Green Beret, Scott Mann - Courage To Face Myself

Courage is an important topic so it’s appropriate to have an expert on the topic join us today, a decorated Green Beret whose story of facing himself, his shortcomings, his doubts and all of the things is a perfect way for us to focus on this week's topic, which is finding the courage to face myself.

We know we need to own our stuff, but it takes courage to face it. And that is precisely why this conversation is so important. None of us like admitting mistakes and faults. It's hard to face the times that we have fallen short.

Robert Beeson, Solo Parent Society founder and podcast host, shares that even though his wife walked out on him, he can now see that he contributed a great deal to the demise of their marriage, and it is hard to face those shortcomings. Nobody enjoys facing faults and failures.

A lot of times, especially for single parents, if you've gone through a divorce, it's so easy to blame the other person rather than admit, “Hmm, maybe I have some stuff I've got to work on.”

Podcast cohost and former single mom, Kimberly had the courage to leave a marriage that was toxic but realizes she had her own stuff to work through too. “Every marriage, every everything, we're all broken human beings. We all have our stuff. I am actually grateful that at this point in my life, I am not that same person. I've learned so much. I have had to go to Jesus and repent so much about all the crap I have said and done, and gone, man, like that was not cool. And that's not who I want to be. And Jesus, please forgive me. Yeah. Not good. And I don't want to be that or bring that into life anymore.”

Robert Beeson agrees, “You're exactly right. There's so much as we look back at our life and as I was hearing you talk, I'm thinking, you know what? That is the one thing that in my solo season served me well because after the anger, after the betrayal, after whatever, I had to…sit there and go, I got to own some of this. And it sucks and it's hard and it's difficult to walk through. That's why, fortunately, we have an expert in courage to walk us through.

Our guest today is Scott Mann who spent 23 years in the United States Army, 18 of those as a Green Beret. He specialized in high-impact missions all over the world, including Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He appears frequently on CNN, Bloomberg Fox, Fox news, and dozens of other shows. What some may not know is that even with all the training and expertise that Scott, has and all the things he did in his life, he personally faced a significant crossroads that almost cost him his life.

Scott Mann joined the podcast to share some of his story with us and particularly his own journey on this topic, “The Courage to Face Myself”. We are so thankful for his service and his willingness to share his story with us.

Scott shared, “I always wanted to be a Green Beret, which is what I did for most of my adult life, from the time I was 14 years old. I grew up in a little logging town in Mount, Ida, Arkansas. We didn't even have a stoplight. And, one day a Green Beret walked in, it seemed like right out of a movie poster, right into our soda shop. I was a scrawny runt of a kid and this guy, just the way he was dressed in his class act uniform and his ribbons and his boots, and that really funny looking green hat on his head, then I, you know, like I caught a glimpse of it as he walked in.” Scott continues that as soon as he saw this guy, he had one of those moments in your life where you just know. “You see someone, or you see something, and you just think, that right there, that's what I'm going to do. And that was that moment for me.”

Even though he was just fourteen, Scott knew it was a defining moment. That Green Beret ended up talking to Scott. He sat down and explained what he did. Scott was captivated by his description of the mission of special forces who “go in and they kick down doors and they take people out”. But he also explained that they’re more than that, “They're these relationship-based connectors who go in and work with indigenous people and help them stand up on their own. They help the little guy stand up against the big guy.” For Scott that was all he needed to hear because he had been bullied as a kid and felt he had failed at pretty much everything.

The idea of working to help liberate the oppressed stuck with him. “I knew that's what I had to do”, shares Scott, “and it never wavered for me. So that's what I did as soon as I was able to get commissioned and joined up. That's what I did. I went on to become a Green Beret.”
Scott’s journey to get there took a long time. He was in the army almost 23 years, became commissioned as an officer. Then after waiting the required five years because they only take captains and above, he started to try out for all the special forces schools to get ready. “I went to jump school where you jump out of a perfectly good airplane, air assault school, ranger school…and I failed all of them.” But Scott kept going back and eventually made it through all those schools.

In October of 1996, he became a Green Beret and shares, “The cool thing was for me, the Green Beret that I put on my head was the same Green Beret that the guy, Mark, who came into the soda shop, ended up buying for me when I went to visit him at age 16 at the Green Beret Museum.” He told Scott to wear it until he earned it. “So, I carried it for 14 years and I finally got to put it on my head.”  Then, for the next 18 years, Scott was deployed to Columbia during the drug war, to Peru, Ecuador, Iraq, and four tours in Afghanistan. Scott spent “a lot of time abroad, a lot of time in those low trust, uncertain areas that most Americans probably don't know a lot about, but they see on the news. [Those are] the places where green Berets are going to go every time. Scott’s story is fascinating, but it takes a turn when he left the military and had to transition back into civilian life.

Transitions are hard for anyone. For single parents, a difficult transition is often going from being married or having a full-time coparent to parenting alone. Scott talks about having to find a new kind of courage as he made the transition of leaving the Green Berets, “I didn't cope very well in the beginning. You know, I think one of the biggest challenges I had, that I would suspect a lot of single parents have, is this loss of identity.” Scott went from being a high performer, “where I was running missions that were reported to the president daily, that were strategic in nature” to retirement.

There are 1.4 million people in the U S military, and there are only 6,500 green Berets in the whole entity, so Scott went from a very exclusive position to being a civilian again. The shift was huge. His identity for almost two decades was entirely focused on being a Green Beret and the required high levels of performance. Scott shares, “And even on my worst day when I lost friends and I had to tell my family goodbye, you know, I was still comforted by this identity that I was doing something really special. And then, all of a sudden, you know, it was gone.”  AS he started the retirement he had asked for, everything was going just the way it was supposed to go on the outside “but on the inside, it was a complete train wreck”, says Scott.

At that time, he had no idea the levels of post-traumatic stress, survivor's guilt, and all the other weight he was carrying from two decades of war. “It all just kind of came home to roost”, Scott shares, “And, before I knew it, within a year plus of transitioning, I was standing in a closet in my bedroom holding a 45-caliber pistol and no intention of walking out of there.” At that moment, his son came from school and Scott says, “Had my son not come home from school when he did, I can guarantee you, we would not be having this conversation.”

Scott found himself facing the lowest point of his life. But “in the struggle where it gets the darkest, oftentimes, that's where we find our feet again” and that is what happened for Scott. Not long after that moment, he was sitting with a retired Sergeant major from special forces. He was sharing with me in confidence what he was going through in transition. He had no idea what Scott had been through, and it became obvious that he was saying goodbye. Scott knew then he needed to share his experience and when he did, “He was completely locked in. He didn't have that distance there anymore. He was present. He was with me. And, you know, both of us in that moment, I think we realized that we weren't alone, you know, that we were together. And that for me was a turning point in my life.” Scott said that shared connection was when he knew it was going to be okay and that there was a purpose for him that was bigger than him.

He knew his life was going to change from what it had been the last twenty years. He was being drawn into something new, something different, connecting with people in a new kind of way. That was the moment when Scott realized his story of struggle and, “frankly, the most embarrassing thing I've ever talked about, brought back a friend who I would have otherwise lost” was going to be something very powerful.

Robert Beeson shares that many of us can relate in our own way to Scott’s story. Especially for single parents, many of us have had this “all is lost” kind of moment where our identity is crushed, and your purpose is questioned. Maybe we have shame about things we've done, and the obstacles ahead seem insurmountable. Robert experienced a pivotal point in his life that defined his trajectory and gave him purpose, but it only came after admitting that “all is lost” and letting go of false identity. “So often as single parents, we get caught up in the roles that we play, the purpose that we have in building a family together and when the rug gets pulled out, you question everything. You get to this desperate place, which like you said, it's facing yourself in the mirror. All of it, all the things that you've done - the survivor syndrome, the post-traumatic stress, all those things. They're very real. The struggles that we face are very real, yet they don't define us. In fact, they bring us to a precipice of figuring out that maybe there's a purpose to all these things, but I don't think that happens until you face yourself in the mirror, so to speak.”

“Yeah, absolutely”, Scott agreed. ‘Daniel Coyle, another one of my favorite authors, says that struggle isn't just something that happens to us. It's a biological necessity as humans, regardless of our monetary status, or whether we're married or single or parents or not parents. We are creatures of struggle. We are born into struggle, and we will die in struggle. And there is no getting away from it.” As he teaches leadership all over the country with for-profits, nonprofits, big companies, small companies, Scott finds that we've tried to create a sense of control that makes us feel safe, that makes us feel like we have abundance of things. We have enough, we have comfort, and we want to control everything. 
But the fact of the matter is we don't control anything. We don't control anything. There is in this universe, chaos, and there always has been, and there always will be. The only thing that we really can control is how we respond to struggle right now…. Struggle is always going to be there. You can't dilute it. You can't get rid of it… Struggle doesn't define us, but we can define how we approach struggle. And, and I think in that reality is where we really find our place”, shares Scott.


So many of us are wrestling with the day-to-day pressures that are placed on us internally, externally. Scott shares that he remembers moments in Afghanistan where things would happen. And he would just think, “God, just put somebody else here. I'm just not the right person.” We all wonder things like “How do I even find my way out of this? How do I find the courage to lead myself, lead others, lead my kids? Where am I going to find the courage?” Scott shares that author Steven Pressfield says that the opposite of fear is not courage. It's actually love. Scott found that to be true on the battlefield. The warriors who he followed into battle, who demonstrated the opposite of fear in the moments that got them out, were the ones who demonstrated love. Scott says, “Love is actually what gets you through the battle, not courage. When chaplains would go on the battlefield”, Scott continues, “they weren't demonstrating courage. They were demonstrating love for their fellow men who needed to hear their word of scripture. You know, when we exercise love in the face of fear, amazing things happen. And I think it's good news for those of us who are deep in the struggle, because if we just focus on the love, we have for ourselves, the love we have in our higher power, the love we have for the people in our immediate arena, that's all the courage we need. It's all right there. It's already been gifted to us, and we just need to trust it.” Scott says, “This notion of assembling some mythical version of courage is a bunch of BS. I've never seen that in battle. And I've been to plenty of them. What I have seen are demonstrations of love of oneself, one's God, and one's friends and family. That can and that will get you through anything.”

What are some practical steps that people can take to build up the courage to turn the mirror on themselves and take a good look?  

The first step of courage when you are coming out of darkness and leading through struggle is to own your life. Scott says it's the one area of ownership where we can assert authority and control – your own purpose.  Owning your life and purpose is how we leave our tracks in this world. Owning your life in the darkest of times is part of leaving our legacy.  Consider what you want your child to say to someone who never met you about the kind of tracks you left in this world. Scott says, “That is the wellspring of leadership” and living with courage. Live your life by starting with the “kind of indelible impressions you want to leave behind on earth and that your child would say about you 15 years after you're gone. Start with those tracks.”

The second step is to embrace your own story. Scott shares that we all have our own “hero's journey” and encourages each of us to look at the life you've been through. Consider what was the pivotal moment that happened in your life? Where was the proverbial rug pulled out from under you? Write about that for ten minutes. Write about that moment, about the struggle that ensued and how you overcame it? How and what did you learn? How did you change? Scott says just that exercise in embracing your story, by designing it and learning to tell it is “one of the most self-actualizing things a human being can do” and he says, “It saved my life”.

And when we embrace our story, Scott shares that he can “guarantee” that “if you've gone through struggle, which all of your listeners have, you're going to find a moment where your story can be repurposed in the service of someone else.” He calls that “the generosity of scars” and the process will help you move you out of the darkness and heal.

The third step after owning your life and embracing your story is to connect. Scott says to connect, “Like your life depends on it. Like, you know, the way that Green Berets survived in those rough villages was that we had more social capital, more relationships, more tangible linkages to other humans than anyone else around. And I think that's true for life. Humans are social creatures. As we come through these rough times where we lose our identity, the tendency is to isolate and pull back. That’s the most dangerous thing we can do. We have to go against our instincts. We have to form connections. And that's why I love what you all are doing, because that ultimately is what will not only pull you out of the abyss, but will give you new purpose, new focus, and new opportunities. It's the social connections, the relationships that you have are actually where you'll find your next path.”

These are three practical ways to turn the mirror on yourself. It means having the courage to take the good, the bad, and the ugly, and look at it all through the lens of love, through the lens of purpose, and use what you discover to serve the community. So often, we are afraid to look at our lives but having the courage to face ourselves and our failures helps us to ask “What is this teaching me? Where is this driving me to?” and can lead us to our identity and true purpose.

In having the courage to face himself during dark times, Robert Beeson was led to start Solo Parent Society. Now, as a non-profit, we are seeking to live out our purpose even more by growing within the U S military. Robert shares that Solo Parent Society recently partnered with an army chaplain who reached out and wanted to provide support for single parents in the military. We are now piloting groups for solo parents who defend our country. Scott shared a message for these single parents, “The work that you're doing in the military in these modern times is work that very, very few people in the nation are able to do. The fact that you do it as a single parent, as a solo parent - the work that you're doing and the sacrifice that you're making - will go years and decades beyond what you think right now. You'll be surprised how it will resonate with your children.”

As single parents, we each can leave a legacy. We can do that by having the courage to face ourselves through owning our lives, embracing our stories, and connecting to others with purpose. Scott Mann has done that as a Green Beret and now in his retirement as a civilian. Scott recently completed a film called “Last Out”. It started as a play after one of his mentors encouraged me to write the play as way to find healing. Scott ended up doing one of the scenes at a little community theater night and people came up afterwards and encouraged Scott to develop it into more.  So, Scott wrote this story called, Last Out” which told the story of a Green Beret Sergeant named Danny Patton, based on three team sergeants who didn't come home from war. In the story, Danny is fighting the longest war in our history in Afghanistan. The story continues to follow Danny by retracing his life through the relationships that were most important to him, like his wife, son, and his best friend. By the end of the film you, Danny finds what he's holding on to and he lets go. And in doing so, it helps him find peace. Scott shares, that “I think all of us realize that we're all holding onto some things that we need to let go of” so it’s a story everyone can relate to.

You can watch the film when it airs on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.  The proceeds will help open a Veteran Performing Arts Center in Tampa, Florida, to help other veterans and family members tell their story. To learn more about the film, go to www.lastoutfilm.com

Scott shared that he went to a place about as low as you can get. He called it his greatest embarrassment, but he wears that as an empowerment now to say that even in the darkest times, the thing you don't want to face, that thing you think is the most embarrassing or hurtful, serves a purpose. Have the courage to step into looking at yourself even knowing you might have failed; you might be scared to see reflection looking back at you. Maybe you've gotten to the place of wanting to end it all. Maybe you've betrayed someone. Whatever it is, have the courage to face it because there is good that can come out of it. And there's purpose. And God uses all our stuff.

What Scott shared is so significant. It is in the struggle we are refined. The struggle is where we find ourselves. The struggle is where we find purpose. Struggle is where you find intimacy. All these things come from having the courage to face the struggle, head on.

More on Scott's film - https://www.lastoutplay.com

If you want to dive in deeper to any of these topics, join one of our Zoom groups. We have support groups every single day of the week. You can find access to them on the free Solo Parent app or on our website. Just log on and you’ll be with other single parents from around the world. It might be kind of scary, but you are going to be welcome in these groups. You don't have to say anything. You could just be there and hear you're not alone in this journey. Single parents, you belong here!

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