The Killing School

For some this might be a hard title to get past, but it is a really great book. Anyone with an interest in or experience with the military will probably like the great stories inside this book. I mainly picked it up for the L&D perspective of how Webb redesigned the Navy SEAL sniper school. The discussion of how to take people to the absolute edge of their ability was excellent and really impactful. It has served as a great example of how important positive reinforcement is. If it works for SEALs, it will work anywhere.

Favorite Idea

Perfection is the standard! Many people think that sounds crazy but if you have trust and empathy, I really think this is the way to go. By raising the standard for their students, Webb and his colleagues were able to decrease the attrition rate of the program. The conundrum of human psychology is that we all want to be challenged and grow in some way, but our bodies are designed to be as lazy as possible to help us survive. If you give us a way out we will take it. Only by setting the highest standard can you get everything people have to give.

The belief that a student could meet this standard had to be reinforced by instructors who truly wanted to the students to succeed. When teaching, instructors would identify the fundamental practice a student needed to implement and then remind them of that without any negative reinforcement. A big part of their goal was helping students control their internal self talk to ensure it was positive.

Favorite Quotes

Focus only on the solution to the problem – never on the problem itself.

If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less than excellent work. – Thomas Watson

Other Notes

How they improved the sniper course:

    • Raising the level of instruction
    • Systematizing and standardizing the curriculum
    • Integrating advanced technology
    • Lengthening and restructuring the course
    • Creating targeted mentorship for the students

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