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How To Ignite Your Inner Warrior For Success

By Andrea Burkholder and Linda Heuer

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

“What is that sound?” Bonnie whispered. “Listen…Do you hear her? Is she breathing?”

It was pitch black, so black you could barely see your own hand in front of your face. There was only the brief exception when the dark and dank clouds intermittently parted to just let a few stars peek through, if only for a moment.

As the waves crashed against the side of the boat, the team fell desperately silent trying to catch the slightest sound that she was still alive. “Oh my God, Holy shit! Get her out! Get her out!” Bonnie bellowed.

Sharks and jelly fish, as it turns out, come to the light, not because they are intrigued by the light, but because of how their prey responds to light. And in case you didn’t know, the waters between Cuba and Key West are shark and jelly fish infested.

Just then, they could hear it…the sounds of Diana Nyad’s arms treading in the ocean. Diana Nyad, long distance swimmer, exhaustively swam toward the side of the boat, assuring she stayed a safe distance away from the boat as to not jeopardize her quest.

In order to remain on course, Diana had been repeatedly singing one of her favorite John Lennon songs, Imagine, in her mind and had become so extremely, visually focused on the on the back of the boat that she had been following, she had not heard the calls of desperation.

You see, Nyad had been swimming for hours to fulfill a lifelong dream. This quest of self-destiny was to swim the 110 miles from Cuba to Florida without the protection of a shark cage and was exhausted.

Consequently, statements like this were heard multiple times over the years. As warriors typically do, Nyad had made several previous failed attempts and had spent countless hours practicing in oceanic environments.

On her first attempt, she encountered high winds, choppy and life threatening water temperatures, making the attempt too treacherous to complete. Interestingly enough, water temperature is a crucial factor to consider during a long swim. These two considerations are that warm water can cause dehydration and just a few degrees cooler water can cause hypothermia. Both of these conditions can result in death, especially if you are in the middle of the ocean, miles away from a hospital.

On Nyad’s second attempt she been pushed miles off course by treacherous winds and strong currents. Additionally, she had been in pain since her third hour in the water but had continued on her quest when she began struggling with asthma. She could only swim a short distance before having to flip over to catch her breath. The trifecta of severe weather, her injury and her trouble breathing drove her to call off the attempt after 29 hours.

Nyad’s third attempt was called off after 41 hours into the journey. Strong currents had again pushed her miles off course and she had been repeatedly stung on her forearm and neck by box jelly fish and by multiple Portuguese man-of-war. Nyad stated the excruciating pain was as if she had been dropped into a vat of hot burning oil. Then, she started having trouble breathing and went into respiratory distress.

Of course, at this point, with several failed attempts, most people would have abandoned their quest, but not Nyad! The warrior continued!

Nyad went on to make her fourth attempt. In true warrior fashion, she swam farther than she had on her previous three attempts, but was forced to stop when she encountered two storms and was stung nine times by jellyfish.

Nyad had a student mentality and on her fifth attempt. Learning from each failed attempt, they integrated a silicon mask, full body suit, gloves and booties to help protect her from jellyfish stings. To help keep her on course, the expedition crew began using red LED lights, so she had a focal point to swim towards.

Nyad’s unwavering dedication to her quest consisted of years of practice, gaining stamina, overcoming adversity, and multiple failures. Each time getting knocked down yet rising up further and going beyond her previous potential, incorporating key learnings from each and every failed prior attempt. Nyad never flailed in defeat, but rose above practicing longer, swimming harder than anyone thought possible. She had inherently built, within herself, the steadfast warrior mentality it takes to succeed.

The warrior mentality is a way of thinking that helps you, the individual, accept the call of fulfilling your fullest potential and being the bad-ass you were destined to be. It’s the mentality that you have the courage, vigor, resilience and aggressiveness to meet or exceed your goals, no matter how big or how small they are.

Having a warrior mentality makes the impossible, possible….it’s a journey.

How do you build a warrior mentality?

1. Pursue a Wild Idea

What is it you want to achieve? Whatever you decide to do, dream big and shoot high. Be overly confident on what you can do. If your bar is too low, it won’t be tough. Achieving a tough goal is part of building a warrior mentality, it’s part of the journey.

Roger Bannister had a wild idea. He wanted to run a mile in four minutes. When he set that goal, no one had ever run a four-minute mile, but that didn’t stop him. In 1954, Bannister broke the “four-minute barrier”.

What once seemed like a wild unachievable goal, has since been broken by over 1,400 male athletes. In fact, those who have beat his record have subsequently lowered the record finish time by almost 17 seconds.

As Shelby Stranger of the podcast, “Wild Ideas Worth Living” states: “Wild ideas can lead to rewarding adventures!”

2. Act

What are you waiting for? There is no better time than the present to reach for your inner warrior. Once you realize are only 86,400 seconds in a day, blink and they’re gone, you will get off your duff and create greatness.

So, have a no regrets mentality and make each second count. Time is something you can never get back, so if you have a goal, reach for it…. don’t put it off until tomorrow. In reality, tomorrow NEVER comes!

Live in the moment, not one minute ago, five minutes ago or even last year. Learn from your past, but don’t let your past failures dictate your future.

You, my friend, are destined to be epic.

3. Manage Your Perceptions

What you perceive, you believe. This is because, with most people, the perception of reality is more real than the reality itself. That’s why it’s so important to manage your perceptions.

When managing your perceptions, it’s important that you only allow truthful, realistic and relevant information into your mindset.

Jim Rohn relays a theory that you become the average of the 5 people you spend the MOST time with, so if the theory holds true, it’s important to make sure these five individuals are positive.

Friends and family may have the best intentions for you, but can unknowingly negatively impact your chances of success with their negativity. They may share those negative opinions by trying to justify their reasons and perceptions, telling you all the reasons why they believe your goal is unattainable.

Don’t allow friends, family or other individuals to skew your perception of what’s possible by listening to what they perceive to be possible. Their perceptions may be based on their own failed attempts to meet their dreams…..just because they didn’t achieve theirs doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue yours. Their circumstances may have been different, they may not have put forth the same level of effort or there may have been external factors that impacted their success.

When managing your perceptions, it’s important to mentally prepare yourself for what’s going to occur. Prepare for the worst and plan for the best. Nyad states that she sets her resolve before she starts by preparing for the pain, the discomfort and the unknown. She states she knows she’s going to get sick, almost uncontrollably. She goes on to say, “I set the grit before I start so I don’t stop. I never get to the point that I want to stop because my resolve is so strong.”

It’s also important to understand that attaining your goal isn’t going to happen overnight so be patient.

Just think to yourself….I’m in it to win it….and take action!

4. Be Your Own Best Friend

How you talk to yourself is important. If you wouldn’t say it to your friend, you shouldn’t say it to yourself. Studies show that the average individual has over 50 thousand thoughts a day, so make sure they’re positive.

To meet your goals, you are going to have to work hard. More than likely, you are going to be spending time isolated while you practice or while working towards your goal. When your mind is isolated it creates the opportunity for negative thoughts to enter, so positive self-talk becomes really critical.

When negative thoughts enter your mind, do what you can to stay focused on the positive. Many professional athletes find success in distracting their mind when times get tough. Some sing, some imagine different situations and others turn their task into a game. They do whatever they’ve found that works to help distract their mind.

Remember, you’ve got this….you are a warrior!

5. Prepare – Practice

In the book Outliers, Malcomb Gladwell explains the 10,000-hour principle. This principle suggest that it takes an average of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice performing a specific task to excel at it. There are plenty of examples that exemplify this…. Tiger Woods practiced, on average, 13 hours a day during his peak. Michael Jordan practiced relentlessly hours on end. The list could literally go on and on.

One of my favorites, Brandon Burlsworth, former Indiana Colts football player, worked his way to the NFL by giving 150%. Burlsworth understood the value of arduous work and the impact practice could have on his desired outcome.

Burlsworth was told, on a myriad of occasions, he didn’t fit into the mold of a professional football player. He was too heavy, too light, didn’t have the skill set needed, but he didn’t let that stop him from reaching for his goals.

Burlsworth pursed a wild idea, managed his perceptions and practiced excessively during both high school and college. He wasn’t shy about making his practice sessions extremely intense. He was the first person to show up at practice and was typically the last one to leave. His coaches would routinely find him working out after hours when he thought no one was looking.

Burlsworth knew the secret, that the more extreme your practice sessions, the easier it is to perform the actual task when it’s “game time.” That’s where many individuals make their mistake, they make their practice sessions too easy, so when it’s time to perform, they lack the endurance or the skills necessary to meet or exceed their goals.

Stay focused, practice often, incorporate what you learn…

6. Be Resilient

“People fail because they don’t persist…. not because they don’t have the ability,” states Nyad.

Resilience is the act of living in the moment, not allowing what’s behind you to stop you… be persistent.
Stay positive and maintain an optimistic outlook. Optimistic people have an easier time identifying alternative options when they run into road blocks, which allows them to continue vs. coming to a complete stop.

Learn to control your emotions. Emotions have the ability to throw you off track. Try to figure out how you react in various circumstance and then work to maintain your perspective on the situation… regulate your emotions.

Remember, failures are nothing more than opportunities to learn, build your craft and better your skill.

7. Have a student mentality

A student mentality is the act of keeping your mind open to innovative ideas. Openness initiates self-reflection, driving you to question general assumptions, perceptions and even ideas about what’s possible.

This is where the magic happens, having a student mentality helps you remove barriers and self-imposed limitations, increasing your chances of success at each stage of your quest. This also gives you the opportunity to change or correct your course as opposed to having to come to a complete stop.

When you have the warrior mindset that failures are nothing more than learning opportunities, you implement action based on prior learning, creating the opportunity to have small wins.

This transition in thought process can literally be the difference between just meeting or wildly exceeding your goals.

8. Create Small Wins

Create the opportunity to have small wins. By breaking down your big goal into smaller fragments you create the opportunity for your brain to perceive the task as achievable.

Break down your minutes to seconds and work to make the most out of those seconds. If your goal is to increase your sales and your task is to see more people, play a game that helps get you in-front of more decision makers. For example, instead of focusing on speaking with 60 potential customers in a day, you can focus on 10 doors in an hour or 3 every 15 minutes. Every time you meet your goal, pat yourself on the back.

Small wins create the opportunity to build moral one win at a time.

Life is short, have fun and enjoy the ride!

9. Show Compassion

Warriors show compassion and share their best practices. As a warrior you will have wins, you will have failures and you will meet goals. As people take notice of your efforts, they will start to recognize your wins and will start to perceive you as successful.

When you are successful, people want to be a part of the success. They will want to understand how you met your goals, how you stayed resilient, what you’re secrets to success are.

Be compassionate, show empathy and understanding to those that have unsuccessfully tried similar feats. They may have had different circumstances that kept them from meeting their goals.
Take into consideration they are embarking on their own transformational warrior journey. Maybe they are undecided whether to continue or abandon their quest. Potentially only searching for small tidbits of information which could be the difference between future success and failure.

Strive to be the type of person you want to meet.

Help them experience the transformation….

10. Know When To Pull Back And Regroup

A warrior knows when to pull back and regroup.

Sometimes events outside of your control make it impossible to accomplish your goal in a single event or specified time period. Use the event as learning tool for your next attempt.

As a 20 year old Pilot, former President George H. W. Bush was able to evade capture when he was shot down over the Pacific ocean during World War II. Bush did this by having the forethought to ditch his plane further away from shore, inevitably being the only squadron member to be saved by a submarine. For a more in-depth view of this harrowing story, click here.

Remember, Analyze and take decisive action….


“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” – Ferdinand Foch, former commander of the Allied Forces stated.

Never underestimate the power you have to make a difference in the world and in those around you. Your feats, no matter how big or how small they are, will inspire others.

Pursue your wild idea, shoot high and set your soul on fire….become the warrior you were meant to be.


See our article on Supercharging your self-confidence here.

See our article on Managing Alpha personalities here.


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