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.
This month, she released an updated version of the book, updated with new research, stories, and experiences.
If you’re an introvert, you don’t have to pretend to be an extrovert to succeed. You don’t need to mimic extroverts either. Learn from Jennifer’s extensive experience and adopt her practiced techniques that can make all the difference. Whether it’s dealing with an interrupting, extroverted boss or learning to lead a project team, you can tap the quiet strength inside.
“With the great problems our organizations face today, we are surely losing out by not tapping into more than half of our population and acknowledging the many gifts of introversion.” -Jennifer B. Kahnweiler
I have done my own research through speaking and coaching around the world. It has been enlightening to hear the dialogue about introverts and introverted leadership surface across many industries and organizations where there was bias.
Academic research still appears to be in its infancy, and the studies that I have seen often have very small samples. However, professor and author Adam Grant, Francesca Gino, and David A. Hoffman did research showing that introverted leaders make the best managers for extroverts because they listen. Another study found that introverts’ contributions are more appreciated because they exceed the low expectations of people who believe that introverts are withdrawn or may be too anxious to live up to their potential. I am seeing more studies about the brains of introverts getting published and am very pleased to see all of this activity happening.
“Please kindly go away, I’m introverting.” -Beth Buelow
Would you share just one example of a challenge, or significant barrier, introverted leaders face?
An emphasis on teams is very draining for introverted leaders. When brainstorming happens in meetings and conference calls, the ideas of quieter contributors may never surface. Extroverts, who get their energy from connecting with others, tend to think aloud and thus will often be the first to offer ideas and populate the white board at meetings. It’s not unusual for them to interject themselves into discussions as new thoughts come to mind. Introverts, on the other hand, are more reflective by nature. They may get interrupted or be less likely to contribute thoughts in real time. Instead, they’re apt to come up with ideas on their own after the meeting is over.
“Introverts crave meaning so party chitchat feels like sandpaper to our psyche.” –Diane Cameron
What is the 4 P’s Process and how did you develop it?
The 4 P’s Process is an easy-to-remember road map that builds on research done with thousands of introverted leaders. The 4 steps are preparation, presence, push and practice, and they can apply to almost any leadership scenario. Preparation is the first step and plays to the introverted leader’s sweet spot by doing what comes naturally. Presence, the second step, refers to being present in a way that allows you to be with people. You are not thinking of what you could have done differently or worrying about the future outcome. Push, the third step, puts you out of your comfort zone, and Practice, the fourth step, helps you to seize opportunities to practice new behaviors.
“You may think I’m small, but I have a universe inside my mind.” -Yoko Ono
Let’s talk about meetings because it comes up so often in the book and in conversations about introverted leaders. What tips do you give an introvert who says that she cannot get her thoughts out before the extrovert interrupts?
Keep in mind that extroverts typically don’t mind being interrupted because that is often their speech pattern. Extroverts are also usually unaware that they are dominating the conversation, until they are stopped.
She should try these assertive tools to handle extroverts:
1) Use a physical gesture like raising her palm to grab the interrupter’s attention
2) Say in a firm voice that she would like to finish her thoughts. Note: She might want to practice this aloud before her next meeting to get her game voice on.
3) Avoid smiling and nodding when they are interrupting her. That just encourages the person to keep talking.
3) Grab an ally before the meeting who can step in and tell the group they want to hear from you.
How to Manage Up
You have included a unique section in the book on “Managing Up.” Have you noticed this to be a particular need for introverts? What one takeaway would you share from this section?
Yes. Introverted leaders don’t typically initiate conversations with their managers. Because they often fly under the radar and aren’t the “squeaky wheel,” their accomplishments may get overlooked. This is one reason it is important for them to open up the communication channel with their managers. Another is to understand where they fit into their organization’s mission and vision, especially as roles and goals change.
One takeaway? Be willing to ask your boss for what you need including their style preferences in order to succeed. For instance, as an introvert, explain that you need time to prepare and that your boss will get better quality work out of you if you can prepare questions and points ahead of time. The more you share about yourself, the more they will be able to help you.
You wrote the first edition to this book long before introversion was a popular topic. Are there any misconceptions that you find continue year after year?
I smile when I think about the articles I have been interviewed for about how introverts love, date, spend, money, plan weddings, etc. Though there is truth in these pieces, they also tend to make neat generalizations about introverts and extroverts. In actuality, we all have both introvert and extrovert qualities within us. Our behaviors are not as drastically different as these posts tend to position them.
There are still misconceptions about introverts: Introverts: can’t lead, are shy, aren’t good at public speaking and they don’t like people. And we often think introverts are bored or angry when they don’t show much on their faces.
Fortunately, with the “rise of the introverts,” we are seeing these stereotypes erode.
Misconceptions about introverts: can’t lead, are shy, aren’t good at public speaking and they don’t like people.
When Leading Beyond the Ego crossed my desk, I couldn’t wait to see the author’s take on the subject. The lead author, John Knights, is the Chairman of LeaderShape Global and the book is the result of twenty years of research and experience supporting leaders in their personal and professional development. It builds on the importance of emotional intelligence as a foundation to demonstrate how the best leaders in the 21stcentury will lead beyond their ego and bring their values and purpose to full consciousness.
I recently spoke with John about his leadership researching and findings.
Become a Transpersonal Leader
For those who haven’t read your new book, tell us what is “Transpersonal Leadership”?
Transpersonal Leadership is an ongoing journey that embraces life-long development to become increasingly emotionally and spiritually intelligent. The transpersonal leader is robust and radical yet caring, authentic and ethical, seeking sustainable and continued performance enhancement for the organization they are involved in leading. Further a transpersonal leader can be at any level in an organization. And finally, they operate beyond their ego by bringing their values and decision-making processes to full-consciousness.
What is the value of neuroscience and how does it relate to leadership?
As we are seeing in the 21st century, neuroscience research helps us to understand how our brain works and how we can learn to rewire our own brains to behave differently. This is particularly important for leaders as, every time we allow our emotions to hijack us or to cause our true values to be ignored, we make mistakes which are amplified because these can impact many other people. We are born with brains that are fundamentally the same as in the stone-age, designed to focus on survival. Our brains are then rewired through our lives depending on our circumstances and experiences, basically serendipitously. As leaders we can learn to rewire our brains, not to change our personality but to manage it more effectively. We can become more aware, learn to manage our emotions more effectively, become more fully-conscious of our values, and learn to improve our judgement and decision-making – all by understanding how our brain works and proactively working on our behaviors through practice.
Copyright LeaderShapeGlobal. Used by Permission.
“Neuroscience provides ways to raise our emotional awareness and bring our values to full consciousness.” -John Knights
You walk into class and take your seat in a large lecture hall. It’s only the second week of law school and your senses remain on heightened alert. You’ve been warned about this particular class. The professor is known as tough. He sees his role as weeding out the students who are smart but cannot make it in the courtroom. Fail his class and you’re out.
Perhaps even more importantly, he runs the class like a courtroom. He will question you as if you were an attorney fighting for your client’s life. You watched what he did to one student in the last class, reducing the student to an emotional mess.
You’re determined not to show weakness. You’ve prepared and studied like never before.
Whether you want to motivate yourself or others, there are motivators at the core of every action. Knowing what is driving you and others is critically important.
Recently, I saw Greg McEvilly’s talk on motivation. Greg suggests that fear and love are the twin drivers of most actions. Greg is the CEO of KAMMOK, a company that sells outdoor equipment specializing in hammocks. In graduate school, he began to ask questions about motivation and behavior. Why is it that people behave the way they do? Even more important, Greg studied his own actions and thought about the definition of the words love and fear.
Leaders must regularly reach inside and draw courage to accomplish difficult goals. Leadership is a daily practice to become your best self and help others along the way.
So explains Shelly Francis in her new book, The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity. Shelly has plenty of experience in her methods having served as the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since 2012. The Center has over 5,000 participants in their programs each year.
I recently asked Shelly to share her views on courage and leadership.
“People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day to day. These decisions take courage.” -Rollo May
You talk about different types of courage. Why is courage at work so vitally important?
The five types of courage I describe include physical, moral, social, creative, and collective courage. The first four were named by psychologist Rollo May in his 1974 book, The Courage to Create. Even without more detail, I bet you can begin to imagine a workplace situation calling for each type of courage.
So many hours of our days are spent in the workplace—and we want those hours to matter, and we want to find meaning and purpose in our work. That trend manifests itself in each of the types of courage described in the book.
It takes physical courage to set healthy boundaries and practices for sustaining your energy rather than succumbing to burnout and overwork. In doing so, though, you risk being seen as weak or uncommitted.
It takes moral courage to speak truth to power, like we’re seeing with people sharing their stories of sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace, or reporting unfair business practices. But again, you risk losing your job, your privacy, retaliation, and so on.
It takes social courage to show up with your whole self, to risk sharing your best ideas, to risk being wrong, to be vulnerable and honest about acknowledging your limitations, or to risk asking for help (like you did in a recent blog, Skip).
It takes courage to be innovative in the commonly used sense of “creative,” the courage to risk and fail and try again. But what about the courage to create a culture where people can truly flourish? Yet again, to go against the status quo and try new ways of “being and doing” at work can be risky.
Collective courage is what we need most—people working together with integrity, commitment, and a capacity to cross lines of difference. Without such courage, we risk complex, volatile issues getting even worse. We risk missing a chance to make things better.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.