Defeat vs. Victory – Stop Asking “Why?” And Start Asking Yourself “What Now?”

Jason "Jay" Redman
Jason “Jay” Redman, Former Navy SEAL, Motivational Speaker & Author of “The Trident”

As you know I like to share relevant quotations and passages from other experts in my blog and in SpeakerFrippNews. As an executive speech coach who helps people better craft their words, and as someone who has coached speakers for the Wounded Warrior Project, I had to share this excerpt from a dramatically powerful article by Mark Sanborn. Mark is my colleague in Speakers Roundtable and a past President of National Speakers Association.  Thank you Mark! And to Lieutenant Jason “Jay” Redman, thank you for your service and your inspiration!

from Mark Sanborn

In a passage from the book Duty, Robert Gates tells about Lieutenant Jason “Jay” Redman, a Navy SEAL who had been shot seven times and had undergone nearly two dozen surgeries. Jason kept a hand-drawn sign on the door to his room at Bethesda Naval Hospital. It read:

ATTENTION: To all who enter here, if you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery. What is full? That is the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20% further through sheer mental tenacity. This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth. If you are not prepared for that, go elsewhere. The Management.”

In this manifesto, there is no suggestion that Redman is stuck. He’s come to terms with his situation and formulated his response going forward. He doesn’t ask for sympathy or pity; in fact, he refuses them.

This contrasts starkly to the sales professional whose world has crashed down because of a lost major account. Consoling himself with too many cold beers at the end of the day is a form of acquiescence. Pouring out his woes to sympathetic sales professionals may be cathartic, but ultimately it is a defeat of his purpose. Even if temporary, the difficulties of the day have defeated him.

In light of Jay Redman’s powerful stance, I hesitate to offer steps or solutions. They seem trite when compared to his victory. Yet there are principles that apply as much to us who suffer less severe difficulties as they do to wounded warriors like him. The brevity of these ideas doesn’t diminish their usefulness, nor take away from the gravitas of the problems and difficulties which so many face.

1. Spend less time asking “Why?” and more time asking yourself “What now?”

2. Be appreciative of those who offer condolences. Emotional support can give us strength we wouldn’t have on our own.

3. If necessary, explain your situation, but don’t whine about it.

4. Change what you can, and accept what you can’t.

5. Remember that there is no guarantee of fairness in this life.

6. When self-absorption threatens, turn your attention to helping others in their challenges.

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE
Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE

7. Never forget to be grateful for what you still have instead of focusing on what you lost.

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is a speaker and author, and president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Mark is an international bestselling author and noted authority on leadership, team building, customer service, and change. Mark is the author of eight books, including the bestseller The Fred Factor: How Passion In Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary which has sold more than 1.6 million copies internationally. For more information visit:

“The mark of a man is not found in his past, but how he overcomes adversity and builds his future. Quitting is not an option.” – Jason Redman For more information on speaker, author, and former Navy Seal, Jason “Jay” Redman and his book The Trident visit:

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