On the November 2nd, 2014 edition of Sixty Minutes, correspondent Scott Pelley interviewed former Navy Seal Mark Owen.
Owen, as you may recall in his book No Easy Day, wrote about his participation as a member of Seal Team Six when they killed Osama bin Laden.
The last two years have not been the easiest for Owen as he was under fire from the military for not clearing the book with the government censors before it was published.
Near the end of his interview, Owen talks about the most important lesson he learned as a Navy Seal.
It occurred during a rock climbing trip.
He was about 300 feet up and he suddenly froze.
Seeing this, his instructor made his way over to him and said…
“Hey, buddy. Stay in your three-foot world.”
Owen asked him what the hell he was talking about.
“Look, you can’t affect anything outside of three feet around you, can you? So stay in your three-foot world. Look inside your three-foot world, find the next hand hold, and climb your way out.”
Owen proceeded to climb his way out.
He says he’s applied that lesson to many things in his life. Things he can’t affect, he no longer worries about.
“People waste so much of their time and– and effort worrying about things outside of their control. Learn from them, move on, and don’t worry about it,” he says.
Owen says it was staying in his three-foot rule that allowed him to cope with the past two years and write and publish his new book called No Hero (which he says he did “by the book” this time.)
Benjamin Franklin once said that “Industry pays debts while despair increases them.”
Owen up on that ledge (or in his legal issues with the government) could have continued to despair, but he chose to buckle down. He changed his focus and zeroed in on the immediate job at hand.
The next time you’re feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, don’t let the stuff that’s making you feel that way paralyze you into inaction…
Instead, think of Owen’s three-foot rule and you’ll do just fine.