Sometimes You Need to Sink to Survive

We have had 67 students quit or not renew their memberships since March 12. This number is more than a quarter of our current student base. We currently have five members who still have memberships but have not paid their tuition. This is a situation that doesn’t look so well right now.

In second phase of SEAL training there is an evolution called “drown-proofing.” It is where they bind your hands behind your back, tie your feet together, and dump you into a 9-foot-deep pool. Your job is to survive for five minutes. I also did this at Search and Rescue School where the majority of us who attempted drown-proofing, the first time, failed. (Took me four attempts.)

Sinking to Survive

Upon being tossed into the water, many of us panicked and screamed to be lifted back out. Some struggle until they slip underwater where they proceed to lose consciousness and have to be fished out and resuscitated. BM1 Terry (my class proctor) told me that the only way to make it was to understand these two counterintuitive lessons:

Lesson 1: It’s a paradox: the more you struggle to keep your head above water, the more likely you are to sink.

It is impossible to keep yourself on the surface for the full five minutes with your arms and legs bound. Your attempts to keep your body afloat will only cause you to sink faster. The trick to drown-proofing is to actually let yourself sink to the bottom of the pool. From there, you lightly push yourself off the pool floor and let your momentum carry you back to the surface. Once there, you can grab a quick breath of air and start the whole process over again. Strangely, surviving drown-proofing requires no superhuman strength or endurance. It doesn’t even require that you know how to swim. On the contrary, it requires the ability to not swim. Instead of resisting the physics that would normally kill you, you must surrender to them and use them to save your own life.

Lesson 2: While obvious, still a paradox: the more you panic, the more oxygen you will burn and the more likely you are to fall unconscious and drown.

In a sick and twisted way, the exercise turns your survival instinct against you: the more intense your desire to breathe, the less you will be able to breathe. The more intense your will to live, the greater the chance you will die. It is more than a test of physical will; it is a test of your emotional self-control in situations of extreme danger. Can you control your own impulses? Can you relax in the face of potential death? Can you willingly risk your life in the service of some higher value or goal? These skills are far more important than anyone’s ability to swim. They are more important than your physical toughness or ambition. They are more important than how smart you are or what school you went to.

This skill is the ability to let go of control when one wants it most, and it is one of the most important skills anyone can develop.

 I say all that to say this:

IF WE WANT TO GET TO THE SURFACE FOR A BREATH OF AIR…

FIRST, WE MUST SINK.

One way or another we are going to get through this. The Academy is going to go on. Yes, we are sinking…but we have to remain calm in order to survive. I am going to secure a personal loan to take care of the rent difference in May. The Landlord is trying to take advantage of us during this period by offering no rent for May, June and possibly July if I sign a 5-year lease extension. He will get no such satisfaction from his efforts to manipulate the situation.

You might be experiencing the same in your life right now: finances, job, work, school, etc. There is a time to fight and then there is a time to relax.

Wash your hands, be safe, repeat;

Mr. Scott Baker

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