Thom Shea may be the only Navy SEAL in history to go through SEAL training five times.
Shea, a 23-year military veteran who lives in Greenville, served in three wars and was twice deployed to Iraq before leading a team of Navy SEALs into Afghanistan in 2009.
“Our sole purpose was to only conduct combat missions,” Shea says.
As platoon chief, Shea was in charge of leading the team’s 85 combat missions and was awarded a Silver Star for his valor in the battlefield.
Military service is part of his family’s DNA, says Shea, who can trace his lineage back to Thomas Custer, the younger brother of Civil War Gen. George Custer and the first double recipient of the Medal of Honor.
“My family has been in the military since the Revolutionary War,” Shea says.
Though his father had served in the U.S. Army, Shea decided to try the SEAL program when he graduated college “because it kind of spoke to me, like most careers seem to speak to people.”
SEAL training is the stuff of legend. Only about 15% of candidates make it through basic conditioning and the infamous Hell Week; Shea tried and failed four times.
Finally, he says, “I was allowed to come back my fifth time to try to make it because there was nothing that they could do that made me quit.”
It’s a mentality that is central to Shea’s new book, “Three Simple Things: Leading During Chaos,” out July 4. His previous book, “Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life,” was a national bestseller.
Shea says he’s trained thousands of people to lead like a SEAL by applying the rule of Three Simple Things to their lives and businesses. A key tenet in his teachings? Envision what life would be like if you never, ever quit.
“I found a way to keep doing things simply by not quitting,” Shea says.
To order Shea’s books or for more information on his seminar-based leadership training program, Unbreakable Leadership, visit unbreakableleadership.com.