Going Beyond: “Get your mind right” and “It’s not about you.”

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By George Rogers

GORUCK Cadre have said these about GORUCK events:

  • “It is a team event…You are no longer individuals. You are a team. Your mission is to get everybody to complete all the events to the standard outlined by the cadre.”
  • “In order to be a good leader, you have to be an excellent follower. To lead is to serve. Nothing more, nothing less.”
  • “You think you can’t….Those demons that are inside your head right now, are probably telling you to just quit right now.… Get your mind right.”
  • It’s not about you.”

In this column, I want to talk about the principles outlined by the cadre above, offering what may be a useful technique while challenging you at the same time.

The typical overachieving type-A personality attracted to GORUCK events wants to prove she or he can do it. Indeed, those attracted to doing any endurance event, whether more mainstream like a triathlon or something more extreme like a GORUCK event, often do them to validate their own pursuit of excellence. They want to push themselves, to know they are competitive—and perhaps to know they are better than someone else, even if by a few seconds or minutes in a race. These are fine qualities. But I would argue these are not what it takes for success in GORUCK.

Even the strongest and fastest among us will falter. In a GORUCK event, the cadre will see to it. More broadly however, life throws curve balls that you have to work around. There are going to be times when whatever you are facing is so difficult, so daunting that you need something more than guts, training, and a DFQ (Don’t F-ing Quit) attitude. To go on, you’re going to need to dig deeper. I think “getting your mind right” is really about internalizing that “it’s not about you.”

When I first started getting ready to do a GORUCK event, I remember reading an After Action Report (AAR) from some guy who told the world he was doing a Challenge for a fallen hero. He had read about the man, and had a picture with him. At the time I thought this seemed a little hokey. But over time, I’ve come to see the wisdom. Later, I read an AAR from a Selection (48 hours+) finisher who recommended listening to music when training—he couldn’t listen to it during Selection, but the refrain he had memorized helped keep him going during the long walk and other times when he felt doubt creep in.

After the Gettysburg GORUCK, I wrote in this column about having a DFQ attitude. Some might recall I mentioned that I made finishing the event about honoring my Dad, a Vietnam vet and in my eyes a Great American. He had just battled back from a severe illness, and he has battled many times in his life to be there for me.

I don’t recall exactly when it happened, but one day, probably at a time when Dirk was meting out the weekly dose of pain, I had this song pop into my mind from a mix. The song is “Red, White, and Blue” by Toby Keith. A powerful song about 9/11 and how Americans would respond to being attacked. A couple of lines came to mind in that moment, and somehow I connected them with my Dad and then somehow with the team around me.

Quietly saying a verse or two, or singing them in my head (to save my comrades’ ears), I was able to push through the evolution that day.   After that, anytime it became tough, I’d remember a bit of that song, think about my Dad never giving up, and then look around me at the team.  I carried that with me during Gettysburg.  When leg cramps and asthma piled on trying to get me to quit, those verses plowed doubt right under.

I’m not suggesting you need a song. Or that you must focus on a relative.  Maybe its concentrating on not letting down your buddy.   It’s up to you to pick something meaningful.

But I think you should pick something. Because you’re going to have a moment someday where your ego, your endurance, your training isn’t going to be enough to keep you going.  It’s not about you. Get your mind right.





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