(Ret.) Senior Chief Thom Shea is the CEO of Adamantine Alliance, a unique leadership and demanding human performance training organization. Thom is an executive consultant to the fortune 500 businesses.
Thom has trained 100s of individuals to date to master what he calls “the Five Pyramids of Human Performance®”.
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.
He is the author of the national best-selling book, “UNBREAKABLE: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life” published by Little Brown and Company.
In his downtime, Thom competes in various ultra marathons and has volunteered countless hours to charity, raising funds through his athletic events for the Navy SEAL Foundation, the SEAL Legacy Fund, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation to name a few. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ball State University and a Master Training Specialist certification from the Naval Special Warfare Center. He now resides in Greenville, South Carolina with his wife and three children.
Thom delivers keynote speakers unraveling the core design of human performance and conducts corporate seminars delivering results in human performance.
Find out more about Thom Shea at:
Stefan Aarnio: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show, Respect the Grind with Stefan Aarnio. This is the show where we interview people who achieve mastery and freedom through discipline. We interview entrepreneurs, athletes, authors, artists, real estate investors, anyone who’s achieved mastery and examined what it took to get there. Today on the show I have Thom Shea, he is well known. He’s an author, he’s a navy SEAL, he’s a sniper, he’s a trainer. Very excited to have Thom on the show today. Thom, welcome to the show Respect the Grind. Thanks so much for joining me.
Thom Shea: Love the title and I’m excited to play.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, I mean, we’re right in there. Respect the grind, it’s almost like [inaudible 00:00:54] or something, you know? It’s something cool to say there and what we mean by that is it takes 10 years, 10,000 hours to be a master. And I had a student once and he was saying, “Oh Stefan, I train real estate investors.” He said, “I can’t get a deal, I can’t [inaudible 00:01:08]. I can’t find a deal, I can’t find a deal.” I said, “Jason, your gotta respect the grind. It’s gonna take you 10 years and 10,000 hours. You can’t cut the line, you can’t shortcut to success.” Now, Thom, for the people at home who haven’t heard of, you tell us a little bit in your own words, Thom Shea, a little bit about his story. And let’s get a feel for you. This is a audience who’s never heard from you before.
Thom Shea: Well, thanks everybody for tuning in. I graduated from SEAL training. And it took me five attempts. I’m probably the only guy still alive that it took five times through Hell Week for my brain to turn on.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Thom Shea: And I made a life out of the grind, which is an interesting topic to put onto the table.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Thom Shea: And I retired so many years ago after being in the SEAL team for 23 years. And I wrote about my experience in 2009, in combat. I wrote a book to my kids and it went live and a lot of people have read about my crazy life.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. Well it’s an honor to have you on the show today and I know that … I’m Canadian and whenever I go to the states and I go through the airports, they always have the special line for the serving armed forces. And it’s a real honor to have you here because, you know, a guy like yourself is someone who protects the freedom of the western world. So thank you so much for having …
Thom Shea: Oh, thank you.
Stefan Aarnio: … having us on the show. Now, I gotta ask right away, Hell Week. I got a book on my shelf. Now, I didn’t get to go through Hell Week, but I got a book called Hell Week. Can you tell the people at home what Hell Week is?
Thom Shea: Hell Week is designed to weed out the people who can’t do things over and over and over again for five days. So it starts on Sunday night. It’s actually the fifth week of a six month training. It starts on Sunday night and it stops on Friday, the next Friday at around two in the afternoon. And it weeds out everybody. Usually, three quarters of the class, of already top athletes and really top dudes of the world, try to make it through. And a quarter of the people make it through.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. So what are some of the things you have to do in Hell Week? Is that one of those things where you don’t sleep and you guys are in the water holding arms? I’ve seen it in the movies. You guys are holding arms …
Thom Shea: Yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: … and the waves are coming in and it’s freezing and you’re cold and some people are passing out and things like that?
Thom Shea: It’s a series of events each day without … so you get about an hour and a half to two hours of sleep the entire five or six days.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Thom Shea: And you’re tired. So, what they do is they systematically … we use the word, “Grind you down until there’s nothing left,” just to see what you’re gonna do. And you can’t win, you can’t beat any of it, you can’t do well at it. If you’re doing well they just make it critically impossible to keep going. And they just wanna see who has the mindset that can survive un-survivable situations. And they do a really good job of it.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. So, I loved what you said there. Mindset. Because this is … mostly on this show, James, we have mostly business people, mostly real estate investors, mostly entrepreneurs, sometimes you get an athlete, I’ve had a couple Olympic medalists on the show, sometimes you get an artist or something like that. But I loved what you said there, the mindset, tell me about the mindset you have to have to survive the Hell Week and become an elite navy SEAL?
Thom Shea: Boy, I wish everybody would understand it. And I’ve tried to spend the last five years trying to explain it. And so here’s my attempt at it. The mindset that makes people successful across any spectrum is simple, simple, simple, simple. Always avoiding the complex. So the mindset of what it takes somebody in combat or in SEAL training to make it through is you can’t look at eating the elephant. You gotta look at one simple bite at a time.
Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving you a gong for that John. That’s killer. So tell me more about eating the elephant one bite at a time.
Thom Shea: Well so, it’s all I’m gonna think about if I asked you for the next six days you’re going to get no sleep, you’re gonna be so tired that you can’t open your eyes, you won’t even be able to pronounce your name, how do you look at that? You can’t. You can’t look at the elephant and think, “How I’m gonna do that?” So, what has to happen in SEAL training that they teach you, is you gotta take one step. Don’t take 100, take one. And I see … I make that translation into business and all the consulting we do is, people make things too complex. And they don’t do the simple thing over and over and over again good.
Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving you a gong for that, man. I’m loving it. We got a two gong show already, Thom. So tell me about the, doing the simple thing over and over again. I mean, we’re really on Respect the Grind right now. Like this is repetitive tasks. It’s one thing over and over again. How important is the one thing?
Thom Shea: I don’t find the second thing. I don’t even think getting to the second thing is relevant.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, man, I love it.
Thom Shea: And it’s not doing something that you don’t wanna do over and over again. That’s not what … I don’t call that the grind. I call doing the simple things, like you know how many time … I like the 10,000 thing that you conceptually put on the table, ’cause it’s a [inaudible 00:06:44] over 3,000 years old. It takes 10,000 iterations of something before you make your decision …
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Thom Shea: … of whether you’re good at it or not. So, that’s a reality and nobody does it. So, the SEAL training teaches you, “Keep things so simple that you, if you’re not intellectually at the top of your game, you can still understand it … ”
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Thom Shea: ” … Keep taking the simple step. And then you gotta keep taking the simple step. And if you can do that across everything that you learn to do, you’re gonna be the one standing at the end.” And [crosstalk 00:07:23] …
Stefan Aarnio: That’s incredible Thom. Yeah, that’s incredible, Thom. Now, the navy SEALs, I’ve seen some documentaries. I have the plush and luxurious life to sit at home and watch discovery channel and they have the original shows. I haven’t been in the military up in Canada. So that’s so cool to be in the military. It’s not something that we promote as much. I wish we did. But I’ve heard that there’s a million active people in the military in the United States. A million. And then there’s 2,500 Navy SEALs. So that’s a fraction of a percent. It’s this fraction of a fraction. Now, what does it take to be in that micro fraction of the the top guys?
Thom Shea: Well, since inception there has been an 85% fail rate in SEAL training. At 85% of the people who show up on the first day of SEAL training, only 15% of the 100% make it. So, the 85% quite. They literally quit. That means you have to actively go, “I don’t wanna do this anymore.” And so, what it takes to make it through is, they already probably the best athletes that I’ve seen. And I played college football and I’ve trained super athletes. They’re the best all around athletes in the world to start it. And then what they do is they break you. They literally break your physical capacity, by beating you down and beating you down mentally and physically until you come out the other side and you have one skill set. Just one when you graduate. You’re not gonna quit. That’s actually a skill set.
Stefan Aarnio: Three gong show already John, tell me more about the skill set.
Thom Shea: And, the skill set is, “I’m not gonna quit.” That’s it. And everybody’s like, “Well, how do you get there?” How about, “Don’t quit on anything.” That’s how you learn. And the most frustrating thing about that is, you’re then gonna have to face all the reasons to quit. Like, “I’m tired. My family doesn’t support me. My girlfriend doesn’t support me. The instructors hate me.” The 1,000 reasons to quit, you’re gonna experience every single one of them in SEAL training and you gotta find a way to get through. And the only way to get through is, “Don’t quit.” You can be down on yourself and still make it through …
Stefan Aarnio: I was gonna say …
Thom Shea: … just don’t quit.
Stefan Aarnio: I was gonna say, I met a trainer once who said, “You gotta stop stopping.”
Thom Shea: Yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: “Stop stopping.” Now, Thom, I know that you guys do all sorts of … if you’re in the forces over 23 years. Is there … are you able to tell us any crazy stories or stuff that happened or is that classified?
Thom Shea: Oh no, it’s all open source now. The craziest story that I had, I’d written in my book, it’s titled Unbreakable, A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life. And I wrote it to my kids, ’cause I really thought I was gonna die. So, I was writing letters to my family when I was over in Afghanistan. And the craziest thing that I’d experienced is we went into an area in the middle of Afghanistan up in the mountains and we immediately were overwhelmed with the enemy, from when we landed until a day later. We ran out of food, water and, ammo very quickly during that day. And at some point in time I had to call a bomb in, rather close to our position with the idea … ’cause we’d run out of ammo. I said, “Hey guys, this could kill us by dropping it this close and we don’t like the idea of becoming a prisoner,” so we were willing to die instead of become prisoners. And luck of god that it killed all the Taliban, it didn’t kill us. And …
Stefan Aarnio: Now, Thom, Afghanistan’s a pretty tough place. I mean, the Afghans, they pushed out the Russians. I think they were fighting the Spetsnaz. Like those guys are pretty tough guys. What’s it like to go into a country like that or a piece of territory and fight those people who just won’t die no matter what?
Thom Shea: The environment is ruthless. Enemy fighters are enemy fighters to SEALs. Everybody in the SEAL program has a way of doing business in combat that makes them pretty good. The enemy is the arbitrary part of the equation. As long as you can operate in the space that you have been trained to do, the SEALs will normally win. And they’re tough. So the difference between the Iraqi forces and the Afghani forces is the Afghanis fight until there’s nothing left. The Iraqis would fight and then laeve. But the Afghanis kept fighting, which is a rough situation to put SEALs into.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Stefan Aarnio: Now, switching gears a little bit, Thom. One thing I’ve heard about Navy SEALs a lot is how they push creativity all the time, thinking outside the box, thinking outside the box, creative, creative, creative. How important is creativity versus discipline? You gotta have both but tell me a little bit about creativity versus discipline. Robert Greene, great author, he says, “Mastery is creativity and discipline mixed.” In the SEALs or what you do, creativity versus discipline, give me your thoughts.
Thom Shea: I would put that in a linear sequence. So, creativity happens in the beginning. So, if you’re tasked with something, you know, “You’re gonna go do this mission.” Creativity happens when you’re planning. Discipline then to carry out the plan that you created is necessary. There’s no creativity once the decision is made. And you don’t want somebody going off the rail in the situation where people are supposed to be doing A, B, C, D and E. You don’t want somebody to apply a Z solution, if you understand what I’m trying to say. So where SEALs are markedly different than other military units or even businesses, is the leader of the SEAL platoon, I was a platoon chief, or the OIC or the officer, they allow creativity during planning. Most of the military doesn’t allow that. They have dictatorial planning processes and, “Hey you bubba, you go carry out this plan that you had no design to.” So during designing this, where all the creative minds come together and create a solution.
Thom Shea: Then once the solution is set, they execute that better than anybody in the world. But the creativity, I find … I still find it to be the most alluring part of the SEAL teams was nobody had the right method. They would put their methods on the table and somebody would come up with a solution. And then once you had a solution everybody would unite under that solution, which is very rare.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. So, Thom, let me ask you this. You know the average … let’s say army or navy soldier, let’s say infantry, versus a SEAL. What are some of the biggest differences between the average Joe who just picks up a rifles and he’s one of the average soldiers versus those elite soldiers. What are some of the biggest differences?
Thom Shea: A series of basic things that they’ve accumulates. There’s really no distinct difference between an infantry person and a SEAL, except by the time you become a SEAL, a year and a half later after you’ve started, you’ve acquired so many basic skill sets that that’s what sets you apart. Anybody can become a SEAL. Literally. The test that you have to pass to get in isn’t that rough. To get through the training is what separates everybody. So how to get in is simple. How to get through, not so simple. So the differentiating factor in my mind is, you have a basic infantry person has one book. If you wanna use that analogy. A SEAL has 80 books that they can draw information from on a moment’s notice. So that makes them different just because of the amount of stuff that they are accountable to doing.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. Are those … ? Now, you’re talking about the being elite athletes, and these are the top best of the best. How could you speak to these high IQ individuals too, are they very smart or is it mostly they’re just physically …
Thom Shea: Pretty smart. I had a guy in one of my platoons that he’d had a PhD from MIT. So, he was very smart. But he was also street smart, which means he had the ability to continue to learn, which I call street smartness. Most of the guys are very intelligent. But they give up being the smartest guy in the room to being on a team. And you can’t be the smartest guy in the room if you’re on a team, which is not what you asked but they’re very intelligent except for the fact that they give up that level of intelligence to the team.
Stefan Aarnio: Now, Thom, one question I love to ask people on the show always is … you know, I would say you’re a success, man, I mean, you’ve been through it, you lived to tell about it, you even wrote a book, you thought you were gonna die, you made it. I think you’re a major success. Did success change you? Or did you have to change to become a success? And what were those changes?
Thom Shea: I think it’s both. I think … I had to change quite often to the situation that I faced, both in the SEAL teams and then now as a running a business consulting. I think adaptability is what makes somebody successful. ‘Cause everything works in planning, you ever notice that? Like, “Wow, we’re gonna go do these all these great, exciting things,” and then you step outside. And that adaptability can be learned and taught, and I think it’s the key to anybody being successful is you gotta start over and you gotta start over. And, like you said, your title of the show is, if you aint committed to the grind, get off the porch, ’cause you’re not gonna make it for very long.
Stefan Aarnio: You gotta respect the process. Now, Thom, tell me about your business consulting practice. ‘Cause I find it so interesting always that, I have all these successful people on the show, different people from different disciplines, but that key word there is discipline. Sometimes you have a musician, sometimes you have an athlete, yourself, you’re in the military, we have Olympians, we have real estate investors, entrepreneurs, all these different disciplines. And usually athletics or music or something disciplined like that translates well into business. Tell us about your business consulting practices and some of the things you bring as a Navy SEAL to businesses.
Thom Shea: We only do work with people that are committed to … I’ll just use your word, the grind in five areas. If all you wanna do is make money, there’s other consulting first that do process management and leadership development. I’m very committed to these five areas. Your physical life, showing up two and a half times better in a year than where you are right now. Your ability learn is the second area of life. So if you’re not interested in your health and your ability to learn more, go somewhere else. And then your ability to make more money. And then, those three were the cool parts of what we thought five years that we would help with. Then we go thrust into the position with all of our executive clients, that they actually wanted two other areas, which we thought were important but were hard to market to. And these other two areas are, your primary relationships at home and your spiritual life.
Thom Shea: So, now we go … there’s four of us that work in this space and we recruit people or prospect for businesses, that their executive staff or their boss wants those five areas of his life to mature. If not, it’s not worth our time. And I say it aggressively now, ’cause we know we can hit those five areas.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, I love that. You know, I’ve heard family, faith, fitness, finances, fun. The five Fs, I’ve heard that before. But the way you said it, you got physical life, you have physical wellbeing, ability to learn, make more money. Those are the three that are marketable. And then you said, primary relationships, which is an under the hood thing. And the spiritual life. Now, when you said the word, “We,” who’s on your team? Do have other Navy SEALs on the team or do you have other business people? Tell me about your team.
Thom Shea: I have three other SEALs, and they’re … one’s not retired. So he had spent some time at SEAL team too, with me. And then he worked in the CIA sector for a while.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Thom Shea: And he brings a level of understanding of the human dynamic to the table that the rest of us don’t understand. And then two other SEALs that are retired and had already worked in the business sector. And I recruited them because I had more work than they did. And so, it’s four of us. And my wife actually owns the company.
Stefan Aarnio: Good [crosstalk 00:22:00] smart.
Thom Shea: She teaches … yeah. You can’t do … men can’t do anything without a strong woman. It’s just impossible.
Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving you a gong. The ladies at home, they just know it. I’ve got my assistant here, I was saying to my dad, he works in the office. I said, “You know what? She runs my whole life.” Every single thing and if I didn’t have that, oh my god.
Thom Shea: I would be a tornado all over the place. She’s the only one that gives it direction.
Stefan Aarnio: Amazing. Amazing. Tell me more about … I like what you said about the primary relationship there, Thom. Tell me more about the relationship between men and women and how you create greatness between that unit.
Thom Shea: Man, I wish I could do it in two seconds, but I’m gonna try. So, we were faced with this problem in working with top performers, is they are good at one of those two areas. Either they’re really healthy, like they’re a pro athlete. The pro athletes can’t find a dollar in a bank, unless somebody gets behind them. Or they were very, very wealthy people who were on a verge of a heart attack.
Stefan Aarnio: Right.
Thom Shea: And as we were looking at those areas, we still felt like something was bleeding out our energy or their energy. And, come to find, out most highly performing people have an issue at home.
Stefan Aarnio: Tell me about this.
Thom Shea: And … so, that’s what we had to figure out. “What’s the way?” So we had to ask this question, “How do you measure a relationship?” And nobody had the answer. Love is not a measurement of relationship. It’s not. ‘Cause it’s not tangible. So, we said, “How do you measure a relationship?” A relationship is like if I wanted to relate to you, I would have to figure out three things about you, very quickly. What you’re up to in your health, what you’re learning and what business you’re in. If I can find out those three things, I now have a relationship with you. So, we went out and asked people that. They had no idea about those three things about their wife. We were like, “Well, we’re gonna struggle with this. We’re gonna empower you to have this type of relationship with your wife.” Once they go that, within three months, their businesses took off. We didn’t predict that upfront.
Stefan Aarnio: So, Thom, I gotta hear it again for the people at home, the three things that these gentlemen, mostly, didn’t know about their wives, what were they again? I’m gonna write them down.
Thom Shea: What their wife or spouse is committed to doing in their physical life.
Stefan Aarnio: Okay.
Thom Shea: What their wife or spouse is committed to learning. Like maybe they wanna learn Spanish. You know what I’m saying.
Stefan Aarnio: Right.
Thom Shea: And what their wife is pursuing if … how they drive business. If it’s a stay at home woman, I’m telling you, nothing’s wrong with that, but that’s what her wealth production is. To produce value for the family or whatever. How she designs wealth. So three areas. Physical, intellectual and wealth. If you can find that in people, you’re in the top two percent immediately.
Stefan Aarnio: So, what I’m hearing is, it seems to me it’s kind of like mind, body, spirit, emotions. It’s almost like knowing those four things, but you’re kind of rolling them into … we got three it sounds like.
Thom Shea: Everybody wants to talk about emotion. Emotion is a tool that gives you access to those three.
Stefan Aarnio: Tell me more about that.
Thom Shea: It’s not a place to go. So, you can’t measure emotion. But you can teach people about emotions and we do that. So, we teach people how to focus. And then the second training that we do is what we call Emotional Mastery. Actually, How to Learn to Use Emotions. And people don’t know how to use them. And then the third one is, How To Fail. If you don’t know how to fail, you’re stuffed. So focus is a massive point. People are all over the place. Focus on one simple thing every day. Don’t focus on ten, one. And then emotional quotient is your ability to actually use emotions to recover. And then failure is, “Here’s the deal, everything’s not gonna work out the first 999 times.” You gotta learn from failure. You can’t avoid failure. And … but most successful people do this, they cause disruption just to create new momentum. Those people that know failure is the greatest solution. So, most … like private equity comes in and disrupts the organization so that it succeeds, which is an interesting model.
Thom Shea: But emotions is a powerful thing and I haven’t trained 90 plus executives now, maybe two of them have any, any profound sense of emotional mastery.
Stefan Aarnio: I loved what you said there, Thom, about learning how to fail. And I remember when I was a young kid, I think I was three years old, my dad … he’s Finnish, Finnish and Swedish, so they love skiing, downhill skiing, cross country skiing. My dad took me to the hole, I’m three years old, and the first thing he taught me, he said, “You’re gonna learn to fall. Learn to fall, learn to fall, learn to fall. Because you will fall and you need to know how to fall.” So, is failure then absolutely necessary for success?
Thom Shea: Absolutely. There’s no way around it. But nobody tells you that. Most corporations avoid failure by creating stability. Stability is really creating a defensive posture, which allows the Titanic not to be turned. So defensive posture …
Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving you a gong for that, Thom. Sorry to interrupt you, man, keep telling me more.
Thom Shea: Defensive posturing is great, but it’s not what you do as an organization. And the only way to overcome that is you gotta create situations where things go south. And you can’t avoid them. In the sales wold, every … so, if you get one out of ten, you’re a great sales person.
Stefan Aarnio: Incredible, yeah.
Thom Shea: But that means nine failures. Nine things that went sideways. They were gonna work, I swear to god, when I made the phone call, it was gonna work. And then it didn’t work. So what do you learn from that? Most people just get beat down by it and then they stop. So, how we coin failure is, is when you stop. And most people don’t want to experience bad things because it makes them wanna not do it again. There’s no way to learn, then. We wanna know what you’re not doing well, not what you’re doing well. What you’re not doing well is where growth comes from, in our mind.
Stefan Aarnio: So I guess you gotta respect the grind and just keep going.
Thom Shea: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:29:32].
Stefan Aarnio: Let me ask you this, Thom. I wanna switch gears a little bit. Now, I think one of the coolest things you’re doing with your business is you’ve got real live Navy SEALs, these are the most elite soldiers in the western world right now, coming in to train businesses, which I think everyone who’s a male probably thinks is super cool. What’s more important in business? Is it more important to have a great brand, or a great business?
Thom Shea: Gosh. I struggle with branding. And I don’t … we’d have to figure out what the definitions were. I think the greatest thing is to execute. And I don’t … maybe that’s what you meant by business?
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah [crosstalk 00:30:15].
Thom Shea: I’m not a big image person. I wish I could … if I was more narcicisstic I would be really wealthy, I’m just not. But … and we’ve gone through several branding exercises to get it down to the seven word vision and all that stuff. Cool. Who’s gonna go hunt? I’m really interested in the hunter mentality. Who wants to go out and hunt and hunt and hunt new people? Who’s interested in that? That’s what I … to recruit … the people who have three traits, even though you didn’t ask this, somebody who wants to hunt, who is very hungry. The other one is somebody is very intelligent about they’re hunting … like knows … we hunt people, so to speak. I’m only interested in the person. I’m never gonna know enough about the business to be an added value to the business, from the business prospecting or the process side. So, intelligence, the ability to hunt and the desire to hunt. And then the ability to recover. How many times can you be made wrong and start over the next day?
Thom Shea: If you don’t have that what we’re doing is too difficult. Because things go south often. When you’re interacting with high people, people that are very successful, everything goes south. And you gotta keep things buoyant when … when it’s very difficult. [crosstalk 00:31:45].
Stefan Aarnio: I love what you’re saying here … ?
Thom Shea: [crosstalk 00:31:46] describe it.
Stefan Aarnio: I love what you’re saying here, Thom, you talk about hunting, the intelligence and knowing what you’re hunting, the recovery [inaudible 00:31:53] … now, I’m gonna add to what you said there about brand. I think that you being a Navy SEAL is your brand. That’s an accomplishment that most people can’t have. I mean, what’s the percentage of people that have that? It’s so low it’s like an Olympic athlete. So, maybe you don’t think about brand ’cause you got it built in with every single guy in the company. But that’s the incredible thing. And I love what you said about executing, that’s really … having the great business. Now, something I ask everyone on the show, Thom, is what’s your obsession? Every single person I have on the show, who’s successful is obsessed with something. They’re always thinking about this one thing. They wake up in the morning they’re thinking about it. They go to bed thinking about this one thing. What’s the one thing that Thom’s thinking about every day?
Thom Shea: What keeps me going is more.
Stefan Aarnio: What does that mean more? What does that mean?
Thom Shea: More of those five areas. More. And that I drive people crazy. I drive my wife [Stacy 00:32:58] crazy. She’s like, “Are you never satisfied?” I’m like, “I am very satisfied. But yesterday’s over. What are we gonna do today?” And it drives … it literally drives people away and it’s a fault of mine. But I’m always interested in more. And I take one things that I cannot solve when I take them on. Like, I don’t know the solution to our current projects that we’re on. That to me is what wakes me up. Like I started doing ultramarathons because the doctor … I had broken my back and he’d said, “You’ll never run again.” So I went out and signed up for an ultramarathon.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Thom Shea: There’s something about more that is very appealing to me. ‘Cause I’ve never been able to be good at anything when I started it. So, I’m like, “Well, hell, if that’s my lifestyle I’m just gonna keep pushing towards things that are much bigger than what my current capacity is.” I’ve never had to put that out in an answer yet.
Stefan Aarnio: Well, I’m glad we’re getting deep. I love the general George S. Patton quote, he says, “It’s the unconquerable soul of man that ensures victory, not the nature of the weapons that he uses.”
Thom Shea: Agreed.
Stefan Aarnio: And I’m hearing the unconquerable soul inside of you.
Stefan Aarnio: With that, Thom, one thing I love to ask everybody is, what’s one moment … you were in the SEALs for a long time, you’re in business, this could be either a military or it could be a business question. What is one moment where you thought you were gonna fail completely and this was done? And that could be business or …
Thom Shea: God, what day is it?
Stefan Aarnio: … [crosstalk 00:35:10]. What day is it?
Thom Shea: So the first time I felt like it was done was when I … I was in Hell Week … I was in Hell Week five times so my second time I thought I was done. And I thought it was over, ’cause they don’t give you a third try. And I [inaudible 00:35:30], I’m like, “It’s over.” I had a concussion, woke up in the hospital and I’m like, “It’s over, my life is over.” My first impression of, “Oh my god, it’s over.” Second time was in combat when we couldn’t fight anymore. We didn’t have any means to fight, and I thought it was over. And then damned near every day in business. I really think it’s gonna fall apart every day. And then most of my clients, after we’ve known each other for about a year, I ask them that question. They’re like, “Dude, it’s always falling apart.” I’m like, “Okay just so I feel the same way that you guys are, I always feel like things are falling apart.” I wish it was stable, but I’ve never seen stability.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. Now, one thing that I love is a subtext under what you’re saying there is, there’s gotta be some self talk. Some self talk that Thom says to himself. And what are some of the things that you tell yourself in all those situations so that you indeed survive to fight another day? What are some of the things you say to yourself? Do you have affirmations in the moment? What does Thom’s brain say to Thom?
Thom Shea: There are five affirmations. And they’re in those five aspects. So the first affirmation is, “I’m unbreakable, physically.” Because if you don’t tell yourself that all the pain wants to tell you that you’re broken. In running, in being physical your body and your environment tells you that you’re broken. You have to take the opposite and go, “Hey, I’m unbreakable, my body’s unbreakable.” And then … and pursuit of knowledge. And I had to come from this from the failure point of view. I failed out of West Point. And I thought I was dumb so I’m like, “What do dumb soldiers do? Oh, they go in the SEAL program. Okay, I’ll go do that.” So I say it tongue and cheek now because the affirmation for intellectual development is, “There’s infinite knowledge.” So I always say, “I’m infinite.” “I’m unbreakable, I’m infinite.” And people don’t understand that until they go through the training.
Thom Shea: And in wealth, “I am value.” Either you say you add value or the business world keeps telling you that you have no value. The fourth one is, “I am one with my spouse. Not separate. I’m one.” That’s the definition of a relationship. That’s the affirmation is that she and I are one. And then a spiritual affirmation is, “I’m connected to everything.”
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Thom Shea: That’s what I say. I say those five in the morning and at night. I try not to make them as complicated as I just described though.
Stefan Aarnio: I love how you did that Thom, because you talked about more. And you’re going right for the max. “I’m infinite. I am value.” You’re going right to the max and I love that with those affirmations and I think we both know, you know, in this physical realm, you can never hit the max, but you tell yourself that you’re going for the max. And [crosstalk 00:38:35] awesome.
Thom Shea: Yeah, I don’t think shooting small is worth it. Hitting … having a big goal I think is what you’re designed to do. Actually I know you are. Whether you get there or not is irrelevant. But you have to have something so big that it scares you, it does. If you’re not scared, that, “Oh my gosh, I gotta get shit done today,” you can’t get anything done at all.
Stefan Aarnio: Thom …
Thom Shea: I’ve seen that, but yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: Thom now, you’re a coach. You’re a performance coach, you’re training other people. What causes other people to fail when they get into an endeavor?
Thom Shea: Most of the time it’s in their internal struggle. They don’t want to grind. They don’t wanna do it the 10th time, so they quit. I call it Quitting Factor. People fail because they quit usually an inch before it was gonna mature. And they quit on each other, the quit on the process, they quit on themselves, they don’t show up 100% available to what’s going on, which is an aspect of failure. I wish it was something else, like I wish it was genetics. Genetics doesn’t matter, your education doesn’t matter, are you gonna do it long enough to succeed? Are you playing in the …
Stefan Aarnio: We’re getting gongs in the back half too, Luke. We’re getting gongs in the front, we’re getting gongs in the back, we’re getting gongs everywhere. Now, Thom, if you could go back to yourself in the past, say you go back in time to 16 year old yourself. What would you say to yourself at age 16 that you wish you knew back then that you know now?
Thom Shea: Gosh, that’s a tough one. I would say, “Do it over. Those things that you don’t want to do over, do over.” And even though I’ve always been … work ethic was high, I would say, “Work harder at the things that you really wanna do and don’t work hard at all on the things that aint gonna hit.”
Stefan Aarnio: Oh. Don’t work hard at all on the things that are gonna hit. Damn, Luke, we’re at the five gong show. Is this a five gongs? Man, that’s great. Thom, talk three books that changed your life.
Thom Shea: First one is … I read a book about an Indian that was … a white boy that was raised by an Indian, called The Last of the Mohicans. And, for some reason it really struck me as what is possible for human beings at a young age. The other one that is still profoundly influential is the book called Think and Grow Rich. And I don’t have a third. I read so many books that I don’t have a third one that’s … mine. Mine’s a good book.
Stefan Aarnio: Unbreakable.
Thom Shea: But I don’t read my own books, so I don’t know.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. I’ve written five books now Thom and I say, “Reading my own book is like eating my own vomit.” I don’t wanna do it. I’ve puked it up, I don’t need to eat it again.
Thom Shea: [inaudible 00:41:50].
Stefan Aarnio: So Thom, we’re just gonna wrap it up here in a couple of minutes here. I wanna finish off with this question that I ask absolutely everybody on the show. And it’s, what is the one thing that young people … ? the people who are coming up today, the 20 year olds, 25 year olds, even, you could say 30 year olds are young. What is the one thing that young people need to succeed these days?
Thom Shea: The one thing. Add more gravity to your life.
Stefan Aarnio: What does that mean? How can you add more gravity?
Thom Shea: Get rid of these two conversations, blame and stop asking why. Just do. And whatever creates entitlement runs the other direction. If you didn’t earn it, then don’t even ask for it if you’re not willing to earn it then don’t even pursue it.
Stefan Aarnio: One thing I learned about life is that anything given to you in life, that life just hands to you will be taken back at some point if you didn’t earn it. If you don’t take time …
Thom Shea: You’ll destroy it.
Stefan Aarnio: Exactly, if you don’t take time to earn that inherited wealth, if you don’t take time to earn that inherited body or whatever it is you inherited, it will be taken back. Because everything goes to where it belongs. Thom it’s been an absolute pleasure, my friend. This has been a real highlight to my week. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure to be on this show. How can people get in touch with you? How can they get your book if they wanna know more? How can people get in touch with you?
Thom Shea: Again, the book is titled Unbreakable A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life. It is on Amazon, still. And it’s about five years old. The second book is still … it’s being negotiated not with some companies … but I’m very amiable to … whenever you reach out, we’re on Facebook. T, H, O, M, S, H, E, A. And also Facebook page Unbreakable. And we’re on twitter and all those other platforms. And Linkedin. But we commit to communicating. So, however you wanna reach out to us, if you just type in … search for Thom Shea, there’s about 100,000 different ways to reach out.
Stefan Aarnio: It’s been an absolute pleasure, Thom. Thank you so much. Respect the grind.
Thom Shea: Thank you.
Stefan Aarnio: Hey it’s Stefan Aarnio here. Thank you for listening to another episode of my podcast. Respect the Grind. Now, if you liked the content on that podcast today you are gonna love my new book, Hard Times Create Strong Men. Now, we live in an age right now where the men have become weak. Society has become weak. The mindset has become weak. What does it mean to be a man? Now, whether you’re a man or a woman, you’re gonna find value in this book, Hard Times Create Strong Men, which reveal the philosophy and the power of what it takes to be strong in today’s market economy. Go ahead and get a copy of Hard Times Create Strong Men at hardtimesstrongmen.com/podcast. That’s gonna give you a special offer just for podcast listeners. That’s hardtimesstrongmen.com/podcast. Get the book, you’re gonna love it. It’s going to change the way you think. Stefan Aarnio, Respect the Grind. We’ll se you on the next episode.