"Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL's Guide" by Brandon Webb and John David Mann is a book aimed mastering the natural instinct of fear. Webb draws on his experience as a Navy SEAL, pilot and media CEO as well as several successful figures to demonstrate how people can overcome fear to reach new levels of success.
For those unfamiliar with the authors: Brandon Webb is a former United States Navy SEAL and was the Head Instructor for SEAL snipers. He was deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. After his military career he started a media and e-commerce company that is now worth millions. He is also a New York Times bestselling author and has written several books.
The co-author, John Mann is an award-winning author whose written over 20 books that have been published in more than two dozen languages and sold more than 2 million copies. He’s also built a multi-million dollar business and has worked with Brandon Webb on several of his book.
1) Prepare More Than You Need
When directors film a movie, they spend many hours and sometimes days filming a 1-minute scene over and over again. The same scene can be shot over twenty times, but eventually, only one clip is chosen.
So does this mean that everything else was a waste?
Not at all.
That is what it takes to make a great movie: Practice, practice, practice.
Brandon tells a story of when he was flying with his old flight instructor in a little plane he had just bought. He planned to fly it from Fort Lauderdale to Miami.
Brandon went through all the safety checks and took off. While taking off, something didn’t sound right to him. Something also smelled funny. Brandon then looked down and saw that his leg was soaking wet and fuel was squirting out into the cockpit.
This meant that Brandon and his friend were sitting in a puddle of highly flammable plane fuel in a 50+ year old plane. If even one of the radios decided to spark, Brandon and his co-pilot would be stuck in a cockpit fire.
Brandon writes that part of pilot training is the mastery of contingency plans. This means pilots run dozens or even hundreds of what-if scenarios: What to do if an engine goes out; if there’s an electrical problem; if communications go down and more.
It took Brandon only a couple of seconds to react, he immediately shut down all electrical systems, the plane was mechanical so it could still fly without it and turned the plane around towards their starting point.
Brandon writes that he didn’t have to spend time thinking about what to do because he had rehearsed this situation several times.
The same thing was done during the Osama bin Laden raid. When one of the helicopters crashed during the mission, the SEALs had planned and practiced what to do in case such a situation happens.
They had timed the mission to exactly 40 minutes, and during the actual operation, they got in and out in 38 minutes.
When you prepare more than you need and rehearse worst-case scenarios, you get one step closer to mastering fear.
2) True Safety is an Illusion
Everyone has a natural impulse for self-preservation. Fear makes us believe danger is right around the corner and we should do everything possible to protect ourselves from it. However, this isn’t possible.
There is no such thing as absolute safety. And if you try to live life as safely as possible, you’ll never really live.
Webb recalls the 2017 NYC terrorist truck attack that plowed down joggers and pedestrians and killed eight people. Webb points out that he lives just a few blocks from there and he could have been walking his dog that day. One second he could have been on the phone and hanging out with his dog, and the next boom! He’s gone.
It doesn’t even have to be a terrorist attack, people get hit by distracted drivers all the time. There are a million different ways a person’s life can end just by leaving their house.
At the end of the day, humans have no genuine control over the outcome, we all end up in the ground eventually. This doesn’t mean you don’t look both ways when crossing the street, but it does mean staying home because you’re afraid of crossing the street isn’t the solution.
3) Trust Your Gut and Jump
A lot of times in life people find themselves in a situation where they know what they have to do and it feels like the universe is telling them to do it, but the people around them may try to stop them. This is why it’s important to trust your gut and jump when things feel right.
Brandon tells the story of a young mechanic named Douglas Corrigan who was inspired to fly after Charles Lindbergh flew his plane across the Atlantic. Lindbergh became an American hero and became Time magazine’s first “person of the year.”
Douglas Corrigan, on the other hand, worked for the company that built Lindbergh’s plane. He too wanted to fly solo across the Atlantic. However, the young man faced many problems. For one, he didn’t have a plane. He also didn’t have a pilot’s license or money.
So he worked on getting his license and then started working as a pilot taking people up for rides. He saved up his earnings and eventually bought himself a little plane.
Once he had his plane, he asked the Bureau of Air Commerce to approve his trip from New York to Ireland. However, they said his plane wasn’t in proper condition for the flight and denied him.
So Corrigan worked on his plane and applied again. Once again he got denied. He went on to apply five more times and got turned down each time.
But that didn’t stop Douglas Corrigan.
On July 1938, Corrigan was approved for a flight from New York to California. Except that he flew in the other direction, ‘accidentally’ of course.
Eight hours later he landed in Dublin. When flight officials questioned him, he said he must have misread his compass and simply flown in the wrong direction. When Corrigan returned to New York he was greeted as a hero and the New York Post printed a giant headline saying “HAIL TO WRONG WAY CORRIGAN!”
Corrigan is a great example of someone trusting their gut, ignoring fear and naysayers, and taking the jump into greatness. And as it turns out, Brandon Webb is actually related Douglas Corrigan (he was his great-grandmother’s cousin).
"Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL's Guide" by Brandon Webb and John Mann went above and beyond my expectations. The authors have done an excellent job with this book. Webb outlines the five steps needed to master fear and gives examples that demonstrate each step. He finishes each chapter with practice points that gives readers actionable advice and tips.
Webb does a wonderful job drawing on his combat, business, and personal experiences to illustrate his lessons and keep readers hooked. Fear will always be a part of our lives, heck it’s even part of Webb’s life and he’s a former US Navy SEAL, that is why it’s important to understand the tactics needed to overcome it.
This book is a must-read a manual to mastering fear. Each and every one of us is able to grow as a person and achieve more than we ever thought possible by triumphing over fear.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
You can get the book here or by clicking on the image below.
If you liked "Mastering Fear" or are interested in learning about Navy SEALs and Brandon Webb's life, I recommend the two books below.