I will never forget it. Navy SEAL training circa 1993, aka BUD/S. For all the ways BUD/S trips up the SEAL candidates, it is actually pretty structured. We generally knew the schedule for the day and could prepare as appropriate, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Except that day!
It was a standard two-mile ocean swim, which were my favorite training events because the instructors were not out in the water harassing us. As per the training, it was expected that we did proper maintenance on our gear immediately following the event. Not heavy lifting for the swim. All we had to do was clean the salt water off our knives and CO2 actuators or else they would form rust. Clearly a no-no.
I knew the next swim was not for a couple of days so I chose to forgo the 10-15 minutes it would take to properly clean my gear and save it for another day. The next morning it happened.
“Go get ready for a bay swim! You have ten minutes to be ready!” shouted the instructor. Ten minutes was not enough time to get our gear on and get back to the bay, let alone do a quick maintenance on my knife and CO2 actuator. I grabbed my gear, still wet from the day before, and reluctantly looked at my knife and CO2 actuator. Rust! Barely 12 hours since the last swim.
As I was standing in line with my classmates to have ourselves, and our gear, inspected before the swim all I could do was think about the pain the BUD/S instructors were going to rain down on me because I had not taken the time to maintain my gear as was clearly required. Worse still, I was the leader of the class. The one who is supposed to set the example.
He did not even say anything. The instructor looked at my knife and then looked at me. “No excuse, Instructor,” I bellowed.
“No,” he said with an eerie calm. “Explain yourself.”
I simply told him the truth. “I just didn’t do it. I was going to do it today.”
“There are 24 hours in a day, Mr. Doebler. Just because finding time to do what you are supposed to do is hard or inconvenient for you doesn’t mean there isn’t time. You are the leader of this class. You should be ashamed of yourself.” And then he walked away.
I will never forget that day for a lot of reasons. One of them was a realization of the silly excuses we make for ourselves not to do what we know we should, especially when it is inconvenient or, more precisely, we are just feeling lazy.
The physiological, mental, and emotional benefits of the ice bath are well documented and backed by real scientific studies. If you have been following this 365 Days @ 36.5 Degrees series, then you are at least familiar with all the benefits of cold exposure. So, why then, do we make excuses to not do it?
From beginning to end, from getting undressed, dried off, and dressed again, a cold shower can take as little as five minutes. Five minutes! Yes, we have five minutes. It may be hard or inconvenient, but we have it.
I have always said that the cold is a metaphor for life; That how we handle this “hard” or “stressful” activity will mirror how we handle “hard” or “stressful” activities in our day to day.
So, let us reflect on this. Why are you not doing your cold exposure or, more specifically, what excuse are you using? Is it that you cannot find the time? Is this the same excuse you are using for other things in your life?
If it is, guess what? Congratulations, you just admitted a short coming that you can work on that will have a massively positive impact on your life!
Now, remember, “There are 24 hours in a day, Mr. Doebler.” Let us not let “inconvenience” or “laziness” to get in the way!
Errol Doebler is the founder of Leader 193, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Leader 193 to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Errol provides executive coaching, keynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.