“Where do you wanna go? Why are you doing what you do? And are you willing to make a stand and take a stand about something important in your life?”–Mark Divine
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For the 5 year anniversary of The Way of the SEAL, Mark is putting out an updated version of the book for us. In 4 episodes, he’ll be going over the principles outlined in the book for the Unbeatable Mind podcast. He starts with an explanation of the “VUCA” world that we live in and then how important it is to understand your starting location or your ethos before you attempt to make good decisions as a leader.
- The VUCA environment – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous
- Ethos – understand that knowing what you stand for is essential to knowing how to lead and serve
- How the Commander went from pursuing a business career to join the SEALs instead
Get a better understanding of the leadership principles and a sneak peak at Mark’s new version of The Way of the SEAL.
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Transcript & Shownotes
Hi. Welcome back to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. This is Mark Divine your host. Thanks so much for listening. I appreciate it. I do not take it lightly. I know your time is valuable. And there’s a ton of things vying for your attention.
Well today hopefully your attention will be well served by focusing on this podcast. I’m going to do a solocast, and begin to go through my book “The Way of the SEAL.” Had a few people ask me to just riff on the principles of “The Way of the SEAL,” And in light of the fact that I’ll be launching a 5th anniversary edition of the book in May of next year, around Memorial Day, I thought I’d do a podcast where each principle gets a little bit of time.
So I think we’ll go over 2 principles per podcast. There’s 8 principles total, so that’ll be 4 podcasts. We’ll roll them out in the next couple of months.
The book “The Way of the SEAL” is about leading in accelerating times. So the first chapter… the first new chapter that I wrote for the book is actually called “Leading in an Accelerated World.” And it discusses in general terms how to orient your thinking and your mind and your leadership to deal with a VUCA environment. And VUCA’s an acronym that stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.
So essentially every principle in the book in some way affects our ability to deal in a VUCA environment. So as a preparatory chapter, we’re kind of laying the groundwork for what the world looks like now, and what it’s becoming increasingly more and more like. Things are speeding up. Technology is racing toward a future that we used to just watch in sci-fi movies like Star Trek.
It’s actually an incredible time to be alive. And the opportunities and risks are becoming more and more extraordinary.
So leaders definitely have to upgrade their mental software to be able to deal with the pace of change as well as the complexity and the volatility and the uncertainty and the ambiguity. And the tools in “The Way of the SEAL” have been proven effective in doing that. I mean, they were built off of many, many years of observing my own and other teammate’s leadership in the Navy SEAL world. Special Ops world as well. Not to mention centuries of learning in warrior disciplines. Such as martial arts and yoga.
And how those disciplines change the brain to be able to deal with complexity and volatility and chaos. So that the warrior-slash-leader can maintain a calm, focused, radically concentrated mind. And make better decisions along the way.
Business and VUCA
Truly the business world looks a lot like the VUCA environment of the Navy SEAL or Special Ops battlefield. And it’s my premise that business and other organizational leaders and essentially everybody who’s trying to perform at an elite level needs to develop the mindset that we’re talking about here in “The Way of the SEAL.” And that I teach in my Unbeatable Mind program.
To get comfortable being this… to get comfortable with discomfort. Prepare for the unexpected. And to surf volatility with a strong vision and radical focus on your mission. So volatility is surfed by just getting razor-sharp focused on the right thing at the right time for the right reason. And then as you execute toward that target with the radical focus, to find what I call dynamic stability.
And this is like a surfer riding a wave. The first time you surf or snowboard you have zero stability on that platform. Especially surfing because the world is moving underneath your feet. And then, of course, you’re moving on top of the board to try to find stability.
And leading in an accelerated world is similar to surfing. You gotta find that dynamic stability where you’re comfortable being unbalanced and you’re constantly compensating for the unbalancing acts that are occurring to you.
So it’s an interesting concept. And in the book I’m going to get into a little… some thoughts on how to do that.
Now, uncertainty which is a second aspect of VUCA. We just talked about volatility. Uncertainty is neutralized by beginning to understand the massive cognitive bias that your traditional brain, the way you were taught to think. The way that brain works and the biases that come with it. The biases that I call BOO in Unbeatable Mind. Background of Obviousness. Includes your language, how that language has conditioned your mind. The race, the color of your skin. Your sex, gender, obviously. Gender identity. Your family of origin’s values. And a lot of the belief systems that you tend to take for granted that make up this story that you live in your life.
And so we can neutralize uncertainty by realizing the biases that we bring to the table. And that practically every single decision we make is compromised.
So once you begin to identify that and realize that, you can start to learn about the biases, and then you can mitigate those biases by being cautious to take your snap judgements and your reactions to things for granted. And to test and challenge every decision that you make. And also to begin to use mental models to fact check your work. In the SEALs, we always use these mental models to do quick and rapid planning. And to fact-check our thinking. Because we were aware that our biases were likely to get us in trouble.
And then the other way that we can neutralize uncertainty is by taking action. Like, massive small actions every day to eliminate doubt. It’s kind of like recon by fire. If you don’t know exactly where the enemy is, then you kind of lob some rounds out there and see if you get some people shooting back at you.
So we take some action and we get feedback. And this is the way we employ what we call the OODA loop–Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act–to be constantly moving forward. And kind of groping our way towards success when we’re uncertain about which direction to go.
And then the “C” in VUCA–the Complexity. Well, you know, we’ve just got to simplify things. And a lot of my friends–and I’ve done some podcasts with folks who are really starting to appreciate this. You know, our world has just gotten way too complex. At least the appearance of complexity is there. And we have tons and tons of distractions, you know Social media, and our iPhone and texting and Snapchat and Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter. And email. And on and on and on. And everyone’s trying to do it all. Everyone’s trying to get into podcasting, into blogging, into writing their own books… Everyone is just scrambling to make money as traditional jobs are being outsourced or replaced by robots.
And it’s all important to do that. But the problem is you can’t do it all. And you risk doing nothing well, by doing everything poorly. And so you need to learn to say no in service to the bigger yes. And a lot of the book, “The Way of the SEAL,” is to help you determine what is that big yes. And we’ll get into that in the next… In principle number 1.
But we gotta simplify. We’ve gotta employ the Keep it Simple Sally principle. That’ll come up more than once in the book.
One of the ways that I address that in this first chapter about dealing with an accelerating world and VUCA is to have good questions that you can ask yourself before you embark on every mission. And every mission could be a project or a business mission. A new initiative like launching a podcast. Or starting a new business. Or leaving your job and going into something.
Ask the right questions. And I’ve often said that the quality of your life will be determined by the quality of the questions you ask. So if we’re going to go undertake a new mission, it’s important that we know why we’re doing it. My friend, Captain Bob Shoultz, Navy SEAL, retired after 30 years. He teaches leadership at the SEALs. And this is one of the things that he says: You’ve gotta always be asking questions.
Here’s some questions that I think are reasonable to write down if you’re in a place to write it down. If not, just think about these as questions that you can ask to clarify whether you’re heading down the right road.
So first question is pretty obvious, but why am I undertaking this mission? What’s my vision for the win? And why is this important to me?
I mean, there’s a lot there. You could spend many, many minutes just pondering why you’re taking on a particular project or mission. What’s your vision for success? And why is it important to you?
Just there by asking that question, you might maybe eliminate tons of things that you think are important but really aren’t important.
Course, every mission you can’t do alone. You need teams and your teammates to be on board with you. So ask yourself, is the team… or is each teammate… are my teammates in sync with this vision?
Because you got a vision. You’re going to head off and just try to enlist them on it. Well, that’s great. I mean, you can be autocratic and demand that they do it. Well, that won’t get you very far. In the SEAL teams, everybody needed to be in sync with the vision. Meaning they had to appreciate the end-state. They had to align with it. They had to agree with it. And they had to want to throw their energy at it.
So is your team in sync with the vision? If not, better get them in sync first. And make sure that their why can line-up behind your why.
If they’re not in sync, why? What is it that they see that you don’t? What perspectives do they bring to the table that are causing a disconnect. Perhaps they see things a little bit different. And perhaps their perspective can help you come up with a better formulation of the mission.
And if that’s true, can you reframe the vision to be inclusive of the diverse perspectives of your team? Wow. Can you imagine a better vision, a bigger, broader, more focused vision after bringing it to the team and getting their perspective? And then syncing everyone up and coming with an even more powerful mission statement to accomplish that vision.
So that brings me to the next question: What’s the most viable plan for the mission? Just because you had an idea how to get it done, may not mean that’s they right one. We’ll get in later to some of the decision models like FITS and PROP, but right now what’s the most viable plan for the mission and why?
And then within each mission you might have multiple targets to focus on. Chunk them down into the smallest common denominator. And then what’s the first one–the main one to focus on now? And first? And why?
And then what’s the one after that? And why?
And then when you get that far, ask would a complete stranger find this plan simple enough to execute? I love that one. If you were to hand your plan to a complete stranger, would they get it? If not, maybe it’s too complicated still. As my friend Bob says, you’ve gotta find the simplicity on the other side of complexity.
And then what if you decide on your target and you’re starting to move…What do you do when the inevitable failure happens? No plan survives contact with the enemy. So what do you do if and when a) happens or b) happens or c) happens? This is called mentalizing. Figure out what could go wrong. See it going wrong. And then ask yourself, what do you do next, so that as your executing you already have a contingency plan. That’s pretty cool.
All right. And then the “A,” the ambiguity in VUCA… how do you deal with ambiguity? This is just when there’s… it’s different than uncertainty. It’s similar to uncertainty, but it’s different. Ambiguity is just… there really is no good option that presents itself. It’s not so much that you’re uncertain. You might be certain that there’s no good option.
And so, in this situation… I talk about fast-twitch iteration. A friend of mine–Admiral Brian Losey–used this term that we led for a YPO group–Young Presidents Organization. I love that term, and I’d heard it before. But I never applied it to business. So I co-opted it and told him I’d give him credit.
So fast-twitch iteration. Now what we’re saying is… everything I’ve been talking to you up until now is really what you as a leader… You as a leader trying to neutralize uncertainty and dynamically surf volatility and deal with complexity by asking good questions and engaging your team.
But when it comes to fast-twitch iteration and ambiguity, what we’re talking about is actually pushing the decision-making and the creative, spontaneous solving of problems down to the lowest common denominator. Get it out into the field and trust your… trust those closest to the ground-level truth to make decisions and to come up with solutions that you couldn’t possibly think of as a leader-slash-owner. Slash-guy or girl in charge.
So this means you can’t micromanage. You can’t be controlling. You have to have the organization be flat and spontaneous problem solvers. And I encourage you to read the book “One Mission,” which is by McChrystal and his teammate and his name isn’t in my head right now. But we’ll come back at that later. But Stanley McChrystal was a Special Operations leader. He wrote “Team of Teams,” so maybe you start there. That’s a great book. And then the sequel to that book is called “One Mission.’ And it’s really about how the Spec Ops teams in Afghanistan organized in the way that I’m talking about. To deal with that VUCA environment. And so they employed fast-twitch iteration–didn’t use that terminology. That’s ours.
And also they challenged everything. Every way they used to do business, they had to challenge it and then come up with a new way. Because the old way was built for the industrial era. And basically conventional warfare. And just not working today. And warfare is a lot like business environment. It’s just you gotta deal with a lot of spontaneous threats and mass mobilization of enemies or competitors who can overwhelm you in an instant. We see that with organizations like Uber and Lyft popping up and all of a sudden going from zero to a billion dollars in 2 and 3 years. Just because of the flow of information and the ubiquitousness of WiFi and everybody on a mobile app now. It’s just… incredible opportunity and incredible threats.
And so you gotta keep your eyes on the target, folks. And really develop your skills to move forward in a VUCA world.
Establishing a Set-Point
Mark: And so with that kind of backdrop, let’s get to our first principle… The first principle in “The Way of the SEAL,” I call establishing your set-point. And this is a reference to GPS. Most of you have seen or used a GPS. Now a GPS–you decide where you want to go, but you can’t program the GPS without first telling it where you are now. So you just drop a pen, or… it’s called establishing your set-point. This is where you are now.
And then along the way, you’re going to have these intermediate targets we call way-points. And then you have your destination. So instead of going straight to your destination, you’re going to go t way-point one, and then to way-point two and way-point three. And these are intermediate targets that you have along your journey toward the end. And it’s never going to be a straight line.
Well, let’s apply this to your life. Here you are, right now, you’re listening to this podcast and this Mark Divine guy is talking about these principles that he calls The Way of the SEAL. By the way, I never said this before… but it’s not “The Way of the SEALs,” plural. This is the way of this SEAL. Me. And how I see the world. And how I used the development of my own brain and mind and using these skills in this book to succeed both as a SEAL and as a business leader. To build 6 multimillion dollar businesses and to be currently training thousands and thousands in these principles with Unbeatable Mind. And through my other business SEALFIT.
So when I say “The Way of the SEAL” we’re talking about me. Although I do have other teammates who agree with me. But not all of them. There are different strokes for different folks.
At any rate, this idea of establishing this set-point… you’ve gotta essentially know where you are and who you are right now, and get a good self-assessment. Where do you want to go? Why are you doing what you do? And are you willing to make a stand and take a stand about something important in your life?
So if you don’t have a set-point then you got nothing to push off of to head toward a target. You’re essentially just wandering. You’re drifting. And a lot of people who come to my training are in that place.
It’s not that they’re bad people. Everyone generally is a good person in my view. They might have some bad decisions. They might have some bad thinking. But they’ve got awesome potential and they want to do good. Unless you’re a sociopath, in which case you certainly wouldn’t be listening to this podcast.
So, the question is do you know where you are right now? And where you want to go and what you want to do with your life? And the answer is… a lot of people say, “You know what? I don’t, Mark. Can you help me out?” Or “I sort of do.” Or “I did, but now I’m confused cause what used to work for me isn’t working anymore.” Or “I’m kinda burned out on that.” Or “I’m tired of just doing something for the money, I wanna do something for meaning.”
All of these are really good things. And I’ve got examples from people who have shifted focus when they started asking these questions about themselves. What is my set-point? Where do I want to go in my life?
So I start with this idea of making a stand. And I’d never thought about this, until I went into the SEALs. I grew up pretty average. I mean, most people would say, “Hey, you were really successful.” Well, I felt kind of average. I went to a good college, but I wasn’t a great student. I was a solid B student at Colgate University.
I had such low… inability to really study. I didn’t have great study skills. I went to the public high school. It was super-easy in upstate New York. Didn’t have any AP classes. I didn’t need to study for anything.
So I got to Colgate University which was ridiculously hard academically and all of a sudden I’m like drowning. But trying like heck. And I don’t tell this story very often… but I went in as a pre-med student and I was taking Chemistry and Physics and English and Spanish my first year. I think Calculus and English actually. And in my Physics class… I loved the class. I loved the content. It had over a hundred people in the class taught by this Iranian guy who spoke broken English. We only had a mid-term and a final. I got all the way to the mid-term and I took the test. And I walked out of that, and go “Whoa. What the hell hit me?”
And I ended up getting like a 40 on the test. The lowest grade I’d ever gotten. And so, you know, I freaked out and went and talked to the freshman dean and he said, “Well, you probably should drop the class.”
Course, he was brand new. He didn’t know what he was talking about. Went and talked to the teacher. Teacher said, “You should drop the class.” So I dropped the class. Switched to an Econ major. That’s how ridiculously reactionary I was.
Turns out… talked to a friend of mine who was in the class later in the year. And he had just finished the final and grades were coming out… I said, “How did that Physics class go?” And my friend Chris Whalen says, “Well, it went pretty well. I got a B+ on it. Which really stoked me because I really bombed that mid-term.” I said, “So did I. I got a 40 on it.”
He laughed. He goes, “You dope. Cause you had one of the highest grades in the class. Cause I got like a 29 and it got curved up to a B.”
And I had never heard of the curve. That’s what I’m talking about. I went into Colgate pretty dumb. And pretty average.
And then when I went down to New York–at NYU, I had to struggle. I was on academic probation. I did really well when I was there because I was focused and I ended up starting to learn how to study and think better. And I did extremely well in my MBA program.
But none of what I was doing really made any sense for me. I was just going through the motions. And I wasn’t doing it for any other reason than it seemed like the right thing to do. My parents were applauding my efforts. I was getting an MBA and CPA. Society thought that was great. My peers thought it was great. I was a rock star. Blah-blah-blah.
But I didn’t really care about any of that. Now, in the book, “The Way of the SEAL,” I talk quite a bit about how I started studying Zen meditation–basically upgrading the software of my brain with my first master. My first mentor–Grand Master Tadashi Nakamura. Well that’s when I started to ask my own questions and to start to surface what I call my own set-point. And that set-point forced me to take a stand and make a stand.
When I finally went to officer candidate school, I got the interview that I had been promised. I was supposed to have an interview with a Navy SEAL leader–an officer–in order to get in. Well, it didn’t happen. I got the billet, but I still had to do the interview. So I did it at officer candidate school.
Commander Woody Woodruff–one of the guys actually involved in starting the Ironman in Hawaii. What an incredible stud. He came and did an interview with me. And in this interview–after a staring contest where he literally looked through me for 10 minutes straight. And talk about just sweat building up on my brow and me breathing and just thinking, “Oh shit. This guy’s thousand mile stare is burning a hole in me. This must be a lesson here.”
And so I just calmly stared back. And thought, “Well, here’s my first test as a SEAL. Budding SEAL officer.”
At any rate, when he opened his mouth, he said, “Mark, what do you believe in? What’s your stand? What do you stand for?”
And I started babbling some stuff, and he was like, “I don’t want to hear that kind of drivel,” basically is what he said. And he goes, “What are your rock-bottom beliefs? What drives your behavior?”
And, you know, something like really, really deep down inside me just mumbled, “Hey, take your time and think deeply about what’s important to you and what you would die for.” Essentially. Is what he was saying. Cause, you know, Navy SEALs need to know what they’re going to die for. You’re going to die for the mission, their country and their teammates and nothing else. Anything else gets in their way and they’ll take it to them.
At any rate, so I thought to myself, “Oh my Gosh. Hmm. What do I believe in?” And then I started thinking back about all my training at the dojo and the lessons that Nakamura had imparted me. And then the training that I learned… or the lessons that I’d learned from my countless hours hiking alone in the Adirondacks or my father.
And I began to just articulate things. And it wasn’t as fancy as I word it in the book. Because I had to think about these things afterwards too. But I wrote them down and they ended up something like this. And when I talked to him, I talked about these things with Woody. And I wouldn’t say–like I said–they were exactly in this order or in this form. But they were generally like this.
I said, “Destiny will favor me if I’m prepared. In body, mind and spirit.” I’d learned that from Nakamura. Train hard every day. And make training as important as eating and sleeping. And in that way, I’ll be prepared in body, mind and spirit. And in that way destiny will favor me.
That’s a really profound idea. Thinking about that. Are you prepared in body, mind and spirit? And what are you doing today so that destiny will favor you?
Secondly, and this is related, there’s no free lunch. I must work harder than expected and I must be more patient than others. In this world of hacks and instantaneous feel-good opportunity and gizmos–everyone’s trying to find a shortcut. And my belief is that there is no shortcut. There is no free lunch. You’ve gotta work harder and you’ve gotta be patient.
But when you reach a law of diminishing returns or the compounding effect kicks in? Wow. Stand by. There’s plenty of room at the top as Zig Ziglar used to say. So come on up.
And it doesn’t take much. Malcolm Gladwell says 10,000 hours. I don’ think it needs to be 10,000 hours. That’s like linear training, or linear time. I think that when you do immersive training like the Navy SEALs or like I outline in “The Way of the SEAL,” where you immerse your whole body/mind/spirit. Your physical, mental, emotional, intuitional and Kokoro-heart into something that is important to you. And you say no to everything else. To make room for that larger yes.
And you’re clear about your set-point. Then it happens much quicker. And you’ll achieve that compounding effect where all of a sudden, “Boom.” You accelerate past and your learning and your growth begins to accelerate and all of a sudden you find yourself at the top of the 5th plateau. Looking down, going “Whoa. Coach Divine was right.”
Next one was leadership is a privilege, it’s not a right. It’s not a position. You’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to earn it through trust in the arena of action. I was in a PhD program in leadership. I literally… it’s the only thing I’ve quit in my life.
Now for good reason I left because I got mobilized to war in 2004. And when I came back I decided not to go back to the PhD program. Even though I finished all my course work. But because I realized you cannot learn leadership from a textbook or from a bunch of teachers who’d never led. So I left that program and said, “I’m gonna teach leadership through action.” And so we have leadership development as part of our SEALFIT and our Unbeatable Mind Program. And essentially what we’re saying is leadership is about character and about developing the ability to be trustworthy. And the ability to trust others and to be vulnerable. And to use that Kokoro heart/mind in your decision. And that’s what leads to good leadership.
It’s not a bunch of tricks or traits or things like… like you read about in leadership literature.
Next I said, “Okay, I’m gonna be a warrior and as a warrior though, I’m gonna be last to pick up the sword. But I will fight to the death to protect myself, my family, my country and my way of life.” And what I mean by that is I really felt strongly that warriors are there to protect and to promote peace. Not to be violent. Like sheepdogs, we have to be peaceful people, but skillful in the application of violence. And so you can’t be too aggressive with the use of that violence. You can’t be eager to use that violence.
And I see that in some of my teammates who just want to go play wack-a-mole with ISIS or somewhere and they are a little too eager. Because they’ve been brought up on video games, and they think it’s going to be cool to go kill somebody.
I’m not a big fan of that. And I think true warriors–what I’ve been trying to teach through SEALFIT–true, authentic warriors cultivate their body, mind and spirit and so that they really understand why and when to use force.
Next, I said, “I strive to live in the present. Resolve myself with the past–and I mean by past regrets–and to create y ideal future in my mind. So what I’m really saying… when I now use the term “win in my mind,” to essentially represent this stand. When I win in my mind what I’m essentially doing is realize that everything that I do, say and act upon happens right now. The conditions for that were set either by my vision for the future and planning in the future state. Or something that happened in the past and my relationship to that in the past.
But everything that actually happens in the present. It’s a fascinating concept and I love it. So we strive to live in the present by resolving our past regrets. Which cuts the cord of those past energy to free you up to perform. And then your vision for the future–especially if you’re favored by destiny and you’ve got a clear picture of where you’re going to go. And you’re prepared. And that vision acts like an attractive force drawing you forward toward it.
Next, I said, “I’m going to find peace and happiness by seeking truth, wisdom and love. Not by chasing wealth, titles or fame.” Or thrills, I might add. Although I’m not adverse to a thrill here and there.
So this is one of the stands that led me away from being a CPA, MBA–heading down Wall Street toward the money. And into the SEALs to serve my country. I thought happiness… I figured out, it really doesn’t come by going after money. Money will come to you through serving and doing good works. Title and fame was meaningless. That’s not going to bring peace to myself or anyone else for that matter.
So those external things are all false sirens. So to find the intrinsic, internal motivation. And that means you need a very clear set-point. Clear idea of who you’re brilliance is and how you’re going to serve in the world.
And then the last one is, “I’m going to seek to improve myself and my team and the world every day.” And here I’m really hinting toward this concept of being a world-centric leader. World-centric leader has care and concern for all the world. Including planet Earth and… But is okay with the differences and acknowledges that we’re not all the same. We’re not going to agree on everything. But at least we have… we honor and respect everyone. And with the world-centric attitude or point-of-view, we can begin to make decisions that are a little bit better for humanity at large. And don’t have those 2nd and 3rd order consequences that typically are negative. So more and more of us are going to step up and be world-centric leaders in the next decade. And one of my missions is to… or my mission–I should say–now… 5 years after writing this book. Is to essentially train and inspire over 100 million people to attain or to pursue the path toward world-centric leadership and what I call the 5th plateau.
Which I’m not going to get into in this book, but we’re going to address that in my upcoming book, “Unbeatable Leader.” Which’ll probably come out… I doubt I’ll get it out next year. I’ve been talking about it, but it’s going to be tough.
All right, so those were some of the statements that I came up with with Woody that day. That kind of established my stand. “This is the stand. This is who I am. This is going to define my… the foundation of my set-point.”
Now the SEALs have a stand too. I’d love to read some of their stand… we call the SEAL ethos… the short form. There’s seven of them.
First is “Maintain loyalty to country, team and teammate.” Many of you have heard these before. These are awesome.
Second is “To serve with honor on and off the battlefield.”
Third “Be ready to lead and ready to follow. And never quit.”
Fourth “Take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates.”
Five “Excel as warriors through discipline and innovation.”
“Train for war. Fight to win. Defeat our nation’s enemies.”
Number seven is “Earn your trident every day.” Earn your trident of respect and trust every day. The trident is the Navy SEALs insignia.
The long form… I think I’ll read the long form for you too. Cause this is super-inspiring. If you could cut this out and listen to it every day, it’d be awesome.
United States Navy SEAL ethos
“In times of war and uncertainty there’s a special breed of warrior ready to answer our nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest Special Operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.
My trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before. It embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect.
By wearing the trident, I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.
My loyalty to country and team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans. Always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves.
I do not advertise the nature of my work nor seek recognition for my actions.
I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession. Placing the welfare and security of others before my own.
I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions regardless of circumstances sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.
I expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders, I will take charge. Lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. Lead by example.
In all situations I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish my mission. I am never out of the fight.
We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depends on me. My technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete. I train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country.
The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required. Yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.
Brave men and women have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I’m bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.”
The oracle of Delphi, above the entrance, the proverb says, “Know thyself.” This is what Commander Woody was trying to get to me and what the SEAL ethos is pushing for. Know yourself. Have a stand.
And then figure out your why. What is your why? Everything starts with why. Simon Sinek wrote that book, “Starts with Why.” I encourage you to read it. It’s a great one.
And with the SEALs and with “Way of the SEAL” it starts with why. So learn what is your why. And trying to come up with your why requires you to think deeply about what it is that fires you up.
Now in our Unbeatable Mind program, I break this down into 3 elements. Your passions, your purpose and your principles. So you can start with your principles. What is it that define who or what you value? What you’re going to be principled in? And how are you going to live those principles? How are you going to practice them every day?
In the book and the exercises in this principle number one, I talk about my own principles and I say, “Okay, here they are.” And they’re essentially designed to make me move toward them or away from something. So I only state the ones I want to move toward. And every day if I do certain things, I’ll move toward them.
So the moving toward principles that I have are to be healthy and positive. To be passionate and humble. To be wise and authentic. To be truthful and trustworthy. To be playful and fun. To be learning and growing. To be bold and decisive. And to serve others.
Think about yours. What are your principles? Those are going to define the guard-rails. So that when it’s dark and stormy you’ve got those to hold onto. If someone comes up and tries to push or pull you off track as you execute toward your vision, then these are the guard-rails. So you feel and you sense when you’re getting off track.
You can feel when you’re not being healthy or positive or passionate or humble or wise or authentic or you stop learning and growing. And all of a sudden you realize there’s a big gap between who you are and where you are right now.
And you can identify that gap and then close it. Get back on track with your principles.
And then a lot of people say, “Well I don’t know what my purpose is.” And I say, “Well, first start. Now you know you’re principles, start with what you’re passionate about. What is it that you’re super-fired up about in life?” You know, when I was going in New York, going to NYU and getting my CPA, I was struggling because I was not passionate about finance. I was not passionate about accounting. I was not passionate about earning money. I was not passionate about working in corporate America. I was not passionate about putting a suit on every day.
And life kind of sucked in that regard even though everyone said I was doing great. MBA, CPA, blah-blah-blah. So I said, “Well, what am I passionate about?” Well, obviously I was passionate about exercise and training and learning and I was passionate about leadership. And when I learned about the SEALs and Special Ops, I became passionate about warriorship. Warrior disciplines, strategy and tactics.
And I was like, “None of this is related to what I’m doing as a CPA.” So there was a gap there. When I identified the things that I was passionate and wasn’t passionate about, I realized that I’d lined up my life toward the wrong list. I lined up my life toward the list of things I wasn’t passionate about. I needed to take some action.
And then I began to ask questions. “Okay, if I’m passionate about these things, what is this saying about my purpose? Maybe my purpose is somewhere hidden in the list of things I’m passionate about. Or can be distilled out of that.”
And that’s when I started to consider that I was a misfit in public accounting and there was something else out there for me that I was meant to do.
Now in this process–and I describe this in the book–it was extremely important for me to spend time in what I call Sacred Silence. And that was when I was sitting on the Zen bench–and I did that every day. Nakamura taught me to do that before and after my training. Also to do an extra 20 minutes a day was his recommendation.
And so I did it every morning. And every morning I sat on my little wooden Zen bench for 20 minutes and I did breathing and I just sat there and paid attention. Mindfulness exercise is what you’d call it today.
And through that process–it took some time, right? There’s no… You don’t go from zero to hero with meditation. It takes 9 months to a year of first just concentrating and being able to identify with your witnessing mind. To be able to watch your thoughts.
All this stuff that I teach in Unbeatable Mind training and I describe in the book. And all of a sudden you being to start to see things a little bit differently and you get insights. And then if you insert–and this is where meditation comes in–if you insert a question that you’re going to contemplate then you’re going to get answers. And so I began to insert questions such as “What is my purpose?”
And then I would start to get answers. And the answers would come in the form of insight. Imagery or sensations or feelings. And where they led me was that my purpose was to be a warrior and a leader and to serve my country in that capacity. And this is before I knew about the SEALs. I knew about the SEALs… but before I was considering them.
And when I started to see that, then the synchronicity started to happen. That’s when I saw the video “Be Someone Special,” and the poster… actually the poster came first. The poster at the SEAL recruiting office says “Be Someone Special.” it’s awesome. It’s about the SEALs. I loved that idea, and it stuck with me.
I said, “Yeah, I wanna be someone special. I don’t feel very special now.”
Then I found the recruiting video. And man, was I smitten, because all those things that I said I was passionate about… Adventure and physical fitness. And mental toughness. And being a warrior and a leader. I saw them. I saw them in the film, and in that inspiring notion of being someone special.
And I realized that at that point that my set-point was to be a warrior, leader, Navy SEAL and not a CPA/MBA working on Wall Street. And literally a couple months later, I was on my way to officer candidate school. And then the Navy SEAL training. And the rest–as they say–is history.
All right, that’s enough for now. Next time we’ll get into principle 2 and 3. Developing front-sight focus so that you can crush all your goals is principle 2. And principle 3 is bullet-proofing your mission.
You’re going to love these. You’re not going to want to miss it. So stand by and you’ll hear those in another 4 to 6 episodes.
All right, thanks for your attention today. Train hard, stay focused and do the work.
Coach Divine out.
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