“Because it may be the same [words], but it’s a whole different deal when we agree rather than when we’re told, it’s more commitment than compliance.” –Captain Robert Schoultz on making the SEAL ethos
In this episode of the Unbeatable Mind, two old friends, Captain Bob Schoultz and Commander Mark Divine talk about how recent publicity has impacted the SEALs. Bob Schoultz is an expert in leadership, and he’s both a speaker and guest at the Unbeatable Mind retreat. He’s taught leadership ethics in both in business and in the military at Graduate level. In this wide ranging conversation, Bob and Mark touch on the importance and meaning of the SEAL ethos, the value of leadership and the different meanings of heroism. All of these subjects are essential for both the military leader and for understanding leadership in business.
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Transcript & Shownotes
Hey folks, Mark Divine here. Coming at you with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Welcome back and thank you for listening. Thank you for following. If you like the guest and thee content, then please rate the podcast over at iTunes, and you can subscribe to it at unbeatablemind.com/podcast so go ahead and do that, and that way we’ll keep you on the email list and keep you informed of all the cool things that are going on here at Unbeatable Mind and at the SEALfit headquarters.
Today, I have a super-cool guest who’s a really good friend of mine, and we’ve heard from him before. Captain Robert Schoultz. 30 year, maybe 40 year… 30 year Navy SEAL vet. There have been 40, right? Some of the bullfrogs were a little longer. So Bob is a 30 year Navy SEAL vet retired as of ’06 as a captain. One of his last tours was as a commodore, or in charge of all the SEALs on the east coast. Bob is a leadership expert who also ran a leadership program at San Diego for several years and does coaching, speaking, consulting. And he’s been a frequent guest at the Unbeatable Mind retreat, where we talk about ethos.
So, our conversation today… Bob welcome back, thanks for taking the time today, but I wanted to talk about a few things related to NSW, related to the SEAL teams. Folks don’t really get much insight on that besides what they hear in the mainstream media. I don’t want to talk about war stories or tactics, but I really want to talk about leadership. Some of the challenges our leaders are facing. There’s been a lot of news stories lately about things that have happened. Yeah, let’s just have a conversation about that. Why don’t we start out with the most recent news about the media kinda going after the SEALs pretty heavily regarding three deaths. It was interesting to me that they linked these deaths all to the training, but really only one was training related. One was training related in the poolcomp incident, and then one was a suicide and then one was an actual accident. So completely unrelated, and the media lumps them all together and makes the big leap that there’s something going on. What is your perspective on that? How does that challenge the leadership down at BUDS and having to deal with that kind of pressure?
Bob Schoultz: Well, I think there’s pros and cons. One the attention is accountability. If there was nobody paying any attention, there might be the temptation to just move on… stuff happens. It’s forced them to take a good, hard look at whether any of these things would have been preventable with a few measures, and so that’s what they’re looking at.
The downside is that they’re losing… They’re trying to make a name for themselves by bringing down… Now the SEALs and special operations in general have kinda got the imprimatur of American heroes. Well, people in the press like to bring down people who are held up in the public eye to show that it’s not all… So, there’s a little bit of muck-raking that is going on. So they’re having to deal with that and then extrapolations as to what are the implications on all the rest of the things… and people who haven’t been inside this culture are making analogies to their own lives which… where people don’t understand the pressure that they are intending to put them under. The danger, the stress… almost looks like hazing as a preparation for combat.
Mark: Have you got any sense of what big Navy’s reaction was to the poolcomp death?
Bob: No I haven’t. I know that, in any accident there’s an NGP thing. They’re going through all of that to see what… whether they can learn anything that will keep this from happening again.
Mark: Typically you find a knee-jerk reaction to those types of things, an attempt to either remove those evolutions from training or to change the standards…
Bob: The Navy has a lot of experience with people dying in training. The challenge is that the Navy sometimes struggles with understanding what we do. And the whole BUDs context is so much different… But even in aviation they have accidents with Dilbert Dunker and things of that nature, where they’re trying to train aviators to get out of an airplane that’s in the water and that sort of thing, so…
Mark: One of the reasons I wanted to talk about this in a public forum is that… I don’t see any writers or journalists coming at this from a different angle, you know, again I’m just speaking about these three deaths. So I saw several reports about these three deaths. Well, one, like I said, was a suicide. When you pick that apart then you have to look at the psychological profiling and the care and wellbeing of people that don’t make it. At whatever stage. So, what happens when someone quits or when someone rolls, and so that’s one issue, that’s completely different than whether it’s… poolcomp or drown proofing is a safe evolution. They’re about as different as you can imagine.
And then the whole issue of alcohol related incidences and drinking and driving, they’re a whole other thing, they’re completely different, so to have these reckless journalists just throw all those together to try to extrapolate, like you said, that there’s something wrong with the type of training or the way we run training, just to me seems really reckless and just bad journalism. But I was waiting for someone to come out say, “Hey wait a minute, you know, these are not related things.” I don’t know where you could draw the link between these, personally, unless I’m missing something, right? Is there a link between someone dying in pool training, someone having an alcohol related accident and someone committing suicide. Besides that the three people passed away?
Bob: Well, obviously, any time anybody… you’ve got three incidents that happened in one command.
Mark: So people think it’s maybe a command culture…
Bob: Well, the Navy, by nature will go and look at what’s going on there. Whether there’s anything there. Because if there’s a fourth and a fifth and you didn’t do it after the second and third, then could you have prevented the fourth and the fifth. It is just good processing for them to look. And the leader of that organization is also looking at what… “Could we have done anything differently?” So yes they’re looking at… Now this is the first suicide that I’m aware of, of somebody who quit hell week and committed suicide. And in both the other two cases alcohol was involved. As far as I understand, I think that the fellow who had the car accident also had alcohol in his blood. And so…
Mark: There was alcohol involved in the pool issue?
Bob: No. In the incident with the suicide. Apparently, he went and drank himself stupid, and then jumped off a building. And apparently he had a sterling record of never having failed at anything before. He had a record of just superb performance at all these things. And he wasn’t prepared mentally to deal with the failure. Apparently he came from a great family. Talking to people who talked to his family–impressed with the father and mother, impressed with the way they’re dealing with it, and the father is mostly asking for, as I understand it, “Can we do better to take care of a fragile young ego that all of a sudden… his whole dreams are shattered.” And there may have been other things behind this as well, but that’s a good question to ask.
And likewise with the young man who got killed in the car accident. I didn’t know either of these guys, but I got a text from a friend of mine who knew this fellow and his father well. And so, they’re asking good questions about helping a young man… This is a dream for his whole life and having that dream shattered and thinking that’s more important than it is. And so can we help get these people… Now they’ve, up to this point, they’ve been much than when you and I were going through. They just kind of, “Okay. Good luck.” pat you on the butt and move on. They’re actually working with people now, but they’re probably going to look at it and make it a little bit better.
It’s like people coming out of combat, a lot of people adapt well on their own. A few don’t. And so there are things in place to help find those people who are not, and possible prevent them from going off the rails when they get back from combat.
Mark: Yeah, I think that is… when you look at the evolution of naval special warfare, to me that’s one of the most promising and interesting things. There’s a lot that has changed since you and I were on active duty. The quality of the training has really improved in terms of the professionalization of the instructor cadre. They’re all master instructors now, and there’s… you know, most people aren’t aware of how much training the SEAL instructors go through to do their jobs, and the strict requirements on them. And then also, the preparation, like the NSW mentor program, and the prep work that goes into preparing candidates. Some people maybe slipped through the cracks. They didn’t get the pre-resiliency training. That would be something to look at still.
But also, like you said, the transition. I’m really impressed of the honor foundation in helping NSW folks who are transitioning out back in the civilian world figure out how to go get a real job… not a real job but a job in the civilian world. So a lot has changed and I think the leadership is… my perspective is that the leadership is doing really an exceptional job at all levels. You know, you have issues here and there, but it’s just a lot more sophisticated and more complex of a system than when we were leading small units and small teams.
Bob: The world is much more complicated. I mean, most of the people when I was at that point, didn’t have a clue what SEALs were or what we were doing. I frequently tell the story of when I was going through training I was trying to chat up some girl at a bar, said I was going to go work with the SEALs and she thought I was going to go work at Seaworld. And she pretty impressed with that so I let her think that. But now, we’ve got a lot of these young men and now we have women who are aspiring to that. But the young men in particular who wanted to do this since they were nine, ten years old. And there is all the press attention that we never had and there are costs to being an American hero.
There are costs to being held up in the limelight. There are advantages as well. We don’t have the same recruiting challenges as we had before. But anybody who’s been in the limelight as a star gets the kaka beat out of them, and you have to… I mean, look at what our political candidates go through, look at what our celebrities deal with and now some of that is on the SEAL community as a whole. Not so much on the individuals, but we have to… if we’re going to be in the limelight, we have to be ready to take the good with the bad.
Mark: Right. There’s a couple things you said really sparked some thoughts. One is… and you basically pointed it out, but I want to make it clear that the difference between, you know, 1985 or ’76 being in the Navy or at a recruiter and being, “What is that? What do those guys do?” Because nobody knew what the SEALs were. I mean, I had to really fight to find information even in 1989, you know? But, like you said, today there’s been so much media, so many books written, that now you have kids… And here at SEALfit, we have kids who literally come here and they say by the time they’re 16, but we let them in the door. They’ve been training since they were 12 years old. Aspiring to be SEALs, you know? And the ones who trained properly usually make it, because they’re doing the work properly. But to have this fantasy and to uphold that heroic warrior in your mind and then to have that stripped away, like you said, is not something that we’ve dealt with in the past. Right? That’s a new evolution. To have it be such an aspiration to where you literally are going to be suicidal if you don’t make it. That’s gonna require some innovative and creative thinking of how to deal with that. It speaks to also the other side of the coin. The challenges that NSW is having with the excessive publicity. With guys writing books and trying to reign that back in and really tamp that down and turning down PR and media requests and… because the genie’s really out of the bottle. And it’s created some interesting challenges.
Bob: At the same time, I take a view that is somewhat different from a lot of the people inside the wire, that are still in the community. I think the books also serve a good purpose. And I mean, we do work for the American public. We are not a secret society. We don’t want to be seen as this behind the closed door we’ve got this SS like organization where nobody knows what we do or who we are and we’re just a tool that the authorities can use however they want, and we don’t tell anybody what we’re doing.
This is America. This is democracy, so we really don’t have many secrets. There are some secrets that are legitimate because of our enemies, but…our culture and who we are, what we do… needs to be public. I think. And so I’ve written elsewhere about how to judge our people who go to the media. And I think a lot of is good. A lot of it is self-serving and bad. And I don’t think you can just turn it all off, because one, people are free, and secondly, you also lose the good thing. Bill McRaven, our most famous senior officer SEAL… he went into the program because of books he read. And when I was growing up, and I augmented my professional development by reading personal accounts of combat that if these people hadn’t written these books I would not have become the officer that I became. I mean, I wouldn’t have been as… I became better because of the reading I did. And the men who’ve come to your organization have largely been… hopefully enhanced by most of their reading. There are some books I’d tell them not to read, or not to believe much of. But anyway, this is an interesting challenge and they’re still trying to figure out how to deal with it.
Mark: Yeah. Related to both books and media, I don’t know if you caught this, but there was a cover story on Newsweek, this week. And it was about the Afghani who took Marcus Lutrell into his custody, in Operation Red Wings. And his journey… his tortuous journey to finally get out of Afghanistan, and all the threats on his life, and I think his brother, or his brother-in-law was killed. Anyways, he’s had a falling out with Lutrell. And it happened when the movie and representations that were made about getting him a green card and some money that was supposed to come. Things can get really complicated when you have Hollywood involved. And then he also made some claims that Lutrell’s story was exaggerated. And so this is interesting to me. And I was trying to be _really_ objective about it, because there’s always… truth is somewhere in between… and so you got the Afghani saying there were only six Taliban and they had been tracking these guys because of the boot prints. It was no mystery that they were there. They heard the helicopter come in.
And then you have Lutrell’s story that they beat off somewhere between sixty and a hundred Taliban and there were bodies strewn all over the place. And then of course he’s changed his story over time. And so it’s just very interesting. So back to one book that you can almost point to and the recent explosion of books that might have tipped the balance. And it was in a leadership stage where “Act of Valor” was being created, and this book was officially blessed by Naval Special Warfare command.
Bob: Lutrell’s book was not.
Mark: That’s not the story I heard. I heard there was actually…
Bob: I don’t think it was, because I remember dealing with friends of mine who were oh-sixes who were having to deal with fallout of the book when it came out.
Mark: Is that right?
Bob: Yeah. And were upset about it. So I that’s not my understanding that Lutrell’s book was blessed. He was given assistance while he was on active duty, working with the media. But this was also before all this explosion of media.
Mark: They must have thought it’d be good for recruiting, or…
Bob: Might have been all of that. I don’t think it was… I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I do know that when it came out there was an awful lot of backpedaling. I don’t think the content was read and approved by… But again, I may be wrong. It may have been cleared by the security folks, but some of the things he said in there, and has said since have caused negative fallout.
Mark: Right. Interesting. Well I’m sure this article will continue that discussion.
Bob: It’s interesting that Rashomon… it’s a movie about five people watching the same situation… and that’s why Tim O’Brien and his novels about Viet Nam he says, “All of it could have been true. Some of it was, and I’m not even sure which parts are true.” And even telling my own stories going back, I’m not sure…
Mark: Right. How much truth there was really in that. And I think recent neuroscience is showing that memory is selective, and we know that in a general sense. But statistically they’re looking at accuracy of memory, and they’re finding that it’s extremely inaccurate. Like 80% or something like that, of our recall is inaccurate because it changes over time and it changes in the context that we try to remember it, and the emotion that we stored it with. Lot of factors there. And then, like you said, every single perspective of every individual that undergoes an event is gonna be different because of thoughts and mental context that they process through. And of course time changes things. And then, when you add to this that in the case of Marcus, he’s relaying to a third party. Robinson was his name who was his co-writer… or his ghost writer. So he’s really having a discussion. And I don’t know about you, but the way I write is when I talk, I’m not fact checking. I’m just drawing from memory. It’s very spontaneous. And so then you’re having a co-author record and… then he’s taking it back and writing a story.
Bob: A co-author from a very different culture as well.
Mark: From a different culture, different language, and even some of that language showed up in the book, which was interesting. But when I write versus communicate, I take my time. I’m much slower, methodical. I might write a first draft and then 80% of that is gone for the second draft. I’ll research things that I’m not 100% sure of. And even then I don’t get it right. And so it’s no wonder, you know.
Bob: It’ll be interesting. But I think it’s also to be expected when you are in the limelight. There are people who are gonna try to take you down. And that’s just part of the deal. And if you can’t handle that heat, then you don’t go into the limelight. And if you can’t handle that heat and you get put in the limelight, it’s not going to be a pleasant experience for you.
Mark: For sure. And I think for me the whole lesson here, and it’s something that I’m really cognizant about in my career, is that if we were to sit down and talk to Marcus… like I really like Marcus, I totally respect him. I mean, he’s a warrior. I betcha he wishes he never wrote the book. You know what I mean? It’s brought upon such a change in his life…
Bob: At the same time, it’s given him an opportunity to do a lot of good.
Mark: Absolutely. His foundation is doing great work.
Bob: And so… I mean… how much of life is all good? So I mean there… it depends on the day. If he’s at one of his ranches where he’s seeing people be transformed by the experience that he’s offered them, he’s probably tickled that he wrote the book. And then when he’s getting beat-up in the press and having people tear him down, he’s not. And so…
Mark: So the whole point is just be thoughtful about your actions because they all have consequences. And sometimes the consequences have a long tail.
Bob: Well, and we can’t control a lot of it, and basically just having the internal resilience and to be who we are and to be solid with that and not take too seriously what those people who want to bring us down say. I mean, I haven’t had a lot of experience with that, but I’ve had some, and it’s was shocking to me when I was writing essays for the Washington Post in the leadership section, how… the animus from people who had never met me, merely because I was a retired Navy SEAL. And the things they said I wouldn’t say to anybody. And I was writing I thought… what made sense to me was very moderate reasonable essays. And “You make me ill.”
Mark: No kidding. That’s interesting. And it’s easy to do that behind a keyboard, you know?
Mark: The ethos of the SEALs… which neither of us grew up with in the teams with a written down ethos. It was developed after we got off active duty around 2007 or so. And a lot’s changed even since then. That ethos was written for the mindset of the SEALs in the past. They weren’t really looking into the future. They were trying to protect the future, but they couldn’t see what has happened now, with the complexity and the speed of information and the publicity that the SEALs have. How do you think the ethos is holding up today? And what would you recommend the leaders to do to kind of evolve it?
Bob: Well, as you’re aware, I’ve written on that. Some people really agreed with me, and some people didn’t. I think the ethos as its written is very aspirational, very ideal, kind of paints a picture of this ideal SEAL warrior who is selfless, is a great citizen, quiet professional, totally dedicated to his work. All of these things that we want to create. And the intent was to create something to which all of us would aspire but probably never… and may reach it for moments, but difficult to hold it.
Mark: But isn’t the point just to reflect upon those and then to practice them or keep them in your awareness daily so that you can hold yourself to a higher standard, and in that regard I think they have.
Bob: I talked to Bill Wilson who was part of the team, and he said that was not the intent. Otherwise it wouldn’t be as long and complicated. It does try to do so much. And it was meant to be sort of a guiding… more like the New Testament than the Beatitudes.
Mark: It’s interesting on that point, when we teach we never use the long form. We literally teach the bullet point form. “Ready to lead, ready to follow, never quit. Serve with integrity and honor on and off the battlefield.” Cause they’re like… I can pick those key themes and in an hour, talk about contextually why they’re important to the leader in the field. And they get it. and then we have them memorize it. And then we put them under pressure so they start to understand, “Hey, why is it important to be ready to lead, ready to follow and never quit.” Maybe that’s the missing link is how do you practice the values so you…
Bob: There is a SEAL creed which is six points. And six is already too many. I think five is the outer limit of what most people can remember when they’re…
Mark: Well that last one’s kind of throw away. “Defeat our nation’s enemy.”
Bob: They should have thrown it away. And I came up with four guiding principles when I was in command. I wanted three but I came up with four and four I could usually remember after a couple beers. Or somebody asking, “What are they?” But it hasn’t been… as it is now it has so much content that it’s difficult to get their arms around and to go right to it when they’re faced with a challenge. Apart from the one line, “I do not advertise the nature of my work,” or “seek recognition for my actions.” That’s been beat into them lately with all the people going off the trail and talking to the press.
The others, other aspects of it have not been as effective, and I think it’s because there’s so much content in there. So what I recommended was: one, I think it needs to be constantly reviewed. Because right now… to the young guys it’s something that kinda came down on high and these young men… and the people coming to the SEALs are naturally rebellious against the “on high” system. So it’s appealing to the guy who turned the corner and decide this is my life at 35 years old. They understand it. But 22, 23 year olds, it’s just more noise. So how do you grab this thing in such a way that it appeals to a 24 year old and still connects to the values of the 35 and 40 year old. I think that’s what missing
And secondly, the other thing that’s missing is whatever that would be needs to be constantly a drumbeat.
Mark: Well, to me that’s what’s missing first. Forget about the long form ethos, and let’s talk about the creed. To me they’re both an ethos, one is just a digestible, memorizable form and the instructor cadre needs to understand how to teach those through the physical training evolutions. And so the words of those ethos statements or the creed statements should be showing up 30 or 40 times a day. And that’s the way we kind of try to do it at SEALfit, both with the big four skills and the creed, so that they understand what it means to not quit. They understand it at an embodied level. They got the language, the experience in action, and so by the time their done with six months of that, they’re able to live the creed. Because it’s not enough… you know, we talked about this before in the context of corporate values. There’s been a lot written on that. It’s useless to sit in a room and come up with six values and then put them on a wall and then have no systems in place to reward or penalize the behavior, and to inculcate those values into daily activities and language. It’s not too late, you know what I mean? And it seems to me critical.
Bob: And what I have not heard is… and I don’t spend a lot of time with the community now. I don’t go to all the changes of command. I go to the ones I’m invited to, which is not all of them. It’s some of them. And some of them I can’t go to because I’m not here. But I don’t hear them… I hear that the SEAL ethos is wonderful, the SEAL ethos is who we are. It’s in the program. But… (clap, clap, clap)
Mark: The drumbeat. Yeah.
Bob: And the drumbeat needs to be real simple. And the marine corps does that really well. Semper fidelis. And they’ve got a couple of other lines that they use over and over again. It’s who they are. Now, again, the marine corps they got a different culture. The SEALS are gonna be suspicious of anything they’re told to do. And so how do you create this thing so that the men at the bottom own it, and it doesn’t look like the leadership is telling them how they’re supposed to think. And one leader of a team took his whole team out on an off-site for two days and they came up with their own ethos. And it had to be within the left and right boundaries. It could not be inconsistent with the SEAL ethos, but it needed to be something that was their words. And not the words of some senior guys who got together at San Clemente fifteen years ago, but their words. And…
Mark: Do you have a copy of that? I’d love to see that.
Bob: Yeah. And I have some problems with the wording in it… some of it. But he, as a C/O, he told me that the discussion was knockdown, dragout. What are the things that are fundamental to us, not peripheral but fundamental. And once they… he said “you guys are going to stay here till you get this…” Once they did it was theirs. He said, “Now, as a SEAL, I’m gonna help you hold yourselves accountable to what you came up with.” And he was careful to not inject too much into the conversation so that it was theirs and not his.
And my son was in that team, and he said it was every decision they made, or the C/O made, he drew it off of their ethos. Every decision they had to make as a group, he said, “What does the ethos tell you to do?”
Bob: It was their ethos. And I think the conversation… That was probably as important as what they came up with is them talking about “who we are and how are we going to treat each other? What are our values, and what is important to us? Not what do they tell us should be important to us.”
Mark: Right. Exactly.
Bob: Because it may be the same, but it’s a whole different deal when we agree rather than when we’re told, it’s more commitment than compliance. You see… you know that difference. So that process… what would I do if I were the admiral? I would go ahead and convene a group of people together to relook at it. And I don’t think it would be dramatically different. The content would be the same, the words might be different. How it’s implemented… the ideal is wonderful, you can’t argue with the ideal. It’s how does it get from here to here.
Mark: Yeah, in fact, that should be a periodic, systemic process. Every five years, or every x number of years.
Bob: The more you talk about it, just getting everybody together.
Mark: And to have off-sites like that where you talk about “What does this mean for our command and then you know, even at the unit level…
Bob: And then the fundamental question is what are we committed to? And what are we committed to hold each other accountable for? And then the leader’s job is to help them hold each other accountable, not to hold them accountable. Both, obviously. But the ideal, the greater organization, the members of the tribe hold each other accountable, and the leader helps with that. Cause the leader just passes through.
Mark: I’d love to link this concept of commitment to an ethos and commitment to your team and holding each other accountable to a notion of heroism. Because there’s a lot of… that word is like “leadership,” there’s a lot of…
Bob: Notion of what?
Mark: Heroism. There’s a lot of different perspectives on what a hero is. Specially in the modern context. I have my own perspectives, I know you have yours. To me, I know the hero is someone who’s deeply committed to a cause, so that they’re going to make the right decision for that cause at the right time, and they’re not going to back down and what that shows up to with other people from the outside who aren’t as committed, is uncommon behavior. And we say that’s heroic. What do you think about heroism in the SEAL teams, or in the warrior culture? What is that evoke for you?
Bob: Well, the word “heroism” is interesting. It’s one of some contention in my small circle, like with my wife.
Mark: (laughing) You’re my hero, Bob.
Bob: Well, and so there is the concept of heroism that is a consensual discussion where we all agree on this person is heroic. And that’s interesting.
Mark: Like Byers getting the medal of honor. He clearly was heroic. But there’s literally hundreds of those.
Bob: And you talk to medal of honor recipients and have known and worked with several, most of them will say, “Yeah, I’m pretty amazed that I did that, at that point.” There’s a heroic action, and then there’s a life of heroism. And the two are different. Most of us, at one point or another done something which even ourselves say, “Wow. I did that.” It’s different from having a heroic life.
Mark: A good example of that is Mother Theresa. There’s no single event that you would call out and say, “Wow, that was heroic.” Probably? It’s mundane. Showing up every day. But a lifetime of that is just unreal.
Bob: And what does it mean to live heroically? And what I actually focus on is what it is for me, rather than whether my version of living heroically… how that fits with a consensual agreement on the definition of heroism. And, there are some that say, that call… it’s heroic to get up every day and go to work and provide for your family. There’s no doubt that that’s a good thing. Now some people will say that that’s heroic. Others will say it’s heroic to finally say, “F you. I’m outta here. I’m gonna go find my muse. I’m gonna go… I’m not gonna just grind my life away, bringing home a paycheck every weekend.” So what is it? In my own mind, the most interesting question is what is it to each of us, and how do we fulfill heroism for ourselves in our lives. And frequently it means rebelling against the values that society tells us are heroic. And I remember Bob Kerrey wrote his autobiography and he talked about how he got through BUDs training, and at the end of that… when they graduated, they were all getting assigned to their SEAL teams and one of the guys in his graduating class said, “I quit.” And he said it was the most heroic acts he’s ever seen.
Mark: To get all the way through training…
Bob: And then said… his explanation was, “I did not want anybody to think… I decided I didn’t want to part of this organization. But I didn’t want anybody to think it was because I couldn’t hack it.”
Bob: And I know another guy who worked for me went all the way through Green team. When he got ready to be assigned, he said, “I don’t want to be a part of your organization.” And they were angry, because they’d put all this energy in, and they were counting on him, he was a really good operator. But he said, “I did not want to be a part of this organization. But I did not want to… I decided that half way through, but if I’d told you then, everybody would have called me a quitter.” So, was that heroic? Depends on who you talk to. I mean, did he deceive these guys? I mean, was there a deception there? Was there not willingness to handle the accusations of being a “quitter” in order to do what was right? You know, I mean, interesting question.
Mark: Those are interesting questions. Where do you find inspiration and what sources of literature and how do you find inspiration in your current professional development about things like heroism, and what it means to be a warrior? Are there any books you can recommend to the listeners?
Bob: I’m in the middle of a podcast I was just telling you about where Sebastian Junger recommends a book called “Tribe,” which I’m gonna run right out and get. Cause he talks about heroism, and war and society, and how, particularly young men… Looks at native American cultures, and how a lot of dysfunctions in society are because we’ve made ourselves so comfortable. So that’s one. I’ve just finished, as I mentioned to you earlier, going through a whole thing on Hemingway. His whole life was about living heroically. In his vision. Which is different from my vision. But… and he had a lot of failings and whatnot, but it was very interesting. I go to literature. I go to literature. And I find that literature inspires me and makes me think about how I… I’ve still got some mileage. I’m in the process of reinventing myself right now. And in what direction? And as long as I’m thinking that way, I think I’m still alive.
Mark: Yeah. Absolutely. Awesome. If folks wanted to find your blog or contact you for a speaking engagement or something, where would they look?
Bob: Fifthfactorleadership.com is my professional site, and on there are links to my blog which is “Bob’s corner.” And I also review all the books that I read, so there’s also “Bob’s books” is on there as well. And I write… One of the things that helps me is that when I read a book, rather than just set it aside and go to the next book. Which we’ve all done. And then two weeks later you can’t remember what that was and “what did I get out of that?” I force myself to sit down and write down what did I get out of that. And I won’t go onto the next book until I have. So that exercise… I started it a few years ago and all those reviews… and it helps me cause I wanna go back… gosh I read “Team of Teams” by McChrystal. A great book, so much content. I can go back and re-read my review and go, “Oh, that’s what I got out of it. Those were some of the nuggets that I carried with it.” Cause they kind of fade.
Mark: I think I’m gonna go read your book reports. Probably every book that you’ve read, I’ve been wanting to or it’s on my bookshelf. I got stacks of them.
Bob: So “Bob’s corner” is what I think about. And my professional site which is a breadth of things. I’m not a self-promoter. That’s part of the reason why I have time to sit down and chat with you.
Mark: Yeah. Well I really appreciate you taking the time, Bob. You gonna be at our retreat this year?
Bob: I hope so. Once we get the dates and once I figure out… I got a lot out of the last one. I enjoyed preparing for it, and giving my remarks. I get more out of it from preparing for it than the people in the audience. But I also sat in on the some of the other ones that just blew my mind.
Mark: Yeah, this one’s going to be even better. So awesome. Thank you sir.
Bob: Thank you.
Mark: All right, thanks again Captain Schoultz. We’ll see you again at the Unbeatable Mind retreat, December fourth, fifth, sixth whatever it is. Look for more information on that soon. Thanks everyone for listening. Really, really appreciate your support. Once again, if you can go rate us on iTunes. That’s the only way that other people can find us. I’d love to see my podcast right up there next to Tim Ferris. Five thousand five star reviews. As always, train hard, stay focused, have fun, and be your own hero.
Coach Divine out.