Mark Divine is by no means typical. The retired Navy SEAL Commander joined America’s most elite fighting force in his mid-20s, leaving behind a successful career on Wall Street to do so. After joining the service, Divine earned the distinction of Honor Man in his SEAL Training class, which is awarded to the top trainee of the bunch.
Outside of his work for the Armed Forces, Divine has launched several successful businesses and become a New York Times bestselling author. In his book The Way of the SEAL, Divine explains why he thinks you are capable of achieving 20 times more than what you’re doing now, and offers insight on how to unlock your own “20X factor.”
Aim for Excellence
Divine’s Honor Man certificate reads, “You have succeeded not only in doing ordinary things uncommonly well, but also in doing extraordinary things extraordinarily well.” If you want to be extraordinary, Divine says you need to make a habit of doing everything to the best of your ability, regardless of whether the task is big or small. Strive to become the best in the world at a common task, like making your bed. By making excellence a habit, you can tackle larger challenges with confidence.
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Put Yourself to the Test
Divine recommends taking on at least one “minor” challenge every week. This can be a physical challenge, like adding five minutes to your workout, or one that tests your character, like talking to a stranger or sitting with a new group at lunch.
He also suggests you try and tackle a tougher, more significant challenge once a month. Your monthly challenge should take you out of your comfort zone for a longer period of time, so try an all-day hike or a weekend of charity work.
Lastly, he recommends you set a goal to conquer one “gnarly” challenge—something that requires months of training and pushes you to your limit—every year. For an athlete, this might mean going above and beyond to reach an audacious goal during your next sports season.
Schedule your challenges—if you don’t write them down, you won’t do them—and keep track of your progress.
Channel Pain Into Positivity
The harder you push yourself, the more pain you’ll experience. Divine encourages his trainees to embrace uncomfortable situations by focusing on something that’s positive, then smiling or even laughing. He recalls one particularly brutal stretch of SEAL training Hell Week when his class had to sit in the freezing surf all night. Ten recruits quit, but Divine lasted to the morning by staying positive and imagining himself on the beach in Hawaii. “Take control of your story and use positive self-talk to reinforce your attitude adjustment,” he recommends.
Divine suggests not only challenging your body, but your mind. One of his mental WODs (short for Workout of the Day), titled “On the Leading Edge,” requires you to contact a person you admire for a short interview. Ask about his or her habits, mindset, and secrets to success. Most successful people—even celebrities—enjoy sharing advice with those who are truly interested in getting better. Write down practices you can incorporate into your own life.
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