Protect the Primary: Part 1

One of my favorite books is Jesse Itzler’s “Living With a SEAL“. It’s hilarious, motivating, and full of memorable stories and lessons.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it.

There’s a part in the book where SEAL (a.k.a. David Goggins), gifts Jesse and his family a fifty-pound backpack that turns into an inflatable raft. Bewildered by the strange gift, Jesse asks what it’s for.

SEAL replies, “It’s your escape vehicle out of Manhattan”

He explains that if “some 9/11 shit happens again”, Jesse and his family can take the raft and row to New Jersey for safety.

I’m sure the Itzler’s have never used it. But if they ever had to, it’s there waiting for them.

This is a perfect example of the type of “Asymmetrical Risks” Dan John is always preaching.

As crazy as it seemed at the time, Jesse eventually understands.

He sees that SEAL was just doing his job.

SEAL was protecting the primary.


“Say, SEAL,” I say. “What would you do if there was an intruder in the house?”

Slowly SEAL turns and looks at me. He holds me with an even, unemotional stare. Then he turns back to the TV without answering my question.

“No, really,” I say. “What would you do?”

He shakes his head slowly.

“I think you know what I’d do,” he says to the TV.

“Tell me.”

“I would protect the primary.”

“What’s the primary?”

“That’s the million-dollar question,” he says. “What is your primary, Jesse? What would hurt you the most to lose? This big-screen TV? Those gold record awards you own? Jewelry? Cash? What do you hold most dear”?

“No,” I say. “None of that.”

“Well?” he asks.

“My wife and my son.”

“Exactly, Jesse,” he says.

Living With a SEAL, Jesse Itzler

I had three professional goals for the spring of 2020:

  • Start a podcast
  • Finish my next book
  • Create a weekly newsletter

After dedicating most of my time to training for GORUCK Selection last year, 2020 was going to be my year to expand what we do at Conviction Fitness.

But, Covid-19 changed everything.

For me, for you, and for everyone else in the world.

I work from home. I have for about seven years now. The house is quiet during the day and it’s easy for me to write, record, read, and learn.

My kids have been home with me for over ten days now, though. And the house is not quiet. It’s not easy for me to do much work at all.

I can’t lock myself in my office and hammer out these projects while the kids are at school as I had planned.

Growing my business, while important, is no longer my primary objective from 9 am – 3 pm every day.

It can’t be.


When this all started to go down, I sat with my kids and told them, “This is going to be awesome!”.

I told them all the fun we were going to have together. And how happy I was for the opportunity to spend so much time with them. They were both devastated to have lost school, sports, and their friends in one fell swoop.

It’s been my mission to keep them happy, healthy, growing, and engaged ever since.

Handing them an Xbox controller and working on my next book would be easy. And, I’m sure I could defend the choice if I had to – “Hey, a guy’s gotta work, right?”. But doing so wouldn’t be protecting my primary. Quite the opposite, really.

So, rather than burying myself in my work, I’ve been spending a ton of time with my kids. They need to feel safe and loved right now. Much more than I need to put out another book.

We’ve been reading more. Drawing and coloring. Playing catch. Riding bikes. Learning how to help out around the house. Walking the dog. And we even started doing daily Recess At Home workout videos together.

We’re making the most of the situation – having fun, learning, and growing.

And while I have internal moments of trying to figure out where we go from here, I’m doing everything I can to stay calm, cool, and collected for my kids.

They are my primary, after all.