Cover image for Mastering fear : a Navy SEAL's guide / Brandon Webb and John David Mann.
Mastering fear : a Navy SEAL's guide / Brandon Webb and John David Mann.
Publication Information:
New York, New York : Portfolio/Penguin, [2018]

Physical Description:
vii, 211 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Introduction: In the pool -- Roadmap: the battle is in your mind -- Decision -- Rehearsal -- Letting go -- Jumping off -- Knowing what matters -- Solo flight.
Personal Subject:
Added Author:


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
152.46 WEB Book Adult General Collection

On Order



Drawing on his experiences in combat and business, along with colorful anecdotes from his vast network of super-achiever friends from astronauts to billionaires, Brandon Webb shows how people from all walks of life can stretch and transcend their boundaries and learn to use their fears as fuel to achieve more than they ever thought possible. The key, says Webb, is not to fight fear or try to beat it back, but to embrace and harness it. In the process, rather than being your adversary, your fear becomes a secret weapon that allows you to triumph in even the most adverse situations. In Mastering Fear, Webb and his bestselling co-author John David Mann break this transformation down into five practical steps, creating a must-read manual for anyone looking for greater courage and mastery in their lives.

Author Notes

Brandon Webb is a former US Navy SEAL, New York Times bestselling author, and founder and CEO of Hurricane Group, a media and ecommerce business focused on military entertainment, news, and monthly clubs. His titles include The Red Circle , Benghazi- The Definitive Report , The Killing School , and Total Focus .

John David Mann is Webb's co-author of The Red Circle , Among Heroes , The Killing School , Total Focus and the international bestseller The Go-Giver .

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this inspiring self-help book, entrepreneur and former Navy SEAL Webb (The Red Circle) and Mann (coauthor of The Go-Giver School) skillfully direct readers on how to harness their fears and accomplish personal goals. Taking a matter-of-fact but empathetic tone, Webb revisits his challenging days in BUD/S (basic underwater demolition/SEAL training) and the resulting process for accomplishing goals he created for himself: decision, rehearsal, letting go, jumping off, and knowing what matters. He devotes a chapter to each step, using his own experiences-good and bad-as examples. For the first step, he draws a counterexample from his first, failed foray into business after leaving the military, which he entered into with partners he intuitively recognized were ill-suited, but chose to work with anyway-thus teaching him about the importance of trusting intuition. Throughout each step, Webb writes, the most important consideration is managing the conversation in one's head: focusing on what will go right, not what could possibly go wrong, a maxim to which he attributes his success in getting SEAL trainees through the demanding sniper training program. Webb's encouraging central message about overcoming and making use of fear should improve the lives of those who take it to heart. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.



1 Decision Burn the boats. -Alexander the Great, upon reaching the shores of Persia, thereby cutting off his army's only means of retreat My face is grinding into the sand, my body is beyond exhausted. Four terrifying men are clustered around me, screaming at me and doing their best to kill me. Not physically kill me. I'll grant you that. They aren't going to ship me out of here in a body bag. But make no mistake: They are planning to ship me out. Today. They want me as gone as last week's breakfast, and they are here to make sure that happens. Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training is famous for three things. First, that image you've probably seen, a line of guys running on a beach, miserable but determined, carrying an insanely heavy log on their shoulders while being yelled at by their instructor. Second, the fact that there's this brutal ordeal somewhere in there called "Hell Week." And finally: the quitting. The desolate row of empty class helmets lined up on the asphalt, marking the passage of the vanquished, the goners, the losers. And hanging over the helmets, that evil brass bell: the bell you step up to and ring three times to make your defeat official. The bell you ring to tell all your instructors and your teammates: "I give up. I quit." In BUD/S, the quitting never stops. In fact, it starts even before the first day. Lying here facedown on the beach, my teeth biting on sand, I have a clear recollection of the day I showed up for registration ten weeks ago, sitting on a bench by that concrete-and-asphalt grinder, watching a BUD/S instructor pushing another class of SEAL candidates through their punishing routine of PTs (physical training, i.e., calisthenics), and being scared nearly out of my mind. Holy shit. Seven months of that? There are plenty of would-be SEAL candidates who reach this point and don't even make it through the check-in process. All it takes is witnessing another class being put through their paces, and their SEAL ambitions crumble to dust. I understand why. The truth is, I had a hard enough time just passing the quals to get into BUD/S, forget getting through it. I was coming off years of regular navy service, the fat fleet guy fresh from his cushy tour on the USS Kitty Hawk and checking into BUD/S after barely passing the SEAL entrance PTs. The guy the other candidates will look down on and the instructors will mark right away for early elimination. Of the 220 guys in my BUD/S class, I was the guy nobody wanted to be. "That guy." That was me. At the other end of the spectrum was Lars, a supremely athletic guy at the top of our class. An incredible specimen. Lars had thighs like tree trunks and could do push-ups from dawn till dusk. He could do anything you threw at him. He wasn't human. And in our first week of training, about four thirty in the morning, Lars quit. We couldn't believe it. The guy we all looked up to, the guy we all would have pegged "most likely to succeed" was gone, nothing left to say he'd ever been there but another empty helmet. Lying there in the dark, sun not up yet, hearing that lonely brass bell clanging out through the silence of the freezing morning air, I could practically hear the thoughts emanating from the heads of all the guys around me, guys who up to that point had believed they were doing pretty well. Shit!-if Lars can't do it, then I don't have a snowflake's chance in hell! By the time we got through our initial indoc period and entered First Phase of actual training, 10 percent of our class quit. And now, here I am, on the beach near the end of First Phase, and oh boy, only five months of torture to go. If I survive this particular, personalized torture, that is. For a lot of guys, the moment of reckoning will come in a few days, when Hell Week starts. Not me, though. For me, Christmas has come early this year. This afternoon, these four professional sadists came over to our team and pulled me aside, separating me from the herd like a doomed wildebeest plucked by a pride of lions, and walked me out onto the beach, alone. Where they are now pushing me through an endless series of calisthenics, all the while shoveling sand in my face and screaming insults at me, all four at once, at the top of their lungs. They've been doing this now for, oh, close to an hour, or maybe it's been close to a year, I'm really not sure at this point. This is not a test, I tell myself. These guys are not trying to "see what I'm made of." They already know what I'm made of, I'm made of dirt and shit and weakness, and they don't like me, not even a little. They see me as a handicap to the team, and they are right. They want me gone, and if I were in their shoes, that's exactly what I'd want, too. They are willing me, with all the persistence and verbal abuse and sheer force of intention they can bring, to crawl from the beach up to the asphalt and ring that goddamn brass bell. I get it. I look up at my instructor and tell him to go fuck himself. The only way they are getting me out of here will be in a body bag. He drills me with a look that could bore a hole in a concrete slab. Then nods and lets me up. He looks over at his colleagues and says three words: "We're done here." He can see it in my face: I've decided. Of the 220 guys who started out in my BUD/S class, fewer than two dozen made it to the end. That afternoon on the beach in First Phase, I realized two things. First, that I was one of that handful who would be going all the way through. And second, why it was that so many others wouldnÕt. And it wasnÕt about weakness, or because it was hard. The reason so many guys quit was just this: they never really started. Those of us who went all the way through BUD/S were not the strong ones. Not the ones with greater ability or an excess of toughness. We were just the ones who had decided to do it. Mastering fear starts with a decision. You might think that big decisions, potentially life-altering decisions, arise out of courage. They don't. It's the other way around. The strength and the courage to keep going arise out of the decision. The decision comes first. Decide to Decide Decisions don't just happen. You have to make a conscious choice to be someone who makes decisions. You have to decide to decide. I know that sounds circular, but it's the rock-solid truth. Plenty of people go through their entire lives never really making decisions. Not big ones, anyway. Sure, they may decide what to watch on TV, or which socks to put on that morning. What to major in at college, which career path to go into. But even those larger life choices are, for far too many people, decisions they more or less slide into, not out of any soul-shaking reflection and commitment, but more because it's just what seems to come next. Maybe it's what their parents did, or what an older sibling did, or what the people around them expect them to do. What their friends are doing. What seemed like the most reasonable choice at the time. For me, that's not a life lived, or at least not lived fully. And it's surely no way to master fear. The first and most critical step in mastering fear is to make a decision that has its roots deep in your bones, deep in your character, deep in your soul. To do that, you have to choose to be the kind of person who makes decisions like that. You have to decide to decide. I learned this from my dad, and at the time, I hated it. My family lived in the mountains of British Columbia until I was eight years old, when my dad decided it was time to pursue a dream he and my mom had to sail around the world. They bought a boat and sailed us down to Ventura, California, where we lived aboard that boat for the next seven or eight years. Living on a sailboat in California was something like living in a trailer in Texas. At school, I was "the boat kid." As far as I was concerned, it was a great life; I would go surfing every morning before my classes started. I'd been working on that dive boat since the age of twelve, and I loved it. By age fifteen I was living a fantastic lifestyle, making good money, selling lobster I caught to my restaurant owner friends (probably illegally), and looking forward to turning sixteen, getting my driver's license, and chasing girls. Then one night my dad made an announcement. "Everyone around here talks about the trip they're going to take someday," he said. "They're going to sail here, sail there, blah blah blah. I don't want to be the guy who talks about it his whole life and never does it." Then he said, "We're going." And he meant it. I was mightily pissed off. I loved my life just the way it was. I didn't want to go off on some family trip. But off we went. My parents enrolled my sister and me in independent studies, and next thing we knew we were sailing down the coast of Mexico, embarking on a thirty-day passage into the heart of the Pacific thousands of miles away. By the time we reached the Marquesas Islands, my dad and I were arguing over some questions of correct seamanship. Eight hundred miles later, when we reached Tahiti, the friction between us had gotten so bad that it was clear one of us had to go. It was his boat, so the one who went was me. The next day I was standing on an island in the South Pacific saying, Shit, this is for real. When the family boat set sail from Tahiti, I was no longer on it. I left behind everything I'd brought with me, which was pretty much everything I owned: all my dive gear, a spear gun, a knife collection, a ton of books. All my worldly possessions. My parents helped me find a crew that was headed to Hawaii. (And by "crew" I mean a young couple with their three-year-old son on a forty-foot catamaran.) For the next two weeks my hosts and I made our way north, bound for Hilo on the open water. Here I was, just turned sixteen, my childhood home behind me and gone forever, alone on the Pacific. The first few nights, I cried myself to sleep. I was terrified. When I eventually reached California, I had to face all the challenges of being a teenager on my own, learning how to do all those things I'd always taken for granted, even tasks as simple as shopping for myself, making dinner for myself, keeping my own laundry together. When I got that driver's license, I didn't even know how to put gas in the car. As scary as it had been to face the Pacific Ocean in a catamaran, in many ways this was even scarier. And it was all because of those two words my dad had said. We're going. My resentment burned like a blast furnace. Funny thing, though. Yes, I was furious at him, and yes, I was scared. At the same time, though, the strength and power of that two-word decision was undeniable. Looking back, I realize now that as angry as I was, I also drew strength from his example. You've probably experienced this: a moment when you faced a tough decision, and then once you made it, everything suddenly felt clearer. It's like the first crack of thunder after a long buildup of low-pressure atmosphere. The air has been growing heavy and overcast all day, until that moment when the storm finally breaks-and then all at once the air changes. That's the clarity you get from making a big decision. And out of that clarity comes great strength. Years later I learned about the great Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton, who was sometimes criticized by his contemporaries for being restless and eccentric. Others were impressed with his keen mind and unusual leadership style. Shackleton didn't care for authoritarian hierarchies; he liked to form a personal bond with each member of his crew. In selecting crew members, he cared less about people's technical qualifications and more about their character. And to Shackleton, character lay primarily in the capacity to be firmly resolute. In 1914, Shackleton began preparing for one of the most ambitious trans-Antarctic expeditions ever mounted. To recruit suitable applicants for his new crew, as legend has it, he placed this ad in the newspaper: Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in event of success. Do you suppose the people who answered that ad were afraid? Of course they were. They weren't idiots. They knew that when he wrote "Safe return doubtful," he wasn't kidding. But their sense of adventure outweighed the fear. To a man, I have no doubt, they all read that ad and had the identical thought, the exact same two words my father spoke: We're going. Learn to Trust Your Gut So just how do you become someone who makes strong decisions? How do you develop that Shackleton gene? It starts with learning to trust your gut. This week I sat in a business meeting, watching someone who was faced with a critical decision. As I watched, he paused and looked up, like he was thinking about it-and I already knew he was going to make a poor choice. How? Because thinking about a decision doesn't make it happen. Thinking is just thinking. He knew this decision was coming. He needed to have already gone over all the options and considerations before this meeting started. The time for thinking was over. It was decision time-but he was still in his head. And decisions aren't made in the head. They're made in the gut. Does that mean you'll always make the right decision? No. But I believe you'll get into far more trouble from not trusting your gut than you will from trusting it. When I first got out of the service, I took my life savings and plowed it into a business idea called Wind Zero. It was a fantastic concept: a training facility serving both military and law enforcement personnel, deep in the Southern California desert. My research told me that the region was desperate for a reliable resource like this. Shooting ranges; tracks for combat and defensive driving instruction; mock urban environments for riot, hostage rescue, and other high-threat scenarios. Two helo pads and an airstrip. We even added a Grand Prix-style double racetrack, which reps from high-end race car clubs had told me would be in huge demand. Total cost, when the whole plan was in force, would come to something like $100 million. Excerpted from Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL's Guide by Brandon Webb, John David Mann All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introduction In The Poolp. 1
Roadmap The Battle Is In Your Mindp. 11
1 Decisionp. 47
2 Rehearsalp. 73
3 Letting Gop. 107
4 Jumping Offp. 139
5 Knowing What Mattersp. 165
Conclusion Solo Flightp. 197
Acknowledgmentsp. 201
Indexp. 203