[MUSIC PLAYING] I'm here at the Executive Performance Summit sponsored by TD Wealth. And when we're talking about high performance and the military, really only one thing comes to mind, and that's the Navy SEALs. We had a chance to sit down and talk with Curt Cronin. He's a 16-year-long career as a Navy SEAL. He's also one of the head of the premier SEAL assault forces SEAL Team 6, which you will know from the news. As well, he helped turn one of the offensive units, SEAL units, into a defensive presidential protection unit-- fascinating talk today. In a "Money Talk" exclusive, I had a chance to sit down with him. Here's that conversation. We're here today talking about high performance. And I would say there's high performance, and then there's Navy SEAL. It's kind of a category unto its own. So I have to ask you, are people intimidated by what you've done? Can they relate to you in terms of what you've done? Well, I think so. Any time they can't, it's my fault because it's-- really, I think it comes down to that coherent energy that you radiate. And if you can see this-- they've done all the studies on this now-- that if you walk into a room and you're centered and present, then everyone else feels centered and present as well. So I don't think it's intimidating at all. Well, we'll have to see about that. So let me ask you about some things you talked about in your talks. I think they're fascinating. You said the quality of your life is the quality of the uncertainty you can tolerate. Tell me a bit about that. So that was a great mentor. I followed Tony Robbins around the world for two years. And that was one of the things that really stuck with me that he talked about. And so to me, it really comes down to are you willing to take that leap of faith or are you going to shrink back because then really, when it comes to a point of decision, there's one of three choices you can make. I can self-sabotage if I think, hey, I'm performing at too high above my level. I'm going to self-sabotage and automatically reduce it. I can say I'm going to try and hold the status quo, which in a changing world also leads to decline. Or I can take a leap of faith. And to me, it's like when you're climbing a mountain. Every single time, you think, there's the next peak. There's the next peak. That must be it. And of course, you get to the next one, and there's a new challenge, a new opportunity. But you have to climb there first. And so every time you take that leap of faith, to me, it's never ended up where I initially intended. But it's always been infinitely better and more exciting. How do you do that? You've trained for-- you talked about it. How much of your life did you spend in the Navy SEALs, first off? So 13 years active duty, and then four in the reserves. What did you do to do what you're saying? How do you actually do that, because I think we know-- you tell me. I'm like, yep, I get it. I get it. But how do I do it? So my goal is every single day, I try and do a couple things that are outside my comfortable stress level. And I try and take on mentors and find people. Who's doing the thing that I would like to do, or who's someone I could model my life after? I used to have this roundtable I'd imagine where I'm like, Abraham Lincoln, because I was from land of Lincoln, Illinois. And my dad had a quote that said, I'll work and study and prepare myself, and some day when my opportunity comes, I'll be ready. So there was Abraham Lincoln and Tony Robbins and his ability to own a crowd. Tom Crum is a huge mentor of mine-- is a grandmaster in Aikido. And his ability to be centered and present is so powerful. And so to me, it's taking the best of all the people I can find and then turning-- what is the identity I want to create? How do I want to show up? You talked about to this crowd today a bit about in terms of what does leadership means, or how they could be great leaders. And I think you talked about see things how they are, see things as they can be, and then make things as you see them. Tell me a bit about that and how-- because that's-- again, I get it. But how hard is that to actually put into practice, do you think? Easy and hard. And that's what it really comes down to. If I'm really drawn towards it, it's really easy, or I really want to do things that make the world a better place for my children. So it's really easy to fly across any city or get to a location where you have the most amazing leaders so you can ideally-- my belief is if you can influence those leaders, they influence the people they impact. And that's how we fundamentally change the world. And so if it's attached to a powerful purpose, I think it's really, really easy. But it's when we lose that purpose that it becomes more difficult. So if I'm thinking about at 6:00, my alarm goes off, I'm like, well, I'd like to get a little extra sleep. Now, for today, that makes sense. And so it really comes down to the duration of time you're talking about. That may make sense for today. But if I do that for the next year, then that's going to lead me to a very different outcome than I wanted to-- or I initially said, hey, here's what I want to represent and here's what I want to be. And so I find a lot of times, it becomes down to have I set up a vision from where I want to be? And it may be aspirational. So that's why it's so fun. And we talked a little bit about operational nesting. I'll say, here's where I want to be in 10 years. And of course, I don't have any real ability to understand exactly how I'm going to get there. But then I can bring that back. What can I get done in a year? And then bring that back-- what can I get done in a month? And then what can I get done this week? And so to me, chunking that into those bite-size achievable goals is a blast. One of the fun things is my wife and I laid out an Excel spreadsheet of when we wanted to have our kids. And our first three kids came within six weeks. And we laid that out long before. And so I think when you lay out those goals, there's something limbically that shifts when you write it down and it's not just cycling through here. As soon as you commit to it and lay it down, all of a sudden, something shifts. And now even if you don't look back, which I should have, but even if you don't, just the act of writing that down and declaring, this is what I want to be, it changes the game. And that's why it's really fun, I think, to maintain that aspirational self. But for me, there's not one Curt Cronin. There's a spectrum. And I have a series of habits that can lead me to the bad. The first time I ever presented was the Goldman Sachs in New York. And so I flew all night. I thought my friend was presenting. It rained on the way there. So I was a completely wet dog. And I didn't know the audience because again, I didn't think I was presenting. And so 12 minutes in, I just stopped. It was just terrible. If I do those rituals, I know the outcomes that I'm likely to get somewhere in this spectrum. And then I also have the rituals where if I know my audience, if I'm completely prepared, if I'm in the clothes that I love, if I understand the content, I understand the intent and I understand 15 minutes afterward what's the outcome I want for the audience, then I'm going to be somewhere in this spectrum. And so to me, that's where the fun place is-- every single day, creating those habits and rituals that allow me to then show up in that net peak state instead of a weak state. And that's the fun part about state management-- is how do I choose to show up. I think what's interesting is you're talking about speaking things into reality and then doing the things you need to do consistent with that to make sure it happens. Let me switch to the other side, when bad things happen. You've talked about there's the facts of what happened, and then there's the story of what you-- You make up about it. Yeah, about it. So tell me a bit about that. And can you give me some examples, too, for you because you talked about when, I think, you shattered your ankle when you were in the SEALs and what happened there. Sure. So it just taking an instant, and it really comes down to-- the quality of the questions you ask changes the outcome as well. So if I ask, why did this happen to me, my mind will create a story that provides that. And likely, that question's going to lead to a disempowering answer. Well, I'm unlucky. I'm unfortunate. Bad things happen to me, which is not going to help me at all. If I ask, hey, what can I learn from this, what's the opportunity in this, all of a sudden, you're like, well, interestingly enough, I'm going to get 45 days to lay and read books, which I wouldn't have had otherwise. And so it just starts to shift. And now I'm taking that crisis, that danger and the opportunity, and now I'm using it for me instead of becoming victim to it because in the end, I can't do anything about the fact that I shattered my ankle. So now it's what do I want to create from this. And so the example I talked about earlier was when I shattered my ankle, there was-- the fact was that many people in the command doubted whether or not I had the courage to deploy. It was, hey, is-- Curt's a coward. And so I could have said, I can accept what they're saying about me, or I can accept what I know is the truth-- is that I would long to be a part of this team. And so then if I want to be there, I was able to-- because of the resource we had, I got operated on two days later. I was in a casted boot and back overseas within 30 days later. And I went to another theater because they'd already found a substitute for command. So I was an operations role. And then that role allowed me to then have the 10,000 hours of unconscious competence when I later came back to command in that same theater. And so the fun piece is because I decided to commit to it and say, I'm going to figure it out, then I believe that you'll always find that next path. And I don't want to dwell on the hard things. But I think what you're saying here is the hard things provide the lessons, and that's what, you know-- So you had some pretty hard things happen. You lost 25 men. Uh-huh. Tell me a but about what happened there and then what-- because I remember you talking about what that meant and what you're doing now and how that has changed how you talk. So the troop that I had commanded-- I had rotated because officers tend to rotate on a certain period of time. And then they deploy it again. And they did what amazing warriors do. There was a call for help. They had a quick reaction force. And that's always the high-risk component because that means the area's already disturbed and the enemy's already aware. And the team went in, and it got shot down by an RPG when they're inbound. And so the initial response from me was, hey, I should have been there. And the fact was that they were gone. And this story was I should have been there, I failed, and then that leads to post-traumatic stress. That leads to now a decreasing of who I am and what I can do to follow. And that's where one of my mentors was like, hey, you can't help anyone else by destroying your own life, by choosing that story. You can choose that. So that's your choice. You can have that. But there's also another outcome. And the other one, if you really cared about them and loved them, is to serve the amazing memory you have for them and the things you learned from them by teaching that to others. And so to me, that was an alternate ending. And that's why I love what I do now-- is because number one, I get to convey their story. And it's what others have done for me when I was in weak place that I likely would not have been able to-- in a hole I wouldn't have dug out of by myself. I had friends that pulled me up. And that's why I think giving people resources for when they're in those dark times allows us all to improve. Yeah. It's the ultimate story of that. You also mentioned-- and I'm jumping around here because I see you said some really interesting things about when you were deployed-- that you never, ever took SEALs into an embassy that weren't married and had kids. Tell me a bit about that and why. Married or. Married or kids, sorry. The whole point was if they had to be-- if you were only in relationship with yourself, then you weren't going to build the relationships crucial inside that embassy team. So you had to have the habits of building relationships. And if you knew how to build relationships, then you could go in and build them with all the different partners you had to because it's very easy when you're going into an environment where like likes like. And then when you're going into an embassy, it's very easy because there are very different components and you're in a different country in a completely different environment to step back and say, oh, this isn't like me, and then to reject it-- and to pull oneself apart. And the ultimate evolution is realizing how common we are across all the threads. And if you realize, hey, we're all one humanity, one people, one life trying to do the best we possibly can with the resources we have, then that's an incredibly aligning component that allows people to find that purpose in the places they can work together. There's so much that I could ask you. And I know I'm jumping around. But I want to ask you one other thing you talked about, I think, in a previous talk. I was watching that you did-- you talked about the importance of mental resiliency and performance on demand and the first time, I think, you went on a helicopter combat operation, what it was like getting into the helicopter. Tell me a bit about that and just what you observed and what you learned from that. First of all, I was amazed because the whole rest of the team, the experience team, was nearly asleep, completely resting heart rate, listening to their-- had their iTunes-- In the helicopter. In the helicopter, and just in a complete state of relaxation and peace. And I was like-- I was somewhere around 220 going like, hey, this is serious. Don't you guys-- and what I realized over time was it was amazing as we got to the 30-second call and you could just see everyone pulled their things out. They had soldered length exactly, like, precise and put them in. And then-- and it was amazing because it was that ability to be an athlete and be at peak performance and to know boom, I need to be at a resting heart rate at this point. And then as soon as it's 30 seconds out, and I'm now fully alert, awake, and aware. And then as soon as you call a compound secure, now back to resting heart rate. And it was amazing to see all of the amazing leaders that I got to work for had that ability where every single time, they had the ability to toggle up and toggle down because if you can't get up to a peak state, then you can't perform at the level you need to to be able to survive. But if you go high and stay there, where I was, then you completely burn out. And so to me, it's fascinating because I look at-- we at least had deployment cycles, where you're in combat. Now you're recovering. As I watch in business, a lot of people graduate college and then work. And so it's fascinating. If you don't create those cycles of both peak stress, just like a workout and recovery, then it doesn't apply you to-- all of a sudden, you get to the point where eight, nine months into a deployment, where the thing that should take 15 minutes takes an hour. And then you start to have that compounding component of it's-- everything is taking too long and I become inefficient because you didn't take the time to rest and recover. And that's why I think that's such a crucial component. Last question for you-- if-- you talked about-- and again, I know you work with so many folks in professional sports teams and companies and everything right across the board. You talked about Silicon Valley and how one of the highest rate of suicides is in Silicon Valley. And you talked about the three things you need to marry together to make it work. I want to finish with that. Tell me bit about what you think that needs to be for people to be, I think, successful and get the best out of themselves. So David Whyte's book, The Three Marriages, was unbelievably impactful to me. And he talked about marriage to self, marriage to another, and marriage to your profession. And he said he calls those marriages because it's not-- they're long-term contracts, whether we realize we're in them or not. My mentor calls it crazy roommate. But so to me, when they're competitive and you have the work-life balance and it's like, I have to sustain some things here and some in each component, and so I have to distribute, and now I'm trying to do a balance, there's things I have to do to get to where I want to go. And that leads to that pain of every single day, it's a trade-off. But when you switch to-- So don't see my kids, go work kind of thing, or those type of things. That's right. Right. And then the trade-off of I have to work to have money, but now I'm not with the kids. But the fun component is that they're additive, where if I take time for myself and put myself in a powerful centered place and I take time from my relationship so that I'm on a solid foundation and I'm in the work that I'm passionate about, then all of a sudden, it's multiplicative. Now it's all working together. And they have some of the studies on this where when a CEO, be it male or female, goes through a divorce, like if it's a publicly traded company, it often loses some of the stock value because if you have uncertainty there, you can't have the same amount of uncertainty in a professional domain. And so that's where to me, the three are completely additive. And if your health fails, of course now you don't have the capacity to respond in the same way. So when you change the equation, it completely changes the perspective. Curt, thank you. Awesome. Thank you.