Notes & Quotes: Staring Down the Wolf by Mark Divine

The following are my favorite notes from Mark Divine's Staring Down the Wolf: 7 Leadership Commitments That Forge Elite Teams.
  1. Staring down the wolf means facing your deepest negative conditioned qualities, or fears, and then staring them down to reduce their impact on your life.
  2. By not being clear on what I stood for and then standing that ground, I had established a new, lower standard.
  3. No matter how smart and skilled you are, it is your stage of development and emotional awareness that will define your character as a leader. And your character will define how the team responds to you.
  4. Failure is to be expected. Be ready for it.
  5. Action is the only way to eliminate doubt.
  6. There is a saying in the SOF community: "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war."
  7. Developing a stand requires that you first think through all the consequences of your decisions to all parties and to the environment.
  8. Strength of character and having no regrets are more valuable than the money.
  9. SEALs are fond of saying, "The only easy day was yesterday."
  10. He owned the consequences just because he had been there, which was his burden of leadership.
  11. Transparency of the facts and ownership of the results, particularly with your fuckups, are crucial in developing trust. Conversely, denying ownership and responsibility and failing to be transparent are the fastest ways to destroy trust.
  12. Don't identify with your mistakes. Let go of any attachment to desired outcomes and quickly move on from mistakes that preclude those outcomes. Admit that you're not perfect and that you're going to screw up. And when you do, embrace the suck and learn from it--and then again move on.
  13. Develop the muscle of committing only to the most important actions, and then follow through relentlessly.
  14. Respect like that is built upon three key character traits: integrity, authenticity, and clarity.
  15. The sooner you can appreciate your own limitations and become aware of your shadow, the sooner you can start to integrate and become more authentic, and free.
  16. Pay attention to what triggers you in your team or bosses. As the experts, "if you spot it in others, you got it in yourself."
  17. Challenging comfort is a lifestyle.
  18. Being a good follower means constantly setting your ego aside and letting go of the need to be right or in charge. You will stop judging the effectiveness of the leadership of others, because you don't want them to do that to you. Instead, every instance of leadership, regardless of who is in charge, becomes an opportunity to improve the entire team's effectiveness.
  19. One "aw shit" wipes out a thousand attaboys.
  20. The curious will never be satisfied and always ask versions of four key questions: Why is this being done this way? What should be done instead? How can we do it better? Who is the right person or team to do it?
  21. Travel light and don't get attached to your stuff.
  22. Commit now to simplify things and get really clear about what's important and what's not. When you reach that level of clarity--where you're aware of what your immediate mission is moment to moment, things start to really take off. Here are some focusing questions I use myself to keep things simple: Is what I am doing right now (or about to do) in alignment with my (or ours if a team) mission? What's the most important thing I can focus on right now--that will move me toward mission accomplishment? Does this idea or new project pass the FITS (fit, importance, timing, simplicity) test? Can I say no to this in service to a higher yes? Is this process worthy of breaking to improve?
  23. The three traits of resiliency worthy of deeper discussion: adaptability, persistence, and learning.
  24. Reacting negatively to failure leads to more destabilization, worsening an already bad situation.
  25. The power of optimism and a positive mindset cannot be understated.
  26. The pecking order is team first, teammate second, and you last. When this practice is instilled in your group, soon the team is taking care of your gear, asking how they can help you, and making your life easier. When your entire team has your back like this, and you have theirs, you tap into maximum leverage. This becomes a habit, and as the team experiences the mutual benefit, they are less likely to go back to self-serving behavior. You are then not doing it for the transactional intent, but because it is who you are as a person.
  27. One of the key practices for learning fast is one we've mentioned before: saying no in service to the larger yes, choosing what not to learn so that you can focus radically on what you should know and learn. Develop the courage to say no to the wrong skills and knowledge in order to simplify your life. That way you will have less clutter and more time to learn the right things.
  28. Is easy to fall for the notion that you have to expect some big egos when you are working with high performers. That is a stale idea and certainly not true in high-risk industries, or for that matter, in any situation. Egotistical leaders are dangerous and should not be invited to the party.
  29. It is effective to ask and answer: What's working and what isn't? How do we fill the gaps? What are the culture and discipline issues? How best do we address them?
  30. Trust is diminished when a leader doesn't share.
  31. Never rest on yesterday's accomplishments.
  32. In the SEALs, we were trained to seek the smallest actions that would lead to the biggest results. Then we would radically focus on those actions to completion. We would repeat this process until we dominated.
  33. The distance one places between suffering and breaking is what defines the spirit of an individual.
  34. Staring down the wolf requires daily work to evolve your body, mind, and spirit. Embrace the suck of that work, get comfortable with discomfort, and learn to appreciate the accelerated growth that will come from it. On the journey, remember these three things: Self-mastery is an EVERYDAY practice. We must take ownership of our own evolution. This will stoke your courage and breathe fire into your other commitments. This is not just about you. Every time you do the work, you are impacting your team, and humanity, positively.
  35. Check your ego and do this for the team. You must discover your unique calling and serve from that place. Humanity needs your unique skills and world-centric care.
  36. Your "basic training" is to carve out fifteen minutes each morning. During this time do five to ten minutes of deep diaphragmatic box breathing, followed by five to ten minutes of mindfulness; finish by journaling the patterns and ideas that came up.
  37. Acknowledge that you're capable of at least twenty times more than you think you are. Then, go out and prove it.