Here let me read it to you. Best to listen straight off Spotify though, the browser version is buggy.
Lock and load, business nerds
My social feeds are packed with advice lists of what Navy SEALS do, delivered by office business nerds. Other elite warriors never get a look-in. For white collar guy inspo, it’s Navy SEALS all the way.
Nothing against Navy SEALS, but my job doesn’t involve much amphibious warfare. No blowing up enemy infrastructure, dragging people back to a boat with a sack over their head, or frankly any danger beyond coffee spillage. Neither does yours.
Yes you need persistence, bravery and teamwork to be great at work. But only to about 5% of SEAL levels, because business is pretty soft and I love that about it. I do some of my best work in restaurants and airport lounges because I’m in no way rugged or brave. And I’d rather make money than post about SEAL combat fantasies like I’m thirteen years old.
Trying to go for that extra 95% of SEAL performance is a complete waste of your time, when your work life is mainly looking at stuff on a screen. Your staff are nice people trying to do a good job, and would rather you didn’t embarrass them with talk of critical missions and so on.
Also, SEALS don’t have to balance their critical missions with the endless daily juggle of family life.
“Team, our moment has arrived. Tonight we take down Osama Bin Laden. Wheels up on the Blackhawks at 0215.”
“I’d love to sir, but my daughter has to be at school at 6am for an excursion and my partner’s taking the other one to swimming training.”
“Can you call in grandparents for reinforcement?”
“Negative, all interstate.”
“Damn, mission aborted, inform the White House.”
SEAL problems are not yours and vice versa. Do you think serving military are inspired by speeches from white collar leaders? You be the judge as Scott Morrison tells ground forces in Iraq that they are the same as a curry:
I only found out this video of former PM Scott Morrison telling troops about his curry existed today and I am losing it lmaopic.twitter.com/sGtBTZzAW2
— John Delmenico (@thebigjohnnyd) October 21, 2022
“I am not a SEAL but I once met one so here’s some lessons.”
I have no issue with actual navy SEALS writing advice, because they’ve done the suffering. I read SEAL Jocko Willink’s book. There was lots of good advice, mostly humble stuff like turn up on time, you’re not better than the people under you and so on. The book has a refreshing anti-ego message. Though anyone who buys his “Jocko Discipline Go” energy drink (“Psycho Citrus Flavor”) should be on a watch list.
The embarrassing part is tips from others who once met a SEAL and would now like to pass on their stories. Obviously first cab off the rank: the king of claiming credit for other people’s achievements.
SEAL worship can actually make business people believe they’re combat heroes. Obviously commercial radio has some outlier management personalities, but:
It’s not just the war material. There’s a general plague of pain glorification. As reader Adrian pointed out, does an ice bath even happen if it doesn’t get posted?
And why does every ice bath poster look like they’ve done thirty years as a Kontiki European bus tour guide? Mate, put a shirt on.
The roots of work grind mentality
Someone once said whenever you have a futurist on a conference panel, you should also have a historian to give their flaky advice some reality-based perspective.
A historian would tell you that those posts have their roots in the 16th century Puritans, who created the Protestant Work Ethic. The denial of all pleasure so as to better serve your work masters, as a pathway to salvation. Sociology pioneer Max Weber said:
“The lowly workman also has a noble vocation which he can fulfill through dedication to his work.”
Moving ahead a few centuries, LinkedIn influencers want you to freeze, intermittent-starve and work all hours to achieve redemption and hit your KPIs. Like this guy.
20,000 steps is the new 10,000 steps. Even that lower figure was made up in 1964 by the marketing team at a Japanese pedometer company, before it somehow became set-in-stone health gospel around the world.
Suggestion: how about you “drink” or heaven forbid “enjoy” that double espresso, rather than “cram” it. It’s the mindset that food should not be pleasurable, but rather fuel for higher work output.
Taken to extremes you end up with Soylent, a powdered meal replacement developed by Silicon Valley coders so they didn’t have to take a break. Unironically named after the 1973 Charlton Heston movie Soylent Green, which ended with the discovery that they were all living on wafers made of humans.
In posts like this, the activity itself isn’t the issue. Routines and discipline are good for you. I do some of that stuff but the details are of no interest or relevance to you. The desire to tell the world about your routine is embarrassing. It implies that with enough grind, you too could be like them: a round-the-clock tech hustler with literally no friends. Just work associates they think are friends.
I’m not sure that’s what we aspire to, bro.
Just do the best you can
I feel like the guys posting this stuff all either live alone, or have a partner or their mum doing a ton of support work that apparently happens by magic.
I’d be more inspired to see a daily routine from working parents, posting how they somehow squeeze in a productive day’s work amid blizzards of distraction. Except it’s not a daily routine you could post. Because of the random different dramas that pop up every day, and yours is the first routine that must be sacrificed.
I’ll leave it to you to decide which life is going to make you happier when you’re old.
Like diets, these mad routines can work for a while but they’re unsustainable. You fall off the wagon for perfectly valid reasons. Then you feel like a failure, when you’re just being a normal fallible human and shouldn’t feel guilt for that.
Obviously, study the habits of people you admire, and borrow what works for you. But just do your best.
Work hard. But don’t feel bad about saying no to the late night Zoom call with head office because you want to get loose with your friends or just eat a frozen cheesecake in front of the TV. If you have no people you’re comfortable wasting time with, you are the problem.
Let’s go out on a downbeat inspo anthem. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke is a high achiever on a global scale, but not exactly swaggering with confidence. Here’s what he wrote on this exact topic, on their 2001 record where they threw every sound that made them successful in the bin. And paved the way for much bigger artistic and sales success.
He wrote it after his wife told to to ease back on the self-criticism:
“You can try the best you can
You can try the best you can
The best you can is good enough.”
I’ll take that message over SEALS, thank you Thom.
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Why not buy this nice book?
Want a book on how to break free of a job that sucks and set up your own business that you don’t even have to work in? We did that, and here’s the story. It also has more on morning routines and why people should shut up about them: Undisruptable: Timeless Business Truths For Thriving In A World Of Nonstop Change.
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For those of you in geo-blocked countries, here’s your non-Spotify audio: