Today’s show is someone you’ve seen around here before. Mark Divine is an expert around human performance when it comes to mental toughness, leadership, and being a physically ready for anything.
Mark is a true Renaissance man, as you’ll see on this show. He’s a former top ranked Navy SEAL, CPA and MBA professor, and has built a half dozen multimillion-dollar companies. No big deal.
On this show with Mark Divine, we talk about:
- Why the best defense is a good offense
- How failing loudly and publicly will make you a champion
- Why successful people are constantly uncomfortable
- How to unbalance your competitors to win at anything
- And much more…
Buckle up, here it comes.
Mark Divine: Thinking Like a Warrior
Abel: Alright folks, Mark Divine is a returning guest here to chat about his epic book, Way of The SEAL, where you can think like an elite warrior to lead and succeed.
How’s it going, Mark?
Great, Abel, great. Good to see you again.
Abel: It’s great to see you, too.
I was just telling Mark before this interview that his past interview was one of my favorites, personally, hits me right at the heart. Because Mark is clearly not only a high performer, but teaches other people to totally kick butt with pretty much everything they do.
What’s especially cool about your work, Mark, is that it’s very interdisciplinary. Such that you learn the foundation, which is food and fitness.
Then on top of that, everything else that you learn borrows from Eastern practices, as well as hardcore Navy SEAL training and business, and everything else that you’ve learned.
I think that there’s just an enormous amount that people can learn from you in terms of achieving whatever you want to achieve.
But let’s just start with the foundation, as we were talking about before this interview, which is nutrition.
You said something that I thought was right on point, that’s basically, “How are you supposed to lead other people if you don’t have your nutrition in check?” Why don’t we vamp on that a little bit?
Sure, yeah. I think, in our society we’ve become so reductionist, we take all these domains of knowledge and we slice and splice it down to as narrowly defined niche as you can.
Then, all these experts then will kind of pig pile on that and it becomes separated from the whole, right?
So in the context of nutrition, it’s become separated from the individual—looking at the individual as a performance machine in one context, or as an integrated human being in another.
I’ve been teaching leadership from the perspective of peak performance. For peak performance to happen as a leader, your body and your mind have to be optimizing.
How do you optimize your body and mind?
It’s not just with the thoughts you think or the way you move, it’s the way your chemical processing are functioning and how your hormonal systems are in balance. And those are the most affected by what you put in your body.
Again, it’s very simple to look at it as a high performance automobile and it doesn’t matter how expensive your Lamborghini is, if you fill it with &^$% it’s not gonna run.
As a SEAL I notice this very, very acutely when we were performing in the field.
When our nutritional intake was affected because all we had available was an MRE or sometimes whatever the local flora and fauna provided. Then our performance, mine in particular, because I use myself as a test lab rat, as you do I’m sure.
My performance was noticeably different, and so it just makes sense that you treat your body as a holistic entity, and what you put into it then affects both the physical and psychological aspects of your being.
When You Should Eat a Candy Bar
Abel: Absolutely. That must be a very unique challenge. Especially when you’re in the field. Knowing what you need to eat in order to be healthy and perform at your best, how do you do that when you’re in Baghdad or whatever?
It’s difficult, first of all, knowledge is important. You can go to a military chow hall and select the best of the bad options to start, and avoid a lot of the crap and then supplement.
I’m a big proponent of supplementation.
I’m not a purist by any stretch of the imagination. @markdivine Click To Tweet
I’m a practical, pragmatic eater, and when you’re not getting the nutrition that you need, you must supplement, and so find high quality supplements. It’s easy to get them shipped to you as a military operator these days, and a lot of them are available overseas.
You find those supplementations that you need, and the other thing is I think it makes sense to eat. Your body can process even bad food in small quantities and intermittently.
If all you got is a candy bar on a long mission, then eat it. It’s going to provide you with sustenance and it’s going to be way better than being a purist and saying, “No, I can’t eat that sugar. I can’t eat that candy bar.”
You’ve got to basically eat what you can to survive and then get back on track when you get back into Garrison living, whatever you want to call it.
Abel: That in and of itself is kind of natural, isn’t it? Because if you look back evolutionarily speaking anyway, we wouldn’t always have the ideal foods around us all of the time.
There would be times of abundance and times where you just have to get by based on what’s around fermenting in the back of the cave for the past three months or whatever.
It’s really more about survival and doing the best that you can as opposed to sticking to your guns and saying, “I’m not going to eat anything that’s not super high quality.” Even if there’s nothing coming my way in the next seven days that will be high quality.
I don’t address nutrition in The Way of the SEAL, but I have a book called 8 Weeks to SEALFIT, which is my training program.
I have a chapter on nutrition in the training program, and I recommend a quasi modified Paleo-ish diet.
Again, back to the spectrum. I’m not a purist and one of the things that I’ve noted in my life as 20 years in the SEAL Teams, is that the body can handle so much more disparity in the types of food we eat and in the quantity and in the time that we eat.
Actually, my belief is that the human body is actually well served by changing it up. Just like with functional fitness, variety is the spice of life, so to speak.
When it comes to food, variety is really good. Like our Paleo ancestors, if food is unavailable for a while, that’s good for your body. As long as you don’t die from it.
It’s good to go without, and so that whole field in intermittent fasting is kind of testing that theory.
We could go without for longer periods of time. And I believe that we just eat too much because of the plentitude in our society. Your body gets used to eating way more food than you need.
We just eat too much because of the plentitude in our society. Click To Tweet
I train often two to three hours a day with our SEALFIT training and there are days where I’m going, “I’m just not hungry.” My body just says, “I don’t need to sit down and have a big meal at all.”
So I’ll just graze a little bit. I have plenty of energy.
The body is remarkably adaptive and resilient, and I think people have just become way too accustomed to this massive abundance of food, and three sit-down meals a day, and it’s just too much.
Why We Should Embrace Challenges
Abel: One thing I think you have unique insight into is the fact that we’ve all kind of lost touch with how hard life used to be, and how we did have to do the best that we could just to get by and survive.
You already just touched upon that. Can you expand on that a little bit more?
What is like to feel like you might die at any moment, or know that your food might not be coming, or know that you have to fast for 72 hours or something like that?
What is that like, and what does that do to you moving forward in the way that you live your life in the cushy world that most of us live in?
That is such a great question. I think you’re the first one who’s ever asked me that question. That is fantastic.
Abel: Thank you.
Yeah, you’re welcome. If you come out to the SEALFIT Training Center, I will give you a full-on taste of it.
Abel: I bet.
That is a magical thing. I believe the human spirit thrives on challenge.
When it doesn’t have challenge, it goes a little bit dormant, it gets bored. It starts to play tricks on you and and that’s when challenges come to you.
I have this idea that we should take ourselves to the challenge, like, “Bring it on,” in an increasing measure.
As our capabilities for handling that stress increase, we become more resilient and more mentally tough. And then we take on bigger and bigger challenges.
If we don’t do that, the challenge comes to us and our life is a wreck. It just torpedoes everything, all of our goals, all of our health, and all of a sudden we find ourselves all back to ground zero.
Like I said, the human being is meant to be tested and challenged. And when we do this, we grow.
We grow at all levels. We grow physically, mentally, emotionally, intuitionally, and spiritually. I call those my five mountains.
In my training, I try to test those and push the envelope on those.
When you do this, you become almost inoculated against fear.
And it’s not like a Navy SEAL doesn’t experience fear when he’s standing on the ramp at 30,000 feet staring into the abyss, traveling at 400 miles an hour knowing that he’s going to throw himself off this ramp into the night, hopefully his parachute will work.
There is no question that there was a knot about a mile wide in my belly every time I did that.
Having said that, I was able to mentally manage both my emotions and my thinking mind, my rational mind, to understand that the likelihood of disaster happening is extremely small because of the training I had put in and the statistical probability of that parachute failing.
Also, I had a really high sense of why I was doing that.
I got very connected to why it was important for me to jump off that ramp. I understood that my life, my job as a Navy SEAL warrior depended upon mission accomplishment, depended upon me being on the very gritty edge of danger and to be comfortable with it, to push that envelope.
I was able to fling myself into the abyss time and time again. @MarkDivine Click To Tweet
Each time you do it gets a little bit easier.
What happens though is you tend to start to live life in what has today, in today’s world, become a rarified place of really lack of fear or highly controlled fear.
Very, very low stress because you’ve managed to learn along the way how to really mitigate stress, how to interrupt the fight or flight response, how to control your mind and emotions in even the presence of extreme danger.
For a Warrior, that means you run toward the sound of the gun fire and you enter the fight with confidence knowing that there’s a really good chance you’re going to come out as a victor because of your training and your attitude. And you’ve got a really great team by your side.
And kind of one of my premises, Abel, with teaching this stuff is I want everyone to experience that.
Number one, it’s a blast. Living life like that is just pure fun and your hair is on fire and everything you do has meaning and purpose, and everything else starts to fall away as unimportant.
You don’t mind having those really difficult brutally honest conversations with people, the kind that most people shirk from because they think they’re politically incorrect or you’re going to hurt someone’s feelings.
Well, guess what, nothing gets done in an organization, and it’s hard to move your life forward if you’re cowering from having those really difficult conversations, both with yourself, with your team, with your loved ones, with the community.
You don’t have that fear around anymore. You develop a really thick skin and what might be called grit.
You become very optimistic yet you prepare for the worst.
It’s really interesting what’s happening in the world—people think the sky is falling and Henny Penny is running around, the sky is falling.
I look at the future, I say it’s brilliant. There is some unbelievably cool things happening and coming down the pike, and yet entire institutions are going to have to break down in order for the new to arise.
Just like with goodness, there must be darkness. Click To Tweet
You’re going to have major disruption in order to experience the growth of the human race on the other side of that.
We want to be optimistic and drive toward that beautiful vision, but prepare ourselves so that we make sure that we’re standing there once whatever chaos might befall us. Whether it’s a global warming inspired tsunami or insurrection.
Failing to Succeed
Abel: That’s so true and that can happen in little ways or in big ways.
Just in terms of preparing for the future. It was really interesting. I got an email from my dad which is a unique thing because he hunts and pecks and doesn’t know how to type.
And at the bottom I saw it said, “Sent from my iPad.” Which my mom just got a few months ago, and it shocked me that he had an iPad before I did, and I work in software and build apps and stuff and build websites, and I thought that was interesting.
I know first hand that my parents were always afraid of computers. Didn’t really understand them the whole time that I was growing up and now they embrace it because they have to.
That’s where the world is going and it’s a really exciting thing that we can do that. I can literally give them a tour of my new backyard in the place that I just moved to using this crazy device. But in order to share that with them they have to embrace the future.
To follow on that point you talked about before, like embracing the hard stuff or even putting yourself through it on purpose, I can tell you that at strategic moments in my own life doing those very uncomfortable things, like when I first learned to sing and perform. Not just doing it in front of thousands of people but doing it poorly in front of thousands of people.
Been there, done that.
Abel: Totally failing. My first jaunt at the improv comedy completely fell flat. It was not funny at all and just bombed in front of thousands of people. The time where you run a marathon for the first time that takes true grit.
And the next time someone says “this class is hard” or “my job sucks,” or something like that, you don’t hear it anymore. If you’ve put yourself through enough of those challenges, and the ones that I’ve been through really pale in comparison to the ones that you teach and have gone through yourself, but I think everyone can do that.
Even if it’s in a little way. Getting outside of your comfort zone allows you to really embrace the future and get rid of all that noise.
For this generation, or my son’s generation, it’s easy to hide behind the keyboard or the text and you don’t get to experience that emotional trauma of standing in front of somebody and exposing yourself, making yourself that vulnerable.
When you make yourself vulnerable as a leader or as a performer, that’s how you grow.
Because you’re literally saying, “Here’s what I got, take your shot.”
Some of those arrows are going to hit their mark, and you’ve got to deal with that pain. Learn from it, and then the next time out you get a little bit better.
That’s how you develop that resiliency.
You’re like, “You know what, dust yourself off. That kind of sucked. What did I learn from it? What’s the silver lining? How can I improve?”
Work toward improving, then put yourself out there again.
Don’t shy from it just because the first experience was hard. In fact, transmute that emotion of fear of failure and maybe shame from a performance that you thought was abysmal.
You transmute that into motivation and determination, and you get out there and do it again, and then again and again.
Then, sheesh, maybe it would only take 20 times before suddenly people are looking at you and saying, “Hey, but you are an expert. You’re phenomenal. I actually want to pay you for your performance.”
Abel: That’s what happens. Because, like you said, the 20 times is a perfect example. I think that number works really well, because when I go on other people’s shows and they’re reading off my biography, it’s usually the accomplishments or whatever, and it sounds like a lot, it sounds very impressive, but what they don’t read off are those other 19 things.
All of those things were absolute failures, and the accomplishments would have been absolutely impossible without going through all of those failures and having all those things completely implode, fizzle out, or become more problems than they are worth. So you have to quit early and get out of there.
But that’s the stuff that most people don’t see.
I think that in the book, you describe it in a really cool way. That’s what is necessary to really perform at a high level—you need to be horrible most of the time, so that you can succeed at the times that matter.
You need to be horrible most of the time, so that you can succeed at the times that matter. Click To Tweet
You’ve got to risk that failure.
The other thing is, we tend to finally get good at something in life and then think, “Okay, that’s it. I’m a good corporate CEO and that’s my domain.”
And then you don’t get out of your comfort zone again because you’re already operating at a very high level in that domain. And that’s a mistake.
That’s one of the things a lot of the CEOs who have come to SEALFIT or my Unbeatable Mind training, are like, “I’m really good at what I do, but there’s still something missing. There’s still a little piece that I feel I’m leaving on the table.”
I say, “Of course, yeah. There’s a lot of you, actually, that you’re leaving on the table, and it’s great that you found that success there, but what’s next? What else can we do? Where can we push the envelope, and where can we step out and learn something new?”
Yesterday, I had a meeting here, just kind of a reacquaintance with a friend of mine named Phil Black, who’s a Navy SEAL, business owner, firefighter, a Harvard graduate, and really incredible guy. But this guy is successful in so many ways. He’s a Navy SEAL, he’s a first responder, he’s built a business called FitDeck and it’s reached a few million in sales there. He was recently on Shark Tank.
And I’m like, “What’s next for you?”
Because he was lauding all my accomplishments, and then I had the same conversation you just had, that “Hey, you haven’t seen all those abysmal failures along the way.”
And I said, “So, what’s next for you? Where are you going to take this?”
And he goes, “Well, it’s funny you should say that, but I just wrote a one-man play.”
“I didn’t know that you’re a playwright.”
He goes, “I’m not. I have no idea what I’m doing. I wrote a one-man play about my life experiences and I pitched it to San Diego State University, and they’re going to help me produce this.”
I’m like, “Holy *&%$ that’s awesome.” He’s going to really put himself out there in the most vulnerable way possible, on stage, alone, to tell his life story.
And I say, “What’s your why for doing that? Let’s say it bombs. What’s going to make it a success?”
And he said, “Well, first and foremost, I’m doing it for my sons. I want them to know me that intimately, beyond what they see in me as a father.”
Abel: That’s so cool.
I’m like, “Okay, that’s going to be successful. I don’t care how well you do on stage.” That’s a simple purpose for doing something like that.
But to tie it back into this, he’s a Navy SEAL. He has conquered fear, compared to most people in humanity. And yet, he’s doing one of the things that most people, they’d rather get run over by a bus than get on stage and perform.
Abel: Like Seinfeld said, you’re better off in the coffin than giving the eulogy, out of fear of public speaking. Which is so true for most people.
I do a lot of speaking now, and after I talk, they’re just like, “Wow, you’re such a naturally talented speaker,” and I’m just like, “No, I’m not.”
You have to bomb and bomb and bomb, and then eventually, you have to get good, because you’ve done it so much and you’ve sacrificed so much.
How to Focus on the Offense
Abel: You talk about living life and always taking the position of the offense, as opposed to defense. I think that’s so cool, and can be applied to pretty much everything right now.
Email is a great example. I get many hundreds of emails every day, and I feel like if you’re constantly responding to them, you can never actually change the world in your own way and move forward with your own personal or business goals or team goals or what have you.
The best defense is a good offense, as some basketball gods have said.
Can you talk a little bit about the importance of focusing on the offense?
It’s such an integral concept for peak living.
Let me start by relating it to a typical SEAL mission. We go out the door and we expect that our plan—our perfect, beautiful plan—is going to fail soon. We expect that.
We have contingencies lined up. We have mental models for how to respond to the threats that come at us.
We find victory in the moments that they need to be found.
In essence, we fail our way forward to victory. @MarkDivine Click To Tweet
And it’s a very offensive approach to attacking the mission. We do not wait for something to happen. We do not even think of defense.
It’s like Chesty Puller said, “Retreat? Hell, we’re just attacking in a different direction.” They didn’t retreat. Marines are offensive in that regard.
So how does this relate to you?
I think your example is spot on. Everything we do in life, we first ask ourselves, why are we doing this and is it serving me to move my personal dial toward my goals, toward my purpose?
Is it going to make my life better, or my team’s life, or our company’s life?
If it’s not, then does it need to be done at all? And/or does it need to be done now?
And so, how we approach organizing our days, organizing our life, ensuring that we’re spending the right time on the right things in the right order is all part of being offensive.
One of the metaphors I like to use is that we want to be the subject and not the object of our life’s story.
And for the life story to unfold the way we want it to, then we’ve got to be the author and the subject. That makes sense?
We are the subject, but we’re writing the script and we know how each chapter ends. And we’ve got a good vision for how the book unfolds even though we don’t know the specifics in detail.
But we know the end is going to be good, because we can visualize it. We see what that looks like.
And so, along the way, we’re writing the script.
I teach self-defense on the pointy edge of the sphere of SEALFIT. You have to work your way to get there because it tends to be very aggressive, the spirit of fighting. And it isn’t meant to inoculate against failure in any type of altercation, but it has a strong purpose.
The awareness keeps you away from the fight.
Let’s say you get ambushed or something, then you need to know how to handle yourself. And it’s a very, very offensive mind.
We eradicate a defensive verbology. We don’t talk or teach blocking or retreating; it’s just full-on attack and we’re attacking targets that are vulnerable.
And the whole idea is to stay one to two steps in front of your attacker, in a business context, one to two steps in front of your competition, and to ensure that your actions are calling them to react.
And so, by taking actions that are going to be surprising, are going to be faster than other people, are going to be unique and unconventional, then it’s causing those around us who are on the periphery maybe trying to slow us down or to get in the way of our goals, it causes them to react and that slows them down.
We used a mental model called the OODA loop which was developed by a fighter pilot in Air Force named John Boyd. And the OODA loop is an acronym.
It’s observe. And so in a context of a fight, observe your relationship with the enemy. Then, orient yourself to it. Make a decision, that’s the D. And then, act.
And the idea is to tighten up your OODA loop. Make it really fast.
You are always observing, orienting, deciding, acting, observing, orienting, deciding, acting.
And then, when you act, you act with something that’s going to surprise and unbalance your enemy so that their OODA loop either get severed or expands.
So because you all of sudden did something surprising, now their observation causes them to stop and pause. And their orientation to that now gets confused, because they were oriented to you being over here and all of a sudden you’re over here.
Then their decision process gets slowed down and their actions are weaker.
And so, you’re tightening yours up and you’re moving fast, and you just blaze right by them.
I think this is one of the reasons why it’s estimated that 40% of Fortune 500 companies are gone within the next three years. And companies like Google’s—probably not the best example, but—Indiegogo, and in some of these new tech companies that are growing up with a team of 10 people.
Airbnb is another great example. 10 people creating a billion-dollar market cap company in two to three years. Unheard of, unprecedented.
It’s because their OODA loop is really tight, because they’ve leveraged this exponential technologies of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.
And you know what I mean, 3D printing and all this crazy stuff. And that’s the way of the future.
I think organizations and leaders need to start thinking like that.
Abel: I wasn’t planning to talk about this at all, but I think it really is relevant to the rest of the conversation.
Can I ask you why you have Google Glass?
I got Google Glass because I wanted to experience where Google was going with this technology.
I didn’t know if I had a use for it, and admittedly it was an expensive decision, it costs $1,700 bucks. And I was really excited when I got them, and I played around with them.
Like the conversation we had earlier, it felt like an incomplete solution. Like, it’s very cool, it’s getting somewhere, but beyond me wearing them on the SEALFIT grinder and videotaping a SEALFIT workout from a first person’s perspective, that was kind of a cool use, and then I can kind of touch it and upload it to Facebook.
I think it’s the same reason you got the Galaxy Tab. It’s to always see and stay on the cutting edge and to help get inside the heads of the developers. Get inside of the thought leaders of those companies, and to see where they’re going.
Because you know if a device has finally made it to market, well, they’re already working on the two-year out plan. You know what I mean?
It’s part of the way that I’ve trained my mind to think is to look for trends and to be on the cutting edge of that, so that I can percolate that back into my business and into my thinking.
Google Glass is a trend. I think what Google’s doing with robotics and some of their goals is going to make them a dominant player. I think where they’re going is a whole different place than where they’ve been.
Abel: I would agree with that, and that’s a very similar reason as to why I got Google Glass and a couple of other gadgets.
I often get those things, because we do develop software and apps and other cutting-edge things, but even more than that, it’s an offensive strategy to see where the world is going.
If we want to tie it back to nutrition and training, it’s like, you don’t really find me on this show arguing with people about Weight Watchers and whether it works or not, because that’s so irrelevant to the future, I believe.
Let’s just say real food works like real nutrition works, effective high-intensity training works.
But what’s going to happen in the years to come is something that you really need to pay attention to if you want to be on that cutting edge, and kind of ride that wave of exponential growth like you’re talking about.
Whether it relates to fitness, nutrition, business, personal development, technology, or really anything else. And one of the cool things about your book is that it really works all those things into it.
Simple Practices for Success
Abel: One of my favorite parts actually was near the back of the book. Your weekly training plan is something that’s super cool.
Mark, could you just walk us through what your typical day or a typical week looks like?
Before I do that, I want to just add one final comment about exponential technologies and where we’re going.
All the technologies in the world, they’re going to make our lives either much more simpler and more effective, or they’re just going to confuse the @*%# out of people and they’re going to be devices that sit on the shelf.
The reality is, you upgrade yourself as technology gets upgraded, and there’s no quick fix.
I have a problem with the hacking community. Not the software hacking community, but those who think you can just biohack or create all those shortcut development.
Now, there are certain things you can do to quickly accelerate your growth, but ultimately, it requires a commitment and a discipline and a long-term orientation to it.
You can’t take a pill to make yourself smarter like in that movie.
Abel: Limitless, yeah.
Exactly. It was awesome, I love that idea. If I can have a pill that would make you mentally tough like a Navy SEAL.
Abel: I’ve tried those pills, it’s not like that.
They don’t work.
So anyways, the weekly training plan is really the integrated training that I offer throughout the book, and I show how I build it into my life.
One of the sayings I have is “I eat my own dog food,” and we here at the SEALFIT training center, we eat our own dog food. We do what works, we discard what doesn’t, and we only offer that which is working for us.
If someone came along and said, “Hey, this is really working for me,” I will test it out and if it’s better than what I’m doing, guess what? That gets inserted, the other thing gets ejected.
So this really is a living philosophy.
There’s a few components to it. I mentioned the five critical pillars, the five intelligences that I try to develop in my trainees.
Physical prowess, physical development which includes eating well and moving functionally, and having a high degree of physical preparedness and physical health.
That in and of itself is a topic of another book. Mental development, that’s the whole, where I started with my Unbeatable Mind program.
So, how do we access the full capacity of our human mind?
We’ve got to begin with thinking, or realizing that our mind is more than just our critical thinking faculty.
We need to learn how to un-think. @markdivine Click To Tweet
And there’s a lot of ways we can learn to tap into deeper layers of our mind.
Emotional intelligence, intuitive intelligence and subconscious thinking and creativity. Things that you naturally do if you start to get into creative arts and those things. How do we train that? So that’s one thing I try to tap into.
I alluded to these already, but emotional resiliency, control, intuitive depth and awareness, and then the last is your spirit as it makes sense to you.
Of course, connecting to a higher power and having that expression is important. But for me, I’m also talking about your willpower, your non-quitting spirit, that part of you that is fired up.
You challenge yourself when you make deep commitments.
So I’ve built drills and practices that include things I’ve drawn from yoga, the martial arts, different things that I’ve been doing for years, and then I brought them together.
Like I say, I’ve taken the “f-u” out of Kung-fu.
So, they’re really simple and they work for everybody. What I’ve done is now shown how you don’t have to quit your job and do this training, because there are three primary training periods in the day.
One is when you wake up, and I have a morning routine that I recommend. I call it the morning ritual.
That includes some breathing exercises, some somatic movement. I recommend yoga, but they’re real simple drills.
You’ll get 90% of the benefits of yoga with five minutes of practice.
And then some visualization and connecting in with what I call your three Ps: Your purpose, you passion, and your principles. Everyday, ground yourself in that.
There’s a few other components. It’s a very powerful training.
And then it’s your physical training, however that’s going to play out with your weekly strategy. Whether you do Crossfit, or SEALFIT, or just go to the gym, or run, walk, bike, swim.
You build your training plan. You make sure you stick to that physical training.
Then how we approach the physical training is part of the training. So instead of just going out for a bike ride, we go out for a bike ride and we use it to develop our awareness.
We use it to develop our deep breathing, and some layers of skills into things that we’re already doing.
And same throughout the day. If you’re a corporate executive and you go to the office, you practice the box breathing drill on your way to the office, which is going to completely set the ground or the stage for a stress-free day.
You do practice positivity, “What dog am I feeding?” drills. You visualize yourself dominating everything that’s happening during the day. Your board meetings, your sales meetings, so that’s done in progress as you go through your day.
You’re working in your mind on yourself while you’re working in the business on the business.
Another great chunk of time to work on training is the lunch hour. When everyone else is off having a sit down lunch, that’s a great time to do some yoga, or do some of the drills that I recommend in the book.
Or, to get some really focused work done on this type of work. I use it for both purposes, but rarely will I go out to lunch and subject myself to that time, unless there’s a good reason for it—like, with my wife or with business meetings.
In the afternoon, let’s say your brain can really focus when you’re focusing the right way, and we talked about this earlier, not just replying to emails.
A typical scenario is that your productivity has been cut to 20% or 30% of the day because of all these distractions and surfing the net and whatnot.
But if you train your mind to really focus, you really want to focus in blocks of, let’s say an hour, and then give your mind a break to recover.
Let’s say you’ve done some training from 12:00 to 1:00 or something. Now you’re really going to focus, so focus for an hour.
Then take a five-minute break at 2:00, take a brisk walk or do some box breathing, or do a quick yoga drill. Do something that’s going to affect you, rather than just getting a cup of coffee.
It’s going to affect you in a dramatic and positive way, and I call those resets.
You have these moments to reset yourself psychologically, physiologically, and to ensure that you’re positive and performance-oriented and you’re supercharged.
And then you get back into your focus again.
Well, two or three hours of real focus time is good. You can get a tremendous amount done. And then you’re going to want to take a longer break after three.
Around 4:00 o’clock, I take a little bit longer spot break where I’ll do some of the drills that I recommended here.
And then in the evenings, there’s time during dinner. If I go home and let’s say you have a family. Well, that’s time to practice some of the skills with your family. The most important is to practice awareness and your listening skills.
I call that an authentic listening exercise. Simple things, like just making sure the TV is off or completely out of your house, and that you’re having conversations around things that are important to your family.
Again, so simple but you’re developing yourself and your family as a team when we take those steps.
And then the last block is in the evening before you go to bed. I have a evening ritual which is the bookend to the morning ritual.
That’s where we do a recapitulation of the day and we find the silver lining for everything that happened which we weren’t really happy with.
We celebrate mentally those things we were happy with, and then we do a brief visualization for how we want our day tomorrow to go, and then any other intentions or affirmations for the night.
And guess what? You’ll sleep like a baby, and you clear the ground of anything that was unpleasant during the day.
The idea there is we want to close off the day without any regrets, without any negative baggage trailing us into sleep where our subconscious mind is then going to process it in our dream state. And we’re going to get a full, really recuperative night’s sleep.
That’s it, and that’s what I outlined in the training plan.
Now everyone’s going to have a different training plan based upon the realities of their life. How functionally fit they are, what their life situation is.
People say, “Mark, how do I fit this in?”
And the point is, you fit it in to what you’re already doing with very few additional time chunks, morning and evening being the most dominant.
But the rest of it’s just moving this and moving that and adding stuff into the way you go about your life. And it’s extremely effective.
We’ve had people, several thousand people go through my Unbeatable Mind training which is really the foundation for what I wrote in The Way of the SEAL, and really significant breakthroughs, very quickly. Literally massive breakthroughs.
For people who came to it with more severe problems like serious depression, literally getting back on track and being motivated and curing that.
It’s been very humbling actually to see the impact of this integrated training. I call it integrated human performance, where and when we integrate physically, mentally, emotionally, and we’re training at those levels and spiritually.
Then our growth tends to accelerate. Especially when you’re adding a dose of challenge to the mix.
Abel: Right. And just to those people out there who are saying, “Well, wouldn’t it be nice if I had time enough to meditate and do yoga and exercise for two hours a day, and have dinner with the family and do all that other stuff.”
Let’s just reiterate the fact that you’re not a slouch, you have been a Navy SEAL for a long time, you’ve trained an enormous amount of Navy SEALs as well as professionals and athletes and everyone else.
You’ve built a half dozen multi-million dollar companies, you were CPA for a while, you have your MBA. It’s crazy the amount of stuff that you’ve been able to achieve, not despite the fact that you do yoga and meditation, and all the rest of it and keep your body fit. But because of that, because you make time to do that.
That’s exactly right. It’s because of that, it’s allowed me to refine my mind to be able to focus on the right things, to know what those right things are, then to be able to focus on them with laser precision until they’re done.
And the point is that if you don’t do that, you’ll keep getting the results that you’re getting and you’ll keep getting overwhelmed with all these time commitments and all this stuff that you have, but again I think that’s very old school.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed with commitments. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the length of your workday.
I was a CPA with Coopers and Lybrand and Arthur Andersen, 12-hour days were light. That was the expectation. But could I have gotten my job done in 6 of those hours? You bet I could have, the other six were complete and utter waste of time.
In this new economy, we need to focus on just the critical important things, outsource, delegate, get rid of everything else.
And guess what? All of a sudden you have time for these other things that are going to make life better, are going to keep you on the edge. That’s the integrated development for proper nutrition, taking care of your fundamental needs nutritionally, taking care of your fundamental, functional health, fitness and movement needs.
Making sure you’re not going to break, because if you break, if your body breaks down then you’re no good to anybody.
Spending an hour three to four times a week to make sure your body’s going to perform optimally is a great investment, it’s a tremendous investment. And it makes you feel good and you think better and all that other core life things.
Taking time to learn how to think better, to improve the quality of your thinking, to learn how to tap into your subconscious, to route out behaviors and belief systems that are not serving you and that are torpedoing your success. That’s got to be trained for.
It takes some time, doesn’t have to be hard but it’s the little baby steps everyday.
Intuition is another frontier. Cultivating your instinct and intuition, and broadening your sphere of awareness, both internal and external, have a profound impact on how you approach others and approach business problems or challenges.
That can be trained, and so can willpower the non-quitting spirit. This is part of creating the human being of the future using technologies that have been around for thousands of years.
Abel: Now I know why they call you a cyborg.
Exactly. And if I could figure out how not to get a headache by looking at the little corner of that Google Glass, I’d be all over it.
Abel: We’re almost out of time, but I would love for you to touch upon one more thing.
You talked about how you don’t want to break down, you don’t want to get to that breaking point, but it seems like what you do with a lot of your Kokoro training and SEAL training and the rest of it, is you break people down.
Can you reconcile that idea for us?
Sure. Those training events are what I call crucible experiences. And if someone comes to my Kokoro camp I’m going to put them through 50 hours of non-stop training.
It’s serious training. We’re not sitting around singing Kumbaya and doing skits. We are doing hardcore Navy SEAL style training for 50 hours straight, no sleep, in the ocean a good chunk of the time, wet and sandy, cold, miserable, and it’s hard.
But is it effective? Do people have extraordinary breakthroughs from it?
Yes, because it creates a new normal for what you are capable of physically, mentally and emotionally.
That’s a benchmark for 20x. It’s a benchmark where you prove to yourself that you’re capable of 20 times more.
Everything after that event is easier. Every challenge you face is easier.
I’ve had SEALs come back who went through my training and say, “You know what, Kokoro camp was harder than SEAL Hell Week.”
Yeah, they say that because it was the first time they experienced that level of intensity and duration of training. So by the time I got to the Hell Week I was expecting it, I was used to it and it was easier.
Not to say that if you stack the two of them side-by-side and you went through them simultaneously, Hell Week would probably be harder, but if you do this one first it’s going to make that one easier.
These crucible events and the challenging training are to create new realities for my trainees, new normals of what’s possible.
As you get used to that, then you start to up your load, up your capacity, physically, mentally and emotionally and spiritually.
A lot of people look at my SEALFIT training, they said, “Well, that’s too much volume, it’s too hard.”
And I say, “Well, guess what? A 20-minute interval blast is not enough for me.”
I enjoy the training, there’s a lot that goes on in a two-hour training with your team, and the growth that comes from that is enormous and it’s more than just the physical.
We’re training at all levels, especially when you’re training with the team.
What we find, when it gets easier and you overcome these barriers and you hit these milestones, then you start to really enjoy it and that’s we call “embracing the suck.”
Embracing the suck is an attitude of learning to lean into the hard and then learning to find pleasure in it.
The little shift from pain to pleasure, because you know that what you do today is going to allow you to do tomorrow what others won’t or can’t.
Abel: You’re stronger on the other end.
Right. You’re much stronger and it’s an upward spiral of strength and mental toughness and performance.
And then you just start to leave other people behind. And I say that not in an arrogance sense, but it starts to feel really good that you’re able to accomplish so much more. That gives you confidence, courage, your strength and your discipline, which is a character trait.
You’re developing character traits that serve you for the rest of your life.
I look at this type of training as a lifetime pursuit. It’s a lifestyle.
We’re not training for an event or a sporting game or we’re not eating well just to lose weight.
I mean, this is a lifestyle that is going to have you moving toward what I call self mastery.
You’re mastering yourself so that you can be a better person. You can serve your teams and communities and the world and ultimately fulfill your purpose in life, whatever that might be.
Where to Find Mark Divine
Abel: I love it. We’re out of time Mark, but before we go, why don’t you tell folks where they can find you and your work, as well as your book.
Well, probably, the sexiest place to check things out is SEALFIT.com. There’s a lot of cool videos. It’s a really fun website.
If you’re interested in the training that is in the book, The Way of the SEAL, then Unbeatablemind.com is the original training program I put together several years ago for that. It’s really, really cool. I also have another book out called 8 Weeks to SEALFIT.
Abel: Killer. You’re not a hard man to find. I don’t say this often but I really do highly recommend Mark’s work, his books, his training. Pretty much everything he does is right on point.
His name is Mark Divine. You can follow SEALFit on Instagram and Twitter @SEALFIT, and you can follow Mark on Twitter @MarkDivine. This book is called The Way of the SEAL and there are other ones as well. Mark, thank you so much for coming back onto the show. It’s always a pleasure.
Thank you very much, Abel. It’s been a blast.
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