Rob O’Neill and an Inspiring Perspective on Difficult vs. Impossible

Contributed by: Nick Defenthaler, CFP® Nick Defenthaler

Last month at a due diligence luncheon, I had the chance to hear Rob O’Neill speak. The former Navy Seal spent an hour telling his captivating and incredible story about when he was a member of Seal Team Six. You may have seen “The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden," the Fox News documentary about O’Neill’s experience. For several years, many wondered who was the American hero that took down the most wanted terrorist on the planet and was responsible for the attacks on September 11th?  I distinctly remember watching this documentary at home and having chills throughout the two night special.  In the documentary, O’Neill told his story of being a member of the Navy Seals and went into detail about the raid Seal Team Six conducted that ultimately led to him killing Osama bin Laden.  After watching that documentary, I never dreamed I’d have the chance to shake that hero’s hand.

O’Neill: Refusing to Quit

O’Neill spent the better half of his presentation telling stories of his time as a Navy Seal and some of the incredible missions he and his team completed.  He also described in detail the training that is required to become a Seal and the physical and mental obstacles he had to overcome, both individually and as a team, to be successful.  He attributed his ability to successfully complete Seal training by simply refusing to quit (I’m sure this was easier said than done!).  His instructors pushed him beyond normal limits but they never asked him to do anything impossible.  This really resonated with me.  I think many times in life we look at obstacles or things we’d like to accomplish as virtually impossible, but in reality, they’re just very, very difficult.  Hard work and the refusal to quit can overcome just about anything.  Talk about being inspired! 

O’Neill: Defending Freedom

At the end of his presentation, O’Neill shared a quote from President Bush’s address to the nation the evening of September 11th: 

“Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended.” 

On the helicopter ride to the raid that killed bin Laden, O’Neill described how this quote came to him out of nowhere and he kept repeating it to himself as they approached the compound they were about to attack.  He has since had the quote tattooed to remind him of his fellow service men and women who are keeping us safe each and every day.  When I left the luncheon, we had the opportunity to meet this inspiring hero briefly, shake his hand and thank him for his service – something I’ll never forget.  I walked away that day with an even greater level of respect and gratitude for our men and women in uniform.  Although I’m nothing close to a Navy Seal, I realized we can all still apply the same principles and values in our own personal lives to be the best we can possibly be – there simply isn’t an excuse for anything less.   

Nick Defenthaler, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Nick is a member of The Center’s financial planning department and also works closely with Center clients. In addition, Nick is a frequent contributor to the firm’s blogs.