It's no mystery: success in high-attrition selection programs and demanding physical challenges depends on physical and mental preparation.
Passing these tests also requires a high level of motivation, self-confidence and, above all, discipline. It is difficult to answer the question of how to develop these intangible qualities. Here are some recommendations to prepare for the most difficult objectives.
Mental or academic preparation?
Do not confuse mental preparation with academic preparation. Students often confuse them. Mental toughness and academic readiness are two different things.
Class time in the Military Special Operations program teaches the principles students need to understand, such as math, physics, anatomy, and memorizing the nomenclature of all types of equipment and of procedures.
Being a good student is a necessary requirement for many military and special ops programs, while mental readiness is more about the mental toughness you've built through a lifetime of trials, successes, and failures.
Self-confidence comes from supporting and excelling in mental and academic rigor for your selection program.
Army psychologist David Grossman calls these life events "stress inoculations" that help you build the resilience needed in life as well as the ability to weather high-attrition events.
People often ask how long they have to train for these special ops occupations, and the answer is really "your whole life" before joining the military and getting selected. It means your whole school life, your sports life, your training hours and your motivation through the ups and downs.
The Evolution of Motivation
Any motivation to do something difficult started with a seed. It is this seed that gives the initial confidence to challenge yourself.
It is through initial inspiration and motivation that you begin your journey to full selection (or any other goal, for that matter). It could be a poster, a movie, words directed at you, or the fact that you know someone who has gone through a tough program that most people wouldn't dare to attempt.
However, this seed of inspiration must strengthen and become a personal motivation. There will be days when you don't have the motivation or energy to train for your goal.
That's when your habits of never giving up, working hard despite fatigue, and being persistent created enough discipline in your life to go practice anyway. Discipline wins.
Build discipline and mental toughness
The most common questions don't have to do the hard work in class, but how do you train the mind to be more resilient? How to find the "fuel when the tank is empty"?
How to develop mental toughness? Here is a list of useful tools that will allow you to overcome the trials when you have nothing left, it is cold, dark, damp, miserable and you are alone with your thoughts:
Performance cues and subliminal triggers: This is probably the most powerful method because, as with self-talk, these cues can be imagined and spoken when needed.
There are also very powerful subliminal triggers that you may not have thought of. Meeting and talking to people who have achieved your dream or goal will help you build the type of mindset that turns the impossible into the possible. There is a quote from Marie Wilson: "You can't be what you can't see". Although she used it to describe the lack of female mentors in positions such as politics (president), STEM careers or even female heroines in movies, it applies to all of us when it comes to the goal setting and achievement.
If you haven't seen, heard, or experienced people like you taking and graduating from high-attrition selection programs, the chances of your brain making the necessary developments to nudge you into this direction are less. Unless you're a real pioneer and you're jumping into the adventure just to be the first to do something. Most of us are not pioneers.
However, here are some powerful clues and triggers:
Seeing graduation and imagining yourself receiving it can be a powerful trigger in times of need.
Performance Index - Remembering previous successes on what was the greatest day of your life.
Recall the feeling of scoring the winning shot or getting the top grade in the class.
"It's game time" or "Let's go". -- Or something that elicits a response to your performance when it's needed most are examples of performance cues.
Don't forget your purpose or the years of hard training it took to get where you are now - ready to make the decision to keep moving forward.
A positive dialogue with oneself : "Don't listen to yourself, talk to yourself." And it has to be a positive mindset, to never give up, or else your self-motivation will wane and words like "give up, can't, or never" will start creeping into your vocabulary.
Competitive Mode : Beast Mode, Game Face or whatever you want to call it - your ability to take each event of your selection and make it a competition against others, another team or even yourself will allow you to never think of giving up. Too many people go into survival mode when they get into an event and just want to finish or pass the norm. The mindset you need to succeed in special operations selection programs is: "Exceeding the norm is the norm." No minimum standard should be your goal.
Pushing yourself to win or place in the top 10% of the class in at least one event that day is the mindset you need to approach the event, regardless of the outcome. This victory goal is a game-changer, whatever you do in life.
You must also realize when you pass the selection that you are enduring the test. This is your entrance exam in your dream. The selection does not represent the community you are looking for and the life in the teams. If you say that commando teams or any other special operations unit are not for you while you are in full selection, how do you know it?
Selection has nothing to do with work. However, the selection will set you up. We recommend that you absorb the selection, achieve the goal you set for yourself years ago, and you will be well prepared for the next step which is to integrate the special ops team.