Remember the old commercials (if you’re 35+), where the narrator said that “the mind was a terrible thing to waste” in a push for a college fund? That was absolutely true.Your mind is the best weapon you’ll have in Special Operations but it can cut both ways too. It can also be a buddy f***er as well.
When you attempt Selection, we here, try to help get you as prepared as we can. We post workout programs that will get you ready for the long haul of Selection and the qualification courses and beyond. And rest assured, it IS a marathon and not a sprint. If you’re going to attempt SFAS and then the SFQC (Special Force Qualification Course), you’ll be in training mode for about a year or more of constantly being tested and evaluated.
Some of the other things we post here will deal with specific events, the Land Navigation Course, which out at Hoffman, NC is probably the most challenging navigation course in the U.S. military and other events. But this one deals with your head. You know, “that lump three feet above your ass”, to quote Tom Hanks.
Your mind requires training just as much as you’d give to an M-4 or a pistol. You have to have a mindset that is going to carry you thru. Having the proper mindset in officer speak is called a positive mental attitude. But as we all know, the NCOs are the backbone of the Special Operations community and are the true trainers and evaluators. They have a more apt description of a positive mental attitude. It is called “Embracing the Suck.”
Everyone has heard that saying but to those new to these pages or if you’re a civilian who likes to read about different things associated with military training, you might be confused as to what exactly it means. Embracing the Suck is the conscious act of taking the best shot from whatever is in front of you. And continuing to drive on. It doesn’t mean that you won’t get knocked down, you will. Especially in Selection, that is what the course is designed to do.
Everyone gets to that point where their bodies are beaten down, they are tired, hungry, as well as probably cold and wet. That’s when their mind begins to play tricks on them. Don’t listen to those little voices telling you it is okay not to get up again. It isn’t. Get up and keep getting up. Nothing they will throw at you hasn’t been successfully completed by thousands of candidates before you. Remember that.
The Selection course in reality has no training in it. There are a bunch of training events that are designed to simply see if the candidates have the physical and mental toughness to carry on and be worthy of the training that is to come. The course is designed to separate the weak (both physically and mentally) from the strong. The cadre will watch and evaluate the candidates almost like sharks circling in the water to detect any weakness. It doesn’t mean that they don’t expect candidates to get tired and worn down. They’ve all been there and done that. But they’re looking for the successful ones. The candidate that will continue to drive on and not accept failure.
That is Embracing the Suck. The actual training will come after that and there will still those days when the candidates will get tired and worn down from months of constant testing and evaluating. That’s why only the best need apply.
And Embracing the Suck isn’t just for the military crowd. It can carry over to any walk of life that you’ll find. Someone who was a lot smarter than me and I consider one of my mentors once asked me (and others) did I know what the difference between a warrior and an average person was. He said the average person looks at events in his life as either a blessing or a curse. The warrior looks at those same events as merely a challenge that needs to be surmounted.
My wife, who’s heard the same conversations time and again between me and my military friends saw a shirt with “Embrace the Suck” online and bought it for me. I happened to be wearing it recently while in the waiting room of her doctor’s office.
A guy came in and had one of those casts with the pins through his lower leg, but insisted on walking with crutches while his wife quietly berated him for not riding in a wheelchair. He made it clear, that was unacceptable.
Although I tried to hide it, a barely perceptible smile crossed my face which his wife noticed and nudged him and shrugging in my direction as if to say, “WTH is he smiling at?” The man asked me what the shirt meant. I told him that his refusing to ride in the chair was exactly what it meant. He and I chatted for a few moments and he got a big smile on his face while his wife rolled her eyes as if to say, “Don’t encourage him.”
He got called for his appointment and he used his crutches to go in the door, he called back, “Hey,” he asked toward me. “Where can I get one of those shirts?”
So for you young folks out there getting ready for Selection. You’ll take the worst the course has to throw at you. You may get beat down, but don’t let it win. You’re still there, and it isn’t just the matter of surviving the event. But reveling in it, embracing it. Welcome the worst they have to offer and don’t let it beat you. That is Embracing the Suck. Once you do that, the cadre will know, they’ll see it and let the chips fall where they may.
You don’t have to be the biggest, the strongest or the fastest. It is the mindset that you won’t be beaten. Don’t quit. Embrace the Suck and keep grinding. DOL
Photo: US Army