The Happy Engineer Podcast

045: Master Your Mental Edge with Nerd and Navy SEAL Josiah Kauffman

What’s been the toughest test of your life? Did it involve being underwater, with your instructor shutting off your oxygen, pushing your body to its physical limits, feeling immense fear, all while being graded on perfect procedures?

Did I mention most people fail, and you only get four attempts to pass?

In this episode, meet former Navy SEAL operator, Josiah Kauffman. He is a self-proclaimed complete nerd in high school, who felt a calling to serve after the tragic events of 9/11 and trained his way to the top of the top for elite warriors. He understands better than anyone the importance of having a mental edge.

After serving in combat, Josiah instructed 400+ men in Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL (BUD/S) training. Arguably the toughest training program on earth.

Now he brings his elite performance training and tactical leadership experience to the civilian sector, and is the founder of The Warrior Calling.

The nerd didn’t leave him while on tour, as Josiah also holds a Masters Degree in Cybersecurity. How many humans can teach you elite self-defense, and protect you on the internet?

>> So press play and let’s chat… it’s time for Basic Engineer Mental Edge training!


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Perspective is pretty powerful in our lives. 

Speaking with Josiah Kaufman about training for the Navy SEALs absolutely provided some perspective. What it really looks like to do something that’s scary. Facing fear, building courage and confidence in our lives and in our careers.

Listen to this full conversation, and enjoy getting a taste of the Warrior Calling. I want to highlight a couple of key areas and focus your attention and action.


First, having a Warrior Mindset. 

What do you do when you hit your breaking point? When you’ve hit that point where the body’s given up and it’s asking the mind, why are we here? As engineering leaders, that might not be from a workout, but from burning the candle on both ends. And not just at work, but feeling the constant hustle of work and personal life putting pressure on all sides. Why keep going?

I don’t know if you caught this or not, but Josiah shared that you don’t go inward at that moment. 

You don’t find Navy SEALs going inward, to a “why” that matters just for themselves. Where they go is outward to why this matters for how much they care about others. How much they love the brothers on either side of them, how much they love their family. In Josiah’s case, how much he loves and appreciates the sacrifice and the courage that his grandfather had shown as a World War II survivor.

We live in a world that glorifies the self. And I’m not saying that self is bad. We talk a lot about the importance of self-care, the fact that you cannot GIVE something that you do not HAVE. Being a little selfish sometimes is exactly what you need to do. 

If you’ve gone to the other side of this coin, and all you’re doing is giving and serving, that seems noble on the surface. But if you’re putting others before yourself in a way that’s hurting your own health, to where you have nothing left to give, and you’re burned out, you’re tired, you’re fatigued, you’re not present for your family… Then you’re not serving anybody. 

I love this warrior mindset that it’s not about going inward, it’s about going outward to the people who you love and care about. 

So ask yourself, “When it really comes down to it, what is my driving force and why do I continue to build my career to the next level?” So when you hit that moment where your brain breaks (and I know it’s not going to look the same as being in SEAL training), when you don’t feel like you know how to move forward, or you just don’t want to anymore, WHO are you doing this for? 

That’s going to be the fuel that actually gets you through. 


Next, building a mental edge.

Josiah is 100% correct. There will always be another smart person in the room. So you’re going to need to do something to create a mental edge beyond understanding the textbooks and technology. 

  • An edge that comes from courage and confidence. 
  • A belief in yourself that is unshakable, no self-doubt. 
  • Knowing that you have what it takes to face any unknown situation.

And then on the other side of that challenge is exhilaration. That type of mental edge is rare among engineering leaders.

You may struggle with a sense of imposter syndrome, with low self-confidence, or a lot of self doubt which blocks you from moving forward. So how do you build a mental edge? 

Do something that scares you every day.

Mental edge is like a muscle. It is a muscle that we flex and strengthen just like a bicep or any other muscle. So let’s talk about a couple of examples. 

Start with what’s known as approach anxiety. This is key to your networking skills and your ability to walk into any social situation and have an impact. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert does not matter. Your ability to step into those situations, break the ice and confidently communicate is crucial. Do not let those emotions of fear and anxiety prevent you from being at your best.

You can start small. Maybe for you that looks like reaching out to some people in your industry who you don’t know on LinkedIn. Send a connection request, and do some direct messaging. Once you get past that, move to inviting them for a quick phone call.

Take it up a level from there by scheduling a video chat. Or even better, a live face-to-face get together. That could happen at a conference or at an industry event. 

You can do this at work as well. Go meet that new colleague who just started and you haven’t actually taken time to go and connect with them yet. Go introduce yourself to the Director or the VP or the CTO when you’re at the town hall meeting and they’re speaking. Walk up to the front of the room immediately afterwards, shake their hand, and thank them for their presentation. Introduce yourself, let them know what you’re working on. 

Take an action that scares you every day.

I give more examples in the debrief of this episode. I want you to really take this seriously. Find something that scares you every day. If you go 1, 2, 3, 7, 21, a hundred days in a row without doing something that scares you, I can assure you that courage and confidence is going to atrophy. Just like your bicep will, if you stop doing curls. And just like your engineering knowledge will, if you stop applying it in your work.

So what’s something you can do that scares you today? Take action on it NOW. Don’t wait for tomorrow to start.

That’s the kind of attitude a top performer brings. 

I hope this episode was challenging for you. If making a huge impact and having an incredible life was easy, everyone would be doing it. It should be a challenge! 

Keep going, and keep getting out of your comfort zone.

Let’s do this!


Previous Episode 044: Meet Your Host – Reverse Interview with Zach White




Josiah is a former nerd turned elite warrior, a Navy SEAL operator and BUD/S Instructor of 400+ trainees. Now out of the SEALs, he brings his elite performance training and tactical leadership experience to the civilian sector and is Founder of The Warrior Calling.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Leadership, a Masters in Cyber Security, and is an Extreme Performance Training (XPT) Certified Performance Breathing Coach.

Currently residing in San Diego, California, he trains most weeks in Coronado and spends the majority of his free time with his wife, two boys, and their two boxers.





Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.

[00:00:00] Zach White: Josiah. Awesome to have you here. Welcome to the Happy Engineer Podcast. Can’t thank you enough for making time today, man. 

[00:00:08] Josiah Kaufman: You bet brother. Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to it. It’s been great getting to know you, I guess we’ve been in the same coach training program for the past, what, like year together?

[00:00:17] Zach White: It’s been a year.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:18] That’s crazy. It feels like I just 

[00:00:20] Josiah Kaufman: met you first event. And then the second one and brother. So yeah, it’s been awesome. Getting to know you, I’m pumped to be here on your,

[00:00:28] Zach White: podcast. Awesome. Well, thanks again. And so just, just to set the stage. You know, I spent most of my professional life in front of a keyboard or a whiteboard.

[00:00:39] And you have spent the majority of your life in places that may be classified, or you’re not even allowed to talk about where you were just an ex Navy seal and now trainer and coach of aspiring seals

[00:00:53] Tell us a little bit about what is a day in the life? What is it really like to be a Navy? [00:01:00] 

[00:01:00] Josiah Kaufman: Yeah, I’ll definitely dig into that. So, uh, I guess we’ll start back kind of a little bit before my time in the seal teams are kind of what led me to that as well, because I think a lot of, a lot of people are like, have you always wanted to be a seal?

[00:01:10] Is this something that just kind of randomly came up? Why didn’t you want to do this? And really it stemmed from being in high school when nine 11 happened was really when I felt the calling to serve my country and. I came from a background where my parents were not in favor of, of war or anything like that.

[00:01:29] So going kind of against what they wanted me to do, but I felt called to go serve. And I knew that if I was going to serve, I was going to go do the best that I could. I was going to become the best that I could. And obviously everybody knows the seal teams is the best, right? So that’s when I went and me being a very skinny.

[00:01:46] Uh, at the time in high school, I was like, yeah, I gotta train you, not going to train hard. And I got to do a lot of work before I can actually be ready for making it through basic underwater, demolition, seal training, you know, buds. I have to, I have to prep for [00:02:00] that. 

[00:02:01] Zach White: Hold on. I gotta say skinny kid skinny.

[00:02:03] Like, what are we talking? 

[00:02:05] 046 – Josiah Kaufman – The Happy Engineer Podcast:

[00:02:05] Josiah Kaufman: was still in high school. I was probably like, you know, 150 pounds soaking wet. Um, and if you think of what, you know, you look at, when you think of what a Navy seal should look like. Definitely wasn’t that growing up? Yeah. I was beat up as a little kid. I was. I was a complete nerd and I just, you know, I ha I was picked on and I, I felt this like, yeah, I got to, in one way, I have to, I want to serve my country the way I gotta prove myself.

[00:02:24] Yeah, I need to do something great in life. And I want to do something that not many people can accomplish. So I had those kind of driving 

[00:02:32] Zach White: factors. You and I would have been good friends in high school. I was, you know, 5, 10, 1 35. And, um, you know, there, there wasn’t any, any Navy seal printed on my chest either, but, uh, okay.

[00:02:43] So here you are. You’re not the prototype of, you know, the guy who’s going to go and become a seal, but you had that spark that just, Hey, I’m called to the. And I want to go be the best. So, so tell us about where that blood keeping up. 

[00:02:58] Josiah Kaufman: Yeah, so I, I spent three years [00:03:00] training, so after I finished high school, I spent three years trying to figure out how to train and how to get my body ready for buds.

[00:03:06] There’s only a couple of books that were written about being a Navy seal. What it was all like. This is back in 2005 2005. Uh, there wasn’t a lot of information. So I just did a lot of things. I tried a bunch of different stuff to try to train my body, train my mind, because I knew that. Making it through buds is going to be, there’s a massive part of it.

[00:03:25] That’s mental is a mental preparation side of it and there’s a physical side and they both, you both have to have, you have to have two solid legs underneath you. When you walk across that quarter deck. When you check in at that training command in Cornado, you need to be strong mentally as well as physically.

[00:03:40] So I knew I had a long ways to go. So I gave myself three years to train. Wow. Yeah, I think it was, I mean, I, I would say I should have trained more to, you know, cause you always, you can always do more, right. You know, it’s train hard. You can, it doesn’t matter what you want to do in life. There’s always something you can do to get better.

[00:03:54] But at some point you have to pull the trigger. You have to say, I’m committing, I’m moving forward with this. [00:04:00] It doesn’t matter what you do. You can train for your whole life, but if you never push forward towards what you want to do, it’s never going to happen. You’re never going to be a hundred percent fully prepared.

[00:04:10] And I knew I wasn’t, but I knew what I wanted. I had a very strong why, the reason why I do this. And so I felt like I got to do this. I’m going to pull the trigger and make this happen three years into training. 

[00:04:22] Zach White: So where are you in the head you enlisted in the Navy at that time? Or were you just kind of working a job and training nights and weekends?

[00:04:29] Or like what, what do you mean by three years of training? What was it. 

[00:04:32] Josiah Kaufman: Yeah. So my parents told me, Hey, we want you to get a, we want you to do something safe. So I want you to get a business degree, at least go to college. And I grew up in central coast, California. So San Luis Obispo area, and I went to community college there called Questa.

[00:04:48] And I basically, I took, I took like one or two business classes. Everything else I did at the community college level was run, cross country, swim on the swim team. I did weightlifting. I did all the things that I could do on the side to [00:05:00] prepare my body while fulfilling what they wanted me to do with kind of going into business route and.

[00:05:05] Obviously I knew what I wanted, but at the same time I wanted to tell my parents, Hey, I’m going to give this a go. I’m going to try out what you’re telling me. And after a year or two of community college, I was like, I told my parents, you know, I’m just not, it’s not for me. You know, it’s just not for me, the business where I don’t want to, I don’t want to do that right now.

[00:05:24] It’s just not for me. I want to serve my as and Navy seal. I had to make the decision for myself, which as a 1920 year old kid making a decision to do something like that. You know, sign your life away. This is, uh, the middle of, you know, this is like 2005, 2006. So there’s still been, there’s been a lot of stuff going on in Afghanistan and they knew that, I mean, there’s a war going on.

[00:05:46] Right. We knew that that’s where I was probably going to go at some point is being some tie in some type of battle or some type of a war zone. And so obviously your parents don’t want you to go into something like that, but I knew that this was. But I felt [00:06:00] called to do what I wanted to do. So anyways, yeah. Finally enlisted. I went to the recruiter enlisted and this was know, this is 2005. I was, I had a little bit of time beforehand, but I knew that this is what I needed to do. I still train hard all the way up to the last possible second I could. But like I said, at some point you have to pull the trigger and you have to go, whether you’re a hundred percent ready or not.

[00:06:23] And so I showed up, I went to Bud’s or actually went to bootcamp first, which everybody has to go. If you’re enlisted, everybody knows that you go through enlisted bootcamp in Illinois, and then you show up at buds with a contract. That’s the job. You get selected for, so showed up here in Cornado and rolled into a class that was a winner there hell week.

[00:06:43] So there’s different, there’s different classes that go through. So there’s three phases of basic underwater demolition training. And, when you start. It kind of random when you do start, cause there’s a process of going into the military and then by the time you show up here, you don’t know if you’re going to get a winter, winter hell week class or a summer class.

[00:06:59] [00:07:00] And the winter class has always have a higher attrition rate. And just the way that it is, right, the water is colder. It’s the wind is stronger. The waves are higher in the ocean. So more kids drop out, uh, in, during the winter classes and ended up getting in a winter class and, uh, It’s really there’s, there’s a process of going through first phase that it’s, you have to think of it this way.

[00:07:20] It’s six month job interview is buds that six months of job interview. It’s not, you’re going to show up there and. Trained to be a Navy seal. Cause you don’t really learn that much during buds. You learn a little bit about shooting a little bit of diving some tactics, but nothing too crazy. It’s really, if you think about it, it’s a job interview for six months.

[00:07:39] They’re figuring out if you have what it takes to be a Navy seal during that six months. Wow. And that’s what you’ll see. Attrition rates go from 160 guys, 180 guys that start and they’ll be down to 20 guys at the end of that. That’s attrition right now. Wow. It’s been consistent that way. So it’s, it’s, it’s a crazy ride [00:08:00] when you’re there.

[00:08:00] Zach White: Mean it’s such a sad, I mean, I know we could talk for days about all the experiences buds, but can you tell us what for you personally was the, the most trying. Experience or moment if there was any moment that you might’ve considered dropping out, which we know you didn’t, but if, if like what was the one that got the closest to that point?

[00:08:19] Maybe it was still a distance for you before you would have said I’m out, but, but like where, where was the point where you got the closest. Like, wow, this is fast. 

[00:08:27] Josiah Kaufman: It’s tough. There was a few moments. I knew. I knew that I had the mental capacity to make it through, but your body at some point will break your body.

[00:08:36] At some point we’ll, we’ll call it quits. And your bodies, your, your legs are going to walk over to the bell and ring out. If your mind isn’t strong enough because your body is going to be hurting so bad and you’re going to be chafed. You’re going to be cold, wet, and Sandy, you want to bring out your body’s done.

[00:08:51] So your body’s going to be asking your mind, why are we staying here? Why are we going through this? Why are we continuing to move on? That happened for me on, I think it was Tuesday night of hell, week. [00:09:00] Most guys have that it’s that you’ve been up for 48 hours at this point. And. Your mind starts playing games with you.

[00:09:09] You’re not quite sure what’s happening. You’re always moving. You’re always doing stuff. There’s a rotation of instructors that new rotation comes in every, you know, every cycle. And so you get a fresh batch of instructors and then you’re, you’re just running, running all the time, running with a bone in your head, running with logs and.

[00:09:27] You’ll see your friends that you thought were well, actually they are stronger than you. A lot of them you’ll, you’ll be there with studs, right? The best, the best that our country has to offer shows up to buds the top of the top. And you’ll see those guys, you’ll see some of those guys quit. And when that happens, you’re like, well, why, you know, why am I staying here?

[00:09:46] If this guy just quit? He’s the fastest guy in her class. He’s mentally strong. And he’s always fired up whatever. And so you have to have something that like, we always talk about your why. Like, if you want something bad enough, you have to have a good reason why, because there’s going to be challenges in life where you’re gonna have to tap [00:10:00] into grit.

[00:10:00] It’s not always going to be easy and it doesn’t matter what you do. Whether you want to get a college degree, you want to get that high level job. You want to become a Navy seal. You become a doctor, whatever it is. Somewhat challenging. You’re going to have to tap into grit at some point that sticktuitiveness.

[00:10:15] And if you’re, if you don’t have a good reason, why. That you’re going to, you’re going to go through that fire, whatever it is, you staying up late working or, you know, doing internships for, you know, working 10 hour days or, or more than that, whatever it is. If you don’t have grit, you’re not gonna be able to make it.

[00:10:31] And that grit is it always taps into your why and my, why had nothing to do with being a Navy seal? when I was going through hell week, I wasn’t thinking about man, it’d be cool. When I jumped out of a plane, when I get to shoot guns, I wasn’t thinking about that stuff. I was thinking about. My grandfather, I was thinking about people that mattered to me.

[00:10:48] I was thinking about the impact I wanted to have. I was thinking about the legacy before me. I was thinking about serving my country. I was thinking about a lot of different things, but not necessarily [00:11:00] the job, you know, and that’s. Always realize you’re not going to be when you’re going through the hard times.

[00:11:04] You’re not going to be thinking about man, I, you want to be a doctor, man. I can’t wait to be doing this surgery down the road. Right. I can’t wait to be doing this job. You’re gonna be thinking about man. I can’t wait to have impact in my family’s life by making this amount of money, being able to live wherever we want or whatever it is your, why has nothing to do many times nothing to do with that actual.

[00:11:25] Right. And so if you don’t ha if you’re always just thinking about the job, you’re just, I’m going to go and I’m going to go do, I’m going to go really hard on this. I’m going to go crush this. And the only reason why is because you want that title. Yeah, then you’re probably not going to make it because your mind is like, it’s not, it’s not that exciting.

[00:11:45] There’s no emotional attachment to it. Uh, there’s there’s so much there that you have to make sure that you have a strong, why it’s so important because you can not tap into grit or sticktuitiveness. If you don’t have a strong why it doesn’t happen. So you’ll see guys that show up the buds are like, oh, I wanted to be a Navy seal because it looked [00:12:00] cool.

[00:12:00] I saw, I read some books, saw some movies and then they’re over there ringing out. And you’re like, bro, why did you, you know what happened? You said you were not going to quit. And like, I just didn’t want to bad enough. 

[00:12:09] Zach White: Yeah. So there you are. What Sandy chafed bought body says I’m out. And I liked the way you phrase that question.

[00:12:19] You know, the, the body asks. Why are we still doing this? I don’t think, you know, for me as an engineering leader, it’s of course ever to that extreme, but I can remember times when. You know, you’re working long hours or you’re working on a problem that feels like it’s beyond your ability to solve, or you don’t know what’s, you know what the solution is.

[00:12:41] It feels blind to you, how you’re going to move forward from here. And there are those moments where you kind of catch yourself being like, why, why am I here? What am I doing? So the body asks the mind, you know, you’re in that moment, like, what does it actually look like to say from a place of grit and [00:13:00] stick to it?

[00:13:00] But we’re staying, like, just talk to us about crossing the chasm of. 

[00:13:07] Josiah Kaufman: I think, uh, so my, I always always bring it back to something that, that matters to me. So my grandfather, he, he was in a concentration camp. He was, uh, uh, during world war II and he made it through and it was incredible story. I don’t have time to share right now, but really his legacy of what he went through and seeing how he, he took situations that happened there and turned them around.

[00:13:25] Made them better and how he lost his first wife during world war II and how he came back and turned his, turn, everything around and moving his family to, to Los Angeles and starting over in any case, seeing what he went through. And, and when I was going through hell week, I’ll always thinking about. No, this is a volunteer program and I can, I can keep moving.

[00:13:49] Like if you can go through all that, if you can go through all that, then I can keep moving through this. And so for me, it was you start, you don’t go inward with this stuff. You don’t go inward. You don’t say I’m just going to dig in deeper and go be [00:14:00] stronger for myself because internally we’re, we’re all weak.

[00:14:04] Right? We’re all weak. When you think about I’m going to go and I’m going to, if you think about warriors in of any age of any time period, They have, they have families. They have things that matter to them, but they, the reason is that the reason why they become lawyers is because they care so much. They care so much about the people that they love.

[00:14:17] And so they’re, they’re willing to die for them, right. They’re willing to die for those people that they love. And so, you know, you want to tap into the, all these characters that you need. So the courage, right? You need to have the determination, all that stuff. It matters. Nothing. If you don’t have any love for the people that you care about.

[00:14:35] Right. That’s your why, right? The people that you love, something that’s so deep to you. So when I was, when I was thinking about, yeah, man, you know, my body’s breaking right now. I don’t know if I should keep moving on. This is just, you know, you’re cold, wet, and Sandy, the next evolution is going to be. Uh, running down to the Del pits with logs, which is a long run, and you’re literally carrying a log, your chest carry, and you’re doing lunges, right.

[00:14:59] So it’s, you know, it’s, [00:15:00] it’s no fun. It’s not a walk in the park and you’re tired. Right. Cause you’ve been up and you know that there’s days in front of you, of this as well. And it’s, it’s going to be one of those things where your body taps out, but your mind. It says, no, I’m staying, you know, I’m staying and I will continue on until, until the job is done, even when you’re, even when you’re miserable.

[00:15:22] And it’s one of the decisions that everybody comes to, you’re going to reach it at some point, everybody says, yeah, this is, this is the defining moment. And it normally happens at night. It happens. Or it happens right before an evolution. When your mind is starting to ask questions saying, should we stay or not?

[00:15:36] So it happened to me and I decided to continue on. You’ll see people around you quit, but that’s you think about it? That’s it. That’s okay if people quit, right? that’s okay. It’s not your responsibility necessarily to keep everybody together, right? That’s not how it is not. Everybody’s cut out to be a Navy seal.

[00:15:53] And for the reason, is it the job you get to go do? It’s extremely high level and a high profile. You [00:16:00] can’t have somebody that’s going to be a liability down range, or you can’t trust the rack if they, if they turn around and they want to. In the middle of a, you know, a safe evolution, such as pool comp, where the instructors are there, turn off your air.

[00:16:13] They’re tying knots in your hose. You can’t breathe. And if, if you bolt to the service during that instructor staff saying, Hey, that kid might not be a good person to have in a seal platoon down range when bullets are actually flying right now in this controlled environment, in his swimming pool, this happens in second phase.

[00:16:30] So you make it through hell week in first phase, you go into second phase. Second phase is all about your. That’s where I was instructor for four years, we put guys in the situation where they’re in a safe environment and a swimming pool, nine feet deep. They’re learning how to dive with. They have a, you know, 20 of these on their back double hose regulator.

[00:16:48] And you’re putting them into scenarios where they blow out all the air out of their mouthpiece, right? They’re on an empty lungs and you pull that mouthpiece out and you tie it not their hose and you see what they do. Right. And you can tell a lot about a person [00:17:00] when. when their air source is gone and they have to go through procedures, they have to go through what they have to go through the steps.

[00:17:07] And we’re just up there watching them as they’re on their knees at the bottom of the pool, fixing their air hoses. If they miss a step, it’s a hit on them, they could fail that dive. There’s a culminates with OCA, which is open circuit number eight, which is the biggest test. They have to pass this, get four attempts to pass.

[00:17:29] I, it took me to my fourth attempt to pass the darn thing wow. Going through. And it’s, uh, it’s, it’s basically like an underwater rodeo where the instructor is spinning you around. They’re taking your tanks off your back. You’re literally in a battle with him under the water for X amount of time, and you have to follow procedures.

[00:17:46] You have to follow procedures and stay calm. The instructor staff is watching to see if you do, or you don’t because if you don’t, if you panic and literally it’s, there’s a safety diver right there, making sure everything’s safe. If you panic in that moment, what’s going to happen when you’re downrange [00:18:00] and somebody’s shooting at you.

[00:18:01] Are you gonna run? So the whole, the whole going through. We can talk about that a long time and why it’s the way it is. But we got to make sure that when you’re in a small unit downrange, you might be in a fire team of four dudes in the middle of a firefight somewhere overseas. You have to count on every single person, that small unit.

[00:18:20] We don’t have hundreds of dudes that can just show up and just, you know, run through a town and take care of things. We’re in small units, that’s the way we do business SDV teams, the mini subs. That’s where I worked for my first seal team. Was you have four guys in the mini sub and you’re out there off the coast of some country that if you were to go to war with that country, if we were to, if we were to pop up in our mini sub office, It would be bad news for everybody.

[00:18:47] So, yeah, because it’s so high profile missions that you go on, you have to make sure that buds maintains a standard of finding the right people for the job. And it’s not, everyone’s not cut out for it. 

[00:18:58] Zach White: It’s amazing. So, I mean, I [00:19:00] could sit and listen to these stories all day, just say, and I really appreciate you just kind of making it real for us about the kinds of pressure and what it’s all about.

[00:19:08] And so maybe the zoom out from the specifics of buds for a moment, Can you explain how you, how would you relate this idea of being calm and falling procedure under pressure and what it takes? To build that kind of resolve and mindset. Um, it kind of in the real world for the rest of us, like like would you articulate that and how do we strengthen that skill?

[00:19:31] How do we apply that skill in our own journey, maybe as engineering leaders listening to this or any in any place, what do you 

[00:19:38] Josiah Kaufman: think? Yeah, so that everybody can develop really is, and I think. Eh, just because you’re not going into buds. It doesn’t mean you, you don’t need to build your mental fortitude.

[00:19:49] And I think literally anything you go into, we need to have. Especially, if you have a high level job or you want to move into high level position, you have to have some bit of mental edge over, you know, even to just secure that job, you’re going to have [00:20:00] to maintain a mental edge over to everybody else.

[00:20:02] That’s a reality of life. I think it’s, it’s not just, we’re gonna, as you guys know, there’s not going to hand handout jobs. They’re not just going to hand out positions. You’re going to have to move up or qualified or whatever it might be. So what I would say. Do something that scares you every day. If you can.

[00:20:17] And it could be as simple as, uh, you know, I just think back to, to like when I was in high school asset girl on a date, right. The girl that you’re scared of, right. Ask do something scary that scares you. Maybe it’s even something deeper than that. Maybe it’s, uh, facing a fear that you have that could be physical.

[00:20:33] Maybe you’re just like, yeah. If I run, I feel like I’m gonna die. You know, we’ll face that fear and start running, just go running don’t nerd out about it and be like, I gotta get on this running plan. Just know, get up in the morning. First thing you do is go for a run face. The thing that you think is challenging for you, maybe it’s the water.

[00:20:49] Maybe, you know, if we’re talking physical, maybe it’s some water to start learn how to swim, find something that you can do every single day to get out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be massive. It’s going to be something very small. [00:21:00] And I I’m, I’m not a Navy seal anymore. I used to be it as a Navy seal.

[00:21:03] And while I was in the teams, I did things that were very uncomfortable that got me on my company. I’m out of the seal teams. Now I do things every day that get me out of my comfort zone. The cold water gets me out of my comfort zone. Now, like it’s always gotten me out of my comfort zone. Now it’d be something that you can use, something like that, you know, physical build that mental edge breathing work is.

[00:21:28] Right. Work is huge. We, the guys that coach training up to be seals, we work on, on the breathing techniques. That’s that’s huge too. So when you come into a state, like you’re going in for a job interview, uh, doing some breathing work prior to going in, there’s a, there’s a clarity, I guess it’s, uh, a refocusing breathing drill.

[00:21:44] I have, I teach all my kids. Because there’s a point where you’re going to, so the guys going into buds, they want to be a Navy seal or going through second phase. They’re going to do that test. I talked about the OSI number eight, which is the toughest test there. I teach [00:22:00] them this breathing technique where they can clear their mind, calm their heart rate, calm their body so that when they go into that, it’s a job interview, right there would go to that test.

[00:22:09] They’re able to move through it, clearly thinking of procedures. And we always fall back on procedures. you are doing any type of job and you have that baseline level, or you have, you’ve built your skills. The fall back on that fall back on what you know. And so when we think about a new skillset, there’s something we need to learn.

[00:22:29] Well, let’s master that. And then you go into that job interview or whatever it is that’s going to test that fall back on procedures. What you know, and go into what the clear minds that you can tap into that. I mean, I, I, I’ve been into some job interviews post my time in the Navy and. You got it. You have to learn how to calm your body, calm your heart rate, calm your breathing, calm, get some clarity mentally.

[00:22:50] Yes. Cause I’ve gone into some that either job interview or just some, maybe it was a work meeting or something like that. And you need to be present. 

[00:22:59] Zach White: Is this something [00:23:00] that you can actually share the breakdown of what that looks like? I know maybe if someone’s not watching the video, if they’re just seeing the audio, but what is, uh, the, the mechanics of this, you know, refocusing breathing.

[00:23:12] Josiah Kaufman: Yeah, I’ll, I’ll share it. So it’s nothing too like mind blowing, but you want to think about something where you can go into accounting sequence with your breathing, because if you’re just sitting there breathing and you’re not counting, then you’re a lot of times your mind can drift and you’re not actually refocusing.

[00:23:27] You’re just kind of, you know, we’re always breathing, but when you re do this refocusing drill, you want to count through your breaths. And I recommend. People breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth for the breathing, and you don’t need to do this for 30 minutes. You can do this for three or four cycles right before you’re about to go into whatever it is, you know, as a, maybe you’re racing your heart rate a little bit, you’re feeling your blood pressure rising.

[00:23:51] This is a good one to do. I’m not, I’m not going to go into the exact protocol, but really the con the concept behind. Is maybe between like a six, six to eight [00:24:00] seconds. Inhale you pause the top slightly. So it’s just going to be like a very, very short pause at the top. And then the, the, the magic behind it is the eight second exhale where it’s a longer, you can even go 10 seconds a longer exhale than it is enhanced because what’s going to tell your body until your mind is that there’s nothing to worry right now that fight or flight is leaving me.

[00:24:23] Normally when it’s coming, where we’re scared, when there’s fear, when there’s anxiety, we’re, we’re shallow breathers, right. Where we’re breathing up in our chest. But when you do the longer exhale. That’s telling your body, telling your mind, there’s nothing to worry about. We got this. There’s nothing. You won’t have to worry about anybody trying to kill you right now.

[00:24:44] You know? so beauty is in that longer exhale. So you do a shorter, you do a six to eight second inhale. You do a pause at the top for a few seconds, and then you exhale for eight to 10 seconds. So it’s a long, you have to kind of blow out like you’re blowing out of a [00:25:00] straw that really helps calm your mind.

[00:25:02] And if you count it. Each each a second, each second year at each point it helps your mind say I’m in control right now. I’m in control of this. I have nothing to fear. I can move through this. I can fall back on my skills. I have everything I need in this moment. Life is abundant. Life. Life was a blessing, right?

[00:25:21] I think so many times we think of scarcity and everything that’s happening in life. Man, life is a blessing I’m here to accept. And then you just say, man, I’m ready to go, whatever it is. And I’m stepping into. And then you realize you come into a lot clearer, man, then I think that’s great. You’re just walk in there.

[00:25:38] Just like, you know, you’re just breathing heavy and you’re like, your palms are sweating and, and then everything, you know, you lose it right. Mentally. I wish I didn’t say that. Well, maybe you can go in a little clearer next time and try it out, you know, give 

[00:25:50] Zach White: it a go. Absolutely. I really encourage everyone listening to this, to, to experiment and play.

[00:25:55] With breathwork and this is something that I do with my clients as well. Just I think just that [00:26:00] awareness that the body and the mind are inextricably connected. There is no way to separate the two and, you know, we can get results in our mind when we take action. That’s 100% within our control in the body and breathing is one of those things, you know, we have total control over our breath, you know, when we’re in a, a safe environment, like you’re talking about.

[00:26:20] It’s absolutely worth it to, to master that. So you made a comment earlier and I can’t ignore it cause I want to come back around how fear shows up. And you’ve meant, you mentioned strengthening courage and resolve and grit and you know, our, our businesses Oasis of courage, because one of the things that we see day in and day out with our engineering leaders that we coach.

[00:26:43] are real fears that are either conscious or subconscious holding leaders back from doing the things they need to do to advance in their career. And so can you talk a little bit about your perspective on the relationship between fear and [00:27:00] courage and just how that plays out from, from your view as a seal or how you coach, you know, these, uh, you know, trainees who want to go into buds about.

[00:27:09] That relationship, or just kind of curious about what you’ve discovered about how fear really works and shows up in our life. 

[00:27:17] Josiah Kaufman: Yeah. I think the big thing for me that I try to, I try to share with people whenever we’re talking about this is that it’s, you’re always going to feel fear. You know, it doesn’t matter whether you want to cut it out or not, or just try to ignore it.

[00:27:30] You’re always going to feel fear in life. This is part of life. We’re going to feel it. Some of us, just try to just avoid it at all costs. Like maybe I’m just not going to go and try to become a better version of myself because if I do that and I’m going to be uncomfortable, I’m going to have to face fears.

[00:27:46] And it’s, I remember when I jumped out of a plane for the first time. So it’s scary. I don’t know if you’ve ever jumped out of a plane or 

[00:27:55] Zach White: I have not, but after your comment about doing something that scares me everyday, maybe I need to get that scheduled. 

[00:27:59] Josiah Kaufman: [00:28:00] I mean, even now it would scare me if I jumped on a plane.

[00:28:02] So literally you’re saving your life. You’re, you’re committing suicide and saving your life on the way down to the crown that’s that’s skydiving. That’s what it is. So I remember the first time I jumped out of a plane and in the free fall school. During, when you’re going through the pipeline of training, that they’re training you to become a Navy seal.

[00:28:16] This happens after buds and you have to jump out, but they don’t do tandem. When you’re, when you first jumped out of a plane. When you’re in free fall school, you, you jumped out next to an instructor, so you never go tandem. I’ve never jumped with, you know, strap to an instructor and you, you have to jump out by yourself and instructor jumps next to you.

[00:28:34] So the first time you do it, you know, you’re walking to the edge of. You know the door of the plane, it’s, you know, open and you feel all the wind it’s very loud and it’s just, it’s insane. And you’re like, holy mackerel, what am I doing? Maybe I’ll turn back. You’ll see kids that just, they walk to the edge and they decide it’s not for them.

[00:28:52] It’s, it’s a scary moment because it’s probably the biggest fears is of Heights, right. Of jumping. I mean, jumping out of plane, you are [00:29:00] jumping out and saving your life on the way down. So the first time I felt that massive amount of fear. Uh, it was, it was a bit unnerving because I had never felt that intensity before, but at the same time, I knew that I had to move forward through fear.

[00:29:16] Right. Because we were going to feel that fear. But on the, like on the other side of. You know, he’s going to be this exhilaration that you’ve never experienced anywhere else. And you have a bit of trust as well, trust in your instructor, trust in your abilities to save yourself as you pull that, that a rip cord on the parachute.

[00:29:32] Right. But you have to move forward through it. You have to, in order to make that happen, you’re going to have to lean into it. And it’s going to be very uncomfortable, many times. And I mean, even right now, if I were to, if I were go do it, I’d feel may be feeling some fear as well. And so when you, when you think about having courage, courage is you’re going to have to have it, but it’s not going to take away the fear many times.

[00:29:55] Yeah. Right. You’re going to be feeling, feeling pretty scared in the midst of fear. And then over time, if you do that over and over is that [00:30:00] fear is, is completely gone. And then many times split completely gone, depending on what you’re doing. And it turns it around. You actually have a lot of enjoyment in it before, you know what you’re jumping out of planes enjoying it.

[00:30:11] So hopefully that kind of helps a little bit, but there’s, there’s a huge, all about belief too. You know, all about belief, um, 

[00:30:17] Zach White: all about belief. I think that’s a huge exclamation point on that, on that entire arc. And so then what stood out to me and I totally agree with you on this is that the, the fear of that.

[00:30:31] Go away. But as your courage strengthens through the reps, you know, the first time he jumped out of the plane, but then the second time, you know, you already have the belief because you’ve survived at once. Now, you understand, you know, your, you know, what’s on the other side, maybe that exhilaration, uh, when, when the.

[00:30:47] Ripcord did pull and you felt the parachute catch and you’re like, oh man, like, you know, you know, there’s something great on the other end of this. So it’s like that fear still there, but your ability to face it just strengthens and strengthens and strengthens, your courage is growing. And, [00:31:00] you know, eventually your courage and belief in this is so high that you’re looking down at that fear.

[00:31:05] Like this isn’t even a big deal anymore, you know, and it’s time to tackle something else or something bigger. And that’s the same thing. In our careers, you know, I don’t want to do any public speaking. I don’t want to present from the front of the room. I, I, I’m scared to go talk to the vice president because what if I screw this up?

[00:31:23] I say the wrong thing, or I look stupid and that first time is terrifying, but then you don’t die. Maybe we even get some good feedback. And then it’s like, okay, that wasn’t so bad. And the next time you stand up, it’s still scary. then a hundred times later, It’s like, yeah, it’s talking to the VP who cares, you know, I do that all the time.

[00:31:45] It’s not a big deal. 

[00:31:46] Josiah Kaufman: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. There’s that progression. And I think it’s, you can start small too. I think some people think I need to do something massively fearful. And in order to overcome this. It’s that it’s a muscle memory thing. The more you do it, the more you face your fear. That’s what we talk about doing something [00:32:00] uncomfortable every day, or maybe the most uncomfortable thing of the day.

[00:32:03] Try to do that early on in the day. So you have the rest of the day is as we’re all downhill from there, basically where you have, maybe you have to make a phone call and it’s a difficult one to make where you can ask for a raise or whatever it is. We’ll maybe try and make that on earlier in the day. So that you knock it out and you do that, man.

[00:32:19] If you do things like that early on in the day, it sets your day off on the, on the right foot. And then you’re yeah, you’re building, you’re building that courage. You’re building your, um, like I like to go always back to this to confidence, the number one, character quality of somebody who becomes a Navy seal is confidence.

[00:32:33] So you lack confidence. You’re going to have to face your fears. And you’re going to have to have courage in order to build confidence because I’m not talking about being cocky. I’m not telling about, Hey, like have people tell me how awesome I am. Hey man, you’re so smart. I’m not talking about that type of confidence, inner confidence, where we know that quiet, inner peace, where we know we can step into any situation and move forward through that fear.

[00:32:58] So it’s yeah, you’re putting in the [00:33:00] reps doing the thing that makes you fearful, but it’s also. It’s that compounding effect. So when you go, when you start just going back to the whole buds analogy, when you go into first phase, you’re going through a lot of challenges physically, once you finished first phase that’s, basically all physical stuff.

[00:33:15] They’re trying to get you to quit or see if you’re meant for it. Second phase of building your mind. Third phase is all about skillset, shooting, blowing things up. So by the time you’re done with that, you have this massive amount of confidence, knowing that you can come into a situation brand new and face the challenges and move through it and become better.

[00:33:36] And over time, it’s not looking back saying how wow, look how awesome I am. Look how confident I am, because I’ve done things. But inwardly, you know, that you’re confident because you can step into situations that are uncomfortable. And move through it smartly and come out. The other end, man, we’re not always going to be perfect.

[00:33:53] Messy action wins and we’re not always gonna win. I mean, we’re not always going to be on top of it, man. I [00:34:00] failed many times we’re going to fail, but we’re going to learn from our experiences and keep moving forward and we have to keep moving forward. Because if you stop at that point of fear, you stopped at that point of failure.

[00:34:09] It’s gonna be a huge mental roadblock for you later on in life. Seeing that over and 

[00:34:12] Zach White: over. This is, I mean, I love the parallels of how. What it takes to be a seal. You know, if you possess those same qualities in engineering, as a leader, you are going to experience tremendous success. I mean, it’s just awesome.

[00:34:27] So man, just say there’s so many questions and things I’d love to dig into, and I’m sure you’ve got thousands of stories, but I also want to be respectful of your time and, and land the plane here, so to speak or jump out of the plane. Let’s pull the rip cord, uh, on our way down and. Land in the same place.

[00:34:43] And I’m excited to hear your perspective on this question. And you know, you’re a coach now you’ve got your own business and you’re helping these, these guys get prepped for what is going to be the toughest tests of their life. And one of the things about coaching and I see it in engineering the same way is that those [00:35:00] questions we ask lead and the answers then follow.

[00:35:04] So we want to. Intentional about asking great questions in our life to set us up for success. So, you know, for the engineering leader, who’s been listening to this chat and they want to build their confidence. They want to build their courage, get to that next level. What would be the best question that you would lead them with today?

[00:35:26] Josiah Kaufman: Well, what I would say how everybody is different, but I think we all want. I think we all want happiness, you know, deep down, whether it’s. You know, you want to build a business. You want to become the next level. You wanna become a manager. You want to become whatever it is. I think we want to happen to. So ask yourself what it is it’s going to make you happy.

[00:35:42] At the end of the day, as far as we know, we only live this life one time. So I would say, Matt, what makes you happy? What makes you come alive? I asked this on with guys and I’m working with two. You have to commit a hundred percent to what it is you want to do in life. You can’t come in 80%, 90%. Even you have to go in a hundred percent.

[00:35:59] [00:36:00] All in. That’s the reality of something that’s challenging in life. So if you’re going to go a hundred percent committed, is that thing gonna make you happy if you accomplish it sometimes. And I’ve done this too. I actually got a degree and I got a master’s degree in cybersecurity. After I got out of the military, I was like, I’m going to go. That’s the future. This was, you know, this was a few years ago. I was like, that’s the future? I know I can get out of the military and get a solid job. I got out finished a master’s degree in cyberspace. I hate the cybersecurity. I, I, you know what I mean? So I did something against the principle. It wasn’t going to make me happy in the backer.

[00:36:31] And I was like, I just want to be, I just wanna help guys become Navy seals. I just wanna help guys become elite performers. But in my mind, I was saying, Hey, this degree is going to. Nate and you make money and just have prestige and all that. I don’t even tell people I have a cybersecurity master’s degree anymore because it’s irrelevant to me.

[00:36:47] And it’s not even, it’s not anything I’m ever going to go into as far as I know. Right. I don’t know where it’s going to maybe circle back around at some point in life. However, I would ask whoever I’m talking to. What makes you happy? What makes you come alive? Because if you’re [00:37:00] not following that, then stop right.

[00:37:04] And I’m not saying maybe it’s not the job necessarily, but what that job might bring, is that going to make you happy? Maybe it’s. If you get that next level of job position, you’re going to have more time with your family. Cause you can work remotely or maybe it’s, you’re going to have, make more money. So you can buy that house.

[00:37:17] You’ve always wanted to buy whatever it is. Just figure out what it is it’s going to make you happy. What makes you come alive? I think also this is kind of a separate topic, but leadership, if you just want to move up the ladder. And that’s kind of how progression works, especially in the military. It’s like you spend X amount of time in the military.

[00:37:35] You probably are going to move up. The ladder, become a leader, whether you’re meant to be a leader or not, whether you’re a good leader or not, you’re going to move into a leadership position. If it’s like, you’re in a job position right now and you want to move up the rank, you want to move up the ladder.

[00:37:49] If that next level is going to be more travel for you, where you’re away from your family. Or that next level for you is going to mean something that doesn’t sound very good to you. That, you know, [00:38:00] internally, it’s going to go against your core values of the type of person you are. Then maybe you need to reevaluate.

[00:38:05] It could mean an entirely new job altogether where you just say, you call it quits from this job. Potentially and move to a different one. If it’s a better alignment for you. So just think outside the box a little bit, go back to that question. What makes you happy? What makes you come alive? And that’s what you should follow because every time I’ve gone against that, it’s been a mess.

[00:38:27] Zach White: The me to go in my opinion. I know what you’re saying. And a lot of. have experienced that too, where they follow the blueprint, laid out for them by HR or the company or their mentor or parents or whatever. And then they get to that point where they’re looking back saying how I don’t even like where I’m, where I’m at here.

[00:38:44] Um, now, you know, to, to just high point, maybe that doesn’t mean you quit your job today and run away from it, but get, get serious about answering that question. What is it for you? Uh, that can, that can take you towards that ultimate fulfillment and happiness, man. I love that. Just say, if somebody wants to, you know, maybe they got a friend who wants to [00:39:00] be a seal or maybe they’re, you know, hearing this, that it’s interesting to them, but at a minimum to follow your work and just to see the impact that you’re having on the lives of these young men, um, and get connected with you, if they want to discover more, where can people, uh, hang out with.

[00:39:13] Yeah. 

[00:39:14] Josiah Kaufman: So I’m on Instagram and I have a sorts @thewarriorcalling the, @thewarriorcalling Instagram, I have a Facebook, but really the best place to reach to me is either Instagram or a website. and there’s a spot. If you want to reach out, we there’s a contact button there and you can reach out.

[00:39:31] We can start chatting. If you have somebody that’s interested in becoming a Navy seal and we’ve got the best program around. We’ll get them trained up. They’re not going to like it, but it’s going to get them where they need to be. 

[00:39:41] Zach White: Yeah. I, and, and I, you know, I’m, I’m friends with just can’t speak highly enough of the incredible work that they’re doing.

[00:39:48] And of course the majority of the people listening to this and my clients are not on the track to become sales, but maybe, you know, someone who is, or if you just want to discover more about the mindset and really what it [00:40:00] takes as a way to. You know, like that fire in your own life, uh, you won’t regret connecting with Josiah.

[00:40:05] And if, if your neighbor or somebody, you know, does want to be a seal, please, uh, honor him by, by making that connection. Cause they, they will absolutely increase their likelihood of success by working with this man. So just say, thanks again, a ton for your time today. Super inspiring and appreciate your service to our country.

[00:40:23] Uh, and just everything that you’ve done. It’s been a pleasure.