by Mark Divine, retired U.S. Navy SEAL commander and NYT bestselling author of “The Way of the SEAL: Think Like An Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed“
Are you the person who says, “I’m stressed,” or “Thank God, it’s Friday.” When life gets hard, do you struggle to remain calm and focused? Perhaps you lack consistency and miss deadlines. Sometimes, you might even feel like quitting.
As a retired Navy SEAL Commander and founder of several successful businesses, including SEALFIT and Unbeatable, LLC — I teach people how to be mentally tougher, emotionally resilient, and intuitively aware. But you don’t need to be a Navy SEAL to learn how to think like one. Here are some ideas on how from the new release of my bestselling book, “The Way of the SEAL“.
1. Set the right goals for the right reasons.
Before becoming a SEAL, I was a miserable 25-year-old CPA on Wall Street. I learned the hard way that you need a compelling vision of your desired outcome. This must be guided by an intrinsic “why” that inspires action. A good why could include something bigger than yourself, serving others less fortunate, or becoming a role model for your family or in your community.
Once you have clarity on your why, focus on the right goal that aligns with it by running your decision making through my “FITS” planning modeI: Does this goal fit your skills? Will it provide a good return on investment of your focus? How important is this goal? Is the timing optimal? Is the goal simple? With this clarity, you’ll be unstoppable when the inevitable obstacles arise.
2. Visualize success.
Warriors and elite athletes win in their minds first before stepping into their arenas. The same principle applies to business. Mentally rehearse a challenging event before attempting it. “Dirt dive” the event in extreme detail, calmly dominating every task with effortless perfection and a smile. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, imagine laying in a pristine, clear, still pond. Allow yourself to sink to the bottom, where you feel protected from the chaos. Once you feel rejuvenated, float back to the surface. With practice, you can tap into these visualizations on demand, going into a calm “autopilot” in the most chaotic situations.
3. Develop mental and emotional control.
Pay attention to your inner dialogue. At our SEALFIT camps, we ask sleep deprived trainees, “What wolf are you feeding – the wolf of fear or courage?” After years of negative programming from your home environment, TV news, and naysaying friends, the fear wolf normally wins, eroding your performance and the will to win. Replace negative thoughts with empowering dialogue like, “Could be worse,” “I can do this, it’s easy,” “I’m getting better,” or “I’ll never quit.”
Also, chunk overwhelming tasks into micro goals. At the start of the infamous Navy SEAL Hell Week (six days of non-stop training with four hours sleep), I chunked my focus to making it until sunrise, then the next meal as things got harder, then even the next step. If you’re writing a book, focus on 500 words each day. If you’re launching a product, just focus on the most critical task before moving to your next target.
4. Breathe through stress.
To win at anything, you must stay calm through slow, controlled, deep breathing. Do this for a minimum of five minutes in the morning and evening. This is also effective before important meetings.
Breathe in, breathe out. Stay relaxed. Detach. People will perceive you as a natural leader with a commanding presence.
To conclude: thinking like a warrior requires an uncommon approach to your challenges. Face obstacles head-on, keep your goals short, stay focused and relaxed, but adaptable to changing situations. Find humor in your challenges and keep tapping into your potential — with the right training and daily practice, you’re 20 times more capable than you think.
Founder of Unbeatable Mind and SEALFIT Mark Divine is a retired U.S. Navy SEAL commander and NYT bestselling author of “The Way of the SEAL: Think Like An Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed“, which provides a new look at leadership and personal excellence in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.