How to Get Through Any Setback, According to a Retired Navy SEAL

When I came across an article called, “How Do You Deal With Failures? One Word…Good,” featuring an excerpt from a podcast by retired Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink, I was rapt.

In the podcast Egan quotes, Willink answers the question, “How do you deal with setbacks, failures, delays, defeats, or other disasters?”

“I actually have a fairly, simple way of dealing with these situations. It’s actually one word to deal with these situations…and that is “Good,” explains Willink, adding, “When things are going bad, there’s going to be some good that is going to come from it.” He used this response so often as a SEAL commander that his subordinates expected it regardless of what type of problem they brought to his attention.

I like this resiliency trick because it is so simple. No matter what circumstance you find yourself in, it’s easy to remember (and of course, it doesn’t hurt that a SEAL used this mindset despite being challenged by crazy difficult situations).

Your Turn

Try this in your own life.

  • Didn’t get the job you applied for? Good. You’ll try harder next time an opportunity comes up, and now you have the motivation to really dig into that resume and make the tweaks you’ve avoided tackling.

  • It’s raining the morning of your marathon? Good, now you’ll know what it feels like to race in less-than-stellar conditions, and when you get blessed with beautiful weather for your next 26.2 miles, it’ll feel that much easier.

  • Terrible traffic during your commute to work? Good: It’s a chance to work on your patience, as well as catch up on your favorite podcast.

  • Boss responds with a “No,” to your great idea? Good, it’s a chance to ask for feedback for presenting future ideas you’re excited about.

Whatever the circumstance, this response is the quickest way to stop your mind from traveling down the rabbit hole of negative thinking. The faster you can move past whatever happened to the constructive phase of finding alternate solutions or perspectives, the better. Instead of thinking, “this stinks,” “everything is awful,” you see the situation as a crossroad of opportunities. In this light, you can see all the paths forward.

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