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Unbeatable™ Podcast

Mark shares strategies to Cope with this situation

By March 24, 2020 March 27th, 2020 10 Comments

“Look at your day and say ‘how am I taking care of myself across those five mountains?’ So you’re going to want to take time and make sure you have a training plan that addresses all those. ” – Mark Divine

Today, Mark talks to his tribe about how to use this crisis to face down your fear wolf and use this enforced isolation to work on yourself and come out of this stronger. Listen to hear how you can be using the 5 mountains to better deal with the way things are in this VUCA environment.

Learn about Mark’s COPE strategy –  Crisis, Opportunity, Plan and Execute.

How Mark has used previous crises to transform himself and his business ventures.

It is important to recognize the “Middle Way,” so recognize that you can’t be too relaxed or too anxious about the situation.

It’s important that you don’t let the understandable tension that you feel distract from the practices that you already have to starve the fear wolf.

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Hey, folks. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Hope you’re doing well. Thanks so much for tuning in today in these volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times. Certainly an interesting time to be alive. And also some great opportunities and a lot of fear going on out in the world.

Any rate I thought I’d have a chat about that. This is a solo-cast. It’s not so much a podcast as it is just a fireside chat. My team is recommending that we chat about this, and maybe give you some perspective on how we’re handling it. And maybe how I’m handling it. We’ll see if anything good comes out of that.

At any rate, just a quick reminder my new book – what a great time for that to come out. I mean, it’s really hard to think that there’d be a better time than now for a book about staring down your fear, and overcoming the fear that plagues you as a leader. And stands between you and your team or your family. Stands between your authentic self and you. Stands between awesomeness and you.

So what are those fears that are the hidden agendas? The biases? The shadow aspects of your being, that others clearly see but are hidden from you? Can you expose those now and see how they’re playing into your life?

At any rate, I can see this showing up all over the place. With people projecting their fear onto others. Projecting their bias onto others, and it’s happening to us. We held our Unbeatable Mind event last weekend, and some people were critical of that.

I’m very happy we did it. We had 50 warriors show up out of a hundred that had enrolled. We had some extraordinary training the training and the event was all under the guidelines and done in alignment with the directions from the governor, and from state of California, and the city of San Diego. We didn’t break any rule.

We had an extraordinary event. Everyone grew stronger from it, but we got some judgment from other people.

When I think about it, I think those people are in fear and they’re projecting onto us. And projections come in the form of righteousness and judgment and things like that. And it really is not our issue, it’s their issue.

So consider things that are being projected maybe on to you, for your decision-making. Or consider how your fear, your biases, your false evidences and expectations that appear real are showing up in your life. And influencing your thinking and your behavior right now. It’s a fantastic time to just slow down, actually enjoy the “staycation” or “house arrest” or whatever you want to call the shelter-in-place guidelines. And to do some work on yourself. Come out of this stronger.

So that’s going to be kind of the focus I have on this podcast is let’s stare down our fear wolf and come out of this stronger. Let’s cope and the acronym I came up with is cope. Let’s create a crisis, opportunity, plan and then execute it. So this will attempt to give you some ideas on how to create your own crisis, opportunity, planning and execution strategy. So you can cope and flourish through this, and come out the other side stronger.

I was telling my team this is reminding me of 2008 and also 9/11.

And 9/11, I had a fledgling training business called “momentum training” with my friend Allen Bishop. And we had just finished up a big training event with Starbucks.

And flying home, we flew through the Denver airport. We were sitting around the airport when I heard over the loudspeaker that all flights had been canceled due to presidential decree. And Allen and I looked at each other and we went stared at the TV like everyone else for about 10 minutes. Aghast at what was happening in New York City. And then we both, simultaneous turned and said “we got to get to the rental car facility.”

And we sprinted there. We were like the first people there. Rented a car. Drove home to San Diego. And on the way home, we closed the business down. And that shifted focus, because we knew that that training business would be toast. And it was.

So it had a profound effect. And out of that, I ended up taking a role at university of San Diego to help launch a leadership institute. As well as become an adjunct professor. And I turned my attention back toward, to try to mine that further.

And then I got recalled to active duty. So a lot happened. But it transformed the direction I was headed.

In 2008, our primary business was and then we had a small CrossFit business. I had the vision for what became SEALFIT, but I hadn’t executed on it yet. And then all of a sudden the bottom dropped out with the 2008 financial collapse. And our business at went from like in the millions down to practically nothing.

And we laid off all the staff. And my wife and I were packing boxes and shipping them out and I was coaching four CrossFit classes a day and trying to figure out what’s next.

And I recognized that we had this amazing facility, and that I had a passion for training warriors. And so I invited through a blog – warriors to come train with me. What I called the warrior academy or SEALFIT academy.

So we launched that. And then that became a foundation for all the rest of SEALFIT. So 2008 had a transformative effect on our business.

It was scary. Cash flow was tight. I had to protect everything – the core of everything – but I also had to use it – or I did use it as an opportunity to think differently about the business, and to come through it much stronger.

So we’re having similar discussions here about what does this mean. And depending upon the severity of what we’re looking at economically, you come through this stronger. That’s why I called it a crisis opportunity plan that needs to be executed. So that we can cope with this. Come out of it stronger. Be resilient. Stare down our wolf of fear, so we’re going to lean into it courageously to eradicate the gaps between the known and the unknown. We’re going to follow it closely to determine what is real and what’s not real. One day at a time.

We’re gonna continue our practices, but share them more with everybody. So I’ll be sharing a daily sitrep on my social media channel. It’s realMarkDivine. Where I’ll talk about how I’m taking care of myself and my family. And also a grounding exercise like box breathing. We’ll do that every day. Why not?

My stepdaughter Catherine is leading yoga class every day. Livestream. We’ll be running SEALFIT workouts livestream on the SEALFIT channel. Several times a week.

So we’re going to continue to use this opportunity to grow stronger, to strengthen the community, to help everyone stay positive, and to feed the courage wolf. And to see that fear really is false expectations that appear real.

Now I’m not going to mitigate the threat of the Covid virus… Or “minimize” I should say I’d love to mitigate it. I’m mitigating it by following the guidelines of sheltering in place. And we’re not working at the office, really. Unless we need to come in, and then we have a limited number of people who are allowed to be here.

So I’m here alone today. And I’m just finished my training. And now I wanted to have this conversation.

So let’s talk about… You know, we have a saying in the SEALs, “you plan for the worst, but hope for the best.” so that’s why we know that no plan survives contact with reality or the enemy. But you got to have a plan so you can think through the different scenarios.

Okay. So what are the scenarios? Best-case scenario – and this is what we’re hearing out of china – is that this thing – this virus will have the potential impact of a hundred thousand people infected. And a few thousand people will die. And those are at risk immunocompromised people. And those people are at risk in any circumstance. So if anyone listening here is immunocompromised or has an elderly parent or a friend that’s immunocompromised, boy, that’s who we need to double down on and help those people. Stay strong and do everything we can to protect them from contracting this virus. Because they’re the largest at risk.

You’ve heard all that of course. I’m not going to try to tell you things you already know here, like wash your hands. But do wash your hands.

Anyway, so china, they said they learned of the virus in early December. And now it’s March. So December, January, February, March that means generally speaking if you’re new to the virus – like we are in America – then maybe we have three to four months to deal with this thing. And it might infect a hundred thousand people, and a few thousand will be unfortunate.

At any rate, that all sounds a little bit utopian to me personally. I think that china got stung so much with the negative criticism, they basically locked down all communications. And all reporting. And now they’re basically lying.

That’s my personal feeling. It just doesn’t make sense to me, that on the one hand, the experts in the west are saying that millions of people could get infected. I mean, like, millions.

So let’s talk worst-case scenario what we’re hearing worst case is like 50 percent of the culture of our society, or Europe – Canada could get infected. And then this thing would have a 2% percent-ish mortality rate. If that’s the case then just by the numbers 150 million would be infected and what’s 2% of 150 million? It’s not insignificant numbers, right? 3 million people.

So problem. Big problem. If the worst case scenario plays out. We don’t know, right? And for that to happen, you think about the metaphor the idea of a penny doubling every day. It seems slow at first and then all of a sudden 100 goes to 2, 2 goes to 4, 4 goes to 8, 8 goes to 1.6, 1.6 goes to 3, 3 goes to… You see the math. Very quickly you could see those numbers hit. And if the worst-case scenario is real then that’s what’s happening in china right now, there’s just not saying anything about it.

Who knows? Be hard to imagine also them preventing some of that information from getting out.

The Middle Path


So that it’s probably somewhere in between. Also that worst-case scenario is not just the health impact and that what happens there, but really it’s the reaction to it. Which is probably necessary, but it’s just harsh. Reaction by shutting down restaurants, all the industries that are getting majorly impacted. At the end of the longest Market expansion we’ve had in a long time – if not in history – when we were really due for a correction. Most of the people that I follow in terms of the economy and geopolitics, finance say that we just basically entered a recession. A severe recession that may even have the potential to look like the great depression. Meaning if the stock Market drops another 30 or 40 percent and we see it you know we’re down 60 or 70 percent in the year, it takes a long time to recover from that.

And we can see – even our commerce secretary said the other day – we could see unemployment of up to 20%. And unemployment applications are exploding. Because people are out of work all of a sudden. And companies are having a major cash impact. And they’re being obliterated by this.

Really quickly. It doesn’t take long. And a lot of… Most, I should say… Small businesses just don’t have the resiliency to shut their doors for two weeks at a time, even… Or longer. Probably be longer.

And I know the government’s going to provide some assistance, but boy, that comes with a lot of strings attached. And now you got debt. And it’s just not a good situation. And that assistance doesn’t mean that that company is going to go and hire all those people right back. So you could have massive unemployment, a severely depressed stock Market that could take three to five years to recover… Again I’m talking worst-case scenario.

And the reality will probably be somewhere in the middle, but that was the worst case scenario. And then life after this is going to be a little bit different because our generation just has not had to deal with that type of sustained, negative and depressing environment. And the financial austerity that comes with that. And now you’ve got the fed and the government basically – estimates are they’re gonna put like five trillion dollars into the economy. Will that trickle down to each individual?

I don’t know about you but getting $1,000 check in the mail from the government does absolutely nothing for me. I would much rather they do some supply-side things like why not suspend taxes for 30 days – payroll taxes and maybe they could do a moratorium on income taxes even. Or something that they would have an effect on productivity and the engines of growth. Especially for small businesses and solopreneurs and independent contractors.

But having said that, I know a lot of people $1,000 here or there, that will really help them out. So I’m not against that, I’m just saying it won’t do me much good.

Anyways, and what’s it mean when the government injects five trillion dollars? That adds five trillion dollars to our debt at some level. And yeah.

Then you’re talking about inflation. And maybe degradation of the dollar. At a time where people – especially Russia and China – are already beginning to move off the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

So lots of interesting potential here. I am absolutely grateful on the one hand that we have a government that can step in and do draconian measures. And any politics is completely out of place. Anyone who’s talking about how trump has botched this is completely off in this, because nobody knows how to deal with this. There’s no right answer.

Even in the UK, people were lauding it and they did a 180 degree turn this week. Following the path that the administration is taking.

So stop casting stones in the glass house. What we need to do is pull together and get through this. And become stronger and more resilient as a culture, as a country. I’m speaking from America or whatever country you’re in.

And then also as a global population that recognizes that pandemic is blind to race. It’s blind to borders. It doesn’t care.

And so we should become more like that in terms of how we treat everybody. We need a virus of compassion and a virus of world-centric thinking that treats everyone with equal care and concern and respect. So we can grow through this, and we can demand that of our leaders.

Or if you are thinking well we need a new batch of leaders, then step up. I’ve been asked several times this past week “Mark, you should get into politics.” and I said “naah. I’ve got more important work to do right now.”

The way the environment is would be very devastating for me to take my eyes off my mission and to go into that. But I’m very open. I was having a conversation earlier today with a friend that I’m very open to new ways of organization coming up, springing up.

Also from within our current structure, as well as around it. And that structure can be more positive, more world-centric and also coming from the head and the heart. Which is what we teach at Unbeatable Mind. And so you know that – as well as a big focus of my book “Staring Down the Wolf.”

So you have the potential best-case scenario – this thing blows over quickly, it doesn’t have a huge impact, the government response is way overblown – and we bounce right back.

Or the worst case scenario – half the population gets infected, millions die, and we go into essentially a depression scenario. And lots of people lose their job.

So like I said – the Buddha said that the middle path is always the right path. And that’s probably what we’re gonna see – is something in between. But what you can do is plan for the worst and hope for the best. And have a crisis opportunity plan that you execute. So that you can cope with this. One day at a time.

We say – I learned this from Tadashi Nakamura – one day, one lifetime. Every day is your opportunity to get stronger, to grow, to be more present and aware. To be there for your family and your teams. And to strengthen your structures – your organization – so we call those the three spheres.

So let’s take a look at how we can strengthen our three spheres.



Well, first we want to do what we call SWOT-T analysis. What are your strengths, what are the weaknesses, what are the opportunities, what are the threats? And what are the trends? And I’ll talk about a few of these things that I’ve seen in relation to my business and my life.

So what are my strengths? Well, we have an expertise around forging mental toughness and resiliency, helping leaders and teams navigate volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. So that’s a strength of ours. We’ve been doing this for years, we’re probably the best in the world at it, and so this is a good time for us to really double down and to really explore how to bring those strengths to more people.

And so our second strength is we have a strong online presence. And we have three… Four, actually… Or five online programs. We have a lot of online programs. Both continuity through SEALFIT online, Unbeatable Mind foundations course, Unbeatable Mind performance coaching – which I lead monthly – and we have conversations like this. We have the Kokoro yoga online – which is a daily practice of grounding and centering, balancing and integrating. Extraordinary program.

We have “The Way of the SEAL” e-course. We have all these ways that we can deliver content. So now we just have to look at doing more of that, and in better ways.

What are the weaknesses? Well, weaknesses for us… Our event business is getting crushed. We cancelled our SEALFIT crucible events that were happening this coming weekend. We don’t know whether we’re going to be able to run our events in July. We’re still planning on it now, but it’s a fluid situation. So there’s a possibility that that could go away.

Sheepdog training – which is great for this type of scenario – I’d love to get people to do sheepdog training right now. But we can’t do it. We pushed it off. It was going to be in May, we pushed it off to September. But that’s another extraordinary program where we teach leaders – and everybody’s a leader by the way – to navigate crisis in real time. Be sheepdog strong.

So weakness wise, our event business is really gonna take a hit. And that’s something we’re gonna have to deal with.

And then cash also. We’re not a big company. We don’t have access to the public Markets. We don’t have a big investor to draw on. We don’t have any lines of credit, right? We’re basically cash flow. We have some money in the bank that keeps us… You know… We know we’ve got a couple months’ worth of reserve, but that’s that.

So we have to really, really cover down and preserve our cash. And make sure that going forward, we’re absolutely cash flow positive. And we were ramping up for growth and now we have to look at that. Maybe pause some things, and consider how to preserve our cash. Because cash is king in the business world. So that could be a weakness.

The opportunity is to serve more. To figure out how to bring more of our training in our insights around leading in VUCA, and mental toughness, and resiliency to more people. So we’re looking at that.

So offering more free training like I mentioned a moment ago. I’ll be offering a daily sitrep will be offering SEALFIT operator WODS or workouts. Livestream. Yoga livestream – stuff like that. I’ll be doing that also with other partners and friends just to share more. And also we’re going to figure out how to get Unbeatable Mind, Kokoro yoga SEALFIT online, into more people’s brains, so that they can start training every day and getting stronger.

And then the threats are fear is the biggest threat. Fear’s – I said the other day – is our biggest virus. And we have to overcome fear. The threat is we’re a small business and all small businesses are at risk of getting trampled in this.

The big businesses, they have a lot of risk too. Look at the airline industry. A lot going on.

But the governments will bail those guys out.

Small businesses are the ones that are going to have a really tough time. I know there’s some programs like small business administration loans and whatnot, but again those aren’t for everybody. And not everyone will qualify. They’re hard to get and they come with strings attached. But I know everyone’s going to do with they can.

At any rate, so the threat is that the worst case scenario does payout, so we got to basically shore up the ship. And get ready to ride out the storm, so to speak.

And the trends, though, I think that when I look at the trends – the trends are in favor for what we’re doing. People are going to be home, they’re gonna be using online shopping and they’ve got more time on their hands, and so maybe they will actually be more inclined to participate in the programs.

But on the threat side, they may be less inclined to spend money. So you got to think about that. For you or your business or whatever it is you do.

So you can do something similar like that. SWOT-T analysis for yourself, or your situation, or your business.

And then every day I ask myself and my team… Ask “what is the most important target that we can focus on? Or that I need to focus on today? That’s going to move the dial. That’s going to help preserve cash and help continue to grow revenue in alignment with what we’ve learned through our SWOT-T analysis, and our coping plan?”

The biggest opportunities are to grow revenue for us online. And cash flow. And also to preserve cash by battening the hatches and seeing where cash might be spinning out the door.

And then back to this idea of three spheres. So the three spheres are the “I”, the “we,” and the “it” – or the individual self, the culture of the team, and the organizational structure.

So for the “I” sphere, how can you shore that up? Well this is what…we’ve already seen a lot of emails come through on this. Look at your day and say “how am I taking care of myself across those five mountains? Physically, mentally, emotionally, intuitionally and spiritually? So you’re gonna want to take time and make sure you have a training plan that addresses all those.

So for me today, it looked like physical training. I did my yoga and aikido or somatic movement. I did my workout. I did a 20-minute amrap, some strength training… I did my box breathing for 20 minutes, and meditation for another 30. I fueled really well and I got a really good night’s sleep. So that was really the physical mountain.

Mentally I did you know… Box breathing crosses into that. My meditation. And I fed the courage wolf with the positivity and gratitude.

Emotionally I’ve connected. I connected to my wife and son this morning. I connected to my team. We had some heartfelt communications around what we’re gonna do and how this is impacting us. We fed our courage wolf together.

And also I took some time to reflect on my own attitude- is there a place that fear’s causing me to get stuck. And so I spent some time staring down my wolf. So that the emotional mountain was strong.

For international, spiritual I’m gonna spend some time outside when I’m done. I’m gonna go walk the dog. I’m gonna go outside and do some more practice and breathing. Some time in nature in silence is a big one for me. And yeah, I’m just gonna ask where I can serve.

So in the “I” sphere you’re going to look at those five mountains and say “what am I doing every day to align and to balance? To connect more? To serve more and to train?”

So that you can come through this stronger. Day by day, in every way, we’ll get stronger and stronger. Hooyah, hey.

And then the “we” sphere, with your teams – whether that’s your family or your organizational team – you’re going to want to communicate for alignment. I talk about that a lot in my chapter on alignment – which is the seventh commitment for “Staring Down the Wolf.” Just have an almost unrealistic communication protocol where you’re always talking about what’s working, what’s not working, what can I do better? What am I learning from all this? And what’s our main thing that we can focus on right now to get stronger, better and to come through this? To cope with this? So that we’re focusing on the right opportunities and driving forward. So align, focus, and to work on those seven commitments together as a team.

And then the “it” sphere is kind of like the organizational structure. Now the structure of your home or your space where you spend time, use this an opportunity to really clean up. And I really mean that, it’s like clean your space, reorganize your space. Feng Shui it. Come through this with a different space. This is the opportunity – like my wife has been out in the garage – we got a buildup of junk in the garage – so we’re going through that. And we’re gonna deep clean the SEALFIT headquarters. And maybe do a little reorganizing.

Change up your spaces. I’m building a sauna. I’m looking forward to that being done soon so I can use my own sauna and not have to use some public sauna which sometimes is a little bit gross.

At any rate, so what can you do to clean your environment, to reorganize it, and just feel good about this time that you have to spend at home. I already mentioned your organization – like what can you do to really set yourself up so that you can come through this stronger? And that is cash. What can you do for cash? Is there a way you can get rid of high interest debt by refinancing it?

We’re going to do that with one of our mortgages. So refinance the mortgage. Pay off a mortgage so we have free and clear property on the other side. So there’s a lot of stuff you can do with mortgage rates coming down. You know, once the rush for refinancing dies down again, I think you’ll see some pretty low rates in another month or two.

So we’re waiting on that. We’re looking at probably refinancing April or May.

At any rate, so look at the structures, and your places, and say “how can I shore them up? Clean them up? Renew and rejuvenate them?” and let your home environment and your work environment really support you through this.

Okay, so 3-sphere training. Shore up the “I,” the “we,” and the “it.” so they’ll all be stronger.

Any rate I think that’s about it. There’s tons of other stuff that I could probably talk about, but I think you’re getting a lot of that stuff from other people. You know, for me, I think everything starts with the mind. To have an Unbeatable Mind is your best anti-viral mechanism here.

So every day, do your work and visualize yourself as strong and healthy. Breathe in light, and shower that light throughout and around your body to create like a protective shield. And then at a practical level just really pay attention to the distancing requirements – you know, even at work I want to go up and hug my teammates, but we’re not, we’re doing the old fist bump… Or elbow bump even. Wash your hands religiously – like I’m washing my hands a lot – I do that anyways, but just keep washing your hands and pay attention to any habits you have touching your face. Don’t do that. Make it a mindfulness practice.

Try to be more in service to other people. Recognize that everyone’s full of fear and doubt and uncertainty. So take your eyes off yourself, put them on your family and you on your teammates. Ask them how they’re doing and how you can help them.

And you’ll find people will be doing that to you. And it’s a good feeling, so you can use this opportunity as an opportunity grow you’re teaming and get out of your ego and into your “we” space. So practicing this idea that this is about us.

We’re all going through this. Nobody has a patent on fear. Nobody has a patent on misery. Everyone’s got the same misery index right now. So just suck it up… Take your eyes off yourself, put them on your team. And use this time to cultivate compassion and generosity of spirit. Equanimity. Day by day, in every way, let’s get stronger and better.

Hooyah hey.

Stay focused and be unbeatable, folks. I really appreciate you all. See you next time.


Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Thank you for an amazing podcast! I found my people! My wife had to close her doors with her small business. All indications are reopening is not a likely reality. Crisis/opportunity will be hatched this weekend. She’s at home cleaning the house from top to bottom because she honestly doesn’t know what to do with her skill set. I have been suggesting all week to move it online. She finally green lighted the idea. Her full potential can now be unleashed again and I will help her execute..
    Best Regards
    Mike M

  • Jude E Edmond Madeleine says:

    Awesome podcast, really put everything into its rightful state. As a frontline healthcare worker this is going to help me keep my focus on doing what we always do everyday but with a greater awareness and better coping with this situation. Thank you.

  • Maria says:

    Beautiful podcast, thanks!
    It’s nice to know that fears haven’t boundaries too, but we can use Them in generosity and humanity towards the most vulnerable, it ‘ ll make us feel in peace with ourselves! Thanks very much

  • Erna Stevens says:

    As a former Dutch firefighter ( now retired and caring for my 90 year old mom) I see the various discussions about the mouth-masks. Firefighters use those fully face-masks that can be cleaned after every use. Idea?

  • Daniel says:

    Awesome, podcast we are all in this crisis together, communicate stay active be safe… clean the house stay active prepare yourself for the next wave study the material and eventually kill the friendly green bug. Have a great day, take care, Dan

  • THOUVENOT says:

    Thank you so much from France Mark.
    As a french lawyer I help my clients Or friends calling in my office to get trought that, doing your methods.
    Sure I’ll come with some of them for en event with sealfit as soon as we ´ll be free again.

  • Jeremy says:

    Hooyah! You are a guiding beacon of light on a dark, moonless night! Thank You! I am 73, in fairly good health and take you guidance as best I can. Burpees are getting a little harder to do, But I try! Thank You!

  • Ray Donahhue says:

    Well Done Mark! Shoring up the three spheres, and finding the middle path, will help everyone face down the fears associated with he virus.


  • Walt Vetter says:

    Really absorbed you chat. I am half way through Staring Down The Wolf, great book! Everyone needs a coach. It’s great to see you sharing your talent.

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