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Recently I decided it would be a good idea to participate in a Kidnapping Survival Course. During the course, I would become trained in handling a real-life kidnapping, interrogation and being hunted for a day by professional bounty hunters.
It sounds nuts, I know. So, why did I do this?
One reason — to learn critical performance and stress management mindset and skills.
I believe that mindset is everything. It can be the difference between success and failure. It can determine whether a business will grow from five figures to six figures, to seven figures and beyond. Mindset is essential for your success.
I learned this specifically when I picked up my first business book in 2002 by Robert Kiyosaki. His timeless must-read book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” completely shifted the way I thought and changed my life trajectory. Since then, there have been numerous books, classes and workshops that I have invested in spending over $100,000 in education to upgrade my mindset.
And that is precisely why I decided to take a kidnapping survival course. Realistically, I don’t think I will get kidnapped anytime soon. Still, I thought to myself, if I can learn to survive a kidnapping, being trained by the same people that train Navy SEALS, the CIA and the FBI, then I can control my emotions when a major crisis happens in my business. I can control my communication when working with customers, clients and my team.
What did I learn & how does it apply to business?
1. Be prepared
All entrepreneurs need preparation. Without preparation, you become more vulnerable. To survive a kidnapping, you must first be mentally prepared. To survive the ups and downs of business, preparation always helps us get one step ahead. No matter if we are preparing a pitch deck to ask for investment or if we are preparing our tasks for the week. You can’t control when you get kidnapped or oftentimes what is going to happen in business, but you can control your reaction and be prepared is essential to making that easier.
2. Develop a plan
As mentioned before, being prepared is essential, and planning is an important part of that. To survive a kidnapping, one must plan to evade those trying to capture them. Choosing undercover personas that blend in well with the environment and don’t stand out is essential. This is also essential in business. Robust plans can make our business operations run more smoothly and keep us operating more effectively. The more you can create an educated and detailed plan, the better your chances of success.
This is the most simple underestimated lesson we learned. When a Navy SEAL gets kidnapped, they are trained to manage their breath. Why? Because breathing will manage your brain’s stress response. When you fear something, your amygdala reacts. Your heart rate and the levels of adrenaline and cortisol start to increase. If you can learn how to slow your breath down, it will control your heart rate and begin to wash away the stress hormones. It also improves brain functioning so we can focus better and make better decisions.
4. Be adaptable
During our kidnapping simulation, we stayed undercover the entire day while bounty hunters searched for us. We had to change clothes regularly to blend in. We had to hide when we were spotted and run when we were being chased. We had no control over when we would be under stress and had to react instantly. We were taught to remain completely adaptable. This is very similar to business. I can’t tell you how often entrepreneurs (myself included) get stuck on resisting change. Often it is the main reason why most businesses fail. It is important to plan well and follow your plan, but it is also essential to know when to adapt and shift.
5. Work as a team
Throughout the kidnapping simulation, we worked in teams of three. We had 14 missions we needed to complete throughout the day while avoiding being caught by the bounty hunters. We did this without phones, the internet or money. The only thing we had to rely on was our training, our plan and our team. My team decided to start by planning who would work on each mission and how.
The missions included getting someone to give us money for a bus ticket, translating a phrase into Russian or Portuguese and finding a free food and water source to survive. Like in business, we discussed a plan to accomplish each task to the best of our ability. All companies have some team and need to make daily decisions on what that plan will be and who will work to accomplish the mission.
6. Learn to sprint
While undercover, if a bounty hunter spotted us, they captured and handcuffed us to a bench or a pole. We then had to escape from the handcuffs in a downtown area while people were awkwardly staring at us. After being trained for a week to survive a kidnapping, I had my mind set on not getting caught.
Toward the end of the day, my team was walking through an outdoor mall when a bounty hunter spotted us. We looked at one another and went on a dead sprint through the mall. This took us on a chase through the back rooms of various stores, racing through a parking lot and running circles inside a Macy’s department store. As you can imagine, the pedestrians thought we were running from the police. All of our team went in different directions. I thought I was in the clear and started to walk when a bounty hunter came around the corner at that exact moment. I began to sprint as fast as I possibly could. I turned another corner and dove behind a pillar of a building. Unfortunately, as the bounty hunter walked by, he saw my reflection in the window and captured me. He then handcuffed me to a bench and walked away with a smile. I spent the next few minutes embarrassingly picking the handcuffs while people were walking by and giving me the most awkward looks.
Business is very similar. There are deadlines you will have to hit even when you don’t want to. You will often need to push your limits to accomplish impossible things. You will need to flat-out sprint and hustle with everything you have got, and the more prepared you are for these moments, the better you will be able to handle them when they happen.
7. All things are possible
The last lesson was that all things are possible. If goals are dissected into a simple step-by-step process (make a plan), it is much simpler to take each hurdle and obstacle that comes your way. It seems nearly impossible to be kidnapped, handcuffed, blindfolded, duct taped, waterboarded, shocked by a stun gun, escape from bounty hunters and accomplish 14 missions in one day that most people would struggle with working on only one. But we did it, and we did it because we were prepared, planned, worked as a team, were adaptable, remembered to breathe and ran as fast as we could when needed.
I firmly believe that anyone can build a business if they believe in themselves and their dreams. Learning to survive a kidnapping was just one way to reassure me that anything is possible if you believe.