Ten rules to live by learned from Navy SEALs training

You can learn a lot from Navy SEALs

People that follow me know I am a fan of Navy SEALs. Hence the reason I picked up “Make Your Bed: Small things that can change your life and maybe the world” by William H. McRaven. He is a former United States Navy admiral who last served as the ninth commander of the United States Special Operations Command. He was part of SEAL Team Six and commander of SEAL Team Three. Overall he was part of the SEALs for 36 years.

Ten rules to live by

He did a speech at the University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address and wrote a book about it. Ten rules to live by:

      1. Start your day with a task completed
      2. You cannot go it alone
      3. Only the size of your heart matters
      4. Life is not fair, drive on.
      5. Failure can make you stronger
      6. You must dare greatly
      7. Stand up to bullies
      8. Rise to the occasion
      9. Give people hope
      10. Never, ever quiet

Start your day making your bed

I have heard that before. According to psychological research, people who make their bed in the morning are happier and more successful than those who do not. If that is not enough, here’s more (picked it up from a blog with 50 live tips, the link is here).

      • 71 per cent of bed makers consider themselves happy
      • While 62 per cent of non-bed-makers are unhappy
      • Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested
      • Whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym and wake up tired.

Find someone to help you paddle

Which is a reference to the famous paddling exercise Navy SEALS have to do. Can’t be done alone and needs to be in complete sync with your teammates. The classic there is no “I” in “Team”.

Talent is overrated

Only the size of your heart matters. A long time ago we used “Talent is overrated“. Talent will only get you so far. It is grit, determination and perseverance.

We will all be sugar cookies sometimes 

Which a reference to a Navy SEAL punishment where you are told to jump into the surf zone, roll around in the sand, and make yourself a “sugar cookie.” In all of the SEAL training, there is nothing more uncomfortable than being a sugar cookie.

Being a sugar cookie tests your patience and your determination. Not just because you spent the rest of the day with sand down your neck, under your arms, and between your legs, but because the act of becoming a sugar cookie is completely indiscriminate. There is no rhyme or reason. You become a sugar cookie at the whim of the instructor. Life sometimes is not fair. Get used to it. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, you still end up as a sugar cookie. Don’t complain. Don’t blame it on your misfortune. Stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!

The attitude of “The obstacle is the way”. Become a Stoic.

Join the circus

In SEAL training, when you failed a challenge or standard, you were exposed to what is called “The Circus”. Two more hours of hard exercise. If you can stick it, you will end up stronger by being part of the circus. It will make you stronger, fitter, better. Failure is good for you. As “Brilliant Mistakes” will tell you, failure is essential for growth.


SEALs have an exercise called “slide for life”. Head first is the quickest way. Life is a struggle and the potential for failure is ever present, but those who live in fear of failure, or hardship, or embarrassment will never achieve their potential. Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life.


SEALs have regular long swims in shark-infested water. The SEALS are taught to send their ground punch the shark on the snout. Don’t back down from bullies. Courage is a remarkable quality. Nothing and nobody can stand in your way. Without it, others will define your path forward. Without it, you are at the mercy of life’s temptations. Without courage, men will be ruled by tyrants and despots

Underwater missions

Navy SEALs to practice underwater attacks in full dark. The lowest part of a ship is also the darkest part. So you need to be able to rise to the occasion and be your very best, even in the darkest moments.

Hell week

I am sure you have all heard of Navy SEALs hell week. Including the mud flats. Singing helps. Start singing when you are up to your neck in mud. Hope is the most powerful force in the universe.

Don’t ring the bell

When Navy SEALs recruits give up, they have to ring the bell three times. Do not ever, ever ring the bell. Never quit. You will regret it forever. Life constantly puts you in situations where quitting seems so much easier than continuing. Where the odds are so stacked against you that giving up seems the rational thing to do. Life is full of difficult times. However, someone out there always has it worse than you do. If you fill your days with pity, sorrowful for the way you have been treated, bemoaning your lot in life, blaming your circumstances on someone or something else, then life will be long and hard. If on the other hand, you refuse to give up on your dreams, stand tall and strong against the odds—then life will be what you make of it—and you can make it great. Never, ever, ring the bell!

Mind over matter

It is all about mind over matter. Entrepreneurs should read this book. You are the SEALs of the business world. Alternatively, just watch this video:



sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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