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The 200th episode: The 5 mountains of self-development

By April 3, 2019 May 7th, 2019 2 Comments

“I became obsessed with you have to make this right. And the only person who can do it is yourself. So I became obsessed with just being obsessed.”
– David Goggins

Kokoro Yoga is a daily practice for Commander Divine, to provide him with both physical and mental/meotional benefits. This summer you can join Mark and the head instructor Catherine between August 5th and 16th for the Kororo Yoga experience. Whether you are interested in enhancing your yoga practice, or taking the first steps toward becoming an instructor yourself, check out for more information or to register.

In the 200th episode of his podcast, Mark revisits a number of interviews with various guests that all exemplify parts of the Unbeatable Mind, 5 Mountain system. You’ll hear clips from the David Goggins episode, Cal Newport, Christine Hassler, Sifu Singh and Damien Mander. Each interview is an example of one of the 5 mountains – the physical, mental, emotional, intuitional and Kokoro.

Listen to this special episode to get a better understanding of how the 5 mountains show up in a variety of circumstances and how you can manage them for your own Unbeatable Mind.

Mark has talked before about the Halo Sport system for neural plasticity. By stimulating specific parts of the brain during activity, it makes you better able to learn new types of movement. As a listener, you are able to use the code DIVINE to get the new, upgraded version for half the regular price. Go to

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Welcome to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. This is your host Mark Divine. Thanks for joining me today.
This is a special podcast episode. It’s my 200th episode. Can’t believe it’s been 200 since I started this Unbeatable Mind podcast. I am super grateful and honored to have hosted so many unbelievable people, so many Unbeatable Minds over the past couple of years. I have spoken to many Navy SEALs and special operators. And astronauts, entrepreneurs, authors, elite athletes, ninja warriors and everyday people who have dominated through adversity. Or done just unbelievably cool things.
It has really been fun to dive deep into what drives people and inspires them to step up and overcome adversity. And motivates them to learn do new things to open up new territory. New understanding. New insights. Or to explore places that most people will never think about going.
And what’s cool about this is I get to have a conversation from a perspective of being not the expert myself, but just a curious onlooker. Someone who is like you just wanting to probe and learn from these individuals. It really has been an awesome journey and I really appreciate all of you – every one of you – for joining me on the journey and for being inspired by the guests. And I want to thank the guests as well.
One of the things a lot of people ask me or you know those who are interested in podcast ask me is how do I choose my guests? You know, it’s not completely random although it may seem that way. Like I said, I’ve had a vast diversity of different types of folks who really kind of meet that description of having an Unbeatable Mind or living an unbeatable life.
So, one of the filters that I use to select guests is the Five Mountain model. Which is one of the core models we use in our Unbeatable Mind training program. So, if you’re not aware of the Unbeatable Mind training program the meta-principle is that we must master ourselves in service to humanity. So, those are two pieces that go together like a hand in a glove.
Mastery and service. And so, it’s difficult to go out and serve well if we’re not mastering ourselves cause often, we serve from a place of weakness. Or we serve from a place of lack of understanding of what our true power is. What our really unique calling is in life and how to serve in 20 times potential. And to maintain peak performance.
So, the service falls flat. And requires that we take a hard look at how do we master ourselves and what does that mean? And so, for us at Unbeatable Mind, mastery has these five components that we call the Five Mountains. We must master our physical body or physical being, so, that we have the strength and the stamina. And the durability. And the longevity. And the health. And the balance to serve powerfully.
So, that’s the first Mountain – the physical. And I try to find guests who exemplify dominating and overcoming obstacles in that physical mountain. Or experts who can help us train that physical mountain.
So, these include fitness experts, world-class athletes, coaches… Navy SEALs and the like.
The second is the mental mountain. Now the mental mountain for us is really learning how to use our mind in a more comprehensive manner. Learning how to develop our whole mind. And so, this gives me a pretty broad swath of characters that I can really interview such as yoga masters – which is the science of mental development. Martial arts masters, and peak performance experts brain neuroscience, neuroplasticity experts – those types of things.
And so, we have lively discussions about what does it mean to develop the mind? And to train the brain? And to open up the heart mind and the gut, the biome as part of your mind system. And so, that is fascinating as well.
And then how do we specifically train ourselves to master that mental strength? So, that’s the second mountain.
Then the third is – it’s kind of like the holy grail of leadership – and that is the emotional mountain. And a big application of the Unbeatable Mind philosophy is for leadership development. Develop world-centric leaders who have great care and concern. For expanding spheres of humanity, until ultimately, it’s all of humanity or all sentient beings.
And so, that requires great emotional awareness and emotional development as well as social adaptation, social perspectives, and skillful communications. So, that you can connect at a deeper level.
So, I love it when I can talk to people who are involved in emotional development. Whether it be a coach, or a therapist, or a psychologist – something like that. And this is an area that a lot of people get stuck on. And it requires almost a lifetime of work – if not a lifetime of work. So, that’s the third mountain that I can go down or climb up – I should say.
And then the fourth is intuitional. That word is not very well understood by a lot of people, but for me, intuition is essential knowledge that comes to you – through you and is trans-rational. Meaning it’s beyond what your limited brain or thinking mind can create or understand. And so, you could say that intuition is tapping into your soul’s voice, that quiet whispering voice in your heart, or it could be coming from let’s say the external environment such as a SEALs intuition that there’s danger ahead a roadside bomb. It could be a deep insight or download you get from let’s say… Let’s call it universal intelligence. Or God depending upon your perspective.
So, intuition is amazing and those of us who have experienced and tapped into intuition we learn to trust it. We learn to trust our guts. And we actively will develop that. And so, I’ve been able to really talk to some fascinating individuals – like some advanced martial artists and Yogi’s who really spend a lifetime working on developing their intuition.
And then the fifth mountain I call Kokoro, also Kokoro spirit. Now Kokoro some of you’ve heard me use this term – it means merging your heart and mind into your actions. Another way to look at the Kokoro mountain is to essentially be bold and courageous and in alignment with your ethos. So, that every day you do exactly what you’re meant to do. You know exactly where you stand, and you stand your ground. And you never, ever, ever quit. That’s Kokoro. So, I’ve had some phenomenal discussions with individuals who are on that Kokoro journey and doing it in a big way.
So, that’s pretty cool. Gives me a lot of territory to tread when Alison and I… Who Allison’s my producer… When we decide on who we’re gonna have on the podcast. And we’re gonna continue using that as a filter. And so, if you have any recommendations for me please send them to [email protected] and we’ll take a look at that.
So, in this podcast – you probably know this by now, because you read the title in the description – but I’m gonna bring each one of those Five Mountains to the forefront and highlight one of my favorite individuals who I interviewed who exemplifies that mountain. And so, I’m not interviewing anyone new, and these podcasts have all been done before but I thought it’d be fun for me to just highlight some of the cooler aspects of each one. And so, you can see how these Five Mountains really kind of play out, and the way I think of them, and the way we train them.

Physical Mountain

So, without anything further to say about that, let’s start with the first mountain, the physical mountain. So, the physical mountain is taking a look at your body and trying to physically develop your body to its maximum potential, so, that you can perform at your peak at all times. And this is in a way that is appropriate for you, wherever you are in life. Whether you’re a young athlete, a Navy SEAL candidate, or a 45-year-old mom who’s just wanting to get back into yoga – or is doing yoga and wants to step it up a bit. So, the way we look at physical development is first by rebalancing our system through proper fuelling, proper recovery/sleep, hydration – those types of things. And then beginning a practice of breathing – that’s where box breathing comes in. Box Breathing – by the way – is a core practice of an Unbeatable Mind. Covers – or crosses, I should say – all Five Mountains. And it’s going to have an effect on your physical, your mental, your emotional, your intuitional and your Kokoro mountains.
So, when you first start with the breathing, it’s about physiology and getting your physiology back into balance and getting you the oxygen that you need and getting you the stress release both short-term and long-term that you need. So, your body’s in perfect balance.
And then in a performance point of view, we use the breath so, that we can overcome major adversity or challenge. Or extreme stress.
This is something that this guest has done quite well. Both physically developed his body to an elite level and has been able to use the breath and his mind in a new unique way. David Goggins. So, David, I came to meet him for this podcast… I’ve known about David for a while and I was in awe I still am of his accomplishments. He’s a Navy SEAL like me. Also went to Army Ranger School.
In the SEALs he decided that he wanted to do ultrarunning. He just saw some other folks doing it and he was like “hey, I can do that.” and he got up and ran a hundred miles. And he talks about this in the podcast how like at Mile 75 he was absolutely just done. You know, I think his legs were broken – literally – with shin splints. He literally he just hit the wall he sat down. And then something told him just to get up and he just got up and finished 100 miles. Insane feat. And he’s done that several times.
He’s even set the world record for pull-ups in 24 hours. This guy did 4025 pull-ups. It’s unbelievable. So, David Goggins has this superhuman determination and he really embodies this idea of the physical mountain, but as you know physical and the mental are closely tied together and so, of course he does cross all Five Mountains as well, but we’ll talk about him in the context of this first mountain. His book is called “You Can’t Hurt Me” and it’s going gangbusters. So, check it out. So, here’s David Goggins. Hooyah.

David Goggins


Mark: So you were essentially saying, “I gotta become the man who’s capable of getting into this program.”

David: I had to get to the start line.

Mark: Yeah, to get to the start line.

David: But that’s what happened.

Mark: Cause most of the guys who are there are pretty studly. Top athletes.

David: They’re good to go. “I went to the Academy. My dad was a SEAL” Shit. My family couldn’t even swim. You know what I’m saying?

We had no athletes in my damn family. And I was a kid who kind of got the bad genes. All these little sickly issues… I was allergic to shit. I was a little sickly kid. And it’s funny how when people hear my story now, they want to put a title on me. Like, I’m “superhuman.”

Mark: Yeah, like you had some special capabilities…

David: And I love it because basically, it makes you feel better. By putting a title on me. You can do it too.

Mark: It’s a choice.

David: Yeah, it’s a choice. It’s a horrible choice. It’s a hard choice. It’s a lot of suffering involved. So for me to get to the start line… through that start line journey I realized, “Shit. I’m capable.”

So what happens is this whole process is the change of the mind. The changing of the guard. Someone once owned my brain. I never owned it. I had no control over…

Mark: You outsourced it.

David: That’s right. It was my dad’s fault. It was the kids who called me “Nigger” fault. My mom wasn’t home fault. My soon-to-be stepdad’s fault. The little kid that got run over by the bus fault.

My life was everybody had a piece of my fucking brain.

And through this journey of suffering, and the suffering… I started finding myself. And I’m like, “Taking this fucking back from you. This part of my brain is mine now.”

And I started puzzling back this piece of my brain. And through that, I grew confidence. And then when I got to BUD/S…

Mark: Can I ask you, so at… How do I even say this, cause I’m trying to think through what that process was like. Were you getting like insights after insights that allowed you to pull your brain back? Pull control back?

Or did it just kind of happen really, really subtly? Were there like leaps, where all of a sudden you just said, “Screw it. My dad… I don’t owe him anything and he doesn’t have control over me anymore.”

Or was it emotional? Mental? I mean, help me out here on your stand. Were people…? We’re talking about 3 months here of transformation… There’s some magic that happens.

David: Yeah. But think about this. We get to the 3 months pretty quick in my story. But the thing about it though, this is years of conversation in a very dark… I mean a very bad dark. Sometimes you gotta go dark to get places.

Mark: Yeah, I get that.

David: This is a bad dark. Where I had this internal conversation with myself a lot. And I knew I had to make a stand. I knew where I was going. I knew where this road led, that I was on.

And I was afraid. I was afraid to make that stand. So this process was going on a long time in my mind. I was afraid of this, afraid of that, afraid of this, afraid of that. I knew I had to face this shit, man.

But through facing a lot of this stuff, that’s what started happening to me. Through facing it I started getting more and more courage. Very fast.

Mark: One thing at a time.

David: One thing at a time. So when I overcame the water… more courage. When I overcame the fear of myself, the fear of failure, the fear of being judged… I made… in this process, I went from David Goggins… I started forming a guy named Goggins. I had to really invent… I realized I had to reinvent a whole ‘nother human being within myself because who I am wasn’t going to make it. This guy’s not going to cut it.

So I had to be a guy who can take any kind of pain. Any kind of suffering. Any kind of torture mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I had to have the people who… I had to visualize everybody that called me “Nigger,” you had to be in a room with people like this.

I had to make up these things in my mind of things I had to overcome. And I started callousing my mind. Through a process… it started with working out. It started with doing… if it started raining outside, for instance, my mind would say, “Fuck that, man. I’m going to go run.”

If it was 3 o’clock in the morning start raining outside, my mind said, “You gotta go run. You have to.”

Because I was fighting this other person.

Mark: So you essentially tried to do everything you didn’t want to do.

David: That’s all it was. Period. Everything I didn’t want to do is what got me to where I’m at today. Every single thing.

So where we find comfort, that’s where I started getting scared. When I started saying, “Oh it’s raining. I’m not going out there.” No. You cannot say that. You cannot do that. You have got to do this.

So whatever my brain thought, I did the opposite. Whatever the comfort was I went the opposite direction. And over a period of time, boy it callouses the shit out of your mind. You start to really develop a whole ‘nother being.

And I saw this kid who was once scared and afraid, start to…

Mark: I love this idea–I’m sorry. I’m so fascinated with this idea of visualizing the biggest challenge and then conquering it in your mind. Because that’s really… that’s super-powerful. We call that winning in our mind, before you set foot on the battlefield in our training.

And you did this just naturally. You figured it out.

David: Well, what drove me a lot and it’s kind of funny. Growing up, being the kid I was, I found strength in different movies. So I come home, and one movie I found a lot of strength in… As funny as it may seem… but I visualize it today. During the pull-up record–4030 pull-ups–the last time I did I actually got it. Took me three times. I played one song for 17 hours pretty much. And it’s from this movie–Rocky I, round 14. I related to the person in the movie. But just the one scene.

When Apollo’s beating the shit out of Rocky, he falls in the corner, and everybody… And Apollo turns around arms up, happy as shit, “I got this guy.” He turns around not knowing that Rocky’s trying to get up off the canvas. Mickey, his trainer, is saying “stay down.” Everybody’s saying “stay down. You did good. You went 14 rounds with the champ.”

Rocky didn’t hear shit. He got up. And it’s fixed in my mind today… I’m seeing it right now. When he got up, Apollo starts to turn around to see the aftermath of what the fuck he just destroyed. And he did not expect to see what he saw. And what I see out of the whole movie, I see Apollo Creed’s face.

Mark: Yeah, fear crept in.

David: Yes. And I said to myself as a young kid, “I want to be that.” I don’t need to win. I don’t need trophies. I don’t need people to fucking like me. I just want what he has. A fictional character… whatever the hell it was… I want that. And I visualized that. And I want to become the guy who can get off the canvas and look at somebody who beat the fucking shit out of him…

Life, we’re talking about life right now. And even life herself pushed her head toward David Goggins. This motherfucker is not going to stop.

So that mentality became what I wanted. And that’s how it started with that visualization of the canvas. And all I got to do is just keep getting up.

Mark: And the training of physically challenging yourself is what opened the doors. And then that led you to the emotional healing, cause you gotta expose yourself to extreme discomfort and pain… Interesting.

David: And then the pride that comes along with it is… you can’t buy it.

Mental Mountain

Now the second mountain I can mention is the mental mountain. One thing about mental development requires a relentless combatting of distraction and a real focus on eliminating distractions so, that you can train your mind. Training of the mind – mental development is different than what a lot of people think. So, yes, it is about improving the way your rational mind works by eliminating biases and overcoming dysfunctional thinking patterns which everybody has.
But more than that it’s learning to steel your mind through deep practice of concentration. And then being able to turn that concentrated mind on whatever object or subject that is interesting to you, or any pursuit in life. And also, to turn that concentrated mind on your own emotional intuitive development as well as to be able to tap into your heart-mind, your belly-mind, your entire nervous system and peripheral mind. And that’s what I mean by using whole mind.
So, this subject almost has to start with the principle of decluttering your environment. Both external and internal. Something I talk about extensively in Unbeatable Mind. How do we declutter? What can we get rid of? How do we employ that Keep It Simple Sally principle so that we can even have the space and the time and the ability to develop our mental model?
Well, a friend of mine, Joe Stumpf, asked me one day – we were training at the SEALFIT training center – said “hey, I’ve learned about this book… This author Cal Newport and he wrote this book called ‘Deep Work.’ I think this is really important.”
And when Joe says something important… he’s a super successful guy – then I take it seriously. So, I read “Deep Work” and I loved it. And “Deep Work” is all about how do you focus in a distracted world? And aren’t we in a distracted world? It’s getting more and more distracting every single day.
So, how do you radically focus in the distracted world so, that you can mentally develop and radically focus on your mission in life? And that’s what we’re going to learn from Cal. Here we go.

Cal Newport

Mark: Okay. Well, let’s start with the second half. ‘Cause everyone here listening has a busy professional life. And what they’re gonna be… the first thought, the knee-jerk reaction is, “I don’t have time for one more thing.” I’ve always thought about writing a book, but I don’t even know where to begin. So how do we structure and begin to work with… you have four rules, maybe those are a good framework to work with.

Cal: Yeah, those could be helpful. First of all, there’s an important mindset shift to have in trying to make this transition is to understand that deep work is what produces things that’s hard to replicate and valuable. It’s what takes your skills and actually has you apply them like a craftsman, at the highest level you’re able to. Non-deep work or what I call shallow work is almost by definition easily replicatable. It’s like emails and meetings and passing memos back and forth. And therefore it does not produce much value. So shallow work is necessary to keep the lights on, but it’s not what’s going to get you ahead, it’s not what’s going to get you promoted, it’s not what’s going to grow your business. It’s like, maybe shallow work helps keep you out of bankruptcy, where deep work is what helps the business triple in size. So the notion of saying, “I don’t have time for deep work,” what you’re really saying is, “I don’t have time to actually produce value. Or do things that produce value. I just wanna do things that are probably relatively easily replicatable by any sort of reasonably bright 21-year-old right out of college. Any reasonably bright 21-year-old can bounce emails back and forth, and set up these type of things. So it really is… to think about deep work is the core thing that produces value. And therefore by prioritizing it and making it a regular part of your working life, you are ensuring that you’re producing value, that you’re going to keep advancing, that you’re going to get better, that you’re going to get promoted and the business is going to grow. So it’s almost, you can’t afford not to do it.

Now, in terms of how you get it in, what’s crucial is there has to be scheduling routines and rituals surrounding the work. Deep work is cognitively very expensive. It’s something that your mind is going to naturally resist in the moment. And so if your idea is, ” I wanna wait ’til I get to a time where it seems like I’m in a mood to do deep work, and I have a lot of free time, and maybe right now I’ll concentrate really hard,” you’re essentially going to get none of it done.

Mark: Right.

Cal: So, it really does require routines and rituals. So a very specific scheduling routine, “this is how I schedule deep work into my life,” has to be in place. And then rituals surrounding the actual deep work sessions. “I do these five things before it starts. Here’s where I do the deep work, here’s the rules while I’m doing it. Here’s how I shut it down.” So that your mind can slip into that mindset without having to necessitate an excessive investment of willpower, which is finite. So you need scheduled routines, and you need depth rituals around the actual deep work periods if you’re going to succeed on a regular basis.

Mark: Right. And structure. You know, in your book you talk about Carl Jung’s cottage in the woods, and Mark Twain, you know, locking himself in the outhouse basically. And another professor of yours at Georgetown. Or maybe it’s not Georgetown. But who would lock the door and basically say… Or maybe this was you? Lock the door and say I’m out of the office and then you would just do your work there. But having… structuring your space and time, right? And closing off all communications, and then just being clear about that. I’m reminded of Eisenhower’s decision matrix where he’s saying, you know, you gotta do the urgent, important, but you can’t do it at the expense of the important but not urgent. So deep work is important and not urgent from a time-sensitive standpoint, but it’s urgent to advance our career and ourselves in life. To grow ourselves.

Cal: There’s really three main types of routines people use to schedule it. And the type that fits best depends on just the realities of your job.

So one type is what’s called the bimodal philosophy. It’s what Carl Jung did, it’s what the professor your talking about, Adam Grant, this is what he does. Which is where you set aside the occasional multi-day period where you’re completely off the grid and working deeply on just one thing. So in Adam Grant’s case, you might just be going through a week and he’s just there and he’s accessible, he’s working with the students. And then from Friday to Tuesday, he’s off the grid. He’s just doing deep work.

Carl Jung actually would leave Zurich and go to the house he built on the shore of Lake Zurich that had no electricity and no running water. It had a meditation room and he would just go there, and just think and just work. And then he’d come back to Zurich and you know, he’s busy. The clinical practice he was really busy. So that’s the bimodal…

Mark: Is it the same as what you call “batching” in your book?

Cal: Yeah, so it’s extreme batching in the sense that it’s… you know the bimodal philosophy you go multiple days. So really, you clear out almost everything from your head and you really are wholly enveloped in the depth. And you can really produce quite a bit in a small amount of time.

The second of the three philosophies is the rhythmic philosophy, which is, “I’m gonna put aside the same time on the same dates. So I don’t want to think about it, it’s just… I know that time is always dedicated to deep work. I don’t need to make a decision or expend willpower. It’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays, seven to eleven.

Mark: It becomes a ritual.

Cal: It’s my ritual. Then the final philosophy–I call it the journalistic philosophy–if, as I recommend–you have pretty fine grain control over your time at multiple levels or granularity, so you know what’s going on this month, you know what’s going on this week, you know what’s going on your given day. You can survey the week ahead of you, or the next two weeks ahead of you, and say, “Okay, what’s happening this week? I’m traveling for these two days, I’ve got this meeting this day. When am I doing my deep work? And you go in and you put it on your calendar and you treat it like any other appointment or meeting. Something that once set is inviolable. Someone else wants to do something at that time, you say, “No, I have a thing. I’m not free ’til three.”

Those are the three different philosophies for scheduling deep work that come up if you study people who do this. And it’s really a mix and match to the what are the realities of your job or personality.

Mark: That’s fascinating. And as you were talking through these I realized that I’ve tried all three of these. In particular the bimodal and the rhythmic. So bimodal in setting up a writing retreat, where I’m gonna go somewhere and write for a week or so. And then the rhythmic, I remember reading a really neat book about fifteen years ago. It’s called “The Diamond Cutter” and it’s about… it’s Buddhist philosophy. And they recommended that you take an entire day for just pure creative time in the middle of the week. You draw a circle around it and you don’t do any work. It’s just pure creativity and pure time away, and they call it the “circle day.”

And so I’ve tried that as well. And the problem I have is just encroachment, and so maybe this is a discipline issue, but what are some of the strategies for ensuring that other people and life just doesn’t encroach. And all of a sudden you find out that it’s circle day, or it’s your day to retreat and you’ve been scheduled over. Have you experienced that? Or do you have any strategies or recommendations for how to handle the clutter from… or how to keep the clutter at bay?

Cal: Yeah, it’s a big issue. And it’s why one of the rules of the book is called “drain the shallows.” And the idea is that some shallow work is necessary just to function professionally. But shallow work has to be viewed with some suspicion and with some care, as more like a necessary evil. And that there has to be a pretty aggressive containment of the non-deep portions of your life. Because of it’s no holds barred, it will encroach. It’ll encroach on almost anything. There’s multiple things that are relevant here. One thing you can do is have what I call an attention charter. Where you essentially work out in advance, “here are my rules for who gets access to my time and attention and under what circumstances.” So you deal with, “what if someone wants to have a coffee, or what if someone emails me about this, or what if I get asked to do an interview for that, or what if someone wants to do this meeting?” You just have these hard rules that you can push up against, and so you don’t have to think about it. Because the issue is, those type of external encroachments–every single one of them is reasonable in isolation.” You take any single one of these–maybe a reader emails you and it’s like, “Hey, Mark, can we have a coffee? I’m in the area.” You look at it in isolation, you say, “This is imminently reasonable. This seems like an interesting person. It could be a good conversation.” But you multiply that by X and suddenly you look at the schedule and it’s all pockmarks. This is scheduled, that’s scheduled, this is scheduled. There’s no way, there’s no time in there, and you’re divided so to actually work out in advance, “here are the situations in which I’ll do a meeting with someone I don’t know. Here are the situations in which I’ll agree to do this. Here are the situations in which I’ll agree to do a speaking arrangement with travel.” You have these things worked out. So that’s helpful.

Another thing that’s helpful is to actually be much more aggressive in eliminating sources of shallow work from your life. I mean… so I don’t use social media, that’s an example of the calculus was not “is there some value I could get from social media.” Because of course, the answer is yes. Just like it is for any tool. Any tool has some value. But you don’t go to the hardware store and buy every one of em. Right? It’s which tools do I really want to use?

So this notion of what produces the most value for me. And I’m willing to eliminate sources of shallow work and encroachment if they’re not a primary and substantial producer of value for me. So you just take out these channels. You know, a long time ago on my website I got rid of general use email address that just said: “I want to hear from you.” Instead, I have very specific channels for more narrow type things that I’m interested in. It cut down on my email by a factor of ten. And it was fine because, yes there’s some things I’m missing out on, that were interesting before, but it was a sort of a triage. I’m trying to get down to what are the things that produce the most value. So this notion of being… having hard limits on who gets access to your time and attention. Being very careful about allowing into your workflow things that pull at your time and attention but are only offering some value or maybe just providing insurance against missing out. Which is not a good investment. It costs too much and… it costs too much in cognitive capital for a lot of these things too. Monitor a social media service at great expense to your time and attention because you might miss out on something, it’s not a fair investment. And so it’s this notion, of then what’s left, “Okay, what’s my workflow for what’s left? And how can be as efficient and minimally invasive of my time and attention as possible with the shallow work that’s left?” So it’s a battle that requires a lot of energy.

Emotional Mountain

All right now we’re onto the Emotional Mountain, the third of our Five Mountains. I mentioned the Emotional Mountain is the one that is really difficult for most people. Especially men. We just don’t have skillful means it’s not something that’s talked about much. I mean I remember there was zero discussion about emotions in our family. I had a real difficult time until I got into therapy and you know did a lot, a lot of work on myself. And continue to do to this day. I mean it’s just like… You just keep peeling the onion… I mean, you can never be done with emotional awareness, emotional depth. And it is critical for leaders and followers in teams as a whole to really tap into the emotional development
You know I got to admit in the SEALs I was surprised to see great emotional awareness and a lot of like real deep discussions and deep learning going on that just doesn’t happen in the corporate environment. Because our lives were on the line and we had to call each other out and we had to do it in a way that was sensitive without being politically correct or incorrect. Just absolutely caring about another individual to the point where you’re gonna tell them what you know they don’t want to hear. And not being afraid of repercussions.
So, really, we need to move there in our culture and our organizations and leaders need to develop this. The question is how.
Well you know I’ve always said that if you need a fitness coach and nutrition coach, well why not an emotional coach? An emotional coach is a therapist. But there’s also emotional coaches out there and I think it’s a great opportunity for anyone – any therapist who really wants to or anyone who is really interested in emotional development to hang up a shingle and call themselves an emotional coach. What a huge opportunity that would be. Because everybody needs an emotional coach.
Well, my friend, Christine Hassler is an emotional coach. And I had a really fun conversation with her on our podcast and she was phenomenal at our Unbeatable Mind summit this past year. She talks about expectation hangovers. Which we all have. And I work really hard – one of the primary practices I have which has really cultivated great humility – is non-attachment. I work really hard to not be attached to anything. Any success, any physical thing, material thing. Any accomplishments. It’s just there. Whoop-de-doo. I learn and move on. You don’t stay attached to things because attachments to any outcome will lead to that expectation hangover.
And what we learned from Christine also is that essentially all of us are running around with this shadow projection of negative tendencies that we picked up from our parents. This is not new information, but she’s got a really, really cool way of explaining it and helping us see how these negative patterns that we pick up end up getting suppressed, repressed, denied and then projected out. And we’re getting triggered all the time by these same things in other people or we’re basically acting in a way that is dysfunctional. And we don’t even know it. So, we become our own impediment to progress.
And that’s what emotional development will help you do. And that’s what Christine will help you understand in this podcast. So, enjoy. Hooyah.

Christine Hassler

And all of us have significant life events in our childhood that hurt us in some way. Make us feel unsafe. Make us feel unloved. Make us feel like we don’t belong. And those are so painful. So painful.

And our ego, to survive it has to come up with some kind of what I call a “compensatory strategy.” Like, some way to feel more than. Or some way to fit in. Or some way to get love when we don’t feel it. And my particular brand…

Mark: So you mean like an exaggerated personality trait?

Christine: It’s more like if we feel unsafe or unloved or less than in some way… we feel threatened. And since we aren’t fighting for like, our basic survival. Most of us know we have a roof over our head. Know we’re going to have food to eat. Those kinds of things. What fights for survival is our sense of self. And our identity.

So it’s like, “who am I if I’m not loved? Who am I if I’m not safe?” We’ve got to come up with some way to compensate for wherever we feel less than or out of control or something like that.

Mark: And then these become out of sync personality traits. Or even personality disorders, such as, like, narcissistic personality disorder or whatever…

Christine: They can go that far. They can totally go that far. But most of us don’t go that far. Most of us don’t develop a personality disorder. We have these compensatory strategies.

I’ll give you an example of mine, and then I’ll give you some other ones…

Mark: Yeah, cause my mind is already thinking about what mine were. (laughing) I think I know, actually…

Christine: (laughing) I think I might be able to guess yours. We might have the same one…

Mark: (laughing) Over-achievement might have been one of them…

Christine: (laughing) Exactly. “Ding-ding-ding.”

So that was mine. Overachiever. High Achiever. I thought, “Well, if I’m not going to be liked, and if something’s wrong with me mentally or physically, then I’m just going to get the best grades. And be successful.”

Other examples are…

Mark: And our academic system plays right into that doesn’t it?

Christine: Oh, totally. Totally. But everybody picks their particular brand. And sometimes you have a hybrid. So another example is a “people pleaser.” Like, if at some point in your life you felt unloved or you felt like you got in trouble from one of your parents, or maybe your parents, like, fought a lot. And the way you could make them happy or get their love was to please them. And get their approval that way. Then you might become a “people pleaser.”

Or you might be a “caretaker.” If you found your worthiness by taking care of other people. Coming to the rescue. Solving their problems.

Or you might be a bit of “control freak.” People that grew up in a lot of chaos. Like, a lot of moving or again, parents fighting, or just a lot of uncertainty. Or abandonment. You just want to control everything. You’re type A. If you want something done, you do it yourself. These are just some of the common strategies…

Mark: And these carry in through adulthood unless you take a hard look at them. If you have a hard stop in life, or things are just not working out. Did that happen to you? Was there a certain incident that…?

Christine: Oh my Gosh. There were so many things. And the thing about these is not only do they carry through, but they’re effective.

Mark: (laughing) Yeah, right. They’re darn effective.

Christine: They’re very effective. Like, the “overachievers,” you have success. “People pleasers,” people like you. “Caretakers,” people need you. “Control Freaks,” you have a lot of certainty in your life. So they work on the goal-line. But they’re not very fulfilling on the soul-line.

Mark: Oh, wow. Look at that. Little rhyme there. Trademark.

Christine: (laughing) I think I learned that in my Spiritual Psychology program. The goal-line/soul-line so I can’t own the trademark. But it’s a good one.

So for me, the overachieving was highly effective. I graduated the top of my class. I went to a great college…

Mark: Got lots of accolades for the grades. Got into the right schools. Blah-blah-blah.

Christine: Absolutely. And that became my identity. And the thing about these strategies is we think they are our personality. We think they are who we are. But they’re not.

Mark: You know, I see that particular trait as almost dominant in our culture. And a lot of people who come to some of our SEALFIT training has a “wake-up” type of effect to it. Where it can really wake you up to these stories. And I see a lot of people in their 40s, 50s… well into their lives who are extraordinarily successful still living that story.

Christine: And when you live that way, you’re constantly living in “when-then”s. And for the over-achievers particularly the bar keeps getting raised. And enough is never enough. I see so many people… I’m sure you do too… that are highly successful but still feel like there’s something missing. Still, feel like there’s more.

People Pleasers end up resentful. Because it’s all about everybody else. Care Takers end up depleted…

Mark: Because they’re pleasing everyone else, but nobody’s reciprocating. Because there’s no requirement to reciprocate.

Christine: And People Pleasers are terrible receivers. They really suck at receiving. Try to give a People Pleaser a compliment…

Mark: Here’s another rhyme. A People Pleaser is not a receiver.

Christine: Whoa! On a roll. You can have that one.

Mark: No, I think I’ll let that one slide.

Christine: But you know what, though? And this is for all the People Pleasers out there. People pleasing is actually selfish. People think it’s selfless, but it’s actually… when we’re people pleasing, we’re the one that wants to be liked. We’re the one that doesn’t want confrontation.

However, it’s selfish in a self-depleting way…

Mark: It’s disguised neediness, right? Interesting.

Intuitional Mountain

Awesome. We’re on to the Fourth Mountain, the intuition mountain. As I mentioned in the intro intuition really is trusting your gut and being able to tap into your heart. And being able to act or shut down or shut off or calm down your rational mind, so, that you can utilize what the Yogi’s would call the perceiving mind. And that’s what we do in deep meditation.
When you learn through concentration training to be able to shut down the chatter and then to switch into the perceiving mind. Now we’re starting to get into the realm of intuition where you can have that spontaneous transfer of knowledge. You can have direct insight. You can have trans-rational, trans-personal information flowing to you and through you. It’s really phenomenal.
And it can be trained. It’s a skill that all of us have. One area that this has been developed or you see this developed and I think that you know one of the things I’m trying to do with Unbeatable Mind is create a Western version of this – is the developmental arts of the East. In particular the martial arts and yoga. And also, the meditative practices of let’s say Tibetan Buddhism is one area… There’s others, but those are you know the deep meditative and silence practices of the East.
And my guest on this podcast is Sifu Singh, who’s an advanced martial artist and has really tapped into his intuitive mind and we have a fascinating discussion about intuition and the power of listening to your intuition and also the folly of ignoring it. I love this conversation. I think Sifu is awesome and you’re gonna really enjoy this discussion. Here you go.

Sifu Singh

And what ended up happening when I was graduating, went to a bonfire. A graduation bonfire in Ocean Beach, California. Up in Northern California.

And we were late. So we were the last group to arrive, myself and 5 of my friends. Everybody else is celebrating. Exams are done, so they’re down on the beach about 100 yards away, and we’re in the parking lot.

And you know that saying, bad things happen to you when you least expect it? Having a good time, right? So crack open a few beers. “Hey, we survived another year. Cheers.”

And literally out of the darkness, out of nowhere, 25 local gangsters came.

Mark: Holy cow.

Sifu: They were looking for someone. My roommate was standing on my left–happened to look like one of the people that they were looking for. And it was mistaken identity. It was one of those moments.

And literally they approached, and as they approached a guy to my right was smoking a cigarette. And their leader or the voice guy asked him, “Hey, can I borrow a cigarette?”

And the moment he asked to borrow a cigarette, boom, they were on him. Took him to the center. Made a formation. So they fought in a formation, so they had a plan.

And that was the first time that fight or flight really hit me. I mean–been in the dojo, been in sparring–in that environment. But not like this. Not like this kind of… even one on one street fights here and there as a kid. But not like this.

Mark: 25 against 1.

Sifu: Not 25. And they were on something. Could see it in their eyes. They were just not with it, they were not there. And they didn’t care. And then it started right there. Had to make the decision–that was my friend. I need to do something, but the thing was I didn’t know what to do.

So I did nothing heroic that day. There was a guy with a 2×4. He swung. I went up and I blocked just reacted. And I started to run and they’re chasing me. So there’s a group beating on him, and a group chasing me around the cars. So it looked much like a football game where everybody’s trying to tackle me. It wasn’t like a Kung-Fu movie where they’re going to come one at a time.

Mark: And what’s going through your mind at that time?

Sifu: Now that was when I experienced the coolest feeling. Where everything slowed down. And everything was moving. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t afraid. But it just slowed down. It just was moving like I was in “The Matrix.”

Mark: Did you have a sense that if you could just isolate these people one at a time, you could just…?

Sifu: You know, at that time, I couldn’t even… that didn’t go through…

Mark: There was no tactical thinking.

Sifu: Yeah. There was no tactical thinking at that point for me. I just experienced the zone. I clicked into some natural survival instinct of mine and everything slowed down and I was just moving. And everything was moving really slowly. It was like this perfect chaos was kind of it. But I didn’t know what to do.

And divine intervention…

Mark: Isn’t that crazy after how many years of karate experience? I had the same experience where I had a black belt and I got tackled and choked out. And I’m like, “How could that be?” And it’s because I never really learned how to fight.

Sifu: Never really did. Outside in that chaotic environment. Where people don’t care.

Mark: When it’s not just a “Hey,” sparring match…

Sifu: There’s no referees, there’s no senseis. There’s nobody to help you. And that was the first day that I experienced that.

And it was Divine Intervention we got saved. Cause the 2 guys just happened to walk by…

Mark: The ones they were looking for?

Sifu: The ones they were looking for. And they forgot about us.

Mark: (laughing) Just peeled off and went after them.

Sifu: Just “fft.” left us there.

And then I left from there. That was the day I left and I was just like, “Man, I’ve been doing this Karate for all these years.” And so big blow to the ego. Lots of shame, lots of anger. I was just consumed.

I was like, “Man, I’m never going to let this kind of thing happen to me again.” And that anger really what took over for me.

Mark: Did you use that anger as a determination factor to get some real training?

Sifu: Definitely. I did. And then I graduated so I got a great engineering job and I had all the money in the world. So now I was like, “Okay, I’m just going to train. I’m going to find the best masters in the world,” that I could.

And then the first 2 that I got–1 was a gentleman by the name of Paul Vunak. He helped the first hand-to-hand combat program… that was SEAL team 6.

Mark: What was his name again?

Sifu: Paul Vunak.

Mark: I knew Paul. Yeah, I knew about him.

Sifu: And at the same time, I went to a Tai Chi master. Because… okay, you’re going to laugh. I wanted to learn the Death Touch because I was so pissed off. As crazy as the listeners… yeah, this is true man. Can’t make it up.

I wanted to learn the Death Touch. And “Who’s going to teach me the Death Touch?” Nobody’s going to teach me it. So I got a book on it. I started to see the meridians and the points and all this. And I said, “Hmm. I’m just going to enroll in medical Chi-gong. Cause nobody’s going to actually teach it to me. And so I went into it to learn the Death Touch but ended up learning the Healing Hand. My teacher taught the process which is really cool.

You learn to look at your emotions. You learn to balance them. To clear them out. Forgive your attacker, and then out comes the other end… this guy going totally nuts, Kill Bill, wanting to do the Death Touch… to the Healing Hand. Now I’m doing energy work. And I cleared myself and my own energy.

And it was like 2 paths. There was that and then the other side. Which was the extreme violence of what to do. Jeet Kune Do and then learning from my teacher and then eventually I took over for him.

And went off on my own. And as I did, got more experience with law-enforcement, police, Special Forces, SWAT, Secret Service. Various agencies. Just kept building it and building it from there. And training that side–the killer instinct side. And the consciousness side.

And together it… I’m here now.

Kokoro Mountain

All right this brings me to the fifth mountain. Kokoro. Kokoro spirit. As I mentioned in the introduction, this whole podcast and Unbeatable Mind philosophy is about mastering yourself in service to others. I’ve had many guests representing this fifth mountain or Kokoro mountain and I’ve got some friends who have mastered themselves and are continuing to do that. And then serving at such a big level. My friend Joe DeSena of the Spartan Race and Tony Robbins. Of course, Tony Robbins organization… These guys are great examples of individuals who are really bringing it to humanity in a big way and they totally get this idea of 20Xing or twenty times your potential you can perform at 20 times and then 20 times that again, and again. And they keep serving in greater and greater concentric rings more and more people. It’s a really cool thing. And to do it in a way that is utterly unique to you. Like every one of us has this unique genetic or DNA or soul print that says “this is who we are. This is what we’re meant to do, and it’s different than everybody else.” and it’s incumbent upon every one of us to find out what that is. What is our calling? Who are we? What’s our purpose? What are we passionate about? What principles are gonna guide our behavior, and then what target do we line it up on and then shoot at that target within intensity. And a never-quit spirit. That is Kokoro. Merging heart and mind into your actions and doing it in a big way.
Well, one person that I really just was blown away with in my conversation was Damien Mander. Now Damien – what an incredible guy. He was in the Australian Royal Navy and then he went and made a fortune real estate, but then saw you know that that essentially was not the path. And he hit bottom, and his life was falling apart.
So, this is an example of a warrior who got out thinking “I’ve got to make money because so, many of my friends in the SEALs. I’m gonna get out and go into finance or real estate or I’m gonna make it big because I had to basically suck it up and not make any money for all the years that I was in the teams… Or in the military.”
And so, he was like that but then he saw that wasn’t the way. And one thing that inspired him was that he was really struck by the atrocities of the poachers in the games of Africa in the savannas and he had this aha moment that he could make a change or he could have an impact there. So, he established an international anti-poaching alliance and they were going… Bringing basically SpecOps guys and techniques against the poachers. And he realized that they weren’t really having much of an impact. It was like playing whack-a-mole.
And then he had this inspiration to train women – local women – to become these anti-poaching Rangers. This is in Zimbabwe. So, his program empowered these women. Gave them actually a job and a meaning and this led to transforming entire villages and communities. And guess what? People weren’t dying, because the women were basically… They were like these highly sophisticated informants who knew the lay of the land. They knew all the local people and instead of just bringing guns to the problem they were able to defuse these situations and get people arrested instead of killed. And all that money stayed locally. So, like I said – their villages and their economies were boosted in this effort. And this is a model that can be replicated in other places and Damien’s working to do that. So, enjoy this episode and I’ll talk to you bit at the end.

Damien Mander

Mark: Is that the Akashinga program? Or is that…?

Damien: Yeah. So I mean we… actually reading The New York Times written about the first group of female US Rangers to come through the ranks. But, so, we looked at it. And conservation is a male-dominated industry. The ratio of men to women on the front lines is around 100 to 1. And so we’re looking around at other industries and in particular US military where we’re seeing women come through the ranks.

And reading more and more about how the empowerment of women is the single greatest force for positive change in the world today. And I thought, Well if women aren’t getting exposure at ground level to the experience that they need to rise up through the ranks and genuinely fill management positions with the background experience to make proper operational decisions.

Then if women can’t progress in conservation then can conservation progress? When the rest of the world seems to be moving along? And so we set out to build a team of all females as an anti-poaching unit. And we tried, and we tried, and we tried and we couldn’t find a reserve that would accept them. Or accept us to trial this what everyone perceived to be such a huge risk.

Mark: You mean you couldn’t find an existing conservation unit from any of the countries involved. Is that what you’re saying?

Damien: We couldn’t find any that were willing to allow us to test this model. And then we eventually found an abandoned trophy hunting reserve.

Now just to give some context there. Trophy hunting is a dying industry. Trophy hunting is where people from overseas will come over and they’ll shoot an elephant or a rhino.

Mark: Yeah. Facebook has helped kill that off, right?

Damien: Yeah. It has. So activism, largely driven from the Western World. Reduced wildlife populations and rougher laws and penalties around the import and export of certain trophies. Such as ivory from countries like Zimbabwe to the US.

Which again is a function of activism. So what that means is that there’s an area collectively the size of France across Africa that is being set aside for trophy hunting. And in just Zimbabwe alone where I live–20% of the landmass of that country is set aside for trophy hunting…

Mark: By the government you mean? Or is it privately owned?

Damien: A collection of the two. And so where trophy hunting has been used as an economic model to fund anti-poaching units in the past, as it dies off, the pieces of land that have been set aside for trophy hunting have no protection.

And these pieces of land… and look, I don’t like trophy hunting. And what I hate more about it is the fact that we have ethically… there’s been enough momentum around the world to ethically maintain it as an industry to fund conservation.

But now that these areas are dying off, all the hunters that call themselves “conservationists”… they’re not hanging around. They move on to the next area where there’s still something left to shoot. And people like us have to pick up the pieces.

And so we moved into this area in August last year. And we did selection for… we started with 87 women and we did pre-selection. Pre-selection, just interview process. Get it down to around 36.

I did selection for 189 men in 2012 and at the end of day 1, we had 3 left. We had three that were suitable. So we did selection for these women… we started… largely modeled on the sort of torture you know too well of coming through Special Operations and being exposed to the pillars of misery. Being cold, tired, hungry and wet.

And we started selection with 37 women, and at the end of 72 hours, only 3 had voluntarily pulled off. We knew had something very special. Now the distance one places between suffering and breaking is what I think defines the spirit of an individual and its spirit we need. I can train the rest. I need spirit, I need character. And these women had it.

And so we used a small team of former Special Operations instructors, and we put these women through hell. And they impressed us at every turn. They went operational in October of last year, and have just absolutely shifted my mindset on how conservation should be approached.

Historically, when we build a unit–an anti-poaching unit–we would recruit from around the country, and form a unit to protect these nature preserves. From which the local population has at some point in history been pushed off to create that area. So there’s already tension.

And then you bring in an external force. So they’re not influenced by the local population that they may have grown up with.

Now women don’t seem corruptible. We haven’t seen any instance of corruption. In the African context. Which means we can recruit 100% from the local community. If we recruit 100% from the local community, it means that the largest line-item we would spend in conservation–which is law enforcement–it means that now becomes a community investment. And we’re currently spending around 62 cents from every dollar operationally that we invest goes back into the community. It doesn’t go in at government level, doesn’t go in at the chief level, it goes in at…

Mark: You mean the pay that these women get goes back into their local communities because they’re going to spend it there.

Damien: Everything we can get from the local community, we purchase from the local community. And the salary of these women is hitting the community at household level and in the hands of women. So at face value, we currently have more money going into that community every 34 days than what trophy hunting was providing per annum.

Mark: And that money was going to the government and then trickling down?

Damien: Previously, yes. Yes. Elected council.

Here it’s going into the hands of women, and where research tells us that women spend 3 times more of their salary on family and local community than what men do. So around 90% of what they earn, they invest back in their local community.

So we essentially took the conservation dollar and turned it into a community investment by switching the strategy. And putting female empowerment at the top of the strategy. That gives us the greatest bang for buck effectiveness and efficiency in community development. And the by-product of that becomes conservation.

Mark: That’s incredible. Let’s just stop there, because that model is so powerful. I mean, it could be used for multiple different projects, I can imagine. Not just conservation.

Damien: Yeah. Well, I mean, it de-escalates everything. For us means countering insurgents. Women want to have a conversation. They want to know what the problem is and they want to fix it. Not shoot it.

And that’s a big difference. As we de-escalate in a law enforcement environment, means it’s a less militarized approach. And a less militarized approach is a cheaper one.

Mark: That’s like Sadhguru said, stop investing in conflict. Start investing in conservation or the community.

Damien: Yeah. And it’s shifted almost two decades of military law enforcement and conservation thinking for me.
All right folks. That’s it. The Five Mountains. Thank you to David, to Christine, to Cal, to Sifu Singh and Damien and all the other podcasts guests – all 200 guests. I’m looking forward to the next 200. I hope you’re gonna be with me for the journey. I hope you can train yourself every day and you take your training and practice in service to self-mastery as seriously as we do. And that you align with your calling so, that you can bring your Kokoro spirit to the world in a big way. Appreciate you. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you on episode 201. Divine out. Hooyah.

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