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Life is Full of Circuses


If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

A circus was an extra two hours of workouts a SEAL trainee would have to do if they didn’t meet standards on their daily tests.

McRaven talks of how those who consistently had to go through the extra circuses ended up being stronger and better.  As long as they didn’t quit.

The lesson comes through clear as a bell.  Embrace the extra work and lessons that come from failure.

We will all fail at one point or another.  The question is what will you learn from it?

Maybe you are overweight and are now going to have to diet and exercise much harder to make up for poor choices in the past.

Maybe you are in debt and behind on your bills and your budget isn’t going to be much fun until you pay off the debts. 

Maybe your marriage isn’t doing so well and it is going to take a lot of hard work to rebuild trust and love in that relationship.

Whatever your challenge, use it to make you stronger.

We all will face adversity.  Successful people use those moments to build inner strength and experience.

Make it a great day.



Here is the text of this section of his speech:

Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events-long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics-something designed to test your mettle.

Every event had standards — times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to-a “circus.”

A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics — designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.

No one wanted a circus.

A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue — and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult-and more circuses were likely.

But at some time during SEAL training, everyone — everyone-made the circus list.

But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Over time those students — who did two hours of extra calisthenics — got stronger and stronger.

The pain of the circuses built inner strength — built physical resiliency.

Life is filled with circuses.

You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.

But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.


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