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Success leaves clues. Interviews and dialogues around the clues left by successful people overcoming life's challenges. Breakthrough self imposed limits. Thom Shea is a retired Navy SEAL and the best selling author of "Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL's Way of Life" and combat veteran. Thom shares interviews with extra-ordinary men and women who have pushed through their self-imposed limits. The clues lead to a measurable life.
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Apr 15, 2019

By the way, the odds are never in your favor. The odds of success are always tipped away from your idea working out. In any athletic endeavor there are and will always be chances of loss. And you see that year end and year out that even in a pro football game a team can be down 3 touchdowns and everyone is betting on the team losing and they pull it out. There is no way they could have and they do it.

In business the odds of making a profit are low and the odds of amazon and uber or facebook making billions is very low in the beginning. Most start ups fall to the pressure of everything stacked against them.

In the SEAL teams the odds are very much against even making it through training. If I were an investor, and I always wonder why Vegas doesn’t have a line on seal training, I would beat heavily on 70% of the class not making it. Surviving the type of combat the SEAL teams encounter is so heavily against the SEAL, I would bet on getting shot more than I would bet on not getting hit. And by the way most SEALs bet on getting hit like there is no way around that fact.

The odds are you will not marry the first person you so deeply love and what to marry. Even later the odds are that you won’t stay married.

Consider the odds are so against you even being born. Look at the known universe and the odds of life like ours existing on any planet.

Consider what I just said. The reality of your life and all life is that it is always against you. Everything all the time is collapsing and breaking apart, in science it is called entropy, the natural state of the universe.

And none the less you are alive. You already beat the biggest odds. How did you do that and how can you keep doing that is the question.

The first thing you need to know about beating the odds is that You, yes you, have to learn to not give up on you. You have to learn that early and practice it often. The skill of not giving up has the highest attrition rate of any skill humans can learn. It diminishes 1 second after the last time you didn’t quit. Meaning every second, really, you have to keep going and not quit on you. Everything you are learning or have learning is literally worthless compared to learning and practicing the skill of not quitting.

Look around you. Most people quit so often they don’t even know they do it anymore. I would even so most people practice quitting, and they can rarely unlearn that skill. Most people even are taught to quit by well-intentioned quitters.

“Don’t over do it” people may say.

Only study for an hour others may say.

Don’t try to be a business owner, or don’t try to be a soldier or god forbid don’t try to be a SEAL, our trusted advisors teach us to quit without even knowing it.

How do you learn how not to quit? First you need to take time out of the calculus. What do I mean by that? How long does it take to win or succeed or accomplish your dream or desire? Most people actually look at success and a derivative on time. If you do you will most surely quit. The answer is it takes as long as it takes. Success may take you 70 years. Learning a song or getting a passing score mat take you 5 years. Being able to bench press 2 times your body weight make take you 2 years. If you use time as a success parameter you are going to quit.

The second aspect of not quitting I think is the harder thing in our society to learn and teach others, especially in this socially networked environment where any one can connect with anyone else, and that point is get rid of all the nay sayers in your life. Now I didn’t say get thick skin and get used to criticism. Really, you all, thick skin is easy. Just don’t pay attention to critical people. The harder part is to kick critical or negative people out of your life entirely. The sooner you learn the art and science of getting rid of a negative influence the quicker you learn to not give up on your and beat the odds.

The third important skill you must learn at some point in your life is repetition. For god’s sake learn this skill. This skill in and of itself breeds passion, and converts a losing game or situation to a winning game and literally is the practice on not giving up. For instance, if you want to be a better runner run more. I mean more than you think you should. Don’t run for another mile, run for 50 more miles. Run until you cannot stand. Run until it is stupid.

If you want to learn how to sell a product. Practice selling that product 1000 times to the mirror. If you want to learn to invest then invest 1 penny using your strategy 1000 times before you go big. Go through the whole process 1000 times just to invest and track a penny. Do that until it is stupid.

Here is the deal about not quitting and the three rules I just mentioned, the ones who beat the odds do them every day. Some used to suggest running a marathon was nearly impossible. But some dreamer did it anyway. Then someone said running 100 miles couldn’t be done. Now look at all the people running multiple 100 mile races a year. It takes 4 months of running 80 miles a week to run a 100 mile race. They run because they have to practice not quitting mentally, and they run so that their bodies learn to not quit or die physically. To put in that amount of effort and practice they all kick negative people out of their life because it is so hard to do that anyone suggesting they stop will make them quit.

Jeff Bezos worked on and pitched amazon so many times it would make you cry. I am sure he cried many times too. He didn’t put a timeline to it, he just said recently he was willing to do it forever. He literally got rid of all people who said it was stupid. And look at him now.

So what is stopping you from learning these three aspects of never give up so that you can keep beating the odds of your life? Why do you always kill off your dreams and your direction by putting time as a limiting factor? What on earth makes you keep talking and dealing with people who aren’t supporting you or putting you down? And really, practice until you cannot go any more. Practice until it is stupid than do it 10 more times past stupid.

That is how you beat the odds.  

I often wonder why we teach our kids to play it safe in life. I often wonder why adults never have enough time to produce results or never just commit to getting it done because it will take too much time. Ironically so many people surround themselves openly with people who brutalize them for years. Look at the top people who do well in sport or business or parents who keep parenting every day.

Beat the odds beginning tomorrow. It may take you your entire life. You may be alone for quite some time fighting the odds. You may have to do it 10,000 times to get it right once.

Or you could never start, or you could keep hanging with the nay sayers, or you could try it once and get frustrated and walk away and never even try to beat the odds.

Get to it.