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VIP Corner: What a SEAL really learned from 72 hours of no sleep

SmartBrief editors scour the Web every day to find you the best news out there, and we all have our favorite sites. Big Think is one of mine, and I’m pleased to announce that we’ve partnered with Big Think to create this weekly video spotlight in SmartBrief on Leadership called VIP Corner. Every Tuesday, we’ll feature a video insight from a Big Think fellow or guest speaker. We’re kicking things off with Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, CEO of The Mission Continues and a senior fellow at the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri.

Greitens’ nonprofit organization is devoted to giving wounded and disabled veterans the means to build new lives at home and become leaders in their communities. As such, it extends Greitens’ experience reaching out to others through his past humanitarian work in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

But his time as a Navy SEAL gave him at least one invaluable insight. After 72 hours without sleep during the SEALs’ grueling Hell Week training, Greitens found he couldn’t fall asleep when given a chance. As his anxiety built, it gradually came to him that the test he was going through “isn’t about me.” Rather, it was about his ability “to lead and be of service” to his colleagues.

That realization and spirit, combined with motivation to take the harder course while helping others, have served as guideposts for Greitens, who also lectures as a senior fellow at the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri and in the MBA program at the Olin School of Business at Washington University.

The Mission Continues is founded on these principles, as well. “We have to live for something larger than ourselves,” Greitens said. “When we do that, we become stronger and we build a stronger country together.”

Big Think is a forum in which top experts explore big ideas and core skills defining the 21st century. Learn more from its editors, fellows and guest speakers.