One of the biggest issues for people is the fact that they’ve been led to believe that you have to jump ship or take this big leap. More often than not, for most people, that’s not the method or process for them to reinvent. Reinvention is not a one-and-done thing. It is something we’re doing constantly alive. Transformational leader and author of Pivot, Adam Markel, says pivoting and making changes is being willing to take, not big leaps, but small steps every day. Adam says what keeps people stuck is nobody wants to put their family or their whole career at risk. For Mark Divine, human performance is best displayed in mental toughness. In his book, The Way of the SEAL, shares the integrated training he’s been teaching special ops candidates, entrepreneurs, and leaders. Mark says that leading in today’s world is a lot like leading on a battlefield. You just have to find the silver lining, find humor in the crazy things, and put your happy face on until you start to feel like you dominate anything they throw at you.
We have two top bestselling authors on the show. Two of the greatest books, Adam Markel and Mark Divine. Adam wrote Pivot and Mark wrote The Way of the Seal. You’ve heard of both books I’m sure because they’re both amazing. I’m so anxious to talk to both of them.
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The Pivot Process with Adam Markel
I am here with Adam Markel who is a CEO, a bestselling author, an attorney, an international speaker, and transformational leader. Adam has spent the past ten years training hundreds of thousands of people all across the United States, Southeast Asia, Canada, Europe and Australia how to pivot to living a life of purpose, passion and freedom. Known as one of the most charismatic speakers you’ll ever see, Adam Markel has reinvented what it means to be heart centered and inspiring leader. He’s admired for his refreshing and inspiring impact on entrepreneurs, creative thinkers and leaders worldwide and you probably have seen his Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling book, Pivot: The Art and Science of Reinventing Your Career and Life. It’s so nice to have you here, Adam.
Thanks for that long introduction.
I want to make sure everybody knows the wonder of you because you’ve done some amazing things. You’re also on the Huffington Post’s Top Twelve Speakers. I was watching some of your talks. You are so fun. I could see why you’re on that list.
I like to bring it. Let’s put it that way.
I love the true or true and all your energy is really fun to watch and your book has just taken over. Were you expecting it to be as big a hit?
We had these great big intentions. We set high intentions for it, but the truth is, you never know how people are going to receive that type of content. Sometimes in our own minds we think something is really important because it is important to us. It’s important in the little sphere, the space that we’ve been playing in, but you’re not sure how the public at large will consume it and what they feel about it. We’ve gotten the most incredible feedback from people all around the world, which is really amazing. A woman contacted us from Pakistan and said, “I’m in the middle of this transition in my life and I’m a bit confused. I don’t have clarity. I’m dizzy and not happy about it. The book really met me exactly where I was and helped me to get that greater clarity and be able to start taking actions towards something new.” That’s amazing when we hear things like that.
It’s something though that’s so important and it ties into a lot what I researched in my books about curiosity. I’m fascinated by everything you’re saying because it’s going right along with the research I have. Because I think there are so many people who claimed to the status quo for safety reasons and I liked how you said it. “The mediocrity is safety. It’s that tepid lukewarm bath of life.” The way you put it is exactly what it is. It’s just people get just stuck. I know you say it’s math, but it’s just a very visual the way you describe just going off just a little bit. If you can just go off this direction, look at what happens over time and it’s very easy to see in a graph like that. I think people think they have to do these huge transformations and you don’t really make it feel that way. You feel like you can do smaller things.
I think one of the biggest issues for people is the fact that they’ve been led to believe that you have to jump ship or burn the ships or take this big leap. I’m not putting down the people who’ve trained on that topic or share it in their books or other things that you have to be bold and you have to be courageous and you’ve got to be willing to take a big leap because sometimes that that’s the case. More often than not for most people, that’s just not what will be the method, the process for them to reinvent. Reinvention is not a one and done thing. Reinvention is something we’re doing constantly in our lives. On average a person is in seven careers, seven different career spaces in their lifetime. Pivoting, making changes, utilizing change is something we have to get really great at. The one thing that can get in the way and often does get in the way of moving with chains, utilizing change is fear. Anything that creates more fear to me is like verboten. I’m against it because we need to be able to act every day. If you want to be an innovator, either in your business or in your personal life, you’ve got to be willing to take small steps every day. Not Big leaps, but small steps.
That myth that you’ve got to burn the bridges is really just that. It’s a myth. It’s a fallacy. It’s what keeps people stuck because nobody really wants to put their family at risk. They don’t want to put there their whole career at risk. They don’t want to put their finances at risk. They just want to be happier. They want to be healthier. They want to be doing work they love versus work that they dread. Which is how I used to wake up. My story is that I spent eighteen years as a lawyer and much of that time I was in misery. I don’t mean financial misery. I did well at that. I was successful by everybody else’s definition in terms of the money and respect and prestige and all that kind of thing. Every day, I wake up in the morning, I put my feet on the floor. I didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm. In fact, more often than not, I felt anxiety about the day. I felt I was under this great strain, under this great pressure. I was depressed looking back on it.
I was depressed by circumstances that felt to me like they were beyond my control. I think a lot of people out there, maybe even people who are reading this right now can identify with that. The feeling of being under that great strain, that great pressure, that stress and not feeling in control and you really want to find some way out which is really what the book Pivot is all about. Is that it’s that way out, but not by doing the thing you talked about earlier, which is this drastic step which will only bring up fear naturally, but by taking these small incremental steps that over time are magnified. It’s the compounding effect. You can’t believe what happens to money when at a simple rate of interest, over time that money compounds. Einstein said was the greatest miracle that he became aware of mathematically was the compounding effect. It was a bonafide miracle. That’s the process in essence is how is it that you get started and maybe we’ll dive into that. I’ve got to tell you I needed to start because I was an unhappy camper.
I totally can relate to that. I was a pharmaceutical sales rep forever. In that time, it’s that golden handcuffs. You can’t really leave. Everybody tells you what a great job you have. Aren’t you lucky? You’re waking up going, “I don’t like it.” I still have dreams that I’m in it and I’m saying, “I wake up. I’m so happy I’m not doing that.” There’s nothing wrong with that job. It just wasn’t what I liked. It was a great job for a lot of people just like being a lawyer would be a wonderful job for a lot of people. You have to find, I think what it is that makes you happy. I liked that you talk in terms of baby steps. You even say just a five-degree chain and change and you show a direction of what it would look like. You started to say how to get started. How do you get started?
You have to start in the place where most people want to. We start at the foundation level. I think most people want to build the roof. They want to have the whole house constructed quickly and easily. To me that the foundation is clarity. You cannot get any place without being clear on where you want to go. It was George Harrison that might’ve said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” I love that expression because it really is true. Being able to set a new destination, being able to create a new GPS setting for yourself is really key. The reason why so many people are not able to do that is they cannot see clearly ahead. That stability to create a clear vision for your future is the essential starting point.
That’s one of the things I’m measuring and people is trying to figure out their curiosity level. I’m looking at curiosity, creativity and clarity. Those are so important because I think so many people don’t really look at what it is that they want to do or are ask the important questions. You mentioned fear. You talk about facing fear in chapter three of your book. I remember that you deal with fear, but I think there are other aspects that hold people back. There is the environment, the people around you who have told you one thing or another or just didn’t push you in the right direction or push you away from things. Teachers sometimes have to teach to the test and you maybe don’t get to go the way you want to go, where people are telling you how great it is to be a lawyer or whatever it is. Then there’s technology. There’s our assumptions that we might not like to do something or that it would be hard or whatever it is. I think it’s interesting. Your title of Chapter One was Unbelieve and I’m curious what you mean by unbelieve.
Unbelieving is actually one of the most important skills that we develop as we grow older. Whether we’re 20 years old or 42 or 60, at a certain point, we have to examine and then be willing to reexamine our belief system. Our beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies. Everything that we do, everything that we’ve created in our lives is the reflection of our belief system. In many ways those beliefs are the things that both have given us, what we’ve got, and they’re also the same things that have limited us. We are expanding beings. I don’t want to get into the spiritual realm of this thing, but we are ever expanding beings. We’re not meant to stay the same. We evolve. Change is the natural order of things. Change is chronic. Ramdas said, “You have to make friends with change.” I plus that by saying, “You’ve got to make change your best friend,” because it’s the one constant that you can count on the universe. The things are going to evolve and we’ve got to be able to be in an evolutionary mindset, in an evolutionary way of living. Otherwise, we’re in resistance. We’re actually fighting against and pushing back against the natural order of things.
Examining our beliefs is fundamentally important. Many of those beliefs or things that we’ve held to be true since the time we were kids. Where is it that we’ve learned that and adopted that way of being? It’s from the people who have been influential in our lives. The usual suspects are our parents, our grandparents, the media, our religious influences, all of those kinds of things. At a certain point, when we want to create new results, when we want to be able to surrender in some ways to this way of the universe that we cannot change and we don’t want to change, this way of changing itself, we’ve got to be able to say, “I’m not willing to unbelieve? Am I willing to look at some of those beliefs and say, “That belief no longer serves me.” Or maybe there’s a new belief, something that would empower me further, that would not limit me. You use the word curiosity. I think that’s a wonderful way to look at this. I’m not advocating that people stop believing what they believe. I’m advocating that people examine their beliefs because when they do, they’ll both find the reason why they’ve gotten certain things.
Maybe there are some things in their life they really love and they cherish and they feel great about. They wouldn’t change and that’s fantastic. It’s likely that it’s been a product of some part of your belief system. Then maybe there’ll be some things in their life that they don’t love and it could be the job that they’ve endured, the job that they haven’t loved for the last ten years. Statistically speaking, 55% of people in the workforce are actively looking for other work. It’s like the divorce rate, one and two, a little better than one and two. That’s the root of a lot of unhappiness because you spend eight to ten to twelve hours a day at your job. To not be happy, to not be fulfilled is a big deal. Why it is that you’re in the job you’re in? Why it is that maybe you haven’t manifested something new, a different job or different career or maybe you’ve always wanted to go into business for yourself? You wanted to run the show. You want to be an entrepreneur and you just haven’t done that. You thought, “I can’t do that. I’ve got my kids to still put through college. I’m saving for retirement. I’m only ten years out or whatever it is you’ve been telling yourself. You’ve completely overlook the fact that it’s possible to create and I will tell oftentimes as opposed to this jumping ship or burning your bridges type of a situation that folks talk about.
Those situations where people are able to jump ship and successfully reinvent themselves or their careers or what have you, those are really outside of the bell curve. Inside the bell curve are the people like myself, more conservative that would much rather have a plan, an exit strategy. For me, that exit strategy was to build a second bridge before demolishing the first one. For people that are in a job and don’t love their job or people that have always wanted to start up that side business or whatever that might be, the food truck or that pop up gallery or any of those things, you could start those things while you’re still working your job, while you still working fulltime. You can start to build that second bridge while you continue to maintain and are responsible for the first bridge.
I had clients, I had lots of people who were depending on me while I was reinventing my career from workaholic attorney into a person who was running one of the largest personal development training companies and speaking all over the world and then ultimately writing books about it and all that kind of thing. I didn’t just walk at home one day and say to my wife, “I’m quitting.” I actually walked in the house one night, I had missed the kids go into bed. Like I said, I was a workaholic. I’m still a recovering attorney. A recovering workaholic, but I walked in the house. I looked at her face and I knew that I had missed the kids go to sleep yet again. I walked up to her as I remember, it was a cold, nasty, rainy night and we were living in New Jersey at the time. I walked right up to her and I said, “If I keep doing what I’m doing, you’re going to be a widow.” That’s the moment we took a deep breath.
My beautiful, amazing partner, my wife of 29 years, she looked at me and knowing she knew, I knew. We had four kids. We have houses, cars, Gerbils, goldfish, dogs. Lots of responsibilities and hundreds of clients. She’s looked at me and she didn’t remind me of all that she just said, “We’ll figure it out.” Two and a half years later, those little pivots, those small baby steps, small change in direction resulted in my being able to not only replace my income and move on to work that was more fulfilling, work that I wake up in the morning now, I put my feet on the floor and these are the words that I have been blessed to share with people all around the world and that is, “I love my life. I love my life. I love my life.” That is such a different energy than the anxiety and the angst and the depression that I used to feel waking up to a job and a way of living that felt like a fraud. I just felt like I sold out. I sold myself out. I sold my soul out. I didn’t have words for it at the time. I couldn’t articulate it that way. I just was miserable and I was a litigation attorney. I had all the perfect access to exercise my misery. I was angry all the time and I got paid to do it.
There are so many people like that though. When you’re in it, you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know what it’s going to take to get that spark. It takes a spark and maybe it was seeing your wife’s face, maybe realizing you miss the children going to sleep. How do we recognize when it’s time to pivot? How do you get that spark?
You have to be aware of everything in our lives, no matter what it is that we’re working on or looking to change. It starts with awareness. To become aware means that we’re not busy every second of the day, which is how many people are living these days with social media and business matters that are inundating us all the time. There are very few boundaries for many people, not even Saturday. It used to be 50 years ago, the Saturday or Sunday were sacred. That was your downtime. There is almost no downtime these days. People are busy all the all the time. To me stillness is important. That you create time for stillness. Whether you call that meditation or you call it prayer or whatever’s the wording, I don’t really care about that. It’s the idea that you make time for yourself to be still. You make time to think. You make time to be still so that you can track inside of you how you’re doing. How are you doing? If you’re like me, I had symptoms and I’m sure this is true for everybody. Your question is how do you know that there’s a pivot potentially ahead? You first of all become aware of what the symptoms are. For me, symptoms were I was agitated a lot of the time.
As I said, I was angry a lot of the time. I had trouble sleeping at night. At first, I had trouble going to sleep so I would take Ambien at a certain point. I had trouble staying asleep and I’d wake up in the middle of night and then I have trouble getting back to sleep. I have that feeling of anxiousness or anxiety at certain times of the day. In the morning, I was just, “I don’t want to get out of bed and I don’t want to go to work,” because I knew what it was going to be like. I just didn’t want to do that anymore. I think there are a lot of things that we ignore that we convince ourselves. I’m working on another book on this topic, but there’s this guarding that we do. We are vigilant. We’re guarding in many ways, protecting ourselves and we put so much energy into protecting. Protecting our family, protecting our money, protecting people’s opinion of us. All of these things that we’re constantly in this guarded mode and what I realized along the way was that rather than being guarded, I want it to be and had to be guided. So many even say need it, it’s not a need. Need is a scarcity word.
I realized at a certain point that my ability to take guidance from within and from without as well, but to be guided was so much more of what I was looking for. My hypervigilance all the time to protect things and to play the game of life very much on defense. I think a lot of people are in that protection mode and they are not often being guided by their heart because if their heart was truly guiding them, their heart might say, “You don’t love this job, so why? Why are you going to continue to this? Are you going to do this for another fifteen years because everybody else thinks it’s a good idea? You think that you can’t do anything else so your bank account isn’t going to endure the storm or whatever other stories? Like you say, they are fear stories. It’s one of the things we go over in the book. What are those common fear stories? What I want to say is people don’t need a process, but they can elect to choose a process to work through these things.
We wrote the book pivot in response to what I did over and by I and we, myself and my wife, our team as well, how it is that reinvention to place over about a two and a half year-period. The book is a series of case studies. There are lots of other people in the book and there’s a process that starts with creating clarity that moves into, once you’ve got this greater clarity, how it is that you take action and move forward, which is always going to be the case. You can’t change anything without being willing to take some new actions and take some new steps, but they’re baby steps. Then once those baby steps are laid out sequentially, almost like dominoes, this momentum happens. This incredible thing that’s one of these miracles of science, Newton’s law of momentum, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. The body in motion tends to stay in motion and that’s incredible. What’s really amazing about that too, is that with dominoes as you line them up, and I saw the demonstration this once, that not only will one domino knock over another and another and another, but one domino has the capacity to knock over another domino, that’s slightly bigger than itself. In fact, one and a half times itself.
If you could imagine just for a second visually starting out with the domino that’s half-inch high, maybe even three eighths of an inch high, that domino will knock over another domino that’s one and a half times its size, which doesn’t seem like such a big deal. By the time you get to the 28th domino, the math is that that 28th domino is about the size of the empire state building and that’s what momentum is really about. It’s knocking over the next one that’s slightly bigger and then all of a sudden you blink your eyes as we all do and it’s a year later or two years or three years later and you go, “How on Earth did this happen? How on earth did I create this? From that tiny little step that I took, it’s that willingness. Pivoting is that willingness to take the next step each day. Be willing to take that next step, which leads not only to the next step, but to have a slightly bigger step as well.
That paints a really great picture. I love your passion for all that you’re doing. I’m curious if you were like this as a litigation attorney, did you have the ability to feel like you were this charismatic in front of a judge or whoever you were dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Did that prepare you for being a speaker now or is it just the topic that brings that out in you?
I would stand up in court and I was always really nervous. Even to this day, I’ve spoken to a lot of people around the world, in big audiences, 12,000 to 14,000 people in China, in Japan and elsewhere in the world. I still always have that same feeling ahead of time that it’s important to me, so therefore I’m nervous. I have a nervous energy inside of me, because I have a pulse. I’m alive. What was ironic is that I didn’t have a gift for public speaking. I don’t know if I have a gift at all anyway, but I love doing it. It’s so incredibly ironic. We train people. Part of our programs or are in the area of public speaking. So many people are terrified of doing that. What really is amazing to me is that when you learn certain skills such as how it is that you enrolled an audience? What’s the enrollment process like? What does it mean to engage people and not to leave people behind? How do you use questions the way you do? You’re so artful at this. How to use questions to be able to draw people in and connect with them? How is it that you truly speak from your heart?
These are things that we’re not born with. I certainly wasn’t. When you learn them, they apply in everything. They apply in the how you make a toast and how you treat your family and how it is that you talk at work, whether it’s your colleagues or, or how it is that you might speak to a whole room full of people. These are learned skills. I’m glad you asked that because that’s one of those things that people might say, “It’s easy for him. He had a lot of experience with that or whatever.” Somehow or another, it’s just like a gift. You’re born with it. You’ve got charisma and that’s just not the case. Pivoting and the whole concept of pivoting is how it is that you utilize everything that’s happening in your world, which means there’s no waste. How is it you utilize that in the pursuit of something that you’re passionate about. My passion was to one, help other people who had come to that place, that fork in the road like I did and were confused and maybe distraught and upset and angry and all that thing and I just wanted to serve that community. The fact that I had to learn how to speak publicly and learn how to engage people to be able to have that impact that I wanted to have, that just meant great. I needed to learn something new. I have to be humble. I had to start at the beginning and I had to dare to suck. Don’t we all have to do that? I’ve been sharing this lately and people are like, “Dare to suck.”
Adam, this was so much fun and I’m sure so many people, if they haven’t already read your book, they’re going to want to know how to find it and how they could reach you. Are there some sites you want to share?
If they want to get the book, of course they can go to Amazon. That’s the easiest way to get Pivot. They can go to AdamMarkel.com and you can check out the resources that are there. We’ve got a wonderful podcast, The Conscious PIVOT Podcast, a blog and all that thing. There’s a gift that I’d love for people to be able to access. Wherever you are right now, if you’re reading this and you’re thinking to yourself, “I really do want to make some change,” whether it’s health or relationship or it’s career-related, “I don’t know, am I in a pivot? Is one coming? I’d love to get that clarity you were speaking about.” You can get this even before getting the book. You can go to StartMyPivot.com. What you’ll find there is a download free. There’s no charge for it or anything like that. It’s a Kickstart Guide with six questions as well as some of the rituals that I’ve used. I’m a huge believer in the power of rituals and how those rituals create quality in our lives. I share some of my morning rituals and all those things that help me to pivot out of that other way of being where I was just not in a good place, and those questions are profound. When you ask better questions, you get better answers. StartMyPivot.com is where they can access that free Kickstart Guide.
Thank you, Adam. This is so much fun. I really enjoyed having you on the show.
It’s been a blessing and I appreciate the opportunity to come in and chat with you.
The Way Of The SEAL with Mark Divine
I am here with Mark Divine who is an expert in human performance and is displayed in mental toughness, leadership and physical readiness. His work is based on an integral warrior-led model that he developed and tested over thousands special operations candidates worldwide. The integrated training which involves physical, mental, emotional, intuitional, and spiritual training has resulted in more than 90% success rate for the special ops candidates. It’s now taught to executives and corporate teams, top sports teams, top athletes, professionals. I’m really anxious to talk to you. This is going to be so much fun. Thanks, Mark.
Diane, thanks for having me. It’s super nice to meet you.
It is super nice to meet you too. I’m very interested in your work. You’ve written many books. This isn’t your most recent book you’ve written though, is it?
It feels like it because if you’ve ever updated a book and maybe some of your listeners have written a second version of it, it’s almost like writing the whole thing over. This book initially was written in 2012 and it’s called The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed. It really was the first attempt to capture what I’ve been teaching spec ops candidates and then entrepreneurs and leaders since 2007. The work has accelerated and gone deeper since then. The book has become even more relevant because it was written for this notion that leading in today’s world is a lot like leading on a battlefield if you’re a special operator, a Navy SEAL. We call that a fluke environment, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous and it sure is that way right now in the world for everybody.
I find it interesting when people can take what they’ve learned from other experiences and incorporate it into leadership. Your background fascinates me. What’s harder than being a SEAL? You have an MBA, you’ve got all this other experience that led up to what you can incorporate now with leaders and all that. I’m curious if you ever had any anxiety or any of the things that hold people back? You were talking about going gung ho into this loving and everybody else’s hating it. I have watched you talk on some other shows. I know a little bit more about you from that. Were you ever one who had issues with any of that feeling?
I’m not going to say that I’m perfect. There is no perfect. One of the extreme advantages that I had was that I was a pretty deep martial artists for about four to five years before I joined the SEAL program. My martial arts wasn’t just grappling and learning how to kick people’s asses. It was all about the mind. I was fortunate enough to have what I would consider a Zen monk masquerading as a karate teacher, as my mentor, my Sensei. He had us meditating before and after every class and then on Thursday nights for an hour, and then we would go to the Zen mountain monastery in Woodstock, New York to meditate twice a year with the monks. As you can imagine the effect that this had on a 20, 21, 22, 23-year-old brain was profound and I didn’t understand it at the time. What I experienced was a total transformation from me. Clicking my heels and following the path that was laid out for me by my parents and by society. We’re getting all my expectations from my schooling, which was very good, MBA, CPA, BA Economics from Colgate.
What I realized when I was sitting on the bench after three years of meditative practice was that was all bullshit. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t what I was meant to be doing. When I started to ask deeper questions and do the self-inquiry, I learned that I was really meant to be a warrior. That’s when I started to really investigate the warrior paths and traditions and the SEALs jumped right out at me at that point. Interesting enough, I wasn’t one of those kids who at fourteen said they want to be a Navy SEAL. This is 1985. There weren’t a lot of movies out about the SEALs. It was zero. Books were written by a couple of crusty Vietnam vets or Dick Marcinko and so there wasn’t a whole lot of info. Back to your original question, I learned how to control my mind and also my emotions, which are two sides of the same point as you’re probably well-aware. When you can control one, you control the other. I learned how to manage my stress through breathing. I learned how to cultivate an enormously positive can-do mindset through that training and to use it at will when I was going through SEAL training.
Anytime I started to get that self-doubt, I was able to take corrective action immediately and pull myself to the other side where my peers were not able to do that and they would get sink further and further into that darkness. The further down you go, the harder it is to pull yourself out and that usually lead to a quit or we call a quinjury, a quit injury. That was my secret weapon and I used it with great effect in seal training. It’s the hardest training in the world, open up to anybody. There are others that are as probably arduous like SES Training, but SEALs become known for their intensity and realism and just the duration of it. It’s nine months long. Then that hell week, which everyone knows about that it’s six days of nonstop around the clock training. For me, it was all fun. Part of that is the retrospect but also I had a good time while I was going through, which is part of my attitude adjustment. Day-by-day, I just had to show up and say, “Let’s make this fun out. How do I have fun now?” Find the silver lining, find humor in the crazy things that we’re doing. Put your happy face on until you start to feel really like you just dominate anything they throw at you.
It’s interesting that you say all that because I’m writing a book about curiosity and that’s how we can get people to be more curious is to have that mindset. What comes to mind when you’re saying all this is golf. If you ever learned how to swing properly, you’re great. If you’ve been doing the Charles Barkley swing for twenty years, then you go in and they try to fix you. It’s really hard to unlearn and start all over again. You said you started all this at such a young age. How do you get empathy for people who didn’t get it so young and have to just erase, erase, erase and start all over again?
You bring in an excellent point. I teach a lot of people who come to me in their 50s or 60s or 40s and they’re all like, “I wish I had this training when I was seventeen, eighteen.” One of my missions is to bring this training to younger generation. It should be standard operating procedure to offer these types of skills in elementary and middle school and high school because they’re progressive. You can teach one version of it to an elementary and teach a whole another version of it obviously to an adult. I was very fortunate that I don’t take it for granted to have been exposed at a young age. One of the reasons why I’m so passionate about teaching it to everyone because it is transformative. When you tap into the power of your whole mind and you’re utilizing all that emotional intelligence and visual intelligence, your imagination and visualization and also your intuitive intelligence is profound. The impact it can have on the decisions you make on your quality of life. Having said that, the older you get, the more deeply rutted your thinking is.
In a very corresponding biological way, the pathways that your thoughts and emotions run along. It takes patience. That’s why we teach it not as a theory, but as a practice. It’s a daily practice. Then because we include the physical, because our training says you have to physically learn how to move your body and control your stress, then you have to learn how to tap into your whole power of your mind and your emotions. Then that’ll open up your intuitive strength and wisdom so that you can show up powerfully with a spiritual, non-quitting attitude, knowing where you stand in and why you’re doing what you do. You can always answer that question why. We call those the five mountains. Everything we do includes all five of those mountains as best as we can in our daily practices, in our training, even in our workouts. We don’t look at a workout is just going to the gym to get your bikini body ready for the summer, but that’s an opportunity to train all five mountains to integrate and to be a whole person that come out of that training session as a better leader and a better person. It’s all possible no matter what age you start. That’s the whole point. You just got to start and then do the work every day.
As far as the physical, it’s got to be harder when you’re older. I was just at a Genius Network Event where Randi Zuckerberg was doing burpees onstage. I’m giving her credit. I don’t know if I could do one. You need a certain amount of upper body strength, there are certain things to do, certain activities.
Everything is scalable, everything’s achievable with the right training. The point is to learn how to move and then to commit to moving every day. Burpees are a great example. I’m an advanced athlete, I would say. I’m doing 300 burpees a day this year to raise money for vets. I’ve committed to 100,000 burpees, but it’s not the only exercise I’m doing because I also know that would grease the groove of a rut and could possibly lead to burnout and injury. I don’t care if you’re a 65-year-old couch potato who’s ready to get moving again, learn how to move their body and the way we teach it, as with the breath and then alignment of the spine and mobility and then functionality. There’s a progression to be able to become your own version of an elite athlete. Anybody can do it but they just got to follow a path so to speak.
The leadership aspects, you mentioned some of the emotional intelligence parts which is really important in leadership and I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence, I am very interested in your work with that. In your book, you have different chapters about you establish your set point, you develop your focus and you go through these steps. Do you give them an assessment right at the beginning to see where you are so you have like a foundational, like this is where we are and we need to get this far to roadmap?
The people who are reading the book will do a self-assessment through a series of questions. Each of those five domains are five mountains here, we’ve got assessment questions and that helps you understand where you need to put your focus. At the same time, when we bringing people in for our immersion training, usually, it’s three days. We used to do 30 days, but now we coalesced into three. We will help them assess themselves and we’ll assess them generally through the skill of our coaches, the ability to assess how they work under pressure and the decision making. We actually have methodologies drawn from SEALs that we’ve developed ourselves to put people in situations where they’re uncomfortable. They just don’t understand what’s going on and to see how they react or respond. Those are usually emotional reactions. In the debrief, we’ll point those out. Also, they get a self-assessment.
Usually, there’s a genuine lack of awareness of people’s income incompetencies. I don’t use that term in a derogatory sense, but their incompetencies when it comes to the ability to move your body, the ability to breathe with movement, the ability to think well and breathe with movement, the ability to feel the right emotions while you think, while you breathe while you move. When you start to point all that out to people, that all of those are completely integrated. I can change my emotional state by changing my breathing. I can change it by changing my movement. I can change it by changing my thought patterns or I can align all those for maximum effect, and really get control of my emotions and then transmute negative to positive. Then use that for full effect in your leadership and decision making. It takes me about three days to parse that through with, with all the clients. Then there’s that light bulb that goes on and like, “I get this, but I’m a neophyte. You’ve got to the do the crawl, walk, run and start training it every day.”
It doesn’t take that long. Three to six months and all of a sudden people are really starting to operate at a much higher plateau of awareness because that’s really what starts happening. You become more self-aware and you’re tapping into those emotions. Shit is coming up and you’ve got tools to deal with it and then your intuition starts to kick in and you’re making better decisions and there are just a lot there. Very quickly, people find that they’re able to zero in and focus on the right things and deal with clutter and deal with distraction much better. This is probably the nicest outcome to feel more at peace and more aligned with themselves. They are able to see much more clearly about what is the right path for them. We tend to see people make great changes in their life when they leave businesses behind. They start up a nonprofit or an entrepreneurial venture on the side until they’re ready to go into it. They get really clear about what they want to do, what they should do, and then they go after it.
Are you dealing mostly with the highest-level executives or do you deal with employee level, lower level people? If there are people who are going to pick up their life and move, do you let them pay?
Generally speaking, we have been a business to consumer company. We’re working with people who really want to improve themselves. That includes the SEAL candidates who want to succeed as opposed to just go and hope they’re not a statistic, all the way to the entrepreneur and the business owner and executive. That’s been our core focus for the last six to eight years. We’re getting into corporate training and then that also has to start with the leadership. We’re talking to you about how do you take this in and help transform a culture so that they could use these skills in a culture environment? My business is Unbeatable. We just finished up our weekly all hands meeting and we did box breathing, which is one of my core practices at the beginning of the meeting. We practice these skills. We practice breathing and visualization. We have a gym and a yoga studio and everyone’s out there doing their work. It’s part of the culture.
We use our own tools to help stay focused and to make sure we’re really driving forward based upon a strong set of vision and values. That becomes talking about those and developing trust and authenticity and briefing and debriefing and all the things I talk about in the way of the SEAL, we do it. What we found is that it really has a transformative effect in culture. If someone in the culture through that training, because they are exposed to their organization as a vehicle for personal growth, which every organization should be. We spend 40 to 60 hours a week at work. If it’s stunting our growth, you’re in the wrong place. It really should be something that really facilitates and spurs your own growth. If that growth leads you out of there, that’s good for you and for the company.
Is that part of breaking things?
I think so, yeah. There’s a whole chapter on breaking things, which is really about breaking patterns of thought. I broke the pattern that I was supposed to be a business guy and go back to my family business when I was 24, 25 and joined the SEALs instead. That led to some serious waves of angst in my family. My mom was just freaking out. Nobody understood what was going on. It took them a few years to come around and if they ever have. That was an example of breaking things. Breaking things point is that once you get clear about what your true potential is and how you should express in the world, that’s all inquiry.
That’s all work done on a meditation bench in the gym doing this integrated training during the exercise we talk about then now you can apply it out in the outer world for maximum performance. That’s of course performance focused on the right thing. Even the SEALs candidates that come to us, a lot of times they don’t make it through our training or as the result of training, they realized that they were wanting to be a SEAL for the wrong reasons. Maybe their father, how tough they were or just because SEALs have become the modern superheroes. There are a lot of guys who are like, “I want to be a superhero too,” and they have no business being there. If we can help them figure that out in advance, we saved them a lot of pain.
You said that, if you feel a lot of stress, maybe you chose the wrong life. What’s interesting to me about stress is some people just couldn’t find one thing. Like this little bit is just so stressful, their head explodes and the other person didn’t even notice it at all. There is a level where you get to a level of distress. For me, I think I thrive on some level of if it’s somewhat stressful, I get bored really easily. How do we know you get that?
That’s where the self-awareness is. Paying attention to what is eustress or distress for you because stress is just stress. It’s pressure on your system. Just like an exercise, you want to push yourself but you don’t want to injure yourself. There’s a fine line between distress and eustress. Eustress is good stress, distress is bad stress. You want to ride that line. One of my yoga teachers used to say, “You want to find integrating pain and ride that integrating pain on the edge, but you don’t want to step over the line into disintegrating pain,” which is going to lead to injury or burnout or over or overstimulation which can lead something to break and then you need some recovery time. The same thing with the mental and emotional stress. There are certain things that maybe your pattern or condition that really triggers a stress response. Take a look at those because like I said, if someone else isn’t having that response and they’ve got a different story associated with whatever that stress trigger is.
You can take a look of that stress trigger and figure out why it’s such a story for you. Why is this one thing like a hand grenade for you and it’s just a pinprick for somebody else? There’s something that happened to you in your youth or there’s some patterning maybe from your parents or the way you were treated as a teenager that you can take a look at. That’s where their emotional development is really rich. You’ll probably enjoy this, but I’ve been recommending all my clients since 2007 that they should have an emotional coach, which is also called a therapist. Our prevailing wisdom in the west is that you go to a therapist when you’re broken and I say, “Don’t wait until you’re broken.” You don’t go to a physical training pro coach when you’re injured. You go to a physical training coach to avoid being injured and to get whole and healthy in a physical sense. The same thing emotionally. You’ll need that emotional support because you’re inside the bottle. You can’t read the label of your own life. You need someone else to help point things out and to help you override these core stories which are leading to the false triggers of stress which are leading to overstress, which lead to breakdown. You can change all that with just changing your thinking.
All the stuff you’re talking about reminds me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You get to this level of self-actualization. You’re talking about highest consciousness and awareness. I have to say, you aren’t what I would expect in terms of the guy that would be into yoga and mindfulness because you’re a big, tough, SEAL-looking guy. This stuff is more music soft.
That’s a western view. Consider the Ancient Samurai. The highest level of the warrior and all these ancient traditions was a peaceful warrior. They say the warrior is the last to pick up a lance and really loves his enemy as his self, but he’s willing to take action to protect the way of life and to get the mission done and all that. This is something that’s been lost in the western world. I feel really fortunate to have studied Eastern martial arts and yoga for so many years. We’d be able to teach it because we can bring that back. It’s a gift to humanity to be able to cultivate yourself, to lead with peace as opposed to a fist.
Having said that, I’m not a piece nick. I am a navy SEAL commander and I’ve served my country for twenty years in that regard and then continue to serve through training the next generation of warriors. I also know that the world isn’t linear the way we used to think it was linear and we can’t keep fighting the last war and that we need our warriors to be like world centric and to be able to think like a warrior monk. That’s why I’m teaching them these skills with breath control and meditation and visualization concentration and better decision making under extreme duress. It just so happens that those skills are also enormously valuable for the business leader or an entrepreneur or even a stay at home mom because the world is starting to look like a battlefield out there.
My work working as an MBA program chair, a lot of the stuff I looked at in the classes was how much we needed more soft skills. Some of the things you’re talking about aren’t really being taught in universities or in high schools. We’re not seeing enough of that type of preparedness training.
They are soft skills, but they can be taught. The best way to teach them, you have to expose people to the concepts and then you give them the tools to do the self-inquiry and then you have to have someone there who’s capable of being the sounding board. “This is what I experienced.” Then the guru or the monk or the teacher or the sensei would say, “That’s good,” or, “Take a little left turn and maybe work on that a little bit.” A lot of people get frustrated because we don’t really have good mentors in this inner work. They’re either super new age spiritualistic which is a turnoff for a lot of people, or they just don’t lack the depth or they’re one track. A good example is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a really valuable skill, but it’s just one skill of a stack of skills that an individual should develop to the access full integration.
Furthermore, most people’s minds haven’t learned to be still enough to be able actually practice mindfulness effectively and so they get really frustrated. We practice a progressive methodology which starts with breath control, then it leads to concentration and then we use visualization to be able to hold that concentration for sustained periods of time. Then we’ll teach awareness where you become much more aware. That’s where the self-inquiry can come in. Mindfulness is paying attention to the thoughts and the emotions and being able to notice patterns because you’ve opened up a much greater spaciousness. It also changes your concept of what mind is. We get you out of your head, into your heart and belly, into your whole body. Your whole body is the mind.
I just talked to a psychologist who has a big head following and he was talking about rumination and how some of the stuff we just go over and over in our head and certain things. I can see how the breathing and all the stuff you do can be really helpful to people in terms of getting them distracted from the thing that they keep going over and over. I’m curious about failure and I think I saw you talk about this and another tape too. What I’ve heard just going to so many events that I go to, I’ve seen all these top CEOs talk about failure, they talk about it differently than they did in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It used to be, “You just don’t fail. That’s the worst thing.” We look at failure as a learning opportunity. Do you look at it that way? How do you perceive failure?
There’s too much of an obsession about failure. I’d like to just eradicate the entire word from our language. Basically, you use your best skills, judgment, and clarity of mind to get the job done, knowing that it’s never going to work out the way you want to. There are no plan survives contact with the enemy. The enemy gets a say. Enemies being the marketplace or your competition or just your plan, sometimes can be the enemy because you plan sucks. You just basically keep trying, keep iterating until you succeed. Why do we have to look at the opposite and say that the things that didn’t work were failures? That’s bullshit. Just keep trying until you succeed. Let’s even make that stronger because like Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Keep on doing until the outcome looks close to what you had originally envisioned.
You have some pretty positive outcomes. How many companies have you created?
Six, and working on another.
Can you talk about it yet?
That’s the yoga business called KOKORO Yoga. When I got out of the SEALs, I started the Coronado Brewing Company. Now, they’re up to 40,000 barrels a year. A big region brewery here. That was a total mess up me. Talk about a failure. I’m hugely proud of that success, but I got out of it after five years. I just had this major brawl with my partner/brothers-in-law. Not a physical brawl but just a values brawl. I walked away from that business. I started on NavySEALs.com. It’s interesting the more deliberate approach to try to do something that’s more aligned with my fashion, led to a series of businesses. All that came out of the previous incarnation, which has got its pros and cons.
The previous incarnations sometimes lose their relevance or punch for me. I’ve had to really figure out how do I keep it going, if I’ve moved on? I started NavySEALs.com that led to US Tactical. US Tactical served as a government contractor. That got blown up too because I had a major contract basically stolen from me. I decided just to walk away from that business. This is part of my training. I’d like to be able to move really quickly. Then I started SEALFit. SEALFit is cranking where we train athletes and warriors to really tap into their full potential performed, but it’s very rigorous. That’s for the hardy-hardy and people trained for our program for a long time. Then out of SEALFit came Unbeatable, which is the Executive Coaching Leadership Development application of my training model.
We’ve got a personal practice called KOKORO Yoga. KOKORO means full mind or heart mind. That program has an online training and we’re starting to certify teachers and maybe start doing some licenses for KOKORO Yoga centers. That was grassroot. It’s been busy and I love to invest in. I’ve got a foundation called the Courage Foundation where we help vets who are suffering from posttraumatic stress. I use the tools that I write about and I’ve been practicing it for so long. On the outside it looks like I’m really busy, but on the inside I’m not. I just get radically focused on how I spend the first two hours every morning or my prep for the day. The wind in my mind, my training.
You do ice bath like Tony Robbins? Do you dump any ice or you do anything unusual like that?
I live on the ocean and it’s not that warm here in San Diego contrary to what people think. I get in the ocean a lot and I take a cold shower every morning. I don’t really have room for an ice bath in my house. I do not have an ice bath. If I had room, I would have a sauna and ice bath for sure.
This has all been really fascinating. Your book, it’s the fifth-year anniversary?
It was a fifth anniversary edition. It’s expanded. I’ve updated the whole thing. I’ve added new stories. I added two new chapters. One is Leading and Accelerating Times and the other is Secrets of Elite Teams. I would say that this version of the book is really geared toward leaders. I consider that everyone’s a leader. Especially since 2012 when it first came out, more and more people are realizing that they got to figure out how to be a leader and to be an entrepreneur even if they’re in a corporate job or maybe a millennial in a job that they need and they want. At the same time, they’ve got to be thinking, “This job probably won’t exist in a few years. I’ve got to learn these skills that are really designed for the next generation of leader.”
A lot of the stuff we talk about in my classes so I know I’m probably going to share a lot of these sound bites in my courses because I think you’re talking about so many things that people really need to know about it. I hope everybody checks out your book. Can you just share some of the websites and how they can find you and find out more?
The book is at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you want to get a free workbook that goes with the book, then you can go to our website WayOfTheSEAL.com. When you order from that, which then we’ll ship you the book, you’ll get a free PDF workbook plus tools. Our Unbeatable Mind program, we’re relaunching an incredibly cool new version of it. That’s at UnbeatableMind.com. That’s a twelve-month online training program. This book is drawn from that program. They also have events, these emerging academies and whatnot. For the athletes and warriors and people who want to train like the SEALs train, that’s SEALFit.com. We have Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, those are easy to find.
You really have some amazing stuff that you’ve done and it’s such an impressive book. I’m so grateful that you were here to share this. Thank you.
Thank you, Diane. I really appreciate it. It’s been a lot of fun.
About Adam Markel
Adam Markel is a CEO, Best Selling Author, Attorney, International Speaker, and Transformational Leader. Adam has spent the past 10 years training hundreds of thousands of people all across the United States, Southeast Asia, Canada, Europe and Australia on how to PIVOT to living a life of purpose, passion and freedom. Known as one of the most charismatic speakers you’ll ever see, Adam Markel has reinvented what it means to be a heart-centered and inspiring leader. He’s admired for his refreshing and inspiring impact on entrepreneurs, creative thinkers and leaders worldwide. Adam is also the Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of PIVOT: The Art and Science of Reinventing Your Career and Life.
About Mark Divine
Mark Divine is an expert in human performance as it is displayed in mental toughness, leadership and physical readiness. His work is based on an integral warrior-leader model that he developed and tested on over a thousand special operations candidates worldwide. The integrated training, which involves physical, mental, emotional, intuitional and spiritual training, has resulted in over a 90% success rate for the Spec Ops candidates. It is now taught to executives and corporate teams, tops sports teams, top athletes, professionals, first responders and warriors from all walks of life.
Mark is the founder and leader of several highly successful enterprises including SEALFIT (Physical and mental training), Unbeatable Mind, LLC (Executive Mastery Development), NavySEALs.com and USCrossFit. He also co-founded the Coronado Brewing Company in Coronado, CA.
- Adam Markel
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- The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed
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