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Don't Let Them Get in Your Head

Stew smith

Stay Focused and Handle Negative Feedback
as What It Is - Just Feedback

PC: D.McBurnett @mcteams3842

When you are cold, wet, tired, under-performing, or under a boat or log, (especially if you fail an event) you may hear comments directed at you. Just in case you did not hear it the first time, an instructor may use a bullhorn a few inches from your face so you get the message loud and clear. These moments of negative feedback from an instructor are part of the process.

You have two choices at this moment. In fact, this moment defines the term "dream" for you:

1 - Correct the deficiency - No matter the reason why you were singled out, you need to address it personally and NEVER have that issue exposed again. This may require you to get tougher, bring your A Game to the next event, or practice techniques to improve during your off time. The next time you are in the same situation, you must handle the standard and crush the event versus letting it crush you again. That is learning from the feedback received. If an instructor sees improved performance that next time (or immediately), their eyes will be diverted to the next poor soul in the class who is struggling. 

PC: D.McBurnett @mcteams3842

2 - Fail to Improve / Doubt Yourself More / Believe the Instructor - The second choice is an unfortunate path many in this situation take as they let the instructor in their head stay rent free and that eats at them until the "only" option is to quit or not improve to meet the standards. Your failure to perform at that moment could be linked to lack of preparation, but it could also be you need to try harder and push perceived limitations. At some point in the process, you no longer have time to get faster or stronger, you can only improve technique and just get tougher. 

Is this really your dream or just a pipe dream? 

Face it. If someone's comments can make you change your mind of something you have dreamed about becoming for years, you really were not as serious about achieving this dream as you initially thought. Not being able to handle this type of negative feedback can be a personality issue, but it is likely more a lack of preparation issue - emotionally, mentally and physically. Often one's experiences in life and maturity can be a driving force to better handling negative feedback as just feedback and be undeterred to seeing your dream accomplished. 

Getting mentally prepared article/podcast list

Assess Yourself and see how you should direct your training focus. 

Throughout your preparation time prior to challenging selections, you should improve any weaknesses and maintain strengths and the only way to do that is patience with training and regular assessments. Do not guess when you can assess if your training is working or not.  

These negative comments from others do not need to be from your instructors.  They could be from family / friends, teachers / coaches throughout your life and they can either be a driving force to prove them wrong or a gut punch to a less serious and determined soul. Which one are you going to be? 

Getting Your Mind Right 

Your physical fitness levels need to be high, but it goes much deeper than that to ensure success when attending high attrition rate special ops programs. You will need an answer for "how bad you want this" Ask Yourself How Bad Do You Want This? 

There is a Moment of Truth when your Will Will Be Tested where your answer to the questions of why you are doing this to yourself also need an answer. 

Comments from Instructors / Students on the topic
(shared from social media)

 @joel5326As a former BUD/S instructor myself, this is excellent advice. BUD/S is 100% mental... AND 100% physical. Usually the mental game is played out through the physical. I. E. we get to your mind through your body.

alphill4305 - Things I wish I knew when I was younger….

1) It’s “just business.” Instructors are simply doing their jobs. They’re not out to get you personally. They’re just carrying out the mission to identify who is appropriate to proceed to the next phase of training.

2) Instructors actually want to see candidates succeed. Not necessarily you personally but they want to find guys to carry forward the next generation. A graduating class of zero sounds badass but selection exists to actually select people to do the job..they just need to be the right people

3) On some level, there’s a baseline level of respect for candidates for simply showing up, since that’s a lot more risk than most people in uniform are willing to take and MUCH more than 99.9% of Americans.


Related Articles on the Topic

Are You Mentally Ready? Special Ops Level Tactical Fitness Training Ideas for the future: 

Determine Your Why, - Why Do You Want to do This?

Twelve Questions / Answers About Mental Toughness

Quitting or Not Quitting - The Choice is YOURS  

Getting TO and THROUGH Training (Two Phases of Tactical Fitness)

Learn How to do Seasonal Periodization to Build Tactical Athlete Skills

For You Special Candidates
(Get in Shape LONG Before You Join)

Which Program is Right For Me?

It Depends...Special Ops Candidates  


(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). 

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

These programs have 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.  

Most Recent Spring / Summer & Fall Winter Programs:
(click to read more)

Who is Stew Smith? Coach, Trainer, Author, PodcasterI'm the former Navy SEAL that 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

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