Daniel Shaw is back at it with The Mag Life Podcast, this time featuring a one-of-a-kind super-human: Chadd Wright. A decorated Navy SEAL, Chadd served as a Team Leader on multiple deployments, a SEAL instructor, and a Master Training Specialist. He later came out of the service finding a new calling in life through his Christian faith and Ultrarunning.
Chadd and his brother, Blake, now lead the 3 of 7 Project, a spiritual team building and self-improvement program. In this high-energy episode, Daniel and Chadd discuss overcoming life’s obstacles, achieving goals, military service, and the power of faith.
Host: Daniel Shaw
Guest: Chadd Wright
Introduction/Timeline: Eric Huh
03:24 Why join the SEALs?
Daniel asks Chadd what specific moment in his life inspired him to join the Navy SEALs. Chadd recalls his upbringing as a kid living out in the countryside of Georgia, quickly realizing normal institutionalized life was not for him. While he did graduate high school, Chadd barely did so as it did not motivate him. He eventually found himself working in construction, but this too failed to satisfy him.
“I went to work in the construction industry and I realized I was surrounded by these people that… were content with what life was giving them, their 400-500 dollar a week paycheck… For some reason, though, I was like ‘Man, I want a little bit more.’”
It was only when Chadd came across a Navy recruiter with a SEAL advertising banner that read “The Hardest Training in the World” that something clicked in his head. Despite not knowing a thing about the Navy or any other military branch for that matter, Chadd knew something as challenging as joining the Navy SEALs was exactly what he wanted.
06:20 Furnace of Adversity
As Chadd found out, the act of becoming a SEAL is an arduous journey in and of itself. He failed his initial physical assessment for the program due to his lack of preparedness and physical endurance. Chadd explains, “I didn’t even know how to swim.” After numerous tries, Chadd eventually passed the physical assessment and was allowed to enter the Navy. However, fate would take a turn for the worst. On his last day of Boot Camp, Chadd was disqualified from joining the SEALs.
The Navy doctors had notified Chadd that he had a 7-centimeter pericardial cyst on his heart. If he had passed BUD/S and become a SEAL, the extreme pressure changes from combat diving could rupture his heart. Unfortunately, the Navy was not willing to operate on an asymptomatic cyst for him to become a SEAL. Chadd was crushed and left the Navy on a medical discharge. This was on top of the fact he had given up all of his assets, possessions, and home in preparation for becoming a SEAL.
However, Chadd never took ‘no’ for an answer. Upon returning to his hometown, he immediately sought out Georgia’s best cardiologists willing to operate on his heart. The leading heart surgeon in Atlanta was the only one to accept his request. The surgeon had never performed this particular kind of surgery before, nor had the surgery been performed on any previous Naval Special Warfare Candidate.
“The Navy didn’t tell me… ‘If you have this cist removed, we’ll let you back in’… They just said ‘We’ll see you later, probably never again.’ So I’m going in here, driving to the hospital at 5:30 in the morning to have some surgeon cut my chest open… for what? Just for, maybe a chance to get back into the Navy.”
13:54 Undying Perseverance
Simply put, Chadd dedicated his life’s purpose up until this point to becoming a Naval Special Warfare Operator. Upon a successful heart surgery, he re-enlisted in the Navy and was allowed back. However, a 5 month decision period took place in order to determine if he was still
eligible and healthy enough to enter BUD/S to join the SEALs. When Chadd was finally given permission to participate for SEAL selection, he was more prepared than perhaps any of his peers.
“When I finally got to line up on the start line, I had so much invested in this process… they would have had to kill me, and I don’t say this lightly, to make me go away”
Chadd passed BUD/S with flying colors, completing each evolution without any issue, and became 1 out of only 18 of the graduating class from the original 300 candidates. When reflecting upon the incredibly difficult journey to become a SEAL, Chadd ultimately regrets nothing. Had he been simply handed the spot in the selection course, Chadd would have never succeeded. His stumbles and failures taught him how to adapt to adversity. The awful hand he was dealt in life made him strong enough to become a SEAL.
17:30 From Student to Teacher
During his service, Chadd eventually became a Team Leader of SEAL Team 8, an instructor as well as a Master Training Specialist. It was when he achieved the latter that made him realize his passion for teaching others and helping guide people to achieve their goals. The
flexibility of his instructor role allowed Chadd to teach various skillsets including CQB breaching, land warfare, and VBSS, among others. His major takeaway from his time in the SEALs is that he learned far more from teaching others than all of his combat missions combined.
Daniel agrees wholeheartedly, adding that one does not truly know a craft until they have to teach it. Once you assume the responsibilities of teaching, there are others who depend on you to be absolutely correct. Chadd believes that the key to becoming a master of anything is starting out as a student of a craft, then performing the skills required in a pressure-tested environment, and then taking those experiences to teach others.
Chadd brings that very idea of a student-to-teacher pipeline to his 3 of 7 Project, a program dedicated to developing and teaching individuals how to become stronger spiritually, physically, and mentally. The “Basic Course” portion brings 8 students into the wilderness to teach them
both hard and soft skills to develop them into stronger human beings. Once this is completed, they can move onto the “Proving Ground” class that puts the skills they’ve learned through increased challenges to the test. Then, students are then permitted to enter the “Instructor
Training” class that prepares them to be able to teach the future generation.
21:17 Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
Daniel asks Chadd why he prioritizes his entire 3 of 7 Project in the wilderness versus being in an indoor event. Chadd states simply it’s to force people outside of their comfort zone. By forcing others to be brutally honest with themselves in an uncomfortable environment, free of
distractions, they will find the inner strength to persevere and overcome obstacles. Too often corporate-sponsored “team-building” events boil down to meaningless exercises that have no real long-term lessons.
Being out in the wilderness also has another major benefit: it never gets boring. Nature is never predictable, and this constantly shifts the dynamics of his classes’ missions and end goals. Students adapt and overcome unforeseen challenges much in the same way Chadd did during his journey to become a SEAL.
“These other companies that facilitate training… seemed to be canned to me. Like more of a corporate, ‘available to the masses’ [event]. When you do that, you have to tailor your training to the lowest common denominator or you’re going to have people getting hurt. I wanted to
provide an environment, an experience in a real environment that’s not canned… I go through every single application… I handpick each person for each team… so I can take them out and put them through a real experience, legit experience here in the wilderness that’s gonna throw crap at you that you don’t see coming.”
Daniel relates to this principle completely, stating that there is growth in discomfort. This compels individuals to be more malleable and flexible to once again adapt themselves to life’s obstacles. Daniel uses his personal experiences in adventure bike riding and combat training to illustrate the point that once you’re put to the test against non-complying external forces, the truth comes out. There is no amount of lying or ego that will save you once you’re driving a motorcycle off-road or rolling with someone in a jujutsu match. Your ability to overcome will come to light in those moments.
29:13 The Importance of Upholding Self-Reliance
Daniel notes how the current state of politics has all been part of a greater strategy to end self-reliance among American citizens. It, therefore, places even more importance on the work that Chadd does, as his services and lessons are purpose-built to promote independence and self-sufficiency. Chadd encourages listeners to learn what our Founding Fathers, most notably John Adams, had to sacrifice in order to uphold self-reliance and freedom in this country.
31:45 Mental Toughness and the Willingness to Push Forward
Chadd attributes the idea of self-reliance to an individual’s mental integrity in the face of adversity. His Ultrarunning experiences epitomize this. Chadd explains that the act of being an Ultrarunner is the ultimate test in mental fortitude and endurance, further emphasized by the
fact that his next race will be him defending his title against several other competitors across the nation in a literal endless run to the last man standing. This race will not have a capped distance, all participants must run until they quit and only one remains.
Daniel commends Chadd’s mindset and accomplishments in the sport of Ultrarunning. Despite not being a runner himself, Daniel agrees that the pain one goes through during extreme physical activity brings out inner strength otherwise not found. Chadd adds that true growth comes not from going through the initial “suck” of an activity but by enduring just a tad bit more past that phase. In Chadd’s case, that means running 90 miles and then running those final ten miles in a race. The first 90 is only the initial barrier, it is the last ten miles that truly
37:25 Three Pillars of Overcoming Adversity
Chadd expresses that there are three pillars of overcoming adversity and improving upon oneself that he constantly abides by. The first is patience, the mental discipline to stay the course no matter how seemingly overwhelming the odds are. This is in direct relation to his earlier
practice of running 90 miles first in order to then reach ten more miles to achieve true growth.
The second is staying in the present moment. Chadd recalls during one of his races in which he and another runner, Greg, were the only two left competing. A moment occurred when Greg looked over at Chadd and said, “We have six hours until we reach 100 miles”. It was at this moment that Chadd knew he could not be beaten, because simply put Greg was no longer thinking of the present challenge but in fact demoralizing himself over the future challenges.
The third pillar is always being deliberate, meaning one should be cognizant at all times of what they are doing and how they are doing it. Chadd expresses that if he were not deliberate with his steps during his runs, he could potentially roll an ankle and ruin his race. During his time in the SEALs, Chadd had personally witnessed team members injure themselves during combat missions or just climbing ladders on ships due to not being deliberate with their actions.
41:41 The Power of Self-Control
Chadd’s pillars to life further emphasize the idea of self-control. Daniel notes that self-control is how an individual can master oneself even when the whole world around them is beyond their control. Every day is an opportunity to practice self-control, even if it’s something as small as reacting to a minor inconvenience or choosing to road rage over someone cutting you off in traffic. Chadd further adds that self-control can be the difference between life or death in extreme situations.
When he was still active in the SEALs, Chadd and his team were tasked with killing or capturing a high-value target only to find themselves in an ambush and their target gone. While the entire team panicked over the fact their position was being surrounded by enemy combatants, their platoon chief remained perfectly calm and simply communicated with air assets to provide support. The chief’s ability to maintain his composure in the midst of pure chaos allowed him to follow through with his training and eventually call in the necessary backup that would save the entire team. Daniel comments that having even just one person who is under control, confident, calm, and leading can become a tremendous force multiplier to those around them.
45:21 Adhere to a Standard
In order to accomplish meaningful growth, Chadd believes everyone should adhere to individual standards. However, he adds that your standards should actively challenge you to strive for more.
“If you’re always achieving the standards that you’ve set for yourself, then your standards are not high enough. So if you’re not missing the mark sometimes, you need to reassess your standards… I live my life to a standard, not a result.”
Chadd draws upon his experience once more in Ultrarunning, this time in a 100-mile race in the mountains of North Georgia. He was favored to win and held the first-place spot through 60 miles of the race. Then suddenly, Chadd’s stomach erupted in searing pain. This was so horrific,
Chadd’s body forced him to lay on the ground and rest until he could recover, leaving him in fifth place. The result he desired of finishing first was no longer achievable, but despite all of this, Chadd chose to pick himself up and finish the remaining 40 miles of the race. He did so not because he lived and died by a specific narrow result, but because he adhered to his personal standard of never giving up the fight. For Chadd, his high standards are drawn from the Bible and his Christian faith.
48:32 Discovering the Biblical Standard
Daniel asks what other standards Chadd had, prior to his full acceptance of Christianity. As a young man in the SEALs, his standards at the time were simply whatever his leaders pressed upon them. It just so happens, these same standards are found in the Bible, such as having
integrity, honor, and self-control. In essence, Chadd had always been living by Biblical standards even if he didn’t know it at the time. It was only natural that he would find himself on the path of Christianity.
Chadd’s realization of the power of the Christian faith came from the most unlikely of places during his deployment in the SEAL Teams.
While staying inside a building with his fellow teammates, it became apparent something was off-putting about the structure. The team was being constantly harassed by strange noises and a dark, ominous feeling of dread. It felt as though an invisible entity was stalking and undermining them, to the point that the team dynamics were negatively affected due to the lack of sleep and toxic energy.
Finally, Chadd, remembering his family’s Christian ties and not knowing what else to do, called his brother Blake. Upon explaining the very strange set of circumstances, Blake got his pastor on the phone and who later instructed Chadd to walk around the building anointing the doors with oil as the pastor said a prayer. Soon after, the building no longer felt a dark, haunting presence, and peace was restored to the SEAL Team.
56:59 Strength Through Faith
For Chadd, everything about the Bible just made sense to him. It was plain and simple, common sense to believe in Jesus. Almost immediately upon converting to Christianity, Chadd became less aggressive and far more at peace, noticeably so that his own teammates found his personality change off-putting. When his wife was dying from a drug addiction only to overcome this and recover, Chadd credits much of this good fortune to his Christian faith.
01:06:29 The Warrior’s Hunger
Chadd admits to Daniel that despite his passion for Ultrarunning, nothing will ever come close to the adrenaline rush and thrill of experiencing a genuine fight during his time in the SEALs. He explains that when an individual becomes a warrior, their mind gets warped due to becoming singularly focused on preparing and training for the next fight. Chadd describes this as a hunger to fight against another force and adds that no amount of Ultra Marathon running will ever replace that hunger.
As a former, seasoned United States Marine, Daniel heavily relates to this sentiment. He admits he misses having a level of threat on his life and having to be put into unique situations in which good men must rely on his sound judgement, physicality, and skillsets to prevail over evil.
Knowing others relied on him to stay alive is what motivated Daniel to always perform at his best and to not simply settle for the bare minimum.
Chadd takes this warrior mindset and applies it to everything he does in life. Deep down, he knows he cannot afford to not be ready for life’s challenges, including protecting those around him.
“I don’t have the luxury to not be ready… I’m not here to be an athlete. I’m here because I want to train like I fight. I want to be ready and prepared for a fight. You know why? Because the world and the people around me, look at me differently… When crap hits the fan, if it ever
does, guess who people are gonna look at to step up. Guys like me and you, Daniel.”
Both Daniel and Chadd want combat veterans to embrace who they are and their warrior experiences. They believe even the collective trauma from PTSD has in fact made them stronger and better able to protect their loved ones. It is a source of motivation and heightened mindset that enhances who they are. Chadd goes a step further, saying that PTSD is a result of the lifestyle he had chosen and that they are necessary traits for a warrior.
MagLife Podcast #181 On Video
To learn more about Chadd Wright’s 3 of 7 Project visit https://3of7project.com
Follow Chadd and 3 of 7 Project on social media:
Instagram – @chadwright278
Instagram – @3_of_7project
Facebook – 3of7project
YouTube – Chadd Right 3 of 7 YouTube
Article/Show notes by Eric Huh