“I propose that having a purpose is like a primal urge. It’s like a DNA footprint or your soul’s calling in life. But it’s not a job or a career.”-Mark Divine
Dr. Parsley’s sleep remedy was designed to help Navy SEALs to overcome some of the sleep challenges that they have as hard-charging individuals. Doc Parsley believes that proper sleep and recovery is absolutely essential to maintain our ability to perform at a high level. His sleep “cocktail” includes a number of supplements to provide our bodies with chemicals naturally produced by the brain to encourage sleep. Commander Divine is a huge fan and encourages members his tribe to try it out for themselves. Enter “unbeatablemind” at the checkout on www.docparsley.com to get 10% off.
This is the second podcast in this series, where Commander Divine reads from his new book “Launch,” which was originally conceived as being for young adults. He realized that it was actually useful for anyone, young or old, at the point of launching a new career, a new project or heading off in a new direction of any kind. In the first episode, he read chapters 1 and 2, and today he reads from chapter 3.
In today’s episode:
- Learn how to shape your passions into a defining purpose
- Hear more about Mark’s personal journey to find his own purpose
- Recognize that you need to complete projects that have already been started so that you can put all the pieces together for your new adventure.
Listen to this episode so that you can prepare to “Launch” into a new life.
The Halo Sport neuro-stimulation system is an easy to use headset which puts your brain in a hyper-learning state, so that you get more out of your workouts. Mark had a podcast with one of their co-founders, Dr. Daniel Chao, and he was impressed with the underlying science of the device. At its simplest level, the Halo sport is allowing you to develop muscle memory faster than usual. It has already been used in the military, by professional sports teams and by Olympic athletes.
Right now, you can join thousands of those customers by using a generous offer that Halo is giving to the Unbeatable Mind tribe. Go to haloneuro.com and use the code UNBEATABLEMIND at checkout to get the product for $475—over $200 off the regular price.
Love the Unbeatable Mind Podcast? Click here to subscribe on iTunes.We’d love your feedback, please leave a rating and review.
Hey, this is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much for joining me today. I’ve got another solocast for you, continuing the read of the early draft of the book I’m calling “Launch.” Which I mentioned last time I wrote for Millennials to help them launch into a new project, new career, new path, new way of being. But it’s appropriate for anybody who may be a little bit unsettled with the way things are, where they’re at, with the status quo, and are looking for a little change.
It is an application of the Unbeatable Mind principles. Specifically to get dislodged and moving again in the right direction.
Chapter 3–last month or last time I went through chapter 1 and 2 in one recording. Today I’m going to go through chapter 3. Titled “Know What You Stand For.”
Before I get into this, just a reminder. We’re halfway through the Burpees for Vets challenge. I passed 55,000 burpees today on my way to 100,000. Man. Six months left. My friend Boomer just did 4700 burpees in 21 hours to celebrate his birthday. He raised $5000 or more. burpeesforvets.com. We need your help. We cannot do this alone.
This is a Big HAG. BHAG I should say. Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. To do 22 million burpees, raise $250,000 to help vets with Post-Traumatic Stress. You can learn more about it at burpeesforvets.com or my foundation page feedcourage.org.
And also I was reminded this morning, someone emailed us about how cool Kokoro yoga was as an integration of physical fitness and martial arts or self-defense as well as traditional yoga poses. And an integration of breath, movement, mindfulness, concentration, meditation. And how valuable it is to have a package. To be a personal practice meant to be done at home instead of stretchy-bendy at the yoga studio.
It is a warrior’s yoga, for warriors of all stripes. And it’s a super-cool program. I don’t talk about it much here on this podcast, but if you’re interested in looking at it, go to kokoro.yoga. It’s also found at our unbeatablemind.com website, but we have a really cool online training program. It’s cheap and we offer new Kokoro yoga videos of all different lengths and sizes and difficulty levels. I lead a bunch of them. My step-daughter Katherine leads a bunch of them. Our friend and peer, Greg Amundson leads some on Krav Maga, and my Tai Chi, Chi Gong coach Will Potter leads some on Chi Gong and Tai Chi. There’s just endless variety.
We’re just getting warmed up. There’s over a hundred videos in it, so Kokoro yoga. Online. Check it out.
All right. Here we go. Remember by the way, this is a pretty rough draft. So a lot of this will change, and I was just going over the draft of this chapter, and it’s all marked up. So it’s going to be interesting for me trying to read this with all my scribbles, but it’s pretty good stuff. The concepts are solid.
Here we go. Chapter 3. Know what you stand for.
Winning in your mind is similar to tilling a field where you want to plant a garden. You’ve got to weed out the negativity. You’ve got to weed out thoughts of self-limiting stories that don’t belong. You’re tilling and softening this ground.
Now you need to seed the ground with some powerful questions that can grow into the basis of a new self-concept. New stories.
Doesn’t mean that you go to sleep one night with these questions and poof a big 20 foot oak tree pops up, or this beautiful garden. No. It’s an ongoing process of weeding and tilling, and then seeding and watering and nurturing. Over time–maybe the course of a year or longer–as you make this a daily practice or process. Eventually you’ll have a rich and beautiful garden bearing the fruits. The fruits will be seen in your self-concept, your self-worth and the new stories that you tell yourself that guide your life.
Now the quality of your future will depend upon the quality of the questions you begin to ask now. They are the seeds. These questions are the seeds in this personal garden. Knowing the right questions to ask lead you deeper into self-awareness and the critical answers that you need for your life. These answers are waiting inside of you.05:06
Sure, you might get inspiration from a mentor or by observing others and reading great books. But when it applies specifically to your life, the answers lie inside you.
In order to ferret these out, you have to clear the ground and prepare your mind. And this takes time. Time to let those questions sink deeply into your subconscious. You may not get the answers right away. It is an iterative process. You’re going to ask questions, you’re going to reflect. You’re going to journal. You’re going to meditate some. Then you’re going to ask questions again. You’re going to reflect. Etc. etc.
But eventually, you’re going to see the sprout of an answer or an idea, or a new self-concept beginning to grow.
This is what happened to me. Asking the right questions. I was 21 and had begun the process of meditation that I described in the last chapter. At first, it was really hard to clear my mind. I mean, really hard.
But I respected my mentor, Mr. Nakamura, so much that I stuck with it. Now I began to explore some simple visualization techniques to serve as concentration tools. I call them the windshield wiper and the fishbowl. And they helped me to clear my mind, to deepen my concentration so that then I could begin to ask questions. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that that was what I was going to be doing, but I’ll tell you now, that’s where it led me.
Let me go through these two techniques real quickly for you, because they’re super-powerful for anyone who’s struggled with meditation.
First is the windshield wiper. So generally you know that to begin meditative practice, just sit comfortably and you’re going to begin to pay attention to your breath. So as you breathe, now what I want you to do is imagine that your thoughts are rain pelting the quote “windshield” of your mind. So when you get distracted by any thought stream, any random thinking that is not what you’re trying to concentrate on which right now is just your breath, simply activate your windshield wiper, clear those thoughts away.
So you’re going to mentally visualize a windshield wiper swiping across the window of your mind. Clearing away the raindrops which represent your errant thoughts. Over time–and I’m not talking a lot of time, just a few iterations of this–you’ll be left with a clear and transparent mind.
But guess what? The screen will become covered with raindrops again. But then you’ll swipe that away and eventually the rain will stop. And you’ll be able to concentrate undisturbed by your thinking. It’s a super-simple and super-cool visualization trick or tool that I developed to help me sit and meditate and just count to ten. Like Nakamura had me do in the classic Zen concentration practice.
The second one is super-cool too. It’s very similar. Both use another water metaphor. This is called the “Fishbowl.” So as you begin to breathe and pay attention to your breath. And you want to start concentrating.
Well, your mind of course, will quickly get distracted by thoughts other than the subject or object of your concentration.
So to help clear these thoughts away, visualize your mind to be a fish tank with an automatic filtering system. The thoughts will disturb the water in the tank making it cloudy. When you breathe deeply, and you concentrate on the cleansing quality of your breath it activates the filter and it cleans the water. So you’re going to visualize that every inhale and exhale the water inside this mind of yours that you’re visualizing like a fishbowl gets cleaner and cleaner. Clearer and clearer.
And after 5 or 10 breaths, the tank is crystal clear. Which represents a crystal clear and unfettered mind. The mind that you now have.
And when you have that state of clarity, then you can begin to either just ask questions, or contemplate an issue in your life. Or to visualize something else.
By the way–I want to take a brief pause here and let you know that one of the things that we do in our Unbeatable Mind program is help you really appreciate and develop a personal practice using the Unbeatable Mind tools that is right for you. So most people that I talk to have struggled with meditation. They sit down and just start thinking. And they’re distracted.
Or they think mediation is just listening to a guided visualization tape. And it’s not. Meditation is a very, very rich practice of self-awareness, self-discovery and self-healing. And it requires that we learn to control our breathing, but then also to concentrate deeply. And so we can use these visualization tools to teach ourselves to concentrate. Cause if you can’t concentrate, then you certainly can’t meditate.
All right. Back to the book. Now at the time when I was developing these tools and… I was 21 and I was starting to get into meditation. I really didn’t know how to ask good questions. I didn’t even know that I was supposed to ask questions. I didn’t know anything about how questions guided our stories. I was just trying to meditate like Nakamura told me to.
But because in this meditation I was beginning to connect to my witnessing, higher self. What we talked about in chapter 1, my witnessing self which was really deeply connected to or associated with my spiritual center. I think. Again, big question mark there, cause I don’t want to tell you more than I know, and nobody can seriously know that. If they tell you they know for sure, then they’re lying.
But we speculate on these things, based upon our personal experience. My personal experience was us connecting to this witnessing self. Watching myself think and also experiencing deep insights and more connection and more of a sense of wholeness when I connected to that witnessing self.
So to me that was a very spiritual experience. And because of this connection to this higher witnessing self, this meditation or these practices–this time on the bench–began to bring me information that caused me to ask different questions. but what I saw when I was able to connect to my witness and watch my thoughts and watch who I was in the material world, I didn’t like who I saw, at the time.
I was a person who was living someone else’s story. And the more I sat in this meditation, the more I experienced the things that I wanted to be. In my mind. But then as soon as I returned to my day-to-day life again, I experienced those things that I didn’t want to be.
I began to see that there was a real gap. That what I was seeing in my meditation was not what I was experiencing in my everyday life.
So I was sticking with the practice though because it was causing this gap to become more clear. And my need for action to become more urgent.
Now even though I was pretty comfortable in this life, and I made plenty of money–at least compared to a lot of people–I was becoming more and more uncomfortable in terms of my trajectory. I felt a sense of unease with my life. Thoreau said most men… or people I should say… most people live lives of quiet desperation. And it was only because I slowed down and spent time in meditation that I felt this starkly at such a young age.
Now had I stayed merged in the activity and the flow of my flawed life trajectory, I probably wouldn’t have noticed any of this until I was 40 or 50. Like most people. And then it would have been a much bigger problem.
But it was because I was spending 20 to 30 minutes every day, and on Thursdays, 45 minutes to an hour, sitting in silence and contemplating my life and these things that I was able to notice all this at 21.
Questions came up. Why am I unhappy? What is it about this lifestyle that doesn’t work for me?
I noticed that I started with questions around what was wrong, because I really couldn’t identify a path forward. I couldn’t identify what was right either. Now it’s not like I heard… it’s not like in my head I said… I heard a voice, “You’re supposed to be a Navy SEAL officer. Go do it.”
No. First I had to identify what was wrong. Why wasn’t I excited about my original chosen career path? Why are my decisions in this path flawed? Or the decisions that led me to this path flawed?
And I didn’t change everything right away. I just began to identify the gap.
And at that time, I still didn’t know that my family wasn’t perfect. It took me a long time to realize that they were just as dysfunctional as the rest of the world. But this practice led me to begin to see some of the reasons that I was shut down emotionally and had made some of the decisions that I had made. And also, why I drank too much. And used that as a way to drown my lack of emotions. To try to feel alive.
And beer binges on the weekend were a throwback to my college days, which I even carried over into the SEALs. So I made a list of all these things that I disliked or didn’t want to continue to move toward in my life.
I didn’t like putting a suit on every day, and playing that rat race game. I didn’t like the profession I was in as a CPA. I didn’t like crunching the numbers. I wasn’t great at math. I didn’t like it.
I didn’t like New York City, except for my martial arts training. I didn’t like the people I was around. I didn’t like the culture. I didn’t resonate with it.
I didn’t like having to sneak away from work to exercise. I didn’t like living in a concrete jungle when I grew up in nature. I didn’t like the idea of being inside every day of my life, and doing roughly the same thing day-in and day-out. I didn’t like living in a crucible for 8 hours or 10 hours a day.
I wasn’t inspired by financial rewards and was turned off by people’s ego about money as a measure of their life. And yet, there I was, working at a financial services firm as an auditor. How ridiculous was that?
I remember one jerk at my firm who wouldn’t even look at me or talk to me. Then I found out that he made 750,000 dollars that year. But also lost the firm about that same amount of money in one trade. He was a net loss to the firm, but he was walking around as this super-arrogant guy.
He did end up getting fired 2 years later when the market crashed. And that crash validated some of these questions or these feelings I was having. It was one of the things that caused me to begin to finally shift focus. To be courageous and just say, “I’m right. I’m not wrong about this stuff. This attitude around money isn’t what I want. It’s not healthy, and I’ve gotta do something about it.”
At any rate, once I got clear about my list of dislikes, then I was able to answer different questions. Or ask different questions. Why did I get here? If this doesn’t motivate me, what does?
And that last question was a good one. Asking questions about what’s going wrong, and why open the opportunity for me to ask positive questions about what could go right. What have I done right? What am I good at? And what do I love? And what should I do about all this?
So then I compiled a list of my likes and the things that I was drawn toward. And wanted to move toward.
The list included things like fitness. That’s a no-brainer. Adventure. Challenge. Martial arts. I enjoyed growing. Constant improvement. Reading. Travel. I love the outdoors, and nature. I like silence, believe it or not.
I was especially enjoying spending time in silence. I loved it growing up, when I was out hiking in the Adirondacks, and I had some really cool flow state experiences on long walks through the mountains.
But now I wasn’t able to experience that very often. And when I did, it was stressful. I had to drive for 6 hours, then I spent 2 days in the woods. And just when I started to feel myself again, it was back to the corporate grind.
Anyways, I digress. The positive questions that I began asking uncovered what I call my passions and my principles or what I value. And when I compared my likes to my dislikes I was able to ask myself, “Is what I’m doing in alignment with the things that I like and am passionate about? Or is it alignment with what I dislike?”
So what I noticed was that the things that I was doing was obviously in alignment with what I didn’t like and didn’t value. Which showed this gap in my story very starkly. The stories that I believed led me to these flawed questions which drove my choices, leading me here to this life of quiet desperation. I had been blindly living the words and stories of others that I had adopted as my own.
“Who Am I?”
It took me 9 months or so for me to get a much clearer picture of what I could stand for and what I didn’t. And I wasn’t to take you through a shortcut to that process, here. So we’re going to do an exercise and don’t do this while you’re driving. You want to pause and get your journal.
So you’ve already done the exercise “Who am I?” And you’ve written kind of outer things. Traits, things you do, achievements. Now we’re going to take a deeper look. A look at our beliefs. Our likes, dislikes, things that we value. This is a more refined internal look at “Who am I?” Its’ an iterative exercise of course. You’re going to do it once, sit, reflect, meditate on it. Then you’re going to write down what comes to mind.
Then you’re going to reflect upon it and refine. And you’ll have some more things to add to it, and you’ll take things off, and you’ll just refine it.
And you’re going to do this until you feel like you have a complete set of concepts around who you are in terms of your likes, dislikes and values. This is the layer beneath or behind the outer layer. The first layer of the inner.
So find a comfortable place with your journal. And still yourself with the classic breath-awareness or box breathing practice. Let all your distractions go. You might use the fishbowl or windshield wiper to clear your mind and get focused on concentrate. And ask yourself about the things that you do not like. What do you not like doing? What do you struggle with? What do you struggle with to do? What do you struggle with in life? What doesn’t feel easy to you? What’s wrong with your current place or position right now in life?
You might have a whole series of answers to these questions. What aspect of your job or current positions steals your motivation? What habits do you have that you wish you could kick? And are you living in conflict with what you value most?
You might have other questions that you can think of, but you get the general gist here. So write down as many things that come to your mind as possible. Good.
When you’re done with that, just set that aside. Now you’re going to shift focus and with a more “feed the Courage Wolf” attitude you’re going to focus on what you’re drawn toward. What you do like. What you do value.
So you’re going to ask questions such as this: What do you like to do? If you had all the time in the world, what would you do? What would you love to do if you had the chance right now? And what makes you feel alive and gets you excited every time you do it?
What goals or accomplishments do you really wish to achieve in 20 years or 40 years–aside from just your job or finances? And what good habits do you have that make you really like yourself, or that you think are really positive? And what skills or talents do you have that you feel like you were made for or they were made for you, or you were made for them? Like, your unique offer to the world.
And what do you value most in life? So contemplate questions like this or these and just write down what comes to mind. When you’re done with this, just set it aside, but then come back next time and just look at the list of likes and dislikes and contrast them. Of the things that you’re drawn toward, are there three to five activities that you’re most passionate about now? Make a note of them. So you’re starting to move from likes to passions and you’re going to be discriminating between passions and values.
So you’re going to make a note of them. And what are the top 3 to 5 principles that come out of this that you value? Things that you value?
Now that you’ve discovered the things that you’re most passionate about, and the things that you’re most principled about, it’s time to point that toward a purpose, so you can activate them. So we know where we stand in life.
Having a purpose. What does that mean? Now, a lot of people don’t know if they have a purpose. Or they don’t know if they need a purpose. Or they simply think that they’re purpose is to be happy.
Now I propose that having a purpose is a primal urge. It’s like a DNA footprint. Or your soul’s calling in life. But it’s not a job or a career. It’s more like an energetic, archetypal way that you’re uniquely qualified or compelled to serve. You don’t have to believe in Karma, past-lives, or God to believe this or to feel this.
But you can learn to look at the patterns in your life–the big patterns. And the decisions you’ve made about what you love, what your passions are and the people you gravitate toward and hang out with.
Or, like in my case, if you’re miserable, look at the patterns that led you there, and find the gap. And then enter that gap and begin to ask better questions.
So there’s the positive aspect of just looking at the patterns that are leading you in a direction that’s going to point a purpose. Or look at the patterns that have led you away and created that quiet life of desperation. There are two paths to discovering your purpose. In these paths you’ll find that your Background of Obviousness and the stories that you shouldn’t be living. And you’ll find information pointing to your purpose or the life that you should be living.
Course, this requires careful, self-examination. And patience. It’s not one of those… when I think about this idea of purpose, it’s not an outer thing. Like the “Who am I?” in the first chapter. I’m a Navy SEAL commander is an outer thing, but it was not my purpose. That was just a title. It’s not how I defined myself.
My purpose was the archetypal way that I could serve. It was a way of being. So you want to look at that like this archetypal way of being. Some people are healers. Others are warriors or teachers. This is somewhat of the concept of Dharma or finding your calling, I suppose.
When you’re able to answer the question “What’s my purpose?” you’re then going to need or want to align it with your passion and principle, so some of those things that we began to ferret out in that exercise a little while ago. You don’t have to line it up 100%, but you’re certainly going to line it up at least by 80%.
You could look at it this way. Given your passions and principles, what purpose do they point to in your life? And this will evolve as you evolve through life. In my late teens, for example, I was… my archetypal purpose was that of an athlete/scholar I guess. And you can combine some of these archetypes. I like to do that.
So I was like an athlete/scholar in my 20s–18, 19, 20, 21. Early 20s. Then in my mid to late twenties I was more of a warrior/athlete. With a little bit of a scholar thrown in there as well. Course I was in the SEALs by the time I was 26. But still, my purpose wasn’t to be a SEAL. My purpose was to be a warrior/athlete/scholar.
And then in my 30s, as I became more of a leader, I was a warrior/leader. And in my 40s I was more like a warrior/strategist, as a business guy. And a teacher/scholar.
And now in my 50s, I think it’s becoming more like a warrior/monk.
So it was really the warrior archetype that was threaded throughout my life. That pointed toward my purpose. And it was my passions and the things that I was principled about that helped to find the center point which helped me know where I stood. And out of that stand I could build a career. I could build a life.
And that held huge space for multiple different jobs or business entities or ways that I could fulfill this stand of mine.
So that’s what came out when I first started asking those questions. Warrior. Warrior/ adventurer. Life of service. Warrior/athlete. Now there’s many professions there, and it didn’t have to be the military. I could have been a warrior/athlete in different career paths beyond the military. So I’m not trying to say or to lead you into a specific career path, like the military. You can be warrior, scholar, athlete or any of these archetypes and fit a profession around it.
As long as you know where you stand.
The profession part is formed by the rest of your skills and those things you’re passionate about. Your unique offer, your uniqueness in life.
Along with–and this is critical–what the world needs, and is willing to compensate you for. But your overall, arching purpose is that archetypal energy that you identify with the most. Like I said, for me it was the warrior.
For many others it might be healer, entrepreneur or mom or dad. When you connect to this you find it extremely motivating and liberating. Now once I identified this purpose, I continued to work at my current job. I didn’t just quit, and be like, “Woohoo! I’m a warrior/ leader,” right? The practical part of the world would have slapped me down. Still needed to earn a paycheck. There was this little pesky thing of trying to figure out what career to fit that archetype.
But it did completely shift my focus and my training, cause now I knew where I needed to go and where I needed to do the continued work on the bench. The inner domain. So my visualizations, meditation, contemplation all shifted toward clarifying and evolving this new and emerging sense of self.
Getting clear about your purpose will change the image of who you are and your need to serve. Or your sense of how you’ll serve. Everything shifts almost immediately once you make a commitment to clarify your purpose and to stand your ground.
Like I said, purpose is not a career, but you can fill it for a time with careers, jobs, tactical goals and strategic things in alignment with your purpose, passion and principles. They do inter-relate.
Once you discover this you’ll focus all your energy on your purpose and you’ll pulsate with passion and purpose and principles out into the world. And you’re going to experience more and more fulfillment every day.
Stand your Ground
How do you stand your ground? If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. At the intersection of your purpose, passion and principles is where you stand. Now this is theoretical, but your stand–it’s not just a statement. It is a no shit commitment that no matter what happens, you’re going to stand your ground to achieve your purpose with passion in alignment with your principles. You won’t waver when pushed. You’re going to commit to it.
And you’ll do anything and you’ll be radically clear to continue to align or stay in alignment with your purpose. This is not easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
It takes time and patience to go this deep, and find the solid insights. But those insights are there. They’re waiting for you.
You might some time meditating and asking questions like this. And not even get an answer. Could take weeks or months, and you could get really frustrated and think, “Mark Divine is full of you-know-what.”
But then you revisit your principles, and the questions. And you revisit the likes and the dislikes, and all of a sudden you get new insights. And like a map and compass, they begin to point you toward a new place. A place you haven’t been before.
And then you use the visualization to go into the future and ask, “What would that look like? What would this new world look like? If I was a warrior/leader and not a CPA what would that look like?”
We’re going to get into that in the next chapter. How to visualize a future.
How I found my stand–let me tell the story a little bit more detail first.
So I began to ask myself about my dislikes and then I knew I needed to turn my focus to what I liked. So I liked adventure, fitness training, being in nature, travel, risk. Like I mentioned earlier. I was a risk taker. I enjoyed things like running down the mountains playing tag, and doing crazy things underwater. Under the calm waters of Lake Placid in the Adirondacks.
So I went into my mind and using my imagination I asked myself what would a future look like if I could continue to do those things? If those things weren’t just childhood fantasies?
Could I do something to align myself with those passionate things that I loved to do when I was a young man? And to fulfill the things that I value?
Oh, by the way, what do I value? If I’m passionate about being outdoors, then I’m probably passionate about being in nature. That means I value nature.
If I’m saying I’m not passionate about making money, then maybe I’m passionate about something else.
What about serving? I value service over making money. Interesting. These things all start to make sense when you meditate on them. This is one way you can back into some of the key values that drive your behavior or belief systems. That are driven by values which drive your behavior.
You visualize yourself accomplishing something you’re passionate about, start to watch what feelings arise. And then the principles you identify with can be built from there.
This is your stand. You begin to know where you stand in the world.
I needed to know where I stood. I felt like I was just on quicksand half the time.
I began to think about committing to service, to being adventurous. To being in role where I’d be challenged as a leader and a warrior. The passions and values that I began to identify started to support each other and point a way toward a possible future.
I scanned the horizon around me in the future, and said “What does that look like? What could that look like if I lived a life of adventure, fitness, travel, service. Leader/warrior.”
But when I got off the bench and went back to my life of a CPA and began to see that, “You know what? I am not inspired.” so I couldn’t see myself being a warrior/leader as a CPA. So I thought, “Could I be a warrior/leader back with my family business?”
Well, I couldn’t see that either. It lacked the gritty, follow me into hell and back type of leadership that I was looking for. I didn’t see it in the day-to-day strategizing and execution and planning. And endless meetings of business.
But then I saw something clearly when I stumbled upon the Navy SEAL recruiting poster that said, “Be Someone Special.” this was a sign from the universe. It was like, “Hello Mark. Guess what? Here’s your answer, right here.”
But I didn’t have the confidence to go right into that idea yet, because I still had a lot of self-doubt. Even though I would have clarity in moments sitting on the bench, as soon as I stepped back out onto the street, or got on the subway… or whatever my daily distraction was. I quickly tracked back to my former, fearful self.
Everyone around me–my family and my peers–all said I was doing great things, and rocking it. There was no need to change anything. I was making good money. I was in a good career. Working for a good company. Earning my MBA, my CPA, you know. I was really rocking it. Why would I want to change that?
So during the time frame that I was thinking of other possibilities, I was looking at it with a broad brush. One of them was the military. It wasn’t the only one though. Another one was taking off and being an adventurer, a guide. Living in a ski resort even.
One of them was becoming a roughneck, working on an oil rig. Something rugged and dirty and dangerous.
One of them was just to bail and travel the world. Kind of drop-out.
I kept going back to the SEALs. Because it aligned with so many of my passions and values. Like I said, there’s that fitness and challenge and adventure. Risk. Travel. Service. Leadership. Warrior archetype.
And I was starting to really tap all that in my martial arts training.
And there’s 8 things there that I really value. That I’m passionate about. That all line up. Perhaps that’s it. Gotta pay more attention to this one.
I had to go back to the bench and meditate and reflect on those questions. In order to get closer to the truth. When I saw that SEAL poster though, I thought “Wow. That’s incredible. This really inspires me.”
But my BOO or my Background of Obviousness said, “You can’t do that. Everyone’s going to judge you.” And I would contract back into my old story. The story that says, “I’m not good enough. Or I can’t do that. Or what would my parents think. Or what would everyone else think.”
So this is the challenge. How do you launch when you’re stuck? Those challenges stared me down.
But, guess what? I would have been faced with those challenges had I taken a serious look at going to work on an oil-rig. Or flown jets. Or done anything different. Those challenges are going to even be there if I stayed as a CPA. Eventually. You just have the same challenges that come back and hit you in the face in a different way.
Anyways, I was really dealing with this fear of rejection and judgement. And the fear of failure.
And at the same time I was masking that fear kind of in a cockiness. I was still a pretty fit guy. I was getting my Brown Belt in karate. Blah-blah-blah.
But inside I felt this discordance. This anxiety. I was kind of paralyzed for some time. Just couldn’t make a decision.
So what I did was compromise. I quit my job and took a 3 month trip out west. I thought maybe I’d just taste something that came close and maybe that would satisfy this itch. Decided to go ski and be outdoors. And find some of that adventure and challenge away from the rat race. At least I could do that. I know it’ll freak some people out, but you know what? What the heck. I’m not committing to 6 years in the Navy. Let’s do this and see if it’s the right thing.
So after 18 months at my firm–Coopers and Lybrand–completing my Masters in Accounting–I quit my job. I went out west to stay at Lake Tahoe to stay at my friend Todd’s cabin.
Course, I thought, naively, that I’d get a job right away that I’d get a job right away as a ski instructor or at least at a resort. Putting people on the lift.
But alas, it didn’t even snow. Universe worked in my favor. Didn’t even snow. There I sat, alone, meditating. This showed me that this wasn’t the path. I needed something more structured. I didn’t experience any development really. Or any grit or grind or leadership. No service. I was just messing around.
And though this adventure got me away from some things that I disliked, it didn’t get me closer to the things that I did. I needed to align more of my passions. And stay in true alignment with my values or principles.
Be ready for the change
So after 3 months of sitting there in Tahoe alone and thinking mostly, well I realized I wasn’t done back in New York. I hadn’t finished what I started. Not only had I not gotten my Black Belt, but I really wanted to get my MBA. I’d only finished the MS in Accounting. And I still wasn’t clear about my future.
I had jumped the gun. Ready-Fire-Aim. No problem, I thought. This happens. And it’s only bad if I don’t learn from it. This is a great learning moment.
So I decided to go back. All the way back to New York with my tail between my legs. I got my job back at a different firm though. Same kind of job, different firm. This time it was Arthur Anderson. And I went back to NYU and I transferred all my credits over to the MBA and finance program. And then I began my karate training again, starting from a Yellow Belt.
That taught me to be careful about jumping too soon. It’s an important lesson. Wasn’t really ready. Didn’t have all the pieces yet. But I just was at that point where I didn’t want to spend another day in my job, it was so painful.
So I learned a lesson. Stick to your plan. Finish things up. Stay focused and embrace the suck. Until you got all your ducks lined up.
Guess what? Two years later, I’d finished my MBA, I’d passed my CPA exam. I’d tested for my Black Belt–became a first degree Black Belt. Then I was off to the SEALs.
No kidding. I got all those in the same month. October 1989. Then I was on a bus to California November of that year.
Finding your stand.
Remember I said winning in your mind is like tilling a field, planting a garden. I want to reinforce that idea. That this does take time. I fumbled through 3 years of this process, and it’s… even with clients today in our inner circle program. It takes time, sometimes it takes a year or more to really help them understand what we call their 3 PS–Purpose, Passion, Principles and Stand. Which forms the elements of their ethos or character and gives them a code of conduct.
So it’s not easy. Takes time. Becoming still–that takes time. Asking the right questions. Time. Learning how to meditate and reflect. Time.
It is an iterative process. But you can do it. Journaling is really powerful, so you want to do some aspect of this practice, journal, and then return later to reflect upon what you wrote. And then do a little bit deeper. Repeat the process day-in and day-out until you have clarity about your purpose, passion and principles so you can begin to align your life with them and live with your hair on fire in alignment knowing where you stand.
Then commitment is easy. And when you commit to something, you’ll stand your ground. You won’t quit, you won’t waver. You’ll get the job done.
So begin to develop your personal stand. The exercise that I wrote in the book is very simple. We’ve kind of been through parts of it, but you’re going to want to think. Find a place to be quiet and still and you’ve already done the likes and dislikes, and you’ve started to articulate your passions and principles.
You’re going to quiet your thought, and you’re going to begin to meditate about what archetypal purpose do these passion and principles stir within you? And visualize yourself. How this archetypal purpose would look in your life. In terms of a career or a future.
And see yourself aligning with the things that you’re passionate about and principled about. And when you find that alignment, you can even write down a stand. And that becomes a practice, cause every day you can check back in and read your stand, and ask yourself, “Am I in alignment? Is what I’m going to do today in alignment with what I stand for?”
Now here’s some other questions that you can consider. What’s preventing you from living fully your stand right now? And what skills or knowledge do you need to acquire or improve upon in order to start doing the things in alignment with your stand, or a career in line with your stand? What would you do if you failed at your stand? Or failed to stand your ground?
What responsibilities must you take care of to live your stand? I’m thinking about extreme ownership, you know, like once you know where you stand you take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates. You take responsibility for your mission.
And who can you recruit to join you in living out your stand. This is how you begin to develop a team, who can be united in a singular mission focus, built off of a strong stand.
Now commitment is easy when you have that clarity, because your stand will be tested. If your stand is aligned with your purpose and principles and values, it’ll stand the test of time. As you stand your ground.
And it’ll get reinforced instead of weakened as life’s distractions and challenges crush against you. At least that’s what happened to me.
After I got back to finishing what I had started–back to my New York story–in earning my degree, and my Black Belt and the CPA, I had a much greater sense of clarity and urgency around my purpose. And I knew now where I stood. After that sojourn out west, I was clear that I wanted to finish what I started.
But not so I could be a CPA or go back to the family business. But so I could be a Navy SEAL. I could fulfill my growing sense of purpose as a warrior and leader. And I was committed to it, 100%, hair on fire, burn your boats commitment.
Now keep in mind, I was a single guy with no responsibilities in his 20s. This can get dicier if you’re a 50 year -old with a huge mortgage payment and a career to maintain. House and kids. You know, for this launch program to work, you have an opportunity and if you’re a Millennial you might have less responsibility, less of a rut to break free from. So acknowledge that. Time is right. Don’t develop the ruts. Don’t develop the encumbrances, because it’s much harder.
Anyone who’s 50 will tell you it’s much harder to make a serious change no matter how urgent you feel your sense of purpose and stand. At the same time, if you’re 40 or 50, you still have to do something else live that life of quiet desperation.
So there is a sense of urgency around this no matter what age you are. I’m just saying that if you’re a young, Millennial you got a leg up. Less responsibility, less encumbrances. You can launch right into something right away. But you gotta do this work. You gotta do this self-awareness work. Or else you’ll do a Ready-Fire-Aim just like I did.
And that’s okay. It’s okay to do that, but just know it’s not a straight path.
So I committed and I sucked it up. I committed to doing the job that I started but didn’t like, and I embraced the suck until it was clear to me that it was the SEAL career that I wanted to fulfill my growing sense of purpose.
I made sure I was ready to jump through all the hoops I needed to do to get accepted. Which was a long-shot. And I deeply committed even more to my practice every day to show up to train hard, physically. To meditate, to visualize success. And I began to see my future clearly as a warrior/leader in the SEALs. This is where the career and the archetype lined up. They slotted together almost like a puzzle.
So all this work I had done which began to emerge the future Mark Divine as a warrior/leader, I was able to superimpose in my visualizations on what I knew about the SEALs as a career, as an officer, and now it was warrior/leader/Navy SEAL. And that became my visualization.
It wasn’t just some random vision. I superimposed this imagery of me on some imagery of the Navy SEALs that I had come across. And I superimposed that on top of my stand, which was the summation of my purpose as a warrior/leader and what I was passionate about. And the principles I’d decided… where I clarified were guiding my behavior. And the trajectory of my life.
And that became my visualization. And when I began to visualize that every single day, it got stronger and stronger and more powerful and compelling. Until, one day, I felt a sense of certainty. That that was it.
It was done. All I needed to do was show up.
Reinforcing your future image of your future image of yourself as a broad archetype–like the warrior/leader–gives you room to grow and expand. Otherwise you could pigeon hole yourself into a specific profession.
Even this idea of being a Navy SEAL for me was just a path. It wasn’t the entirety of the archetypal energy. Being a Navy SEAL Admiral would not have been something that I would have said is my purpose. That’s a career milestone. It doesn’t allow you to become your fullest potential if you tag yourself to a career target or a milestone or some tactical thing.
That’s a tactical goal, or like a job milestone goal. It’s okay to have that as an aspiration, but don’t confuse it for your purpose. You want to develop a broad archetypal energy that you have room to grow into, and that will grow as you grow. It will change as you change.
Then you keep your focus on what’s happening right in front of you, and begin to work on visualization skills for manifesting that future as well as accomplishing the tactical targets along the way. And we’ll get into that in the next chapter.
Thanks for listening. I know this is heady stuff. But I think it’s critical. So many people today are confused about where they’re going in the world and why. They’re asking existential questions like this. Leading lives of quiet desperation.
And it doesn’t have to be this way. The answer lies within. We’ve got massive distraction and opportunities to pay attention to everything but the most important things. To me the most important things are those things that are answered when you ask those questions: “Who am I? Why do I do what I do? What am I meant for? Why am I on this planet? And what am I going to do about it? So I can stand my ground, and live the life that I was meant for and that the world needs of me.”
So that’s that. Hooyah.
Thanks for listening. Stay focused. Train hard. And hit the bench. See you next time.