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Unbeatable™ Podcast

JC Glick on Leadership in the Military and Business

By April 18, 2018 August 14th, 2020 No Comments

“When you’re a non-commissioned officer and you’re saying ‘Hey, sir. I think you should do this.’ And get people to listen in the right way, I mean, it’s amazing.” — JC Glick

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JC Glick (@jclaxin) is a former Ranger and served 11 combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s also an author, and he’s provided a very down-to-earth account of how to develop leadership called “A Light in the Darkness: Leadership Development for the Unknown.” He and Mark talk about leadership, the effect of PTSD on soldiers and how they might be able to counteract it.

Hear how:

  • JC has known Generals Petraeus and McChrystal but he still credits NCOs with teaching him the most about leadership
  • That “pushing to the edge” of you or your team’s capacity isn’t necessarily the best way to get the best performance
  • Remember that you’re allowed and, in fact, expected to make some mistakes on your way to success

Find out how JC is able to translate his knowledge of military leadership to leadership in general.

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Hey folks, welcome back. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. So stoked to have you with us today. We have a terrific guest–JC Glick who we’re going to talk with about leadership and about resiliency and about mental toughness and about all sorts of things. He’s a former Army Ranger amongst a lot of other things.

Before I get started, I want to talk about my initiative to help veterans who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress. In January we launched what we call the Burpees for Vets challenge, and what I did is challenge my tribe or whoever really cares. Which I’m hoping that includes you. To do 22 million burpees this year.

So we’re organizing teams and/or individuals and at you can register and pledge a certain number of burpees and an amount per burpee that either you will donate or you’ll go out and get pledges for people to support you.

So I’m committed to 100,000. I’ll probably end up doing about 120 or so. I’m doing that in chunks of 300 a day and it’s become really amazing practice. Because I connect with my “why.” Which is to help these vets and my little bit of suffering is going to go to alleviate their suffering, hopefully.

And so not only are we doing 22 million burpees, but we intend to raise a minimum of $250,000. And with that put as many vets as possible through an intensive 3 day training with 18 months of aftercare. Using the tools of Unbeatable Mind. So breath control, movement, ethos, teamwork… really the tools that we know that work. And that are so desperately needed by these folks.

So if you’re so inclined… if you feel motivated… you want to suffer a bit doing probably the single best body weight exercise invented by Mister Burpee, then join us. Go to I would appreciate it, and I know JC would appreciate it. And I know that vets will appreciate it

One last thing. I have the 5th anniversary edition of my book “The Way of the SEAL” is coming out on Memorial Day. Got a couple new chapters. One is leading in VUCA. And one on building elite teams. And it’s been completely edited and updated. I’m really stoked for this book. I think it’s great.

And you can find information about it or pre-order it with some special gifts at So there you have it.



All right. So my guest, I mentioned, is JC Glick. JC was an infantry officer, served as a Ranger in Special mission units. And on 11–that’s right, 11–combat tours. He led the Army school on leadership development resilience and fitness. And developed the program for what they call the Army of 2025 in those areas.

He is a thought leader and adaptive of proactive programs of instruction centered on developing leadership behaviors and values. In dynamic VUCA environments. And his book is called “A Light in the Darkness: Leadership Development for the Unknown.”

Man, I can’t wait to read that, JC. It sounds a lot like leading in VUCA.

JC Glick: I think so. It probably is. And I’ll send you one.

Mark: Thank you. I appreciate that.

So you just reminded me that we connected 5 years ago. To think about or to explore the possibility of bringing SEALFIT into the Army’s training regimen. So let’s start there. What was it about the Army’s training regimen… what was it about what we were doing at SEALFIT that was intriguing you? Or what was the gap?

JC: So it was funny. I’d taken command… battalion command about… let’s see… about 15 months after my last combat deployment. And about 3 months after I was diagnosed with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Where it was recommended that I medically retire.

And I fought that and was able to stay. Mainly because I ended up getting a great psych. Who had talked to me about breathing. And had talked to me about different things that she had studied.

And I thought it was important to build resiliency into soldiers at Basic Training. We were sending soldiers to resiliency training years later. Once they had already either been… It was almost like fixing something as opposed to getting ahead of the bang. And the idea was “Let’s bring some of these techniques to basic training to let soldiers see those.”

I was unsuccessful. I was successful in bringing some folks in. I wasn’t successful in bringing you in. But we did end up bringing the resiliency school in. And train the Drill Sergeants on resiliency methods that they could teach the privates.

Mark: Okay. So you got some progress.

JC: We did. And now… it must have been the “SEAL” part that the Army was uncomfortable with…

Mark: (laughing) I think that’s right. That makes sense, yeah.

Well even the SEALs have not formally brought us in. They just send people to our training and are starting to integrate some of the breath and the visualization and the core type skills into the training.

It’s great to see in any event, cause you’re right. We need to build that resiliency as a preventative maintenance tool up-front. It’s a game-changer.

JC: It really is. And learning how to do some of that stuff changed my life for the better. And helped me get a lot healthier along with some other stuff.

But I think that the training… training warriors on initial entry… that’s not about safety. That’s not about being kind to them. That’s about giving them the tools that they need. We prepare their bodies, why wouldn’t we prepare their minds to go to combat?

Mark: Sure. And not only will it help them ward off the stress, but they’re going to be more effective. They’re going to be better decision makers cause they’ll be more grounded and aware, and in control in the shit storm.

JC: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Mark: That was actually the premise of SEALFIT as you’re aware. Because you had had some exposure to it. Was to create a more world-centric, aware, evolved warrior starting with the Spec Ops. And it’s a long-term process, right? Cause we’re doing it mano a mano. Women too. Right on.

Starting to have an impact. I think there’s 3 or 400 SEALs now who were actively trained with SEALFIT. Either on their own or through our events like Kokoro camp or the Academies and stuff. So that’s pretty cool.

Also a lot of Rangers and Marines have been through the training. It’s cool.

JC: I think it makes so much sense. And I know that you work with a lot of law enforcement as well. In fact, one of the departments that I work with is a huge supporter and has sent a number of deputies to SEALFIT.

Mark: Nice. That’s good to hear.

Joining the Military


So we got a lot more to talk about with regard to vets and Post-Traumatic Stress, but let’s save that for a little bit later. I really want to get into your life and what kind of made you tick. And why you got in the military. And what was your journey into Special Ops?

So let’s go back a few years, to what got you interested in the military? (laughing) If you can remember that far back

JC: (laughing) I have a hard time remembering what happened yesterday. But I can tell you that I grew up… my parent got divorced at a very early age. I lived with my mom. And it wasn’t a really good home environment.

When I was 18, I pretty much left home. And I was on my own. And I’d been estranged from my dad for a while. And so I was basically homeless for a while. And started crashing on people’s couches.

I was never much of a student in high school. I think I graduated 112th out of 120 kids. And was more interested in sports and everything else other than school. So actually after bouncing around for a little while. It was right before the Gulf War, and I decided “Well, I’m going to join the Marine Corp.”

And I called my dad to let him know that “Hey, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to join the Marine Corp.”

And I hadn’t talked to him in forever and he was like, “Hey, before you go, why don’t we catch up?”

So I went to go see him. And long story short, when I went to go join the Marine Corp, I wound up walking out of the Marine Corp recruiters with an application to the Naval Academy. Which I was wholly unqualified for.

And my dad’s like, “All right. Well let’s see what your other options are.” I got into the University of Rhode Island, and good things just started to happen. I earned a scholarship and was able to play sports. Did very well, and I realized that I went from this kind of really, really bad childhood to being an adult who was going nowhere and really came up with something that was… really got to do something that I thought I could only do in the United States. And I wanted to pay back.

So I talked to the ROTC recruiter and said, “I’d like to serve. And this is what I want to do.” and he said, “Yeah. No problem. We can do that for you.”

And then it just kind of went from there.

Mark: So you did Army ROTC at University of Rhode Island? And then after that you went to where–Infantry School? And then how did that play out?

JC: Yeah, so I graduated, was commissioned on the 21st of May. I spent the summer as a recruiter and then went to the infantry officer basic course. From the basic course, I went to Ranger school. From Ranger school, I went to the Infantry Mortar Leader’s course. And then I wound up at… I was a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division. An AT platoon and rifle platoon. Did a deployment to Haiti.

And then was lucky enough… I was late–and that’s a story in itself. I was late getting to the regiment. I was already a 1st lieutenant and I was lucky enough that McChrystal agreed to let me in. And then….

Mark: Was he running the regiment at the time?

JC: He was. My brigade commander. So I was working for Petraeus at the time.

Mark: (laughing) That’s awesome. What a great group of mentors. Holy cow.

JC: So I had Petraeus. And I had done best Ranger for him through the 82nd. And when my packet went before him he said, “Nope. You’re not going to the Rangers. You’re staying here. We do the same thing as the Rangers.”

I was like, “Yeah, that’s not really true. We don’t.”

He wasn’t a big Ranger fan. He had the opportunity to go to the Rangers and decided to go to Princeton instead. So the day he left and General Horst took over. Horst took over, sent it to McChrystal. McChrystal interviewed me and said, “Okay, you can come to selection.”

And it worked out. But I spent from the ’98 to they had to basically order me to leave and go to the next course. I was in 3rd Ranger Battalion. I went to the advanced course. Commanded… I was again, really lucky. Mick Nickelson who’s now commanding over in Afghanistan was my battalion commander. We were just starting the Strikers. And did the… I commanded in the Strikers. And then went right back to the regiment.

Mark: Nice. Well most people… I don’t want to assume everyone listening knows about the Rangers much… but first off going to Ranger school doesn’t mean you’re going into the Rangers. That’s a qualification. Then you have to go to selection to be part of the Ranger regiment.

And the Ranger regiment is the part that’s attached to Special Operations command. Right?

JC: That’s correct.

Mark: So tell us a little bit about the Ranger regiment and what the mission is? And what your… some of the formative, or just incredible experiences you had in forming you as a leader?

JC: So that would be… I could talk forever about all those things. The Ranger regiment–and I got to see it in peacetime and in wartime. And I got to watch it’s evolution from basically airfield seizures and taking sensitive items off of a target to going and doing high-value targets in Iraq and Afghanistan and all over the world.

And becoming much… there was so much work after 9/11 that there was more than enough to go around.

And the Rangers were a good fit for those types of missions. Especially as our selection got better and our training programs got better. And we started to get more and more Ranger qualified. To be a leader in the Ranger regiment you have to go to Ranger school. And so it’s just such a great leadership organization.

And I’ll tell you… my formative years did start as a platoon leader in peacetime at 3rd Ranger battalion. Because I got to watch the best NCOs–non-commissioned officers–in the world do their job. And that’s where I learned how to lead.

Actually if you think about it–it was actually before that. Because my platoon sergeant when I was platoon leader in the 82nd. Had come out of first Ranger battalion. And so I was being taught by Ranger NCOs from the time I came into the Army. And that’s really where I learned how to lead is watching those NCOs.

I mean, we can talk about the McChrystals and the Allens and the Farriters, and they’re all studs. And I’d follow them today.

But the truth of the matter is, the NCOs made such a huge impact because they had to lead up, down and sideways. And that’s true leadership. It’s easy to be a battalion commander or regimental commander and say, “Hey go do this.” Because people are going to do it because of your position.

But when you’re a non-commissioned officer and you’re saying, “Hey Sir, I think you should do this.” And get people to listen in the right way. It’s amazing.

Mark; Yeah, no. I love what you just said, and I completely agree. That’s the most challenging part–when you’re right in the middle and you have to lead in all directions. And to be fair–you could say everyone striving for excellence in leadership if you had that mindset… the mindset of leading in all directions then you will succeed at a much higher level.

Cause you have stakeholders all around you. Some you work for, some you don’t work for–they work for you. Some are just involved in some way. Like an NGO or a civilian. You’ve gotta be cognizant and be able to communicate at a real personal level with all of them, or you just will fail.

You can’t be autocratic or dictatorial or… your style has to be very authentic. It seems to me that’s probably what your writing is bout. Looking at the title of your book, “Light in the Darkness: Leadership for the Unknown.” But then the subtitle, you say… I don’t have it in front of me.

But McChrystal who gave you…. this is what I’m looking for… who gave you a blurb for your book says “People are above anything else. This essential truth–often forgotten by organization leaders–is at the heart of your engaging and insightful book.”

JC: Yeah. And he did the foreword for it. And what he liked was I dedicated it to every NCO I’ve ever worked with. Because that’s where I learned leadership. And I don’t know that a lot of officers… I think we all know it. I don’t know that we all admit it.

Mark: Right. Yeah, that’s interesting.

Leadership Lessons


So besides that–that kind of like broad truth–what were some of the most interesting leadership lessons from the regiment? If you would have written that book, what would be the top 4 or 5 principles?

JC: I think the first one I learned as a lieutenant which was we were doing an exercise an emergency readiness deployment exercise. So we alerted, wheels up, got dropped into this really tough area. Heavily vegetated area.

And had to move… it was a move ’til daylight kind of thing. And the terrain was just really tough. And I remember thinking, “You know what? We’re not getting anywhere. And we’re moving too slow. Okay, forget about this.”

And we’d been going for 20 hours. And I was like, “Hey, we’re going to go to 1 third security. I want everybody to take a nap for at least 30 minutes.”

And so we went down to minimum security, and we racked. And when everybody got up, we moved like lightning. I had never seen… we were just totally different guys. And we got to our assembly area like hours before any of the other platoons had gotten to any of theirs…

Mark: And that’s because you’d taken some time to recover…

JC: We had just taken a couple… I don’t think we had slept for more than 30 minutes, and it was funny… We all have observer controllers who are behind us. It turns out that behind my platoon–and I didn’t know this–was McChrystal. Who was the regimental commander. And General Allen who just left as vice-chief of staff, but was the battalion commander. And we’re in the assembly area and this guy comes up to me. I can’t see who it is and he goes, “Hey.” I look and I go, “Oh, it’s Colonel Allen.”

He said, “Who made the decision to go into a rest plant?”

“I did, sir.” And I fully expected to get fired right then and there.

And McChrystal comes up right behind him and goes, “that was a good choice.” And then they just walked off. And I remember thinking… it’s kind of what McChrystal says, right? Put your people above everything. And that moment, I realized I got to take care of my guys. And if I take care of my guys they will do anything in the world.

And I think that was the first big lessoned I learned. And that never failed me from that moment on. And I wouldn’t necessarily advise other folks to just take a nap on a patrol. But I think it was at that time, the right thing to do.

Mark: Yeah, I mean, if everyone’s just pushed to the edge, then you’re not doing anyone any favors by pushing them over the edge.

JC: Well that was it. We weren’t getting any better. We weren’t getting anywhere, and it was… “Okay, we’re at the point of diminishing returns, so what we’re doing isn’t working. We have to adapt.”

Which is something I talk to organizations about all the time. Kind of that Bushido code of the way of the warrior. We’ve got to make sure that we’re adapting when we need to.


“The Best Available”


Mark: Cool. So what was the next?

JC: The next one was actually during the global war on terror. And now McChrystal is the JSOC commander. He brings us all in. We’re hitting high-value targets and there’s a lot of dry holes across the whole task force. And guys are getting frustrated and guys are feeling pretty bad.

And he brought us all into the clam shell and he said “first of all, you’re not the best. You’re the best available.”

And that sounds on the face value it’s like, “Wow. What a humbling thing.” And it is. I mean, it certainly is a humbling thing and it’s true.

But what it really says is it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to make mistakes because if you’re making mistakes then you’re trying new stuff and you’re innovating and you’re getting better.

And it was freeing, right? Cause if you’re not the best, you’re not expected to never make mistakes. Cause I think we had all grown up, whether you were in the SEALs, or you were in Delta or you were in the Rangers. “You’re the best of the best. You don’t screw up. You don’t make mistakes.”

And we had had so much success, and all of a sudden we’re being less than we think successful is. And now we’ve just been freed up by the guy that we all… I mean, I can’t speak for everybody but I think we all looked at that guy as a true warrior/leader.

And said, “Okay, look if this guy says it’s okay then it’s okay.”

And that–I’ll tell you what–when I talk to professional sports teams, I’m very clear about, “You’re not the best. You’re the best available. You’re the one who had the opportunity who took advantage of the opportunity. Who was where he was supposed to be when he needed… A lot of this is luck and timing along with effort.”

And that means you can make a mistake. And oh, by the way, you better fight every day to get better. Because there’s somebody also who’s trying to take your place.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah, in fact if you’re not willing to make a mistake then you’ve stopped growing, right?

JC: That’s it. That’s it.

Mark: You have to be willing to face the unknown, and to face your fears. And to go where you haven’t gone before. And that’s going to lead to mistakes. And those are just opportunities to learn and to grow and move forward.

JC: That’s it.

Mark: That’s cool. Yeah, I haven’t met General McChrystal. I’d love to meet him someday. I’d love to get him on this podcast. I have read his book, “Team of Teams,” and sounds like a pretty engaging or dynamic time to be in Iraq. And I was there in 2004, but what time period are you talking about when you were serving there?

JC: That was and of 2004, 2005.

Mark: Okay. Right on. So about the same time I was there.

Yeah, and the whole ability to bring all those diverse stake holders together and to get them into that aligning, unifying narrative with what he called that shared consciousness. What was your experience of that? As a Ranger needing to fight with and alongside SEALs and Green Beanies and all the different foreign… like the Polish GROM, and the Canadians and NGOs and all that.

JC: So kind of the fusion cell idea which I completely believe in and think that it’s the only way to do almost anything when you have a whole bunch of organizations trying to accomplish a similar task.

I thought that… I was totally bought in. It made total sense. What I did realize is that we hadn’t… he wanted us to do this right away. And he was absolutely right. We needed to do it right away.

The problem was we… our inter-operate ability was not as good as it should have been, because we didn’t train as often together as we should have. That obviously changed after ’03… We started training a whole lot more. But the trust that is… you can get guys from 1st Ranger Battalion and 2nd Ranger Battalion together and there’s an inherent… even though they’re West coast guys and you’re East coast guys, you go “Well, okay. They’re squared away. I understand them.”

And we didn’t always have that initially with some of our counterparts. Both ways. We don’t really know what these guys do. These guys are only supposed to be on the water, what are they doing in the middle of the desert?

Or the SEALs who were like… “You guys were kind of like marine recon or the raiders.” I’m like, “yeah, no. That’s not us at all.”

So there’s this misunderstanding and then there was ego involved and so many other things and I think the value I learned is… And I talk about this a lot. And it’s actually in… I’m writing a book right now called “Meditations of a Ranger.” Kind of a book on Stoicism, kinda philosophy. And what I realized is trust has to be given.

Especially in our profession, but I argue everywhere. Trust… to have some mental model of some bar that somebody has to meet to accomplish what you want them to accomplish…

I mean, one, it’s egocentric. And two, it’s just not fair. When we give our trust to people like the guy… I flew on an airplane today. I don’t know who my pilot was. I don’t where he learned how to fly. I don’t know if he’s got kids. I don’t know if he drinks. And I trusted him with my life.

I trust everybody who’s on the road with me and I know I trust them because I get ticked off when they cut me off, cause I trusted them to do the right thing.

And so I’m giving trust to all these strangers across my life and here I was in a joint operation towards a joint goal and there was some sort of “you gotta prove yourself” nonsense? And that just doesn’t make any sense.

And I think that that was a big takeaway for me. I was really surprised and I was guilty of it as well. Probably for the first couple of years of that kind of what we used to call “butt sniffing.” You know, like when dog’s get together.

And either trying to show we’re good enough, or “Hey, let me see how good this guy is.” As opposed to, “I trust you. You’re on my team. We’re teammates. Let’s go do this together. ”

Mark: Yeah. We have come as a service a long way since I got in in the ’90s. I tried to be very open. We didn’t have a tremendous opportunity to work with our peers until we were forced to in the war on terror.

But I agree with you–trust is essentially a story, right? And so what you’re saying when you don’t trust someone is that you have a story around what’s trustworthy and what’s not. Or who’s trustworthy and who’s not. And you’re right… it’s like… if you’re trusting someone on the highway, why aren’t you trusting your highly trained brethren from a different service?

JC: And we do that. We do that with the people. We create some imaginary bar in our head that somebody has to earn our trust, and it’s usually for only the people closest to us. It’s not for… how often do you count your change when you get it back from the cashier? Or how often do you look at your food to see if the server spit in it, or the chef spit in it?

We don’t do any of that. We’re just like… “Yeah.” We blindly trust all these people and the people closest to us, they’re gotta earn our trust.

Give Trust


So my big thing, and something I talk to teams about and something I talk to businesses about is trust has got to be given. You gotta look at somebody and it may have to be earned back if they violate your trust. But you gotta go into everything just saying “I trust you.”

I do this interesting exercise where I talk to folks and I say, “Okay. You’ve gotta climb a ladder. The ladder’s secure in the ground. And next to the ladder are 3 people. It’s your best friend, somebody that you know pretty well, but don’t see him all the time. And then a complete stranger.

And I say, you’ve gotta hand him your wallet, your phone, your computer, whatever. Who do you hand it to? And I say, “I tell you who I hand it too. I hand it to the guy who holds his hand out first.”

Now that’s naive if I don’t think that any of them could steal my stuff. All 3 of them could steal my stuff really. But I look at the guy who’s holding his hand out, and say, “He wants to help.”

And I also trust that if he does try to take off with the stuff, the other two are going to go get him. And I think we just have to start thinking like that as we continue on, especially as leaders. This idea of “Earn my trust…” You know what? Nobody’s special. Or we should everybody like they are special and you’re not more special than them.

Mark: Yeah. I love that. And I think if you spend less time worrying about other people and more time demonstrating your trustworthiness and your authenticity, then the trust would just be automatic. It would just be natural. Spontaneous.

JC: I really… I would love if that was the case. I think that we’re not wired that way right away. And I think we’ve kind of got to rewire ourselves a little bit.

Mark: Yeah. That’s the essence of my training, JC, with Unbeatable Mind. Is to try to elevate people to that level of consciousness. Where they’re more world-centric and trustworthy and authentic.

And then from that place, from that center… that’s very much of a warrior sense of self-mastery. From that center they go out and act. And their actions are authentic and often spontaneous. As that concept of Shibumi. Effortless perfection.

And it just breeds tremendous trust and respect which then elevates the entire team to an elite level of performance.

We see that in our finest moments in Spec Ops but certainly not all the time.

JC: Yup. Absolutely.

Own the Solution


Mark: So this whole idea of leadership you’ve written about. Do you have a particular model or way to describe your theory of leadership? We’ve already, obviously, touched on some of it. But as it relates to your book “Light in the Darkness.” Do you have like a mystical pyramid or model that you can share with us?

JC: Yeah, I’ll tell you, you know the thing that’s I think unique about… well I’d like to think is unique about what I write about is it’s different than so many other leadership books. So many leadership books tell you, “This is how you have to do it. This is what you have to have. These ae the character traits that you need to portray and if you do X, Y and Z, you’ll be this kind of leader.”

And I gotta be honest with you, I think that’s nonsense. All people are different so all leaders have to be different. And I think that you nailed it earlier. You talked about authenticity. Leaders need to be authentic. They need to be themselves. So what I talk about are more principles than anything else.

So my model is pretty fluid. It basically says, “Help your people find their capacity versus their capability. Capability is your ability to solve a known problem. Capacity is your ability to solve the unknown.

So if you think of it in terms of a physical fitness test. Let’s look at the old Army physical fitness test. Which was 2 minutes of push-ups, 2 minutes of sit-ups, 2 mile run.

Well that’s a capability driven… I know what the outcome is. I know what you want from me. So I work on push-ups, I work on sit-ups and I work on a 2 mile run.

Mark: By the way, combat is exactly like that, right? (laughing)

JC: Right. And I did all that stuff in t-shirt and shorts. That was why it was such a ludicrous task.

But now if you say, “Hey, I’m going to test your upper-body strength, I’m going to test your core strength. And I’m going to test your speed and endurance.”

Well, Holy Cow. I might be hitting the bench. I might be doing planks. I might be doing v-ups. I’m changing my routine because I don’t know what the test holds. And what I find always funny about organizations with standards… And very set standards on what things need to look like. Is the world doesn’t look… when we’re struggling it’s never with a thing that we know the answer to. Those are easy things. It’s we’re faced with the unknown. And so I think that you’ve got to find opportunities to develop your people for the unknown. And what I say is take people as a leader… take people out of the traditional model. Which is, “Here’s the solution. Do you understand the solution?” “Yes, sir. I understand the solution.”

“Great. Apply the solution to this problem I give you. Oh, you did that? Terrific. You can go on to the next one.”

As opposed to just saying, “Here. Solve this problem.” And it might take a little bit longer. I can give you an example that it doesn’t. But they own the solution. And it’s theirs and they’re better at it. And their more comfortable when they’re making decisions. They’re more comfortable when they’re problem solving.

I mean, if you set your people up… instead of telling them how to do it and telling them what the outcome you’re looking for is. Man, they’re awesome

And they take accountability. And they usually really come up with such great solutions. And one of the things we did in basic training was–I don’t know if you ever went…ever saw Army basic training, but our assembly/disassembly of the M16, M4, was like a 6 hour class with like over 300 slides.

And I sat through it once and I’m like, “this is garbage.”

Mark: (laughing) We never did a slide show for that. They just literally handed us a weapon and showed us how to break it down. Then we started practicing.

JC: So what we did was… we stopped in my battalion. And we said, “All right, let’s go find a YouTube video.” Which there’s way too many of them out there. There’s like a lot of just civilians taking apart M4s and M16s on YouTube.

And we said “give them a 15 minute video. Give it to them the night before. If they get it right away, they can watch it once and they’re cool. If it takes them watching it 5 times, that’s fine.”

So we gave them the video. The next day, we gave them the weapon and we said, “Take it apart.” 42 soldiers–trainees–had it apart in 10 minutes. Because they… and they were helping each other. They’re like, “Hey, if you do this…”

Cause there’s always like 5 or 6 preppers, you know? Kids who are from Iowa who’s got 15 of these in his basement next to the beans. And he knows 18 different ways to do something and you’re like, “Holy Cow. Drill sergeants are learning something from this guy.”

And then you’d have a kid who’d never touched it, but just learned from this kid and is showing somebody next to him how to do it. And so 10 minutes they’re all apart. And then we go, “Okay. Put them back together.”

5 minutes. Everybody’s got their stuff back together. And it’s theirs. And they owned it. And it wasn’t just some scary steel stick. And it wasn’t something that they didn’t care about. It was theirs.

And there was something to it. And I think that’s how leaders have to look at it. The risk was we’d lose some pieces. We might break some stuff. But I’ll tell you what–none of that stuff ever happened.

Mark: Yeah. I love that.

So describing the outcome. Getting clear upon the outcome and let the “how” be a process of discovery. And you come up with more and better solutions.

Reminds me of like the difference between complicated and complex. Complicated is understandable. Complex is not. There’s too many moving parts and you can’t see the solutions. And so you have to essentially get there through knowledge about what you’re looking for. What the intention is. As opposed to the mission plan, you know what I mean?

No plan survives contact, you know?

JC: That’s it. One of the best things McChrystal ever did was he gave great intent. And so you’d have a huge op order, but then he’d get everybody together. “Okay, at the end of the day, this is what I want it to look like.”

And you’re like, “Okay. No matter what happens, we’ll make it look like that.”

And it almost never went according to the 150 page Op order that we had. But it always looked like he wanted it to at the end.

Mark: (laughing) Right. Exactly.

And to be fair, the planning and putting together that Op order is important, cause that’s where you investigate all the potential avenues towards success and the pitfalls. And the obstacles. And the contingency plans.

You get it all out there, and then you let it go and focus on the outcome. As you execute.

JC: Absolutely. And I think it’s important to do it. And certainly where you identify friction points, etc. And it’s a necessary thing.

But I always tell leaders, look. Focus on giving people intent and guidance. And if you can do that, they’ll develop better cause the goal is… the goal of any leader is not the mission, it’s making sure their people are resourced to accomplish the mission.

And that’s a paradigm shift from most leaders, right?



Mark: one of the things that I’ve been working on in my own organization is developing like free-flowing communication. Which has to start with intent. That’s similar to that idea of… or identical to the idea of aligning narrative. Which leads to shared consciousness or shared willpower, so to speak.

But a lot of people listening are like in small businesses, or solopreneurs or, you know, emerging businesses that don’t have a lot of structure.

When you and I were in the military the structure… the weight of the structure was enormous. And so there Op orders and briefs and synchronization meetings. And collaboration coordination and it’s all, like, mandatory.

And then there’s all these informal things happening, which are happening as part of the culture.

When you get into a small company which has 13 or 14 people and everyone’s running a thousand miles an hour. And some people are working flexible hours here and there. And, you know, it took me a long time to realize that in order to develop that aligning narrative and shared vision and shared intent, we gotta come up with some different communication strategies.

So what’s your take on that? The importance of communication for a leader? To think differently in this world?

JC: So, you know, I think it’s essential. And I think what we’ve got to do as leaders and one of the toughest things that I try to convince leaders of is stop telling people what to do and start being curious.

I think that leaders have to display curiosity, and so often leaders ask questions that they know the answer to. And they usually only ask the question when somebody’s jacked up. Like, “Hey, why are you doing this?” And everybody’s like “Oh, that means I’m screwed up. I gotta fix this.”

As opposed to, “Hey, you know what? I understand that you see this differently than I do. So tell me what your thought process was to get you here. And I think that that’s really, really important is that curiosity piece.

Because I don’t know how many times I talk to people young and old and like, “Oh, a leader’s got to people what to do. They got to give them direction.”

You know what? The first thing a leader’s got to do is ask some questions. Cause they might be going in a really good direction already. So let’s just… we may only have to affirm where they’re going. Or we may have to just give them a nudge.

But I think that it’s about curiosity and that communication. And it’s about… this guy Barry Jentz… and I don’t know if you’ve ever read any of his stuff. Teaches at Harvard. He wrote the book “Talk Sense.”

But he talks about this idea of people being and operating communication-wise in one of three boxes. The truth, My truth, and My sense of the truth.

The truth is like black and white, yes or no. Two pictures, right? There’s only 2 pictures. It’s either this or that. The truth. This is the way it is.

My truth is “Hey, this is the way it is in my world. I know there’s other stuff out there, but this is the way I think it should be.”

And then my sense of the truth, which is, “Hey, I think it’s this way, but I know that there’s a million other pieces of information out there that I don’t have. That could affect what my answers are on these two things. So I’m willing to listen.”

And most of the time–for a whole lot of good reasons–we operate in one of those first two boxes, right? It’s so much easier when the guy cuts us off to think he’s an idiot than to think, “Oh my gosh. I wonder if he just got fired and he’s not paying attention?”

Or, “I wonder if his kid’s sick and he’s driving to the hospital?”

It’s just at a certain point you’re like, “Nope. Guy’s just an idiot. He cut me off.” And that’s okay. You’re not a bad person.

But when you lead people, I think what you have to do is you have to find yourself in that 3rd box. That “my sense of the truth.” And start really going, “Okay, they’re doing these things. And maybe it’s not the way I saw it. So why are they doing these things?”

What’s leading them that way because I make the assumption that they want the same outcome that I do. Which they do, right? Your people they want to be successful.

Mark; Right. Totally. And this takes reprogramming almost, because we have all these communication biases and knee jerk reactions and our brain has been like rutted to respond or think a certain way when it comes to communicating. Whether we’re a leader or we’re on the follower end of the stick.

And one of the things that I resonate with what you’re saying…we’re trying to in my organization use the terminology when we’re confused or things aren’t going exactly the way we want. Is to say, “You know what? I’ve got this story… I’m telling myself this story about what’s happening right now. Or about how you perceive what’s going on.

So is that accurate? Or what’s your story about what’s going on? You’re owning right there… you’re just owning it up front that you might be wrong. And that you’re telling yourself a story about something that might not be real. Or it might not be their story.

JC: That’s absolutely it.

Mark: It’s been pretty effective.

JC: I think that’s a great technique and I think that sharing that data and being very specific on the data that you’re sharing… And sharing it as data as opposed to actions. So if I say, “Hey Mark, when you ignored me the other day, you made me feel bad.”

As opposed to, “Hey Mark, I went by you in the hallway, and I said hello and you didn’t say anything. And because you didn’t say anything, I felt like I was ignored. And that made me feel bad.”

Well, that took you out of it. I wasn’t attacking you. I was saying the action that happened and the pieces of data. Now you can come back and go, “Oh man, I was thinking about this presentation I have to give. I didn’t even notice you. I’m so…”

But it immediately takes you out of the defensive because I’m not attacking who you are. And I think that story… Kind of the have a story in my mind. “This is what I think.”

Or, “Hey, I’d like to share with you how I see something. And I’d like to hear how you see it. And I think that’s pretty good.”

Mark: I love that. And then the guiding principle… if I were to offer a guiding principle there. And I learned this from Matthew Engelhart who was a founder of Cafe Gratitude, and is big on communication. Is to own not only what you say but how it lands.

Or own not only how you say it, but also how it lands. Does that make sense?

JC: Absolutely.

Mark: You’ve gotta be able to step into the other person’s head or heart and be like how is this going to land? If I just lash out or if I just drop a bunch of guilt or whatever on this person?

And you’re going to shut down communication which is going to effectively diminish the mission effectiveness, you know?

JC: That’s exactly it. And I think that that’s such an important piece of leadership and communicating in leadership is just kind of… “Hey, I wanna check myself against what you’re thinking.”

And having that humility that “Man, I might be wrong.”

Mark: Right.

You know what’s interesting, JC. You’ve probably experienced this before, when people are like “God, I thought you Rangers were like big, badass tough guys. And here you’re talking about communication. Emotional development.”

Cause I get all that stuff. Like, big, tough Navy SEAL, and you’re talking about these things. And I say, “Well, that’s because in those environments, we’re facing life and death. And we had to dig in and check our own, you know, biases. And check our own bullshit. Otherwise we’re going to get our teammates killed.

And so the big, tough Ranger is actually pretty emotionally developed in most cases. And same with the SEAL. And the ones who take leadership seriously.

It’s a real conundrum for business leaders to really learn that. And I think one of the great reasons is that… and I’ll shut up here… not great reasons, but great outcomes of you going out and teaching leadership is that you’ve got such incredible credibility.

And all you guys, McChrystal, you, anyone who’s out there who’s been in combat. Who’s forged their emotional resiliency and communication styles under that kind of fire has a lot to offer a corporate leader these days.

JC: Well, I mean, certainly you know it’s nice to be able to take the lessons learned and bring them elsewhere. But I think again, you nail it with… I wrote in the back of my book is something that I’m really proud of. It talks about how to be an inspirational leader. And I talk about a bunch of things. I talk about fear… at the end of it, I talk about hope.

And everybody’s like, “Hope? Hope’s not a Ranger word. What are you talking about Hope?”

Mark: (laughing) Rangers lead the way. There’s no hope there.

JC: And so I really started looking at it, and I said, “You know what? Hope is an innate human requirement. We all desire hope. And leadership is about people. And people are soft and gooshy things. And so you know what? If you’re going to be a good leader, you’re probably going to have to know about some of that soft and gooshy stuff.

And that doesn’t mean that you don’t… there are times–and you and I have both done this I’m sure–“Hey guys. We’re doing this. This is the way we’re going. Let’s go.”

And we’re not asking for input. We’re making a decision because of time or resources or whatever.

But those instances are few and far between. And most of the time, we have the ability to be thoughtful. And again, it’s about people. And people have a whole bunch of little needs, and they’re all different. But if we think that they’re like cans of Coke, or they’re like BMWs that we can just pour out and this guy’s going to be like this guy. Now you’re not leading, you’re managing. And you’re probably doing it really poorly too.

Mark: Yeah, exactly. You know we’re describing the difference between horizontal development, which trains skills and those can be managed. And vertical development which basically trains the softer side. The consciousness, the awareness, the communication. The ability to be authentic. To drop into your heart and feel into a conversation. And really care.

They’re both important, but one without the other is kind of like a weapon without its ammunition these days.

JC: I think so. And I recently… I try not to do bumper sticker leadership, cause I think leadership is a lot more complex because people are complex.

But I always tell guys, “You can’t lead what you don’t love.” And love in my mind is care and acceptance.

I accept who you are and how you are. And I care about you. And I’m going to try to develop you in the ways that you need to be developed or you want to be developed.

And you can’t lead something that you don’t love or care for.

Mark: That’s awesome. I love that.

Wrap Up and Helping Vets


And probably a great place to kind of to wrap things up here. So your book, again, is “Light in the Darkness: Leadership for the Unknown.” That’s available at Amazon and all those places?

JC: Yes. It’s on Amazon.

Mark: Okay, good. And your website, if I’m not mistaken, is

JC: Yup. That’s it.

Mark: Right. So before we close, let’s get back to the vets. We started the Courage Foundation about a year and a half ago. And this is my initiative to really bring Unbeatable Mind… largely what we’ve been talking about. The training of the mind-body-spirit. Emotional resiliency. All that.

Using the tools of integration. Breath, visualization, mental dialogue. Task orientation. Ethos development. Fear management. All that.

Bringing it to populations that are suffering. And so we originally chose veterans, abused women and prisoners. We’ve donated thousands of books into the prison system, and I’ve met and talked to wardens. There’s a lot of interest in Unbeatable Mind in that environment too.

But then we found we really had trouble raising money and this issue with the vets was so front and center–needs to be addressed right now–that we kind of shifted focus to just focusing on the vets.

So that’s where we’re at. Now we’re experts at the training, but I don’t have great inroads into where these vets are, and how can I corral 30 or 40 or 50 of them this year into a program.

What are your thoughts on that? Any way you can help out?

JC: Absolutely. So we’ve started a not for profit called the Arma Initiative to help veterans integrate into purposeful jobs. And that’s going to be across the Ranger, SEAL and Delta community.

And then we do a lot of work with Shootout for Soldiers, Mission 22, as well as The Gallant Few, and the Ranger Lead the Way fund. And I would absolutely love to start integrating… I think about we’ve got Shootout for Soldiers coming up, which is a Lacrosse event. But pretty highly attended in Long Island where we’ll have 1) a whole lot of people who can donate to… I think they’ve separated a little bit too much, and this year they’re getting back to it. The playing of lacrosse and what it’s for. It’s for the veterans.

So there’s going to be a whole education part this year… there’s going to be veterans.

I’m lucky enough to be speaking. There’s going to be some other veterans speaking. And being able to have booths and doing the fundraising thing there. And then being able to reach out through our networks. And I think Mission 22 is just such a great… I don’t know if you’ve read his book, but it’s really fabulous. And I’ll tell you, so Mission 22 obviously started from the 22 veterans a day that commit suicide.

And I say in all transparency, I attempted suicide 4 times.

Mark: Holy cow.

JC: And so this is an issue that’s near and dear to my heart. And what we have to do is make it available… make these programs available to our veterans. So what I love about what you’re doing with this burpee challenge is… I got be honest with you, I’m really tired of 22 push-ups a day, because awareness is different than action.

And so what we need to do is take it to action and how do we stop…? They said “Well we’re down to 20 suicides a day.” Well, no. You just changed the definition of what a soldier is. And what a service-member is. They just made the time-period shorter after they leave. So now it’s a civilian who’s killing themselves.

And so I think that what I’d like to do is link you up with a couple of those. And we’ll do that through us as well. And kind of help you get out there. Cause I love that you want to help veterans and I been looking…

I think I mentioned to you XPT, with what Laird Hamilton‘s doing. I saw that and I said, “Boy, this would be great for vets.” And I know they’re interested. But to go to an XPT event is like $3000 for 3 days…

Mark: No right. What we’re trying to do would be completely subsidized and it needs to be vets only, right? And the people who are providing the after-care need to be vets who are like you and I who made it through, but we understand the issues. And are trained in the tools and methods.

Otherwise you don’t get the buy-in. That’s my opinion anyways.

JC: I think you’re 100% right. So here’s my pledge to you. After this I’m going to introduce you to all my contacts. In my network. So that we can figure out how to get you out to the veterans and then all of us that want to continue to help, we’ll go get the training and we’ll start to do the 18 month program, and…

I’m in, and I can probably speak for another 5 of us.

Mark: That would be cool. Awesome.

JC: I’m so glad that I found out you’re doing this. I’m going to be a huge supporter. This is going to be my new thing.

Mark: Hooyah. Well I’m looking forward to following up on that separately. And thanks for your time today. Really, really interesting and deep conversation about how to be an effective leader. In this day and age.

So I’ll look forward to seeing you in person soon.

JC: I look forward to it. And thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it.

Mark: It was an honor. Thanks JC.

All right folks. You heard it. JC Glick. Check him out. Please check out his book and everything else that he’s up to. He’s got a new book coming out, so just pay attention to that.

The book is called, “Light in the Darkness: Leadership in the Unknown.”

And stay tuned, because it sounds like JC and I will be hooking up through the Courage Foundation and his organization and Mission 22 to really add some rocket fuel to our initiative.

By the way, JC, I know you’re still listening. But we are… we’ve got over 6 million of those 22 million burpees already pledged. And 3 months of those in the bank. And then 125 Grand already pledged, which is halfway toward our goal.

JC: That’s awesome.

Mark: We got Microsoft just joined with a team. With a matching thing. Joe Desano of Spartan is spinning up a personal team. Jesse Itzler is working with his group… he’s a billionaire that owns the Hawks. He’s got this thing called “We do Hard stuff,” and they’re doing their challenge this month all around it.

So we’re starting to get some momentum. It’s not just “Hey this is on a piece of paper.” Concept. We’re actually really doing it.

JC: Well, I’m going to… so I’m speaking to the NFL tomorrow and on Monday and I’m going to let them know about it and see if I can get some teams involved in the challenge.

Mark: That would be awesome. Yeah, check out the info at And it’s also linked to our Courage Foundation website.

The website’s being redone. It needs a little bit of a spruce up. I don’t know if you’ve run into Josh Mantz or Greg Amundson. They’re on my board of directors.

Josh Mantz was an Army guy like you. He wrote “Darker Soul?” He was killed in combat and then resuscitated after 15 minutes. And then went through that death spiral like you did, with Post-Traumatic Stress and guilt and suicidal thoughts. An incredible guy. You guys need to hook up, for sure, also.

JC: I’d love that. I’d love that.

Mark: We’ll make that happen. All right, buddy. Thanks, thanks again. Let’s get in touch. My email is mark(at)sealfit. Really easy. You’ll probably remember that one.

My executive director is Jon Atwater, so I’ll hook you up with him at the Foundation.

JC: All right. We’ll get you hooked up and I’ll get you hooked up with everybody on my side and see how we can help.

Mark: Awesome. All right. Great chatting with you.

JC: Good chatting with you, and thank you for having me again.

Mark: Yeah, you bet. My pleasure. Take care.

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