Notes and Quotes: The Way of the SEAL by Mark Divine

The following are my favorites quotes from Mark Divine's The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed
  1. A leader following the Way of the SEAL is a professional who first masters the power of his or her own thoughts, emotions, instincts, and unique abilities and in so doing gains the trust and respect of others, becoming a natural leader.
  2. If you lack an underlying commitment to self-mastery and growth, even the best theory won’t help you lead yourself or a team to success.
  3. I consider the term “warrior” to have a broader, more figurative meaning as one who is committed to mastering himself or herself at all levels, who develops the courage to step up and do the right thing, all while serving his or her family, team, community, and, ultimately, humanity at large.
  4. Today’s Western culture is narcissistic. Our economic mythos—the collective story we tell ourselves about how our economy works and how we should interact as part of it—is based upon an individual carving out his or her slice of a limited-resource pie in a competitive attempt to secure a declining standard of living.
  5. Our daily crush of commitments keeps the hamster wheel of survival spinning, but it masks a growing unease and keeps attention off what matters most.
  6. We all pay at a personal and societal level for the failure to hold ourselves accountable to higher standards.
  7. I recommend you read the book once through, then go back and work with each principle as a monthlong exercise.
  8. The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where everyone is trying to make you be somebody else. —E. E. CUMMINGS
  9. Establishing your set point requires you to: • make a stand • find your purpose • embrace risk, loss, and failure.
  10. Unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything. —REV. PETER MARSHALL, U.S. SENATE CHAPLAIN
  11. The “thousand-mile stare” is a noteworthy trait of a SEAL.
  12. Mark Divine's Personal Stand:
    1. Destiny will favor me if I am prepared in mind, body, and spirit.
    2. There’s no free lunch; I must work harder than expected and be more patient than others.
    3. Leadership is a privilege, not a right, and I must earn it in the arena of action.
    4. As a warrior, I will be the last to pick up the sword but will fight to protect myself, my family, my country, and my way of life.
    5. I will strive to live in the present, resolve with the past, and create my ideal future.
    6. I will find my peace and happiness through seeking truth, wisdom, and love, and not by chasing thrills, wealth, titles, or fame.
    7. I will seek to improve myself, my team, and the world every day.
  13. Developing a “stand” builds a foundation that supports our day-to-day activities and helps us move toward our purpose in life.
  14. I left my CPA firm because I couldn’t work for an organization with such a singular focus on money at the expense of others’ well-being.
  15. Your stand will answer the question “What would I do?” and your purpose will answer the question “Why am I here?”
  16. If being true to your purpose and stand gets you killed (or fired, or dumped, or whatever), then it’s an honorable death, and that’s the point. True warriors accept that.
  17. Embrace Risk, Loss, and Failure
  18. Try to come up with six to ten statements that feel really powerful and right for you.
  19. Clarify your values so you can become the kind of person who can stand his or her ground every day. Values answer the question “What do I want more of or less of in my life?”
  20. Even though you may not feel or look the part now, you must envision yourself in your ideal state, activating your personal power and living in alignment with your stand and purpose.
  21. I learned in the SEALs that there’s no such thing as perfection, only perfect effort. Through practicing a “perfect” version of ourselves mentally, we’ll slowly become that person in real life.
  22. Keep your eyes trained on the front sight and your front sight trained on the target. —SEAL INSTRUCTOR
  23. A SEAL knows he must simply engage one target at a time and not shift focus until he’s dispatched that target.
  24. You can overcome any obstacle and achieve any goal with front-sight focus through a four-pronged approach: • prepare your mind • envision your goal • define the mission • simplify the battlefield
  25. Victorious warriors win first in their minds, and then go to war. Defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. —SUN TZU, AUTHOR OF THE ART OF WAR
  26. I knew I had to tap into my training at an entirely different level and stop fighting a physical fight.
  27. To win at anything, we must first win control over our minds.
  28. Before you can take control of your mind, you must first calm it down.
  29. Silence creates the space for you to think and thus see reality more clearly, which is crucial for you to train your front-sight focus on your targets and stay on mission.
  30. It was only after six months of training that I was able to quiet my mind for four or five breath cycles, an achievement that rewarded me with new insights, some of which—such as the realization that my job was making me miserable and had no meaningful purpose to me besides money and credentials—led me to question my choices.
  31. After more than a year in weekly silent practice, I could reach ten breath cycles, and I saw clearly that my dissatisfaction came not from my unhappy job, but from not aligning with my unique purpose in life.
  32. “Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”
  33. You have to know where you’re headed if you’re going to move forward with SEAL-worthy front-sight focus.
  34. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. —PROVERB
  35. If the implied tasks of the mission are out of sync with the Team’s competencies, resources, risk tolerance, or time frame, then it will fail.
  36. Simplifying the battlefield requires two key elements. First, you must know your unique offer as an individual, team, or business so you can identify what you must do and what you can delegate to others. Then you must declutter your internal and external environments so you can see simple solutions more easily.
  37. When your clutter isn’t bogging you down, you literally and metaphorically have more room for the things you need.
  38. I teach a three-part system for keeping things simple: First is to declutter your physical surroundings, and then your commitments, and finally your internal state.
  39. Declutter your tasks and commitments by implementing the 80/20 rule.
  40. Embrace the suck and do it.
  41. You can’t partly commit or potentially commit. When you deliver a powerful “Yes, I’ve got this!” you inject a positive intent and energy into a project that is palpable.
  42. You must commit with everything you have; otherwise say “no” or “not now.”
  43. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. —WINSTON CHURCHILL
  44. The world is chaotic and destiny favors the prepared.
  45. Though all may be true at some level, these weak beliefs are not very helpful, nor will they propel you forward toward results.
  46. If you’re looking for a big opportunity, seek out a big problem. —H. JACKSON BROWN
  47. The creative mind operates in the present, while the rational, thinking mind rests in the past or future. Therefore, you must be able to tap into all three without getting stuck.
  48. If you can readily shift focus from future to past to present, you will easily be able to spot the gaps between old and new realities and detect openings for breaking things that others miss.
  49. To achieve victory every time requires us to navigate opportunity gaps, and then innovate and adapt rapidly to fill the gaps before others notice them.
  50. Any plan is better than no plan, and a good plan executed now is far better than a perfect plan executed too late.
  51. The key to breaking through to extraordinary results is to replace an old habit with a new one.
  52. According to declassified CIA reports from the Cold War era, the Soviets had success breaking a man’s spine using mental projection (yikes) and also with using clairvoyance to spy on U.S. missile sites.
  53. Awareness is the ability to pay close attention to the whole and the parts of a situation simultaneously.
  54. When you focus your eyes, you focus your mind and shut out distractions.
  55. Recent research by Dr. Colin Ross, author of Human Energy Fields and founder of the Colin A. Ross Institute, shows that energy projected out of our eyes can travel hundreds of meters.
  56. I became accustomed to keeping my mouth shut and listening with my whole being, only speaking if asked a direct question or if I had a key insight to offer the team.
  57. It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe. —THOMAS PAINE
  58. Deeply hidden beliefs can cause your subconscious mind to work against your conscious desires in direct and indirect ways.
  59. To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult. —JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE
  60. When you feel the need to speak (which, incidentally will be much less often when you do this practice routinely), you will pause before you respond, then open your mouth to speak only if: • what you have to say is truthful • what you have to say adds value and is helpful to the conversation • what you have to say is positive and comes from a place of respect and genuine concern for the other party.
  61. Think offense, all the time.
  62. The advanced skills of winning with an offensive mind-set include: • developing unwavering confidence • sharpening your awareness • doing the unexpected • leading with rapid execution.
  63. How you think and deal with opportunities and threats will determine whether you are the victor or victim.
  64. The best way to predict your future is to create it. —ABRAHAM LINCOLN
  65. Words stimulate imagery.
  66. An offensive mind-set is the vehicle that allows you to focus your emotional energy, in a controlled manner, toward the target.
  67. Confirmation bias - as soon as you believe something to be true, you will seek confirmation to support your view and will shut out evidence to the contrary.
  68. Always question authority!
  69. Rules are made for people who aren’t willing to make up their own. —CHUCK YEAGER
  70. SEALs have a blank slate “all options are on the table” approach: We don’t follow the enemy’s rules or even our own rules if they are archaic or broken; we don’t stick with the status quo and don’t like to do things the way they were done in the past.
  71. The more you stack your to-do list with tasks, commitments, projects, and leadership roles, the less meaningful work you will actually get done.
  72. Strive to do fewer things better by narrowing down your daily actions to one to three critical tasks that will move the dial toward your purpose-aligned targets.
  73. There is no such thing as a fair fight. If you must fight—whether real fisticuffs or a boardroom brawl—you must be offensive and unconventional in your approach.
  74. Sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and be proved as one.
  75. Commander William McRaven identified five principles common to successful special operations throughout history: purpose, repetition, security, surprise, and speed.
  76. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are simplified routines (actually processes) for common tasks that free up the minds of your field operators, allowing them to perform the tasks almost on autopilot while they focus their valuable resources on responding to the small percentage of problems that are new and unique.
  77. Boyd’s simple but powerful observation was that if you can speed up your own decision-making cycle while slowing down your opponent’s, the outcome will veer in your favor.
  78. Thinking offense, all the time, aligns your mind and spirit in a forward-momentum, active effort that will allow you to tackle anything with unwavering confidence in your ability to win.
  79. Acting on a good decision is better than not acting on a great decision.
  80. I believe strongly that, after a certain age, if we aren’t seeking growth in life, we will start moving backward.
  81. Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. —EARL NIGHTINGALE
  82. Turns out you can’t force your own development; you can only facilitate it.
  83. The unexamined life is not worth living. —SOCRATES
  84. TV news is notoriously negative and will have a big impact on your subconscious over time—as with any high-functioning computer, the output of your mind is shaped by what you put into it.
  85. Eat [lunch] at your desk later or implement an “as needed” fueling program, eating small nutritious snacks throughout the day only when you feel hungry.
  86. It’s a matter of replacing inefficient time with efficient time.
  87. Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. —JIM ROHN
  88. Inner growth is nonlinear and exponential. You can go a long time with seemingly no results, then suddenly you have a breakthrough and find yourself with a whole new worldview, level of consciousness, or sense of peace.
  89. Effective communication with brutal honesty is a critical team skill.
  90. What is said in the debrief about personal performance stays in the debrief unless corrective action is required at the organizational level.
  91. When you embark on the path to developing self-mastery, you are committing to truth, and then to developing wisdom, and then to leading with heart.
  92. The type of global paradigm change we face, the work required to steer the ship in a new direction, is too overwhelming to expect any single political, spiritual, academic, or warrior leader to rise up and lead us through the mess. No, it must be an individual, team, and systemic level effort where we all unite for an upwelling of honor, courage, and commitment.
If you enjoyed the quotes, pick up a copy for yourself.