Imagine living a more purposeful life by following principles of submarine operation. Sound crazy? Former Navy submarine operator, R.T. Stokes has created a unique and insightful template for withstanding life’s pressures using these principles. I wanted to share the concept with you today because it’s so simple and powerful – like most great ideas. I interviewed R.T for my Art of Feminine Negotiation podcast this week, so if you’re auditory, feel free to download the episode for an even more in depth exploration.
I often speak to the importance of controlling your thoughts and the meaning you attach to them, to the fact that we can’t control our external circumstances, but we can choose to control how we react. Not surprisingly, Stokes uses the analogy of ocean to make this point. During these different times, we can’t control when we’re going to come to the surface of this pandemic. And in life we can’t control the ocean we swim in, but we can control our vessel.
We may not be able to control COVID, or control other people and their reactions, but we can control our experience of this moment in our lives. This is a simple concept, but can be a profound game changer in your life.
Stokes identifies seven principles of submarine operation we can apply to enhance our life experience and regulate the inevitable personal pressure fluctuations that arise.
Are you in the right position? You want to position yourself well to make sure that you’re equipped to deal with pressures that come your way and to maximize your ability to move towards your vision and dreams. Now, for example, rather than being in a state of fear, angst and protection mode, what if you created the circumstances in this “pause” to position yourself to best move forward in a way that resonates with you?
What does that mean? You’ve no doubt heard me talk about the importance of developing habits that serve you. Whether it’s a gratitude practice, incantations, visualizations, meditation, exercise, journaling – you get the idea. Choose habits that become the foundation for a better life. Like the habit of flipping your negative thoughts and stories to more positive versions every time you catch yourself. Patrol your mind so these habits become your daily routines. Get vigilant about that, like you would as a submarine operator, doing patrols. Patrol your perimeter. Patrol the perimeters of your body and mind.
Power is about energy. Stokes advocates taking the time to understand natural energy i.e. from working out, or the food you eat, those things that help create natural energy. This also relates to connecting with people in your life. I often talk about the importance of proximity and managing your environment. I invite you to make sure you’re drawing into your life people who give energy, who give power. By the same token, be vigilant about energy vampires (people who suck the energy out of you). Sadly, that can be people in your family or close circle. I’m not saying you have to cut them out of your life, but be intentional about keeping the people who give energy around and holding those people who suck your energy at arm’s length.
We talk about positioning yourself, but sometimes people can have really high potential, but don’t put themselves in the right environments or right position, and so can’t get that propulsion they need. Much like a submarine, you have to have the right combination to get real propulsion.
I’ve been talking a lot about perspective lately and how valuable a tool it is to give yourself different perspectives. In a submarine it’s easy to lose your sense of time or space. Stokes made the point that people who went down for a submarine tour in February likely have no idea COVID is even an issue up in the ‘real’ world. Using a periscope is a way to get a new perspective and take a look around from a higher perspective, to see what’s above and all around you. He notes that we have a tendency to look at life through binoculars, zooming in on the stuff we already know and see. Get a different perspective. Get distance to look where you’ve been, as compared to where you are now, and where you want to go.
Now, in the midst of COVID, for example, you may look back at some of the stuff you thought was so problematic, where you saw yourself as a victim about, and suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad. Your priorities may have shifted with a new perspective.
Ping and Pulse
We all have sonar in our voices and in the energy that we put off. We send out and we get pings, and then we wait for the response, those pulses. Raising your awareness is a key skill. What are the pings you’re putting out? What is that energy sonar you put out in the world. I invite you to get intentional about that. Pay attention to the pings and pulses you’re getting from other people as well.
If you take a ball in the water and push it down, what happens? It resists and pushes to get back up to the surface. It has positive buoyancy. Just think about that in terms of your life. We’re swimming in this great big ocean that we can’t control, but we can control our vessel. Try and get yourself positive buoyancy so you can be as unsinkable as possible. Because let’s face it, tough times are going to come your way at some point, and you need to build that internal positive buoyancy to be able to lift yourself up even in the worst of circumstances.
Such simple concepts, but with powerful potential to change how you show up in the world.
How are you going to operate your vessel? Position: are you in the right position. Patrol: are you proactively patrolling the perimeter of your mind to make sure you have routines and habits that really serve you? Power: are you understanding things that give you natural energy and connecting with people who give you energy? Propulsion: are you getting things in line to make sure that you’ve got the propulsion you need to move forward? Periscope: get that higher perspective. Pings and pulse: be aware of what you’re giving off and raise your awareness about others. And build your positive buoyancy to stay afloat in good times and in bad.
In addition to the 7 principles of operation, I’d like to expand the conversation to talk about not only how we control our own vessel, but how we show up for others in this ocean that we’re all swimming in together, especially in these times where a lot of people feel like they’re slipping under the surface. We have people who are struggling, and feeling isolated, suffering from depression and sinking. The more people we get on the surface the better. It can be something as simple as a smile, or a like on a Facebook page, or making a call, or reaching out to somebody. Little moments. These can be really small acts of service. The more we increase everybody’s vibrational energy, the stronger we will all be.
Again, we can’t control the ocean we’re swimming in, but we can control our own vessel, and we can be a support for other people. Support is sometimes just showing up. I really invite you to ask, how are you showing up for yourself and others? You can’t control the ocean, but you can control your reactions, thoughts, beliefs, and how you show up in this gorgeous vessel you’ve been blessed with.
What if today, you set an intention to reach below the surface to pull as many people up as possible? Let’s get as many people to shore as we can, and that includes and starts with you.