What Small Business Owners Can Learn From…The Navy SEALs

February 4, 2016 | Admin

Last updated on June 14th, 2016

The Bay of Pigs, 1951. The Munich Olympics Massacre, 1972. Iranian Hostage rescue, 1980. The Battle of Mogadishu, aka “Black Hawk Down,” 1993. The Killing of Osama Bin Laden, 2011. What is the common denominator in all of these infamous military missions, spanning over a half-century?
The U.S. Navy SEALs.
They’re the most elite military group on the planet and only they are trusted to the most dangerous, critical missions in the history of the U.S. Military. Do you think that this select group of men and women make it to the upper echelon of their profession without training? Why should it be any different with your company?
The “Frogmen” practice one of the most rigorous, disciplined and exact programs known to man. Namely their 25-week long “Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL” (BUD/S) training program; a requirement for any recruit wanting to become a SEAL. The SEALs origin story is rooted in the “Frogmen” nickname, beginning in WWII as specially organized maritime commando units. As far as excellence is concerned, the Navy SEALs practically wrote the book.
A few years ago I was thrilled to finally visit the SEAL’s Coronada training base in San Diego. As I made my way in awe around the base speaking with instructors, I thought, “Why can’t this be applied directly to the business world?” Three elements stood out more than the rest.
Selecting the Right People
At the base, I witnessed a group of SEAL candidates midway through their second week of the 25-week BUD/S training program. Out of 150 initial candidates that began the program one week earlier, 79 had already voluntarily elected to leave the program. Unfortunately for the remaining candidates, they still had “Hell Week” to look forward to.
Hell week takes place a month into BUD/S training. Candidates are asked to endure up to four consecutive days without sleep, among other arduous activities. If they survive the week, candidates still have an additional 20 weeks of BUD/S training to complete before finishing the program. With this kind of training, is it any wonder that SEALS are such exceptional and admired service members?
Consider for a moment running a recruitment program for your business with rigor similar to that of the Navy SEALs BUD/S. How effective would it be? The standard level of excellence would most certainly rise and candidates who complete the program would have already proven their resilience, intelligence and affinity for business acumen. Your team would be ready, eager and willing to blow the doors off the competition in 25 weeks’ time.
Mental Toughness
There was a common theme I recognized from my various discussions with the Coronada base instructors: “above and below the neck” fitness is vital to candidate’s success. A base level of physical fitness is required to become a SEAL, but the ultimate deciding factor is mental toughness. Instructors explained to me in detail that the ability to stay cool under pressure is critical to mission success. For this reason, all of the Navy SEAL training exercises are designed to test the mind even more so than they are the body.
The success of your business is similarly dependent on your team’s mental fortitude. In today’s world of flat organizations, minimal rules and regulations, robust technology, and direct customer interface, front-line people must be prepared to take on the challenges of everyday life. Take measures to ensure the mental toughness of your team is well above average. If you want to have the best company possible you need to have the best team possible.
Systems and Processes
While my visit left so much to absorb and reflect on, the most constant presence that I felt was that of systems and processes. They were everywhere. It served as a source of pride among instructors and leant achievement to the duties and goals of the Navy SEAL candidates. In all my talks, training sessions and books, I always discuss the importance of championship sports teams using systems and processes to win. It’s no different with the Navy SEALs. It’s no different with business.
Systems and processes provide structure and a goal for which to aim. Create systems and processes that will lead to success for your company and always place high importance on training. No one is ever finished learning, which means there’s always room to improve.
Train like a Navy SEAL
Small business owners can stand to learn a thing or two from the “Frogmen” of the U.S. Navy. I wouldn’t suggest going back to the office and forcing the team to undergo a 25-week underwater regimen, but a little tough-love training and guidance never hurt anybody.


Jack Daly is a professional sales coach, speaker and expert in corporate culture, inspiring audiences to take action in customer loyalty and personal motivation. Jack’s biography is a testament as to how he delivers explosive sales keynotes, sales workshops and corporate culture workshops.

Jack brings 30+ years of field-proven experience from a starting base with CPA firm Arthur Andersen to the CEO level of several national companies. Jack is a proven CEO/Entrepreneur, having built six companies into national firms, two of which he subsequently sold to the Wall Street firms of Solomon Brothers and First Boston.