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Unbeatable Leader: Chapter 2

By April 20, 2017 July 30th, 2020 No Comments

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mark1“You know the saying, ‘If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.’ Well this metaphor speaks to the problems that I had and that most leaders face today.”–Mark Divine

Once again, Commander Divine is on his own this week, to bring us a reading of the 2nd chapter of his upcoming book. “Unbeatable Leader” will be about tapping into the flow state, so that you can maximize performance both for yourself and for the people you lead in business or anything else by being able to tap into the flow state at will. The 2nd chapter is heady stuff, and he describes “5 plateaus” of enlightenment that different leaders will be at and how to work to communicate effectively with all your team members. Hear what the Commander is currently working on, and get a look into his process as he writes. Get Mark’s insights into the importance of communication and how to be an Unbeatable, enlightened leader.

The Neurohacker Collective have recently come out with Qualia, an extensively researched nootropic that combines natural ingredients with the best synthetic ingredients to maximize our capacity to think effectively.  When you purchase an ongoing subscription for Qualia at, enter the code “unbeatablemind15r” to get 15% off the price of a monthly subscription.

Love the Unbeatable Mind Podcast? Click here to subscribe on iTunes. We’d love your feedback, please leave a rating and review.

Other episodes of our podcast that you might be interested in are Mark’s reading of Chapter 1 of “Unbeatable Leader” and his interview with Jamie Wheal about the flow state.

Transcript & Shownotes

Hey folks, this is Mark Divine. Welcome back to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Super-stoked to have you here. Thanks for your time. I know you’re busy and I super-appreciate it.

Today we have no guest and I’ll be presenting chapter 2 of my new book, code named Unbeatable Leader. Although I have no idea whether that will be the final name.

At any rate, you may have caught chapter 1. If not you can go back and check out the podcast list and you’ll see that chapter 1 was read probably about a month ago. At any rate, here we go. Chapter 2 is entitled “Awareness.”


Quote “When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” From Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man

Awakening naturally causes greater self-awareness. And deeper awareness of what drives your behavior in the stories we live allow us to create a new vision and path that becomes our authentic destiny. Self-awareness unfolds in a progressive manner like peeling an onion. Ultimately showing you that vast 20X potential over time.

In your leadership roles, this expanding awareness also allows you to appreciate the desires, needs and motivation of other teammates and stakeholders in your sphere of influence and control. Further you become more attuned to the evolving systems and structures in your life so you can align with and transform them to meet your mission. But this process is not simple, nor immediate, as my first entrepreneurial experience taught me.

Though having had several awakening experiences earlier, my awareness level when I launched the Coronado Brewing Company was still somewhat limited in terms of the leadership capacity we are speaking of in this book. Being a hard-charging Navy SEAL gave me a lot of tools and insights to succeed, but it didn’t automatically propel me to the integrated leadership required to succeed in a complex business environment.

It still had work to do. Imagine that.

I watched the line form outside the new Coronado Brewing Company with anticipation. The year-long journey of financing and guiding this landmark Coronado island location was coming to an end. But I knew it was also the beginning of the next phase of making it a successful, enduring business. And also the next phase of my budding entrepreneurial career. The plan to launch the brewing company was hatched by my brother-in-law Rick and I after he approached me to open a bar with him. Coronado is home to the West Coast SEAL teams, and a SEAL owned bar could be successful I thought. However, after some research, we decided to get into the fledgling brewing business instead. There were just two other breweries in San Diego, which seemed to be doing well. And ours would be a destination for both Coronado residents–which included many of my Navy peers–as well as the over-the-bridge folks from San Diego.

The line outside that opening night was a foreshadow of the success we would have. A week before opening and our beer was ready. But the permit hadn’t been issued, so we held an open house” party. That party was a huge success, and the buzz–so to speak–got out quickly. We were off on a roller coaster ride of business building.

But cracks in our partnership began to show quickly, and it became clear that my vision was different than my partner’s. A large communication gap opened up, which I did not have the skills to solve. Everything I tried made things worse, until we were actively fighting for control of the business. Lawyers, proxies and all. Trust was destroyed and the emotional energy got stuck in quicksand, magnified by the family relationships. This energy pulled me down to an earlier, shadow version of myself which was reactive and negative. I had worked so hard to develop emotional control as a SEAL, and so I was frustrated. What the heck was going on?

That partnership didn’t survive. And after my wife Sandy begged me to get out, I sold my interests to my brothers-in-law and moved on. Licking my wounds.

Lack of awareness such as that can lead to 1 dimensional thinking and hence poor outcomes. As a leader–at that time, I was CEO of the brewing business–I could only take perspectives from the plateau upon which I stood. What I mean by this is in leadership development terms–we can get stuck with the perspectives and tools available at our current stage of development.

These tools and that perspective are never adequate to achieve optimal results, until we develop an integrated awareness. I call this the 5th plateau–the integrated plateau. At earlier plateau’s we can still see some level of success. But not whole system, whole success, because our solutions are limited. Hence we get limited results.

You know the saying, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.” Well this metaphor speaks to the problems that I had and that most leaders face today. The strategies and tactics that I had developed as a 3rd plateau achiever and budding 4th plateau sensitive were simply not enough. And as a result I got pulled down into a shadow side hidden from view. Additionally, I couldn’t see through my partner’s 1st plateau instinctual and 2nd plateau emotional point of view.

I’m going to get into these plateaus soon, so you’ll have a little bit more insight on what I’m talking about.

Now that all happened back in 1997. Yet, now we all live in an even more volatile, more uncertain, more complex and more ambiguous world. Or VUCA in military parlance. A world in which all leaders need to greatly expand their self-awareness to be more effective.

Unbeatable leaders will need to take control of time, flow with the positive energy of complex systems, and make decisions from intuitive, emotionally mature and spiritually connected perspectives that include all participants in the system.

As William Henley implores in his epic poem “Invictus” it’s time to be that master of our fate, the captain of our soul as we navigate these stormy VUCA waters, ensuring that everyone and everything wins in meaningful ways.

The issues at the Coronado Brewing Company were complex problems being acted upon by players at vastly different stages of development. We saw the world from starkly different perspectives, but we were not aware of this uncomfortable truth, so we clashed, each believing that we were right.

There is a major difference between me and my partners though. I was committed to growth and they were not. My growth was spurred by my early awakenings, and I had a courageous vision for my future, and felt an intense need to learn and investigate what went wrong in that situation.

My partners, on the other hand, were firmly fixed in their ways and possessed a resentful and fearful mindset, as evidenced by their unwillingness to forgive and for ejecting their sister–my wife–and their father from their lives as a result of this business.

Carol Dweck in her excellent work “Mindset” proposes that we either possess a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Fixed mindset people are stuck, unable or unwilling to evolve and see new perspectives or ascend to new plateaus.

Growth people, on the other hand, are committed to what my friend Tony Robbins calls constant and never-ending improvement both horizontally with skills and knowledge as well as vertically with new levels of awareness and perspective.

Ken Wilber would agree and his work provides a map of what it looks and feels like at these different stages of development. This insight is enormously helpful for leaders serving teams with diverse individuals at all stages of development.

Growth oriented individuals are not satisfied to just appreciate growth, but take extreme responsibility for their own evolution. And Wilber points to an integral stage of awareness on his map of development as a crucial milestone for leaders, where they can integrate all the other stages and then travel the entire terrain of the map at will.

However, only about less than 10% of our population is at this stage. Dealing with teammates who possess a fixed, fear-based mindset… rutted in a lower stage of development can cause angst and breakdowns in team cohesions. That was my lesson at the brewing company, yet I’m not alone.

Many organizations today–large, bureaucratic and even small family businesses like the Coronado Brewing Company face this challenge. My goal here is to provide you the tools to be the change that you want to see. And to create a culture and systems that will support integrated growth.

In order to dislodge from a rutted plateau, one must first possess a courageous growth mindset. Let’s look at 4 dominant mindsets, to see if we can identify these in ourselves and our teammates.

The Four Mindsets

Over my 20 year career in the military and 25 in business, I have noticed 4 dominant mindsets. 3 of these are motivation killers, because they’re fixed and negative. Only 1 is optimal for the horizontal and vertical growth that Unbeatable Mind leaders seek. If locked in any of the 3 fixed, negative mindsets–a rut will form, at whatever stage of development that individual is at. Which is typically defined by their family and culture of origin. The mindsets are dictated by whether the individual has a future vision, and whether they practice positive energy or allow negativity to conquer them.

The 4 mindsets are: resentful, fearful, wishful and courageous. The mindsets are displayed in one’s mental programming. How they speak, their internal dialogue, imagery and emotional states. The Unbeatable Leader will develop a powerful vision for the future and train the positive energetic state which will propel constant growth. Knowing that negativity destroys performance, confidence and trust. So we begin by assessing and then eradicating negative energy. And we simultaneously feed the courage wolf and train a persistent, positive mental and emotional state.

We’ll dig into those skills further in section 2 and 3.

There’s a lot of research on the benefits of developing positive attitudes and overcoming negative programming. Barbara Fredrickson in her book “Positivity” points to lower stress, greater peace of mind, more success in the worldly affairs, and deeper connection to others to name a few of these benefits. My own positivity deeply impacted my success early in my SEAL career, at that arduous BUD/S training. Now I was able to maintain a positive mindset day-in and day-out as others in my peer group fatigued and had negative moments that led to quitting or injury. I was the honor graduate of my class largely because of this principle. And that experience sparked my interest in learning how to train this mindset in others.

One of my early lessons was that reflecting upon one’s own mindset was requires great self-awareness. Negativity is the norm because it is so deeply woven into the brain’s architecture and everyday life experiences. It’s often covert and glossed over with a false veneer of positivity. But it lurks in our subconscious and our emotional states torpedoing our goals and bleeding energy from our ambition. It requires great focus and effort to eradicate negativity from our dialogue, imagery, emotions and ultimately our actions. We’re going to get into this training of positivity in more detail in the next section.

The second attribute of mindset is vision. A lack of vision locks one into past oriented, resentful, fearful or wishful thinking, and will cause a “stuckness” where growth stops. Fear and timidity cause challenges to be avoided. Depriving the individual from the stimulating and growth benefits that challenge offers. Negativity and a lack of vision make one resentful of other’s success. The individual sees him or herself as a victim and resents others, the world or their God for their sad state of affairs.

On the other hand, one may present a positive outward face, but lack a future vision, which leads to wishful thinking.

The third possibility is having a vision but being stuck in negativity so that you can’t mobilize the positive energy to move toward that vision. I call this a fearful mindset. Where timid souls tip-toe their way forward afraid to take major risk. They end up stagnating because the law of inertia eventually pushes against them until they backslide or give up.

Those with a fearful mindset must develop positivity to break free of this loop. And a strong vision to move into the courage mindset group. A strong future vision of our uniqueness, who we are, what we are meant for, and where to apply our efforts to fulfill our purpose passionately and in alignment with our principles has a profound effect on mindset. It sets up a craving for growth. And unstoppable upward march to the highest plateaus available to you. The interplay of these two attributes of mindset; vision and positivity will determine whether you are fixed or growth oriented.

As I said, Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset,” says that an individual with a fixed mindset has not been awakened to the possibilities of self-directed change and growth.

However, when one possesses a growth mindset, they strongly desire or desperately seek out growth opportunities. Unbeatable Leaders will curate a courageous, growthful mindset, maintaining positive energy and connecting daily to their future vision. Bottom line is if awakening has not occurred, then self-awareness is limited and growth will be stifled. But when we become self-aware and self-managing of our growth, we’ll curate our mindset to be courageous and to develop a strong personal ethos with a compelling vision for our future.

Integration and evolution of self

A few years after the brewing company debacle, while preparing to move to North County San Diego, I was loading up a box of books. And one fell to the ground catching my attention. A bespeckled, bald man stared at me from the cover, and he became my next mentor. That book, “A Brief History of Everything,” which I had picked up at the height of my beer battle, but had been too mentally fatigued to read, was now ready for me, and I ready for it.

Ken Wilber, the author, now helped me to integrate and put the puzzle pieces together for a new road map for my own development.

Perhaps modernity’s most influential philosopher, Ken Wilbur is unique in that he’s also an awakened practitioner. He’s humble, he’s an inquisitive thinker, and practices what he preaches. He isn’t so much of a self-promoter, which stands out, where other noted authors vigorously seek to be noticed. His work on integral theory continues to quietly influence in most domains of Western culture.

I learned from Ken that one’s awareness can, but won’t necessarily, grow through multiple stages of development during a lifetime. His research compared a multitude of models from behavior psychology, Eastern spiritual, enlightenment experiences, spiral dynamics, childhood development and others. He noticed that though they use different descriptors and number of stages, they all had some similarities… more similarities than differences. The Eastern traditions mapped higher spiritual states and stages, while the Western mapped early development and the more material leaning ones. He noted that states such as a peak or flow state could give a temporary insight into a higher stage, but that one settled into a permanent stage of consciousness until and unless something awakened growth to the next one.

Ken and spiral dynamics list instinctive, magical, impulsive, role/rule bound, achiever, sensitive and integral as seven key stages of development. And further based on the work of developmental psychologist Jane Loevinger and Susanne Cook-Greuter, Harvard researchers Rooke and Torbert also note 7 stages of leadership capacity in their excellent Harvard Business School Review article title “The 7 transformations of leadership.” The authors derive research from a test called the Global Leadership Profile, which has leaders respond to 30 sentence stems, providing insight into how they problem solve and make sense of the world. And also pointing to a center of gravity for action, logic and emergent logic. All with the aim of evolving the leader toward a more timely transformational action of the web of family, work and voluntary systems. That’s all quoted from their research.

Now while Wilber’s stages are presented as a psychographic profile, depicting different world views and behavior at each stage of development, Rooke and Torbert describe leadership capacity at each stage. Depicting more nuanced and integrated thinker as the leader progresses through the stages, which include–and these words are just words, and I’ll explain them later–“opportunist, diplomat, expert, achiever, individualist, strategist and alchemist.” Though the names and descriptions are different, the breakthrough idea here is that human beings differ in their developmental stages regardless of age, gender and type. And yet it’s possible to evolve to new, higher stages of development through life experiences, and–for our sake, more importantly–personal development. The Unbeatable Leader premise is that we must take an active role in developing our own consciousness, leading to a deeper, fuller and more integrated understanding of reality. In taking extreme responsibility for our own growth, we will accelerate it, and be more effective in the affairs of leading and living as a result.

In my book “Unbeatable Mind,” I specified 5 plateaus as 5 dominant stages of growth based upon my own research with thousands of students in the Unbeatable Mind foundations program. Though there are more than 5 stages, at least 90% of the population falls roughly into these 5. The plateaus are presented as points-of-view, as the student embarks on a journey which I call “5 mountain training.” This is a training plan that focuses on development through 5 core developmental lines, which many of you know as physical, mental, emotional, intuitional and Kokoro or heart. Oftentimes I’ll just use the term “spiritual” as well. We’re going to delve into these 5 mountains again in the next section, with an eye toward expanding our knowledge of vertical leadership capacity. But first, let’s take a look at what the view is like from each of these 5 plateaus.

Perspectives from the 5 Plateaus

The stages of growth are called plateaus because as I mentioned, they’re stopping points on the journey of self-awareness. The journey of self-awareness can be likened to a challenging mountain climb. For some the hike to the 2nd or 3rd plateau is enough and there they stay. However, authentic leaders like you are compelled to continue the journey to see what lies ahead. We travel to the 5th plateau and beyond, and each plateau offers a unique perspective which appears complete from that viewpoint. But the lower levels or the lower plateaus limit one to thinking with the perspective of that plateau, unaware even that there’s another one, above them, at a higher stage. So in a sense a center of gravity at a plateau below the 5th will lack an integrated point-of-view and limit leadership choice or what Torbert calls, “Action Logic.”

Let’s walk through a description of the 5 plateaus to appreciate why they are powerful model for self-awareness. As you read the descriptions, take stock of where you may be now and try not to judge or feel bad if you find yourself a solid 3rd plateau type. I personally have strong roots in the 3rd plateau and it’s where much of our population is today as is our culture.

The point is that we all have aspects of each plateau in our personality and our behaviors, but we’re typically settled at one of them as a center of gravity. Yet we can move onward and upward with a little push. Some of us are simply missing a key developmental tool or can be stuck at a level due to some unseen shadow element of personality. I call this “B.O.O.” or Background of Obviousness, and we’ll discuss how to clear it up in a later section. Or it could be from having a fear-based mindset that lacks vision.

At any rate, Wilber found that each of us will tend to settle at a dominant plateau until something triggers further growth.

Again, as you listen to this, know that being stuck at a plateau isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful and happy. It’s estimated that roughly 40% of our population is currently at 3rd plateau, 20% or so at the 4th, and just a few percent at the 5th or integrated plateau or beyond.

And when you ascend to a new plateau you’re going to notice but profound perspective shifts. You realize that some things were hidden from your view, but you were unaware of it. This makes you eager for more growth. And the shift propels courage mindset individuals to accelerate their own development. I estimate that with 7 years of dedicated focus on your own growth in an integrated fashion over the 5 mountains will ascend you to 5th plateau thinking, if you’re not there already.

The challenge for leaders is that resentful, fearful or wishful mindset individuals are unlikely to evolve beyond where they settle as young adults, unless they experience an awakening. And you must lead these people.

However, I do believe we’re at a turning point in time where you’re going to see more and more people awakening to courageous mindsets, and crave growth as you do. And then they will seek development models such as Unbeatable Mind and the 5 plateau map to guide them through their own terrain of evolution. One more time I want to stress not to see this developmental model as hierarchical. It is true that the stages point to a hierarchy of awareness, but Wilber points out that they are more holarchical in that each stage transcends and includes the previous stages. So being a 5th plateau leader doesn’t make one better or more important than someone settled in at the 4th, 3rd or 1st. This is not a system to rank and judge, but to guide the development of self-awareness. If there’s little or no self-awareness then that’s a moot point. And if in reading these descriptions, you see yourself in several plateaus at the same time, know that that’s normal because we’re going to move along them based upon who we interact with or what triggers us to step into that aspect of our personality.

For instance, I can get pulled into the 2nd plateau in dealing with emotional people. And I’m not thrilled to say that an asshole can catapult me from a peaceful berth at the 5th plateau straight down to the 1st. But, again, the distinguishing factor of 5th plateau awareness is that I’m aware of it happening in real-time, and can express a healthy version of that first or 2nd plateau, rather than allow a negative shadow aspect to arise.

A 5th plateau is a level of integrated awareness. Which allows one to travel the full range of perspectives without getting stuck in some unresolved rut along the way. Thus it’s important not to feel judged or put down if we don’t currently see ourselves like Dalai Lama at the 5th plateau. It’s important to set your ego aside.

This development work takes time and is hard. Yet the good news is we have a map to point to a new destination. Traversing the terrain of each plateau is necessary for the experience and insights which provide the stepping stones to the next level. And these perspectives are integrated in that transcend and include manner. And we never lose aspects of our earlier selves. Rather we include the healthy parts and discard the unhealthy or useless ones.

Plateau Descriptions

All right, let me get to those plateaus. The first plateau is the impulsive power-self plateau. Here one operates out of an impulsive self-serving point-of-view. Immediate needs are met through power and often manipulation. People can get stuck here if basic needs such as security and autonomy are not met now or were not met in early childhood developmental years. An unhealthy expression of the first stage would lead to a lack of physical or mental health, an unhealthy focus on the body and gratification of immediate physical needs and desires, without care for long-term cause or effects to self or others.

Development at the first plateau should focus on mentorship toward physical health, self-control and effective communication. Getting stuck at this plateau can lead to a view that the world is about jockeying for power, and some sort of violence as an accepted means to meet those ends. This is a closed-minded place with a self- or ego-centric orientation which lacks respect for anything or anyone else and is populated by resentful and fearful victim mindsets. Life here can lack purpose and meaning and only fortunately a small percentage of adults are at this plateau. Though we have all struggled when we have to live, work or lead individuals who have unhealthy, 1st plateau behaviors.

Healthy behavior at this level is seen in a close, instinctual gut intuition. And a determined, never quit attitude. I see aspects of this plateau in how I was raised and am grateful for the physical development of athletics and the martial arts which helped me evolve beyond it.

The 2nd plateau is the absolutist, archetypal self. It is here that the individual who is absolutely sure of their place in the world because they were given it. They’re emotionally balanced, but deeply rutted in an archetypal sense of where they and others belong. Their world-view is set by others, often the church or state. Healthy individuals at this plateau are emotionally bonded to their tribe, and less likely to use physical force for power projection, as with the 1st plateau, or even logical arguments, as with the 3rd. They possess and ethno-centric self/other orientation and are connected to their heart’s intuitive power.

However, unhealthy individuals will use extreme emotional pleas or passive/aggressive behavior to get their way. Life is often view as a battle of good versus evil, but if you follow the rules, you’ll be rewarded in this life or after. Children naturally go through this phase in their teens. But adults can plateau here when they grow up in fixed mindset families, strict and formally religious cultures, or if they’ve experienced some emotional trauma as a child.

The absolutist functions well in society, but is always convinced that his or her way is the only way. That his or her tribe–read family, football team, country–is on the right side and worth fighting for.

This is the plateau for Torbert’s “diplomat” who, he says, avoid over-complex, obeys group norms and rarely rocks the boat. Development at the 2nd plateau can include an awakening stimulus such as a SEALfit event or Tony Robbins “Unleash the Power Within” event. Therapy and/or exposure to new cultures and idea through travel and language training.

I know aspects of this plateau in how I acted in my late teens and early 20s. I was emotionally challenged as a result of a closed family system, and possessed a stunted range of emotional responses. It was the awakening of a semester in London, Zen training, and the crucible of SEAL training which cracked me open, allowing me to ascend to the next plateau.

The 3rd plateau is the achiever/material self. Now this level includes most well-adjusted, success-oriented members of our American society who are busy achieving things important to themselves and to keeping the capitalist system humming. The Navy SEAL leader and early entrepreneur me is firmly planted here. The healthy aspects of this plateau include great responsibility for one’s actions, working well with a team, cognitive mastery and a rational understanding of how things work.

However, on the dark side, most people at this level are not too concerned with things outside their sphere of control or influence, such as global environmental issues, or spiritual matters. Rational thinking dominates and personal development is done primarily for success and material gain, most likely limited to gaining horizontal skills for outward success.

Individuals here are self/other centered but can lean toward self when it leads to material gain. Though they express care and concern for others. Demonstration of social concern are seen through feel-good donations, and cause marketing philanthropy, but the short-term, non-systemic thinking can come with a hidden cost.

A logic driven expert is found at this plateau as is the effective manager who values teamwork to achieve goals and can juggle multiple roles and jobs. The driven executive who loses sight of important values such as health, connection to the family and spiritual development is also found here. Life is largely a zero-sum game and respect is reserved for the famous or others who master material success.

Like I said earlier, this plateau represents the largest percentage–perhaps up to 40%–of the population in America, where individualism and capitalism dominate. A cultural center of gravity at this plateau is behind the current anti-globalist trend toward nationalism. Power and success achieved with awareness of this plateau is seductive, but can come at the expense of the environment, others in the system, and to the individual’s further growth and integration.

Development at this plateau should focus on therapy, meditation and deeper spiritual work of developing an ethos of inclusiveness. Such as gratitude or loving-kindness contemplations. Phew.

All right, the 4th plateau is that of the actualizer, sensitive self. At this plateau we find the sensitive individual who has transcended achievement and is focused on self-actualization. And a purpose that includes service to others and the world at large. The self is now world-centric and body, mind, emotions and intuition are well managed and expressed in new and unique ways. Feelings of connection go beyond the tribe and nation as the world’s experienced as an inter-connected mysterious web of being. Torbert’s individualist leader is found at this plateau who can weave competing action-logic and create unique structures to resolve gaps between strategy and performance.

Now this plateau, the 4th is an exciting step toward the whole mind, fully integrated life we seek for the Unbeatable Leader. At this plateau, healthy individuals seek internal peace, affectionate relationships and a caring community. Dialogue, consensus, egalitarianism are valued over strict material achievement or power. I found myself at this level as my SEAL leadership expanded my concerns and connection internationally, and I got to see how all humans have similar desires, needs and aspirations. A deep dive into emotional awareness is required at this plateau, because the shadow self will really rear its head and bite you in the butt. If you are an asshole and meditate for 20 years, you can be a serious jerk at this plateau if you don’t clear up your past stuff.

For me, that included countless hours in therapy, EMDR, Hoffman process type work as well as recapitulation, visualization to clear up my B.O.O. as I said earlier. A later section will show us how.

Unhealthy expressions of this plateau include an attachment to one’s identity as a better person. Spiritual egotism and a tendency to feel special or unique. We see this with a lot of actors or social entrepreneurs who will ignore or demonize “less-evolved” individuals or groups. And this can result in animosity and mutual distrust between achievers and actualizers. The former respects productivity and material success, while the latter respects elite power structures and equality. Yet both deny respect to anyone that doesn’t conform to their world-view. This struggle can be seen played out in the political dynamics between conservative–which are most achievers–and liberals–which are most actualizers in America. And, to some extent, Europe.

This 4th plateau is a large center of gravity in our culture representing roughly 20 to 30% of the population.

Aah. The 5th plateau. Finally. This is the integrator. The world-centric self. The 5th plateau presents the holistic view of the integrated self, where the individual experiences a deep world-centric attitude grounded in a powerful, personal ethos of service to humanity. Great respect for self, for others, for the global environment and for the cosmos at large is expressed.

At this 5th plateau, all 5 mountains–physical, mental, emotional, intuitional and spiritual–are healed optimized and fused into a whole body-mind-spirit. Individuals transcend the limits of tribe or national identity, though they will respect and enjoy the boundaries of those distinctions. Healthy aspects of each plateau is experienced and the individual–this is key–can travel all the plateaus… all the other plateaus with ease, taking respectful perspectives and communicating effectively with individuals and within cultures at each plateau. That is such a crucial point there.

Individuals are compelled to live their truth fully and to be responsible to live the most complete version of what is possible for them.

In spite of an incomprehensible world, without needing to fix things of even understand it. Torbert’s strategist is found at this plateau. He has a leadership capacity to generate organizational and personal transformation through mutual inquiry and vulnerability for both short and long-term.

At an intuitive/spiritual level, the head, heart and hara (or gut) are felt as whole. Emotional life is rich and mature. And experiences of consciousness as spirit are common at this plateau. Note that depending on culture these will describe differently, such as “peak state” for the atheist or agnostic, “Christ consciousness” or “Illumination” for the Christian, “Enlightenment” or “full comprehension” for the Tibetan Buddhist, “Samadhi” for the Yogi, “Satori” or “kensho” for the Zen practitioner and “Moksha” for the Hindi among a dizzying array of other interpretations. Regardless of what we call them, these experiences occur in increasing frequency and with deeper levels of presence and connection to what is felt as something bigger than the individual self. Often described as spirit.

A difference between this 5th plateau and others is that those here have great respect for all life. They don’t judge or put down others or think someone requires pity or a handout. Those who operate with a 5th plateau consciousness are generally humble. Great reconcilers and leaders. In essence, these are world-centric warriors who are leading the masses to a usually desirable, better place.

Well that’s quite a bit. In conclusion, as you ascend these plateaus on your quest for self-mastery, you’re going to end up at this 5th plateau that I just described, and wonder why it eluded you to begin with. As the title of the chapter suggests, the awareness of one’s mindset, and the existence of your plateau as well as the potential to ascend through training and development to the highest plateau is quite a wake-up call in itself. This should be very motivating to you. And yet the question remains, “What plateau do you most identify with now?”

Though you may find that at your finest moments, you identify with the 5th plateau, are you pulled down to the 3rd plateau as a hyper-achiever when you go to work? Then when your wife scolds you for forgetting to take out the garbage, do you drop into the 2nd plateau and respond passive-aggressively? It’s crucial to keep in mind that your upbringing will highly influence your development through these plateaus and the shadow aspects of yourself can cause you to drop in to a lower plateau, even if you identify at this 5th, integrated level.

This philosophy that I’m expounding here, says that we will move between the plateaus but we’re generally centered at one. With disciplined training, however, you will be more aware of that center of gravity and then work to ascend to a new level and develop new vertical leadership capacity.

I know that was heady. But in the next chapter we’re going to get more practical and see how an awakened and self-aware individual at any plateau who possesses a courageous mindset. Remember that’s a positive mindset with a vision for your future–will crave growth. And you can find a new “why” for that growth backed by a powerful ethos. We’re then going to develop a SEAL-like front-sight focus to develop 5 mountains and 5 plateau disciplines.


Before we get there let’s do some work to help you appreciate your center of gravity.

So if you’re listening to this, when you get home, here’s your assignment. The work is called “What’s your viewpoint?” This is simple.

Grab your journal and do 5 to 20 minutes of box breathing. Set the intention of authentically and humbly identifying that plateau at which your center of gravity is at this point in your life.

Step 1 to this is re-read the descriptions above–or re-listen to the descriptions of the 5 plateaus–and then note in your journal as you read them, where you see yourself in the descriptions.

Next, ask yourself which version of you shows up at home, at work, at church or when you play.

And step 3; take a stab at jotting down where you feel your center of gravity is now. Be honest.

All right folks. That was Chapter 2, very rough draft of my new book, code named “Unbeatable Leader.” I know it was heady stuff. The book gets more practical from here, but tell you what, if you’re like me, you find this stuff fascinating, and very, very enlightening. So I hope that was helpful, and that you enjoyed listening to it, and that you learned something. About yourself, of course.

All right. Next time we’ll be back on track with an interview and until then stay focused, do the work and Hooyah.

Coach Divine out.

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