#1103 Staring Down the Wolf

Which One Are YOU Feeding?

As we’ve discussed, I’m a big fan of Mark Divine.

I can still remember reading Unbeatable Mind years ago shortly after blowing up the prior version of our business (hah and d’oh!). It provided a much-needed dose of mental toughness wisdom. Since reading that book and The Way of the SEAL (which was also fantastic), Mark and I have become friends and he’s even an investor in Heroic. (Hooyah, CDR!)


When he sent me his newest book called Staring Down the Wolf, I was, of course, fired up to read it.

As you may know: Mark is a retired Navy SEAL Commander. He also has twenty-five years of experience as an entrepreneur. In this book, he draws on his decades of leadership experience to teach us the “7 Leadership Commitments That Forge Elite Teams.”


I knew Mark was voted the honor man of his SEAL class and that he is an extraordinarily powerful human being (which is why I’ve suggested more than once that he needs his own action figure). But, I didn’t know just how long he’s been an elite leader.

Quick context to a quick story: At 25, Mark left his career on Wall Street (where he got his MBA and CPA) to join the SEALs. (Pause, reflect on that courageous awesomeness for a moment.) He started BUD/S class 170 with 185 other “absolute studs.” Only 19 (!) of the 185 who started made it to graduation day. Being one of those 19 who finished is, of course, impressive.

But that feat is nowhere near as impressive as THIS fact…

More context: During training, every aspiring SEAL is assigned to a “boat crew.” Each boat crew has seven people on it. Mark was the leader of his boat crew. Typically, as people quit, the boat crews get shuffled again and again.

But, get this…

Although only 19 (!) of the 185 guys who started the program finished it, ALL SEVEN (!!!) of the guys on Mark’s boat crew made it to graduation. (Wow.) (Pause, reflect on that leadership awesomeness for a moment.)

The book is packed with great stories and wisdom from Mark’s authentic sharing of his “tortuous” path from early leadership success to many failures en route to a deeper sense of clarity on what it takes to “stare down the wolf” of fear and forge elite teams.

Over the next several days, we’ll talk about how to stare down that wolf of fear.

We’ll start at the top. Mark tells us: “You may know that the analogy of the fear wolf comes from a Native American tale of a negative wolf that resides in the minds of humans. This wolf operates from fear, is hungry for drama, catastrophizes, and has incessant negative self-talk.

But there is also a second, positive wolf residing in the heart. This one has an appetite for love and connection, is not addicted to drama, and is optimistic and focused on others.

The fear wolf fights for your attention and demands dominance. The courage wolf asks simply to be noticed, seeking some esteem-building food. According to the legend, the one that ultimately controls you is the one you feed the most.

If you constantly feed fear by thinking about the could-haves, the should-haves, the would-haves, and the can’ts in life—if you allow negative beliefs, attitudes, and conditioned behavior from whatever drama you experienced or stories you adopted—then the fear wolf gets stronger. Eventually he gets so strong that the courage wolf is left cowering, unable to fight back.

However, you can stare that fear wolf down and refuse to feed it any longer. Starve it of that negative conditioning! Then you can feed the courage wolf a steady diet of good food, and lead with your heart and mind as equal partners.

That’s Today’s +1.

Let’s notice the two wolves within.

And, as Mark said in his hand-written note in my copy of the book:

“Stare down the wolf!”


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