Part 2: The Formula For Life or Sniper School


P - purpose 

A - action

I - information 

D - debrief 



Ask any sniper student what the number one rule of stalking is and he’ll reply “Never Lose The OP!”.

In Sniper talk “OP” means Observation Post. Change the term “OP” for the words objectives, goals or purposes and you’ll quickly see the life application.

I’ve watched many a Sniper student move for hours, expend all his energy, run out of time and fail because he either didn't find the OP, he lost it or, my personal favorite, he spent the entire time stalking the wrong one. It's funny - in a sad way - to watch. In life it's no so funny because there are no "do overs".

Can you imagine spending the first three hours of a grueling four hour stalk crawling on your belly only to realize you were going the wrong way and were now out of time?

Now think about this. Have you had your eyes fixed on any of life's "OP's" during the past 24 hours? How about the past week? Past month? Year? Ever? My point is this. Are you facedown and crawling hard towards anything in life or business. 

Too often we fail to perform because we've not taken the time to define what it is we're working to accomplish and / or we lose site of it.  

"Never Lose The OP" 



A typical sniper stalk lasts for 4 hours. Just 2 hours into it I could typically tell if someone was going to fail because they would be in one of two spots. They'd either be stuck at the "Starting line" fretting about finding the perfect and safe path or they'd be too comfortable or too invested in their first strategy, unwilling to accept that it wasn't going to get them where they wanted to go.

Those stuck at the starting line, fretting and playing it safe didn't understand that they would need to step out and make a move just to gain the perspective they were missing. And the guys who had become too comfortable or committed in their first strategy needed to realize that a strategy dependent upon perfection is not a strategy it's a movie script. They needed to learn to be okay with being wrong so that they could turn around and try again.

"Most of your actions will not lead you directly to your purpose; but, if you're wise, all of your actions will produce the knowledge you need to get there" - Eric Davis


You'll do well to remember that the initial purpose of taking action is to gain the information (Read: analytics) required to formulate the final strategy. When a student would try one way and then just randomly, relying on his "gut", try another way he would find himself tired and doomed to ultimately fail. But, the smarter ones would take ground so that they could survey the field and observe other students success and failures. This is a strategy dependent on the acquisition of knowledge and the evolution that comes from it.  Now that's performance.

Too often we mistake movement with action. We go through the motions, depend on our "gut", and keep busy as if we're just going to "feel" like doing the right thing. Much like an airplane pilot we require information to determine how far off course we are and what corrections to make, else we "fly by he seat of our pants". Life is pass or fail and we only get one shot at it. Pay attention! 



STOP! I would yell to the students who were trying to "muscle" their way to the OP. Frantic, stressed and running out of time they would just keep heaving themselves forward without stopping to think things through. Years later, in business, I would watch executives do the same. Over committed and busy, but never strategic or very effective.

Debriefing is the deliberate practice in which we consider the actual results of our actions in comparison to the desired. From there you take the “Gap”, plus the information gathered, to design the next action. Here's the rub. It's not something you can rush. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Slow down and think about it. You probably have the answers buried underneath all your busyness.

Movement is anesthesia for anxiety - NOT the cure. Eric Davis

This Formula Will Not Work Without Love & Leadership

This formula is simple to understand, but very difficult to execute. It requires an uncommon ability to execute because the culture we swim in values "Keeping Busy" as a good problem to have when in fact it's what's killing us.

Formulas alone are useless cliches without real leadership and love. 

Leadership, as defined by the Aji Network (A powerful learning organization dedicated to helping the ambitious perform in the top 1% of the marketplace), is the ability to take people to places that they'd not be able to get to without your help.  

Love, as defined by the bible (1 Corinthians 13:4-7), "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs... It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

I say you need both because humans are a fickle bunch who will tell you that they are committed to a better life, but act as if they're dead set on never changing. If you're not a strong leaders you'll not be able to move anyone's needle and if you don't have love for those you lead you'll simply go crazy.  


Study Questions: 

These questions are designed to be answered both in the comment section to engage and learn from others as well as in the classes I teach. 

Don't be like the Sniper student who failed because he never found his purpose or was "stalking" the wrong one. 

  • Have you ever worked to get somewhere only to realize it wasn't where you wanted to go? Give and example and share the costs. 
  • Have you been after something for a while without making sufficient progress? How can you use information and debrief to move forward? 
  • How would this formula have helped you in either case? 
  • What current or future situation can you use this formula in? 


Comments: My purpose is to deeply study and write about what impacts our ability to live a good life and lead others to do the same. I read every comment but respond by creating more papers based on what I learn from my readers. Please leave your thoughts below.  



Eric Davis

Eric Davis served our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL and decorated veteran of the Global War on Terror. Eric has been recognized as one of the premier sniper instructors in the U.S. military and has served as a Master Training Specialist at the SEAL sniper school in Coronado, CA.

He is an expert of technical and physical surveillance and was part of an elite group hand-selected to perform intelligence collection in denied areas around the world.

Eric has spent years developing, writing and executing curriculum for the SEAL Teams. By leveraging his expertise in the development of systems, structures, processes and practices Eric was instrumental in significantly reducing the failure rate, of Naval Special Warfare’s internationally recognized Sniper course. 

Since departing from the SEAL teams, Eric has worked in corporate performance, sales and leadership training bringing an unprecedented amount of innovation, efficiency and structure to the domain of business and performance.