Staring Down the Wolf

7 Leadership Commitments That Forge Elite Teams
by Mark Divine | St. Martin's Press © 2020 · 320 pages

This is our third Note on one of Mark Divine's books. 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." Big Ideas we explore include The Two Wolves (which one are YOU feeding?), the. 7 Commitments (Courage + Trust + Respect + Growth + Excellence + Resiliency + Alignment), Falling Down Seven Times (and getting back up eight), Semper Gumby (Always Flexible!), and Your #1 Fear to Stare Down Next (what's yours?).

A central theme of this book is that your team is your primary mechanism for growth as a leader. Individuals who commit to grow together and work toward a common mission will achieve greatness together.
Mark Divine
In the new battleground, the internal terrain of emotional power and mindset is where the creative energy to win will come from. Those require new developmental models to effectively deal with the rapid change and uncertainty. After the cold war, the US Army War College coined the acronym for the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of the world—VUCA—which has gained some familiarity in executive suites since. To win the mission in VUCA, leaders will need a next-generation compass, one that helps them to navigate the peaks and valleys of emotional, moral, and spiritual strength.
Mark Divine

“If my journey sounds tortuous and winding, it’s because it was. But my hope is that after you employ the tools in this book, you won’t have to become a SEAL and do twenty-five years of meditation and twenty years of therapy before finding your own authenticity. You will get there much faster, building elite teams and leading from the fifth plateau with freedom. You will also become a heart-centered, world-centric leader by getting serious about the seven commitments with your team. You will train and develop your culture of excellence together and unlock more potential than you can now imagine.

That is how you will conquer the VUCA background.

The simple secret is to evolve your character and be worthy of leading other leaders.

Staring down the wolf is your new mantra—getting out of your head and into your heart. Only then can you move beyond your limitations and build a team capable of twenty times more.

This work is easier said than done. But you can trust me on this: it is 100 percent worth it.

Your team is waiting for you to show up.”

~ Mark Divine from Staring Down the Wolf

This is our third Note on one of Mark Divine’s books.

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 Optimize. (Hooyah, CDR!)

So… When he sent me his newest book, I was, of course, fired up to read it.

As we discussed in our prior Notes, 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. 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. <- That’s amazing. (Seriously, think about that for a moment longer…)

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. If that sounds like fun, I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. (Get a copy of the book here.)

It’s packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share a few of my favorites we can apply to our lives TODAY so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author


Mark Divine

Retired U.S. Navy SEAL Commander, entrepreneur and best-selling author