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“Staring down the Wolf”

By June 26, 2019 July 3rd, 2019 2 Comments

“Leaders and teams get stuck at a plateau and can’t recognize it because they’re inside the bottle and can’t read the label.” – Mark Divine

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

Commander Divine reveals his newest book, “Staring Down the Wolf”.   Many listeners will be familiar with the symbol of the Fear Wolf and the Courage Wolf. Mark has devoted an entire book for leaders to manage their Fear Wolf while they feed the Courage Wolf.

Hear how:

  • The Courage and Fear Wolf are based off of a Native American analogy
  • Every plateau of development has its own value and its own shadow qualities that it brings with it.
  • Your own shadow might be invisible to you, but others can see it clearly

Listen to this episode to learn how “Staring down the wolf” is about confronting the inner limitations that you have that are holding you back

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Transcript

Start

01:53

Hey folks. Welcome to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. This is Mark Divine, your host. Thanks so much for joining me today. Super appreciate it. I know there’s a lot vying for your attention, so let’s get busy.

Today I’ve got a solocast. I’ve gotten great feedback on these solocasts, so I’ll continue to do them. Sometimes I’ll do a Q&A; so if you’ve got questions for me or things you like to riff on, then go ahead and send those to [email protected] That’s email.

Or you can use one of our social media channels to toss a question to the team. And then I’ll get to those.

But today I’m going to come back to what I started – gosh, six to eight months ago – I started writing this book originally called “Seven Commitments to Elite Teams.” and as I got into it, my publisher wanted me to change the name. And go a little deeper on some of the shadow leadership side.

So we’re calling the book “Staring Down the Wolf.” You might have seen the cover. It’s a wickedly cool cover. It’s got a picture of a wolf on it.

And that was a pickup from my book “Unbeatable Mind,” which has a picture of me staring down a wolf. So it’s kind of cool to keep that theme going.

At any rate, the whole point of the book is to get leaders to start to look at shadow and the fears that hold them back from their full potential. And we spend a lot of time talking about positive psychology, and courage wolf. And goal setting. And front sight focus.

And it’s easy to mistake the fact that that’s only one side of the equation. The other side is the negative side. The dark side that’s basically tripping you up. And you get right there to the finish line and all of a sudden, you’ll lob a huge grenade… Or you think the universe is lobbing a grenade at you, but the reality is you’re causing that shit yourself. By your thinking patterns, by your emotional patterns.

So staring down the wolf is about staring down the fears and the subconscious hidden patterning – hidden from you that is – not from everyone else. That’s gonna hold you back from being a leader that’s able to deal with the chaos and the volatility you know that VUCA environment that’s coming at us.

So, I’ve changed the book quite a bit. I’ll probably… Now that I’m getting closer I’ll probably reread all the chapters and will dole out one every six weeks or so. The book is due out March of 2020, but it’s available for pre-order. But you get a sneak preview.

And it will go through more changes. It’s not done yet. But what the heck? It’s what this podcast is about. We get to play here.

Alright so here we go. Chapter one… Or introduction, actually… This is pre-chapter one. Titled “Entering New Terrain.”

Take a deep breath and then throw out the old map and compass. Are you a CEO or key leader desperate to drive revenue and profit, because the shifting landscape has made those old maps of how to win in your industry utterly obsolete? And your teams and culture are struggling under the crush of commitments and chaos? Your HR department is struggling too – missing the mark – because they’re off-kilter, because they’re trained to deal with human resources. But not the new human beings coming onto the team. They were fine when it was just about hiring and measuring, promoting and firing. Maybe even conducting surveys initiating sensitivity training, that sort of thing.

But many are clueless about how to develop the new leaders in ways that count emotionally, morally and spiritually.

Perhaps you’re one of those young leaders, and you feel disengaged because you resent being treated as an asset. Or worse you resent being led by an asshole. Your entire organization is biased toward endless processes and tasks with little time for cultivating a powerful culture, which is that way of being that will be able to navigate this new terrain.

And that terrain can seem like a battlefield at times. Your organization can easily be on its way to getting seriously wounded or killed as a result. In this new battlefield your internal terrain – your mindset and collective culture is the new locus of control and development where the creative energy to win will come from. To navigate VUCA or volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, leaders would need to use a new compass by developing emotional, moral and spiritual character. To become whole and operate with a world-centric stage of consciousness.

Along the way, they’ll need to find their heart center to develop a deep connection with their team. They’ll need to set their egos aside, subordinating their needs to the team and the mission. These are the skills that leaders desperately need right now.

But their fear wolf stands in the way. That’s what this book is about. To help leaders stare down their wolf of fear, to overcome the bias conditioning that’s blocking their authentic power and massive potential.

This new battlefield will not let you chase profit at the expense of people. There will be consequences – your people and your culture are your main thing now. Everything else is subject to the winds of change, easily made irrelevant as those winds blow.

I have found in my work in developing leaders and teams that most feel suddenly incompetent. What worked for them once is no longer relevant and the weapons they trained with, now do no damage. Their professional skills developed in business school, skill-based courses and OJT aren’t delivering results. And though they see and feel the symptoms of this new battleground acutely, they don’t know how to proceed. The fight, flight and freeze has set in amongst the Allied business troops. Where are Eisenhower and Patton when you need them?

Sorry folks. There is no savior this time around. There is no external transformational leader who can fix this for you or us.

The only transformational leader available is you. But it’s you who must transform. You can’t keep doing things that aren’t working and expect different results. And this book won’t give you a bunch of fancy strategies or shiny tactics to solve your issues.

Instead it’s going to give you insights on how to develop yours and your team’s character of trust and trustworthiness, respect and respectability, moral and spiritual courage, excellence and self-leadership, growth and resiliency as daily practices. As well as to align around a shared purpose, vision and a world-centric mission. For total team engagement.

As a leader you can’t play the victim any longer. You can’t blame the market, the volatility the competitors, the investors, or the customers… It’s all on you to change or be killed in this new climate.

Consider yourself lucky you aren’t actually gonna get killed. Which was not something I counted on in the seals. You can’t let volatility, complexity, and numbing ambiguity freeze you in your tracks any longer. Developing the aforementioned skills will require that you look deep within to overcome the negative qualities that are holding you back from your ability to tap that intuition and creativity. And to connect more deeply.

Let’s be frank, you can’t pretend to be the perfect leader with all the good qualities, and none of the bad. Your peeps have seen through that mask long ago.

Equally important, you must stop casting your shadow onto your team through projection, transference, aggressive, passive-aggressive or passive behavior. And outright horrible communication skills and the like. Your team will not trust or respect you. Consider that you are the limiting factor in your own success.

The way through VUCA is to evolve yourself, and your teams, and your culture by embodying the seven commitments in this book. What that means is that you’re gonna grow to the highest integrated stages of awareness through a daily practice of mastery. You clean up your emotional shadow issues, wake up to your essential spiritual nature, so you can show up to be a truly authentic leader, and authentic teammate. This is hairy work folks, but it must be done. Your future and the future of your teams and perhaps even humanity depends on it. You must stare down that wolf of fear.

integration and the five plateaus

11:29

I have noticed both in myself and in my successful clients that we operate within complete internal maps of reality. The terrain is not only shifting externally due to VUCA, but our internal terrain is different for each one of us. The maps we work off of are both incomplete and also for a different territory. Is it no wonder that communication is the most challenging aspect of being a leader?

In my leadership coaching program, I’ve identified five distinct levels of development that the leaders I work with fall into. And often these leaders have conflict between their conscious beliefs and their subconscious reactions. I call these the five plateaus to correspond with the five mountains of development you’ve heard me talk about. Those five mountains are one’s physical, mental, emotional, intuitional, and spiritual aspects.

Working on these five mountains simultaneously with a disciplined training plan unlocks accelerated vertical development up the stages of consciousness or the plateaus. And leads to integration of the leader toward a more holistic or whole heart/mind/spirit way of being.

Of course, that allows them to lead more effectively, because they can connect deeper, access more potential, perform in peak flow states effortlessly, and serve more in alignment with their calling.

We call that integration. And integration also means that as the body/mind/spiritual self evolves, the internal map or perspective will evolve to be more complete. In essence you can see more and see more clearly the vantage point of the views or what I call the plateaus.

Which are very rough estimations of the stage view of where people are developmentally, which will impact their beliefs, their decisions, and yes, their shadow conditioning. At each plateau the individual will release more shadow to become more whole, eventually stabilizing at that fifth integrated or integral plateau. Where they have resolved most shadow aspects of their being. And brought forth their innate positive qualities.

Unfortunately, according to developmental psychologists, only a small percentage of humanity is at that fifth plateau, and that includes many of us. And it shows in how we collectively co-create our negative world and impact the environment.

My mission – your mission – is to have all your leaders and teams ascend to this fifth plateau. Transforming themselves and your culture and your outer world in doing so.

It may come as no surprise if you’re familiar with his work that I have been honored to study, meet and work with Ken Wilber and some of his earliest acolytes. Ken is the creator of integral theory movement. Now integral theory is a meta-philosophy which utilizes a framework that integrates developmental psychology, transpersonal development, the great wisdom traditions for a complete human map in the subjective, objective, personal and collective spheres of human experience.

Understood as an evolution and integration of the most profound contributions of both Western and Eastern philosophy and psychology. Wilber picks up where Maslow, Jung, JamesFrankl and other luminaries left off. And I consider his work to be the most complete map of doing and being around today.

So we draw heavily from Wilber’s work in ours. As nearly a lifelong student of Zen, yoga and the martial arts – this is me, not Ken – combined with copious amounts of therapy, I truly understand it when Ken says that our mission as humans is to grow up, clean up and wake up, so that we can show up fully.

Now growing up is familiar to most of us. It’s personal development, which will help us ascend to higher stages of awareness and competency. But Ken is clear, and my experience has proven to me, that growing up can be stunted or all-out stomped if you don’t also clean up your shadow conditioning.

The shadow holds us back from our most positive traits, leaving us stuck in some form of negative, reactionary conditioning. It can also lock us in the lower plateaus of awareness.

And then waking up refers to awakening to one’s spiritual essence and potential which arises naturally from deep spiritual practice and faith. Many in the West have mistaken waking up for growing up and that’s flawed thinking. It’s called spiritual bypass.

More recently, several academics picked up on the work of Wilber and other developmental theorists such as Don Beck and Robert Kegan and Susanne Cook-Greuter and James Fowler. One, Bill Torbert, his work identified the stages of leadership capacity with increasing complexity of decision-making. He’s got a great article in the Harvard Business Review. Worth checking out.

Anderson and Adams recently came out with a book called “Scaling Leadership,” where they discuss leadership competency from a developmental model that has reactive, creative and integrated as a framework.

Both of these overlay exactly what I’m talking about and are in sync. So what I’m bringing that up for is that I’m not offering you some wild pet theory… But this has serious academic grounding.

But I’m not an academic. My work is purely experiential. And I’m gratified to see that our observations at Unbeatable Mind of the transformations in our client does mirror these academic experts.

So I’m presenting a brief summary now on what these plateaus look and feel like. And you know that they’re grounded in academic research. So they’re real. Not just the blathering of this former SEAL turned leadership expert who’s gone mad.

So in the book, I provide a matrix of these five plateaus. And I’ll summarize it soon. But according to research only five to ten percent of humanity is at that fifth integrated plateau. About thirty percent is at the fourth plateau which I call “equalizer.” forty percent is at the third plateau which I call “achiever.” twenty percent at the second which is called “protector.” and five to ten percent at the first or “survivor” plateaus.

Let me go through the chart real quickly. So that first plateau – we’ll go in the other direction – first plateau is for “survivor.” the spheres of interest are ego and the self and your motivations are survival. Imagine that.

And your family and tribe get first attention. And you’ve got yours, you’re seeking power, you’re seeking basically to get by. Many people in their most survival mode – you lose a job or something goes wrong then you’re right back at this first Plateau. Again, this isn’t a bad place to be. It’s just you want to express a positive aspect of it and not get stuck here. It doesn’t feel good to be stuck in survival mode does it? No.

Shadow aspects – this is really the juice – shame and excessive fear-based conditioning. Role archetypes could be the survivor, the conqueror, the gangster, the con-artist, the lone wolf or the vigilante.

Okay. The second plateau is called the “protector.” and here you’re starting to move a little bit more out of ego into ethnocentrism. Team and tribe are important “my team, my country” is more important than yours. So we get motivations such as fundamentalism, traditional rule bound thinking. Position, rank are important. And healthy emotions evolve of courage and love. But that love is only constrained to your tribe.

And then shadow aspects – a lot of guilt and jealousy in this second plateau. And role archetypes are the warrior, the protector, the freedom fighter, the bureaucrat – even the terrorist.

Now the third – and I mentioned like 20% of humanity is at that level – the third plateau is the “achiever.” we all have a healthy dose of achiever if you listen to these podcasts, because we want to improve ourselves. The spheres of interests are ego and ethnocentric and maybe just a smattering of world-centrism. Your motivations are independence “I’m self-reliant. I have great interests in materialism and success. I’m driven by ambition and drive and creativity and love.” and your love is expanding.

But your shadow aspects are potential carelessness, or recklessness, or greed. Role archetypes are the CEO, leader, or the chieftain.

The fourth plateau is the “equalizer.” and this is ethnocentric with a world-centric kind of leaning, where humanity becomes more your playground. Motivations are egalitarianism, sensitivity, affiliation and tolerance. And your emotions are caring and connecting, giving, healing.

Shadow side here is potential spiritual egotism, racism, or envy and anger toward those who are not like you. And you consider yourself to be inclusive except for those you disagree with. And role archetypes are the philanthropist, do-gooder, the activist, the social entrepreneur, etcetera.

And then that last – the fifth plateau is the “integrator.” the integrator has a pure world-centric point of view that includes their tribe, their country – but has a deep respect for other tribes and other countries. Motivations are interdependence, win-win, compassion, abundance, generosity, service. With emotions around wholeness, peace, contentment, love – world-centric love.

Shadow here could be hyper-focus on development and spiritual bypassing. It could be too inclusive where you miss the forest for the trees. And too narrow-minded with your perspective. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but that would be the shadow here. And like I said, you could have spiritual egoism and you could also be aware of the shadow that you have in the first four plateaus, but you could lack the skillful means to eradicate it.

And role archetypes would be like the global thought leader, or the strategist. The healer.

Alright enough on that. So those are the five plateaus. We want to – as leaders – eradicate the shadow in our first, second, third and fourth plateau aspects. Because we all have these aspects. We transcend and include them. They don’t go away and we can step into the positive qualities of each of these. I step into the second plateau when I need to really bring out my courage, my sheepdog strong mindset. And I step into my third plateau when I want to build my companies and earn more money, so I can serve more people and have freedom, right? So these are valuable as long as you’re not operating out of the shadow and getting stuck there. That’s my point.

Staring Down the Wolf

25:24

Alright. So as mentioned – back to the text – leaders and teams get stuck at a plateau and can’t recognize it because they’re inside the bottle and can’t read the label. But it’s often apparent to others. It’s part of their shadow.

They might lack the knowledge, the desire, the time or the opportunity to work toward vertical growth which is ascending to a higher plateau. This becomes a classic fixed mindset that Carol Dweck speaks of. And that’s a pretty common condition.

But I can assume that most of you are not in a fixed mindset and you’re keen to grow to a higher stage of development. And the best way to do that is with awareness, and skillful means. And overcoming the shadow aspects of what’s holding you back. Because you’ve got enough tools about how to propel yourself forward but remember grow up, clean up wake up so you can show up.

We all know people in our lives were just hanging out happy at their perspective plateaus. That’s true, life is sensible there and their friends and political, religious views are coherent at that Vista. They’re not wrong.

It’s just incomplete. In this sense ignorance truly is bliss. And it’s okay to be in your zone – in your comfort zone. But as a leader of leaders – we’ve got to step out of our comfort zone.

And also many people are just overburdened. They don’t have time to do this work. They might be numbing out or in outright first plateau survivor mode. So we don’t want to force our viewpoints on anyone.

I’m just saying – if they’re part of your team and if you’re the leader – then it will hold the team back. So one of the essences of this book is to get your team to be the leadership mechanism or the growth mechanism for the whole team. That includes you.

It’s important not to judge or feel put-down if we don’t feel like we’re at the fifth plateau. The reality is each plateau is a necessary building block for the next one. And, as stated, we continue to hold on to aspects of each plateau. Integration occurs with that transcend and include process.

So the question is, which plateau do you identify with most now as your center of gravity? You may find that at your finest moments you identify as that fifth plateau. Care about the whole world and planet Earth and you’re making great decisions.

But then when the fear wolf starts nipping at you, you’re pulled back down into the third plateau as a hyper-achiever and a workaholic. Or a second Plateau as an emotional malcontent. You want to go play whack-a-mole with someone who pisses you off.

Keep in mind your childhood upbringing will highly, highly influence your development through these plateaus. As well as your ability to stabilize at the fifth. And you won’t do it unless you clear up that childhood shadow.

We navigate between these plateaus as we experience different people and circumstances in our life. With dedication to growing up and cleaning up. By staring down the wolf we’ll find our center of gravity shift upward and we’ll spend less time in those lower plateaus.

But when we do step into a lower plateau such as the first or second we’ll be expressing boldness, and courage, and healthy, and positive aspects of those plateaus.

Staring down the wolf means to find the courage as leader to face your deepest negative qualities or fears and to stare them down. You must starve them out so you can fully integrate and stop holding yourself back from becoming a leader you know you’re capable of. As mentioned earlier, those negative qualities are the shadow aspect of your being. Your biases your subconscious patterns and reactionary behaviors that sabotage your best efforts and tarnish your relationships. You have them – whether you like to admit it or not – and they prevent you from being that heart-centered leader that you desire to be.

Now through a long journey of my own self-discovery – which I’ll share with you in this book – I found that success in navigating VUCA comes from building elite teams that can operate from that fifth plateau. And the seven commitments in the book are the qualities that they possess when they do so. For me to build a team like that I had to embody the qualities myself. I had to overcome my deeply ingrained negative patterns. And that’s an ongoing process.

When I speak of fear I’m not talking about fear of death or dark underwater spaces. That’s normal, physical, existential fear. We had tactics to deal with that in the seals. And I write about that in “Unbeatable Mind” quite a bit.

No, I’m referring to the fear-based negative conditioning that’s more subtle. Comes from just living. Shadow issues that fit the bill here include such things as playing victim to your traumas, identifying with your screw-ups, avoiding conflict and crucial conversations. Sweeping important issues under the rug due to emotional discomfort in dealing with them. Feeling insecure. Not seen, not valued, unworthy. Transferring your mommy or daddy issues on to the opposite sex or on to authority figures. Projecting what you dislike or have disowned in yourself onto others. Comparing your success or skills to the success and skills of others. Controlled or outright hidden racial, gender, age or sexual orientation bias.

And needing to be admired or Mr. And Mrs. Perfect… And there’s many, many more. That’s what I’m talking about. These are the fears that cripple leadership capacity.

Why? Because everyone on your team sees through your mask and feels the dysfunction acutely. Additionally, they are equally imperfect and know that you’re a human like them. So, if you pretend to be otherwise while dropping grenades and negativity on them, you lose them immediately. The team becomes paralyzed and disengage – settling into mediocrity.

Here are some of the fear wolf patterns that impacted my own leadership capacity. And the root causes.

I didn’t feel smart as a young adult – so, I went after advanced degrees that didn’t do much for me. I needed to prove to others or myself that I was actually smart. In leadership roles I had to always be right. Had the last word and was not very inclusive of others viewpoints.

In business I also had to be the smart one. But I was shut down emotionally in early life by an abusive home environment and became withdrawn. That led to obviously relationship trauma as I tripped from one failed relationship to another, until finding my wife at thirty-one.

Fortunately, she’s a therapist – thankfully solving that issue. But bringing this baggage into leadership roles was a clear problem.

Third, I learned to be codependent – imagine that – from my mom. And I was anointed – perhaps self-appointed – the perfect one. Always trying to look squared away. Saying “yes” to everything and everyone.

As a leader I had trouble determining what and who was good for me. This led to an enormous amount of misspent energy, untangling crappy commitments and ejecting the narcissists who would come to take advantage of me.

For I did not learn to trust my innate wisdom and worthiness thus I was intimidated by authority figures and jealous of the appearance of success of others. I was constantly driven to prove myself competent.

Trying to measure up and be seen as a good leader and entrepreneur, I took on roles I had no business being involved with. And last, but not least, feeling like I was missing something, and holding myself back, and perpetually discontent. I sought like hell to fix myself through a relentless pursuit of personal, professional, and spiritual development. Do any of those sound familiar to you?

So Wow. In spite of all that crap, I still managed to build a happy family, a decent business and become a best-selling author of several books. How is that?

Well along the way, I admitted my shadow and began to work on these issues after meeting my wife Sandy, of course, and starting therapy. Just working on these issues is 90% of what you need to do, because you’re showing your authenticity to your team.

Knowing many other best-selling authors, and rockstar CEOs, and media peeps, I can tell you that they all have the same shit and would be so much happier, more content – if they could do this work or when – I should say – they do this work.

SEAL training and years of meditation had not eradicated my negative conditioning. I had to stare down that friggin wolf to find the lost connection to my heart. Only then could I show up authentically for my team. They wanted it and deserved it. And when I was finally able to connect deeply and humbly, they responded in kind.

I’m not suggesting I’m now a perfect leader. I don’t think there’s such a thing. I’m simply acknowledging my flaws and offering a view into my journey to overcome them.

You probably know that the analogy of the fear wolf comes from a Native American story of a negative wolf that resides in the mind of humans. This wolf operates from fear, is hungry for drama, catastrophizes and has incessant negative self-talk.

But there is a second positive wolf who resides in the heart. This one has an appetite for love and connection. Is not addicted to drama. Is optimistic and focused on others the fear wolf fights for your attention and demands dominance.

The courage wolf asks simply to be noticed, seeking some esteem building food. According to the legend, the one that ultimately controls you is the one that you feed the most. If you’ constantly feed fear by thinking about the “could haves,” the “should haves,” the “would haves,” the “can’ts” and the “don’ts.” if you allow subtle negative beliefs, attitudes, and conditioned behavior from whatever drama you’ve experienced or stories you were fed that fear wolf gets stronger. Eventually he gets so strong that courage wolf is left cowering and unable to fight back.

However you can stare that fear wolf down and refuse to feed it any longer. Starve it of that negative mental conditioning. Then you can feed the courage wolf with a steady diet of good food to lead with your heart and mind as equal partners.

Now in case you’re saying to yourself “well crap. I thought this book was gonna be about cool Navy SEAL leadership strategies. Here we are talking psychobabble.”

Rest assured I am going to go there. The main thrust of this book will be about how others have stared down their fear wolves to display the seven commitments in action. But I’ll also show you where I’ve failed and then learned to embody the commitments myself. I’ll give you a path to freedom that lies on the other side of fear.

My journey sounds torturous and winding because it was. But you won’t have to become a SEAL, do twenty years of meditation and therapy, to find your authenticity and your freedom. You will become a heart-centered, world-centric leader by getting serious about the seven commitments with your team. You will train and develop your elite culture together to unlock more potential than you can now imagine. That is how you – a leader of leaders – will conquer the VUCA battleground. Building and leading an elite team of leaders in this new battle will come as a byproduct of being whole and heart-centered as an individual.

The simple secret is to evolve your character to be worthy of leading other leaders. Staring down the wolf is your new mantra. To get out of your head and into your heart. Only then can you move beyond your limitations and build a team capable of twenty times more.

This work is easier said than done. But you can trust me on this – it is 100% worth it. Your team is waiting for you to show up. Hooyah.

Thanks for your time today. We’ll continue this dialogue staring down the wolf and may I suggest you begin to stare down your wolf. Have a great day.

Hooyah.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Luke says:

    Extremely underrated content. Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing what you are doing and providing materials for those of us willing to work on ourselves! Know that you are changing lives and helping families every single day. I share your material with anyone who I think will listen.

  • Andrew says:

    Have used Mr. Divine’s strategies and tools for the past few months, and have found that when applied as directed: can have incredible results.

    Really grateful for the hard work he has put into these projects/books and am a big fan of his life lessons.

    Thank you

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