We hear the term often.
We’re told to improve it. To enhance it. But we’re not always given a clear path to doing so.
I’ve struggled to find that path. My mindset naturally defaults to negative. And everyday requires focus, effort, and inspiration to re-frame my perspective.
But I know to accomplish what I want in this life, I need to not only re-frame my perspective, but change my default.
And I’ve been researching how to do exactly that over the last several years.
Of the dozens of books, articles, and studies I’ve read, retired Navy SEAL Mark Divine’s book The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed, is among the best. Divine spent 20 years in the SEAL teams, first in active duty, then the Reserve. He started and owns multiple businesses and now hosts his own podcast.
The Way of the SEAL is chock full of useful strategies, techniques, and practical exercises that if followed, can help develop a positive, resilient mindset.
I’ve outlined five of Divine’s strategies below that I’ve found useful in changing my default. Even if you already have an unbeatable mind, the below strategies are a great way to make improvements.
1. Define Your Values
Defining your values is an important first step in changing your mindset.
Our values become the compass for our actions when things get difficult. When you are knee deep in the hardest challenge of your life and quitting sounds more appealing than moving forward, having a strong understanding of your values can propel you to the finish line.
Divine advises writing down your personal ethos. Start by asking yourself, “What do I stand for?” Then ,“What do I want more of or less of in my life?”
Build a statement around your answers that you can repeat to yourself when things get tough.
I’ve found this recommendation to be most helpful in getting started. I don’t want to get up at 4:30 to workout or write. But I know to stay inline with my personal values, these are the things I need to do. There is no other time during my day to do either, so, I must make time. Having a value statement at the ready, has helped accomplish this.
When we don’t make time to do the things we want more of in our lives, we become lost. Unattached from what matters to us on a personal level. But when we define our values, the actions we need to take become clear.
2. Envision Your Goal Already Achieved
If you don’t know what the end state looks like, how will you know you’ve reached it?
Clarity is not only important in terms of your values, but your goals.
We all have aspirations. We all dream. But those who clearly envision the outcome and work towards that result have an advantage. Their mission writes itself.
Divine explains that we cannot just envision that goal once, we need to do it daily. And that means visualizing with purpose.
Everyone daydreams, but to internalize our outcome, we need to focus our wandering minds on reaching that goal.
Divine suggests first “seeing it.” Get clear on the end result.
Then, “visualize it.” Imagine yourself after you’ve achieved the goal. See yourself changed.
Then, “practice it.” Repeat the visualization process daily, “infuse your visualization with belief, expectation, and an intense desire to bring the visualized event to life.”
I decided to replace my morning scroll through social media with this exercise. The results have been a game changer. Whenever I take 5 mins to close my eyes and visualize with purpose, I tend to beat the Resistance telling me to scroll instead of working on my goals.
It feels energizing to see yourself accomplishing the things you want in this life. And like Divine says, you need to train yourself to visualize with the belief that your desired outcome is not only possible, but inevitable.
3. Embrace the Suck
The concept of “embracing the suck” is among my favorite in Divine’s book. Most of the SEAL biographies I’ve read touch on this philosophy in one way or another.
When we flip the script on what we would otherwise complain about, we take the power away from our negative thoughts.
Divine calls this “Transmuting Pain into Positivity.” He advises readers that when they tackle their next challenge, to embrace the pain of the moment and focus on the positive.
Divine recommends smiling, even laughing, while things are at their hardest.
He also discusses the value in taking yourself to the challenge. Embracing the suck doesn’t just mean letting the challenge come to you, it means consciously putting yourself in difficult situations. It’s what my blog The Road of Trials is all about, getting off the couch and getting on the road.
I know when I’m truly embracing the suck. It is almost always during an intense workout or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu session. Physicality will bring that mindset out in you.
You will recognize it by the advent of tunnel vision, intense feelings of excitement, and the urge to exert all of the energy charging through you in a sprint-like effort.
4. Adopt an Offensive Mindset
Divine explains that in order to develop unwavering confidence its important to adjust our internal monologue.
This means going beyond positive self-talk and eradicating “weak, defensive language” from your vocabulary. Then, replacing it with strong, offense-oriented words and phrases. Using offense-oriented language will help rewire your mind toward offense-oriented action.
Divine suggests replacing the following defensive language with its offensive counterpart.
Defend becomes Attack
Good becomes Great
Can’t becomes Will
Try becomes Do
Failed becomes Learned
Maybe becomes Definitely
I have found this exercise challenging. If you are hardwired to find that one gray cloud on a perfect summer day like I am, using strong, offense-oriented language will be difficult.
But I also recognize its importance, which is why I started writing down any time I use a weak or defensive term. I then write its offense-oriented counterpart next to it.
Though it can be tough to recognize every time, I’ve found the practice of writing it down forces me to be more conscious of my language.
5. Transform Your Emotions
Similar to redirecting weak and defensive language to an offense-oriented vocabulary, Divine recommends transforming weak and defensive emotions into their offensive counterparts.
This means Anger becomes Determination.
Fear becomes Alertness.
Doubt becomes Curiosity.
This exercise is among the most difficult Divine recommends in The Way of the SEAL. It involves witnessing your emotions as they happen and making a conscious decision to re-frame your feelings as something positive.
It will take practice and will power. Negative feelings like anger or fear have an addictive component. It feels good to be angry sometimes. But just because it feels good, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
What has made this exercise possible for me is grounding myself in the moment when I experience a negative emotion. I follow several steps, outlined here, to stop my mind from diving deeper into that emotion.
Then, I use Divine’s technique of identifying the emotion’s positive counterpart. Lastly, I focus on feeling that positive counterpart.
The Navy SEALs have gained global notoriety for a reason. They have found a way to tap into the mental toughness reserves of the human mind. And for the ambitious, that is an alluring skill.
Mark Divine’s The Way of the SEAL, provides a guide to developing a mindset of an elite operator. Unlike so many memoirs that simply tell the story, Divine explains exactly how he got through his extensive training and special operations career.
The above recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg. Check out The Way of the SEAL for yourself to learn all of Divine’s strategies for thinking like an elite warrior.