#1106 Fall Down Seven Times

Get Up Eight (OMMS!)

In our last few +1s, we’ve been spending some time with world-class fear wolf-tamer, Mark Divine as we explore wisdom from his new book Staring Down the Wolf.

Commander Divine tells us that there are seven commitments we need to make to forge elite teams: Courage + Trust + Respect + Growth + Excellence + Resiliency + Alignment.

Check out the Notes for more on each of those. Today (and tomorrow) we’re going to shine a spotlight on the 6th commitment to Resiliency.

Mark tells us that if we want to build Resiliency, we need stare down the fear of obstacles which requires adaptability, persistence, and learning.

Here’s the lesson on adaptability: “Zen master Nakamura scribbled on the chalkboard, the screeching sound setting my teeth on edge. The words were written in Japanese kanji characters. Beneath these, he translated for us before we could ask: ‘Fall down seven times, get up eight.’ He then gave a beautiful account of the meaning in his broken English. What he conveyed was way more nuanced than the words alone implied. The main point he was making was not just that you should get up after falling down, but that what counts is how you get up.

How often have you ‘fallen down’ in life and reacted poorly, or risen with timidity, not adapting quickly to the new reality? …

Reacting negatively to failure leads to more destabilization, worsening an already bad situation. Sometimes it takes years before you can look back and say you’re glad it happened, that you see now how it made you stronger and wiser.

That’s okay, but it’s not how the resilient respond. The resilient stare down their fear of falling off an obstacle and train to get back up right away with a positive response. Like [Marcus] Luttrell, they look for opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. Fall down seven times, get up eight—stronger, better, and more capable, having learned everything possible from the situation.

That’s adaptability.”

As I read that section, I immediately thought of Angela Duckworth. Of course, Angela is the world’s leading scholar on Grit. She gleaned much of her wisdom from studying who made it through another brutal rite of passage: West Point’s Beast Barracks.

You know what she has to say about falling down and getting back up?

“There’s an old Japanese saying: ‘Fall seven, rise eight.’ If I were ever to get a tattoo, I’d get these four simple words indelibly inked.”

She also tells us: “To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal. To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight.”

Mark talks about Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is the Way in this context. And Joe De Sena’s Spartan Races in another related context.

Ryan says: “It’s a beautiful idea. Psychologists call it adversarial growth or post-traumatic growth. ‘That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’ is not a cliché but fact.

The struggle against an obstacle inevitably propels the fighter to a new level of functioning. The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth. The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity. The enemy is any perception that prevents us from seeing this.”

Note: When we have THAT attitude towards life’s (inevitable!!!) challenges, we actually move past resilience all the way to ANTIFRAGILITY.

Which leads us to our official Optimize mantra: OMMS!

Obstacles Make Me Stronger.


That’s Today’s +1.

Let’s be adaptable.

Fall down seven times.

Get up eight.




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