Think Like a Navy SEAL to Achieve Greatness

navy seal

Think Like a Navy SEAL

This is not your typical career: after graduation, start as a CPA with a prestigious accounting firm, then go back to school at night for an MBA at NYU Stern School of Business, and leave it all behind to become a Navy SEAL. After full-time active duty, show your entrepreneurial side by co-founding Coronado Brewing Company, NavySEALS.com, and then other businesses like SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind.

That’s the unconventional career of Mark Divine.

I love to learn from people with varied experiences, and Mark is in a rare category. Of all the people I’ve met, no one has quite this type of resume.

His book, The Way of the SEAL, caught my attention a few years ago, and he is now re-releasing it in a second edition.

Truth be told, I’d much rather read his book than go through his brutal training program!

I recently caught up with him to talk about his work and his new book.

 

You were already a successful consultant when you decided to join the Navy and become the best as a SEAL. What drove you to make this decision? 

Shortly after starting my job as a CPA and consultant with PriceaterhouseCoopers (I was with Coopers at the time), I began a practice of Zen meditation with a martial arts grandmaster. Though I was a competitive athlete growing up and in college, meditation was new to me, and at 21 years old it had a powerful neuroplastic effect on my mind’s development. What I experienced as a result of extended practice over several years was increasing clarity and ability to see how the choices I had made subconsciously had driven me into this career that I did not feel inspired by. So I began to challenge all of my assumptions and see them as biased. Then I pondered different questions, such as what is my true purpose or calling in life? I found that what I was called to do was serve as a warrior and leader… and the SEALs became my new focus. This experience taught me the powerful truth that we must all align with our calling, or what Buddha called “dharma,” to find true fulfillment in life.

 

Think Like an Elite Warrior

The subtitle of your book is “Think like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed.” A powerful statement. How is our thinking directly tied to leadership?

We are all leaders and followers… leading our family, our corporate tribe or ourselves. Whether we do it well is another issue. To think like an elite warrior means to train your body-mind to be able to excel in an environment that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. All Special Operators become masters in “VUCA” environments, and the business world is becoming a lot like the battlefield of the Spec Ops warrior (albeit less risky). If the corporate and entrepreneurial leader can learn to find clarity amidst the uncertainty and take powerful action in spite of ambiguity, then they will lead and succeed at an elite level.

 

Leadership Tip: Find clarity amidst uncertainty. Take action in spite of ambiguity.

 

Lead from the Front

How to Build an A Team

a team

Build an A Team

Those who aspire to be successful quickly realize that individual performance isn’t usually enough. Only a team of committed individuals can accomplish great things. So a leader’s job turns to finding, selecting, and cultivating an amazing team.

If you wonder whether you are performing at your best, look at your team. My philosophy has always been that, if they are growing, your company will follow.

 

“Successful business leaders prioritize talent-development as a recruitment tool in the same way top athletic coaches do.” -Whitney Johnson

 

One way to tell whether you are growing is to look at where your team falls on the S curve. Based on Whitney Johnson’s proprietary research around disruption, every organization is a collection of individual S – or learning – curves. You build high performing team by optimizing these individual curves, including yours. In her book, Build an A-Team, you will learn how to manage people all along the S-curve and what to do when they reach the top of the curve. As employees are allowed, even required, to surf their individual S-curve waves, disrupting themselves, you will not only be less vulnerable to disruption, you’ll also be a boss people want to work for.

 

“The mind and skill-expanding opportunity motivates great engagement more than money or accolades.” -Whitney Johnson

 

After the release of your last book, Disrupt Yourself, you traveled and met the leaders of many organizations. As you spoke with them, what surprised you most?

Many people feel stuck, like a genie corked in a lamp; if somebody (usually their boss) would just pull that cork, they could make magic. They say, “I’m ready to disrupt myself. How can I persuade my boss to let me?” Or, “How can I get my team to disrupt themselves? How can I get my boss on board with that?” In Build an A Team I answer these questions and address the fact that, in most cases, fear of failure is the cork. We may be the cork in the bottle—our own, and our employees’.

 

“Want to know if you are about to be disrupted? Take the pulse of your workforce.” -Whitney Johnson

 

Be the Boss People Love to Work For

Thank You for Your Support, Kind Words, and Impact

The Book of Mistakes

An Amazing Launch

Three months ago, I released my first book: The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future. Before its publication, I described the experience as a rollercoaster ride with the same mix of emotions ranging from fear to excitement.

 

Would the book be well-received?

Would you be inspired like I hoped?

 

I’m pleased to say that the book took off right away, soaring in its first week to the top 25 list of all nonfiction in the United States. Week three saw it hit the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. Over 100 five-star reviews hit Amazon in week one and many others on Goodreads. It has also hit local lists across the country.

Foreign rights requests started immediately with deals reached quickly in languages ranging from Korean to Spanish and even Ukrainian.

Near to my heart is libraries, and the book is in over 200 libraries across the country.

Thank you for your support of the book and its positive message. Only you have the power to determine if your future mimics your past.

 

“Only you have the power to determine if your future mimics your past.” -Skip Prichard #TheBookofMistakes

 

Humbling Endorsements & Support

It was gratifying to have so many early endorsements from amazingly talented authors, friends, and personal heroes. They are on the cover of the book and on the book’s website. But it is even more gratifying to receive notes from individuals around the world sharing the book’s impact. That’s why I wrote the book. For you!

Here are just a few comments to show you why I’m so encouraged (from people I had not met previously):

  • “Your Book of Mistakes was absolutely the most interesting and thought-provoking book I have ever read.”
  • I have asked my assistant to order 100 copies of the book for my team and expect great conversation on the subject once they enjoy your book. Thanks again for writing a book that will appeal to everyone in every walk of life with lessons of a lifetime!”
  • “I could not put your book down. My whole life is now going to change!” 
  • “One of the best motivational books I have come across.”

These notes are completely unexpected and just amaze me. They are humbling to say the least.

I also want to thank my amazing Book Launch team. They took the book’s message to places I never dreamed of.

 

“Readiness is when your desire is stronger than your distraction.” -Skip Prichard #TheBookofMistakes

 

Media Support

And I want to thank the many publications, radio stations, podcasts, blogs, and websites that have featured the book.

Here are a just a few of them that you may enjoy visiting:

 

Book of Mistakes by Skip Prichard

Get The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating A Successful Future

 

Podcasts:

Create Your Successful Future by Avoiding these Mistakes. Podcast.

The One Mistake We All Make that Hinders Success. Lead X.

Zig Ziglar Podcast. Make Your Future Successful.

Bob Burg’s The Go-Giver Podcast.

Jeff Brown’s Read to Lead Podcast. 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future.

Rory Vaden’s Action Catalyst Podcast. Mistakes Leaders Make.

Kevin Eikenberry’s Remarkable Leadership Podcast. Nine Mistakes People Make. 

 

YouTube:

Youtuber Evan Carmichael interviews Skip Prichard on the 9 Mistakes.

 

Selected Articles:

The Power You Didn’t Know Fiction Can Have On Your Business. Entrepreneur Magazine. May 2018.

How the Best Companies Stay Relevant

shift

How to Stay Relevant

The number one reason for organizational success or failure is the ability to stay relevant. Staying ahead of the continual marketplace changes may seem an impossible task. How do you continually evolve at a pace that keeps you ahead of the curve?

In SHIFT AHEAD: How the Best Companies Stay Relevant in a Fast-Changing World, authors Allen Adamson and Joel Steckel explore why some organizations can continually evolve to meet the times and the marketplace, and why others struggle to keep up. Allen is co-founder and managing partner of Metaforce and brings over thirty years of experience in building iconic brands. Joel is an expert on marketing research and branding. He is currently Vice Dean for Doctoral Education at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

I spoke with Allen about the book and their research.

 

“Focusing too much on the competition can lead to inappropriate shifts. It’s the customer that really counts.” -Adamson and Steckel

 

The Case of Blackberry

You share many examples and case studies about companies that just plain missed some key changes. Some ended up obsolete and others struggled for years. Would you share an example and what went wrong?

One of my favorite examples of “what went wrong” is the story of the rise and fall of Blackberry. For those who may not remember, Blackberry was once the indispensable mobile communication device of choice for heads of corporations, heads of state, and the Hollywood elite. It was an easy, secure and effective device that allowed workers to send and receive emails and phone calls while away from the office. The functionality of its tactile keyboard made typing easy, and it built its initial reputation on the concept of security. This was all before Apple and Android smartphones had taken hold.

The quick answer about why it fell so precipitously is that Blackberry’s inability to shift and move forward was caused by its own sense of invincibility, inward group-think, and general arrogance. With the rise of in popularity of iPhones and Androids, those at the helm saw only what they wanted to see. They considered these new devices not as significant competition, but as toys, a passing trend. They arrogantly laughed off the threat that was materializing in front of them instead of figuring out how to defend against it.  As we all know, not only were these smartphones built for ease of communication on multiple platforms, they were beautiful to look at. They became just too much to resist for even the most security-centric audience of users.

Too-little-too-late is what Blackberry eventually did in response, which was exactly what it shouldn’t have done. It began to chase the market with subpar versions of the competitors’ brilliant models, wrongly assuming that its core customers would follow with them. That did not happen. The producers of Blackberry should have doubled down on what made the product so vital to its initial loyal audience. It should have kept its focus on its point of relevant differentiation in the marketplace – security – and capitalized on it. No brand, product, or organization is invincible, especially when it dismisses the needs of its most loyal audience.

 

Shift Ahead