Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level by Mark Divine
mental toughness has three secrets—controlling the body, the mind, and the emotions. Win those three, and you win the battle every time.
I encourage you to enjoy the journey rather than focus on the destination. For every mountain you climb and plateau you rest at, there will be another and more interesting view ahead.
I learned to feel my way, rather than think, my way through crisis moments. I noted how excessive thinking and analysis paralysis got people injured or killed. I chose instead to surrender to my intuition and seek presence when possible over constant rationalization. Over time I became hyperaware of what was going on in and around me. This present moment mind-set brought my rational mind under even more control and allowed for creativity to flow.
Now is the only time that matters.
negativity destroys performance, so it is crucial to train to move from witnessing negative thoughts to starving them and feeding the positive. This is the specific process: Witness negativity. Interdict, or stop, the negative thoughts with a power statement. Redirect your mind with self-talk and imagery to something positive and productive for your current goal. Maintain your new mental state with a jingle or mantra.
Interdiction power statements are words that shock your monkey mind back into control. Words like no or stop work well, though I prefer using positive power statements, such as “I’ve got this,” “piece of cake,” “step it up, Mark,” or my favorite, “feed the courage wolf!” You will want to develop a power statement that resonates with you and practice using it daily. Practicing power statements until they become second nature will, over time, make the interdiction process automatic.
This is a good time to remind you that our culture has a multitude of negative and intrusive triggers pounding our brains at all times. An hour of television news and a barrage of negative people every day do untold damage to your fertile mind’s attempt to perform. Negative people and negative interpretations of everyday events destroy confidence and “bring you down.”
Because warrior training has a very different purpose than athletic training, it emphasizes a lifetime effort by the committed warrior. The ultimate goal was, and remains, to become the best possible version of you possible.
Training must be planned and purposeful and approached with a “crawl, walk, run” methodology. Dedication is required to show up and put out every day.
A note of caution: dedication must be balanced with humor and reality checks. What I mean is this: be serious and dedicated to your training, but balance it with humor and let “real life” flow. I often see those who embark on this path get really serious, as if being serious would move them along faster. It won’t; trust me. Having a sense of humor and balance is more fun and effective for the long haul.
When you truly believe that there’s enough to go around for everyone, regardless of the situation, then the world stops being a zero-sum game. Generosity of time, support, and love allows abundant energy to flow from you like a river constantly replenished by the wellspring of universal energy. Abundance and generosity can be developed through awareness of your daily impulses toward scarcity and then redirecting those thoughts: Do you tip 20 percent? Do you smile at people you walk by? Do you grab the biggest steak off the grill or allow someone else to have it? Do you help someone without being asked? What would you do for your family or teammates in a time of need?
The Golden Rule describes the abundance mentality, a version of which exists in every spiritual tradition. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the Christian version. The interesting aspect of this rule is that the return is greater than the giving. Although it may come back at a later time, or from another source, or in a different manner than that in which it was given, it will come back to you in greater measure. On the other hand, if you’re a stingy hoarder with your money, time, or energy, you will dry up like Ebenezer Scrooge. Your energy will stagnate as you become more brittle and inflexible in thought and body.
The Power of Choice As you learn to control your mind, life opens up to choice rather than being buffeted by the winds of chance and fate. Prior to your mentally controlled life, things seemed to happen to you. Life was random, and you often felt out of control, because you were, and it was. Now that you are learning how to control your mind, you are back in the driver’s seat. You will be able to create exactly what you desire and avoid what you need to. You are writing the script of your own masterpiece…your life.
Note that your entire life is made up of thousands of very small choices made every day. We tend to focus on the few big choices when we look forward or reflect on our life experience. However, isn’t it true that the big choices, the life-altering ones, are available only as a result of the sum total of all the small choices you made up to that point?
The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs. —James Allen
Act—nothing happens in life until we take massive action
One thing I noticed when I was in the SEAL Teams was how much a powerful team elevated me as an individual. Conversely, crappy teams brought me down and caused me to be less effective and powerful. This point is an underappreciated aspect of teams: The team affects the individual just as much as the individual affect the team. One bad apple will spoil the bunch. This principle is very important and should impact how you recruit, select, acculturate, train, and maintain peak performance with your team.
We learned that the more one trains in peacetime, the less they will bleed in wartime. Train to win!
No matter how shitty things get, you need to find the silver lining, let go of any attachment to the misfortune, and then move on.
Adding a mantra such as “pain is weakness leaving my body” will add an element of determination to your embrace-the-suck moments.
True humility is the kind that Nelson Mandela displayed when he returned to the prison where he was held for a large part of his adult life…to forgive the prison guards and thank them for being his teachers.
A healthy body benefits and supports future growth and development.
That saying, “one day, one lifetime,” has stayed with me all these years and serves as a reminder that every day is important and could be my last. I learned to live each moment fully alive and present, not as a dress rehearsal.