Many Navy SEAL candidates are disappointed when SEAL training begins because they’re expecting to learn how to use some exotic weapon. The closest thing to a weapon that we’re issued is a rusty dive knife that never seems to hold its edge for longer than a few hours. We would jokingly wonder aloud to each other about when we would get issued our laser guided grenade launching machine gun (didn’t happen until YEARS later). For those who couldn’t get over the fact that it wasn’t about what you got issued that mattered, it was instead all about what we all already had when we walked through the front door of training, usually didn’t make it.

SEAL training is designed to do one thing: test your resolve. Those that make it, learn that the real weapons platform isn’t some kind of manufactured weapon, it’s you – and your ability to take control of the only things we can control: our mental, emotional and physical capabilities. What we think, feel and act determine our chances at success.

In some ways, SEAL training is easier than civilian “operating” (i.e., working a job, raising a family and finding fulfillment). The SEAL mission is straightforward; no one is doing this job for the money, and it’s certainly motivating to get the bad guy or save the hostage. Furthermore, it’s a rather simple life – the military provides almost everything you need (except of course for the wife and family component!); your pay scales are published every two weeks, and there’s no wondering about hitting your bonus (there aren’t any). And when you’re training, if someone quits, they are immediately removed, so they don’t disrupt the mindset of those still trying. Obviously, this is a bit of an oversimplification because as a civilian you’re not asked to sit in cold water, stay up for nights on end (okay maybe in some professions) or stand for so many hours that your toenails need to be drilled… and then there’s the worst case scenario – dying on the job.

But here’s the thing, the same principles they teach you in SEAL training about learning to use your “weapons platform” are EXACTLY the same ones you use as a civilian operator. Your success as a SEAL or as a civilian is dependent on your ability – your discipline – to learn to control and use your mental, emotional and physical abilities – I call this your Performance Platform.

So how do you get your Performance Platform to perform better?

Start with your goals. The reason I suggest this is because goals define your direction and done correctly, help you understand your why – why you should expend the effort, time, money, resources to make something happen. One of the common things I see from coaching CXOs is they don’t commit to the goal planning process. Many will even say: “I’m too busy to set goals,” yet get frustrated when they haven’t achieved more. Many others commit to goals but only business ones, and often find themselves on an emotional roller coaster ride where they become linked to every up and down of the business. (I know this first hand because I used to do this too.) If you decide goals aren’t for you, that’s fine, just don’t be disappointed when you spend the majority of your adult life helping someone else achieve their goals… and then upon retirement, spend the rest of your years saying “I woulda-coulda-shoulda.” I don’t want that for anyone – reduce your regrets by realizing what’s important to you and committing to it. That’s why I believe goals are the starting point for getting your Performance Platform to perform better.

It’s the last month of the year, and if you haven’t already started thinking about your 2018 goals, I will encourage you to start. Don’t wait until Jan 01 to think about your goals. Break your goals into the 3Ps: Professional – Personal – Physical. Here’s how I define the “3Ps”:

Professional: pick the #1 thing you want to accomplish at work – the one that moves the needle the most for your team… and consequently for you. It must be measurable and something you can track – if not, you won’t be able to communicate it to your team nor will you be able to show progress.

Personal: have a family? A spouse/partner? Pick something that you plan to do together – a trip, learn a language or a new skill (fly fishing or kite surfing or knitting – or whatever) but have a plan that you do with your significant other or, if there isn’t one in your life, then pick the thing YOU want to do outside of work (this, by the way, has tendency of finding you a significant other!). Commit to it – set the date, save the money and prepare for it.

Physical: pick one physical goal for the year. I used to pick things like “lose 20lbs” or “gain 10lbs of muscle” or “get body fat % to X, ” but honestly, I never seemed to make those happen…because I lost interest in them – I didn’t make the connection of their real value to me. Today, I pick a physical goal that has the by-products of losing weight/gaining muscle but is much more interesting to me, not to mention it involves friends, so it’s also more compelling. My physical goal for 2018 is to climb Mt. Denali. Point is: find a physical goal that Fires YOU Up. If you can involve others in it even better, such as training for a triathlon or hiking a portion of the Appalachian trail or skiing the Haute Route – find something that pushes you physically – that requires you to train for it. Plan – Prepare – Perform it!

The reason I’m explaining this three categories of goals is as we get older, we forget that our lives need a balance of all three of our platform – the mental, emotional and physical. If work is your only focus and you disregard your personal (emotional) and physical components, you will find yourself like I did in the summer of 2011 – seeing a cardiac specialist because I was showing signs of having a heart attack. Want to perform better at work – then perform at engaging your emotional and physical components of your platform as well. Our ability to perform is directly correlated with our ability to produce work for long periods of time – it’s call stamina. And our ability to get up after we’ve been knocked down (i.e., failed) is based on our determination which comes from our emotional state (attitude).

The three things we can control are ALL interdependent one another. You may think “all I need is work” or “I’ll get all the play I want when I retire”, but the fact is your performance platform will be lopsided – it won’t function nearly as well if you don’t give yourself permission to take time off from work to do something emotionally stimulating with loved ones (or with yourself) and keep yourself fit and fulfilled by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. And here’s the best part, if you’re in a leadership position, guess what your teammates will do? They’ll emulate you – and by doing so, they’ll be performing better too!

I promise you: if you commit in 2018 to not just work related goals but also to emotional and physical goals you will find your performance soaring… and you will have the stamina to keep performing year after year, and the ones you love will be with you every step of the way… guess what that means?

You will BE UNSTOPPABLE!

Here’s to planning your best year ever,

Alden