Bruce Lee once said, “Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” Albert Einstein also said, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.”
We have all gone through many adversities in life. You might be going through an extreme challenge right now — making a life-changing decision or deciding how to move forward in your relationships. You might be struggling with some type of physical ailment or lack of health. Or, you could be dealing with insecurities, doubt, fear, and the uncertainty of your financial future.
In this episode, our special guest will talk about nourishing your body, soul, and spirit to live a complete life and become a warrior in the face of adversity. I’m happy to have Chadd Wright in the house here at The School of Greatness.
Chadd Wright is a motivational speaker, business owner, entrepreneur, and retired Navy SEAL who served as a team leader on multiple deployments. I had a chance to meet Chadd during a 35-hour endurance hike up a mountain, and I was blown away by his mindset and ability to endure extreme pain and adversity — he once served as a Navy SEAL master training specialist and instructor for 12 years. When he retired in 2019, he started the 3-OF-7 Project together with his brother, Blake Wright, which is a project dedicated to assisting people in becoming the best version of themselves.
In this episode, Chadd Wright will talk about his journey and commitment to becoming a Navy SEAL, his struggles with a physical ailment, and how he managed the adversity he faced while pursuing his dream. He will also talk about the power of the mind to break barriers and achieve the things you want to manifest in life, how to break down the barriers into manageable pieces, and how to deal with self-doubt. Chadd will teach us in this conversation how to persevere through challenges and tough times.
He has a fantastic story to tell that will surely inspire anyone — I’m super excited that Chadd is here with us today to personally share his motivating story. So buckle up, and let the class begin!
Chadd’s journey to the Navy SEALs took him through so many obstacles and adversities. It took him awhile before he got on the starting line. He never played sports, never ran on track, and never swam in the pool until he applied for a SEAL contract that requires a Physical Screening Test (PST). Going to the Navy was never on his mind until he graduated high school and started working in the construction industry. It just popped out of his mind to be a Navy SEAL after browsing through the internet and noticing a Navy flyer to join the hardest military training in the world. He wanted something more challenging than the mundane tasks at the construction company.
Getting a SEAL contract is not easy, especially for someone without experience in fitness training. Chadd failed the PST multiple times while training by himself in between the tests. He learned to swim, ran a mile, and more until he finally passed after four months of persistently taking the PST once every week. Chadd finally got a contract to join the Navy boot camp, which is a prerequisite to Navy SEAL training.
It was Chadd’s first victory on his journey to the SEAL team. But it was also the start of more struggles and adversities in his life. Chadd Wright endured the rugged training of the boot camp. After passing the final training exercise, something unexpected happened.
“We had this big, final training exercise, and we got that done, and all my other classmates were going off to graduation [for] the ceremony. … They were going to move on with their dreams and aspirations to go to SEAL training. And, my drill instructor pulled me aside after this final training exercise, and he says, ‘Hey, you’ve got to go to [the] medical, man. They found something on your physical that they need to talk to you about.’ So, while everybody else is going off to graduation, I was walking over to [the] medical.” – Chadd Wright
What a disheartening turn of events. After going through the hardships and extreme physical demands of boot camp and passing all the tests, everyone was so excited for the much-anticipated graduation day. But Chadd was marching to the clinic while his teammates were marching in the graduation ceremony.
“I walked [to see] the … the Medical Officer, and he said, ‘Chadd, you have a pericardial cyst on your heart, and it’s asymptomatic. … We’re afraid that when you go down to depth diving that it will burst the cyst on your heart. … We can’t let you be a SEAL.’” – Chadd Wright
Nothing is more devastating for a SEAL Team aspirant than to be told that you can’t be a Navy SEAL because of an underlying physical ailment. Suddenly, Chadd’s dream was shattered. His condition was rare and asymptomatic. Surgery was a potential option, but there was no guarantee of success.
But Chadd Wright was not about to give up his dream to be a Navy SEAL despite the rare condition. When he moved back to his hometown in North Georgia, he searched for a surgeon to perform the operation to remove the cyst. But the search turned out to be another struggle.
“I’ve gone to, like three or four, different heart surgeons there in Atlanta, and nobody would touch it. They said the same thing that the dive medical officer in the Navy told me. Finally, I found a surgeon that would take this thing off my heart. His name was Dr. Cooper, and he was an army surgeon. … He understood my dream … more so than somebody that hadn’t served their country. … Dr. Cooper was willing to accept the risk of performing this surgery on my behalf.” – Chadd Wright
Sometimes, it takes someone to understand your dreams and aspirations to be willing to take risks for you. But Chadd had a more important challenge in front of him. The operation was too risky since there was a possibility that it could end not just his dream but his life. The pericardial cyst was the barrier that hindered Chadd from getting to his aspirations with the Navy SEALs. By breaking down that barrier, he could move forward with his dreams.
Removing the cyst would require an operation that would cut open his chest, detach a pectoral muscle, and break a rib before the surgeon could get to the cyst and remove it. Indeed, it was a life-and-death risk for the sake of achieving his dream. That operation was not necessary at that time since it was an asymptomatic condition. But it was necessary if he wanted to go back into training to be a Navy SEAL. Of course, there were some doubts. But Chadd was able to manage them.
“I might die. … I look over at my dad, it’s like five in the morning [and] we’re riding to the hospital, and I said ‘Dad, do you really think I should do this, man?’ And he just looked back at me, stone cold, and he said, ‘Chadd, if you want to be a SEAL, you don’t have any choice.’ And I was like, ‘Roger that, man.’” – Chadd Wright
One year later, Chadd Wright was back in front of the same Medical Officer who told him that he could not become a Navy SEAL. He presented his medical records about the surgery.
“I remember walking in his office. … He looked at me, and he said, ‘What are you doing back here?’ And I had the paperwork from my civilian surgeon that performed the surgery. And I just said, ‘Hey man, will you take a look at this?’ Set it down in front of him. And he went over the documents right there and pretty much gave me the go-ahead.” – Chadd Wright
From there on, Chadd Wright finally started living his dream. He went on to become a team leader of the Navy SEALs and served multiple deployments until his retirement. It was an inspiring journey of determination, courage, persistence, and having the right mindset.
How many of us would have quit after failing to pass just a single test or having a professional expert or manager tells us that we can’t become someone we want to be? How many of us would just give up a dream because of a life-and-death risk? For Chadd Wright, nothing was stopping him from getting to his dream — not even a surgery that could possibly take his life.
Passing boot camp is one thing. But formal SEAL training is the next level with more rigorous physical demands. Not everyone made it through — some quit in the middle of the training. Others even quit on day one. I asked Chadd how he managed the physical and mental barriers every candidate had gone through to complete the training.
“The biggest reason that people quit … is because they look at the whole — they’re looking at the big picture. … The guys that quit, they couldn’t break it down into digestible [pieces].” – Chadd Wright
Sometimes, the problem right in front of us seems so impossible to do that we tend to quit too early. But if we break it down into doable tasks, it becomes manageable after all.
“I remember an evolution during hell week. … All you’ve got to do is run one mile over and over again until we tell you to stop. There are no time standards. There’s no [time] off. You could walk, … [but] you had to look like you’re running. … That was the single evolution during [the] hell week where we lost the most guys, and it was because … people just could not focus on that [one] mile. … All they could think about was all the miles in front of them, which they didn’t know if this was the last one or not. So they looked at it as a big picture, and they just couldn’t handle it.” – Chadd Wright
One hour at a time. One moment at a time. One day at a time. Many people quit because they tend to look at the bigger picture and get overwhelmed with fear of what lies ahead when what they should be focusing on is completing the first step. Sometimes, it takes a shift in mindset to get through the challenges. If someone asks you to do something you think is impossible to achieve, just break it down into digestible pieces and then start completing the tasks one step at a time.
“Conquer what’s right in front of you, and … stay in that mindset.” – Chadd Wright
Manage your mind to focus on and conquer the challenges right in front of you without getting lost in the bigger picture. The one thing that makes many individuals quit once things get harder is negativity, which eventually leads to self-doubt, fear, and insecurity.
“I am honing my body and my soul, my mind, will, and emotions. That’s where the battle is — in the soul.” – Chadd Wright
Every day, Chadd Wright would start the morning with a few moments with God through prayer and reading, which are food for the soul. He would also spend about four hours in training to strengthen the body. He would repeat a mantra to train his mind to see only the positive things in everything, which allowed him to break down the challenges into doable tasks. This routine gave him the power to overcome his fears, doubts, and insecurities.
This episode just showed us the importance of adversity to self-growth and how to manage adversity without letting it knock us down. If you know someone struggling in life, share the full episode of this podcast over at The School of Greatness. It is also available on Spotify and Google podcasts.
Chadd Wright is on a mission with his brother through the 3-OF-7 Project, where Chadd and Blake Wright provide a good resource of knowledge while offering guidance in acquiring the ability to complete oneself through the nourishment of body, spirit, and soul. Visit the 3-OF-7 Project website for more information, to book Chadd for a speaking engagement, or enroll in the Basic Course for extra-ordinary people.
Chadd Wright has created a life of strength so that he can endure all the pain and challenges that might come his way. I pray that you have the strength to endure all the challenges in life, and I hope this episode inspires you. Tag us both — Chadd Wright, @chaddwright278, and myself, @lewishowes, and let us know your most significant takeaways.
Do something great out there!