Summary: Unbeatable Mind (2015) by Mark Divine outlines a framework to help readers cultivate grit and mental resilience. The book also provides tools for effective leadership, attaining peak performance, and reaching higher levels of consciousness.
The author, Mark Divine, is a retired Navy SEAL Commander, author, and entrepreneur who founded SEALFit – a fitness program that helps train individuals for mental as well as physical toughness.
Mark Divine Unbeatable Mind Summary
(This summary of Unbeatable Mind by Mark Divine contains some of the key points outlined in the book which are presented in bullet points).
Section 1: Uncover Your Why
- [The Witness] “A month before I tested for my black belt in Seido Karate, I embarked on a final tune-up retreat at the Zen Mountain Monastery in Woodstock, NY, where the Seido team gathered a couple of times a year.”
- “The major lesson I gained from my journey into Zen, one that I wish to share with you now, was that I could gain control over my mind—if I consistently practiced, practiced holding a true, complete state of silence in the mind.”
- “When you achieve this place of silence, only then can you witness the mind in action. In doing so you begin to separate your identity from “the thoughts” and get acquainted with that part of you watching the thoughts.”
- “That space between the thought and the watcher—your witness —is where the magic is. Absent that space, efforts to develop concentration, confidence, creativity, and spirit fall light years short.”
- “The more you connect with your witness, the more you understand that you are not your thoughts. This separation creates space for positivity to flow in, releasing you from the shackles of natural negativity.”
- “The Body Is the Feeler of Emotions and Sensations. The Mind Is the Thinker of Thoughts. The Witness Is the Observer of All” – Sensei Shane Phelps
- [Embracing Sacred Silence] “For most of us, sitting in silent meditation can seem impossible. With great intentions we give it a try but are immediately frustrated by the busyness and randomness of our mental machinations.”
- “Getting to the terrain of elite performers demands attaining access to the 90 percent or so of the vast mental power that lies beyond the rational, thinking part of your mind.”
- Divine stresses the importance of ‘Transcendental Meditation’ as well as a technique he developed called ‘Box Breathing’ to harness the power of silence, and improving his ability to concentrate.
- He elaborates: “When we begin a concentration practice, our goal is to be able to sustain focus on one thing without distraction. Breathing properly slows everything down so that you can concentrate on a fixed point, and do so for a longer period of time.”
- “When you’re able to concentrate on a single thing—the right thing—at a time, it significantly reduces your stress and increases your sense of internal control. You now have the power to direct what your mind is paying attention to and to sustain that attention, leaving worries, fears, and other “threats” outside the narrow scope of your concentration.”
- [Starving Fear, Feeding Courage] “As I said earlier, negativity erodes performance, so it is imperative to retrain the underlying pattern and maneuver from witnessing negative thoughts to starving those thoughts into oblivion.”
- “Then start in with the positive, courage-building thoughts. Or as the Native Americans might say with a vivid metaphorical punch, you need to starve the fear wolf and feed the courage wolf. This is the specific process I use and have taught through my various training programs:”
- “Witness negativity.”
- “Interdict, or stop, the negative thoughts with a power statement.”
- “Redirect your mind with self-talk and imagery to something positive and productive for your current goal.”
- “Maintain your new mental state with a jingle or mantra.”
- “Interdiction power statements are words that shock your monkey mind back into control. Words like “no” or ‘stop” work well, though I prefer using positive power statements, ones that have a little more blast to them, such as “I’ve got this,” “piece of cake,” “step it up, Mark,” or my favorite, “feed the courage wolf!” ”
- “Practicing power statements until they become second nature will, over time, place the interdiction process on auto-pilot. Juiced-up power statements explode negative mental chatter and allow your mind to still itself and await its next set of instructions.”
- [Three P’s and Your One Thing…] “Lack of meaning and purpose is a major cause of despair and despondency in the world. Some will stumble upon a vague sense of purpose in their professional lives. Others have their purpose shown to them early in life and are well into fulfilling it in their twenties.”
- “I have found that the vast majority of my students cannot clearly articulate their purpose and are deeply moved when they uncover it.”
- “I believe it is crucial to be self-aware enough to be able to articulate our Three Ps (Passion, Principles & Purpose) and One Thing. Let’s look at these by asking a few questions:”
- “What am I Passionate about and how can I do more of that?”
- “What do I value, and how can I develop these Principles so they define my character for the rest of my life?”
- “What is my Purpose? Who am I and what am I here for? What is the One Thing I am supposed to accomplish in my life, and what does that mean for me right now?”
- “How do I take my One Thing and activate it in the world?”
- “Mastery over the self—a key characteristic of those with an unbeatable mind—is somewhat difficult if you don’t have clarity on these questions.”
- “Listening to your inner voice will help you define your Three Ps and lead you to your One Thing.”
- [Managing & Re-thinking Stress] “Stress is neither good nor bad—it just is what it is—but it gets a bad rap. Most folks think that the secret to health and happiness is to eliminate or avoid stress. There are a million courses out there that propose to eliminate financial stress, work stress, relationship stress, everything stress. Good luck with that.”
- In Unbeatable Mind, Mark Divine tells us that how we react to stress is actually a story we tell ourselves. Furthermore, he adds that by changing the story, we change how the stressor(s) affects us.
- “Stress is simply a term for resistance or pressure. We need these forces to grow as humans. Let’s use strength training as an example.”
- “Weight introduces an external resistance stress to our bodies when we attempt to manipulate it. The challenge requires us to learn a new skill and then develop the muscular strength and stamina to lift and move the load safely.”
- “To accomplish this the body must break down old tissues that were programmed for the previous skill level and load and build new tissues programmed with the new reality (weight limits and skill). Most people don’t react to that form of stress negatively—in fact scientists even give that type of stress a title: “eustress.” ”
- “Eustress is good stress, but in reality it is how we mentally frame and handle the stress that is good, not the stress itself. The stress just “is.” Back to the stories we tell The story that stress is bad is not a good one. Stress is stress.”
- “How we learn to respond to stress and use it to grow is the better story.”
- [Big Four of Mental Toughness] “The four skills of breathing, positivity, visualization, and goal setting form what I call “the Big Four of Mental Toughness… These skills are time- tested and proven in stressful and chaotic situations.”
- Arousal Control: using deep breathing to manage stress as well as the arousal response (fight, flight or freeze).
- Attention Control: learning to control your mind and to maintain a positive attitude through positive self-dialogue.
- Visualization: using mental imagery to ensure that your emotional and mental “picture” is mission-focused and aimed towards victory.
- Goal Setting: learning to set proper goals, and scaling them to micro-goals when things get tough.