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Let the situation dictate

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Let the situation dictate

Scott Miker

Years ago I read an article about a Navy SEAL who was reflecting on some of the insight he gained through the Navy’s extreme training program to become a SEAL.  When we think of Navy SEALs we tend to think of warrior cowboys who always take control and would fight first and evaluate second.

But I have read a lot of books on the Navy SEALs and I am always surprised at the incredible wisdom of these individuals.  They don’t act without thinking.  They train to the point where decisions can be made quickly and their natural instinct is to be quick and effective because they have reinforced the best possible habits prior to their actual mission. 

The author talked about a lesson he learned and a saying that went along with it.  He said that they had to train with flexibility in mind because they never knew what would happen.  In war there are so many variables that they had to understand that outside factors would determine how they respond.  He said that they were taught to “let the situation dictate.” 

The reality is that we can’t go through life dictating what should happen.  The world has its own set of rules and norms that we can’t change.  We have to realize that certain systems are already established.  To me, let the situation dictate is a clear reminder that we have to act according to the situation and the various established systems. 

One thing that I have used that quote to help me improve is my patience.  Sometimes, no matter how much I want something now, I have to realize that the situation isn’t right.  Whether it is wanting a promotion or a new job, or wanting to buy a new house, there are numerous factors that matter, not just what we want. 

But this advice to a person who always waits and never goes after what they want can be dangerous.  The reality is that there is never a perfect time.  Sometimes the time to act is right now because the things that are missing will never come if you don’t act now.  When you get to this point, act.  Don’t wait, don’t hesitate, and don’t hope things will change.  Simply begin. 

To me this quote is incredibly powerful because it balances being patient and taking action.  The fact that the Navy SEALs use this to train is motivating and helps to show the effectiveness of this quote.  The SEALs train constantly and don’t wait to train until the last possible moment.  Yet they still understand the value of patience and being flexible enough to respond to a changing situation. 

In your life do you want something that doesn’t seem to be the right time?  Don’t just rush into it but also don’t wait and wait for an imaginary “perfect” time.  Instead, let the situation dictate.  And when the situation says act now, then don’t hesitate, don’t question yourself, and don’t regret your decision.  Simply act.  Do what you need to in order to make it happen right now. 

If the situation isn’t right then don’t get caught up in the emotion of wanting something.  Instead find ways to move towards your goal.  There are always habits that you could be developing that will help you once it is time to act.  Build those and do everything you can to continue moving forward so that when the situation is right, you move quickly and efficiently because you already developed many of the necessary habits to succeed.