Today’s guest Mark Divine shares some ideas that will rock your world.
I sure as heck have and in my pursuit of trying to build the most compelling future for me and the people I care about, I’ve come to know this as true.
The interesting thing is that very few people are intentional about training their mind to equip themselves with the mental control and thought patterns it takes to unlock their full potential.
After spending 20 years as a Navy Seal, Mark has mastered instilling this type of mental development on the world’s most elite warriors and brought it mainstream as a best selling author, entrepreneur, and leader.
Today Mark shares some of the key tenets of his philosophy so you too can start to develop an unbeatable mind.
*I use this to stay on top of all the awesome stuff people in my network. I look forward to my daily Newsle email everyday!
Scott: Mark, how’re you doing, man?
Mark Divine: Doing great Scott, how are you?
Scott: I am so excited and you know it’s not everyday that you get to talk to somebody who has trained some of the most elite warriors around; both mentally and physically, built businesses and wrote awesome books that have personally inspired me. So, I just want to first thank you for coming on the show today.
Mark Divine: Yeah, you’re welcome; I’m privileged to be here so, looking forward to it.
Scott: Mark, you have a philosophy called Unbeatable Mind that is just so captivating to me, just from the name you chose; can you talk a little bit about Unbeatable Mind?
Mark Divine: Sure Scott; the philosophy is something that I have been living my life by for the last 10 years or so and I kind of came to it through trial and error. I’ve got a background of course as a Navy SEAL for 20 years and so with that background functional fitness was extremely important and also a lot of mental training that I developed for myself plus also [Inaudible 0:01:08] but then I also got heavily into martial arts; I’ve been a martial artist for about 25 years. So a lot of the training in martial arts I find very useful for developing emotional control and my intuition as well as my spirit and then also yoga. I’ve been involved in yoga through Ashtanga and Vin Yoga and some — a lot of different aspects of yoga for about 15 years.
And so anyways, those have been my influences and through that process, I’ve come to understand that we’re leaving a lot on the table as human beings in terms of our performance and capabilities. And I call this the 20X factor and essentially what I’m saying is that you are capable and you and I and everyone else is capable of at least 20 times more than they think they are at any one time and we can tap into that potential through training. And so I elevate training to the same level as eating, sleeping and hydrating and yet I don’t look at training just as physical training. I actually have a path I call the Five Mountain Training Path and so I look at training as covering five fundamental capacities that we have as human beings and that’s physical, mental, emotional, intuitional and spiritual.
So in a nutshell, the philosophy of Unbeatable Mind is that we’re capable of so much more and we can unlock and tap into that potential through training in an integrated manner on these five mountains of physical mental emotional intuitional and spiritual capacities or intelligences that we all possess as human beings.
Scott: Mark, I love it and I want to dive into those specifically but the first question I have is when did you realize that we have this 20X potential, was there a particular moment?
Mark Divine: Well, there are a couple of moments that stood out to me quite clearly; one is when I was training to be a SEAL way back when — I think it was 1989. Now I had gone from being a CPA MBA and working on Wall Street to deciding that that was a complete misfit and that I wanted to be a SEAL. And I was fortunate enough to be part of a martial arts program back then with a grandmaster, one of these living masters, very rare to come by; his name is Tadashi Nakamura and what he had us dong is hardcore, physical training, sweating on the Dojo floor and beating each other up followed by long periods of sitting in silence in classic Zen meditation. And through that Zen practice, I began to develop visualization routine and so I was kind of combining concentration with visualization and I was just doing it on my own and it seemed to make sense to me. I’d use the visualization [technical difficulty] help calm my mind down and then I would practice the classic Zen.
So anyway, fast-forward to three years later after starting this routine and being in the job of being a CPA and now I’m 24 years old and I start to wake up a little bit because meditation has its effect on you and to realize that I’m completely misaligned in this career and that I wanted to be a Navy SEAL actually. So, I made the choice that I was going to be a SEAL and I kind of shifted my training plan physically to start to do the things I needed to do to SEAL training in BUD/S but I also started to develop myself mentally. Meaning I started to visualize myself and to practice mentally in my mind. And so that was pretty rare, at 24 to be practicing in my mind was new territory for me but I took it on faith.
It worked for my with my martial arts and I figured I’ve got to do everything in my power to make sure I’m not at statistics with the SEALs because the chances of me becoming a SEAL were pretty low. I mean most people don’t make it; I mean out of the thousands who try every year, we only mint about 175 new SEALs a year and for officers, which was, it’s a much smaller percentage. And so it’s like getting into the astronaut program. So I wanted to stack the decks in my favor. And what happened was, the visualization took root after about six to nine months to where I had the sense that it was my destiny to be a SEAL.
But I had already won in my mind and that was powerful and 25 years later, that is one of the things that I teach is that first we must win our mind, it’s super-powerful. The second — your question was what kind of led me to uncover this philosophy that we are capable 20 times more. The second, really powerful event was the actual Hell Week training of the SEALs. Again, happened at a very formative time in my life, 26 years old, now going through SEAL training, probably still 25 by the time I got into BUD/S and the Hell Week training is as you are probably aware, six days long — five days no sleep, around the clock training.
So you are training for hundreds of hours, around the clock, non-stop, hardcore physical training and it’s intense. And what happened for me was I went into it expecting that my body and mind would fall through and I’d just be clinging on for dear life but I wasn’t going to quit. And what I found was that by the third or fourth day I was getting stronger and I had the perception that I was gaining clarity even though I think that was a false perception now but I was getting much stronger and people were quitting around me and because I had done all that mental training and because I had sense of certainty and really understood my why, my purpose for being there and I was totally jazzed to be there in spite of the fatigue and the constant numbing cold, that I actually got stronger and I found myself to be capable of more than anything I could have ever imagined. [technical difficulty] experience.
Scott: Let’s talk about the specific types of visualization that you were doing and what you teach today. Because this is actually a practice that I do myself and it is insanely powerful for changing your belief structures or confidence or conviction even before we actually do something.
Mark Divine: Right.
Scott: Can you dig into that a little bit?
Mark Divine: Sure. Visualizations, that’s one of the things as you are aware, it takes some time and some refining and it really — what it is, we’re learning to use our mind in a new way. I wrote a lot about this in my books; this thing about visualization that’s really cool is that it’s one of those ways that we can tap into our whole mind concept and so in the West we are mostly been taught to use our rational, linear mind to think to solve problems. Cognition; and what I have come to believe represents about 10%-15% of our total thought power and mental power and our entire nervous system is part of our mind, our heart and our bellies are part of our mind structure, our mind exists even outside of our bodies, it’s just a mystery.
And science thinks that the mind is just the brain and if we map the brain then we can recreate the mind. That’s just simply not true in my opinion. And so, the language of the rational mind is words and the language of the other part of your mind 90% your subconscious and your heart and your belly and your intuition and your emotional intelligence, the language of that is imagery and sensations. And so when we are learning to visualize, it’s like learning a new language. Would you agree with that?
Mark Divine Interview: And so the first thing that we have to do is, if I were to stair-step people through the process, the first thing we have to do in order to learn that language of visualization and imagery is to get control of our rational mind because [technical difficulty] we let it be so dumb and for so long that it’s hard for us to think that we can think in another way. So, first in order to do that we really have to stop thinking. It sounds kind of counter intuitive; we have to stop thinking with our rational minds so we can open up the thinking of the rest of our mind. And that’s really what the meditation did for me when back in the late ’80s is that I started to meditate not really understanding what was happening.
And what I was doing was, stopping the rational thinking and then I was allowing the rest of my mind, it was like cracks a door open to the rest of your mind. Now once that door is opened and this is where meditation training stops is like, okay great you cracked the door open and sure, you’re going to have insights and create a verse that filters through and that’s all fine and good and we want that, that’s the next step really and you pay attention to that stuff. But the visualization is the way to then go deeply through that door and to communicate and to plant seeds of future desires, future plans into that subconscious mind where it can take root. So, the first process like I said is to sit down and quiet your mind, you can do that in any number of ways, I’m going to teach a few with unbeatable mind —
Scott: Let’s give people one way to quiet their mind real quick.
Mark Divine: Okay, well, just literally sitting down and doing a breath-awareness is a great way to do it and so this can be done by anybody at any time during the day. Just close your computer, close your door and literally just bring your attention to your breath and then deepen your breath cycles. So you are doing a four-count inhale and then a four-count exhale. And then we would like to add a little hold at the top and the bottom and I call ‘box-breathing’ which is an incredibly powerful technique for getting control of your mind. It also has a great stress-management kind of effect as well. So that’s one way to get a control of your mind, just slow down and stop thinking.
And what happens when you actively stop thinking, you do that by concentrating on something and that was kind of the Zen approach; concentrate on one thing and that was your breath, just concentrate on your breath and nothing else. If a thought comes up, just acknowledge it, let it go, come back to the breath. And so now you’re slowing your mind down from a beta to an alpha state which is about half the brainwave cycles per second and that slowing of the brainwave patterns, that’s the core to what’s happening in your mind, in your consciousness which is a sense that things are slowing down and time is slowing down and that’s when you can kind of metaphorically crack that door open to your rest of the mental person.
Scott: So tactically, if you are trying to focus on one thing, because I have done a lot of meditation and I think one of the biggest challenges that people have is they sit there and they start to work on the breathing and they — next thing, before they know, they are thinking about what they are going to eat for breakfast or whatever it might be. And the best strategy for that is just revert back to the breathing? What do you usually tell people?
Mark Divine Interview: Yeah, first of all, that’s very common, the Buddhist call it [technical difficulty] monkey mind when it’s untrained. And so this is getting to the out of the matter; you got to train our minds. Our minds have been running amok and we’ve trained it to be super IQ-smart and unless you get into a martial art or endurance athletes have better control of their mind because they have to spend long periods of times kind of in a run or swim or bike and so breath control and mental control become more common to them and so they understand the language pretty quickly. But, yeah, so what we do is, we collapse; it’s not really meditation Scott, meditation is thinking of nothing, it’s like just pure presence.
So what we do is concentration, it’s a bridge to meditation. So all I’m saying is you forget about meditation; you’re not going to have to put a turban on or wear some fancy clothes. Literally just going to learn how to concentrate better which is a great tool for any professional whether you are businessman or an athlete or whatever. And so we have to learn how to concentrate. So in order to learn how to concentrate, you have to [technical difficulty] one thing. Now, if you like reading, maybe you concentrate on a Bible verse and try to memorize it or but what I find that the breath awareness is super powerful because you don’t have to do anything special, it’s just right there for you all the time. So, you just focus on that breath.
And like you said, when a thought arises, because it will, the whole point is to not to dissect your thinking organ and so you can’t think anymore. It makes you think better and gets you in control of your thoughts and then you can be more direct in how you think, what you think and you can also eradicate any negative thinking, any thinking that is not productive for you and moving forward. So, this training has a huge effect on your ability to achieve goals because not only are you able to focus on the goal that you do select, but you are able to do much more conscious about selecting the right goals because you are able to think more clearly, because you are able to focus on that one thing and really get into the essence and the meaning and the [technical difficulty] the importance of thinking about it.
And I guess more specifically to finish this dialogue here is that when thoughts arise, you acknowledge them and say, okay that’s interesting, where did that thought come from and then just let it go. So you can examine the thought and then you can let it go or you can replace the thought with something else that’s more positive and powerful. So there’s a whole host of options that start to arise when you gain control. Now, one last thing I will say is I use this concept of the witness and what we do when we are learning to concentrate is when we are just concentrating is, when you are just concentrating on our breath, literally just seeing the breath coming in and out and feeling the breath coming in and out and then when a thought arises and you say, oh there’s a thought, well, who’s seeing the thought?
It’s an interesting question, who is the person seeing that thought or experiencing that thought arising? Well, it’s you of course, it’s your witnessing self, it’s your deeper kind of self, you become less identified with your thoughts and that then gives you that choice back, that space between the thought and the reaction or the thought and the response. Does that make sense?
Scott: That makes total sense. I want to talk about transitioning now into visualization; once you have achieved, I guess a quieter mind or a more concentrated focus, just before we get into this, a lot of people are going to hear this and they’re going to think, ‘these guys are crazy, this doesn’t work, I’m going to sit in it with my legs folded on my knees thinking about the things that I want and are magically going to appear to me’ because the truth is, getting anything you want, takes hard work —
Mark Divine: Takes a lot of work.
Scott: — and sacrifice but this is an insanely valuable tool and I’m wanting to first talk about before we kind of set this up in a way that talks about some of the ways that visualization can be so powerful.
Mark Divine: Right. So, once you’ve learnt to control your mind, then like I said, the language of the sub conscious, you create a subconscious, visualization imagery. The way that I teach imagery is first get clear — there are few ways to use it. Let me speak in more broader terms; one is to become the kind of person that you need to become to achieve the highest aspirations in life. I call that a ‘future me’ visualization and that’s essentially what I was doing when I decided I wanted to be a SEAL. The first thing I wanted to do was to see myself visually, see myself in my mind’s eye as a SEAL, as a person who is worthy of wearing a Navy SEAL trident who was capable of being a SEAL leader, who had the self-esteem and the honor and the integrity and the courage to become a SEAL, be a SEAL and to succeed in that.
And obviously, I was a different person than I was at that time. I was a CPA and I was an athlete, but I wasn’t a SEAL. So I had to conjure that image in my mind, it had to be very powerful and infused with emotional energy let’s say and I had to practice it in my mind until I actually believed that I was that person; does that make sense? So that’s the ‘future me’.
Scott: Got it.
Mark Divine: And then we can also do skill development in our mind’s eye; now my first experience with visualization as a skill development process was in my competitive swimming career. I had a swimming coach at Columbia University who was pretty advanced and trying this out in the ’80s and so he had me visualize me my stroke whish was [technical difficulty] with a stopwatch at night before I went to bed. And I tell you what, this is brutal, especially for 20-year old guy. Half the time, I was just saturating with beer and [Laughter] —
Scott: Sounds oddly familiar [Laughter].
Mark Divine: Yeah exactly, I’m sure it does but I was serious enough about it and I trusted him enough that I spent the time to actually do it and it took me about — yeah, it took me almost three to four months before I could even swim the entire race in my mind’s eye. When I started, I could get maybe a lap and then finally I could get like half a — eventually, I was able to swim the whole race and then I kept practicing it and refining it and after about nine months, I was able to swim pretty consistently the same time. I would click the watch metaphorically dove off the blocks and then clicked it again when I touched the pad at the end and I was getting the same time almost every time or really close.
And interestingly enough, the time was about three seconds faster than I had ever actually swum in the water until the final championship race and when I jumped in the water and swam that exact time and it just had a profound effect on me. Like holy shit, I had swum that in my mind and my body and psychology knew that I could swim that and it wasn’t until I had swam the race and when the stakes were so high at the championship that I actually swam what I was capable of in my subconscious.
Scott: Yeah, that’ll make you believe it.
Mark Divine: Yeah, it totally did and I call that a practice visualization and so you can use this to practice skills. I used it to practice martial arts skills when I was trying to refine them, I teach this to my [Inaudible 0:20:25] athletes while we are going through and demonstrating a lift and we have them visualize it happening perfectly, with perfect form and safely and visualizing in our mind’s eye and you can see the practice skills just as easily you can practice becoming a type of person or having the attributes of a new person that you want to become. That was two pretty powerful ways; there’s others of course, but those are two that are probably pretty relevant to your —
Scott: Yeah, I really like those. I think a lot of my audience is — and the people listening are people that are entrepreneurs, people that are in business; what are some of the ways that you can use this technique in those settings?
Mark Divine: Certainly, I use this all the time for my business. For instance, when you want to get clear about the vision for our business and the vision that can be seen very clearly and articulated visually is going to be more powerful than the one that you don’t have a very clear vision on. I mean that sounds pretty obvious. But then just like the future to me, you did for yourself in terms of becoming the kind of person you want to do that with your business or your project or whatever it is that you are working on, your main thing that you are working on right now. And so for instance, for me, I visualize where I see Unbeatable Mind in ten years and I see it very clearly. Now, the details don’t have to be worked out, I just want to see kind of like the result, the outcome.
So I see millions of people being influenced by Unbeatable Mind through my books and my seminars and digital training that I offer. And I see myself filling the shoes of the type of person that can deliver that credibly and authentically. And so I visualized my business in the future and I try to get more and more clear and I come back to that pretty much every day and make sure I touch on that. So that’s one way, another way —
Scott: I was going to ask you — are there tactics — because a lot of people that try this visualization stuff they do it and they see their ideal business and then three days after they are doing this, they’re like, ‘okay, this is boring. I’m seeing the same thing, nothing’s happening’; how do you stick with it and then how do you get the most out of this practice.
Mark Divine: It’s such an excellent question. Essentially, there’s a few things here, we have to elevate mental, emotional, intuitional training and spiritual training in the same level as physical training and so many people think, I’m going to go, I’m going to schedule three or five times a week and then I’m going to go to the gym or do a cross-fit workout or whatever is their thing and then just leave it at that. And they think okay, well, that’s it. Well every one of those training sessions is an opportunity to do mental training as well as intuitional training and spiritual training.
And so yogis, people in the audience who are going authentic yoga, get this right away and they’ll be nodding their head but if you got a good yoga practice, then it is an integrated training practice where you are getting some physical benefits and flexibility, durability and core strength; but you’re getting a lot of mental and emotional and spiritual benefit as well. So, it’s an integrated training. And the way I teach [Inaudible 0:24:00] is to turn every workout that we do into integrated training sessions as well. So, we practice our breathing, we practice box-breathing before every workout and we practice visualization and I’m not saying that everybody does it because I can’t tell. I’m not inside their heads but it’s something I teach.
And so there’s times that we actually go to “train”, instead of just training your body, use it as an opportunity to train their mind. And so spend five minutes breathing and visualizing every time you work out; before and after. The second that I would recommend and then I would have my trainees do, is a morning and evening ritual and these rituals can be 5 – 15 minutes long. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time but it’s where we are going to then practice those skills that aren’t — again non-physical but it’s still a training session. So we practice our breathing, we practice our visualization and practice our concentration and we connect to our higher purpose and we then connect all of that to our main vision/purpose/goal that we are working on at this stage in our lives.
Scott: So the first step is to elevate and to assign equal or more importance to this as we do other things. When we actually start doing visualizations though, how do we make this a less of a mundane experience and one that is unique every single time you sit down and do it?
Mark Divine: Well, it’s not going to be unique every time you sit down because it’s training and practice and just like every workout that you do, it isn’t completely unique. I mean I know we have a lot of variety with functional training and we try to make every workout distinct but for sure, every workout we are moving [Inaudible 0:25:43] and we are moving our body and sweating and sometimes it’s just incredibly fun and sometimes it feels like work. The point is to discipline yourself, the whole idea of discipline is to be a disciple to something that is going to make you better, has got a lot of meaning to you.
And so, when you are a disciple to your training, then you do it every day because A, it does feel good when you’re done and you acknowledge that and B you understand the impact that it’s going to have. It starts out with — you have to have some belief and some faith but then very shortly within three months and lot of times less, you start to see the results very richly and they show up in places that you may not expect it. You may have people come to you and say, Scott, what have you been doing? You just seem so much more grounded or centered or peaceful or you’ve been really productive. Last year, Scott, I wrote three books. One of them became a bestseller in New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, both of them Amazon and the third one was self-published. I just saw a lot of those to my [Inaudible 0:26:56] I wrote this in one year, using the techniques that I am talking about. I had the vision — I disciplined myself to keep my training alive every day and then I was able to focus very intently on the mission of getting these books written. I didn’t stop until they are done. So, —
Scott: Sounds 20X to me.
Mark Divine: Yeah, totally and I’m not saying I’m ever going to do that again, but that was a good idea. I’m just saying that this stuff works. [Laughter]
Scott: So, I think actually, the number one thing that people listening to this interview can get out of it is just general awareness that mental training and instilling the proper mindset and beliefs, all things that come with it they need to be elevated in more mainstream.
Mark Divine: Absolutely.
Scott: That’s my personal —
Mark Divine: That’s a huge message; how to do that is a subject lot of discussion and training and people might have different paths and so let’s say Unbeatable Mind is my path and what works really well for me in my trainings because it comes from a western perspective, it is very much a simplified and powerful belief system and I teach it as if I am teaching a bunch of people who want to be Navy SEALs or want to think like a SEAL or have that kind of approach. It’s not like new-age, you know what I’m saying or it doesn’t have the cultural nuances that a lot of “mental training” might have. It’s just very practically oriented towards performance and becoming a better person.
So elevating mental training to the same level as physical training — elevating integrated training and taking all your training and making it integrated training. Now that’s a huge distinction because here’s one thing that a lot of my trainees say, people who are very successful in all walks of life so yeah, I had been working out for a long time and I had been doing yoga for a long time and I even meditate but they didn’t — they weren’t connected and they didn’t seem to really build off of each other. And so it felt disjoined until I found Unbeatable Mind. And then what happened is all of a sudden I am doing these in an integrated manner, I understood how they all supported each other and it did unlock, like it was a final key that unlocked the performance, the 20X performance that I was talking about.
And so it’s integrated the training and this approach is so important because it leads to accelerated learning. And it’s kind of like saying why kids don’t learn in the linear industrial-age public school system is because they are not integrated, they are not immersed, they are not learning at all levels, they are learning one-dimensionally. Hierarchal, top down, memorize this, memorize that and regurgitate it. But then you take them out and you put in a Montessorial or Waldorf setting or some of these better, more nuanced approaches and they are able to immerse themselves and learn physically and emotionally and intellectually and intuitively and all of a sudden, they just soak it up like sponges.
Well, this is what I am trying to do with the adult learners in Unbeatable Mind but the whole content of the process is learning to learn and learning to be a better person and learning to how to think in ways that are going to make you more productive and peaceful and try to elevate your consciousness to a higher level so to speak.
Scott: It’s like when you read a book and then you don’t take any action and there is no integration of the actual content.
Mark Divine: Yes, exactly. And the reading of the book is interesting, that’s just really the first step like download some content and then you got to work with that content.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. Two other mindsets that I want to talk about that really hit home with me was the first one was taking on an offensive mindset; because I don’t know — I feel like my generation is soft as hell. I feel like we are just so focused on protecting ourselves throughout every single day, or every single things that we do instead of aggressively pursuing what we want, can you talk about just this idea of an offensive mindset?
Mark Divine: Sure. Well, let me start by saying that I was adventurous and risk-oriented probably before I joined the SEALs but the SEALs hammered it home. That’ a super risky endeavor, how do you encourage any listener who is thinking along that path to come visit us because this is an extraordinary career; it’s very limited in terms of how many people can do it. But that mindset of leaning toward risk, of metaphorically running towards the sound of gunfire and diving into something and risking failure is extraordinarily powerful and that’s what I mean by offensive mind because that’s where the juice is.
When you are leaning into something hard and you risk failure and if you “fail”, that’s great because now you’ve learnt something new, you’ve learnt what doesn’t work, you’ve learnt a limitation that you can now overcome and you don’t shirk from that lack of success. Now you lean into how to do it right, how to do it better, how to find victory where it’s at. And so the whole attitude is one of failing forward fast and learning to learn by getting out there and getting dirty; and entrepreneurs get this and it’s super powerful because it builds courage and confidence and momentum. The only time you are stepping into the arena and stub your toe.
Scott: How does somebody, who’s maybe been living defensively and living in a way to protect themselves, how do you start to build this offensive mindset where you are leaning into fear, leaning into things that are hard.
Mark Divine: Like I said earlier, first they got to win their mind, so they have to start setting the conditions for being more pro-risk in their mind. They have to see themselves as the kind of person who can step into greater challenges, greater risk. You probably are in sync with this next statement but there is energy in boldness, there is magic in boldness. Every time I take a really bold action, I have been rewarded with a bold response either a great insight or some reward in the form of success or even partial success and so it doesn’t — it’s not only a harm to think big than it is to think small with the exception that our own limitations or nearly thought processes around what your capacities are and what your limitations are.
And so that’s why the foundation of the belief system is got to change to where you truly believe where you are capable 20X times more and then you go out and prove it to yourself. And one of the — how you can do that in a practical manner is probably the next question. Well, I ask people to go and challenge themselves with small bites first, so step up their workout program, step up their training and commit to their training, make a habit out of the mental training. So there’s two huge things right there and then to visualize yourself into becoming that more courageous person and then to challenge yourself again with something a little bit more significant.
Some of the training we do at SEAL Fit is all about challenge; we got a 20X program which is 12 hours of non-stop training. Well, that’s really challenging for a lot of people but it pales in comparison to the [Inaudible 0:34:41] Camp which is 50 hours of non-stop training around the clock, no sleep. And that’s obviously based off from my Navy SEAL Hell Week experience but you do those training events and wow, you come out of it with a completely new concept of what is possible for you as a human being and anything that you attack later on that’s hard, you compare it those experiences and say wow, it’s not as hard as that. It’s like for me, whenever I do something hard, I compare it to Hell Week or even a lot of missions that I did as a SEAL which were far harder than Hell Week and I’m like, this is easy, there is nothing that will ever compare to that probably again in my life till I’m on my deathbed.
Scott: What do you think is the number one thing that limits people from achieving or maximizing their excellence, getting the abundance that they want in their life?
Mark Divine: I just think it’s the limiting belief systems and those can all be changed. Part of our mind is actually metaphorically like a computer and we can reprogram ourselves. Now, I mean if you look at someone like Richard Branson and say wow, that guys’ really got it going on. Well, it’s only because he was programmed at a young age to think big and to not worry about his failures. This guy has started 600 companies, 300 have survived, that’s a huge success rate and 300 have failed. His batting 50% so wow, that’s still a pretty good average but it’s only because he thinks big and he is willing to take that bold action and that’s just a thought process.
So time is back in, the thought process, how do you change, how do you reprogram, you got to get control of your mind and then you got to plant the seeds through imagery. You got to see yourself as a kind of person who is worthy of taking that bold action and someone who is willing to also step up and to take the action. Like you said, nothing happens without massive action but that massive action or the seeds of it start from within, you got to do it in your mind first.
Scott: Mark, you do any stuff with incantation of affirmations?
Mark Divine: Absolutely. Yeah, the whole process — I don’t have time to get really into it but the process of mental control, once you have control of the mind then you can, like I said, start to use the visual imagery and then in action throughout the day — I don’t use the word incantation but I use to use this term positivity. We have positivity statements that keep us focused, on track and in a positive mental state. Because without being in a positive mental state both emotionally and in a dialogue, we really are torpedoing our success and then negativity is going to affect other people and everything just goes south from there. Same thing happens when you are around negative people and you start getting infected just like a virus and then everything just starts to grind to a halt.
So you got to train your mind to be very diligent towards any negative thoughts or negative energy whether it’s external or internal and get rid of it and then maintain that positive energy or positivity with a mantra or a positive statement. One of the ones that I would like to tell people that I use, I actually started using it in SEAL training is, ‘I’m feeling good, looking and I ought to be in Hollywood’ and so I’d go out on a run and as soon as the pain set it, I would just start saying to myself, ‘I’m feeling good, looking good, I ought to be in Hollywood’. And after about five minutes of that the pain would have gone completely away and everything felt lighter because essentially it’s not much different than focusing on your breath.
My mind is now focusing more on that or a chunk of my mind power is focusing on that and everything starts to kind of settle into a nice flow state and the whole run would just slip by in a much more endurable manner, let’s just say.
Scott: My personal one is, ‘I’m unstoppable’ and I keep telling myself. I was actually in the gym today hitting a PR on and just telling myself I was unstoppable when it got really tough and it was easy. And it’s so funny, it’s like a transformational vocabulary, it just needs to be so front and centered because the way that our line works — and I feel like I’m not supposed to do this as somebody who is the interviewer but I’m so passionate about this that I want to make sure that it gets out there. Is that the questions that we ask ourselves, the words that we use, all that self-talk it determines the actual experience of realities. So when somebody – like I have a journal that I keep in the mornings, like how you doing today, how’re you feeling?
If I say that I am feeling good or if I say that I’m feeling stupendous and unstoppable, I’m going to actually feel different. I am going to feel the words that I use and so just like every single time people are asking questions or you are being cognizant of the self-talk that is going on inside, personally like just having those empowering words and you talk about this in this SEAL way; having those empowering words that you use to describe your state how you feel what you are doing it’s just a game-changer because it becomes reality.
Mark Divine: I agree, yeah at first it may not feel like it but over time, especially if you are doing the other training that we talked about, it will sink in and overwrite some of that negative or dis-empowering belief systems. So it a good point of fact that you touched down and we talked around it but we had an Unbeatable Mind and it was in a way to say a book, something that I call the big four of mental toughness and they are like the four critical skills that you just do without to develop mental toughness and to perform better.
And one of them is breath control, getting control of your breathing and we talked about a little bit another one is visualization and we talked a lot about that and the third is this what you just referenced, this idea of powerful positive incantations or inner dialogue and essentially maintaining that dialogue and retraining and rewiring the brain to always be in that positive state especially in challenging times. And then the fourth is — it’s really how to select and to articulate proper goals for you, like the right goals and to make sure that the time frames so that you are not flailing around but you are able to focus everyday and nail — everyday is going to move the dial towards your vision as a human being.
Scott: Can you share a particular story where you leveraged some of these tools to overcome something that you thought was insurmountable? Maybe the thousand burpee story would be a good one.
Mark Divine: [Laughter] Well, yeah, that is probably a good example, it’s kind of a fun one. There was this Hell Week, I mentioned I was getting stronger, I probably was looking a little froggy to the instructors that — we had 180 people start at the SEAL training class and by the end of Hell Week, we got about 40 left and by the end of SEAL training, we had 19 guys there. So out of 180, only 19 of us made it and I was the Honor man in my class, number one graduate which is pretty cool because I had these skills that I had learnt earlier. Anyway, how this played out during Hell Week, Thursday Hell Week we had another 20-30 hours of training left, but we’d been up since the prior Sunday.
So, no question I was tired but I was still alert and physically getting stronger as I mentioned earlier. So one of the instructors thought that maybe I was just being a little cocky or maybe he was just bored himself, so he pulled me out of the ranks and said, ‘okay Divine, I’m going to get you to quit. Let’s start with a thousand 8-count body-builder which is really like a burpee most folks probably know what that is. So anyways, I was like okay, here we go, I knew right then it was going to be a gut-check that especially after not sleeping for four and a half days. And anyway, I realized I got to use the skills and so I broke it down. Micro goals, all that I have to do is a thousand — I have to do one 8-count body-builder a thousand times; I don’t have to think about doing it a thousand times, I just have to do one at a time and then I have to do another.
But I also have to focus on right now is just doing that one and so, then I said, okay, I can start there. So I started with one 8-count body-builder and pretty soon I’m at like 20 or 30 just doing one at a time. And then as the pain set in, so I’m trying to breathe deeply which I had learnt to do through my martial arts training and I started to see myself like just floating. So I visualize myself just kind of floating, lazy feather, no pain, just relaxing, kind of like I was floating through my yoga moves and then I started kicking into my feeling good looking — and so after every 8-count body-builder I would say, ‘feeling good, looking good, I ought to be in Hollywood’ and then I’d be back standing again.
And so I employed the big four and pretty soon I was at like 700 burpees and time literally seemed to disappear in between when I started to feel pain and when I got to 700. And when I looked around I remember kind of waking up out of my little “routine” and the structure was so bored staring up at the rest of the class and finally he looks at me, and I’ve got that smile on my face and he goes, ‘geez, get the hell out of here Divine, you’re done’. You’re not supposed to be smiling is what he was saying. I always had this great sense of, ‘this is easy, I can do this just one at a time, easy day.’
Scott: That is absolutely awesome, so I want to close this out and land this plane, and I have a feeling that we can talk about this kind of stuff literally all day and I have more energy than ever doing it. But one of the questions that I would love to finish with here is just getting people a warm takeaway and the name of the show is The Competitive Edge and we want to give people an edge in their businesses and their lives; if you could give one snippet of advice for these people to get an edge, what would it be?
Mark Divine: Tell you what, the one thing, my gift to your listeners is going to be to box-breathe several times a day and don’t have to take any more than a few minutes but the process for box-breathing is essentially — you’re going to exhale the air out of your lungs and then in through your nose. It’s very important that you breathe through your nose as much as possible at all times by the way and in through your nose, you’re going to slow your breath down and you’re going to create like a ocean sound with it; so in through your nose, you’re going to count to five and then you’re going to hold your breath and count to five and they you’re going to exhale through your nose and count to five and then you’re going to hold your breath when you exhale and count to five.
Now if five is hard at the exhale, just do four; the point is not to like — you want to try to make it better breath-hold swimmers or anything like that. This is a really powerful concentration drill that has, I mentioned earlier, the super-powerful effect of also shutting off that part of your nervous system that is involved in stress response. So, by breathing deeply into your diaphragm, you’re sending a message of calm to your nervous system and you really are maintaining a really calm physiology while you are focusing your psychology or focusing your mind. And this is fantastic to do before any kind of — important meetings or board meetings or anything where your performance is to be at its peak.
This will help you get into that performance zone or flow state. And you can do this type of practice, I do it in the morning and I do it whenever I am not really using my brain for any strategic or tactical thinking but I’m just going through a motion. Like driving; so if I drive somewhere, I’ll practice box-breathing instead of just letting my mind wander, I use that as training time. And then I’ll take little brakes during the day, lunch time. I usually don’t go out for lunch, it’s great training time and so I’ll do some yoga and I’ll do some box-breathing or I’ll take a walk and I’ll do some box-breathing or I’ll go for a run and I’ll do some box-breathing.
And then I’ll usually do like some short training session in the afternoon same things, a little bit of a somatic movement and then some box-breathing and then I usually do it in the evening. This is so powerful and it is the bridge to all those skills that we talked about Scott.
Scott: All right Mark, so if people want to find out more about you about you, about SEAL Fit, about Unbeatable Mind, what are the best places for them to go online?
Mark Divine: Yes, Sealfit dot com, is a very inspiring web property of ours and that’s where I teach functional fitness and mental toughness primarily. You can also learn about the Unbeatable Mind program there or go to UnbeatableMind dot com and that’s where I teach these principles without hardcore fitness for those who aren’t really into the hardcore fitness but don’t think they are ready for it. I also, you know, another great place to start is one of my three books, ‘The way of the SEAL’ which is the one that you read, published by Readers Digest, that can be found in Amazon or Way of the SEAL book dot com and then Unbeatable Mind which is my self-published book, I love that, it’s just very personal to me.
That really talks about all this philosophy. Unbeatable mind, it’s available at Amazon in both hard copy and Kindle. And then my physical training guide — unconventional guide for physical and mental training is called ‘8 weeks to SEAL Fit’ and that’s available at 8 weeks to SEAL Fit dot com or Amazon dot com as well.
Scott: Mark, my wallet’s going to be a little bit lighter after this conversation.
Mark Divine: [Laughter] Thanks.
Scott: Thanks so much for coming on, it’s been an absolute pleasure. You’ve taught us so much, motivated and inspired us elevating the importance of mental training which I think could be a game-changer for a lot of people’s lives out there. So thank you for that.
Mark Divine: Yeah, my pleasure, it’s been a lot of fun Scott, really appreciate it.