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William McRaven

The Art of Warfare

The purpose of the training is to weed out those both weak-minded and weak physically before you really even begin the hard SEAL training. So there is a lot of demand placed on you physically, but there was also a lot of demand mentally. They put you in situations where you are either not going to succeed or you're not going to succeed as well as you thought you were going to succeed. So they will, for example, they used to play a little bit of mind games. They would say, "Okay, we are going to have a four-mile run on the beach." And as you were closing in on that last couple of hundred meters, they would go, "Oh no, this isn't the finish line. The finish line is another couple hundred yards down the beach." And there were a lot of guys who went, "Come on, I was just coming to the finish line." "No, the finish line is further on." So you learned that maybe there is no finish line, and you learned how to deal with failure, and you learned kind of what is really inside you, because you were tested physically every day. You were cold, you were wet, you were miserable, and you still had to perform at a certain level.
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William McRaven

The Art of Warfare

William McRaven: He was a very flamboyant officer. He had served in Vietnam as an enlisted man -- became a mustang, as we say -- he was later commissioned. And he was brilliant in his own way and I harbor absolutely no ill-will against Dick Marcinko. But I was young, and he was trying to shape SEAL Team Six at the time. And I came in with probably a little bit more of a conservative belief in how we should run operations. I believed in kind of the basic tenets of good order and discipline because I had learned that -- growing up in the earlier part of my SEAL team -- good order and discipline made a difference. It made a difference in the morale of the men, it made a difference in the professionalism of the men, it made a difference in the operations. And Dick Marcinko's approach was a little bit more, I don't want to say cavalier, but he had a little bit different approach in terms of how he looked at both the relationship of the men and the relationship of the operation. So it was a little bit of a conflict of personality and a conflict of how business gets done on the SEAL teams. But again, he was the commanding officer. So in a military organization, at the end of the day the commanding officer makes the decisions. And again, I don't fault him for the decision, but it was one of those things I had to deal with personally when I went on to another SEAL team. Because people knew that I had just been essentially relieved of that command position, and that's not a good thing in any institution. So you have to be able to -- it kind of summons up your personal courage -- and decide that, "Okay, things didn't go so well. I've got to prove that I'm as good an officer as I think I am. I have got to continue on." The option to quit was always there. It's a volunteer force. I could have gotten up and left.
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W.S. Merwin

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry

I don't know how it works, I really don't. It comes from hearing things rather than from having ideas. I've got notes that I have made over the years, and they are very precious to me, and I sometimes ponder over the notes and see what I thought I was doing writing that down, where it was going. The notes are usually things that I seem to have overheard rather than -- they are not ideas. There is a wonderful conversation that Zola -- no, it wasn't Zola, it was Degas. Degas and Mallarmé, the French poet Mallarmé, were good friends for a long time. And Degas had always wanted to be a poet and he said to Mallarmé, "I don't understand it, year after year I've written poems and they are terrible, I know they are terrible, I know they aren't any good at all." And he said, "I don't understand it, because I have such good ideas." And Mallarmé said, "Oh, but poetry is not made with ideas; it's made with words, you have to hear the words."
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James Michener

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist

I am right now in the middle of a difficult writing project. And it's just as difficult now as when I started. But when I get up in the morning I am really qualified to say, "Well, Jim, it isn't going too well, but there is nobody on the block who is better able to wrestle with it than you are, so lets get on with it." I do say that.
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James Michener

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist

James Michener: A fundamental difference between other people and me is that when I start a project, I know it's going to take at least three years. So two things ensue. One, it has to be a pretty good idea to keep me excited for three years. And two, I have to have a pretty good head of steam just to keep going physically and mentally for three years. I work every day of the week. I get up early and go right to the typewriter. And I have to take time out for research or a trip here or there or for my professional obligations. But I work every day. And if any one of us listening to this program were to work ten hours a day, seven days a week, for three years, I would expect something to come out of it. Especially, if you had a pretty good education to begin with, and you had some help from your friends, and review point of view from your editors and colleagues, and the company you are working for, so I don't think that what I do is at all remarkable. It's the result of three, four, five years of intelligent application. And fortunately, I've been able to do that and recommend it to everybody else.
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