Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed

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.

 

“The best leaders keep their minds positively focused.” –Mark Divine

 

Visualize Powerfully

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:wayofseal_cov

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.

3 Ways to Achieve Your Goals

Happy New Year!

The other day I posted the best book covers of 2013.  The artists and designers who create book jackets deserve recognition for the outstanding job they do.  Whether we realize it or not, the cover is often responsible for drawing us in.

Kicking off 2014, I am thinking about the goals I have for the year.  The book covers offer a metaphor for our goal-setting process.

Glancing at a book cover, we judge the content and the author.  When strangers look at us, like it or not, they often judge us in the same way.  They take a look, and judge on our appearance.  Unfortunately, this is common before anyone even understands our story.

MOST NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOCUS ON THE COVER

Is your goal this year to lose weight? Stay on that diet?  Exercise more?  Eat healthier?  Like a book cover, we often focus on how the world sees us by focusing on our physical appearance.  We don’t stop there.  We also think about our reputation.  Reputation defender services now help combat unwanted or unfair reviews online.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -Lao Tzu

I can hear some of you saying, “Wait.  Skip, it’s the inside that matters!”  Some of you may be thinking about the verse in Samuel: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

That’s true.

I love what Jim Rohn said about that thought.  He said, “Work on the outside for people.  Work on the inside for God.”

NEW YEAR GOALS

If your life was a book, you would want the cover to be an award winner, and you would want the narrative to be superbly written.  Design your goals the same way.

Keep your external goals.  Losing weight may be just what you need.  Regular exercise may just save your life.  Eating more vegetables is always a good idea.  But make sure to add internal goals to your list.

1. Divide your goals into two lists:  the cover and the story.

A COVER goal is anything that is visible.  This list could include such things as quitting smoking, getting a better job or obtaining your ideal weight.  Anything that is seen by other people and the outside world goes in this column.

A STORY goal is what’s on the inside and goes into the second column.  Do you want to be a better friend?  How about being less critical and more positive?  What are your spiritual goals?

9 Steps to End Procrastination

Procrastination is not inherently evil. There may be benefits to procrastination.  Before ending procrastination for good, make sure you understand why you are delaying in the first place.

Why do we procrastinate?

 

No commitment.  You realize after waiting a period of time that you aren’t fully committed to the goal.  Better to know before you spend hours and hours on it, then abandon it.

Bad idea.  It may be that you realize it’s a bad idea or that there is another way to accomplish something.

Too many goals.  Maybe you put it aside in favor of something else or you have competing priorities.

Laziness.  You look at your last week and realize that you have no excuse.  You are just lazy.  A sloth.

Exhaustion.  You are physically and mentally spent doing other things, and you don’t start because your tank is running on empty.

Fear of failure.  By not starting, you don’t finish and therefore reduce your risk of failure.  After all, if you finish, everyone will see the end result and judge it.  Rather than risk that, you never begin.

The Hardest Part is Getting Started

Photo by Captain Kimo on flickr.

This is a guest post by Jeremy Statton. He is an orthopedic surgeon and a writer. He blogs about Living Better Stories. You can follow him on Twitter or download a free copy of his eBook Grace Is.

One of my regrets in life is never having watched a space shuttle launch in person.

Imagine

I try to imagine how it might sound or what it probably feels like. But nothing could compare to witnessing the feat of getting something that big and heavy off the ground, through the atmosphere, and into orbit.

The purpose of a launch is to transfer the shuttle and the astronauts and the items stored on the shuttle into space. They go on a mission designed to accomplish a task. The launch is relatively insignificant when considering the greater purpose.

But have you ever thought about what it takes to get the shuttle off the ground? Have you ever considered what must happen first in order for the greater purpose to be accomplished?

Empty, the shuttle weighs 172,000 pounds. But add in the fuel necessary for liftoff and the weight goes up to 4,400,000 pounds. By weight, 96% of the shuttle exists to get it moving.  After the launch, the first big moment comes when the two white rocket boosters on the side are released. This happens at exactly 124 seconds.

The boosters contain 83% of the fuel needed for the entire mission. The mission might last ten days, but a majority of the fuel is consumed in the first two minutes. We associate a space shuttle mission with a bigger purpose than getting off the ground, but the launch can contain the most difficult obstacles to overcome.

Start

The same can happen for whatever purpose you choose to pursue. The start might be the most difficult part of any project.

How many good ideas have you had that never saw the light of day mainly because you never began?

Move TO your future not AWAY from your past

Photo by Fellowship of the Rich on flickr.

People seem to be motivated by one of two forces.  Either toward or against.

Both can be equally powerful motivators, but one seems to last.

Why are you in motion?

When I interview people for a job, I often ask questions about how the individual made career decisions.  Some job changes were motivated by moving AWAY from something—a bad boss, a negative work environment, low pay.  Other people make a change to move TOWARD something—a new opportunity, the ability to make a bigger impact, a better use of talent.

Though it’s not scientific validation, I’ve found that the people moving TOWARD the new opportunity are more successful, happier, and continue on an upward career path.  These people are energized by the future, by what’s to come, by what’s possible.

Contrast that with the people moving AWAY from a job.  It seems that the very same things that they didn’t like about the one job magically seemed to follow them to the next!

Moving TOWARD is more powerful than moving AWAY.