Retired Navy SEAL: No Excuses

By | October 22, 2018

[October 22, 2018]  Occasionally, I run across a story that impresses me; not because it’s about someone overcoming adversity (which is newsworthy) but because important lessons are learned from it.  David Goggins is a retired Navy SEAL and shares a story of his difficult journey and in doing so gives us a number of valuable life and leadership lessons.

“For a living, I speak to what the superficial world thinks are the best of the best – the athletes and the people who get called heroes.  I don’t get nervous in front of them because I know the difference between real heroes and the other ones.” – David Goggins, retired Navy SEAL

Groggins grew up with little self-esteem but he knew that this was not a way to make himself happy or fulfilled.  Fortunately, he saw the military as a way to overcome his fears.  As a 19-year old he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force to become a pararescueman (aka a PJ).  For those new to the military, PJ training is difficult and the dropout rate is exceptionally high.  He dropped out due to medical reasons and an ability to get over being too comfortable while not training.

From this he gleaned a valuable lesson; negativity becomes ‘dynamite.’  His PJ training failure had made him feel less of a man and he was tired of it.  Groggins tells us that this who episode made him feel horrible and it was at this time he made up his mind to find a way out.  The negatives in his life were blowing up his manhood, his self-esteem, and his ability to relate to others.

Groggins then, surprisingly, got into the Navy’s Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training and finished it after having to repeat it three times.  Not only did he finish the training but he excelled.  He was highly motivated this time to finish and from it he tells us of another of life’s valuable lessons.

Motivation comes and goes.  Competition is challenging and is hard work but it is the mental attribute that keeps us going.  Groggins now is a motivational speaker and raises millions of dollars for Special Operations Warrior Foundation; an organization that provides scholarships and counseling for children of fallen special operators.

More can be found out about retired Navy SEAL David Goggins at the VFW Magazine (link here).

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

21 thoughts on “Retired Navy SEAL: No Excuses

  1. José Luis Rodriguez

    Good article and valuable comments from readers.
    Thanks everyone.

  2. Eric Coda

    Gen. Satterfield, I know you remain involved with the Boy Scouts. If you could give us some lessons learned that they experience, it would be appreciated by us all. Thanks for the consideration.

  3. Nick Lighthouse

    Good to read about these two lessons. Overcoming obstacles is nice but an everyday affair. Lessons learned are always valuable. I suggest a book of them.

  4. Scotty Bush

    Hey, thanks for another great article with lessons for leaders. I especially appreciated Navy retired Gibbons lesson that ‘motivation comes and goes.’

  5. Big Al

    I agree, success stories are good but we also would like to see those lessons learned. In this post today, Gen. Satterfield gave us two life’s lessons from Navy SEAL Gibbons.

  6. Gil Johnson

    A story of success is always welcome. I too had to overcome racism in the workplace. In my case, I’m white and the boss was Hispanic. You see that happen frequently. If a boss is promoted too quickly and doesn’t have time to absorb standards of excellence, you often find them abusing their power. I moved on to a better job and never looked back.

  7. Lynn Pitts

    Good article. I too believe deeply that everyone has had to overcome great obstacles in their lives at one point or another. Some of us more than others. Just because we have a disadvantage doesn’t mean we have to use it as an excuse not to achieve great things.

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Spot on! I too agree that overcoming problems is what being human is about.

  8. Wilson Cox

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield for another article that helps to give us a story of success. I find it extremely valuable when you provide real stories about real people who are successful.

  9. Fred Weber

    New to this leadership website and am impressed both with the articles and with the comments. Great blog post today. I’ll be reading more of the past posts to in order to catch up on what others have been saying.

    1. Dennis Mathes

      Yes, welcome to our comment section Fred. If you have any questions of anyone, just ask.

  10. Kenny Foster

    I agree with Max and others that using people working against us (for any reason) is just another way of giving an excuse for failure. I once had a younger, much less experienced woman get hired over me. I was clearly better qualified but PC was beginning back in the late 1980s. She didn’t last a year and was fired. Go figure. But I went on to better things and that company continues to decline.

  11. Lady Hawk

    I enjoyed your article today. More like this would be to my liking.

  12. Max Foster

    I also read the VFW article and it was good to hear about someone who overcame major obstacles in their lives to do good things. Groggins still is a little whinny about being black and being treated poorly for his skin color. While he didn’t say it, I got the feeling he was using that somewhat as an excuse to justify his past failures. But he overcome anyway and got on with his life.

    1. Janna Faulkner

      Good point, Max. I read the same into the article when I read it. Better to just admit that you failed (even if people are working against you).

    2. Mr. T.J. Asper

      As usual, Max, an on-target comment. I agree that Groggins is focused on race as one of his problems but note that in Brazil he was treated much worse than in the USA.

  13. Army Captain

    It is always a good thing to hear about our Navy brethren.

Comments are closed.