02 December 2016

Shedding Light On The Hero Factory

What Do You Have to Gain?

Hey guys if you've heard the buzz surrounding this new book The Hero Factory and are wondering what the heck everyone is talking about, let me give you the low down. First off, thank you to everyone who has been sharing and promoting the book already. Each of you have reinforced my decision to share these stories and lessons, with your encouragement and support. So what's the big deal, who is this book for, and what can I benefit from reading it? 

The Big Deal

This is the first book of its kind where beyond the reports of heroics that we enjoy reliving through social media posts, magazine articles, and YouTube videos, you will experience rescues from the eyes, minds, and words of the actual men who were in the midst of it all. Every story details the reality behind what is actually experienced during a harrowing search and rescue case. From the rescuer being jolted awake in the middle of the night, to the survivor's peril of waiting helplessly for a miracle. But these stories are only a fraction of the knowledge and insight held within the pages. Here is a synopsis of what you will discover within each chapter: 

The introductory section provides context for the intention behind the book. Although, seemingly elite and interpreted as heroic, the men and women who serve as helicopter rescue swimmers are just as human as everyone else. However, amongst weakness there is strength where purpose has been found. You are invited to draw upon the knowledge and practices these individuals employ to maintain physical and mental readiness that allows them to continuously overcome.

Who Are The Men In Black
Who are these individuals cloaked in all black, save a set of gold wings over the left breast accompanied by the word instructor? Men whom other men fear, characters that when thought of induce sleep deprivation, individuals whose physical capacity rivals that of competitive athletes. Here a peek into the internal composition of the helicopter rescue swimmer instructor cadre is uncovered. The mindset that drives our actions and behaviors is intimately portrayed through personal account, opening the door into our world. The challenge lesson offers an opportunity for you to test and assess your internal resilience and forge greater resolve.

Building A Tactical Athlete
There has been long standing tradition for military institutions to rely on long endurance efforts and bodyweight physical training regimens to prepare candidates to meet the rigors of mission readiness and operations. This has proven inadequate in matching the modern day’s evolving challenges. Learn why we train the way we train? There is purpose behind the physical hardship and the mental marathon of stress inoculating games. On the other side of the fire purpose is finally understood, perspective realized, and lessons truly learned. The challenge lesson prescribes a novel mindset for you to adopt and simple behaviors to employ to slowly begin developing resolute character. 

Alpha Bonding
We do what we do because we are who we are; in turn we are who we are because we do what we do. This speaks to the importance of the company we keep. Who we surround ourselves with, often influences our actions and behaviors the most, highlighting the absolute importance of relationship. The relationships shared amongst alphas, breeds competition, strength, strict discipline, sacrifice, integrity, respect, and initiative. But we must recognize the vulnerability to give into pride, envy, ego, and strife. When humility is learned, trust garnered, and acceptance freely given only then are mature relationships fully established. The challenge lesson presents the opportunity for you to build greater levels of healthy intimacy with those in life you most care about. 

Stamp Of Approval
What is the end goal? How are the incessant training days, the hard-learned lessons, the hours of physical exertion, and the mental faculty transformed into the success of lives saved? Relive the first rescue of one of my students as he battles the peril of the ocean’s tumultuous grasp. Four men are arduously towed to safety in one of the greatest endurance efforts ever performed by a rescue swimmer. For his actions AST2 Darren Harrity was awarded one of the service’s highest honors, the Coast Guard Medal, yet his humility is what demands the most respect.

leading from the front
As an instructor, you are provided a unique perspective to what each candidate is experiencing. Having formerly undergone the same training as a student yourself, you are afforded the vantage point of viewing both sides of the coin. With this perception wisdom is gained in discerning the appropriate method for teaching the next generation. When do individuals need to be pushed to dig deep and find inner strength, when should we throttle back the intensity to facilitate understanding of the necessary skills, and when should we call students out when excuses start to fly? Hats are changed from instructor, to teacher, to coach, sometimes to mentor, but always remaining a leader. Integrity, morale courage, and selflessness the tenants of quality character are our opportunity to lead from the front. The challenge lesson delves into one of the principles of leadership – followership. You are encouraged to first recognize strength of character in the individuals in your life that you hold in high esteem, and then to model your behavior to reflect the same, incrementally each day.   

one percenters
In life we all experience hardship, often in many different forms. Although our experiences may vary in kind and degree, ultimately we always have the choice to either succumb or persevere. The experience of trial by fire presented to rescue swimmer candidates is no different than any other hardship in this way. We can learn from these individuals and the elite select few that have the privilege to train them in how they respond to dire circumstances. The challenge lesson invites you into the practice of self-awareness. Opportunity is provided for you to recognize that every experience in life is a chance to learn and to then grow.

sewing machines and parachutes
In life there must be an appreciation for both purpose and intent. Although, we (fellow AST’s) jest that even a monkey could be trained to do the work we are responsible for, due to its simple and uncomplicated process; there is a level of unprecedented care that goes into each task. Any one step that is overlooked, could potentially lead to loss of life. The battle is not in learning advanced technologies, solving complex equations, or explaining scientific theories; for us eliminating complacency, adhering to the rigid practice of attention to detail, and mitigating risk is the goal. To do this requires integrity, it demands that each of us do what is expected and follow through with procedure no matter what we assume, how we feel, or how minuscule the task may seem. Live through another call to duty as two fighter jets collide and an aviator must be cut out of a mess of debris and trauma in the pitching sea and darkness.

the grinder
What does it take to be successful in becoming an AST? How do you know if you are truly ready? Learn how to persevere by developing self-awareness of current abilities, by learning lessons from each past experience, and by getting up again and again each time you are knocked down. Here the formula for achieving your physical goals is outlined, a process that can be applied throughout all other aspects of life to aid in accomplishing an objective. If you are a prospective candidate for AST A-school this will provide you the necessary steps to prepare yourself physically prior to entry. Other individuals can use this information to progressively ready themselves for any other physical endeavor using the embedded principles. The challenge lesson provides you with guidance on developing physical preparedness, while additionally sharing tips from the pros for preventing injury. 

uniform inspection
Part of living life is enduring life. The challenges, obstacles, and hardships that when presented provide an opportunity to learn and grow, can be forks in the road. We all have bad days, but “bad day” doesn’t quite do justice to the experience of almost losing your life. Some of us are prepared to handle these unfortunate and trying situations when confronted with the raw power of the natural elements. Some us are caught off-guard, pants down, and at a loss how to respond. This is what we try to teach the students. We must extend our ability to overcome. They need to recognize that they will be the helping hand in someone’s bad day, that they will be the light on a dark and stormy night. Here I recount stories of rescue from Mother Nature’s unforgiving seas and frigid winter grasp.

the burden of constant fitness
Here the concept of the Tactical Athlete is fully explained bringing clarity to the importance of physical preparedness for rescue professionals. General physical preparedness and specific physical preparedness are both outlined in detail and you will find embedded in the writing, a starting point for any training goal. The principles of Direction, Purpose, and Focus are each discussed highlighting wisdom gleaned from over a decade of working with military athletes. The tools used by professional strength and conditioning coaches for competitive athletics are introduced in an easy to understand prescription for tactical athlete implementation. Finally, each of the seven requisite fitness attributes of the tactical athlete our identified and explained to ensure understanding and incorporation. The challenge lesson provides you with a roadmap for purposefully attacking a physical fitness goal, and also emphasizes one of the most effective training tools for any athlete.

family men
My personal failings serve to introduce an opportunity for you to empathetically connect. Through stories of struggle and falling down, the mindset to overcome is bred by emphasizing the concept of “being effective” over “being right.” How can we set the precedent for how to react and respond to the hardships, obstacles, and challenges life presents, becoming a model of character to everyone around us? Learn how to operate from a foundation of acceptance, trust, confidence, peace, joy, integrity, fortitude, patience, and resilience. There is something to learn in every situation, a lesson behind every failure. The challenge lesson highlights the fact that each of us is continuously in an opportunity to teach. Through self-reflection we can learn to reprogram how we respond to difficulty and become role models to everyone within our sphere of influence.

Surviving extremes is not so easily taught in the confines of a four-walled classroom. To prepare the mind and physically ready the body, training requires we steep ourselves into the harsh realities of adversity. Experience first hand the perspective of being both a survivor and a rescuer as the students undergo the most dangerous training evolution conducted at the Rescue Swimmer Training Facility—rescuing a downed military aviator. With a wave-generating pool, strobes flashing in the dark, debris everywhere, a cacophony of alarms, 70 m.p.h. winds, and an individual in the water trapped under a collapsing parachute canopy, will the student forge through or succumb to difficulty? Here success demonstrates ability, but more importantly the confidence to persevere through seemingly insurmountable odds. Whether they recognize it in the moment or not, slowly throughout school the never-quit, learn-to-adapt mindset is being forged.

the long haul
Preparedness comes at a cost. Hours cramped in the rear of the helicopter, shock absorbed while jerked out of the water on the rescue hook in heavy seas, and miles of running and swimming accrued training to be mission-ready, all take their toll. For tactical athletes, careers lasting 20 to 30 years with diverse training resources, inconsistent sleep patterns, a range in quality and quantity of food selection, and a demand for year-round operational readiness can leave an individual abused and broken. Here you are afforded insight on developing a professional habit of fitness, while training your mind and body not just for today, but also for tomorrow and years down the road.

early morning wake-up
You can’t know how you will react in the face of danger or peril until you experience it. You also never really know how another individual will react in those circumstances either. From an armchair view it may seem comical, shocking, or even wrong; however, the more you experience it, the less sensitive you are to the surprise. It is in this light that we draw out the most realistic scenarios, because when lives are on the line, there is no room for almost and could have, only did and done.

Hardship comes in many forms and no one is left invincible. How we respond and move forward will determine how effective we are at enduring and overcoming. The conclusion highlights the core principle presented throughout the writing as our ability to overcome obstacles rests on our ability to respond in positivity. How we respond or react to hardship determines the nature of our character. Moreover, it models for others how to behave or what to believe in similar situations.

Who Is This Book For?

YOU! If:
1. You enjoy stories of courage.
2. You want to learn the principles and methods to be better physically prepared.
3. You want to develop resolute character and the mindset to overcome.
4. You are a rescue swimmer and want to stay in the game for a long career.
5. You want to be a rescue swimmer and need to prepare.
6. You know a rescue swimmer and want to understand what makes them tick.
7. You have an appreciation for those that serve our country and sacrifice their safety to save others.
8. You are curious what it takes to operate at an elite level.
9. You want to cultivate healthy behaviors and attitudes in yourself by learning from those who have persevered through failure, suffering, and hardship.
10. You want to support me, because you're a good friend or family!

Grab your copy of The Hero Factory today by clicking the link to Amazon in the upper right corner!

1 comment:

  1. As a retired Pararescueman, I have been to almost 40 different training schools. By far, the Advanced Rescue Swimmer Course was one of my favorite. The professionalism of the instructors and the way the class was conducted made for a very worthwhile and course I was so glad, I got to attend.