In honor of Veterans Day, we’re sharing the gripping, inspirational presentation our team received from Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander and 6-Time Paralympic Medalist, Dan Cnossen. In an unbelievable tale of strength and resilience, Dan shared his personal story of survival after losing both legs on active duty in Afghanistan. His determination left us reflecting on our own personal and professional trials and how we can cultivate the right mindset to overcome almost anything.

Dan’s Story

After entering the U.S. Naval Academy, Dan completed the grueling preparation and physically exhausting training required to become a Navy SEAL. Following multiple deployments where he proved his leadership skills, he rose in rank to become officer-in-charge of an 18-man platoon. Then, in 2009, Dan was sent to Afghanistan into an area of heavy combat. Through a horrific series of events during a mission in the mountains, he stepped on an explosive device. With the help of his comrades, Dan made it back home alive but tragically lost both his legs in the blast.

The Power of a Resilient Mindset

After the injury, Dan continued to fight for survival enduring over 40 different surgeries while readjusting to civilian life. Met with challenge after challenge on his road to recovery, Dan spoke to our team about the mental tools that got him through. He offered tangible steps to set and achieve goals while navigating tough obstacles, like:

  • Focusing on the now – taking things one step at a time. Not dwelling on the past or what may happen in the future.
  • Focusing on the good – celebrating the wins, no matter how big or how small.

With grit and determination, Dan showed us how the right mental attitude can make all the difference. Adapting a positive mindset, Dan went on to earn two Harvard degrees. He joined the U.S. Paralympic Team for cross-country skiing and biathlon and won one gold, four silver and one bronze medal earning him the honor of Best Male Athlete of the 2018 games. Dan’s ability to overcome the most seemingly insurmountable challenges to achieve great success demonstrates that with the right mental attitude anything is possible.

Thank you, Dan, for sharing your incredible story with our team and for your service to our country. We are grateful for Dan and for all the brave men and women who have selflessly put their lives on the line. To all those who have served and continue to serve, Happy Veterans Day.

Dan is a Resilience Specialist at 02x Human Performance, Timberline’s employee health partner offering customized health and wellness programs including risk reduction and rehabilitation. To learn more about Dan and his inspiring story of grit and determination visit here.