Skip to content

A Navy SEAL Shares His Secret To Finding Balance In Life

Thom Shea
December 29, 2015
Thom Shea
Written by
December 29, 2015

Each of us is interested in balance in our lives, either in balancing relationships with work, work with fitness, or all things and spirituality. How do we balance the multiple interests we have, when we cannot even excel in the small things we do each day? It's not easy and it takes dedication.

After 23 years as a Navy SEAL and two years transitioning into the nebulous business world, this is my approach to balancing it all. It starts with the ethos of a Navy SEAL, which is easily summed up in the motto: “Never quit.” But there is so much more behind this phrase than you might realize.

Quitting is so pervasive in today's world, that very few people actually engage in mastering the benefits surrounding “quitting.” SEALs learned long ago that to be truly successful, you must face the depths of failure, and the cause of all failure is quitting.

Take an honest look at your physical capacity, intellectual facility, wealth accomplishments, relationship endeavors, and finally, your spiritual life. Notice both the small things you have quit on in each, and the big things you have not been able to accomplish.

Now, stop when you get to five things because honestly the list will go on and on and on.

What would your life actually be like if you mastered quitting? I often wonder, because after encountering quitting in my own life and being pushed in SEAL training to push beyond quitting, I see and interact with all aspects of life very differently than those around me.

To master quitting, I ask you to stop avoiding the things you are afraid of, or simply to stop avoiding quitting. I want you to face a fear of anything you have and safely realize that fear. By safely, I mean go through the process internally, to the point where you are actually feeling the fear. Go through the mental process of experiencing that exact thing.

Here are the steps to do it:

1. Identify something that makes you want to quit.

It can be something that intimidates you physically for something that inspires fear.

2. Imagine the whole thing unfolding as if you quit.

I want you to imagine quitting in the middle of a run when your legs are hurting, or you're out of breath and don’t want to continue. I ask you to put yourself there and actually experience the pain. Don’t run away from the pain. Feel it.

3. After having imagined it happening, actually do it.

I ask you to go on that exact run with the intent to quit at the exact spot you had imagined quitting.

4. Notice how you feel.

Now that you are on the side of the road, feeling sorry for yourself and in pain, I want you to notice something. I want you to notice that you are feeling pain and you are out of breath, and at the same time, you told yourself to quit. You used internal dialogue to talk yourself into stopping. No one else told you to quit, you did.

5. Tell yourself that you knew you'd quit.

Now I want you to sit there and keep telling yourself to quit that you are a victim of bad genetics; that you are never going to be a successful runner, or any other victim of life language you can put there to ensure you will quit.

6. Tell yourself you're a quitter — until you begin to laugh.

Some of you may not get to laughter, simply because you have programmed yourself to believe you are a victim, and not a winner. If you do start to laugh, you're seeing the power of internal dialogue in driving your performance. If you laugh, then just replace I'm a quitter with a new dialogue, that says: get up and go two more steps.

You can do this same experiment with your mind, money, relationships, and with spiritual mastery. Just quit on yourself in each until you begin to hear in your internal dialogue, the language that keeps you quitting and from quitting.

You will notice that you quit on studying with a very robust dialogue; you will notice that you quit on business and work using very believable dialogue; you will notice that you quit on your partners clearly because you say “they aren’t … whatever”; and you will notice that you quit on spiritual mastery for very earthly and real reasons.

What would you life be like if you never quit? You would be unbreakable. My final lesson to you: Never quit on yourself.

Adapted from an excerpt of my book, Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL'S Way Of Life.

Related reads:

Thom Shea author page.
Thom Shea

Retired Senior Chief Thom Shea is the CEO of Adamantine AllianceAlliance, a unique leadership and demanding human-performance training organization. Thom works with individuals, small teams, and organizations of all sizes to help them produce transformational performance results.

Thom has trained hundreds of individuals in mastering the Five Pyramids of Human Performance® and led each through the intense training of Performance in the Margin®, the space where all performance occurs.

Before founding Adamantine Alliance, Thom served 23 years with distinguished Valor as a Navy SEAL. During his military career he served in three wars, ultimately leading a team of Navy SEALs into Afghanistan in 2009 where he earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor, Army Commendation with Valor and his second Combat Action Medal. He was hand-selected to serve as Officer In Charge of the famed SEAL Sniper course from 2009 – 2011. During his two year tenure, he transformed the sniper curriculum while successfully increasing both graduation numbers and shooting performance test scores.

He is the author of the national best-selling book, “UNBREAKABLE: A Navy SEALs Way of Life”.

In his downtime, Thom competes in various ultra marathons and has volunteered countless hours to charity, raising funds through his athletic events for Special Operations Warrior Foundation and the Chris Kyle Memorial Trust. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ball State University and a Master Training Specialist certification from the Naval Special Warfare Center. He resides in Greenville, South Carolina with his wife and three children