A Navy SEAL’s Guide
Brandon Webb and John David Mann
Portfolio, New York, 2018, 224 pages
Book Review published on: July 20, 2018
How does a person with a fear of heights qualify as a parachutist capable of jumping from aircraft at high altitude? How does another overcome fear of failure to commit their resources and time into a new business? Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL, presents his philosophy for “mastering” fear in such situations.
With the assistance of award-winning author John David Mann, Webb walks through a series of steps to help overcome fear. They appear obvious: decision, rehearsal, letting go, jumping off, and knowing what matters. However, one must read Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to get the gist of Webb’s process. He presents interesting anecdotes to clarify his points and to assure readers that he developed these steps through the lessons he learned as a Navy SEAL and an entrepreneur.
A major theme in this book is that success comes through hard work and resilience in difficult times. Webb relates to this with his experiences in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training and in entrepreneurial efforts after he left the Navy. The most striking example was his multimillion dollar venture to establish a military and law enforcement training center in southern California. After investing his life savings and obtaining investments from friends and family, the endeavor ultimately failed. Webb uses this event and others to explain that success comes in due time rather than overnight. He conveys that people must accept setbacks that occur along the path of life without losing confidence.
This leads to another point implied by Webb, which is that success does not come through being a superhuman. He reveals that he was not the most able candidate in the BUD/S course. He discusses an incident where he and several peers began to have doubts after one of their most capable comrades quit early in the course. However, he and approximately twenty others completed the training that started with over two hundred candidates. He attributes this success to their “decisions” to complete the course: the first step in overcoming fear.
The style of Webb’s narrative is frank. There is slang and a few expletives to drive home points to readers and it works pretty well. Mastering Fear appears to be the result of a lot of reflection by Webb, something of a self-dialogue that helps him through difficult times after the collapse of his business venture in California. This book is not all about him, however; he also tells the stories of others who overcame their fears such as a special operations operator who was afraid of heights and a young woman with limited business experience who purchased a franchise.
Overall, Mastering Fear is a good book for self-development. Webb appears to be honest in dispensing his advice for overcoming one’s fears. He makes an interesting assertion to not ignore fear but to embrace it and recognize that it serves a purpose. Webb speaks from experience, and he has developed a good process for overcoming challenges that can obstruct people from seizing opportunities. As he says in his book, “be the green light” in your life.
Book Review written by: Dirk C. Blackdeer, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas