A podcast about life, the universe and anthropology produced by David Boarder Giles, Timothy Neale, Cameo Dalley, Mythily Meher and Matt Barlow. Each episode features an anthropologist or two in conversation, discussing anthropology and what it has to tell us in the twenty-first century. This podcast is made in partnership with the American Anthropological Association and with support from the Faculty of Arts & Education at Deakin University.
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Special Operations training is more than physical endurance. It's a mind game, and you've got to get your mind right. We talked with our command psychologist to better understand how humans mentally adapt to the challenges of hardship. For more info check out www.sealswcc.com.
Intro: Anyone whose pushed their personal limits knows it’s the mind that must be trained to overcome barriers and that peak performance requires more than physical capability. I’m Daniel Fletcher. In the next couple of episodes, we take a look into Naval Special Warfare’s Mind Body Medicine Program. Today we speak with an NSW psychologist to discuss optimizing the mental health component of training, rebounding from stress – and reaching peak performance under pressure. Let’s get started.
DF: If you could start off with talking about your role here in this environment and some of your core responsibilities
CP: Absolutely so we have. There's three psychologists that we have here at Naval Special Warfare Center, and we provide support to both Basic Training Command, so all of the SEAL and SWCC students, as well as Advanced Training Commands, so the subordinate commands to Naval Special Warfare Center. So some of things that we do here are we provide clinical services when it comes down to psychotherapy. When it comes down to instructors or our students and then other roles and responsibilities that we have fall in the domain of non-clinical services. So we do assessment selection, so personnel selection of all of the candidates that are coming into the pipeline and as well as the instructors so they're participating in higher trainings. We have to screen instructors to make sure that they're doing things, we have the right people for the right job. When it comes to both the students as well as the staff. So that's what we mostly do, we also provide some support for some other training evolutions. Like so for example with ---SERE [Survival, Escape, Resistance, Evasion] -- we provide some support and then there are other domains of what we do here regarding mental performance optimization and executive coaching.
DF: Oh, interesting. It seems like you have a big broad and expansive responsibility here. What would you say are some of your favorite areas to work in, some areas that really --- resonate with you?
CP: Yeah. Well for the purposes also of this particular podcast you know, one of the things that tends to get a lot of traction that we're trying to be able to build this equity has to do with how to be able to look at this next generation of operators, the students that are in training and how to make sure that we're able to equip them with skills that aren't just necessarily in the physical domain but how much of the training is really built upon the mental game. And there's a lot of applications when it comes down to, when they finish the pipeline and they come into the teams, be it the special boat teams or when it comes down to the SEAL teams. What we can do, right, establishing this foundation of how to optimize mental performance and that's where I think mind body medicine comes into play.
DF: How is that transformed in your experience in the time that you've been here?
CP: You know it's something that for example you know we have trainees that come in and the big four is something that all of the students that are going to be exposed to in both respective pipelines, when it comes down to SEAL and SWCC candidates. So at Great Lakes, students will be exposed to these big four when it comes down to looking at sports psychology. So one of our predecessors and other psychologists that used to be assigned here at the Center looked at some of the best existing practices and they saw, you know what we could incorporate some of these things because we want to equip students with the skills to be successful without kind of showing like, here are the keys to the kingdom. But how can we set them up for success? So we have those big four and I can go into a little bit more about it, is that...?
DF: Yeah. If you want to go on a high level that would be good. I think it's important for people to understand if they haven't listened to all of the podcasts because we've touched on them before. You could go over them as an overview and then kind of dig in how it's applicable here.
CP: Absolutely. So the big four that if you haven't heard before as far as our listeners we look at visualization being a really important one and that's definitely appropriated from the literature regarding mindfulness in mind body medicine. Arousal control when it comes down to breathing. Also one of those things that has a direct correlation when it comes down to mind body medicine. Things such as looking at goal setting or positive self-talk, that there's some things that have been kind of appropriated from some of the therapy skills that we have. So visualization is looking at how to be able to look at visualizing something. So there's Olympic trainers that teach their athletes about how to be able to incorporate using visualization. I think one of the stats that I remember reading was about ninety five percent of Olympic trainers use visualization with their athletes. [DF: Wow.] And, yeah I know right? And so these athletes that even when it comes down to medalists, they look at some of these, these techniques. Arousal control, right? How to be able to look on your breathing has huge implications regarding your performance from a physical standpoint. And again that's something that's in mind body medicine. Goal setting, looking at how to be able to prioritize one's goals how to be able to chunk things that are more manageable. Right, that adage of, how do you eat an elephant?
DF: Yeah, one bite at a time.
CP: One bite at a time, right? And the last one being looking at positive self-talk because it's the ability to bounce back that’s also really important. And a lot of times if you have any type of setback in this, that's one of those things that's really important when it comes down to being the pipeline. If you're on one particular evolution struggling with something and you're not measuring up to where you thought you would perform, how do you find a way to be able to engage in positive self-talk? It's the next time that you go do that evolution or the next evolution if it's something completely different that you're able to optimize that performance as opposed to just spinning down the drain and just focusing on all of your shortcomings.
DF: So why do you think that those, the first two specifically have direct application in the NSW community?
CP: Yeah, so let's look at something, let's say something apart from NSW and then we'll come back through it. [DF: Okay.] So looking at sports, the biathlon. All right? You have people that are skiing. Right? And then having to stop and then shoot. Right. So you think about that. What ends up happening? Your heart rate's increasing you have all these things physiologically that are occurring that can really impair your ability to hit a target. So they have to be able to practice, these biathletes, how to be able to down regulate that physiological response and be able to focus on hitting the target and then boom ramping right back up, hitting the slopes, skiing and getting the next target. Right?
So you think about that, and you look at that parallel, what are you doing tactically? You're doing something very similar. When you're going in to be able let's say to clear a house, yes you need to be able to ramp up to get to that optimal zone of functioning and performance, but not to the point where your system physiologically gets overwhelmed. So you look at practicing your breathing. The same things that are taught within our mind body medicine class that Alana Saraco teaches here. How to be able to get in that right state of zone of functioning. Same thing happens regarding being on the range. Right? So we have operators that go to Indiana and they have their sniper school. We have students that also have to be able to learn how to shoot when it comes down to doing CQC, close quarters combat. And how can they bring everything down as far as the breathing? Right? So it's the same thing. Learning how to be able to exhale. Right? Controlling, slowing down your heart rate. Pulling the trigger and hitting it so that your breathing isn't affecting where you're overshooting the target.
DF: Do you feel that there's a certain pushback against some of these practices until people learn them? It's a lot harder, I think, for people to wrap their minds around the benefits without doing them, especially on a surface level. Is that something that you have had a challenge with, trying to incorporate this, it to be quote "taken seriously"?
CP: Yeah the biggest one is about people just not building the time into their schedule. So we have people that are able to say okay, well I can do this. And it's like, working out. Part of it about working out and having a regimen is being able to do it with some periodicity. How to be able to incorporate so that it's part of your lifestyle. You can't cram working out. You can't be like all right I'll spend, you know, three hours in the gym this week and I'll make up for everything. [DF: Yeah, right.] Right as opposed to let's say 30 to 60 minute segments on a daily basis. It's the same thing with mindfulness. Same thing with mind body medicine. How do you incorporate this so it's part of your normal battle rhythm every single day. There's a quote about if, let's say you're stressed out, right? You know if you're really, really busy and you're stressed out and you have no time to be able to engage in these practices. That's the time when you need to be able to do it maybe three-fold.
DF: Right, right. So how do you, I guess speaking to a potential recruit, someone that's kind of really entering the pipeline, maybe they're involved in high school athletics or around that time of their life. You mentioned it's applications in an operational sense with the SEALs or SWCC or whoever. Maybe you can give a couple ideas of how you would recommend they implement these practices into their lives before they get here.
CP: Absolutely. So part of it about any of this stuff is building some self-awareness. So every single step before, they they're gonna be getting this training when it comes down to being in prep, right? So we have eight weeks that are dedicated from a physical standpoint, they're going to do some conditioning, but a mental standpoint they're going to have access to these big four. Before they even come out, part of the job is making sure that they have some awareness of where things are for them internally. Right? So if they're going to the gym it's so easy to be able to plug in some music or even plug in this very podcast while they're in the gym and just be mindless, right? And just be able to be disconnected. But part of the approach is being able to actually dial in and be in the moment, understand what's happening to you physically. Right? We need to be able to have that as the foundation and precursor for them to be successful to learn the skills that they have in prep. So just finding out kind of where they are.
So one of the things like we are, what we will talk about is the body scan and how to be able to look at checking in with yourself what's happening to you physically. Because a lot of people are just pushing through right? They're invincible they're in high school or, you know, they want to be able to grab life by the horns and get into NSW. But how can you slow the process down to check in what's happening to them physically.
DF: How often do you think that's, not necessarily required or recommended to do that kind of self-evaluation when they're not experienced with that kind of sensitivity?
CP: So repetitions and iterations are really important. So to be able to do it on a daily basis. And there's some fringe benefits, right? So we have literature that suggests like even something regarding the breathing or training. How to focus on your breath. The fringe benefits are that actually over a long enough time period that it lowers any type of heart disease, right? The number one risk for heart disease is stress. Like the whole thing about a type A personality was that the claim was termed by a cardiologist, right? So it has to do with stress. And so they might not be aware of it now, but if they're able to kind of see that they put this into practice now in their youth or even if, let's say they're a fleet transfer and they're coming into the pipeline, the earlier the better. Right? The earlier the better that you can incorporate these things just like physical fitness.
DF: So say you do this assessment and, yeah you're carrying a lot of tension is, I guess what your takeaway is, what do you think is the next step for somebody who's entering this kind of this process of kind of re-evaluation.
CP: So looking at resources that they have. So, maybe if they have someone when it comes down to existing support systems. If they're in some type of sport right? Like we know we have a lot of people that are wrestlers, we have a lot of people that are coming in from water polo backgrounds and they have an inherent ready kind of embedded coaching systems, they can talk to their coach about looking at how maybe based upon someone with more experience and they kind of see these things. All right. So I noticed that I carry a lot of tension and I can talk to the coach about how have they been able to see regarding mental performance or when it comes down to mind body medicine or mindfulness or meditation, how has that been something that's been applied in their sport, so it's familiar. Right? It has something that there is a reference point. If let's say I'm a wrestler and I see how it's applied in wrestling. Boom, I've been able to see how there's a real world application.
DF: Right, and probably experience that benefit themselves. Do you think that the awareness is adequate in the NSW community for the benefits of mindfulness and mind body medicine or is it something that needs to grow or?
CP: Yeah. So I believe that awareness is growing. So this was something that we were asked to be able to look at meeting this demand signal. So we had floated all sorts of different ideas when it comes down to programmatic development. So we have a for example a group slash class on sleep, right about how to be able to treat insomnia. Yeah. We were providing treatment individually but we developed a class to address that need. Another need was like, hey this is something that is emerging and we need to be able to have something that's not just done individually but more on a group basis. [DF: Right] And that was done to normalize. That was done from the head shed from the leadership at the top level saying we see marriage in this, we see that there's some type of benefit. So community wide we definitely see the people that are more seasoned, the people that have more years in the teams, that they're the ones actually incorporating this and the ones that are younger or you know they're able to use their youth and their raw talent to be able to have this.
But what ends up happening is over the course of a person like an operator's lifespan is that they get really proficient at ramping up. And the training that they have as well as their experiences in combat are, they get finely tuned to be able to have that fight or flight response the sympathetic nervous system finely tuned to be able to respond. And there's been some research about looking at conventional forces and SOF and the differences there. But one of the things that there isn't an emphasis on the training pipeline is about how to be able to promote the relaxation response. Everyone has this, other animals also have the sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight response, and the parasympathetic nervous system which is the relaxation response. So if you engage in things of this nature when it comes down to mind body medicine or meditation, it actually helps promote that relaxation response. And that's something that's needed especially over, let's say 15 to 20 years of a career, 30 years in the Teams, it becomes more and more difficult because your body becomes finely tuned to be able to ramp up but not ramp down.
DF: Yeah that obviously has an impact on sustainability of the force and the individuals in a huge way, right?
DF: Is that where that kind of need came from? It was like, a general awareness that, or maybe a lack of awareness and then it was like hey there is a way to do this that exists that we're just not really practicing or was it something that's picked up from people that in the Teams that hey this is what's working for them. How did that kind of come about you, do you know?
CP: Yes. So it was really coming from the operators. And so we can talk about what the best practices are. Right? So we're the subject matter experts. So if we have the clinical psychologist or we have other medical disciplines that are explaining these things it's, it's great but the proof in the pudding is really when someone's done it and they see the merit. Right? So you have operators that have done this and put it into practice and there's like wow this is something that's incredible. This has actually had an impact to my ability to operate.
DF: What are successful operators doing in this space that you think people should replicate?
CP: One of the things that we hear back from operators is it's, it's really based upon what they gravitate toward individually. So we can kind of see from a trend analysis what are the most popular. But, for example, for one person it might be like, ooh box breathing is definitely what I want. Right? That seems to work really well for me. Now, I mean, based upon their experiences of let's say when they are doing athletics, right, they're doing it on a sports team and it became something that was already a skill but they are able to finally hone that skill. Or for another person they might be like, you know what? I really like the idea of looking at visualization. Right? So there's a number of different techniques. And for us, we try to emphasize simplicity over trying to be able to have an overly exhaustive list of different skill sets. Right? Like we would rather have the Leatherman multi-tool, right, that you can incorporate because you can over-learn that. It's the same thing that happens when it comes into certain tactics. Gross motor movement versus fine motor movement. We'd rather give you a skill that you can start to be able to apply to multiple scenarios that's streamlined, as opposed to a plethora of different skills that you can utilize. Right?
DF: Right. Right. Right. Right. It's different for everyone.
CP: It is. It is different for everyone but I think again, like the reason why the Big Four has actually been sustainable is because there's only four of them, and you can kind of build up as far as complexity of each of those four fundamental, mental performance.
DF: Or where your detriment may be personally.
DF: Maybe you could speak a little bit about how, and when you've incorporated some of these techniques that have been really beneficial to you whether it's after stress or before performance whatever it may be. Maybe areas and insights that maybe people might not know where to apply these techniques and skills.
CP: So when in training pipeline I think there's some great applications. Right? So there's multiple points when it comes down to like, you're in a high stress environment because you have people evaluating you. Right? You're evaluating yourself in your performance. Your peers are evaluating you. You're evaluating your peers. You have cadre of instructors that are evaluating you. So there's some performance anxiety that can happen, and that could really start to impact, let's say when you're, when you're doing a run on the house, when you're jumping out of a plane. There's all these different things, so there's a lot of performance anxiety and stuff that you haven't done or you don't do really regularly. So being able to put into practice let's say when you're in a learning environment and you're getting classroom didactics, how you can incorporate let's say visualization, definitely something you can use. [DF: Huge, you're right.] Right? Or the breathing. Right? How to be able to have it. So you're not taking these short and shallow breaths and asphyxiating, right? How to be able to control your breathing so that you're able to dial in, and making sure that let's say you're doing an aerobic exercise and you're having to run. You can definitely do this. So, I think that in a training environment, especially with the listeners that are looking at, all right, I'm going to do, let's say the PST, or I'm going to do some type of physical fitness evolution. There is a mental component and how you can get into the optimal zone right before you execute.
DF: For people that might be experiencing symptoms whether it's stress, anxiety, fill in the blank, what would you tell them for them to know, hey I need to do something beyond self-care here. Is there any indicators that people should be aware of that's, hey. I can't talk myself down from this level of anxiety or whatever it may be. How do you kind of navigate that?
CP: So I mean ideally, they're able to check in with themselves, but you know that's why we have swim buddies in the Navy. Right? You have people that can hold each other accountable, and you have someone that's able, like you're just as much in training you're checking that person's gear, they're checking your gear, and they're also checking what your performance is. So if they see a change in your baseline, from your functioning, or if you're seeing a change in theirs, that's one thing that's a fidelity check. Right? Having that mentor or that coach, right, that you can, that they provide you feedback and it's going to be one of those things that they're going to be receiving in the training pipeline, [DF: Right.] is the right type of feedback [DF: Right, right]. So even if it's for themselves if they have some blind spots and they don't see where, let's say their performance is starting to be affected, there's going to be people that they need to rely upon proactively and ask for that help and then also if they don't get that then there's definitely instructors that will tell them.
DF: How are these techniques used to maintain a high level of professionalism and performance in the community?
CP: That's a great question. So a lot of times, when someone thinks about a clinical psychologist, in the most traditional setting, right? They think of like a chaise lounge and talking about their mother. Right? And it really seems to be from this model of, there's some type of illness. I'm here, I have depression, I have anxiety, I have post-traumatic stress, and I'm coming here because there's some type of illness that I need to be able to get treated for. And while we do do that, that's one of the roles that we have, we also look at how to be able to optimize performance, right? How can we have someone where, let's say they're doing great, they're functioning is going well, how can we actually make them more awesome. Right? So to speak.
These interventions, when it comes down to mind body medicine, it does both, right? One is, it gets left of the bang, before it becomes a problem. We equip people with the skills so that they're independently able to self-assess and being able to put these interventions into place so that we're equipping them with the skills that they can kind of take care of themselves. Right? So that's the first thing. And what the impact is. That person then has a sense of agency that they can take care of this stuff, like they have the tools necessary to be able to look at improving their performance and being able to address these things. Yeah we're always there as a safety net to be able to talk about when something outside of their control. But at the very beginning, they're taught you can take care of some of these things independently. And we'll be there to be able to help you through that process. Just like if you have to be able to put in a fix it ticket in the Navy and they give you like a, here's the tools that you need to do to install your, you know, your frames on a wall or whatever. [DF: Right, right, right.] It's the same kind of nature. And over the course of time if we establish that at the very beginning of someone's career, they have that understanding then there's idea of we're looking at destigmatizing as far as any type of healthcare, cause it's not just because they're there and they're sick and need to come in to see a professional, because they've already seen us in a different capacity. So it's really important.
DF: Yeah, I think that that's a big key. I think that there is this passing, hopefully, passing stigma behind mental health and seeing your peers as advocates of awareness, mindfulness, or fill in the blank. I think, or leaders is a, is a huge piece of that.
DF: Being able to trust the people that are giving you an assessment.
CP: So we have psychologists that are both active duty. We have civilians and there's also the big push for this funding source called Preservation of the Force and Family. And aspirationally "POTFF" for Preservation of the Force and Family looks at trying to be able to have more of a whole person concept of addressing not only the operator but also the person's family. Because, there's, you know, a person has their professional life, they have their personal life, and things can bleed over to each other, right? So we have psychologists that are POTFF contractors that, across all of the groups we have also GS and active duty that are there. So, you have some people that are embedded at a garrison level where they're there, and you also have people that are psychologist active duty that actually deploy with the teams. So, it's that sense of cultural competency of understanding what that's like. And of course, we're never part of necessarily the tribe, so to speak where they are on the fringes we kind of see what it is on the periphery. But, that understanding looks at how to be able to apply these concepts from the research and the literature, and how to make it applicable to the community. Right? Mind body medicine wasn't one of those things that was designed for NSW, right? But we've been able to find a way to apply it and make --it meaningful based upon the customer's needs, the client's needs, the operator.
DF: And that's still growing, I guess.
DF: Actively, thankfully.
DF: I've heard the phrase post-traumatic growth. Can you unpack that a little bit for me?
CP: Yeah, so there's a mounting amount of newer research that's looking at how a person can be exposed to something traumatic and have it be something where it's actually not impacting them in a negative light, but it can be something where it provides some type of growth. So for example, you can have Bert and Ernie, right? And Bert gets exposed to something traumatic. And it's really impacting his ability about looking at things such as safety, trust, power and control, esteem, intimacy, and he needs to get some help because it's starting to affect him negatively. It's affecting his job, it's affecting his ability to have meaningful relationships, right, friendships, work relationships, romantic relationships. So for, for Bert, a lot of what the older research and the greatest body of research was on post-traumatic stress. How is this impacting him negatively. Right? I think I used Bert originally.
And so now, there's let's say with Ernie, he has the same exact event, and he gets exposed to something traumatic. But instead of it's something impacting him negatively, he starts appreciating life in a different manner. And he now, the things that before getting exposed to this traumatic event that really started, like he wants to be able to spend more time with his family. He wants to be able to focus on how his weekends are gonna be things that are not just playing video games or watching television and Netflix and binge. And he's really trying to be able to give back to his community when it comes down to let's say, volunteer work. He sees that there's something bigger than himself, and he wants to contribute to it. And it was a course correction that he did based upon this event. And both of them can be life threatening, and it can be one of those things that now, this new appreciation means that he wants to lean into life, and that's the post-traumatic growth. That's kind of an example.
DF: Is that something coachable?
CP: No, I mean it's, you set, you set the frame right? As far as making sure that people are aware of it. So, that's why it's great that there's more research about it. So people aren't just saying like, oh my gosh, when it comes down to being exposed to combat and deployment, you know, a lot of times we have family members or spouses of NSW, or even when it comes down to family members, right? They see that their children are wanting to pursue this, and they think okay my son or daughter that's going to go into this community is going to be exposed to this and they're going to be forever damaged. That's the perception. [DF: Right.] But the thing that can set the frame is being able understand that it's not necessarily the case. Right? We're looking at incidents of 15 percent when it comes down to looking at, you have a hundred people that are exposed to the same exact event, fifteen percent are going to have PTSD, versus one hundred percent right.
DF: Wow, right, right. I've seen that in some of these people I've spoke with that have experienced trauma. Either, it's kind of a crumbling effect or a re-evaluation and kind of new appreciation. It's interesting to put a, a word to that, or phrase to that because I think that's obviously the case for some people that being able to walk away from an event, having learned a lesson as opposed to being traumatized. Two vastly different outcomes. And it seems as though through the pipeline, the Navy's been able to pull those people to the side and put them into intense situations. I think it's a lot of part of the selection process is seeing these people that have that type of resiliency.
CP: Absolutely. I mean, and they have, with both pipelines, right? When that operator wears that SWCC pin, or when it comes down to that operator who's newly anointed, wears that, that trident on their chest, that is a physical reminder of the fact that they've been resilient and have overcome adversity.
DF: Right, right.
DF: You hear so much about BUD/S and the rigors and stresses, the PST scores, all of it. How much of it is a mental game versus a physical game?
DF: A lot of emphasis is placed on the physical demands of BUD/S, but obviously the mental demands are just as great, if not greater. Can you speak to that a little bit?
CP: Absolutely. So, we've had, for example Olympians, medalists that have come through and physically, they're doing really well. We've had Division 1 athletes, collegiate athletes that have come through, and haven't been able to complete the pipeline. There's so much of the mental aspect of what they need to be able to do, and unfortunately it's not a soundbite that I can say, do X Y and Z. I think there has to be just an understanding that they have to embrace this and that this is something that is a commitment that's going to be lifelong. They have to look at the mental aspect from, not just the training pipeline because I know that perhaps a lot of your listeners here are going to want to know. Okay, give me the tools for success. Right? [DF: Right.] Give me the tools for success and I'm gonna be able to crush it, and then I'll be able to finish the pipeline.
DF: But sometimes that tool might just be knowing that they need to learn about the mental game.
CP: Absolutely. And they can't, they can't just stop on that. Like it has to be throughout their career, right?
DF: Yeah, a life skill really.
CP: Absolutely. So it's one of those things that they look at these aspects and we can easily dismiss it, right? Like how many people brush their teeth but don't floss, right? Until it becomes gingivitis. It's one of those things that people will neglect until it becomes a problem. And that's when we see them, like we clinically will see people when they're having some issues. The people that are able to incorporate these practices, they're able to have successful careers. Right? And they're able to bounce back from when they experienced adversity, and they're able to incorporate being able to have successful ops, and they're able to do all these things because of the fact that they've invested the time in these mental skills.
DF: Do you have general advice for anyone who is going to be facing adversity or going into a difficult task whether it's BUD/S or something else that they need to be maybe more aware of or just kind of re-remind them of?
CP: So two things come to mind. And I think these are globally applicable for everyone, to ensure some type of success. So the first one has to do with just being genuine, be yourself. Right? And that's something that's really important. If you're genuine and you're going in this pipeline and who you are and what your capabilities are and you're someone who's impressionable and is eager to learn and motivated, the pipeline including all of the cadre and instructors, every single part of the process, they're going to see that. That you are that that lump of clay that can be molded. Right? If you're genuine, then you're a good fit for the community and you have to entrust that you being genuine is what you can control, and let the process, let the instructors in the pipeline make the determination of like, okay, this person's continuing to maintain his standards, and this person should be an operator. So just as long as you're being genuine with the whole process, then I think that's a great takeaway.
The second one though, has to do with adversity. We have a number of candidates that they come in, and they were great academically they're great in sports. They're multitasking jobs. You know, like they're, they have in our fleet transfers, right? There's a reason why their commanding officers and CMC’s wrote those letters of endorsement. And they're here and they want to be able to perform, and a lot of them never felt the experience of any type of failure or setback. And this is the first time they're experiencing it. And, the ones that are successful that can continue are able to bounce back from that setback and they're able to continue. So one thing that we see routinely is let's look at something like, trying to be able to clear a house. Right? You have someone that's trying to be able to clear a house, they get some feedback on something they shouldn't have done, and they just focus on that one fall. Right? Every single thing as far as all the things we're doing really well the last few runs [DF: it falls by the wayside.] it falls by the wayside. They just focus and fixate on the flaw of what happened during this last run. And that happens for every physical evolution, that it just, it looks physical, but there's a mental game to it.
So, I would say one piece of, one kernel of advice is for people that are candidates, is to look at experiences they've had, not just look at the successes but really do an autopsy on those failures, the setbacks that you've had and how to be able to look at the lessons learned. How did that make you a better person, a stronger person when it comes down to these were sort of deficiencies, right? Maybe these are things that I'm always going to have issues with. Right? I'm going to have issues with my confidence. I'm going to have issues, let's say I'm not the strongest swimmer. Not only can you find ways to be able to get training or mentorship on those deficiencies, but knowing what they are and playing to your strengths.
DF: Well I think that kind of encapsulates a big part of the challenges of getting through the pipeline and having a continued successful career with NSW. So thank you so much for your time, we really appreciate it.
CP: Absolutely, thank you.
DF: Find out more at www.sealswcc.com and join us for the next NSW podcast.