Achieving your goals is admirable, but often, the battles you fight along the way hold even more valuable lessons. In this heartfelt text, life coach Mike Sarraille applies military terminology to the process of overcoming everyday obstacles. “Everyday Warriors” learn from – and are not discouraged by – failure, he writes. They know how to leverage their soft skills, such as drive, resilience and a positive attitude, and how to balance their physical, mental and emotional needs. Sarraille’s examples and tips illustrate why shortcuts always disappoint, and the journey is its own reward.
- The “Everyday Warrior” uses failure as a teacher and motivator.
- Balance your physical, mental and emotional needs to attain optimal, sustainable performance.
- Mentally fit people treat the brain as a muscle they condition, exercise and rest.
- Time constraints, fear, doubt and weak initiative prevent people from committing to achieving their goals.
- Avoid instant gratification; pursue your goals step-by-step.
- Lapses in discipline are inevitable, but you can learn from them and move forward.
- People yearn for connection via a social circle or tribe.
- Take time to rest and reflect.
The “Everyday Warrior” uses failure as a teacher and motivator.
The “Everyday Warrior” believes the human experience is a lifelong learning opportunity, not a competition you win or lose. Everyday Warriors embrace the daily experience of education and growth.
To live the Everyday Warrior way, seek balance in striving toward your goals. Don’t let anxiety, depression, social isolation, apathy and frustration – the usual setbacks that steer people off track – deter you. Realize even when unsuccessful, the effort you put toward your goals motivates and teaches. Failure helps you learn perseverance. Assess your missteps realistically and resist the tendency to catastrophize. Focus on the next step after a failure.
Consider the Everyday Warrior’s traits: resilience, confidence, a positive attitude, and a drive to achieve and improve. Warriors are accountable, disciplined, pragmatic, vulnerable, humble and capable of honest self-assessment. By developing these characteristics, you, too, can take on an Everyday Warrior mind-set.
Balance your physical, mental and emotional needs to attain optimal, sustainable performance.
Michael Phelps was only 15 when he competed in the 2000 Olympic Games. Phelps won 28 Olympic medals, including 23 gold medals, by the time he retired from competitive swimming in 2016 – the most successful Olympian ever. But in training almost constantly to achieve his Olympic dreams, Phelps sacrificed a balanced boyhood. His subsequent struggles with alcohol and drug abuse are a reminder that an unbalanced approach to life can take a toll.
The “whole person concept” maintains that health is a physical, mental and emotional condition. Army Green Beret and Navy SEAL recruiters seek balanced candidates who excel in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) situations. These high-level recruits learn to control their stress by drawing on a balance of physical endurance, emotional fortitude and mental preparedness.
The physical, emotional and mental components of a balanced life work together. Focusing on only one dimension limits your potential. This framework is flexible since losing and regaining balance is expected on the path toward achieving optimal long-term performance.
Mentally fit people treat the brain as a muscle they condition, exercise and rest.
The Everyday Warrior’s mental and spiritual development rests on a foundation of physical fitness. Mental wellness requires exercising, conditioning and resting your brain like a muscle. Consider meditating or keeping a daily journal to stimulate your mind and nurture your emotional stability. Doing volunteer work, developing deep personal relationships and resisting negativity feed your spirit.
“As an Everyday Warrior, knowing when to rest and care for yourself is as important as fighting the battle.”
Acquiring self-knowledge is challenging because media, schools, families and “external influences” shape what people think they want. Social media compounds the modern tendency to bypass introspection and seek validation from outside sources. Rather than comparing yourself with others or choosing goals based on how others will perceive them, determine your own definition of success. Look within yourself to identify what you want, what makes you happy, and what gives you a sense of fulfillment and purpose.
In 2010, while serving in Afghanistan, Marine Rob Jones lost both legs to an improvised explosive device (IED). Instead of letting this trauma define his life, Jones devoted himself to fundraising to benefit veterans. In one notable fundraising effort, he ran 31 marathons in 31 days. You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can choose how you respond to life’s challenges. Like Jones, you can find ways to move forward rather than become a victim.
Time constraints, fear, doubt and weak initiative prevent people from committing to achieving their goals.
Many people today, particularly within the United States, are embracing feelings of victimhood. Rather than appreciating the high standard of living Americans enjoy relative to much of the world, people obsess over what others own and nurture a sense of entitlement. People who see themselves as victims presume they are powerless and embrace irresponsibility. They will quit demanding tasks rather than face adversity and blame someone else for their misfortune. Social media encourages you to compare yourself with others, so cutting back on the time you spend scrolling online can help you shift away from a victim mind-set.
Everyday Warriors take responsibility for their problems and regard adversity as a learning opportunity. They align what they say with what they do.
Data shows that people fail to commit to reaching their goals out of doubt, fear, time constraints and unwillingness to make the required effort.
Follow these five steps to succeed:
- Set a SMART goal. Your objectives should be “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.” To maintain your momentum, set a truly relevant goal. Don’t allocate too little or too much time to pursuing it; too little will make you anxious, and too much undermines focus and encourages procrastination.
- Develop a plan of sequential tasks that lead to “small victories.”
- Take actions that disrupt the comfort of old habits.
- Make time for introspection.
- Repeat this process as you become “more accomplished and capable.” Seek unfamiliar challenges in pursuit of new goals.
Avoid instant gratification; pursue your goals step-by-step.
Taking shortcuts eliminates the growth that comes from achieving a goal by building the right habits over time. By taking shortcuts, you lose out on the “hard-earned wisdom of experience.”
The Marshmallow Experiment, conducted by Stanford professor Walter Mischel, highlights the perils of instant gratification. The test began when a researcher brought a four or five-year-old child into a room with a marshmallow on a table and promised to return with a second marshmallow. The child could have both marshmallows if he or she didn’t eat the candy on the table. Researchers monitored test subjects for more than 40 years following the experiment. They found that those who delayed gratification and received a second marshmallow during the experiment scored higher on college admission tests and were less likely to suffer obesity and drug abuse.
Build your resistance to instant gratification by showing gratitude and training yourself to avoid instant rewards. Start with your goal and identify each necessary step to achieving it in reverse order. A clear mission and direction will reduce your urge for instant gratification. Divide your mission into tasks that incrementally advance the effort. To resist the urge for instant gratification, apply the “five-minute rule.” Take five minutes, stop all other activities and think about your goal – the urge will likely diminish.
People tend to get too comfortable in familiar settings. Without new experiences, personal growth slows, and self-confidence erodes. Leaving your comfort zone boosts brain activity, strengthens your capacity to learn, and enables the retention of positive emotions and the deflection of negative ones.
Lapses in discipline are inevitable, but you can learn from them and move forward.
Because people prefer being comfortable, embracing the uncomfortable takes a disciplined effort that often includes overcoming fear. To get past fear, gradually increase your exposure to discomfort. This “acquired skill” will improve with practice. Dealing with “deliberate discomfort” prepares you for “unplanned discomfort.”
“Discipline isn’t something you either have or don’t. By definition, it’s training people to follow the rules or adhere to a code using corrective action.”
Failures to maintain discipline are inevitable. Resolve any setbacks in six steps: Identify the cause of the setback; understand that a reversal is not a “total loss”; accept personal accountability; make any needed changes to your goals; recover quickly; and learn from the experience to avoid future setbacks.
Habits are positive or negative feedback loops, according to Atomic Habits author James Clear. These feedback loops contain “cues, cravings, responses and rewards.” For example, if your alarm clock cues a craving for more sleep, you respond by returning to sleep, and your reward is oversleeping. But if the alarm triggers a craving for physical activity and the energy it provides, your response is getting up, exercising and reinforcing a healthy pattern. Sustain a new habit by linking it to eating, exercising and other wholesome daily routines.
People yearn for connection via a social circle or tribe.
Hollywood movies like to celebrate the “lone wolf,” but, in fact, wolves live in packs, and so do people. Tribes have contagious qualities. A group of accomplished people encourages its members to succeed, whereas a group of negative people inspires failure. Tribe membership demands selflessness that benefits the entire group.
“Nothing great, including your personal goals, is achieved alone. Everyone needs a tribe.”
The desire to belong to a group is a legacy of ancestral hunter-gatherers who knew moving in bands was safer than being alone. In her article, “Finding Your Tribe,” psychologist Lauren Woolley reports that tribes are disappearing in modern times. Prosperous lifestyles render tribes obsolete for physical security and sustenance. Nevertheless, people still need tribes.
Individuals sometimes choose tribes “by reaching down instead of up” to ensure they will be more intelligent or successful than other tribe members. However, belonging to a group of more-accomplished people will push you to excel. To serve a tribe, listen more than you talk, be honest and empathetic and share wisdom.
Take time to rest and reflect.
The famous exhortation to “give 110%” is at odds with the need for rest. An overloaded schedule precludes periodic pauses to reflect and learn. Lost focus and reduced productivity signal a need for rest. Bad decisions, indecisiveness and a short temper signal a lack of rest.
Sitting in front of a screen is not “rest.” People rest in a state of calm reflection. To get adequate rest, turn off all screens and phones one hour before you go to bed. Try to sleep for seven or eight hours at night. Meditating and expressing gratitude nurture reflection. Take time for reflection when you set your goals, progress toward them, endure setbacks or celebrate an achievement.
Learn to savor what you already possess. Attaining some goals may be less satisfying than you imagined before you began your quest to achieve them. Your journey may be the true source of your fulfillment.
About the Author
Retired Navy SEAL officer and former Recon Marine Mike Sarraille founded Talent War Group, a leadership development and executive search firm.
The Everyday Warrior is a book that aims to help readers achieve a life of purpose and fulfillment by following 11 principles of living the Everyday Warrior mentality. These principles are based on the experiences and insights of the author, Mike Sarraille, a retired Navy SEAL and founder of the talent acquisition firm, Talent War Group, and his co-contributors, Brian Gordon, George Silva, and Jason Boulay, who are also former military members and successful entrepreneurs. The book covers topics such as health and fitness, adventure and travel, style, and gear, and provides practical advice on how to overcome challenges, be resilient, and build positive habits that will change your life.
The 11 principles of the Everyday Warrior mentality are:
- Know Your Why: Find your purpose and passion in life and align your actions with them.
- Be Humble: Admit your mistakes, learn from feedback, and seek mentorship from others.
- Be Accountable: Take responsibility for your actions and outcomes, and don’t blame others or make excuses.
- Be Resilient: Embrace adversity, learn from failure, and bounce back stronger.
- Be Curious: Seek new knowledge, skills, and experiences, and challenge yourself to grow.
- Be Balanced: Pursue physical, mental, and spiritual wellness, and avoid extremes or addictions.
- Be Adventurous: Explore new places, cultures, and perspectives, and step out of your comfort zone.
- Be Stylish: Dress well, groom yourself, and express your personality through your appearance.
- Be Resourceful: Use the best tools, gear, and technology available to enhance your performance and efficiency.
- Be Generous: Give back to your community, help others in need, and share your wisdom and resources.
- Be Grateful: Appreciate what you have, celebrate your achievements, and acknowledge the contributions of others.
I enjoyed reading this book because it offers a realistic and practical approach to life that is based on the experiences of the authors who have faced some of the most challenging situations in their careers. The book is not a typical self-help book that promises quick fixes or easy solutions. Instead, it tells readers that success requires hard work, commitment, and resilience. The book also provides actionable steps to help readers implement the 11 principles in their daily lives.
The book is well-written and organized into four parts: Part I introduces the concept of the Everyday Warrior mentality; Part II explains the first six principles that focus on personal growth; Part III covers the next four principles that focus on lifestyle choices; and Part IV concludes with the last principle that focuses on gratitude. Each chapter begins with a quote from a famous person or a historical figure that relates to the principle being discussed. Then, the authors share their personal stories or anecdotes that illustrate how they applied or learned the principle in their lives. Next, the authors provide some tips or suggestions on how to practice or improve the principle in your own life. Finally, each chapter ends with a summary of the key points and a call to action for the reader.
The book is also engaging and entertaining because it covers a variety of topics that appeal to different interests and preferences. For example, some chapters talk about health and fitness routines, nutrition tips, meditation techniques, travel destinations, fashion trends, gear recommendations, etc. The book also features interviews with other high performers and subject matter experts from various professions who share their insights and advice on how to live the Everyday Warrior mentality.
Overall, I think this book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to achieve a life of purpose and fulfillment by following a no-hack approach that is based on proven principles. The book is not only informative but also inspirational because it shows how ordinary people can become extraordinary by living the Everyday Warrior mentality. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve themselves in any area of life.