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Turning Fear into Power: Lessons from Former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb

Shane T. McCoy
Wikimedia Commons


Fear can often instigate a rippling feeling of helplessness, but what if this same emotion could be converted into empowerment? Brandon Webb, former Navy SEAL, joined Ben Kieffer on River to River to talk about his experience with grappling with his own fears in his latest book, "Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL's Guide"

Webb served as U.S. Navy Chief and SEAL for more than a decade and was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his SEAL training, he developed ways of conquering his own fears and hesitations. He says the training was designed to break a person down, both mentally and physically.  

One of the final tests in the training Webb describes as “hell week.” It consisted of 5 sleepless days and nights with ocean swims, paddling 20 to 30 miles, running while carrying logs on the beach, and other physically exhausting activities. During one excursion, Webb recalls being pulled out of a class only to have his abilities ferociously criticized by his superiors.  

“I had to dig deep within my head and think, ‘You know what, I do belong here and worked hard to get here,’” Webb said. “At that point they knew they could not break me.”

This revelation developed into a mindset that guides Webb through daily struggles. He also took enduring strategies like mental rehearsal, visualisation, and recognizing negative self-talk into the classroom during his time as the SEAL Sniper Head Instructor. These basic guidelines set up the students for success and can easily be implemented in other fields.

“The important thing is to make a decision and put it into action. We’re never going to eliminate fear, but we can harness it.”


Webb is a New York Times Best Selling author. Other tiles by Webb include "Total Focus: Making Better Decisions Under Preassure," and "The Power of Thought: Core Principles to Overcome Adversity and Achieve Success."

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa