Bonfire Guest Contributor: Mark Divine, former U.S. Navy SEAL Commander

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The Big 4 of Mental Toughness – Part I

By Mark Divine

Imagine showing up at Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training (BUD/s) on day one. Around you stand 175 swarthy SEAL candidates from all walks of life. Some are monster Adonis types who played linebacker for their college football team. Others are boxers and wrestlers. Others are underwater combat experts (code for water polo). Still others look like they just parked the tractor in the barn and hopped on a bus to Coronado.

Every one of them is about ready to fight three fights, and the 40 or so who can win all three simultaneously while maintaining a great attitude and their health, will call themselves SEALs in 11 months.

If you wonder whether you will be one of them …you won’t.

First, let’s discuss the 3 fights.   As my buddy Tony Blauer likes to point out – in a street fight, you fight 3 battles.

The first fight is inside you. That battle is overcoming your fears, steeling your resolve, maintaining an offensive mind set, developing skills, knowledge and personal power, and not succumbing to the habit of conveying special powers upon your enemy.

The second fight is the actual engagement; the one most would consider the fight. This is often the easiest of the 3, and is certainly the shortest in terms of time invested.

The third fight is between you and the system. This fight is also pretty clear to you. The instructor’s sole job is to determine whether you have what it takes to be on the team. They don’t care about you personally. Whether you or the next guy makes it is completely irrelevant to them. The instructors all have PhD’s in exploiting weakness, finding your opening, crawling inside of you and tearing you apart from the inside out.

Back to wet and cold on the BUD/s grinder. The second fight is clear to you. You must fight each and every one of these guys to earn the right to be standing tall on graduation day. That means that, out of 40 potential finishers, 39 will be your potential teammates, and the other 135 are your enemies. You are locked in a competitive battle with them to lock your position in the 40. You must do so by being crafty, every watchful, exploiting opportunity, being Machiavellian and Aristotelian at the same time. You must be intensely cooperative and forge a winning team, while also being intensely competitive – the stakes are the coveted trident, which some have literally died earning. You will not make it…unless…

You win the first fight first. The first fight is in your mind. You must win in the mind, before stepping foot onto the battleground. This is true for any situation in life. The question, then, becomes how.  Even if ambushed, a SEAL who beats the crud out of an assailant in California will have to answer for why a Navy SEAL with 25 years of martial arts experience could not control the use of force.

This is where the “big 4” come in. I can write volumes about mental toughness, but when it comes to tactics, the big 4 always bubble up to the top. You must master these 4 tactics to win in your mind before you step into the combat-like arenas of life.

Whether you are a SEAL candidate or business professional, the big 4 are your toolkit to mental toughness and success. Stand by for more in the next installment.

Until then, train hard, stay safe and have fun!

The Big 4 of Mental Toughness - Part II

Commander Mark Divine is founder and CEO of US Tactical, inc. which operates SEALFIT, NavySEALs.com and US CrossFit. He started his athletic career as a collegiate swimmer and rower, then competitive tri-athlete and martial artist before joining the Navy in 1990 as an officer. He graduated honor-man of his SEAL training class and served on active duty for nine years. Mark retired as a Commander from the Navy Reserves in 2011.

At U.S. Tactical and SEALFIT, CDR Divine has trained and mentored thousands of Navy SEAL and other Special Ops candidates to succeed in the most demanding military training programs in the world. His success rate with SEALFIT in getting candidates through their SOF programs is near 90%.

Mark’s insights into elite fitness, elite teams, leadership, mental toughness and warrior spirit development were developed over his 20 years as a SEAL and business leader, 25 years as a martial artist and 15 years as yoga practitioner. Mark has developed the first Integral Warrior program through the integration of Western and Eastern training practices – making SEALFIT and the Unbeatable Mind Academy the most effective training programs in the world for warrior athletes, professionals and leaders from all walks of life. SEALFIT trainees are those seeking a higher level of operating, thinking and leading – encompassing the full spectrum of human experience – Body, Mind and Spirit in Self, Team and Organization. Finally, Mark has created Unbeatable Mind Academy for executive and others who are seeking a higher level of mental performance.