How to Set and Attain Your Goals
Mark Divine retired as a commander in the US Navy where he had served as a SEAL for 20 years. He holds an MBA from NYU and is the founder of SEALTFIT, NavySeals.com, and U.S. CrossFit. His latest book is The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed.
Mark, it’s great to have a chance to talk with you as everyone is thinking about New Year’s resolutions: how to make them, but more importantly, how to keep them. Your book is a blueprint for success and is packed with principles, ideas, methods, and specific actions all designed to change your life. We can’t cover even a fraction of them, but I want to ask you about just a few.
Let’s start with visualization. You put it this way: “Visualize Powerfully.” How do you personally visualize your goals and your success?
I learned in the SEALs the importance of winning the mission (goal) in my mind before stepping off the ramp into the dark of the night.
What this means for me is a three step process:
Go after well defined targets
First, I ensure that the targets I go after are the right targets and are super well defined so I don’t waste valuable time and energy chasing impossible dreams or improbable projects. In the past I often had poorly defined new year goals that quickly fell by the wayside. That happened because they were the wrong targets, or poorly defined to begin with. I outline a powerful process for preventing this and selecting the right targets in my book.
Imagine what victory looks like
Second, I imagine what victory looks like for my target / goal. I see it as clearly and with as much detail as possible in my mind’s eye. In fact I have built an imaginary training space I call my ‘Mind Gym’ where I do this inner work. In the gym I see the outcomes of the goal, see myself achieving it and what my life is like after. I see myself as the type of person who CAN achieve the goal and possessing all the skills and knowledge necessary to crush it.
Review your goals daily
Third, I visit my mind gym daily to review the visualization while tackling the tasks and preliminary steps toward accomplishing the goal. This strengthens the image and eventually leads to greater confidence and certainty of mission success.
“Decisiveness is a must for anyone seeking to gain momentum toward their critical targets.” –Mark Divine
Breathe for Success
You talk about the importance of breathing in your book. Why is it so important and would you share one of your breathing exercises?
The Benefits of Deep Breathing
In a firefight or any intense situation, I learned to perform better by controlling my physiology and psychology. The key was learning how to breathe more powerfully. It is the first and most important of what I call the ‘big four of mental toughness’ skills. Deep diaphragmatic breathing, through the nose, brings two immediate and critical benefits for mission success:
First, It is a stress release mechanism because it stimulates the automatic nervous system’s calming function. We are riddled with stressors coming at us from all angles, many self-imposed, and this breathing technique slows down our heart rate, calms our body and allows us to get back in control of our physiology so we can direct it towards performance.
Second, it centers us by narrowing the range of our critical mind’s thought patterns. The concentration required to breathe deeply means you are now focusing on health and stress release. This triggers positive feelings and thoughts, and the mind slows down so we can direct it towards the important tasks leading to success.
The training technique is simple, called the ‘Three part breath.’ Begin by exhaling all the air from your lungs, then inhale deep into your belly . . . your belly will move out. When the lower part of your lungs are full (your belly is ‘full’), then activate your diaphragm to fill the middle of your lungs. When that is full, then use your upper chest to fill the top of the lungs. The exhale is then done in reverse order, and the whole breath cycle should be a five count inhale and five count exhale. Over time you will do this naturally and unconsciously in one step, versus three steps. It will help you stay positively focused on your important goals in 2014 AND have great benefit for your overall health and peace of mind.
The Secret to Performance
That’s the secret to performance: conviction. The right note played tentatively still misses its mark, but play boldly and no one will question you. – Rachel Hartman, Seraphina
Dan never failed to astonish me.
If he had a class project due at 8:00 a.m. but had yet to start it, he would say, “Oh, I’ll just go talk to the professor. He’ll understand.”
There was no hesitation in his voice. He never wavered in his absolute belief that he would be granted an extension. And without exception, he always was.
Sometimes he probably deserved an extension. Mostly, he didn’t. But he could charm, cajole, and coerce every professor he ever needed to.
My coworker Craig had the same talent. He could enter a conversation with people vehemently opposed to his political views, but by the end of the discussion they would usually be nodding their heads as they reconsidered their stance. More than once, I heard, “I don’t know why, but if you ran for office, I’d vote for you.”
I have stood on the sidelines and watched these maestros conduct their magic. Occasionally, they would have to poke me to make me hide my astonishment, lest I let the cat out of the bag. You could say they were masters of manipulation, and that would be true in some instances. But most of the time, my two charismatic friends simply persuaded and influenced their listeners.
It helped if they knew what they were talking about, but I’ve seen them plunge into situations for which they had no preparation and come out with the upper hand. The strength of their magic did not come from their competence of the subject matter—it came from their conviction that, whatever the issue, they were right.
Confidence Trumps Competence
I am fascinated with people like Dan and Craig because their approach is so alien to me.
By my nature, I focus on facts and reason. My instinctive approach to selling, communication, and influencing used to be to present the facts in logical order, and then allow the other person to draw their own conclusions. From one point of view, I sold competence.
While that may seem an ethical and transparent approach to business, it made for a lousy living.
Competence matters. Sincerity and honesty matter. Ethics are a cornerstone of long-term success. These things are important. But when it comes to working, selling, and communicating—that is, compelling other people to act—competence and such have never been enough to bring real success.
My mistake was in leaving out the key ingredient that came so naturally to my cohorts: confidence.
Sadly, I remember the time I cost Craig (and our company) a major client. If we had landed them, the client would have been our biggest by far. The recurring revenue from the contract would lift our company from being a marginal player to an “up and coming” enterprise.
Craig’s discussions with the client had gone well. By the end of the big meeting, the client showed all the signs of having made their choice. Things seemed sure.
The next week, I was sent in to do a follow-up meeting—really, a meet-and-greet with the head honchos. I was nervous about taking on the client, though. It would mean hiring more people, learning some new tools, and significantly changing how we operated.
But the truth was that the client intimidated me.
Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions.”
If you want to be more creative, get around creative people. If you want to spark innovation, immerse yourself in the latest technologies. If you want to envision the future, tune in to voices shaping tomorrow.
This week, I’m attending the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, dunked in innovation, creativity and the future. I am enjoying the opportunity to experience the latest technologies. I’m always amazed at the benefits from attending this conference, including the opportunity to meet with content creators, technologists, thought leaders, and technology executives. The range of people I was able to see this year ranged from librarians to publishers to university researchers.
There are literally thousands of new things to see, so my brief overview will be a random selection. With so many interests and things to share, I set a timer to write this post. When it rings, I will stop. And I will try to feature a few things you may not see in the mainstream media. Here we go:
For those of us with chronic insomnia or sleep problems, there are a number of new apps and devices to help. One that intrigues me is Beddit. Beddit doesn’t require you to wear a device at night (which for me makes my sleep even worse). Instead, you place a sensor under your bed sheet, and it connects wirelessly to your device. It tracks sleep quality, heart rate, breathing, snoring and bedroom noise. It then provides personal coaching to improve your sleep.
The best shortcut to being more creative: get around creative people. -Skip Prichard
In the “everything seems to be connected” category, Kolibree introduces the world’s first connected toothbrush. You can watch your brushing habits progress.
If you wear glasses, look out for a car wash for your glasses. At $1, it had the “theatre factor” and drew a crowd. My glasses were clean, dry and sanitized in no time. Look for these showing up in high-traffic areas or near the beach where everyone wears glasses.
Walking by Panasonic to see the new 4K Toughpad, I noticed a range of beauty products. At CES, you find what you are not looking for and what you don’t expect.
Who can possibly remember all of the passwords required in today’s digital age? Now myIDkey uses biometric technology to authenticate your identity and display your information when you need it. All safely protected with military grade encryption.
And to keep your home secure, Okidokeys allows you to unlock doors with any mobile phone or a smart wristband. Most of us are never out of reach of our mobile phone, making lost keys a thing of the past.
FITNESS AND MEDICAL:
Are you forgetful? Have an aging parent? The Smart Pill Box from imedipac solves these problems. It even allows alerts to family and relatives.
Numerous new fitness applications are on display everywhere. Improve your golf or tennis game with a biometric analysis of your swing. The new devices go far beyond measuring how many steps you take in a day and now monitor blood pressure, blood sugar, calculating carb intake, maximizing your fitness performance, and even detecting concussions. Perhaps you want to wear a camera to take your coach into the action.