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An Optimist, Realist, and the Pessimist Walk Into A Recruiter's Office...

Stew smith

Two walk out and only one makes it -
guess who?

Typically, we are one of the three types of people and maybe even a little bit of two, but when it comes to dealing with hard work, potential pain, extreme effort, only one is thoroughly prepared. This article can apply to any endeavor. 

An optimist, a realist, and a pessimist walk into a recruiter's office and this is what is looks like:

Recruiter:  So, all you want to be Navy SEALs? OK - here is how it goes:

1 - You have to fill out this medical paperwork, and get medically screened at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), then join the Delayed Entry Program (DEP), pick a rating (job). You will be directed to the Naval Special Warfare Mentor in the area and his team will test you in the PST.  You will get the Special Operator (SO) rating ONLY when you pass the PST / earn a contract. 

Optimist: Nods with excitement. 
Pessimist: Asks - What is the PST? 
Realist: Just listens. 

Recruiter:  The BUD/S PST is a 500yd swim, pushups 2 minutes, situps 2 minutes, pullups, and a 1.5 mile timed run.  It is pretty competitive these days so you need above average scores to get a contract. 

Shoot For Better Than Above Average / Competitive Scores (my recommendations)

Testing Event

Reps / Time

500yd swim  

8:20 or faster


80-100 / 2 minutes


80-100 / 2 minutes



1.5 mile run 

9 minutes or faster

These are close the competitive /autoqual scores that you need to earn a contract, but if you shoot for these you will reach / exceed the standards - Remember in this world - exceeding the standard is the standard.

Recruiter - Wait - there are a few more things: 

2 - ASVAB and CSORT Tests - You have to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB is similar to other standardized tests and is your academic entrance exam as the PST is your physical entrance exam.  It has several sections, each focusing on a different aspect, such as math, reading, and mechanical comprehension. This is how the Navy classifies you as competent for any job in the Navy. 

To qualify for SEAL, you must score at least one of the following on the ASVAB:

  1. GS + MC + EI = a minimum score of 170 (GS and EI are waiverable up to three points each, MC is not waiverable)
  2. VE + MK + MC + CS = a minimum score of 220 (VE, MK and CS are waiverable up to three points each, MC is not waiverable)
  3. VE + AR = a minimum score of 110 (VE and AR are waiverable up to three points each) + MC = a minimum score of 50 (not waiverable)(from

RecruiterSo - what do you guys think? Are you ready? 

Optimist - OK great, where do I sign? 
Realist - Sorry sir, but I need to get to work and will be back later. 
Pessimist - That seems like a lot of work, I need to think this over. 

Fast Forward Six Months Later

The optimist and the realist see each other again with the NSW mentor to take the PST. This is the optimist's 15th PST and he is almost reaching the minimum standards to get a contract. The realist has been focusing on the PST training and just started his DEP time countdown until shipping and crushes the PST on the first time with good enough scores to get put in the draft and earn a contract. The optimist gets his scores put up in the draft as well and finally earns his contract on his last attempt before he ships out in the next six weeks. 

The optimist has been in PST survival mode for the past six months learning how to swim, nursing shin splints, and shoulder tendonitis from struggling with pushups and pullups for months. 

The realist has four more months before he ships that he can devote to now working on the events that will help him prepare for the next stage of training - getting THROUGH BUDS.  He works on his 4 mile timed run, builds up to 2 miles of swimming with fins, and continues to maintain a high level PST mixed with weight training to prepare for logs / boats / rucking. 

Fast Forward Nine Months Later

The realist is in second phase at BUDS just finished OC8 seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but does not let up as some of his classmates are still failing, getting injured, and kicked out for doing stupid things. The realist realizes there is much more to learn if he wants to get into the community he has dreamed of for years. 

The optimist and the pessimist meet up again at Naval Station Norfolk and talk about putting their lateral transfer package into BUDS this next year. - if their year group is not full and their community is not undermanned! 

Here is the moral of the story...

The optimist does not worry about pain of future challenges. In fact, pain and hard work do not even enter into the process of thought or preparation. For the optimist everything is all payoff - no pain. 

For the realist, he knows there will be pain, hard work, but what other's may see (or not see) as pain, the realist can also see the pain as learning experiences and keep moving forward without dreams being shattered.  The realist weighs pain and payoff equally, but interprets the pain differently - it is more of a challenge. 

The pessimist focuses solely on the pain and cannot move forward.  For the pessimist it is all pain - no payoff. Typically, this type of mindset will not even try. 

Success in whatever you do will require pain on the front end and the payoff and "easy days" are on the back end. 

Failures (or not even trying) tend to be easy days on the front end and a lot of pain on the back end (regret). 

Regardless of what type of person you are, realize that there will be pain. It is your choice if that pain results in success or you experience the pain of failure or even trying due to lack of preparation. 

Don't be in a hurry - make sure you are ready to join before you even talk to a recruiter. 

But There is More....

There is more to going to selection physically prepared.  Are you mentally prepared to endure the discomfort and pain of things that have nothing to do with fitness?  Cold / hot, sandy, wet, sitting in the dark ocean, or rucking endlessly - there is a moment when you will may ask yourself, "why are you doing this to yourself?"  You need to have a strong answer WHY. 

Quitting or Not Quitting - The Choice is Yours

Failed at Never Quit

Moment of Truth - Your Will

Never Give Up

Secret to Avoid Quitting

Who Is The Coach, Trainer, Author Stew Smith?

 I'm the former Navy SEAL that military recruits and special ops candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at


High Intermediate Military / Advanced Spec Ops
Building Programming:

Which Program is Right For Me?
It Depends...Special Ops Candidates

The Pipeline of Training Options: 

It depends:  The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness is a classic and focuses on high rep calisthenics and running and swimming base.  You will build up your running over 12-18 weeks to 20 miles but very fast paced focus on both the 1.5 mile run for the PST and the 4 mile timed run for weekly run test at BUDS. If you are an athlete with a strong power / strength background in lifting and not running or swimming, Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you. IF you need some place to start Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you as well because a calisthenics base / running / swimming progression is a good place to build a foundation.  Though you will likely need to spend some time in the Navy SEAL Weight Training Book OR if Navy SEAL FItness is too challenging, go with Navy SEAL SWCC, EOD, Diver, PST Phase 1 Workout.  Phase 1 is a good starting point if Navy SEAL Fitness program is too tough. 

Navy SEAL Weight Training - This is part two (winter lifting phase) of my SEAL Prep program. If you have done the Navy SEAL Fitness (12 weeks to BUDS) program a few times and need a break, this is the next program that integrates lifting with the Navy SEAL Prep training. 

Other EBOOKS (Special Ops– Most of my programs tend to focus on getting TO and THROUGH a specific tactical training program.  So you may see a mix of all the seasons in some of these books, but if you are training long term, you can take advantage of Seasonal Periodization and save yourself some of the over-use, long term pains that tend to follow many of the tactical preparations - especially on the spec ops level of training. 

Start training today with workouts that focus on the specifics of getting to and through tactical profession training from firefighter, police, swat, military to special ops. We have programs to help you get TO and THROUGH training. We also have training programs to help you with training as you age in these professions (Tactical Fitness 40+ series).


Lifting Cycle Programs For Those Who Need a Strength Focus

You may have seen my Winter Lift Cycle that I discuss in the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization article as well as have our actual lift programs we have done over the years in the following books.


It is not all just calisthenics and cardio at Stew Smith Fitness

Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout, Weight Vest Workout,  Stew Smith's Fall Winter Cycle, Warrior Workout #2Maximum Fitness

These programs as well as my online coaching programs have Winter Lift Cycles in them as part of our Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System. But, do not get these lift cycles confused with ACTUAL strength / power lifting programs, these are strength / power programs that also have a focus on cardio fitness maintenance BECAUSE you need to be good at all the elements of fitness and develop into an all-round Tactical Athlete

Personalized Training Programs
There are many more options as well as 
personalized training programs member's only program and the new: 

Try Our Stew Smith Fitness Members Only Club - #1 Best Selling Tactical Fitness Programs

Questions?  Just email me at

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos at page  
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching   


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