One’s ability to endure and persist is probably one of the most important aspects of developing a good Warrior Mindset. The military has known this for sometime and that is why in top “elite” units these warriors are forged in the hardship of physical challenges and discomfort. Some units such as Army Rangers, instill a code amongst their warriors; like (The Ranger Creed). Having learned this ethos while serving in an (all volunteer) unit of Rangers; like in FCo. 51st Infantry (LRS) Long Range Surveillance, the creed became part of our everyday life. The unit was filled with soldiers who had left the Ranger Regiment and thankfully, much of the ways of the Regiment came with them. Not only did we recite the creed each and every morning along with the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America and the National anthem, but we would reflect upon it often throughout the day and be reminded of it by our superiors in times of hardship.
One of my favorite lines in the creed is the second stanza:
“Acknowledging that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle, by land sea or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.”
This was important in our unit because not only did it instill a sense of pride in the troops, but when times got hard, when we were cold, wet, hungry and tired, all one would have to do is simply recite the creed in your head and affirm exactly why it was that you were enduring. It was expected of you as a member of the unit. As a fitness trainer and a certified hypnotist; I for one can attest to the effectiveness of such affirmations. Anthony Robbins (A.K.A Tony Robbins) has made a career teaching people how to succeed by bringing out the best in themselves with Positive Affirmations. Affirmations have proven very effective in post hypnosis for subjects reaffirming their initial suggestions.
Diego Sanchez “The Nightmare” is a very successful UFC competitor, and is also a disciple of Anthony Robbins. He can frequently be seen, rather loudly; verbally proclaiming his victory before the fight on his way to the cage with a cry of "YES". But Affirmations come in other forms such as visualization as well. Olympic and Collegiate Wrestling legend Dan Gable, proclaimed in an interview for a documentary on his life, that he would constantly drill alone either shadow boxing or wrestling and that he visualized fights and matches and in his words; “I never lost once”. This is common for many athletes myself included. The visualization of being there helps to make the pain and discomfort of the grind minimal. This is important because the more one trains, the more often they experience the “Grind of a grueling session” and the more often they see their own victory at the end of the grind. The result is that when the real situation arrives one treats it simply as another training session and accepts that grueling pain and discomfort as just part of it on the way to a victorious reward.
Some people choose music to affirm their greatness and to help them drive through the hard times. Again, this writer can certainly subscribe to this and my training play list reflects it with hundreds of Driving beats with a fast pace and themes or titles that suggest victory, dominance, success and the ability to overcome. The fact is that there is some serious scientific evidence behind this. There have been studies on controlled groups that suggest those listening to music at 120 beats per minute or more have increased their athletic performance. There are also tests that suggest music can relate to one on an emotional level and thus increase performance. Evidence suggests that music with positive messages or music that one relates to a positive life experience boosts their ability to cope with stress, pain and discomfort.
So now we are aware of affirmations and kind of have an understanding of how they work, lets talk about Intestinal fortitude. Intestinal fortitude is the ability to “Grind” it out, to deal with and compartmentalize the pain and discomfort of any given situation and to persevere. The old term “Gut it out” comes to mind. As a life long competitive athlete and combat soldier, I for one not only attest to the fact that Intestinal fortitude is a fundamental part of having a successful Warrior Mindset, but it is also often, what separates successful people from those who aren’t.
Everyone starts the New Year with fantastic resolutions of weight loss and financial achievement goals and life goals in general. So in January, the gyms are packed with promises, good intentions and fire; but as the long month of January winds down, those same people who want to drop a couple pounds begin to dwindle. By February the multitudes are down to a fraction. As the year goes by, diets are abandoned, goals are set aside and souls are broken. Then by December and the end of the year many are already preparing for the same cycle the next year with only hopes that they will achieve what they set out to do.
The bottom line here is that everyone…… EVERYONE; who abandons their goals just really didn’t want it bad enough. They didn’t want it bad enough to endure the “Grind”, the pain and the discomfort on the path to achievement. In the military we always relate excuses to a weapon that just doesn’t operate, by saying that the “Maximum effective range of an excuse is…. ZERO METERS”. So for those out there who are always telling themselves that its, “too cold”, or “too hot”, or they, “just don’t have the energy” or they “just had a bad day”; what’s really going on is that they just realized that what it is they say they want to achieve just really isn’t that important. It’s not important enough for them to endure the physical or mental pain and discomfort of breaking personal barriers on the road to achievement. To paraphrase; they just didn’t have the intestinal fortitude.
Merriam Webster defines - Intestinal Fortitude
: courage, stamina
So where does intestinal fortitude come from?
Simple answer…….It comes from within. When all the chips are down and the world is against you; when it seems as if the weight of the world rests on your shoulders and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, it’s up to you to deal with it. Some people find ways to avoid the issue at hand, escape, flee or even mask it. Others roll up their sleeves, tuck their chin, put up their dukes and march straight in toward the challenge, knowing that this is going to hurt, but also having made the decision that it is they who decide their fate; and that their fate is not just the result of a combination of circumstances. There is no limit to how much intestinal fortitude one has, if one decides that they will simply drive on to the objective and complete the mission even though they may be the lone survivor then, they can accomplish just that. Some people spend their lives enduring and driving through challenge after challenge, never quitting being relentless up to the point of defeat or even death. Not every time one makes the conscious choice to endure, does it end victoriously, but pain leaves even the wounded and the dead; quitting goes into the thereafter.
Merriam Webster defines relentless
:continuing without becoming weaker, less severe, etc.
:remaining strict or determined
If one is to be relentless they must first have the courage and the mental and emotional stamina to endure. The mind directs the body and without the drive one cannot execute any goal. The purpose of this series is to help those who wish to succeed by laying out a blue print that they can apply to their own wants, needs and desires and to give them the support of knowing they are not the only ones who have ever faced a difficult challenge. There are others out there who face difficult challenges from losing weight, training for an event, overcoming a disability and even the adversity of life itself. But here we have laid out a plan of attack. In Part one we highlighted Goal Setting, in Part Two was Motivation and Work Ethic; here in this last of the series we define Intestinal Fortitude and outline how to become relentless in any endeavor. Each part in this series builds a base for the next. With all of these elements using the tips and advice therein there is no doubt you will succeed in achieving your goals. In closing I would like to leave you with the words of a great philosopher, “He who believes, believes”. If you believe then you can achieve.