history, soldiers have ultimately had to rely on their feet to get them where they're going. Even in modern warfare, boots on the ground still make the final difference.
How will you know when you have achieved your goal? What will be the external, visible result? You'll have completed the march in under three hours.
How did others define it? Twelve miles, three hours, varied terrain: that's the standard for the Expert Infantryman Badge.
The successful person acts. The fearful person reacts. To act in the face of fear, you'll need primary goals. Everything else, especially subordinate goals, is built upon them. Your primary goals dictate the direction of your Circle of Success. If they change at any point on your path, you should actually find yourself redefining them and working through on an entirely different circle.
You might know your primary goals right now, but if you don't, it's not a problem. We're going to cover this in more depth when we get to Tool Four: Character, and Tool Six: Courage. Everything else in your Circle of Success can change as you innovate, but your primary goals are your solid, immovable base.
For example, for the Green Beret goal, the candidate has to complete the twelve-mile rucksack march in less than three hours. That is subordinate to the goal of successfully passing the Special Forces Qualification Course. Both of these goals are subordinate to the primary goal of becoming a Special Forces soldier. Everything that a candidate does is based on the primary goal.
For example, if your goal is to become physically fit (a positive way to say "to lose weight"), then your eating habits and your physical activities both have to support that goal. Also, your family has to support this goal in terms of your diet, which may be different from your normal family meals.
The Who Dares Wins technique of one-sentence goal defining can work on the spectrum from primary, life-changing goals to short-lived decision-making goals.
It's important to write your goals down, so you can make sure every word means something. For the purpose of this exercise, start small.
I will write four thousand words this week for my new novel.
In one sentence, write down a short-term goal that you want to achieve this week.
Does the sentence make sense? Does each word mean something? Is the verb a positive action? Is there an external, visible outcome so you can judge whether you've achieved your goal? Do you have a time lock to achieve it within the next week?
Remember, Montagu's What wasn't "Stop the Germans from believing the invasion would come in Sicily." His positive goal led him to take an action, and his solution made the Germans think something else.
Once you write your primary goals down, you have a great degree of latitude in deciding how you want to achieve them. But first you must make sure you have a clear goal to work with.
SUBORDINATE GOALS AND ALIGNMENT
Underneath each primary goal, there are subordinate goals. At the end of this book, when you develop your complete plan for your Circle of Success, make sure your subordinate goals support the primary goal. Also make sure that subordinate goals don't conflict.
"Success demands singleness of purpose."
-- VINCE LOMBARDI
After writing down your primary goal, you must identify the subordinate goals that are part of achieving your primary goal. Consider these goal categories:
Why so many goals in so many different areas? Because, as much as possible, your subordinate goals must align with one another and your primary goals. Competing goals create conflict, causing you to waste a lot of energy trying to balance your actions.
Goals within a military chain of command, just like goals in your life, are intertwined with one another. Each level of goals depends on the one above it for direction, and the one below it for execution. Here is an example from Special Forces:
1. Organizational Goal: Special Forces will be prepared to conduct the six Special Operations Forces missions of Unconventional Warfare, Direct Action, Strategic Reconnaissance, Foreign Internal Defense, Counterterrorism, and Coalition Warfare/Support.
2. A-Team Goal: Team 055 will be prepared to conduct all above missions with an emphasis on Strategic Reconnaissance with maritime operations capability.
3. Mission Goal: Team 055 will infiltrate Operational Area Claw to conduct Strategic Reconnaissance along the designated sector of rail line for fourteen days, reporting movement of battalion level and higher units.
4. Individual Goals: Senior Communications Sergeant will maintain a secure link with higher headquarters. Senior Communications Sergeant will report all designated traffic along rail line to higher headquarters four times daily.
Note that all these goals are in alignment. Conflict occurs when goals do not align.
WHAT: AN A-TEAM EXPERIENCE
When I was an AÂ€‘Team leader, the battalion operations officer told me to have my team set up a combination land navigation course and rifle range for the entire battalion. He said the commander wanted the men to go through a strenuous overland movement and finish at the rifle range, where they would qualify on their weapons.
I asked the operations officer what the primary goal of the exercise was. Was it to qualify on weapons or to practice land navigation?
His response was that the battalion commander, our boss, wanted the men to go through a "gut check." Which was neither of the above.
So, there were a few problems.
I was told to do three things: land navigation, rifle range, gut check. All could be part of one exercise, but what I really needed to know, and what I hadn't been told, was the primary goal of the training I was to plan. While this might not have seemed an issue initially -- after all, it appears all I had to do was set up a land navigation course ending at a rifle range -- as you will soon see, it was a major problem.
I went back to my team room and did a rather strange thing. I pulled out the Army field manual for conducting training, blew the dust off it, and read the chapters on how to plan training. I made some notes, went back to the battalion operations officer, and told him that according to the field manual, the primary goal of the training needed to be specified before planning could proceed. He needed to tell me in one sentence the What.
Was I greeted with open arms and a hearty slap on the back for following approved Army procedure?
As you can guess, of course not. After some choice words ending with "You're just a captain, and you do what the battalion commander wants!" I was tossed out of the office.
So, did I smarten up and leave it at that?
Of course not. There were too many questions:
1. Was the land navigation important?
2. Was the goal of the land navigation simply to make the men cover a certain amount of distance before arriving at the firing range, so that they would fire under simulated combat conditions? If so, I could accomplish the same thing in a much more straightforward manner by simply having the men do a forced march to the rifle range and save time and effort all around.
3. Was this to be our required annual qualification? If so, then the firing was preeminent, as this was a test each soldier had to pass. In that case, a forced march would be detrimental, but a relatively easy land navigation course would not be a problem.
4. Was the cross-country movement to be done tactically? Would the men carry full rucksacks?
5. What exactly did the commander mean by "gut check"?
Notice the number of questions generated when the primary What isn't clear and the Why isn't stated.
Eventually word of this got to the commander. He stopped by my team room and asked me what the problem was. I explained that I could easily plan and conduct this training, but it would be helpful if I knew what his primary goal was and why he wanted to do it. He explained his goal: "I want the men pushed to their limits within the designated time period, both mentally and physically [What], to test individual fortitude and team cohesion [Why]."
This goal was very different from that of designing a land navigation course and a rifle range.
What we ended up with was the Gut Check.
1. We started with a noÂ€‘notice alert, bringing the team in.
2. We had them pack up and head out to the airfield, rig for jumping, board an aircraft, and conduct a parachute infiltration.
3. They were met on the drop zone by an "agent" who gave them coordinates for their next point.
4. If they made the next point in time, they found food and directions; if they didn't make it in time, they found just the directions to the next point.
5. And so on until the team covered an extensive amount of ground in a specified time period.
Few teams made it through the Gut Check successfully. We found it tested team cohesion quite well and challenged individual fortitude, thus fulfilling the commander's primary goal.
The rifle range portion was dropped for logistical reasons. It was something the operations officer had tacked on (for his own reasons -- Why), thinking it would be a nice addition. In reality it would have forced planning to go in an entirely different direction. It would have changed the required environment -- Where -- for the exercise and would not have achieved what the commander desired.
I was able to give the commander exactly what he wanted, based on just that one sentence of instructions detailing his intent, which is why Tool Two, Why, is so important and comes next.
WHAT: THE ARTIST'S IMAGINATION
I spend the entire first day of my writers workshop having students write a single sentence: the What for their book. Being able to say what their book is about in that one sentence helps them focus their book idea. I have found in my study of the creative writing process that the original vision (What) for a story often gets lost while a novel is being written. Likewise, you can also lose sight of what drives you when you try to change. I spend a large amount of time at the beginning of my Who Dares Wins workshops having people write down their What's (goals) and analyzing them to make sure they are really the goals they want.
An author has to write down the original idea that starts his creative process before he can come up with a story. Every creative idea has been written about before, and pretty much every goal has been tried. The difference in your life will be how you follow up on your goals. That's where your creativity will thrive. That's where your positive emotional energy has to drive you.
Write down your goals and post them where you can see them every day, so that you stay on the same path every day. For a book, I tell writers to post their one-sentence original idea (What) someplace where they see it every day when they begin writing. As with any other goal, it's the one part of the book that can't change without forcing everything else in the Circle of Success to change. It keeps the author focused, allowing the big picture to be clearly seen in one sentence. It's easy to get lost in the forest of a 400-page manuscript. Beyond the writing of the book, like Montagu's What serving purposes beyond the immediate one, the one-sentence What for a book is often the core of the pitch to sell the book, to the agent, to the editor, to the publisher, to the sales force, to the bookstore buyer, to the reader.
Divide a piece of lined paper into four equal columns.
Label each column: What, Why, Where, Done.
Under the first column, What, write a subordinate goal for each of the areas that apply in which you want to achieve a goal in the next week (nothing major, just a basic, simple goal).
The areas can be: Academic, Physical, Family, Relationship, Hobby, Spiritual, Professional, Task, Financial, etc.
Copyright © 2009 by Robert Mayer
Meet the Author
Bob Mayer has served in the Infantry and Special Forces (Green Berets), commanding an A-team and as a Special Forces battalion operations officer. His books have hit the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, USA TODAY, and other bestseller lists. With more than 3 million books in print, he’s the author of Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Tactics for Success and Hunting Al Queda.
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Who dares, wins is not an army special forces motto, its British SAS