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Quitting: Why Are Members of Special Operation Forces Good at Not Quitting?

  • 3 min read

  Growing up I often look at Special Operations Forces (SOF) as larger than life characters capable of doing the impossible.  The never quit despite the harshest of conditions.  The question I had growing up was why?  

Now that I’m on the other side of the curtain, I think I’ve found the answer, which is actually pretty simple but I will expound on it to add some depth. The simple answer is members who enter SOF are specially selected for the ability to not quit. So while some people enhance their ability while serving, they are initially screened for this ability from day one. How and where this capability is developed is probably unique to every operator. By running selection events (similar to challenges civilians can put themselves through including GoRuck, Green Beret Challenge, Death Race), SOF units specially choose people who display this ability to persevere even when tasks seem impossible or look like they will take all night (or several days). 

SOF need this ability because otherwise they would not be able to accomplish their mission. While not every mission is exciting as the raid on Bin Laden’s compound or the mission portrayed in Black Hawk Down, those are well known examples were quitting was not an option. When the helicopter crashed in Pakistan, could you imagine if the soldiers were like, “Well that did not go as planned, I’ll just quit.” Try to imagine the soldiers in Black Hawk Down fighting though the night only to have to run out of downtown Mogadishu, “No thanks, I have had enough I’ll just wait here for the next armored column of vehicles.”

Quitting is simply not an option in either of these extreme examples. In these examples what makes it even worse is if someone did quit, they would not only be quitting on themselves but also the rest of their team/unit. These soldiers can draw on their own mental strength but also on the mental strength of others. “If I give up, my fellow teammates now have to bare a harder burden”.  

The bottom line is, where there is a will, there is a way. Some people hit what appears to be a roadblock and instead of finding a reason to persevere, find one of the dozen reasons to quit. There will always be reasons to quit (ex. it’s too hot, it’s too cold, I’m tired, my legs are aching), what you need is a reason to persevere no matter what. That is something that is personal and decided by you. Whatever your reason is, go into your next endurance event competition or, if you are one of the men and women serving our nation, selection with persevering being the only option.

If you missed Part I: Let’s Talk About Quitting or Part II: The Loudest Are Often The Biggest Quitters you can access them here. 

*SOF- Members of the military in specialized units such as Navy SEALs, Air Force PJs, Army Special Forces and Army Rangers just to name a few of the more popular ones.

Evan Perperis is a National Strength and Conditioning Association- Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT), a SOF military veteran with 44 cumulative months of combat deployments and an Obstacle Course Racer for the Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team. He specializes in endurance racing and is also the author of two books, Strength & Speed’s Guide to Elite OCR and Mud Run Guide’s Ultra-OCR Bible.