Stephen Templin has a very interesting and diverse career to say the least. Not only is he a New York Times and international bestselling author, but he also went through six months of Navy SEAL training and spent fourteen years as a professor at the Meio University in Japan. This certainly sparked my curiosity and I’m grateful he took the time to tell me more about the different aspects of these jobs.
“I’ve always been interested in the military as a child,” Stephen says. “It’s a typical boy kind of thing, where you play soldiers and spies. In high school I followed a class about the army, where you could learn about the military, without any obligations to it. Veterans taught the class and I really enjoyed it. At the time I was also reading a lot about Vietnam and I was very impressed with the Navy SEALs and how they operated. I thought ‘I’d like to go do that!’. That’s sort of how it came about.”
Navy SEAL Training and psychology
The aptly named ‘Hell Week’ of the Navy SEAL training is extremely tough, both mentally and physically. Stephen completed this test and has a technique that helped him through the most challenging moments. “Visualisation served me well,” Stephen recalls. “I used to visualize myself in a more calm and pleasant situation. You just mentally transport yourself out of the tough situation you’re in and when it calms down a bit, you put yourself back into it.”
“Also, a strong belief is key. Believing that you can do it… because without that, everything else falls apart. It’s something I already used as a child. But when I was a professor, I got the chance to discover more about it and I learned about the self-efficacy theory by Albert Bandura. I think this is one of the strongest theories in psychology. It basically says if you believe you can do something, the chances of success are much higher, than if you don’t believe. The stronger your belief is, the stronger your chances of success are. It doesn’t guarantee success, but it does increase your chances.”
Speaking of success… Stephen’s books about SEAL Team Six and his latest one, Trident’s First Gleaming, made it big. “When I heard the book my friend Howard Wasdin and I wrote was on the New York Times bestseller list, it was a feeling of pure joy,” he describes. “This was something I dreamed about as a child. Even though I had the military as an interest, I always wanted to be an author. But writing books doesn’t pay the bills right away, so you basically have to build up another life to support yourself.”
Most of Stephen’s books up till this point are co-authored with his friend Howard Wasdin, whom he met at Navy SEAL training. Wasdin was a sniper in the real SEAL Team Six and served in the battle of Mogadishu. “Howard was really motivated,” Stephen remembers. “When the rest of the class were exhausted after a day of hard training, he would go jogging on the beach. Mind you, that was in the beginning of the training, where things were challenging, but they hadn’t really hit the hardcore stuff yet. To summarize; he is a great guy and we hung out during training.”
“However, years later I saw the book Black Hawk Down at a bookstore at the Los Angeles airport and I checked the index to see if I knew any of the names mentioned there. Howard’s name was in it and I thought ‘wow’. But they didn’t say much about the SEALs in the book. I thought ‘when Howard’s biography comes out, I’ll be one of the first to buy it!’ But years later it hadn’t come out and we got in touch on Facebook, where I suggested to write his biography. The book is called SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper.”
I did a lot of research for the book and interviewed Howard almost every Sunday via the computer for a period of three months. I was in Japan at the time and he in the USA, so Skype was economical for us. So we spent an hour or two on Skype and the rest of the week I worked out the interview and prepared new questions. Eventually, after more research and revisions, I showed it to my assistant and Howard let a few friends read the draft. The whole process took about 4 months.”
Being clear and organised helped speed up the process immensely. Those same characteristics also suited well with his career as a professor in Japan. A journey that started in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. “I was studying in Hawaii and English has always been my thing. There was a major called TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and that seemed like a cutting edge career move that I was uniquely qualified for. So I took that route and I had a lot of fun with it.”
Leaving SEAL Training
Stephen has followed his heart during the making of life changing decisions, and leaving SEAL training was one of them. “Every morning I prayed and was sincere about doing my best. But one morning I woke up and had a very strong feeling that it was time to go. I didn’t understand the feeling at the time, but it was a very strong one. It kind of sucked to be honest, because I had come so far. But I sensed that I’d better follow it. I have no regrets about it. I have a wonderful wife and kids, never missed any birthdays, wedding anniversaries or important holidays. As a Navy SEAL you’d have to follow intense training and go on missions, which leaves very little time for enjoying family life. So the best things I got out of leaving are definitely my family and my writing career.”
Fingers crossed! I certainly hope Vin Diesel hurries up and sets the wheels in motion for the movie adaptation of Stephen’s book! If you would like to read more about Stephen Templin and his books, please visit his website www.stephentemplin.com and follow him on Twitter: @StephenTemplin.