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Best selling author and US Navy SEAL, Thom Shea discusses what life is like when you stop quitting and become the best version of yourself.


Oct 7, 2019

Sustainability is hard at best. Longevity is rare. Yet many people set out even from a young age to win all the time, succeed at every endeavor, make more money in each year. I have sat in numerous business meetings where the marketing departments project a never ending growth curve. I have sat in more than enough college and pro football team meetings where every play scores and every game is a win.

I want to pull the ole cat out of the bag for a moment. Sustainability, longevity, win all the time is a fabrication of excitement. Those concepts are manufactured sales pitches for the young and amateur minds. Maybe they are well intended to motivate and encourage during pre-game shenanigans or when companies are stale and the market is seemingly out of control.

Encouragement is vital, that is a truth of human performance in every area of life. Looking on the bright side is wise, because darkness is a real event in every endeavor. Scoping out, or laying out, a series of actions that are needed to win or grow is a critical factor to winning and growth. Obviously, learning to take responsibility for the things you do that effect your environment will keep the environment healthy longer.

Yet, the older and wiser men and women who have seen the ups and downs of life never buy into the pitch of longevity or sustained performance. But what they do recognize will need to happen over time is the simple fact that they and their team will have to start over often. Master’s always reinforce the reality of second chances to the people they are training. Actually that is all they really do. The break down and rebuild and make second chances a way of living.

That is the question I ask in this podcast. Do you create second chances? Do you allow your team to have second chances and start overs? Do you allow the people in your family to have second chances?

You certainly don’t have to provide second chances. You can fire, or get rid of people who fail, you can get divorced and try to find someone perfect. But you will waste a lot of time and energy and money searching for perfection. It is far more effective to get extremely good at second chances and start overs.

Here is why. Humans, as in all of us living on this planet or have lived or will live, are really good a failing and falling apart. We are really brilliant at initially having no inherent skills or abilities. Further more we all learn really well from failures and are very resilient. These fundamental truths are paramount to success. In order to win we have to lose and fail and skin our knees rather often. Wise leaders understand that fundamental truth and allow for it and encourage second chances.

Plan for second chances every single day in everything you do. Plan for it. From the time you wake up until the time you wake up again the next morning actually plan and prepare for second chances or breakdowns that need rebuilds. If you are going to the gym or on a run or bike ride, know up front that your plan for the perfect workout will not last longer than a minute. Something will go wrong. So plan for a second chance or a re-adjustment. If you are a salesperson, every single engagement is a second chance. Every single person you meet is a second chance to sell. If you are a parent, your kids need you to give them multiple second chances, every day. And you need to give yourself a second chance raising your kids.

Organized sports like football are built on second chances. Coach each play as if it is new and a second chance to win. If you are a player don’t get stuck on the failures before and run this play as best as you can. Give your self a new chance to run like your being chased, or to catch the next pass like a boss. The other team may be stuck on their failures and the first one to create a second chance wins.

If you really want to learn the dynamic truth of second chances train to run an ultra marathon or go support an ultra marathon. There is no better venue to see the truth and power of second chances and do overs. I have never seen or witnessed any runner have a perfect ultra. Not even the top runners have one. Because in 50 or 100 miles, shit is going to go wrong and can go amazingly wrong. Many new runners quit once the first mistake is made or when they encounter the first breakdown. Quitting is not a way to create a second chance. Often the plan novice runners have in their minds that they made in the comfort of their homes completely unravels at the start line or in the first 13 miles. Amateurs plan for perfection and professionals plan for failure and train for failure so that start overs and second chances are their plan.

Go and watch this play out in real time. Watch the depth of breakdowns the pros can endure and create a second chance. Watch how quickly some runners kill off second chances. Professionals puke, bleed, get sick, fall down, break toes or fingers, and keep giving themselves second chances to run. Most of the field doesn’t meet some preconceived expectation or experience or time and literally quit, no second chance.

Successful business leaders literally get good at breaking shit and moving fast and adapting. Stale leaders coddle everything, move slow, and are rigid. Break shit and move fast mentality really is a deep understanding that shit is always broken and moving fast means accepting that fact and moving into a second chance. If you are going to lead your company don’t be so keen at creating the illusion of stability. Nothing is stable and never has been stable. Most employees want a stable salary but this mindset destroys second chances and start overs most often causing businesses to fail over time. Once a business fails that was based on stability, no one in the company is trained or good at start overs so the company is gone. Oddly that is why a new leader comes in and breaks everything and moves fast and the company gets a second chance.

Second chances are critical to a marriage or long term relationship with your partner or lover. People make mistakes either intentionally or un-intentionally. That is the way of things. If you don’t give your partner permission for a second chance or a mistake and a rebuild, than it ends right there. Quitting is always an option. Take it if you want. But in your next partner, the same thing will happen and you never got good at rebuilding or second chances so it will end there. Don’t laugh that pretty much describes most relationships. What would be possible if you got good at rebuilding after the mistake by giving it a second chance?

Give yourself a second chance today on your workout, or your job, or with your kids. Start over! Give your employee a second chance or your partner at home.

How many second chances or start overs will it take for you to succeed? The answer is one of life’s great mysteries.