No matter what military you want to join, no matter what unit you want to be in, and no matter what selection course you want to pass, there are some universal rules for success.
Before I get into the practical steps there is one overarching pillar that cannot be overlooked.
The Want. The want within must be so great that you are willing to crawl across broken glass to get there. You're going to hurt, you're going to suffer, you're going to go to places so dark you didn't even know they existed.
You will enter into the darkest recesses of your mind, all of your demons will come to the surface and if you don't have your shit in one sock, the great unravelling will begin. Your desire to succeed must be so great that no man alive can stop you from achieving it.
First and foremost, you must want it with your fuxking heart and soul. If you want to do it to impress someone else, if you want to do it just to have a crack, if you want to do it because it seems "cool", then don't waste yours or anyone else's time.
Want it and want it for you and you only. Let's tip out the practical rules for success.
1. SIGN THE FUXK UP - Commit, apply, submit the application, the form, the piece of paper. You might think this doesn't need to be in here but do you know how many soldiers, sailors and airmen who have given up on their dreams because they couldn't do the simple act of committing to the fucking thing they wanted so badly?
Before you start training, before you reach out to a team guy you know, before you do anything, commit, that is when shit will get real and people will take you seriously. Ask any former operator, we all have mates who were "going to do selection".
2. DO THE WORK - As soon as you have submitted your paperwork to your chain of command it is time to start the process. Layout your timeline, forge your training plan, conduct your fact finding mission, get as much insider information as you can (don't be upset if you're told to fuck off), and start putting in the work.
Although it is extremely important, the work isn't just about physical preparation.
As well as skills like navigation you need to hone in on your mindset. This involves understanding why you want this thing at the deepest level, which leads into building resilience aka mental toughness. If there is any doubt in your mind, it will come to the surface, especially if you have a wife and kids at home, drill down, understand who YOU are and why YOU want this so badly.
When the devil appears on your shoulder, and he will, when you have all of this squared away, you can dive into your war chest and pull out the necessary weapons of war to defeat the words of doubt echoing in the top two inches.
A concoction of complete physical preparation, a deep understanding of your why, and elite mental toughness will make you an unstoppable force.
3. START EVERY DAY - Make this promise to yourself and make it now. Once you are on the start line and you have turned the fuck up (well done for doing this, it takes great courage to put it all on the line) promise yourself that no matter how wet, tired, cold, hungry, and fucked up you are, you will start every day. This was something I did and it is one of the reasons I made it to the Commando gate during NZSOF selection.
I was in the best shape of my life when I turned up to selection, I had done everything right to turn up and succeed.
What I wasn't prepared for was how fucked up I would actually feel at the end of day one onwards. I remember finishing the swim, dragging my carcass out of the dam and moving to my pack to get changed into my dry set of uniform. The heat of the day had cooked and claimed many seasoned soldiers and here I was, still on selection but feeling exhausted already.
Every day the pain and agony increases, the injuries start stacking (well they did for me) and every day gets harder to start. What I can promise you, is in less than half an hour of starting, the body will warm up and you will get moving with some pace once again.
Once you get to mid day, the hunger sets in (drink lots of water to combat this) and the mind fuckery begins again, you're already halfway through the day, so why not keep going?
I have never understood soldiers who pull off at the halfway mark of the hills phase. Once you're at the top of the ridge the only way down is to walk, there is no helicopter coming to save you and you have to walk down through the checkpoints anyway.....remember your why, start each day.
4. FIND THE SMALL WINS - Many operators I have spoken to have talked about the small wins they embraced to enhance their morale on selection. One that I heard about and then used on selection myself was intentionally sacking out.
When there were no DS around, when I was by myself and I thought the coast was clear, I would use my rifle as a walking stick. Coming from the infantry this is a big no no and something I would normally never do.
On selection, for some reason this filled me with morale as it was a big fuck you to the DS. It made me laugh and that is all that I needed to keep hammering! Find the small wins, find a way to laugh in the face of adversity, and stay on track to get selected.
5. UNDERSTAND FAILURE - When I made it past the commando gate, about 10-12 hours into what we call "Vontempsky" or "The Jerries", I pulled pin, I called it quits, I convinced myself the unit wasn't all it was cracked up to be and that Commandos would give me a good look at confirming or denying that idea.
In the minutes, days, weeks, months and years since that moment, I regret that decision.
I now know I was capable of so much more and have proven it to myself throughout my career and my life. In the preceding days, even after being selected for further training as a commando, I have never been filled with so much sadness, disappointment, guilt, frustration and resentment. I will be honest, I cried like a fucking baby, I learned a valuable lesson, success hurts, but failure hurts a whole lot more.
Take the time to truly understand the mental tyranny that is on the other side of quitting, I promise you will think long and hard before VWing (voluntarily withdrawing) off selection or quitting on any goal you set yourself in life. That failure still fuels me through the adversity of success today.
As the story goes I ended up having a phenomenal career as a Commando and wouldn't change that for anything else, but the searing pain of failure still lingers.
You know what you have to do now, dig deep to find your why, commit with your heart and soul, do the fucking work, both the physical and mental prep, start everyday, understand the gravity of failure and the hell that awaits you on the other side of quitting.
Not I or anyone else can do the work for you, it is now up to you to apply what I have shared here. You are capable of great things, you have what it takes, you have unlimited potential, and I believe in you.
The question is, are you willing to believe in yourself and take on the challenge?
Founder & Director