#1541 Areté +1° #006: Overload

When in Doubt, Do This

Hi, this is Brian. Welcome back to another Areté +1°—a micro-chapter from my new book, Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential.

451 ideas, any one of which I hope can make a significant difference in your life and help you activate your Heroic potential.

Now, one of my favorites.

This one is called…


Admiral William H. McRaven is one of my heroes.

As a Four-Star Admiral, his final assignment was as Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces.

You may have seen his commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin called “Make Your Bed.”

He’s written a number of great books including one based on that talk (Make Your Bed), a memoir called Sea Stories, and another great book called The Hero Code.

In his most recent book on leadership, The Wisdom from the Bullfrog, Admiral McRaven shares eighteen military aphorisms that have guided his life.

One of them is called “When in Doubt, Overload.”

Let’s set some context and then we’ll connect the wisdom from that book to the structure of this book.

As you may know, when aspiring U.S. Navy SEALs want to see if they have what it takes to join one of the most elite military forces in history, they have to go through what’s known as BUD/S.

BUD/S is short for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training.

Of course, that training is an extraordinarily challenging mental and physical trial. Only twenty percent of those who start finish.

Now… A little more context…

On June 6, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower led the invasion of Normandy that turned the tide of World War II.

According to the Eisenhower Library: “The invasion force included 7,000 ships and landing craft manned by over 195,000 naval personnel from eight allied countries. Almost 133,000 troops from the United States, the British Commonwealth, and their allies landed on D-Day.”

Pause for a moment and imagine the extraordinary commitment of all those troops AND their families—willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms that we enjoy today.

And, if you feel so inspired, pause for another moment and feel into the equally extraordinary commitment of military servicemen and women AND their families who are currently protecting the freedoms that we enjoy today.

Note: It’s easy to take those freedoms (and the warriors who protect them) for granted rather than as granted.

As we’ll discuss, the wisest among us (and each of us in our wisest moments) appreciate the sacrifices these loving and courageous men and women make for us as we strive to give back in equal measure.

Now… Before the troops could get their three thousand landing craft on the five beaches of Normandy, you know who showed up in the darkness of the previous nights to clear the way?

Some of the very first U.S. Navy SEALs. They were underwater demolition experts who found and destroyed the underwater barriers that had been set up to prevent that landing.

All of which leads us to McRaven’s sixteenth leadership principle from his great book and one more question…

You know what U.S. Navy SEALs are taught as they calculate how much explosives they need to use to blow up the underwater obstacles they’re tasked with destroying?

As McRaven puts it: Whenever they were in doubt about the amount of explosives to use, they were told to “always overload. Always put more energy, more focus, more power into the situation than seemed necessary. It was the only way to guarantee success in the face of uncertainty and doubt.”

That’s what I had in mind as I decided how I would structure this book.

I could have delivered a standard 200- to 300-page book with a few dozen (or even one hundred) potentially life-changing ideas. I decided to OVERLOAD and give you a 1,001+ page book with 451 potentially life-changing ideas.

I want you to FEEL the explosive power of the ideas in this book as we get to work blowing up everything that may be in the way of us actualizing our potential so we can win the ultimate war between vice and virtue we are ALL waging all day every day.

Remember: When in doubt, we overload.

It’s time to activate our Heroic potential.

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