Nick Norris — Navy SEAL and Athlete on Training, Post-Traumatic Growth, and Healing (#378)

“I’ve shared that a lot more openly, and it’s been one of the best medicines that I’ve found. It’s liberating. Talking about grief has been something that’s unlocked a lot of happiness for me.”
— Nick Norris

Nick Norris (@nick_norris1981) is a graduate of both the United States Naval Academy and Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL (BUD/S) Class 247. Upon completion of SEAL training in 2004, Nick assumed progressively higher positions of leadership within Naval Special Warfare. His deployed roles included combat advisor to Iraqi and Afghan military units, Cross Functional Team Leader, and Ground Force Commander during combat operation in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nick was most recently assigned to Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command — SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) as Officer in Charge prior to transitioning off Active Duty. Originally from Chicago, Nick received his Bachelor in Science from the United States Naval Academy in 2003 and his Masters of Science in Real Estate from The University of San Diego in 2013. He is on the board of directors of the C4 Foundation, which provides support and resources through science-based programs to active duty Navy SEALs and their families. Nick is the Co-Founder and CEO of Amavara, a sunscreen company that has invented a new mineral sunscreen technology to protect both consumer health and the environment.

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#378: Nick Norris — Navy SEAL and Athlete on Training, Post-Traumatic Growth, and Healing


Want to hear an episode with someone who served with Nick on SEAL Team Three? — Listen to the most recent episode featuring Jocko Willink in which he discusses how to stop laziness and procrastination, behaviors that lead to failure, and much more. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


  • Connect with Nick Norris:

Amavara Skincare | Instagram

Organizations to Highlight: 


Dear listeners, please note that timestamps will be added shortly. 

  • What is dynamic four-way, and how was it responsible for Nick’s first trip to Tokyo?
  • What on Earth is a MoonBoard, how long does it take to build one, and where’s the strangest place Nick has used one?
  • In climbing and wind tunnel flying, what separates the good from the great?
  • In wind tunnel flying, what constitutes “high-speed?”
  • Nick describes proximity flying — a sport too extreme even for him.
  • What are some of the differentiators Nick has observed in exceptional climbers versus people who (like me) are just permanent blue belts, and can these differentiators be developed?
  • What is bouldering, and how is Nick’s physique equipped for it?
  • How does Nick prepare — mentally and physically — for particularly challenging climbs?
  • How Nick uses visualization for optimal performance.
  • Of what past physical feats is Nick most proud?
  • What prompted Nick’s interest in becoming a Navy SEAL, how did he conceptualize the structure of the small goals it would take to achieve this particularly big goal, and when did it start to become a reality?
  • What aspect of BUD/S or the SEAL training/vetting process did Nick expect to be the most difficult?
  • What is stress inoculation, and where do people sometimes get it wrong?
  • How does Nick know (former guest and fellow SEAL) Jocko Willink?
  • What internal conflicts did Nick experience when he returned to civilian life in 2013, and how long did he search for a remedy before he found something that actually helped?
  • How quickly did Nick respond to PR TMS (personalized repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation) once it was applied?
  • Nick’s tips for better sleep.
  • An interesting aside: Why does Nick climb with headlamps in the middle of the night?
  • The rules Nick has established for himself around coffee consumption, and what I’ve observed about my own caffeination habits over the years.
  • One of the biggest bang-for-your-buck supplements we’ve found for coping with the “tired and wired” phenomenon.
  • Has PR TMS been a cure-all remedy, or does Nick still experience bouts of apathy, depression, or other internal conflicts that drove him to seek it in the first place? What was it about his initial visits that seemed to help as much as — or perhaps even more than — the therapy itself?
  • To understand the perspective of someone close to a returning veteran and issues they may have in common, what has the adjustment been like for Nick’s wife during this time?
  • Why do so many veterans — including Nick — struggle to recognize their own internal conflicts?
  • What telltale signs and symptoms alert Nick that he may be in for an emotional rough patch, and how might having a designated confidante in the room who can spot these signs help keep things relatively smooth?
  • The variables that magnify these symptoms are often simple — but so are their remedies.
  • The importance of being part of a strong community.
  • One trick I use to interrupt periods of self-isolation.
  • What factors contributed to Nick’s feelings of isolation, apathy, and depression when he left the military and entered the world of commercial real estate, and what has helped since?
  • Developing countermeasures to the abnormality of the modern condition can sometimes be as easy as reaching out to an old friend.
  • What would Nick say to someone who’s struggling right now with their own inner turmoil — especially to people whose professions traditionally frown on displays of vulnerability?
  • Could mental illness do with a rebranding, and could time prove it to be the rule rather than the exception?
  • How Nick sees his own issues as a currency for post-traumatic growth, and why many who have had similar experiences would never trade them back even if they could.
  • How expressing grief — rather than suppressing it — can give you access to greater joy, and the epiphany that prompted this realization for Nick.
  • A book many have recommended for coping with grief.
  • On the therapeutic benefits of finding something outside of family and work that really gets you excited on a visceral level.
  • A shoutout to the brave men and women with whom Nick has had the honor of serving.
  • Organizations that support returning veterans and their families.
  • Resources for people dealing with treatment resistant depression — including my new documentary, Trip of Compassion.
  • What makes Amavara’s patent-pending sunscreen so unique?
  • Closing thoughts.