Mike Sarraille on overcoming life’s challenges
With a new year on the horizon, many people are trying to figure out how to make positive changes to their lives. But far too often New Year’s resolutions dissolve and people let themselves into their old habits.
To help you break the cycle, we enlisted the help of retired US Navy SEAL officer, former Recon Marine, CEO of EF Overwatch, and writer of The Talent War Mike Sarraille. During his 20 year career in the Special Operations Community and now as a company director, Sarraille experienced firsthand what it takes – both mentally and physically – to overcome extraordinary challenges.
Now Sarraille has agreed to share these lessons with our readers in his new column, The Everyday Warrior. We recently met with Sarraille to learn more about his career, what to expect from this new column, and what it means to be an everyday warrior.
Before joining the military, tell us about your background?
I don’t have a military background. I came from an upper-middle-class family, was very wild and always found a way to get into trouble.
In fact, my fifth grade teacher said to my mother, “This kid won’t mean anything in life.” People who often try to judge others, especially those who don’t fall into a certain shape, are often wrong. Every day when I form a team I take away the skinny kid who has a growth philosophy and an incessant attitude towards the college athlete.
I had a short college period and while I will always encourage the pursuit of more knowledge and learning, science is often the worst place for people to grow. Life is the ultimate mentor and educator. So I entered the Marine Corps after meeting a Force Recon Marine and was blown away by this person – humbly confident, articulate, respectful, fearless – I wanted to be just like that guy.
After signing up, you have transformed into a completely different person. You served our country for 20 years, becoming Recon Marine, Marine Scout-Sniper, US Navy SEAL, and Special Mission Unit Operator, serving ten times in combat. What did this experience teach you about commitment, focus, and the best of yourself?
Let me start by saying that it was a humbling experience. I was surrounded by better men and women than me, who kept pushing me to improve my game. And not everyone came home. Seeing them display selfless valor every night made me wonder constantly if I deserved to be among them, but also to feel blessed for the time I spent with them.
Though these men and women were constantly at work in the world’s deadliest environments, they were so eclectic and had a solid foundation. They embody the so-called “Whole Man” concept – a concept that is used by the US Army Special Forces Community when selecting their special operators.
The “whole man” considers the totality of the individual. Someone who is relatively balanced in the pillars of the “whole man” – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and environmentally – is more likely to deal with stress while achieving sustainable success. The physical pillar is almost fundamental to every other pillar, so we will talk a lot about fitness, nutrition, and health and wellness. Health is the only thing that nobody can buy, it can only be earned.
Basically, you can think of all of these things as concentric circles and centered around the balance you want to achieve. But nobody is ever balanced, it’s like perfection – an elusive thing. We strive to embrace life and improve ourselves every day. Before you know it, you are a completely different person.
People coming through COVID are facing real adversity for the first time for many of them – everything has been thrown off and that is a major challenge. But the guys I learned from in special operations only take it one stage or one day at a time. When I get from point A to point B every day, I am one step closer to these difficult times or one step closer to a better person.
I would describe Everyday Warrior as a never-ending journey. A lifelong pursuit. It’s about living a life of continuous growth, learning, and impact for as long as possible. That’s the whole goal of life, isn’t it?
Everyday warriors are not afraid to get older, they actually embrace it because you expand your knowledge and experience. And if you can do this every day, you will have an impactful life. There are no days off.
That’s great. So the secret to achieving great things is essentially just taking small steps all the time?
People have to break things down into small goals. For example, you want to lose weight by going from 270 to 200 pounds. Well, you didn’t gain this weight overnight, and you certainly won’t lose it in a week. But when most people don’t see immediate results, they stop.
Instead, you need to split things up and focus on getting small victories that lead to the bigger goal. The same goes for SEAL training – 24 weeks of uninterrupted hell. You don’t even break that down into days, you are just trying to survive from evolution to evolution each day. But before you know it – you are part of one of the most elite fraternities in the world.
I want people to really dare. I want you to have straight goals, but you have to be smart and have a plan. If you can only accomplish one thing a day, whatever your goal, after a few months you will look back and realize how far you have come.
What can our audience expect from this new column, The Everyday Warrior?
Everyday Warrior is basically a human guide to a life full of impact with continuous growth and learning for as long as possible, every day. This is how you live a full and happy life.
We will focus on the pillars of the Whole Man Concept. To do this, I have put together a group of leaders, renowned human performance physicians, special operations soldiers, behaviorists, and other great people with an amazing outlook on life. It is my tribe and as they say: “Iron sharpens iron.” So these experts will write about the different pillars and also ask questions on social media. Make no mistake, we are not saying we figured out this thing called life, nobody does, but we will learn together.
Ultimately, this is easy for people who want to become better men and start lives on the offensive. That said, we’re going to talk about becoming both resilient and uncomfortable – two main tenants of successful, high performing people.
What is one piece of advice you would give to people seeking positive life changes?
Start with a personal inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. You need to know yourself before ever trying to excel. Take the time to think about what makes you happy and what challenges would make you get better. This is your journey, not mine. You are on your own path so stop comparing yourself to other people and decide what is right for you.
Lastly – you will fail. It is this fear of failure that prevents most men from even stepping into the arena and taking the risk of trying new things. Failure is a beautiful process. Learn to love it because it is actually an essential part of success. Remember – true learning occurs only at the mental, emotional, and physical limits. No risk, no reward.
There’s a speech from Teddy Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena, who talks about the need to step into the arena and take that risk if you want to achieve something great. There will be people in the stands for sure to harass and criticize you, especially if you fall. Forget them, no one will hate success more than those who lack courage. Negativity is all they have, and when you think about it, it’s sad. But at least you have the courage to step up, live life, and grow as a person. That’s the definition of a warrior in my book.
Where should readers go to learn more about The Everyday Warrior and connect with this talented team that you have put together?
www.theeverydaywarrior.com is in preparation. Since Men’s Journal reached out to me about it and everything happened so quickly, we are working twice on starting a website and social media pages.
I also formed a group of great leaders known as the Talent War Group. You can find them at www.thetalentwar.com or on LinkedIn at The Talent War Group. These are my tribes and everyone needs a tribe – a sense of homecoming and belonging. You just want to make sure that it is a positive group that will make a positive difference to people’s lives. The Talent War Group will check these boxes and we encourage you to join us!
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