“Let’s face it. When the stakes include your own mortality, you tend to be very clear about what’s important.” As a former member of one of the fiercest fighting forces in the world, Mark Divine, who writes these words in his new book, The Way of the SEAL, is all too familiar with mortality. The SEALS are the elite group of fighters who take on missions that would seem suicidal to men less trained and less dedicated. Divine spent 20 years in the SEALS, retiring as commander. In The Way of the SEAL, he applies the mental and emotional training of the SEALs to success in the world of business and life through eight core principles.
The mix of Divine’s early background in business (including an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and a job with a big eight accounting firm), years as a combat soldier, and subsequent challenges as an entrepreneur makes him uniquely qualified to help people overcome hurdles and push themselves and others to success. For Divine, who has started and led six multimillion dollar ventures since leaving the military, most leadership and management books make the mistake of offering techniques and strategies without first building the personal foundation required for success. It all begins with you, what you have inside, he writes. The following eight principles are designed to build that foundation.
1. Establish your set point, the core values, passion and purpose that guide what you do.
2. Develop front-sight focus — like a sniper focused exclusively on the front sight at the end of the barrel and the target beyond, don’t let yourself be distracted or derailed.
3. Bulletproof your mission so it won’t fail.
4. Do today what others won’t so you can achieve tomorrow what others can’t.
5. Forge mental toughness, eliminating the quit option.
6. Break things and remake them — everything improves through innovation and adaptation.
7. Build your intuition, which includes slowing down so you can engage the senses.
8. Think offense all the time — be confident, do the unexpected and execute without delay.
Devoting a chapter to each of the principles, Divine offers practical strategies followed by exercises to help his readers apply the principles to their lives. Bulletproofing the mission, for example, begins with “selecting high value targets” — making sure that the goals you choose fit your skills, are important to achieving your overall mission, fit the timing, and are simple and clear. Achieving the goals starts with answering four questions: What are your priorities? What are the realities of the situation? What options do your targets suggest? And what path forward will you select? The next step in bulletproofing your mission is to communicate the mission through a visual story. Finally, rehearse repeatedly.
The First Death
In his introduction, Divine tells the story of “Mr. Kane,” the owner of a family-run paper company audited by Divine’s employer at the time, a large accounting firm. To accumulate lucrative billable hours, the accounting firm kept the audit going as long as possible. Divine overheard one of Mr. Kane’s sons say that “these guys are never going to leave” and “they’re going to kill Dad in the process.” Indeed, Mr. Kane died of a sudden cancer during the audit. Kane & Co. would be Divine’s last client. He quit his high-paying corporate job and chose a new career that would put his life on the line in the most dangerous places in the world.
Readers involved in any endeavor will be fascinated, informed and guided by the often harrowing stories and practical lessons offered by this warrior turned entrepreneur.
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