I have never met a U.S. Navy SEAL that wasn’t a leader. So when I was invited by Bullfrog 1, two-star Admiral Dick Lyon, to attend a special session in Coronado to meet this special breed of warriors in action, I jumped at the opportunity provided by my friend. Dick, a graduate of Yale and Stanford, is the first Navy SEAL to achieve the rank of Admiral in the United States Navy. A world record holder and Olympic swimmer, Dick was part of the pre-SEAL team that was called the “Scouts and Raiders,” whose mission was to clear the beaches in Europe and provide reconnaissance and demolition of beach obstacles prior to island landings in the Pacific in World War II.
The Navy SEALs are physically fit young men with an uncommon desire to succeed in the midst of adversity. Their training is unparalleled in the world. Marked by an introductory 27 weeks of physical and mental conditioning, the future “Frogmen” receive six additional months of a U.S. Navy parachute course along with special warfare survival, escape, resistance, and evasion courses held in San Diego. The drop out rate is severe in the training. In a class of less than 200, I saw more than 25 helmets placed on the ground in a straight line, representing recruits that had already volunteered out within their first week in San Diego, and two men were standing next to them ready to drop their helmets because the training was too much for them.
Captain Bill Wilson, a Navy SEAL and lead trainer, spoke about the five qualities they look for in these young men in order for them to become Navy SEALs. He reminded me that the best kinds of leaders are Servant Leaders who willingly sacrifice for others for the greater good. The five qualities are:
The Navy SEALs are our guardians in America. They are always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. They all have that spark of determination that only grows through the tough times of battle, regardless of circumstances. In essence, they never give up because their character and honor are steadfast. As the U.S. Navy SEAL creed states, their word is their bond. In a day where most institutions are lowering their standards, this institution seeks to maintain their standards so we can live in the land of the free.
I salute you, Navy SEALs, for your sacrificial leadership and your steadfast commitments to your ideals that make me want to grow personally as a human being and as a Servant Leader. Thank you to Bullfrog 1, the former mayor of Oceanside, and much honored Navy SEAL, for teaching me something about servant leadership.
President, Servant Leadership Institute