Motivation secret #1: Find your deepest reason
by Craig Weller
Ask yourself one question today: Why am I doing this? OK, two questions: Why am I really doing this?
In this post – the first in a series about motivation – Coach Craig Weller shows us how finding your “deep reason” creates the will to keep going when the going gets tough.
At age 17 I left home in my small town in South Dakota for a six-year enlistment in the Navy.
I’d spend those six years either operating as or going through the special operations selection process for a community known as SWCC: the Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen.
In case you’ve never heard of SWCC, they’re the guys in the boats in the movie Act of Valor.
Selection training for a special operations force (SOF) is essentially a process of systematic testing and torture, which eliminates all but a small number of volunteers. Depending on the program and the time of year, anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of candidates will either fail out or quit the training.
For a kid coming from landlocked South Dakota who didn’t learn to swim until boot camp, the selection process for a maritime community was particularly arduous. Two weeks from graduating selection from my first SWCC class, my swim buddy and I failed a swim.
They rolled us back to the beginning of training. We had to start over. But not until first completing four extra months in a BUD/S program called the Brownshirt Rollbacks.
A year later, after 30 months total in the pipeline, I was wearing my pin.
Why didn’t I quit?
After all, I was a mere two weeks from graduation. Then I failed. And had to start over from the beginning, with 4 months tacked on for good measure.
What kept me going?
The answer might surprise you: A mental image of a pair of boots. Yes, boots. Snow boots.
Let me explain.
Our family owned two vehicles. My mom was a paramedic, constantly on call, so she needed one of them. The other was my dad’s.
Yet in winter, he walked to work so my siblings and I could use his car to get to school.
Winter in South Dakota can be brutally cold. The kind of cold that can freeze exposed skin solid.
My dad was the one who took that risk. Every day, he put on his boots and trudged through the snow to his office, leaving a full hour before my siblings and I left for school.
He gave us the keys to his pickup. In a roaring blizzard, with my older brother as chauffeur, we drove comfortably to school while my father walked.
And every evening he’d walk back in, knock the snow off his boots at the door and set them there for the next day.
The image of those thick, heavy boots in a puddle of melted snow by our front door has never left me.
Those boots represent the many things my dad gave up so I could grow up comfortable and successful.
My father was in some ways a demanding guy, but he was also incredibly selfless. He always put his kids and his family first.
With all his sacrifices in mind, I simply could not accept the idea of calling him one day to tell him that I was done. That I had quit. That eighteen years of his efforts on my behalf had led to nothing because I had decided to stop trying.
I’d rather have died than make that phone call.
That’s what got me through training.
It might come to you in an image, like my snow boots. It might come to you in words. But how you get to it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you identify it – and keep it in mind when the going gets tough. So you can keep going.