Developing Grit

David Fivecoat Developing Grit
Drive On Podcast
Developing Grit

David Fivecoat spent 24 years in the Army including tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He now runs The Fivecoat Consulting Group, which helps develop gritty leaders. In this episode, he discusses how to develop personal grit.

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Scott DeLuzio    00:00:00    Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. Now let’s get on with the show. Hey everybody, welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today, my guest is David Fivecoat. David served 24 years as a US Army Paratrooper as well as four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. And since leaving the army, he founded the Fivecoat Consulting Group where he helps develop gritty leaders. David is also the author of the book, Grow Your Grit, and he’s here today to talk about developing personal grit. Welcome to the show, David.  

David Fivecoat    00:00:52    Thank you for having me on, I’m excited about this. I’ve listened to several of your podcasts and I really appreciate you having me on.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:00:59    I’m glad you were able to make it on the show and come on and share your information as well because I think, the gritty side of things is something that’s important. I think we all have the potential in us to have that gritty side of us come out.  But it’s just a matter of tapping into that. I think your experience with what you do now will be a good help there. But before we get into that, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? I know you and I both were in Afghanistan around the same time. I’d love to hear a little bit about where you were and what you did over there. And then we could talk a little bit about that for a few minutes.  

David Fivecoat   00:01:39    A little bit about me.  I grew up in Ohio, no military sort of background in the family, but decided to go to West Point because I loved reading military history and of course, all the World War II generals had attended West Point. It was really a good fit when it came time to apply to colleges. That’s how I ended up at West Point and throughout my army career, I was always of the sort of mind that. I’ll stick around in the army until it stops being fun. Every couple of years, when it started to look like it wasn’t going to be fun, there’d be a new job or a new challenge or something.  

David Fivecoat  00:02:24    And that kept me going., I did 24 years in the army. I was commissioned as an infantry officer. Along the way, I had the opportunity to serve in Kosovo Bosnia, three trips to Iraq, and a trip to Afghanistan. My final job in the army was I ran the army’s airborne school and ranger school. While I had the oversight of ranger school, we actually led the gender integration of ranger school. For your listeners that aren’t familiar with ranger school: ranger school is the Army’s premier small-unit leadership school. It’s been in existence since 1952. There’s about 80 or 90,000 graduates. Up until 2015, those graduates were all male. In 2015, we tried to run a pilot program. 19 women came to ranger school and three women were the first three women to earn the ranger tab. That was a pivotal part of the Army’s decision to open all jobs and all units to women and provide equal opportunity to everyone that serves in the army. Since 2015, ranger schools have graduated almost a hundred women and several thousand men in that same timeframe.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:03:54   I was actually just going to ask you if you had a frame of reference for how many women have made it through ranger school in that time period, but you beat me to it and you answered that question already.  You’ve definitely had quite the career with the deployments and all the experience that you have had. Tell me about this trip to Afghanistan and your job. I always like to talk to people who were there around the same time that I was, and just hear their side of what they did there. It’s nice to hear from somebody else and hear what they went through and everything. And in that same time period, just to compare notes and see what that was like.  

David Fivecoat   00:04:46    I was excited when I saw that you were there at the same timeframe. We were both there during what was known as that Afghanistan surge, which was 2010. In 2009, I was fortunate enough to be selected to command a third battalion 187 infantry, which is known as the iron rock Hassan’s they’re based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  Tremendous history and lineage. It had already, by that point in time, had done one trip to Afghanistan, three trips to Iraq. We were on the fifth deployment as part of the global war on terror.  We were selected to take over, Western Paktika province, which, if you’re not familiar with Paktika, it’s in the Southeast corner of Afghanistan, part of the province, borders, Pakistan. My battalion was in an area about a hundred miles north to south and about 50 miles, east to west.  

David Fivecoat    00:05:46    We arranged the four companies that each had a sector, and we did our best to work with our Afghan partners, both the Afghan government and the Afghan and the Afghan police, to try to make Paktika a safer and more secure environment. The Taliban had a few other ideas about that, and we got into some pretty tough fights, along the way. The battalion eventually earned the valorous unit award, for his actions, their impact on Paktika. We had about a hundred folks wounded, and unfortunately, three folks killed in the battalion, but it was about the same time you were there. One question I’d like to ask you, I know you were up in Nanga, a little bit Northeast of where I was, but, what was one kind of cool story that you remember kind of fondly now?  

Scott DeLuzio    00:06:40    Well, looking back on that, it’s a good question. Looking back on that deployment, it’s not necessarily a fond memory like this was a fun time or anything like that. To me, the thing that stood out was just the stark difference in the contrast between American lives and Afghanistan lines and how we lived just completely different lives and the way we go about our day-to-day and the way they go about their day to day are just polar opposite in a lot of respects. In some respects,  they’re very similar, but, in a lot of respects, they’re just polar opposite. When we come back home to the United States, we wouldn’t want to change any of this for anything.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:07:31    We enjoy the luxuries that we have here and all that kind of stuff. But the people over there they’re content with how things are a lot of them. They’re content with living in the villages that they live in because that’s where they’ve always lived. And that’s where their parents grew up and that’s where their parents, their grandparents grew up in all that stuff. They’re just content with that. When we think that we can talk to them and say, Hey, well, it could be different. It could be all of this, and this is what you have to do to get that.  And then they’re like, well, but we don’t want that. We want this, what we have, and this is how it is.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:08:13    And, to me, it just stood out as a very different way of life and a different way of thinking. and especially when you’re doing things like trying to win the hearts and minds of the people who are over there, you sort of have to understand their mindset and where they’re coming from with a lot of this stuff. And so if you go in there with an American mindset of, oh, this isn’t good enough, let’s make this more like America, then you might not have a ton of success. And so it was very, very eye-opening when I went over there. But, some of the things that were, kind of funny, that stand out and make me smile a little bit thinking back at it is, just interacting with some of the kids there because, despite all that, I just said, a kid’s a kid.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:09:06    I don’t care where what country they come from or whatever they’re gonna be kids and they’re gonna horse around and they’re going to have fun and everything. Just our interactions with them would just be funny. Sometimes they’d be little punks, but sometimes they’d be sweet and everything. It was just a nice thing to see a little sense of normalcy in the midst of all the chaos that was going on over there at the time,

David Fivecoat    00:09:34     For some of your listeners that didn’t serve in Afghanistan the DEC the dichotomy where you would have folks living in mud and straw huts. They would have cell phones or motorcycles,  and they lived in mud and straw huts for hundreds of years and cooked fires right in the middle of the building. Maybe it didn’t have glass windows, but maybe had some sort of parchment or plastic over the windows. It was just an interesting sort of contrast. I’m sure your company, but you guys had a hard existence too. I suspect your base is different from what you’re used to now in Arizona.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:10:26    I mean, the climate, the temperature, was very similar to what we have here in Arizona. But the way of life, the electricity instability,  that you’re living in a plywood hut basically. It’s definitely not the plush accommodations that you have at home that you’re typically used to. To your point about the people living in the mud huts, then having walking around with cell phones, I’ve oftentimes described it as, being dropped into like biblical times where it’s like ancient and primitive the way certain people live with the difference of they had cell phones, some of them had cars and, AK 40 sevens and RPGs, but that was the difference. Like it was basically shooting yourself back 2000 years and just adding a few modern conveniences and that was about it. 

David Fivecoat   00:11:29    We both put in some hard work in Afghanistan, but one of the things that I think a lot of veterans,  I know I do you sometimes think finally about the experience because a lot of the deployments, and for folks that haven’t deployed, things get sort of boiled down to the essence. You get up, you eat, you go on patrol, you work out and you might call your spouse or significant other at the end of the night and you go to sleep and you repeat. There aren’t a whole lot of options here in the United States. There’s lots of options and things can get very complex very quickly because it’s tough to figure out which option to pick.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:12:23    Right? Your options are very limited. You could go exercise if your base was lucky enough to have a gym of some sort that you can go lift weights or whatever.  Or You figure out some other way to exercise because you still have to stay in shape. You can’t just let yourself go, even though you’re out patrolling all the time. And, you’re probably okay with some of the cardio aspects of things, because you might be running around and doing stuff,  but you still have to maintain some sort of physical fitness regimen. If for nothing else for your own sanity to keep your head on straight, because like you said there’s very few options over there and there’s only so many, $5 movies you can get from the local Bazaar to occupy your time and many motion, sick videos that you can watch as the guys holding the camera in the theater, and it’s all bouncing around and everything.  

David Fivecoat    00:13:28   For the listeners that are familiar there, they have knock-off DVDs or bootleg DVDs that were super cheap in 2010. And you could get the latest movies because someone would go in and film them guerrilla-style in the theater. And then they would ask, produce them on DVDs and you could get them. And sometimes there’d be a soundtrack. Sometimes there wouldn’t be a soundtrack. And especially if it was very early on the movie’s release, they would get better as the movie’s been out a while.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:13:58    Sometimes it was in the wrong language when you got it. And then you have to translate this thing. It was like, what are you doing guys? Come on.  

David Fivecoat    00:14:12    One time we had a bunch of Afghan, senior, officials and the hell a sandstorm rolled in. We were like, well, what, what can we do with these guys? Because they were scheduled to get on this helicopter. We were going to fly them back to the capital of the province, which is Sharana, and let them go back to their business. And we’re like, well, well, what can we do with them? They’re like, well, let’s show them a movie. And, between the interpreter and the soldiers, they came to a consensus to show them transformers. And these are like 40 or 50-year-old Afghan men. And at one point in time, one of the Afghan men asked the interpreter if this was real. And I was like, you guys picked like the absolute biggest sort of culture shock kind of movie. You could show these guys totally not what life is like in Afghanistan. They all picked it because they wanted to, they thought that the guys would appreciate Megan Fox? They thought they would all appreciate seeing Megan Fox in it, but the vehicles that turned into robots and fought other robots was a little bit of a stretch for them.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:15:34    That’s funny.  I remember just talking to some of them, some of our interpreters or other Afghan people through the interpreters and they had a skewed sense of what was real in the United States. It was kind of like the stories that you might’ve heard of the immigrants coming to America in the early part of the last century. Saying that the streets were paved with gold and all that kind of stuff, where they had these grand ideas of what America was, well, no, that’s a stretch. Some of these things are not exactly entirely true. Asking if that type of thing is real it’s obvious to us, it’s obviously not, but to them, They probably have never seen something like that in their movies. That they may have had if they even had movies to watch but that’s the other thing to consider. Right.  

David Fivecoat   00:16:34    Right. That was maybe not one of the better selections that we could have picked, maybe next time, we’ll get it better.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:16:44    I mean, I could think of other movies that would be just as bad as the Terminator, something like that, know things, things that would probably freak them out a little bit. That’s probably more of a horror movie to them.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:16:57    Let’s jump into this topic of grit, and get into that a little bit, but before we do what’s, I guess maybe let’s start with a definition. Tell us what grit is and what personal grit is and how do we get it, or how do we grow it if we already have it.  

David Fivecoat    00:17:16    One part of the story we didn’t get to, we got a little bit sidetracked in Afghanistan, which is fine. It’s fun. It was fun to reminisce and talk about Afghanistan.  In 2017, I transitioned out of the army and started working for a company doing leadership training with individuals. In March of 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, I decided I should find my own company. I like to joke that I did wasn’t I didn’t feel like I was gritty enough. So I decided to found my own company at the beginning of the pandemic and go out on my own and start doing executive coaching and leadership training with mainly corporate groups. I’ve now done that for the past two years, I’ve had the chance to grow a company.  

David Fivecoat   00:18:09   There’s been some interesting sort of contrasts when you have spent a lot of time in corporate America. I went to college at West Point after 24 years in the army. For 28 years, I had a government check, coming in twice a month. It was a big leap to first work for this small company as an independent contractor and stand up my own company. In late fall, early winter of 2020, a client I was talking to said, Hey, you’re kind of gritty. Why not? Why don’t you write a book on grit? That is kind of interesting. I’ve had these gritty experiences and maybe I got something that I can help others try to develop.  

David Fivecoat    00:18:59    The definition that I have for grit is the will to persevere, to achieve long-term goals. Now it’s slightly different. Some of your listeners have probably heard Angela Duckworth. Angela Duckworth is sort of like the godmother of grit. She’s a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. She has a Ted Talk and a book, but I read her book and I came away from it thinking she did a fantastic job, defining it, telling you how to measure it,  telling you who’s got it, who doesn’t, but I thought she fell a little bit short on creating a framework for somebody to develop their own grit and pursuit of a goal. One of the more challenging aspects in life is one life. Life is sort of a gritty journey.  

David Fivecoat   00:19:50    You don’t know where you’re going. You may have these aspirations, but you don’t know exactly what to do along the way. There’s lots of sort of structure kind of things. If you decide to go to college there’s sort of a four-year plan. You have to take X number of classes, you have to get this grade in it, and then you come out the other end and get a degree, but there are some things in life where there’s not a good roadmap. In the things with the roadmap, it does help to have grit, and those without a roadmap it really helps to have grit because you need to have a framework to help yourself get better. I think you’ve got to have a couple of things. The number one thing I think that helps you develop grit is having a personal purpose and understanding what your why is.  

David Fivecoat   00:20:37    It’s a tough exercise. I just put six corporate executives at this company through their personal purpose exercise. And every single one of them said, man, this is hard because we don’t typically take that introspection and go, Hey, what am I always all about? What are the values that are the most important to me? And how am I living? Then the second part of developing your grit is to do goal setting. And one of the challenges. Well, I have a good question for you. Did you decide to do a New Year’s Resolution?  

Scott DeLuzio     00:21:14     I actually had a New Year’s Resolution years and years ago. I don’t even remember when it was to not make New Year’s Resolutions going   

Scott DeLuzio     00:21:29    I have so far, I’ve stuck with it. The reason why is because I didn’t like the mindset of taking an arbitrary date on the calendar and saying, okay, I’m going to start on this date. And I’m going to get better at whatever. Whether it’s fitness or I want to read a book every so often, or, if I want to do something, I noticed that there’s something I want to improve on myself. I’m going to just start it. I’m going to start it now. Or come up with a goal and a plan and say, okay, this is what I’m going to do. I don’t care if it’s in August or if it’s in January or whatever. That’s kind of been, my mindset is if, if I see something that I want to improve on, in any area of my life, I’m going to just start it.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:22:15    I don’t tend to not do New Year’s resolutions, just so that I don’t fall into that trap of being in November and saying, oh, I probably should lose a few pounds.  I’ll just wait until January and  I’ll join the gym then. I haven’t made a new year’s resolution, But, to that point, it doesn’t mean that I don’t see areas in my own life that do need improving, that I do work on from time to time. 

David Fivecoat    00:22:45    Well, we’re recording this on January 24th. A Lot of folks right now, or are struggling with their new year’s resolutions and maybe about ready to give them up, whatever, whatever they are. I’ve found one of the biggest challenges with new year’s resolutions is that folks don’t do adequate goal-setting the goal for a new year’s resolution or any sort of goal the best tool is the mnemonic device smart and smart stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, and the three most important parts of it. Whenever you set a goal is, Hey, is it specific? What am I trying to accomplish? The second part is measurable. How am I going to measure this? What should I say? Success looks like it’s easy to drop 10 pounds, right? Because you say, okay, I’m gonna use the scale.  

David Fivecoat    00:23:35    I’m gonna weigh myself right now. I will weigh myself in the future and hopefully, I’ve dropped 10 pounds. Then time-bound, you gotta set a goal, a date, the goal to be accomplished by. If you don’t have those three parts in your goal, you really need to go back and look at the goal. The second part of goal setting, which is also incredibly important is you’ve got to schedule time on the calendar for it. I’m sure all your listeners are busy. They’ve got things on the calendar. Their lives are busy. If you’re going to add something new to the calendar, you have to look and go, okay, where am I going to actually accomplish it? If you put it on the calendar, it’s more likely to happen. Then you’ve got to take the next step and say, okay, what am I going to take off in order to give myself space to actually accomplish this? Those three things using the smart mnemonic device,  making sure you put it on the calendar. Then, also, taking a look and saying, what am I going to take off in order to be able to accomplish this really sets you up for a better chance of actually accomplishing your goals.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:24:40     That does make sense because we’re going back to the new year’s resolution, discussion that we were just having. If someone’s goal is to drop 20 pounds, that’s specific, it’s measurable. But if their goal is to do it in the first two or three weeks of the year, that’s not very attainable. That’s not something that you’re practically going to be able to do. unless you completely starve yourself, but that’s just not healthy and that’s not what anyone should be focusing on doing. I think that makes sense. Being able to get those goals set in a manner that is achievable that will set you up for success. You don’t want to set unrealistic goals for yourself, and make it so that you feel like all you’re failing at this when you kind of didn’t give yourself a chance to succeed, to begin with when you have unrealistic expectations of yourself, right?  

David Fivecoat    00:25:49    Another thing that you’ve got to consider after you get a good goal, you’ve figured out your personal purpose, you’ve developed this goal that compliments your personal purpose is to take some time and think about your resilience.  Most folks, if they consider it a gritty goal, it’s something that really pushes the boundaries. It’s out of their comfort zone. It’s something that’s going to move the needle, like starting a new company in the middle of the pandemic or writing a book, or any of those things that you might decide to do. And inevitably, there’s going to be a setback that happens along that way. And the first thing to think about when you’re thinking about your resilience is okay, I need to think through what are the most likely setbacks that are going to happen and how am I going to respond to that?  

David Fivecoat    00:26:42    Then the second is making sure that I think one of the most important things with resilience is making sure that you are physically the best person you possibly can be. You are getting enough sleep at night, you’re eating right. You’re doing physical fitness, and you’re taking a little bit of time for mindfulness. Those four things together really help increase a person’s resilience. Think about the last time when, maybe you were staying up late coding, or something like that. What sort of happens at night? You’re going to snack more, you’re going to do other things that may not be getting you to your goal of losing those 20 pounds, or something like that. You’ve got to think, Hey, how have I created it?  

David Fivecoat    00:27:30    I’ve got the most opportunity to bounce back from these failures that are going to happen along the way. How am I going to learn from it? The other thing is changing your mindset. Hey, one of the big things for me at least was succeeding and then learning. It’s not succeeding or failing it’s succeeding or learning. For instance, when I started out with the company, I was like, okay, I’m going to try this for a year. I’ve never, ever stood up in a company. I have no idea how this is going to go, but I’ll do it for a year. And at the end of the day, if I haven’t succeeded, it’s okay. Because I’ve learned new things. I learned how to put together a website. I run my own email list, and all those things that I had to teach myself, all along the way, I’m a much, I think I’m a much, much better person and I continue to learn and grow, develop and move forward, even in my forties and fifties.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:28:29    I’ve used this example before on this podcast and other talks I’ve done, but when you’re talking about resilience and that kind of effort. I just think about my own kids, as they were, they were growing up and doing things that were outside of their comfort zone.  Even something as simple as learning to ride a bike without the training wheels on it was scary for them. It was definitely outside of their comfort zone. They fell and they scraped their knees and they cried about it and they didn’t like it and it was hard, but you keep encouraging them to get back on the bike and try it again and try it again and try it again. and just like you said, it’s not a failure, it’s a learning lesson.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:29:21    They learned, okay if I lean too much this way, I’m going to fall. So, okay. Don’t do that again. If I lean too much, the other way, I’m going to fall too. And okay, don’t do that again.  Eventually, they figured out how to balance themselves and they did it and now they ride their bikes. Like it’s nothing. It’s one of those experiences that made that really hard and scary thing to them at that time now into a fun and enjoyable activity. If you are resilient enough and you’re able to push through those learning lessons, not necessarily failures,  you’re able to get a more positive outcome from whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve. In this case, it was a simple example of riding a bike, but for a young kid, that’s a hard thing to do. That does make it more of a resilient thing. You can’t expect them to be doing things at  40 or 50 year old that they would be able to do at that point. Right?  

David Fivecoat    00:30:25    The 30 or 40 or 50-year-old sometimes forgets the amount of learning and the failures that came along the way as a chief and other things as they look back, because we all, as we age, forget the bad stuff, remember the good stuff. I suspect both of us at various points in time were thinking, man,  Afghanistan really sucks, this is bad. Now as I look back on it, it’s sort of like, it wasn’t that bad.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:30:58    Something interesting that you said earlier in the episode that your goal was to basically stay in the army until it stopped being fun. I looked back at my notes and I said, wow, you spent an awful lot of time in the army. For something that definitely could have been, not too much fun for a period of that time. I think you’re right. Where you do tend to remember the positive side, and you might not remember the struggle quite as much as the downside. I can think back to when I started my business and I remember that first client that I landed and money that started trickling into the bank account. That was like an incredible feeling, but the late nights and the hard work and everything that went into that. I mean, I still remember it, but it’s not the thing that pops to the front of my mind when I think about when I first started my business. I definitely get where you’re coming from with that. When you were in the army, what were some of your grittiest experiences, the things that, that really stood out to you,  

David Fivecoat   00:32:21    I’ll talk about two of them. Well, can I do three? Sure. Okay. All right. So three, the first one, on a personal level, was going through the US army ranger school, came out of the basic course as a young Second Lieutenant, and shipped off to ranger school. Ranger school is now 61 days, which was a little bit longer in that timeframe.  Ranger students are stressed out through limited food and limited sleep. The average ranger student loses about 20 pounds while they’re there. They operate on about three hours of sleep a night for the entire 61 days. One of the things that happens while you’re there at ranger school is you get evaluated by a ranger instructor. Whether you go, whether you get a pass or a fail determines whether you’re going to actually graduate or move on to the next phase.  

David Fivecoat   00:33:21    I made it all the way to Florida, which is the last phase of ranger school. I made it successfully there without any hiccups. I go through the Florida phase and I come out of it and they say, Hey, ranger, you’re a no-go, you failed to lead your patrols to your opportunities, to lead patrols to the right standard that we expect. Do you want an opportunity to recycle? And man, my parents were coming down for graduation and my girlfriend and all kinds of stuff. I was like I guess you gotta do it. That sort of overcoming adversity and dealing with that failure, frankly, was one of the first times that I really failed at anything significant.  

David Fivecoat  00:34:11    And then the second time, was Iraq in 2007, 2008, I was a per gate operations officer for one of the brigades that it got sent over for the Iraq surge. It was a 15-month deployment. We stood up a FOB from nothing and an entire brigade footprint from nothing. And it was a struggle. We got accelerated on our deployment and had an exceptionally tough boss. It was just one of those sort of grinds for 15 months to get through. That really tested me as a person and as an organizational leader,  because the boss was tough too, for folks to work for had to help, smooth out some things for him, and help keep the team all rowing together. as we tried to overcome things as part of the Iraq surge.  

David Fivecoat    00:35:08    And then the last one was leading, the ranger school during the gender integration, there was a lot of resistance to change. Lots of folks that were against it, and as the brigade commander, I was sort of the lightning rod for a lot of the folks that were irritated with allowing women the opportunity to come to ranger school. As I said before, under the resilience side of grit, I had to develop a thick skin, a lot of learning opportunities, and lots of folks weren’t happy with what I was doing. And, it was in the public eye. The New York Times, Washington Post, defense one we’re all, having reporters follow this along. Any misstep was magnified. Lots of learning lessons there and I learned a lot about myself and resiliency there.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:36:10    I imagined that you would, and I was actually thinking that that would probably be one of your answers to that question because that it had to be difficult where there would be that resistance to that change. Long-standing tradition, men only, and then now all of a sudden it’s wide open to the women, and that probably would make a lot of people kind of hesitant to that type of change. And may come to you as if this was your thing in your eyes. Like you masterminded this whole plan and everything, and you were the face of it.  But like any good soldier does, you’re following orders, and this was your job basically.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:37:02    It’s not like you needed to have any kind of personal attacks or anything like that, because what could that do for anyone really at that point? Regardless of what your beliefs are, your opinion is on women in the Rangers or whatever, you’re just doing your job at that point. You figured that that would probably be one of the things that you were talking about,  in terms of your gritty experiences.  I can’t imagine that that would have been an easy thing to do. It probably required quite a bit of grit to accomplish. So, I’m glad you mentioned that.

David Fivecoat  00:37:47    It was an amazing experience. I’m glad I had the opportunity to go through it. Two comments. First off, I was lampooned by the Duffel blog twice during that experience. And so I considered that a career highlight that I made it into a Duffel blog twice. The first one was that I was going to institute the pickle jar opening test as part of the ranger school curriculum. The other one was after we had a bunch of Rangers hit by lightning while the women were there. I would be remiss if I did not talk about it, but the three women that graduated and earned their ranger tab, which was Kristen Grice Shaver, and Lisa Jaster, they had incredible grit. They persevered against the odds. They were glass ceiling breakers.  

David Fivecoat    00:38:39   One of the more interesting stories out of it, part of ranger school is you have to do a 12-mile foot March with about 60 pounds of gear. You have to do it in three hours. It’s an out six-mile,  turnaround come back in six miles and Kristen Grice on her third time through the Benning phase of ranger school, because she went through it once failed, went through it twice failed, got the opportunity to take a day one recycling. And on her third time through she actually finished third overall out of about 180 ranger students in the road March. It was one of the tipping points. And one of the things that started establishing credibility within the ranger instructors, a little bit wider than, when folks heard, Hey, she finished third overall and the road March. It’s a testament to their grit.  They had an incredible amount of grit and were super proud of them. They’ve got all three gone on and done great things, in the army and out of the army, and they’ve represented ranger school and the army exceptionally well.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:39:51    That’s great. That was able to be displayed through those individuals and honestly, anyone who’s made it through ranger school, male or female, I think is,  has their own level of grit, to get through that because it’s not an easy school to go through. But especially for the first females to go through.  You probably have that self-doubt in that fear of failure you don’t want to be the first woman to go through ranger school and also be the first woman to fail going through ranger school. How can grit help someone overcome that feeling of fear of failure when trying to accomplish these big goals that they may have? 

David Fivecoat   00:40:44   That’s one of the components that I talk about, in the book on grit, how do you deal with the fear of failure? Because if it is a gritty goal, undoubtedly, once again, you’re pushing boundaries, it’s out of your comfort zone, and you’re risking something. In the military, everyone approaches risky situations differently. I don’t know if you went through airborne school, but one of the ways in airborne school, you try to get over folks’ fears of jumping out of planes. There’s this sort of group approach to it. And you have a jumpmaster that yells out commands and the entire aircraft echoes those commands. And that’s one of the ways, and you’ve got this whole ritual that you’ve gone over and you do the exact same way every single time.  

David Fivecoat    00:41:30    Well,  that doesn’t do well to things that aren’t this group activity, it works great in getting you to jump out of an aircraft. I had the opportunity to do that over a hundred times in the army. I was still scared. don’t get me wrong, but one of the best things that I think is a way to deal with your fears. When you’re going after these big goals you have to list your fears and you’ve got to acknowledge that they’re there and these fears will manifest themselves in different ways.  It’s not like you’re scared, but you may see yourself procrastinating, you may see yourself getting distracted or doing other things, and that’s how your fear sort of manifests itself. The best tool that I found for folks is to list their fears.  

David Fivecoat   00:42:27    What’s the worst thing that can happen because of that fear and then a mitigating strategy to help you deal with that fear. I’ll give an example. When I founded the company in 2020, I said, Hey, what’s the worst that can happen?” And the worst thing that I had to happen is like,  nobody’s interested in buying what I’m selling. I don’t make any money off of it.  I end up significantly poorer than I started out when I founded the company. I was like, okay, well, my mitigation strategy. And my mitigation strategy was, Hey, I’m going to do this for a year. And at the year mark, I’m going to take stock and evaluate it. And if it’s going well, I’ll continue it. If it’s not, I will fold up shop and go find a different job and put my resume out there and go find something else to do. Fortunately for me, I got to March of 2021, the business had picked up some consulting contracts and some clients and things were rolling along. And I said, okay, well, I’ll stick this out for another year. And we’re closing into March of 2022. I’ll have to take an evaluation on that, on it at that point in time. But, things are going pretty well right now. And, I think I’ll keep doing it for one more year,

Scott DeLuzio    00:43:50    Pencil in another year for that. Okay, good.  

David Fivecoat   00:43:54    You may see some parallels between that and the Hey, I’m going to stick her out in the army till it stops being a fun kind of approach, in the army.

Scott DeLuzio    00:44:07    And fun is a relative term too because you can enjoy things that other people might think suck. you can have fun, you may enjoy going on long ruck marches or whatever. Other people might be like, ah, that’s for somebody else. That’s not me. Or you may enjoy jumping out of airplanes. And I’ve always said,  no, I haven’t gone through airborne school, but I’ve always said to people, if I go up in a perfectly good airplane with a perfectly good pair of shoes, I’m going to land in a perfectly good airplane with a perfectly good pair of shoes.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:44:42    I would much rather the way and that way then on my feet. So, but that’s just me. If my job was going through airborne school, I probably would not make it too long because that fear of Heights is just too intense for me. And it probably wouldn’t work out, but I did like what you were saying about that fear of failure and having those mitigation strategies in place, and obviously, it’s going to be different for every situation that you’re going through, starting a business.  You want to know, okay, if in the absolute worst-case scenario and you make no money over the next, however many months, how long can you go?  

Scott DeLuzio    00:45:29    What kind of savings do you have? What kind of financial resources do you have available to you that you can put towards this so that you can still keep the lights on and put food on the table and things to provide for your family. Because that’s a very scary thing, to wake up one morning and see a negative bank account balance because you’ve overdrawn your account because now you haven’t made money in the last six months, nine months or whatever knowing that you had enough money to last you a certain amount of time, gives you that, that goal, it’s like, okay, well, if I can’t make anything in the next year, then I’m going to have to do something else. But that at least gives you an opportunity to try something that’s new, maybe a little scary pushes you outside of the comfort zone.  But, it lets you do that without really worrying too much about the failure side of things because in the worst-case scenario, you can always find something else. 

David Fivecoat   00:46:43    Well, in a newfound appreciation for small business owners and the amount of risk that they take in because if you don’t have a client coming in the front door,  you’re not making payroll, you’re not building your business. You’re not putting food on the table. And I went the entire third quarter of 2020 without a client. And, a lot of times I’m like, Hey, this is as scary as some things that I went through in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I didn’t appreciate that until I became a small business owner. I think you’ve got that same sort of perspective now and I don’t know if it was the same for you with you starting up your business, but it’s tough.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:47:29     And when I started my business, I was the only one who was working. And, she was staying at home with the kids. We had her here at home and it was kind of scary for the first couple of months. It wasn’t like money was just pouring in. Anyone who just starts a business knows that it’s usually pretty slow in the first couple of months. And then things started to pick up a little bit and got a little bit better. But, in those first couple of months, it was kind of a nail-biter. I didn’t know how much longer I’d be able to continue doing it because I did have to put food on the table.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:48:14    I had to provide for my family and my wife and my three kids. And,  I couldn’t bring the money and I had to figure it out some way,  it definitely could be scary. And, we think about making it successful in terms of just the financial aspect, but how much money you take in, but there’s a ton of other things that as a small business owner you have to be responsible for as well insurance and all that kind of stuff. Aree things that you need to worry about where if you had a corporate job somewhere you get these benefits, of your health and dental and vision and all these other benefits that come along with it.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:49:02, But now you’re the sole person responsible for it. And, so that gives you a lot more to think about. and it’s not just doing the same job that you would have been doing. Had you been working for somebody else? You have a ton of other things that you have to worry about as well.  So it’s difficult. It’s scary at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for any other experiences, because I think I’ve learned so much and grown so much professionally that I don’t know that I’d be able to do that working for somebody else,  How can someone who we’re talking about, like the goal-setting before, there’s some of those specific measurable, actionable, achievable goals how can someone do a better job at goal setting to accomplish their goals? What are some, some tips,  quick tips that, maybe they might be able to use, to accomplish some of these goals?  

David Fivecoat   00:50:06     Another idea that works really well for a lot of stuff. Especially for myself, is to break the goal down into smaller pieces. I’m big on having to-do lists, and I’ve always got a to-do list, and, but I find myself not making progress on a bigger goal if I don’t break it down into several smaller goals and go, okay, today I’m going to read this article. Tomorrow I’m going to write the blog post the day after I’ll edit it and whatever, but to break it down into smaller pieces is one key thing. The other one that I think is incredibly powerful is the power of the streak. And I don’t know if it works for you but there you can see it.  Down to the simplest bit.  With the fact that if you’ve got a Fitbit or an Apple Watch or a Garmin, you’re tracking your steps every day, and you’re trying to see if you can get to that magic number.  

David Fivecoat   00:51:13    You like to see that you’re on a streak and you’ve continued to walk X number of steps every day for the last 288 days, but that idea of a streak and actually doing something. And, one of my new year’s resolutions this year was to do dry January, which is to try not to drink alcohol during the month of January. And I had done it last year, so I figured why not try it again this year? And I’m probably not going to mess up and drink alcohol these last seven days because I’ve got this streak going. And that’s another sort of simple tool to think about, take it to a little bit bigger level when I was running the book.  

David Fivecoat    00:52:06   My goal was every day to do something for 15 minutes on the book. And most days I did a lot more than 15 minutes. but my minimum standard was, Hey, I’m going to do 15 minutes on something. And it could have been as simple as looking for pictures or formatting a slide or editing a chapter or writing a chapter. But I had to do something every day until I at least got the book to a point where I was happy with it and could send it out to some friends and then eventually send it out to a professional editor.  But those kinds of things, that idea of using that streak as a way to help you get closer to your goal, is incredibly powerful.  As I get older, same thing with physical fitness, I tend to not like to be there’s some folks that advocate, well you should work out six days a week and take a day off.  As I get older, I gotta do something and maybe it’s just walking that day, or maybe it’s just stretching. I have found that getting off of the bandwagon as it would be a physical fitness or in the case of the book or, or whatever,  makes it exceptionally tough to get back on and get yourself moving towards that goal. 

Scott DeLuzio    00:53:25    You’re saying, and for the people who are listening, they probably couldn’t see my reaction. But when David started saying some of the things that he was just talking about, I had a big smile on my face because I knew exactly what you were talking about. A few years ago, I had a goal that I set for myself that I wanted to do, 50,000 pushups and 50,000 sit-ups in the course of a year. Whatever day I started it on I wanted to do it by that day, the following year. Like what you said, I divided it out 50,000 by 365 days. And I said, I needed to, in that, that worked out to like 137 or something like that, repetitions I needed to do every single day.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:54:16    It didn’t mean I had to do them all in one sitting I could do, I could do 10. Now I could do 10 later. I could do it. As long as at the end of the day, I’ve done 137 ish pushups and sit-ups, then I’d be on track to meet my goal. There were a few days that maybe I got sick and I just wasn’t in what I wasn’t able to cause I was, I wasn’t going to be doing sit-ups if I was going to be throwing up all of the things. Now those are not the ones that I wanted to do. So then after I felt better, I knew that I had to do it if I was out for a day or two, I knew I had to make those up.  

Scott DeLuzio     00:54:58     I wouldn’t necessarily double that the next day, but I would break that out over, over the next week and I would do, however many I missed, I’d add that up. That way I get back on track, even though I knew I fell behind, I’d be able to get back on track. AI made it that I could get on, on track, and I made it a daily thing.  I set forth every single day I was going to do that., and, and I did it and at the end of the year, time period, I achieved that goal and I hit that 50,000 mark. And it was something that it was easier to achieve because I had that goal. If anyone is interested in learning a language,  there’s an app called Duolingo and they do the same thing that you were just talking about. They provide a streak for the number of days in a row that you’ve practiced, whatever language. It doesn’t matter if you have multiple languages.  

Scott DeLuzio    00:56:04    If you’ve gone through all of one language like if you’ve gone through all the Spanish or all of French or whatever, and then you move on to another language, it keeps that same street going for you, but it’s one of those things where, I think I’m now at like 930 days or something in a row that I’ve, I’ve used this app every single day. no matter what, no matter what I had going on that day, I still found 10 or 15 minutes to sit down and open it up and practice something.  I made it all the way through the German course there.  I started the Spanish course, which I took in high school and earlier in school. I have a good foundation for that, but I wanted to challenge myself with something that I never did before. And, I’d never spoken any German before. And I went all the way through the course from beginning to end, and now I have a decent understanding of the language, but, but you’re right, that streak and that consistency really, really helped with that.  

David Fivecoat   00:57:06    Right. And the toughest part is actually starting that streak. the first day that you did do a lingo, you probably weren’t thinking that you were going to get to 967 or whatever the number is right now. But once you overcome that, your internal resistance to it can get that street going. And, and what I’ve found is usually it’s at about the two to three-week mark. If you can get a streak past three weeks, you’re, you can pretty much sustain it for a while because you’ve, you’ve established that habit. It’s a new and different habit, and I’m sure there’s nights where you’re, it gets to be like 10 o’clock and you’re getting ready for bed. And you’re like, darn it. I did not do Duolingo today. I need to go, knock it out.

Scott DeLuzio     00:57:48    And it’s like an itch that you just can’t scratch. And then it’s like, oh, I got to do something about this. Right. And you’re right. That is one way to stay consistent with it is having that streak that, whether it’s an app that keeps track of it for you, or you just know that, okay, I did exercise today? you don’t need an app to tell you that you can do that pretty, pretty easily on your own or whatever it is for the goal that you have. you, you just do it consistently. 0 minutes a day is enough to learn that particular language over a period of time. and, and so it doesn’t have to be this huge long three, four hours of whatever.  you just set these small goals and break it up into bite-size pieces, and you’ll get there eventually at some point, it depends on what it is, how long it will take you, but, you’ll, you’ll get there,  

David Fivecoat   00:58:56    Right. And, what is great is the enemy of good or, or whatever. And doing 10 minutes a day is much easier, than trying to find the perfect four hours to write a book or, or do a language or whatever. Just say, Hey, look, I’m doing 10 or 15 minutes of whatever it is. If you can’t, you’ve gotta be able to find the time to do it, and, you can do it. I do think the visual aspect of, of Duolingo where you can actually see your streak, physical fitness, you can remember, but sometimes, especially if you’re trying to start a new habit, it helps to at least have a physical calendar and maybe put an X on every day that you worked out or, use some sort of app that actually helps you track that, that, that kind of streak, because, it helps to remind you when you get to the 967th night, and you’re like, darn it. I gotta go do my 10 minutes.. You don’t blow that streak.  

Scott DeLuzio      00:59:56    That’s the last thing I want to do right now. I don’t want to lose that streak. It’s like in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. Like I’ve achieved quite a bit with it, but,  if it goes back down to zero, I’d be pissed at myself.  

David Fivecoat  01:00:09    Right. I found when I blow a streak, for whatever reason, It’s much tougher to get back on the wagon and start that streak again. I was at 500 nights of getting my 10,000 steps in and now I blew it because something happened  

Scott DeLuzio    01:00:32    If something comes up. I want to give you a few minutes to talk about your book and tell us about it, where people can find it and what it’s all about.  

David Fivecoat    01:00:42    The book is called, Grow your Grit came out in July, it’s available on both, Amazon and Barnes and Noble, It’s had 21, 5-star reviews, so far. I hope people that your listeners go find it on either of those websites and take a look at it. Hopefully, it gives them some ideas on how to enhance their personal grit and helps them accomplish some of their bigger goals. That is the first half of the book. And then the second half of the book is if you’re a leader of an organization, how do you incorporate grit and develop grit into that gritty organization? And so there’s two parts of the book. I hope it helps your listeners. I hope one person out there takes a look at it. I hope it helps them grow their personal grit and accomplish some of their goals.  

Scott DeLuzio     01:01:41     I do too. and I will have links to the book in the show notes. So anyone who’s listening to this, check out the show notes for that information where you can find the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or you can just go and search for it on there like you would for any other book, but with a nice, quick and easy link. I’ll put in the show notes for you. David, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today and chatting about grit. I’m sure we probably could keep going and talking for quite a while here. Where can people go to get in touch with you and find out more about your consulting in the type of work that you do, forum for organizations?  

David Fivecoat    01:02:20    I have a website, Google, it shows up in, and all the Google searches are. You can check out my services page and see if executive coaching might be right for you or your team. I host some off-sites that are leadership opportunities to help grow the leadership of teams. And then I also go and do keynote speeches and workshops,  at organizations, would love to help your team out or you individually as an executive coach. If folks would check it out on the website at,  I would love to have an opportunity to talk to them and see what their challenges are, and see if I might be able to help them.  

Scott DeLuzio     01:03:12    Excellent. And I will have a link to that in the show notes as well. Again, go check that out. If that sounds like something that would benefit you or your organization check out his website, and book some time with David to help out you and your organization. Again, David, thank you for joining me on the show today. I’m really happy that we got a chance to chat and look forward to hearing more from you in the future.  

David Fivecoat    01:03:38    Thanks. Thanks so much for having me and thanks for all the things that you’re doing for the veterans, out there with this podcast.  I know I enjoyed the couple of sessions that I got to listen to some of your guests and they gave me some good ideas on things to do. And thanks again for having me.  

Scott DeLuzio     01:03:56    I’m glad to have you. Thank you. Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website We’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube Drive On Podcast. 

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