Use This Navy SEAL Technique to Virtually Guarantee Victory

In the excellent book Unleash the Warrior Within, former Navy SEAL Richard Machowicz explains a concept called “Advantage-Stacking”:

You want to stack so many advantages in your favor that, when the order comes, when the opportunity presents itself, you can’t help but win. Every successful person, whether they realize it or not, stacks advantages.

I love this concept. By incrementally improving various elements of yourself and your position, you can dramatically enhance your chances of success in whatever you’re trying to do. Here are a few ways you can stack advantages and win:

  • Commitment – How serious are you reaching this goal? Are you willing to do whatever is necessary to get the job done? A strong commitment is a powerful advantage.
  • Focus – Do you know exactly what you want or is it a more vague idea? Will you get distracted about other shiny objects? The more clear you are on exactly what you’re trying to achieve, the better.
  • Expertise – How much do you know about this domain/industry/practice? A deep level of knowledge and experience is a huge advantage against common/foolish mistakes and ignorant newcomers.
  • Context – Are you fully aware of the situation that you’re operating in? The more you understand the landscape, the more effective you’ll be and the less likely you’ll be out maneuvered.
  • Connections – Do you have the respect and trust of people who could help you get the job done? Start building relationships with key players before you need them.
  • Timing – Are you making your moves at the right time and with the right speed? Sometimes being patient is critical, while other times overwhelming velocity is the way to go.
  • Resources – Do you have the right tools & adequate funding to make this happen? The more you have on hand and the more you can obtain quickly/easily, the better.
  • Backup – What’s your backup plan if your approach fails? There is great advantage to being able to quickly & easily regroup and try again?

Too abstract for you? Let’s say you’re trying to launch a new iPhone game. Advantage Stacking would be about figuring out the answers to these questions(or fixing the situation so the answer to the question is a good one):

Commitment, Focus & Expertise.

Are you sure you really really want to make this happen? What metrics will you use to measure success (Free downloads? Paid downloads? In game purchases?) Are you talented coder or willing to invest a lot of energy in becoming one? Do you understand what the iPhone game market wants right now?

Connections, Timing, Resources & Backup.

Who can help you develop and market this game? When will you launch and is that the best time? Do you have a robust library of sound / visual effects to work off of? What will you do if this flops?

This exercise might seem a little tedious, but the more prepared and Advantage Stacked you are, the more likely you are to get what you want. Have you ever used this technique yourself? How did it work out? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and talent expert. He is CEO of a performance hiring platform called Headlight, a Fast Company contributor, and an advocate for Asian American men. Follow him on Twitter at @jasonshen and subscribe to his private newsletter.

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  2. Hmm, this is an interesting survey and I’ll definitely be coming back to this as I continue working on my Facebook game project :) Interesting blog by the way; keep it up!

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