From Navy SEAL to Business Owner and Ph.D. Student

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Retired Navy SEAL Chief Robert Stella and his wife and children.

We know by reputation Navy SEALS are highly trained soldiers with specialized skills who are frequently  on the front lines of the most dangerous combat missions.

And while you may imagine that the most important traits that make a SEAL successful include physical strength and stamina and perhaps even fearlessness – one of the most important traits according to a former SEAL who is now a TCSPP student – may surprise you.

“If you’re not used to working out of your comfort zone,” says former SEAL Chief Robert Stella, “you won’t fare very well (in SEAL training). You may be strong or fast but what matters most is what happens when you confront adversity. How well can you perform then?”

Stella at his retirement party.

Stella spent 24 years in the service. He served in Iraq, Afghanistan and several other places he can’t share – some, he says would surprise you. He served for a time on a SWCC Scout Team (Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen) – another highly specialized Navy unit. He made a career of his service and retired two years ago.

Stella wasn’t interested in following the path of other SEALS – security work or tell-all books. “It would never define me  – I’m not going to use that as my identify.” But, he was still intrigued by the skills and capabilities that were critical to mission success – and even survival. And he wasn’t alone.

“People would come to us to find out – what makes SEALs work? How do you perform at such a high level and succeed?”

Stella says there are successful athletes who have also demonstrated how their success depended on how well they could maintain a high level of performance under the greatest stress.

Olympic teams would come to use SEAL training strategies as well as several professional sports teams. And Stella discovered, there was considerable interest by the corporate world. So he began working as a consultant and eventually launched a business. He discovered there was a need for more research and he became fascinated by the psychology behind all of this and ended up getting a masters in performance psychology.

Stella with the Atlanta Falcons.

But that wasn’t enough. The fierce competitor in Stella wanted to learn more. “I wanted to get a handle on all the metrics – to be able to identify and demonstrate success. This has applications for companies who want to reduce turnover, for example, and how they can demonstrate a cost savings.”

Stella is now pursuing his PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the TCSPP LA Campus. His company has already worked with several professional football teams including the 49ers, Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers. And he’s working with Sony Corp applying the strategies he’s developing in the business world.

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