“Because everything…everything in life first starts in the mind. Everything that you accomplish in life and everything that’s built starts in the mind with a vision.” –Mark Divine
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In his solocast today, the Commander talks about Front Sight Focus and Bullet-proofing your mission, more principles from the Anniversary edition of his book “The Way of the SEAL.” In a previous podcast, he focused on how to define your goals, and in this episode he gives his attention to properly focusing and breaking your vision down into separate, achievable missions.
- Front sight focus: Make sure you are able to radically focus on the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason
- The 80-20 rule. We spend 80% of our time on non-productive work, and 20% on doing things that are useful. Hear how we need to flip that ratio to get things done.
- Bullet-proof your mission: hear about the SEAL practice of “dirt diving,” or practicing your mission, so that you can be prepared for whatever might happen.
The mind is where all goals and achievements get their start. So it is essential that you learn how to win in your mind before you ever enter the field.
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Transcript & Shownotes
Hi this is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Welcome back. Thanks so much for joining me today. Today I will be doing the second instalment of The Way of the SEAL.”
I mentioned last time that my publisher has decided to launch a 5th anniversary edition of “The Way of The SEAL.” First published the book back in 2012, and to commemorate the 5th anniversary, we have added two new chapters, and completely edited the book. Put some key takeaways after every chapter. So make a great book even better.
We’ll be launching it around Memorial Day next year. And one of my missions is to train and inspire a hundred million people in the next 25 years. And I think a lot of them will be trained and inspired by this very book. Which kind of got us started with Unbeatable Mind, actually.
It was interesting, I as writing Unbeatable Mind when I was approached by my agent for this particular book who wanted me to write a book on Navy SEAL leadership. And I told him what I was up to. I was thinking, “is this the project?”
And then he said, “Well, I wanted to have very much of a SEAL theme.” And he was the one that posed the idea of calling it “The Way” which I loved. And so we ended up… I agreed to do the book and he insisted on my co-writer, Ally. She did a phenomenal job with me and taught me a lot.
And so that’s how the book came about. And I decided that Unbeatable Mind would continue on. And so I published both. Self-published Unbeatable Mind, and published “The Way of the SEAL,” a couple months later.
And then “8 weeks to SEALFIT” actually around a month or so after that. So it was quite a year, back in 2012.
At any rate next year is proving to be similar, where I’ll be doing the relaunch of “The Way of the SEAL” for the 5th anniversary edition in May. And I’m writing “Unbeatable Teen,” which is essentially a story for teenagers around how to use the Unbeatable Mind principles in their life.
And I’m continuing to work on the Leadership book which I’m code naming “Unbeatable Leader.” I think that’ll be a little bit longer project. May not see that until the end of next year, or into 2019.
At any rate, so we launched this last time to talk about how to lead in an accelerating world and dealing with VUCA–Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. And then we dove right into the first principle of establishing your set-point. And when you establish your set-point, you need to make a stand. Determine where you stand. What are the principles that are going to guide your behavior in the world?
And then, what’s your purpose? And that’s defined by kind of an intersection of your principles, your passion, and your sense of why. Why you’re on this planet, and what you’re going to do about it.
And when you have that clarity then that’s what I call your set-point… meaning you’re pretty clear about where you’re starting right now. And where you want to go.
And then you can set your targets out there and point your compass in that direction and then go.
And along the way, you’ve gotta be able to embrace risk and loss and deal with failure really well. And that’s The Way of the SEAL. Essentially you fail your way forward fast. And learn from those challenging moments in our lives. And learn to embrace the suck of those challenging moments.
Now in this podcast I wanna get into principle 2 and 3. Principle 2 is called “Develop Front-sight focus.” Keep your eyes trained on the front-sight, and your front-sight trained on the target. That’s classic construction for initial firearms training, and tis a great metaphor for essentially establishing your goal. Your long-target.
But then, you know, you need to chunk that down to your short-target that you’re going to focus on right here, right now, today. Or in this moment. And so that short-target is akin to that front-sight post. You keep that… keep your eyes on that front-sight post, that target right there.
But then that post, or that front-sight, is leveled toward your longer range target. So you can’t look at all the different targets and all the things all the time. You just need to focus on one thing at a time. But you gotta make sure it’s the right thing, at the right time and for the right reason. Aligned with your set-point.
All right, so the key principles in front-sight focus are learning how to prepare your mind properly to be able to focus. And then developing your imaging capacity so that you can envision your goals effectively. And then specifically defining your mission. And then simplifying your battlefield. Simplifying your battlefield.
Let’s talk about preparing your mind, first. Sun Tzu quote I’ve used this often in my training. It’s one of my favorite quotes.
Goes something like this, “Victorious warriors win first in their minds and then go to war. Defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
That’s great stuff. Many of you heard the story about how I started training my mind with Zen training. Back in 1985? ’85, yeah. I graduated from Colgate University. Went down to New York City. Was getting my MBA at Sterne School of Business. Working away. Coopers and Lybrands and then Arthur Anderson.
And during this time I was looking for something to get me… keep me focused and physically fit. And I was still running and going to the gym and all that, but it just wasn’t enough.
And one day I was walking home, and I stumbled across the SEIDO karate school on 23rd street in Manhattan. And in I walked drawn like a moth to the flame. And I found Grandmaster… Shihan at the time. Nakamura. In the martial arts, Japanese tradition, they have these different names. So you might have heard of Sensei. Sensei was a senior student. Peers were called Senpai and so I had a lot of Senseis there, but the master was Nakamura. So he was Shihan.
But then later on he took on the ceremonial title of Kaicho Nakamura. And that meant Grand master. So he was grander than just being a master.
And Nakamura truly was grand. I mean, what an incredible mentor he was for me. He continues to inspire me to this day.
I’ve often said that he was a Zen master masquerading as a karate instructor. He did both. And he was excellent at both.
So he got me to study Zen and take up… so I read voraciously. “Three Pillars of Zen,” and “Zen and the Art of Archery.” And “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” One of my favorite books. Robert Pirsig, by the way.
All sorts of reading and research… not research but just study I guess. And I began a daily practice of Zen training. 20 minutes in the morning every day. And I was quote-unquote “religious” about this. And I also… we did a short meditation before and after every karate workout. And then Thursday nights, I would join a small group of senior students for a Zen session about 45 minutes long of meditation and then we would have a little talk afterwards, where Nakamura would shed some insight on some of the principles.
And it was great, great training. I learned a lot of things in that, but I would say the first thing is it’s very, very hard to sit down and to try to just meditate. And so Zen understood this. So the initial practice of Zen is to learn how to concentrate just on one thing. And so we would concentrate on this count. Try to count to 10 without thinking of anything else. Without actively using our cognitive mind or rational mind. We would just let go of that and just count the breath–inhale-exhale 1, inhale-exhale 2… Very difficult. Took me many months to be able to even get past 5.
Now if you’re honest with that, you’ll end up going back to zero quite a bit. Cause anytime you find yourself thinking, you have to go back to zero.
At any rate, so I describe a little bit of this in the book, but the whole point of preparing the mind is, you know… your mind is… pretty much most people’s minds, the Western mind is scattered and it’s distracted. And it’s prone to bounce all over the place from one thing to another.
It’ has 60, 80,000 thoughts a day. 80% the same thought you had yesterday and the day before and the day before. And you just go through life as this reactionary pinball. And if it sounds familiar, it’s because this is pretty common.
Everybody has this affliction. We’re born with it. The cool thing is that you can overcome it and begin to train your mind… to prepare your mind to do the work of winning before you step foot on the battlefield.
And that’s what I mean here in this chapter. So the preparation is practice. Preparation is practice. First, learning how to concentrate. And then using that concentration to focus deeply like that front-sight focus.
Now, the process that I teach now and that I put in the book is to start with some deep breathing. Learn how to first control your physiology so your less agitated physically that you’re more physiologically in balance.
Cause what is the tool of the mind? It’s the brain. That’s the organ of the thinking mind. And so when you begin to breathe deeply and diaphragmatically not only are you oxygenating yourself more, but you’re calming yourself down. Because you’re triggering that parasympathetic nervous system. This is classic… Unbeatable Mind 101 training. And you can learn more about that at unbeatablemind.com. In my online academy or come to one of our events.
But bottom line is begin to breathe deeply. And rhythmically. And that’ll begin to slow your brainwave patterns down, and that’s experienced subjectively as a lessening of the quantity of the thoughts that are bouncing around in your head…
So maybe you go from 80,000 to 20,000 a day. Which is huge. Now, of those 20,000 because we’re learning how to concentrate, we begin to step into what the Buddhists call a simultaneous mind through this practice. So when you being concentrating on that one thing, there’s something that happens as part of that training. And that is that you become aware when your thinking mind reactivates. So you’re breathing–one, two, three– and all of a sudden you realize you’re lost in thought. Thinking about what’s for dinner, or the training day or whatever’s going on. Something at work. And you’re like, “Oh, shoot, I’m thinking. I need to get back to the breath and the count.”
And so you go back to zero and just begin over. And you do it over and over. And pretty soon you develop the simultaneous mind where you’re aware of the focus. Attention control the SEALs call it. You’re aware of where your brain is being focused. And whether it’s on the breath or whether it’s thinking something.
And then you become aware of thinking while you’re thinking. Which is really interesting. So thinking about your thinking is a process that naturally evolves out of this Zen practice. Starts with being able to breathe deeply, calmly. And then just doing a focusing exercise like counting your breath without thinking.
And then any time you notice yourself thinking, gently bring yourself back to the breath.
That’s huge. That is huge right there. That practice should be your beginning practice for at least a year. And when you can do it well, then move on to second base so to speak.
Second base for me I call embracing Sacred Silence. Now this process obviously is a quiet silent practice. And generally is done sitting on a bench or on a mat. Or you can do it sitting in a chair, which is fine. Quiet and alone, or in nature.
And most people are uncomfortable with that. They want to be busy. Their mind is searching for something, some shiny thing to focus on. The iPhone has been just a huge boon for our distracted mind. And every time you check your email, or you get that text, or your Facebook registers another like, you get a little dopamine hit and it feels good. Momentarily.
And so now we’re just on our iPhones 8 hours a day. Or on TV or media and we’re just constantly distracted.
And embracing Sacred Silence is the opposite of that. It’s taking time to really appreciate non-distracted quiet time. And this is when your brain is able to settle down and to really breathe and concentrate on one thing.
And then you just fall into silence. And I don’t mean outer silence. I mean inner silence. The type of deep, quietude that comes after 30 or 40 minutes of meditation practice. When you’ve done it for 9 months to a year.
Still Water Runs Deep
And so in the book, “The Way of the SEAL,” in this principle I offer you an exercise I call Still Water Runs Deep. This actually came from one of Nakamura’s lectures where we did our 45 minutes of meditation then he got up and he has a traditional blackboard.
And he always started his lectures by writing the Japanese kanji characters. And he wrote these kanji characters and then in block letters he would spell out what it meant in English. And he had a very, kind of, broken English. And so one day he wrote these kanji characters and then he spelled out underneath, “Still water runs deep.”
And he’s like, “Still water runs deep.”
And he said something to the effect that our mind is normally like the choppy, class 5 rapids. It’s just all over the place, and it’s rushing all around. And it’s very turbulent. You could get lost or drown in the day-to-day thinking. And not ever experience the depths.
But then all of a sudden the river will round a bend and it’ll get wide and deeper. And all of a sudden you’ll find that the river gets really calm.
And in that… the center of that deep spot, the water is very still. Because it’s running nice and deep and it’s spread out. And so his idea there, the notion is and the idea for the exercise that I offer is to take yourself into that place mentally and metaphysically to where you tap into the still water that runs deep inside of you.
So I actually offer an exercise where you kind of find this very beautiful crystal clear pool in your mind’s eye. It’s a visualization. And then you just walk into it and you sink to the bottom. And this visualization in this depth is super-quiet and super-calming. And it helps you connect to that silence.
So Sacred Silence… 15 to 20 minutes a day of first breathe and then just drop… let the breath go. And go into the concentration practice and then go into your Still Water Runs Deep exercise. Can have a profound effect on preparing your mind for battle. Because what you’re doing is… essentially you’re getting out of your thinking quote “rational” mind and you’re being able to connect with and use the tools of your non-rational mind.
And your rational mind thinks in kind of linear… past to present to future. It’s a problem solving, thinking but also easily distracted aspect of your mind and personality.
Whereas the Still Water aspect of your mind/brain is where you’ll have spontaneous insights. You’ll be able to connect to your intuition. Belly intuition, heart intuition.
And you’ll be able to find that calm in the midst of the storm so that you can focus on the right thing at the right time for the right reasons and knock the ball out of the park. I’m mixing metaphors, but hey, you get the picture of what I’m talking about.
So that’s the first skill. The second skill is to begin to work with your imagery so that you can envision your goals.
And I call this a future me imagery or mental projection. So mental projection is where you take your mind into a future state and you envision yourself accomplishing that worthy task or goal that you’re going to accomplish. And also you envision yourself as the person who’s worthy of accomplishing that goal.
So of course it’s important that that goal is the right goal. And we’ll talk about that in the next principle where we get into choosing targets in principle 3. And it’s connected to your set-point, which I went through in principle 1. Like, why are you here on this planet? What are you going to do about it? What’s your purpose?
Good. And then what’s that worthy goal that you’re going to accomplish? And how are you going to serve the world in 20 years? And how are you going to move the dial forward in the next 18 months to 3 years?
You need to get some imagery and envision what each of those are like. And then keep practicing that vision. And I say that eventually when you can see it and you practice seeing it in your mind’s eye, over time you’ll come to believe it. Energetically and emotionally it’ll happen inside of you first. And then you just take massive action in the world to make it happen. See it, believe it, and make it happen.
These are the skills of “The Way of the SEAL.” So essentially, you first begin by fantasizing. What could my life be? What would it be like if I accomplished this?
Like, when I stated last year–or really recently–right now I’m recording this in December of 2017. Most of you will be listening to this in 2018, but I’m recording in December of 2017. We just finished up our annual summit, which is an incredible event. And I stated to the summit audience that this year–2017–I kind of evolved my own personal vision, and the vision of my company, Unbeatable Inc. to be able to serve… to train and inspire 100 million people to pursue the path of the 5th plateau awareness. Which is what I call the world-centric leader.
Which is a highly evolved state of caring, concern and perspective. Something we train in Unbeatable Mind. 100 million people in 25 years. Now I think it’s very possible. This book alone has changed… Probably hit a million people. Hasn’t sold a million copies yet, but it’s sold close to a half a million. And most people share the book. And so it’s easily seen a million hands.
My book Unbeatable Mind,” probably the same or close to that. We’ve trained over 10 years thousands and thousands of people who’ve led by example and influenced others. So the seeds of that are already well placed. And the next 25 years, we’ll knock the ball out of the park. Together. Everyone listening to this podcast will be part of that. You too. Because we’re certainly not going to do it alone.
Well that was a powerful vision. And in that vision, I had to first see it in my mind. I had to be able to envision that. What would it look like for us to serve 100 million people? And who would I need to be?
So I’m like, “Whoa. There’s some gaps. So I need to fill my own gaps and step up to be that type of person.” And so I’ll do my part every day to continue to train and evolve so that I can fulfill.
I don’t think anybody’s stationary. We’re all growing and even the most evolved people have a vision for where they can be or want to be in their lives to be able to serve boldly. And so that’s kind of what this whole thing is about.
You gotta be able to see it and then not just let it go and then forget it, but practice it every day. Cause everything… everything in life first starts in the mind. Everything that you accomplish in life and everything that’s built starts in the mind with a vision.
Ask Good Questions
Kay so then next up is defining the mission. What’s…? I’ve got this vision but that doesn’t mean that’s my mission. So how do I accomplish this? The vision is to train and inspire 100 million people to make the world more resilient, integrated and peaceful. How do I accomplish it? What is my specific mission plan?
And so now we gotta essential ask good questions. And to develop a mission plan. And so that missions plan is going to have your overall vision, and then where you are right now. So it’s tied to your set-point.
And then you gotta answer questions like why are you doing this? What’s you why? And is this why aligned with you as a person and is your team aligned with this mission? So if you choose a mission that’s not aligned with your purpose then you’re going to fail.
And if you choose a mission that’s not aligned with something you’re passionate about or that you don’t have the skills for, then you’ll fail. Or if your team doesn’t back you up, then you’ll fail.
So ask yourself, is there a higher priority mission? Or some other mission that may come up and sidetrack me? If so, then that’s the main one.
And who do I need to be involved. To get this mission accomplished. In my case, it’ going to be thousands of people helping me. That’s how we’re going to tackle it. It’s not just me alone.
But what’s expected of me? What’s my role? And what are the roles of the others? So when I say “train and inspire” well my role might be mostly to inspire through podcasts and books. Cause there’s only so many people I can train in person. But if we had 1000 coaches… Unbeatable Mind coaches each coaching several thousand people a year not we’re starting to get somewhere.
And what other specific tasks are required before I can even step into this? And that’s kind of where I was talking about earlier about the gaps. What am I missing in my both horizontal and vertical toolkit?
And what I mean by that is vertical development is the development that is activated when you train in the way of the SEAL. That’s evolving our own awareness, evolving our consciousness. Evolving our capacity to lead. Evolving our capacity to trust and be trusted. Our capacity to step into that Kokoro heart/mind. Evolving that so that we can see the world from the highest perspective. World-centric care and concern. I call that the 5th plateau.
That’s vertical development. And then there’s the horizontal development.
So I’ve got some vertical development to do and also got some horizontal development. These are the skills. The communication skills. The writing skills. The media type skills… the things that I’m going to need to do, to learn, to master. To be able to project information effectively.
So I’ve got some gaps that need to be filled. What are those gaps? I’ve gotta identify them. I need the skills to even identify them. And then I gotta work continuously to close those gaps.
That’s why this is a lifetime of work. You have the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually… annual practice and training. And that’s essentially The Way of the SEAL. We get into that actually, in principle 8. The Way of the SEAL training plan. But let me get back to where we’re at right now, which is “what’s the mission?” Define the mission and ask good questions.
Simplify the battlefield
Now we come to this incredibly important concept that I’ve hit up a few trims and I talked about it in the intro. Simplifying the battlefield. Simplifying the battlefield means scanning for what’s… what is it in your life that’s complexifying your life and then get rid of it. I love the 4 quadrant matrix that Eisenhower used to use. He said essentially you have things that are urgent and not urgent. And you have things that are important and not important.
And most people spend their time on the not important and not urgent things. And that’s stuff like all the distractions of your iPhone or your Android device. All the dopamine hits. Texting and Facebook and Twitter and blah, blah, blah.
And TV. All these things. And most meeting tend to fall in this category. A lot of things. The way we fill up our time, tend to fall in that category.
Not urgent, not important.
Now you might have the urgent and not important. Sometimes we have to deal with those things. Those little crises. So it’s okay.
But a lot of people also spend time on urgent and important things. These are the things that you have to do to move the ball down the road or down the field. That’s all fine. So urgent-important is okay but still not the best use of your time. You wanna find time every day to work in the category or the quadrant of not urgent and important.
And this is where you do the deep work. Cal Newport’s term. Deep Work. And that’s where me writing a book or me doing this podcast, it falls in the category of not urgent but important. Meaning I’m not putting a fire here. I’m actually going to be creating some content around The Way of the SEAL principles. So that more people can engage with it, especially if they haven’t read the book. And maybe you’ll get the book for the details.
So we gotta simplify the battlefield. I talk about the 80-20 rule so appreciate that 80% of your time is wasted on things that don’t produce results. And that 20% of your time is focus on the things that do.
So you flip that. Call the field. Look at what you do. Figure out how you’re spending your time. Get rid of the 80% and then focus that 80% new time on the 20% of the things that are bringing you results. That are things that are important and unique to you.
In order to do that you have to determine what your unique offer to the world is. What is the one thing that makes you different than anybody else?
And so asking questions such as “What am I exceptionally good at? What am I super-passionate about doing? What one thing do I or we as a team do better than anyone else? What qualities do I possess that give rise to this uniqueness? Who benefits most from this capability of mine? How would I benefit and how would the world benefit if I were able to deliver more of that uniqueness to the world? And what can I do right now to get rid of things that are in my way? To eliminate the obstacles? The 80% of the stuff that is just taking up my time?”
Now be fair, a lot of those things are there because of the way we’ve thought in the past. And we’ve got some very real issues around making money and putting food on the table and all that.
But with a little bit of thought and course correction, we can kind of bring ourselves into alignment by applying this KISS principle. Simplifying the battlefield. Keep It Simple Sally. And de-cluttering your environment. De-cluttering your mind. And getting radically focused on the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.
And this is critical for developing front-sight focus. In the exercises in principle 2 I talk about winning in your mind. How do you get your mind focused? And how do you de-clutter it?
Well I offer you the DIRECT process. I’m not going to go into detail here. You can find that in the book. But directing your mind to find that great attention control and focus. Once you teach it how to concentrate, now what do you do with that?
Well, you’ve got to direct your mind to the right things, so you can focus on them. And that is to having essentially I offer you a process to set up a sentinel in your mind who will be seated in that simultaneous part of your mind that’s watching your thinking. That sentinel will detect any thoughts that slip in your mind. Negative or positive. They’ll interdict negative or useless thoughts. They’ll redirect to something positive. It’ll energize those. It’ll communicate with you using a power statement or mantra. Like “Feeling good, looking good. Ought to be in Hollywood.”
And then you’ll train yourself every day in The Way of the SEAL of this winning in the mind.
Next you’ll build your mind gym. This is where you’re going to do the Still Water Runs Deep and other mental projections. And you’ll learn how to keep things simple. So that you can focus, focus, focus. With that front-sight focus.
Moving on to principle 3. Bullet-proofing your mission. Now you’ve defined your mission. You’re really, really clear about why you want to do the mission.
Now you’ve got to bullet-proof it. And like I said earlier… sometimes we choose this huge mission. In the book, I give the story of when I launched the Coronado Brewing Company back in 1996. I was just getting off of active duty, and I didn’t really have a greatly defined mission. I really… with my brother-in-law, Rick, I just kind of wanted to get into business. I loved the idea of having a brewery with beer and beyond that I didn’t give a lot of thought.
You might be surprised, but hey… it’s just the way it was.
And so I didn’t really have great high value targets that I had set up. It really was a lot of reactionary leadership where I needed to raise money. And then I needed to raise more money. And I was reacting to whatever drama or thing of the day.
It was a challenge to get that up and running, but I did. And a year and a half later, because I hadn’t… one of my targets was not… I didn’t have the target of having a really highly healthy partnership. I was just in it with my brother-in-law, who then brought in his brother.
And now there’s three of us. Three amigos and… Anyways… things started to go south because we didn’t share the same vision and we didn’t share the same ethos and we were going after the wrong targets. We didn’t bullet-proof our mission. I didn’t bullet-proof my mission and the thing started to spiral out of control.
So essentially, basically I handed my brother-in-laws the business and said “Tag. You got it. You’re just too negative and I can’t handle this. For the health of my wife and I and my family I’m going to walk away.”
And of course, the business–Coronado Brewing Company–is huge today. So walked away from millions of dollars. But, hey, it’s not about the money. It’s about doing what’s right.
So you gotta select high value targets. You gotta explore all your options for tackling those targets. You gotta be able to communicate your vision well. You gotta “dirt-dive” the vision meaning going back to winning in your mind. You gotta be able to practice it mentally before you go execute it.
Now one of the coolest tools that I developed for my own use and then put into this book here is called the FITS process. This is a way to select the highest value targets. And this came from… the idea came from the Navy SEALs target selection process called CARVER. That’s the acronym. And it was a process that SEALs would use and Special Ops would use to identify the highest value targets to go after. Because like we’ve said before, you can… there could be a number of targets that are potential targets but only one of them… you can only go after one at a time. And you’re going to want to make sure it’s the most high value target. And when we went into Iraq and Afghanistan we had literally…. we would identify the highest value targets and in that war… it continues to this day, obviously… people. Individuals. Bad guys were the targets.
When I was an active duty SEAL a lot of times we were hunting not people but harder targets. Like weapons of mass destruction, or enemy equipment. Stuff like that.
AT any rate. The CARVER process was pretty complicated so I said, “I wanna use something like this, but I wanna greatly simplify it. So I came up with the acronym FITS. Does the target “fit.”
And the F stands for does the target actually fit your skills or your team skills? And does it provide a high return on investment? Meaning is it really worth your time?
The “I” in FITS is how Important is it to achieving overall mission success. Remember you might have multiple targets that you have to hit on your way to overall mission success. When I say target, I’m not talking about your mission. I’m talking about the goals that you have to accomplish on the way to overall mission success. So we’re chunking this thing down. How important is each target? Cause again, just like you have to be careful about which mission you choose, if my mission is to serve 100 million people there’s multiple targets gonna be along the way over that 25 year journey. So I gotta choose the right targets. They gotta be linked in the right order too.
And that brings me to the 3rd. The “T” is Is the timing right for pursuing the target. If I haven’t gotten the right skills or some other pieces of the puzzle aren’t in place then I might embark on target too soon. Or I also might have missed the boat, and missed the opportunity.
Any entrepreneurs out there listening know well that timing is really important when you launch a business or a new product. So to be able to have a way to look at that just help you out.
And then the last one is back to that KISS principle. Is the target Simple? Is it clear? Is it going to be easy for me to come up with a plan for how to tackle it? And communicate it?
So that’s the FITS process which helps you select high value targets.
Explore your options
Next, I talk about exploring all your options for tackling that target. And I came up with another acronym, another tool which I call PROP as in prop up your plan. And this is essentially a really, really simple condensed form of the military decision making process. Which I wouldn’t recommend anybody use that unless you’ve got a lot of time on your hands and a staff.
But the military decision making process–if you could chunk it down into a real simple thing–what we’re saying is what are the Priorities that you have. And then what are the Realities?
So think about that. These are my priorities. These are my top 3 priorities. And then these are the realities about the world that we live in or my specific situation. These re my challenges, these are my obstacles. This is the reality.
And again, try to get really simple with this. And then the 3rd one’s the most important–what are the Options that come to mind for me to tackle this target. There could be multiple options. You want to put those options through a little filter–the FITS filter–to figure out which of those targets are the best ones to use. Which plan I should say. Which option to tackles the target.
And then choose one and that’s your Path forward. And with that path forward, you’re going to use the… some simple tool to develop a very specific mission plan.
We call that the SMACC process. What’s the situation? What’s your mission? What actions are you going to take? What’s your command and control? And how you going to communicate?
Which brings me to this next point in bullet-proofing your mission is communicating the mission. When I was in the SEAL teams we communicated our missions very visually. So we used a ton of video, ton of pictures. We would speak in visual terms. We wanted everyone to have the same image in their mind of what this thing looked like.
When I started the Coronado Brewing Company, I also did that. When I was raising money, I had a business plan that was almost all pictures. I had tons of pictures. I had coasters made up. I had labels all done. I had a graphic artist do pictures of what the brewery would look like.
And so I was able to generate an image in the mind of the potential investors of what it looked like. And I would use language around what I wanted them to feel when they were in the brewery. And so I think a lot of people really invested… obviously they’re investing in my ability to raise money and get the job done. The fact that I had the MBA, CPA, Navy SEAL experience didn’t hurt.
But also I could give them the image and the feeling that they were in this really warm, inviting environment with mahogany bar and copper and brass brewing equipment in the background. And a wood fire pizza oven blazing away.
And it just… they got it. And frankly we built it almost exactly like that. And the business is a big success to this day.
So you gotta be able to communicate. You gotta communicate both visually and emotionally so that everyone’s on the same page with the mission and they’re clear on how it’s going to get done.
And then once you get to that point, you gotta stop talking and begin doing. But instead of going right out on the mission, you go practice it. And we call this “dirt-diving.” You know when the SEALs nailed Bin Laden, they dirt-dove that relentlessly for weeks. They had a mock building built up. They went through that building hundreds of times. They had everybody… every different player in that mission dirt-dove the mission until they knew exactly what could go wrong at every stage.
They had gone through the scenarios of how to handle what could go wrong. And things did go wrong. They crashed a helicopter on insertion. It didn’t slow them down at all. They just immediately went through their SOP or standard operating procedures and then carried on with the mission.
So you gotta dirt-dive the mission. And then when you’re ready to execute now you’ve prepared the mission. You got front-sight focus on it. And you’ve bullet-proofed the mission. So that success is all but guaranteed. You’ve won in your mind before you step foot on the battlefield.
All right. So there you go. That’s principles 2 and 3. Developing front-sight focus and Bullet-proofing your mission. And the next time I do this we’ll be getting into principle 4–Do today what others won’t, and principle 5–Forging mental toughness.
So stand by. Until then, train hard. Stay front-sight focused. And bullet-proof your missions.