This is not a book on how to be a badass, jump out of planes, or shoot a
piece of barbed wire from a mile away—you know, the stuff that SEALs
are famous for? Instead, what this book is about is how to learn to be a
badass on your own—at whatever it is that you set your mind to
achieving. As a teenager and an early adult, my life’s mission was to
become a Navy SEAL. That’s what I worked towards and what I succeeded
in. The principles that governed my learning process, however, are
something that can be applicable to anyone who seeks to become a
top-tier performer in whatever their chosen field happens to be. The
professional football player or Fortune 500 CEO, yes, but also the
stay-at-home mom or the twenty-five-year-old entrepreneur. Anyone who is
seeking high performance has come to the right place.
Why the title Navigating Chaos? Because, as you will learn in this book,
the ability to comport yourself in uncertain situations—which is
actually most situations, if you really think of it—is the most
important skill you need to develop if you are going to become a
top-tier performer. I had the opportunity to learn this the hard way
through thirteen years on the SEAL Teams, working at the highest level
with other high-performing and hard- driving individuals. However, what
you will learn about us from this book is that we are far from the
one-dimensional, knuckle-dragging image that the public believes us to
Hollywood likes to portray SEALs with a shoot ’em up, almost larger-
than-life persona that capitalizes on brawn and bravado, and
unfortunately, that’s the only image of us that much of the public
will ever know. What is not shown, however, are the mental capacities
and emotional tolerances that we strive to enhance on a daily basis
through an organizational model of continuous improvement, shared
understanding, humility, and leadership.
I never thought that I would want to write about anything even remotely
related to special operations, let alone about something so “hush-
hush” as the SEAL Teams. But there are lessons from the thirteen years
I spent as a SEAL that should be shared.
It has been an internal struggle to write. The catch-22 of breaking the
unspoken rule of not writing is to either do something that’s
enjoyable and fulfilling, or to remain forever in the shadows and forget
the experiences that have made me who I am today; lessons that can be
shared with others so they may improve.
If the intent behind writing this book were to be another SEAL-
turned-author and to beat my chest out of arrogance, then I wouldn’t
have published it. That’s not me, nor is that my purpose. My purpose
in writing this book is to share knowledge with those who seek to
address unanswered questions within and about themselves, their teams,
and their companies; with executives who may benefit from an alternative
perspective to help cope with seemingly unanswerable leadership demands;
and with those who believe in constant and never-ending improvement.
That’s what this book is about. For the operational vignettes, I
apologize to my brothers. However, just as any writer pulls from the
context he or she knows best, I am pulling from mine—my experience
just happens to fall within a realm that is frowned upon when shared.
Deal with it.
The Teams are what have shaped me into the person I am today, and my
naval career pathway brought with it knowledge and experience gained
from unique situations that cannot be replicated in corporate America.
Teamwork, superior performance, and the ability to overcome complex
situations with limited resources can only be learned under the most
austere conditions, such as those to which SEALs are exposed continually
throughout our training and professional careers. These experiences
shape our character, competence, life passion, family values, and
humility in a way that nothing else ever could.
Be forewarned, however, that this is not a how-to book. I am not going
to list the top ten things Navy SEALs do that will make you a badass, or
brag about the awesome killer missions I’ve been on.
Instead, I offer a here you go book—a gathering of ideals and
practices observed over the years that I believe define success and
govern one’s ability to navigate uncertainty, whether it is as an
individual, a small team, or an organization; ideals and practices that,
when actualized simultaneously, create what I consider to be
organizational fitness (more on this concept in Chapter One).
Writing a book about the Teams was never an aspiration of mine, as I
don’t believe in broadcasting one’s profession, but that’s not the
purpose of my intent here, either. To share knowledge is to serve
others; to withhold it—despite any unwritten rule—is to serve
oneself. To reserve insight for oneself would be criminal, as it is a
purely selfish means of improving one’s own self worth at the cost of
others’. Knowledge-hoarding is a major pet peeve of mine—right up
there with arrogance and slow drivers—as it is typically reserved for
people who want to be the hero and whose ego leads the way, but
obstructs everybody else’s. In a world of high-performing— and
highly demanding—organizations, there is no place for ego. Results
come from trust, attitude, and a shared purpose.
I did minimal research for this book because I didn’t need
corroboration. I lived it. There are no numbers to backup the premises
and I interviewed no one. Rather, the contents herein are based upon the
personal experiences I have had from thirteen years in the Navy at the
highest level, as well as my experiences both as a business consultant
and in the private sector.
Hopefully, the insights in this book will serve you well. Even if all
you take away from here is a sentence, chapter, or concept, I want it to
create value for you.
Included are operational anecdotes, not for entertainment purposes, but
to illustrate examples for the simple fact that special operations
forces (SOF) have unique experiences to share that can help people,
teams, and organizations adapt to change and become better. The Teams
take a group of individuals, filter out the weak-minded, chip away the
rough edges of those who choose to endure, and sculpt them into people
who can find a solution for anything. SEAL training prepares individual
for anything, and this perspective in itself is something that can be
adopted by both organizations and individuals who want to improve
This book attempts to show how.
Excerpted from "Navigating Chaos: How to Find Certainty in Uncertain Situations" by Jeff Boss. Copyright © 2015 by Jeff Boss. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.