How to Succeed in Uncertainty with Rich Diviney

February 21, 2023
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

Buddha

Our guest today is Rich Diviney, a bestselling author, leadership and human performance expert, and retired Navy SEAL commander. In a career spanning more than 20 years, he completed more than a dozen overseas deployments and was involved with selecting the best military operators for an all-star team of the most specialized performers.

Since retiring from the Navy, Rich has worked as a speaker, facilitator, and consultant with both Simon Sinek and the Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute. He’s also taught leadership and optimal performance to more than 5,000 business, athletic, and military leaders from organizations such as American Airlines, the San Francisco 49ers, Zoom, and Deloitte.

Rich is the founder and CEO of The Attributes Inc. and, in 2021, released his first book, The Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance.

This man knows what it takes to win!

In this episode:

  • The keys to optimal performance in all areas of life
  • How Rich made it through one of the most grueling selection processes on the planet
  • Most important lessons from his 20-year Navy SEAL career, and
  • How you can harness the right attributes for massive success.

Before we begin, the right bit of inspiration can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend or loved one who needs to hear this episode or could use some help to Win the Day, share it with them right now.

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Navy SEAL commander, Rich Diviney!

James Whittaker:
Rich, great to see you, my man! Thanks for coming on the Win the Day show.

Rich Diviney:
Thank you, James. It's great to be here, finally!

First of all, thank you for your service. I really appreciate everything you've done and for being here with us today.

To set the tone, when it comes to learning about optimal performance, what has stood out the most from your entire career as a Navy SEAL and work since then?

Well, it was certainly a maturation. But if there was one thing, or the impetus of it all, it was going to SEAL training itself. SEAL training here in San Diego, California, called BUD/S – Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL. About 85% of the guys who start don't make it through.

If I remember correctly, our class started with about 170 people. We graduated about 38. On graduation day, I looked around at these 37 other dudes and I said to myself, "How the heck am I here? How did this happen?" Because they seemed so stellar, and I just seemed okay. And what's interesting is that if you ask most of those guys, they were feeling the same thing.

That started me down the road of really thinking about what drives performance on all levels, but especially at these most raw levels. Who are we at our most raw? And what are those things about human beings in particular that drive performance in different domains? Because it matters. Obviously, only 15% of us made it through BUD/S. Other guys did not, but those guys who didn't make it through, they're excelling in other facets of life. They just didn't happen to excel on the beaches of Coronado.

That was really the impetus. And as I went through my career and continued to do pretty interesting things and continued to be part of more and more specialized activities, that imposter syndrome stayed with me. A healthy imposter syndrome, that question, it's like, "Man, these people around me are so much better than me. Why am I here? How am I here?"

It upped my game, of course, but it really allowed me to start thinking about and diving deep into this stuff. That would probably be the best way to define that maturation.

Never judging a book by its cover, and I guess you couldn't help yourself, if you're looking around the other guys at BUD/S, some solid, very athletic people. You might be instinctively thinking that these guys are going to absolutely crush it.

But as I've heard from other SEALs, those studs are often the first to tap when it gets tough.

Yeah, and it's funny, almost everyone who's made it will say that none of us would put money on any candidate starting SEAL training, even those of us who've been in the community for a while. The odds are against you, and there are people who you could look at and you'd say, "Well, I would assume that that person would make it," but none of us would put money on it, especially 100%. You just can't tell. It's all very internal.

We're all rock stars in certain domains, and doofuses in others. It just depends on picking the right one so you can be a rockstar.

But it's really all about who we are at our most raw, and what are those attributes and qualities that need to be predominant to perform and succeed, again, in that discipline, in that domain. Because that domain is very specific, and there are other domains. I've always got to say, we're all rock stars in certain domains. We're all doofuses in other domains of life. It just depends on picking the right one so you can be a rockstar.

In your book, you mentioned how it was always your dream from a young age to be a US Navy fighter pilot. I grew up watching Top Gun over and over again, so it was my dream in Australia to be a US Navy fighter pilot, too!

How did you find yourself moving away from the fighter pilot dream and signing up to be a Navy SEAL?

Well, the fighter pilot stuff, in fact, it wasn't Top Gun! My favorite two books growing up as I entered into probably the early teens were Chuck Yeager's autobiography, Yeager, and then a book called The Right Stuff by Thomas Wolf about the earliest space program stages. Those were my two favorites. I read them cover to cover many times.

I read those and I was like, "Oh my gosh, I want to be a pilot. I want to be a fighter pilot." And so that was the impetus. My twin brother and I were hell bent on that all the way through high school, and even into college. But it was really the end of high school, the first Gulf War kicked off, and obviously, it was very short, I think 100 days or something.

But post that, there was an article I found in Newsweek that outlined all the different special operations communities. I think the article was titled "Secret Warriors" or something. And I remember looking through this, and that was my first introduction to the Navy SEALs.

They had all the units. They had the Marine Recon, Rangers, SEALs, Green Berets and things like that. And they had pictures of all these guys in different environments, underwater, snow, jungle. I would guess there were maybe 25 pictures arranged around five pages.

What I noticed, though, was distinct to me was that out of that 25 pictures, 20 of them were SEALs, but these SEALs were just all in different environments. And so the sea-air-land thing, and the fact that they were in the Navy, and the other fact that they made water, they came from the ocean, the ocean was their starting point – and I loved the water, I loved the ocean.

And I really said, "Wow, these guys are pretty cool." And I started reading a couple books about it, went to college, and joined the Navy RTC, still with pilot in mind, but I said, "Maybe this other thing," and ultimately I said to myself, when it came time to select, I said, "I know I can be a pilot, but I don't want to wonder if I could be a SEAL."

And so that's what made me choose. Fortunately, it worked out.

As a New England boy, you're used to cold water and sharks!

That's right. I don't know about sharks, but I know that I was comfortable in the water. And to this day, I scuba dive with my family. I am the most comfortable underwater. I have fallen asleep underwater.

I just love that environment.

What does it mean to be a Navy SEAL? And what do SEALs do better than any other force?

Well, the idea of being a Navy SEAL as opposed to other spec ops units, the uniqueness is the water element. It always has been. The predecessors of the SEALs were the Naval Combat Demolition Teams and the UDTs, Underwater Demolition Teams, and they all came from the water.

They were born of the water, and they all made the water their home base, which is really intriguing to me, because the ocean is a hostile environment – the temperatures, the bone crushing pressures – and the ocean will kill you if you turn your back on it. And the fact that they made this environment their home was so audacious.

The ocean will kill you if you turn your back on it. And the fact that they made this environment their home was so audacious.

And one of the things you heard about SEALs, and I even heard when I was in the teams, is that if the enemy is in pursuit of you, always go to the water, because no one is brave enough – or stupid enough – to follow you there. And that, for me, was really cool. It's like, if I'm making this hostile place my home because people won't follow me there, that was cool. And add to the fact that I was just comfortable in the water, I think that's what it means to be a SEAL.

And again, some of the other spec ops units, certainly they operate in the water, they do some diving and stuff, but that was the only unit that really is born of the water, and really the frogman was really what I loved.

Yeah, it's interesting because there's people who come from landlocked areas who don't seem to have a great deal of water exposure, yet that ‘adaptability’ attribute – as you mentioned in your book – where all of a sudden they can not only get that exposure to it, but they can actually and thrive and then become a SEAL.

And rest assured, there are some Navy SEALs who don't like the water!

This is the other part of your question, what Navy SEALs in fact are, which is what I define them as, even when I was a SEAL. It wasn't about the shooting or the diving. We are masters of uncertainty. We are individuals and teams that can drop into deeply complex environments and start performing.

Really the superpower, and now, I begin to put all a lot of military units in this category, not just SEALs, but the superpower is that you can look at something that scares you, look at something that's deeply uncomfortable or challenging, and step into it proactively, and then begin to move through it proactively.

We are masters of uncertainty. We are individuals and teams that can drop into deeply complex environments and start performing.

That's the uniqueness that I found, and I think if there's anything that Navy SEALs are or spec ops are, they are that. It's not really about this big mission or whatever, or, "They're known for this." You put any one of these guys into a complex, unique, ambiguous, uncertain environment, and they will start to figure it out, because that's just how we're designed.

We enter into training with some of the basic elements of how to do that, unconsciously, of course, and that just gets developed as you go through training. And of course, combat just super develops that.

What's the easiest and hardest thing to train an aspiring SEAL?

Well, now, we're getting into training rather than attributes.

Training is really for skill development. That's how I would define it. You train for skills. The Joint War College had a great quote: "You train for certainty, you educate for uncertainty." And so training for certainty means you're training for skills, whereas education is for uncertainty, that's when you're diving into attributes.

I think the most difficult attributes, and I wouldn't even say the most difficult, because the guys who make it through are the guys who have a preponderance of the required attributes already. You can't develop those things during SEAL training. You have to have them, at least a level of them, when you show up day one, otherwise you're not going to make it through day one. Given those attributes, you are then able to train in whatever discipline the SEAL teams require.

Here's a funny story, which I tell a lot, and it actually occurred before I got to the teams. I went to Navy SEAL training in '96, so it seems like forever ago, and back then, one of the first things you had to do when you showed up to SEAL training was you had to swim 50 meters in a pool. Jump in, swim 25 meters to one end, 25 meters back.

He had everything inside of him that we needed for him to be a Navy SEAL. Teaching him the skill of swimming was going to be the easy part. 

This happened apparently before I got there. This kid shows up, it's his turn to swim. He jumps into the pool, sinks right to the bottom, and starts walking across the bottom of the pool to one end. Then walks across the bottom of the pool back to the other end. Comes up, he's gasping for air, nearly drowning.

The instructor looks at him and says, "What the hell are you doing!?" And the kid who's still trying to catch his breath looks at the instructor and says, "I'm sorry, instructor, I don't know how to swim." And the instructor pauses for a second and looks at the kid and says, "That's okay. We can teach you how to swim."

And the whole point of that is that the instructor knew that this kid had the qualities, the attributes, to show up to Navy SEAL training – one of the most elite maritime units on the planet – and he didn't know how to swim. He had everything inside of him that we needed for him to be a Navy SEAL. Teaching him the skill of swimming was going to be the easy part. That's just easy.

I think given the appropriate attribute combination, you are then set up to learn all the requisite skills that you need to learn in that environment.

There's a lot of people who do things these days, like 75 Hard, just something to give them a challenge for months at a time.

When you go through SEAL training, obviously, it's bringing out a lot of those dormant attributes, the things about yourself that you don't know are actually very valuable assets and how resilient and adaptable you might be.

Do you think people should figure out their own version of something like BUD/S or 75 Hard so they can start to unearth some of those attributes, rather than just trying to focus so much on staying in their comfort zone?

I totally think that, and I love 75 Hard. I know Andy Frisella who runs that, and I love that program, because it really allows someone to get uncomfortable in a series of disciplines. And I think that's absolutely essential for people to begin to grow, to have to step out of a comfort zone.

Listen, growth is uncomfortable. You can't grow without being uncomfortable. It's a prerequisite, and so anything that allows you discomfort is going to help you grow, regardless of what it is, and so I would always encourage someone to look at those things that make you uncomfortable and practice that.

In fact, it's funny you should say that. I was just talking to a young man who's in college right now. He's Navy ROTC, and he wants to be a SEAL. He's an aspiring SEAL. And he asked me, "Hey, what can I do to prepare?" And it's an interesting question, because in SEAL training, in BUD/S, you're going to get really cold. You're going to have to run with logs.

Cold is usually the worst. Cold is what gets most people, and so a lot of aspiring BUD/S candidates – and maybe even folks who are past their prime and they wish they could have been SEALs, they wonder if they could do it – will expose themselves to cold over and over again to see, "Well, maybe I'm getting used to the cold." You'll never get used to the cold. One of my buddies says, "It's like practicing to get kicked in the balls. If you're going to get kicked in the balls anyway, you might as well not practice."

But what I did tell him was to practice doing things that are uncomfortable, and that could be anything. It could be that girl you've wanted to talk to and you've been nervous, go up and talk to her. You're stepping into discomfort. You're stepping into challenge. Anytime you can pick something to do, you're going to exercise that muscle.

Growth is uncomfortable. You can't grow without being uncomfortable.

But then there's one more factor, and the other factor is uncertainty, because there are certain disciplines of discomfort that aren't uncertain, and I would place a lot of physical disciplines in this category. Going to the gym, it's going to be uncomfortable, it's going to be challenging, but there's something certain about that.

The more environments of uncertainty you can find yourself in and navigate through, that's real training, because navigating through uncertainty is a whole other level of being able to step into challenge, stress, and fear, because that's when the fear comes in, the stress comes in.

It’s not very scary going to the gym, in most cases. I certainly say that if you're just starting, it could be. But if there's fear involved, you've added a whole other level to that challenge, and I think that's very, very healthy.

Yeah, developing the habit of getting out of your comfort zone and thriving on uncertainty.

Yeah, and stepping into fear.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Rich Diviney does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. 🚀


Aspiring SEALs undertake BUD/S when they have the excitement of the SEAL career ahead of them. How would you feel about going and doing SEAL training again now!? Do you think it's something that you could do as well as you did originally? Or would you struggle to pass because the carrot on the horizon has gone?

Well, mentally I could go through it no problem. I think most SEALs could. Physically, I would die after day one.

You've got to remember, SEAL candidates are mostly between 18 and 22 years old. I was 22 when I went through. You’re like a Wolverine. You're healing so fast, your testosterone.

Yes, I would be curious to go through Hell Week or SEAL training again, but my body would not make it.

We'll do a follow up episode. Rich doing BUD/S again!

Yeah, it ain't going to happen! It ain't going to happen.

But yeah, I think most of us would say, "Sure, I could do it again," and I might be curious to do it again because there's some nostalgia there.

Might it be easier? Sure, because now you know the game. I could probably go through it now, and even as they're torturing us, be like, "Oh, I totally know what's going on. I totally know what this is doing and blah, blah." There's a ‘naming is taming’ type thing going on there.

But yeah, the physical aspect does matter.

Is Navy SEAL training, in terms of being able to get the best candidates and get them as prepared as possible, as close to perfect as it could possibly be? Or are there one or two changes that you've thought about that you would implement if you were in charge?

Yeah, it's funny you should say.

We're here in LA. I was in San Diego yesterday. I went to the BUD/S compound, and one of my close friends is actually working there, and so he and I were talking, he was showing me around and showing me all the changes.

What I will say is that no process is perfect. The perfection, if there is a perfection in the process, is the fact that they are constantly looking at the process and they're constantly asking themselves good questions about the process.

They're constantly asking themselves the right questions. "How do we get the right candidates? Who are the right candidates?"

The Navy SEAL training today is slightly different than it was when I went through, and that's a good thing, and it's not easier and it's not harder. Well, it might be even harder, I would say, because I'm not one of those dinosaurs who says, "Oh, the hardest one was when I went through." It is quite possibly harder today than it ever was.

But I know that they are now looking at it in a much more diligent way. They're constantly asking themselves the right questions. "How do we get the right candidates? Who are the right candidates? What are we doing that could be detrimental to getting the right candidates?" And I think that consistent introspection and looking in the mirror and asking those questions is what I've found the process has done for years and years and years, and right now, the people that I see who are in charge of the process, I have 100% confidence that that's going on.

How do you train people to be calm for when they first encounter combat and real bullets start flying?

Well, again, you don't train. You assess and select those people with the attributes to be able to calm themselves, to be able to understand and manage their autonomic system in a way that allows them to be calm through that. Now, what you do train is the skills that you'll need in that environment, but those skills could be very basic, like shooting and moving and communicating.

What happens, and what units like that often do, is you train those skills to the level of mastery. In other words, you train to the level where you don't have to think about doing them. And it's not because necessarily, "Well, they're Navy SEALs, they have to be masters," it's because once you get to that level where you don't necessarily have to think about it anymore, you've just freed up your mind and given it a lot of space to now navigate the uncertainty of the environment. And that's really what it is.

Once your skills reach a level of mastery, where you don't necessarily have to think about the action anymore, you've just freed up your mind and given it a lot of space to navigate the uncertainty of your environment.

When the bullets start flying, the number one thing you're going to be doing is figuring out what the hell is going on right now, and what's the next move? Where are people?

You're figuring out the environment. The shooting back, the moving and all that stuff, that's secondary. And so you train so that those skills are secondary, so that you're freeing up your conscious mind to actually deal with the uncertain environment.

Are there core components of achieving mastery, or is it a very different approach depending on what skill that you're actually trying to learn?

Boy, that's a great question.

I would say the components would probably be dependent on what you're trying to master, but at a base level, to master anything, you have to take it down to the fundamentals. Whatever the discipline you're trying to master is, you have to figure out what the fundamentals are first and get really good at those. Use the old adage in the SEAL teams, "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."

You start very slow and start very deliberately. You take the time and you put in the hours to slowly develop this muscle, so that you get smooth and smooth ends up being fast. And it's really interesting, when you're in the business of gun fighting, you recognize that the key to success in a gunfight is being slow and smooth and very deliberate.

The key to success in a gunfight is being slow and smooth and very deliberate.

Sometimes, I watch these old westerns and I wonder what it would have been like to do one of these duals, but you know that the people who won those things when they used to do it were the people who were just very slow and deliberate, because if you go too fast, you're going to miss.

The process of just doing that helps manage your thinking in a way that actually is very conducive to success.

You shared some really interesting stories in your book. One of the things I loved was the opening of your book – one of the most gripping examples that I've ever read, especially when you become a parent. There are things like, "What happens if your kid goes missing in a train station?"

You think that you might be confident and calm and proactive in a situation like that, but when it can happen in real life, it can be crazy.

As a reader, you can feel the fear and emotion come across in how you wrote it, and I think that's really important with the work you do. You need to transport someone to that moment so they can start to understand some of those attributes and how they might respond in that situation.

Well, it's interesting you bring up those examples. I tried to write those examples so that when I wrote them and read them, I would be nervous! The examples in there are meant to be nerve-wracking, even for someone like me because it's like, "Okay, what the hell would I do?"

But when we're in these situations of deep uncertainty and the fear response starts to ride, the autonomic response starts to go, because literally, what's happening neurologically is our frontal lobe is starting to take a backseat and we're starting to get to an autonomic overload, which means our limbic brain takes over. Now, we're acting without thinking, which in most cases, that's not good.

In some cases, it is. When we touch a hot stove, we want our body to take over and remove our hand without having to think about it. But in most cases, especially today, in today's environment, you want to be able to think through these situations, and so it's really about understanding that when we get into these, “How is my autonomic response happening? And can I begin to manage it in a way that brings my frontal lobe back online, and allows me to start making decisions about my environment?"

And that's really some of the secrets to mastering uncertainty and moving through that type of stuff.

We had William Branum on the show, 26-year Navy SEAL, and he spoke about how he's much more comfortable in a gunfight than he is speaking on stage.

Did you have a similar thing when you began venturing into the corporate world?

I love Will, by the way. Great dude.

I tried to keep it in context. When I got out, I started working with my buddy Simon Sinek and a leadership institute, so I was quite literally put in front of people either speaking or teaching. I was not comfortable doing it, but I knew in choosing to do that, that I was actually stepping into something that I was uncomfortable in.

It was a very deliberate decision for me. I said, "I'm interested in writing, so I should probably get used to being in front of people." And so I began to do it and step into it every time, and every time, and I started to inoculate myself, understand, "Okay, how does this feel? What does it mean? Can I get better at this?"

It was, as I was getting more comfortable, I was not at the beginning stage, probably in the mid-stage, and I was getting ready to give a talk, and it was a big crowd, I think it was a couple thousand people, pretty big, the biggest I had spoken to, and the organizer prior to me going on, when we were talking, he said, "Hey, are you nervous at all?" And I said to him, I said, "Well, can I ask you a question?" He said, "Sure."

I said, "Is anybody going to be shooting at me when I'm on the stage?" And he looked at me, he's like, "No, of course not." I was like, "Well, I have nothing to be nervous about." And it was really meant to be a joke, but what I recognized is I was really just reframing, and what I was saying to myself was, "Hey, listen, I'm not going to die up there, right? No one's shooting at me. I can look at this, and frame it appropriately."

But what we have to recognize, and I want to make sure people understand this, because I get this a lot. "Well, you're a Navy SEAL, your levels of courage and fear inoculation are just, how can I even relate?" Fear is subjective, and the physiological results of fear in our system are identical to every human being, which means Will and I can be in a gunfight, and we can literally be feeling less fear than the kid you just asked to stand in front of his or her class and get the presentation. That kid could be experiencing 10 times more fear physiologically than Will and I in a gunfight.

We have to understand that fear is going to be subjective, but when it starts to show up in our system physiologically, there are reactions in our system, and it's really about understanding what those reactions are and starting to map ways to deal with those, to start stepping into it more effectively.

There was a terrorist attack in November 2015 at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali. They took 170 civilians hostage, killing 23 of them. A Delta operator, Kyle Morgan, was one of the only people there to assist.

What if you are in a situation like that where it’s an intense gunfight, you don't have the team around you, and everything has gone pear-shaped. How do you manage that fear response? Maybe I'm wrong on this, but I thought everyone would still have a significant fear reaction to it.

Well, you do. And again, if you're talking about a Delta guy or a SEAL or someone who's been in these environments, you're actually leveraging your fear more than reacting to your fear. The fear response is going to be muted automatically, because what happens in our [special operator] brains is that when that type of stuff happens, the first thing our brains will go to is, "Okay, what do I need to do? What is the action in this moment?"

We think about that immediately, and by doing that, we're actually muting this autonomic response. But again, what we're doing is we're engaging our conscious mind, which is preventing it from going back into the backseat. We engage our conscious mind by starting to ask questions about our environment. "What can I do?" We start to act.

A lot of us also have a little bit of what I call a higher temperature level. I talk in the book about courage and the courage switch and where our autonomic arousal begins, and I usually use boiling point as the example. We say boiling point, that degree level could be normal, but some people start moving into autonomic overload before boiling point, at maybe 95 degrees.

Leverage your fear. Don’t react to it.

Other people, it takes to be 220 degrees before they reach boiling point. And I think a lot of us tend to have a little bit higher of a temperature of a restart setting, because typically when the environment begins to go chaotic and descend around us, we're the type of people who begin to slow down.

And this is funny because my wife would joke, I live in Virginia Beach and where we live, I have a Navy SEAL who lives across the street. I have a Navy SEAL who lives down the street to the right and one down the street to the left. And I remember my wife saying, "Man, I'm so glad these guys are in the neighborhood." And I said, "Why?" It's like, "Because if anything bad happens, I could always go to them and they act like you act."

And I said, "What do you mean?" And she said, "Well, as soon as something bad happens or chaos ensues, they immediately calm down. You guys immediately calm down. You start working the problem." And so I think this Delta operator, I would imagine there was fear, but again, we have to understand, fear generates some biochemistry that's very useful. There's a lot of adrenaline. There's focus. It's designed to allow us to survive.

A lot of people are afraid of fear, but fear used effectively and metabolized, it brings you into a heightened physical level. This is why you see people in really stressful situations do superhuman things. Our body's being flooded with some very powerful biochemistry that's going to allow us to do some very powerful things. If we're thinking at the same time, you're talking about someone who can do some real heroic stuff.

Something that you and I both do in our work is talk about how the quality of your life is directly proportionate to the questions that you ask. What you just mentioned there is like calmly coming up with the right questions to solve the problem, and then figuring out what’s in your control. Also things like finding the gift in adversity, or, “How have I grown from what has happened to me?”

Yet there are people out there who never ask themselves questions. And in fact, what they're doing when they react to that fear response, they're giving themselves answers for a question they never even asked.

Like, "I'm going to die in this situation from anxiety," or whatever it might be. The ability to ask the right questions in any given situation is directly proportionate to how successful you can be in life and business, and it sounds like on the battlefield, too.

100%, because it puts you in control. By asking a question, it puts you in the driver's seat. You are no longer reacting. You are proacting. It has to be the right question. "Why does this always happen to me?" is a reacting question, but a question like, "Hey, what can I control right now? What do I understand right now?"

And again, I know you talk about it too, our brains are question-answering machines. They're designed to do that. We do it unconsciously all the time. Our brains are looking at something, and it's saying, "Hey, have I seen this before? In what context have I seen this before?" Our brains are constantly asking questions.

A lot of people are afraid of fear, but fear used effectively and metabolized, it brings you into a  heightened physical level.

When we deliberately place a question into our conscious mind, our brain has no choice but to give us answers. That's just what happens. It just answers the questions. Sometimes the answers are ridiculous, but they still come up with answers. Asking questions and taking control of the ability to ask questions in any environment, that’s the trick.

Those people who do it constantly and constantly and constantly now get to a point where you do it unconsciously, and so you don't even think about the question you're asking. You just start acting. But rest assured, you're acting because you've unconsciously asked a question, "What can I control? What can I control? What can I control?" Focus in, do it. Next thing, "What kind of control?" Focus in, do it. And I think that's probably the key.

Do you consciously make the decision to win each day at this point in your life? Or is it such a habit now that you just get after it no matter what?

I don't consciously. And again, by the way, I love Win the Day. I love that whole philosophy.

However, for me, winning, it implies something losing. There's a win and a loss. But when you talk about winning the day in the way you talk about, part of me understands that loss is good, and sometimes the day won't feel like winning. And I know we're going to turn it into winning.

But the idea is sometimes you've got to take a loss. Sometimes you've got to take a kick in the teeth, and sometimes the day is not going to feel like you won it. Sometimes the day's going to feel just pretty lousy. Now, you can reframe that and ultimately Win the Day. But I think there's a power and a utility in accepting and autopsying loss, because that's where we grow. We grow from those lessons.

And again, it's neurologically true. One of the things that neuroscientists will tell us is that when we create neural networks in our brain, when we learn something, those neural networks and the myelination that happens is accelerated by 10 or 20 times when three things are present. Those three things are novelty, intensity, and focus. When you have all those three things, you learn things very fast.

This is why when we learn the alphabet, we'll never forget the alphabet song, because there's a tune to it. But it's also why it's the difference between being told a stove is hot or touching a hot stove. When you touch a hot stove, there's immediately novelty, intensity, focus. Bad things that happen in our lives, the times we lose are novel, they're intense, and we are deeply focused. This is why we learn more from hardship than we do from success.

If your day doesn’t feel like a win, remember that loss provides the best learning opportunities, so you can identify the lessons and turn it into a win.

And so I think part of winning the day, which I know is your philosophy, is even those days it doesn't feel like wins, you can actually turn it into a win by understanding that this loss is actually good and I'm going to use it. That's probably how I approach it.

Also, for me, setting these horizons of success is really critical to the accomplishment of any goal, but those horizons have to be subjective to what feels right for you. In some cases, it’s about getting to the end of this hour, or this 10 minutes, or this 10 seconds. In some cases, it's to get to the end of this week. Whatever that horizon is for you, again, it has to be meaningful for it to actually give you the reward that it's designed to give you, is also effective.

Can you talk a little bit about what it means to embrace our humanness rather than always striving so hard for this impossible ceiling of perfection in everything we do?

Yeah, absolutely.

Well, the way I describe us as human beings is like automobiles, and I use the movie Cars, and it's not because my kids made me watch it a thousand times! It's actually a good movie.

You made them watch it a thousand times!

Yes. That's right!

But I love the analogy of us as cars, because we're all automobiles. We're all humans, but some of us are Ferraris, and some of us are Jeeps, and some of us are SUVs. There's no judgment there, because the Ferrari can do things the Jeep can't do, and the Jeep can do things the Ferrari can't do.

And so what it really comes down to is, can we lift our hood and figure out what we're running with? Because if I'm a Jeep trying to run on a Ferrari track, now I know where my friction points are, or I know enough to say, "Oh, shoot, I'm going to go get on a Jeep track." I think this is where that analogy is, where none of us are perfect. We all have our own unique set of things that make us who we are.

We should bask in our imperfection.

Just like automobiles, the Jeep and the Ferrari, they have two distinctive tasks, because they're apples and oranges. What is the perfect vehicle? That's subjective. I think it's a great, great analogy, and a great concept to understand.

Oh, and by the way, perfection is the lowest standard in the world, because it's literally impossible. You can't do it. And even our Universe, it's not perfect. It's all imperfect, but it's the imperfection that has made us who we are, and those little nuances. We should bask in our imperfection.

Was there a Navy SEAL mission that you were on or that you were overseeing that epitomizes everything that it means to be a SEAL or the attributes that you include in your book?

Well, it'd be hard to name one, and I probably couldn't talk about any one anyway.

In any military mission, but we'll just use the SEAL mission, you're always planning those things and putting them together in phases. Typically, the phases are: you're going to insert, which means you're going to get in somehow; you're going to infil, which means transit to the target; you're going to have the actions on the objective, which is the actions on the target; and then you're going to exfiltrate, which is move away; and then exfil, which is move off.

Just to kind of lay that out, you could say you're going to insert in a helicopter; you're going to get out of the helicopter; you're going to patrol into the target, that's your infiltration, so your insert infiltration. Action is on the objective, you're hitting the target. Exfiltration, you're walking out to wherever the helicopter's landing zone is, and then you're extracting with the helicopter.

That process of planning a mission epitomizes the way the Navy SEAL brain works. What we do is we chunk. If we have a massive problem to solve, we chunk it into meaningful pieces, and then we solve each piece to the extent that we can. Now, you can never solve each piece to perfection. In other words, I can't plan my insert phase or my infil phase in a way that's like, "I know exactly what's going to go on here and I'm ready for everything."

If we have a massive problem to solve, we chunk it into meaningful pieces, and then we solve each piece to the extent that we can.

I can say, "Hey, during this phase, if this happens, or if this happens, or if this happens," maybe the top three things, "then we'll do this or this." After that, if something different happens, we'll just figure it out on the fly. In other words, we get ourselves to about 80%, and then the next 20% was like, "Well, we'll just figure it out." We have that confidence.

And, to me, that epitomizes the SEAL mentality. In any huge task, how can you break it into meaningful chunks? Plan or address those meaningful chunks to the extent of your ability, but be uncomfortable not being perfect in it. And then just move in and just do it. And once you're done with that, you're now on the next thing.

In fact, a quick example. I was with a couple SEAL buddies of mine a couple weeks ago, during the holidays, actually, and some of the things we did together was we did what are called HAHO jumps, which is high altitude, high opening. You're jumping out at about 20,000, 22,000 feet, usually nighttime, pitch black. You have night vision, all that stuff. You're getting out. You're counting at four and pulling your chute, so now you're going to be flying somewhere for a while, and then you're landing and then doing your thing.

We were all kind of thinking about this, because we were reminiscing as to the adrenaline rush that something like that gave us. It's almost hard to describe that rush you get, especially when you do it with people who you really care about. But all of us were remarking the fact that, and I think my buddy said, "Hey, when I was standing on the ramp getting ready to jump, what do you think the one thing I was thinking of was?"

We were standing on the ramp, we had a whole mission in front of us to go do. "What's the one thing I was thinking about?" Both of us knew exactly what it was, and that was to nail the exit. That's the one thing. In other words, get out of the plane in a stable position. That's it. That's the only thing you're focused on.

Once you do that, what's the next thing? Well, now, pull my chute. Okay, what's the next thing? Now that's done. Okay, what's the next thing? Okay, now I'm going to make sure everything's good. And so the SEAL mind, and I think the master of uncertainty mind, takes these enormous things and says, "Okay, what's the thing I'm going to focus on? What's the most important thing in my life right now?"

And for us, standing on the edge of that ramp, it's to nail the exit. Okay. Once that's done, cool. Okay. What's the next thing? Open my chute. Okay, cool. What's the next thing? And you just go through that step. Most military missions are designed this way, but the way we plan, inherently designed to just take it down into steps, and you go step by step by step by step.

And you have some contingency planning in there thrown in, because some things you want to just make sure. "Okay, if this happens, we want to make sure we have some resources." But other than that, you're like, "Hey, I'm still throwing myself out on an airplane. I'm still doing something that's highly uncertain. If something happens that's unplanned, then I'll figure it out in the moment."

Feel free to download and share all the photos are in the public domain.

And that final 20% is the example of decentralized leadership that the SEALs are so famous for, isn't it? The autonomy to make your own call on the fly and do what you got to do?

Yeah. Well, that allows it.

The 20% of uncertainty can exist and can be addressed, because you've allowed for decentralized command, but I call it something different. In the book, I call it ‘dynamic subordination', where the organization and the team understands that challenges and issues can come from any angle at any moment. And when one does, the person who is closest to that problem and the most capable immediately steps up and takes lead and everybody follows, and then the environment shifts, and then someone else steps up and takes lead.

I was an officer in the Navy SEAL teams, which meant I was pretty much in charge of every single combat mission I was on. It didn't mean I was always being supported. In fact, most of the time, it was the opposite. I was supporting other people. I was supporting my breachers, my snipers, my assault people. Sometimes, the environment would shift and they would be in support of me for a moment, but then it'd shift again.

The SEAL mind, and the master of uncertainty mind, takes these enormous things and says, "Okay, what's the thing I'm going to focus on? What's the most important thing in my life right now?"

That's really what decentralized command is – this dynamic subordination environment where every team member understands you are a part of an organic living element, and you are literally on key to either step up or support, and there's zero arrogance. It's all humility in the sense, and again, not humility as like, "I'm bending my knee," and all that. You can be very confident and still humble.

It's like, "I know exactly why I'm here and what I'm supposed to do, and when something happens, I'll do it. If I don't know what's going on, I'm immediately going to step back and let someone who does know in, and I'm going to support that person." And then the environment shifts. We do that.

I think that's how that manifests in life.

Did the involvement in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, with very little water compared to a lot of other countries, change the preparation or the mandate of what the Navy SEALs do?

It changed it to the extent that we wanted to make sure we understood the environment and the environmental conditions and the tactics that we needed to apply in that environment. But the baseline grit, gumshoe attributes only just allowed us to dominate the way we did in the environment.

And in terms of water, yes, certainly the community. In fact, we saw ourselves get away from the water for many years, but the community has readjusted, and as those conflicts drew down, and as SEALs came back out, the community has gotten back into the water a little bit more, because that's really our bread and butter.

Back to its roots.

Yeah.

You were tasked with putting together a group of the most elite out of those who are already SEALs. Can you share a little bit about that selection process and what you were looking for specifically? And maybe a broader scope of some of the missions that those types of people would be involved in?

I would say very specialized. I wouldn't even say most elite, because even this very specialized command had a specific mission to accomplish, and it didn't mean that the folks doing that were any better than the folks doing the other missions, but the very specialized commands.

What we were charged to do and the assessment selection that I ran was we had to get candidates from the other SEAL teams, and the candidates had to come with recommendations and good reports, obviously. But they'd come to our own selection process, and then we put them through this nine month selection, and we got about a 50% attrition rate, which is okay, because any assessment selection program implies attrition.

What was not okay was that we weren't effectively describing why guys were attriting, and we were saying stupid stuff like, "They couldn't shoot very well," or, "They couldn't do this very well." And that was just not sitting well with them. It wasn't sitting well with us. Our leadership started saying, and even the outside leadership said, "Hey, what's going on there?" And we couldn't give them any more than, "Well, they couldn't cut it," so it wasn't a good place to be.

When I took over, I was kind of tasked with, "Hey, Rich, can you start articulating this a little bit better?"

Is that to sustain morale for when they go back so they don't feel slighted?

A bit of everything. First of all, we want to sustain the morale for the person to go back and say, "Listen, you're a good SEAL. You have a lot to give. You didn't have a couple of the things that it took to do this specialized mission." It helped with relationships between the command and other SEAL commands, but also, I think it helped us understand our process.

Unconscious genius is okay, up until a point, and until a point where you're actually getting questioned and you actually have to provide some cogent answers. I was asked to start thinking about those cogent answers, and that's where I got into the attributes work. And I really said that the problem was in our inability to explain that we're looking at performance myopically.

We're looking at it strictly based on skills – and ‘performance’ is so much more than skills, and we know that because we've been through basic SEAL training. The kid in the pool is a perfect example, but another example, when I embarked upon this work, I'd been a SEAL for 10, 11 years by then, so I'd been on hundreds of combat missions. And again, in BUD/S, you spend hundreds of hours running around with boats on your head and hundreds of hours exercising with 300 pound telephone poles and freezing in the surf zone.

And at the time, when I started looking at this, I said, "Well, I've been on hundreds of combat missions. I've been on thousands of training evolutions. Never on one of those did I carry a 300 pound telephone pole or a boat on my head!" What they were doing to us in BUD/S was not training us in the skills to be Navy SEALs. They were teasing out these attributes.

What we were doing in this specialized training, now, a little bit different, because in the specialized training, we were, in fact, teaching skills, but to articulate why certain guys weren't effectively able to do those things, it wasn't about they couldn't do the skill. There was something behind that. What were the attributes we were looking for?

That's really where there's the distinctiveness between that command, other commands, even SEALs, Green Berets, Army Rangers, Marine Force Recon. There's a lot of similar attributes, of course, but there's going to be distinctions and differences, so I think the distinctions come in the attributes required to do those specialized missions and roles.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Rich Diviney does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. 🚀


I noticed that resourcefulness was not one of the attributes that you listed in your book. I thought it might be in ‘cunning’, and I had a look at cunning but it didn’t seem to be in there.

By the way, I love that you had ‘sense of humor’ in there! I wasn't the class clown, but I was definitely a podium finish.

I love all the different attributes you included. But resourcefulness specifically, are there components of resourcefulness that make up the other attributes, or where does resourcefulness fit in?

Yeah, I love that.

I would argue, and I haven't thought about this, so I could be wrong here, but I would argue that resourcefulness is a result of certain attributes. I think resourcefulness is a result of open-mindedness and cunning, and perhaps even adaptability.

I think a lot of times, we get traits that we describe people with, and we think of them as specific attributes. Grit is a perfect example. A lot of people talk about grit as a singular thing, and it's not. In the book, it's a category, and grit as a result of attributes blended and catalyzed and stewed together to make up grit, and I think resourcefulness would fall into that category.

How do you prepare good people to be great leaders? And is everyone capable of being a great leader?

Great question.

Is everybody capable of being a great leader? No, I wouldn't say so, but here's why: and it's because leadership is not a position. Leadership is a behavior. There's a difference between being in charge and being a leader. One is a position, one is behavior.

And by the way, I always joke, whereas you can self designate as "I'm in charge" or be put in charge, you can't self designate as a leader. You can't call yourself a leader. That's like calling yourself good looking or funny. Other people decide whether or not you're good looking or funny. Other people decide whether or not you're a leader, because other people decide whether or not you are someone they want to follow. And if you call yourself a leader and you look back and there's no one following you, I've got bad news for you.

If you call yourself a leader and you look back and there's no one following you, I've got bad news for you.

But these behaviors are what cause other people to say, "That's someone I want to follow." And we saw this in the military, I saw this in the military, even in my career, even the SEAL teams. There'd be someone in a hierarchical position above me and I'd be like, "I wouldn't follow that person anywhere." Meanwhile, there's someone over here who has no hierarchical position or even lower on the hierarchical change than I am, and I was like, "I would follow that person to hell and back." And it's because of the way they behaved. And these behaviors stem from these attributes.

In the book, I talk about these attributes: empathy, decisiveness, selflessness, authenticity, and accountability. Those are attributes that lead to behaviors that people typically say, "I want to follow that person." Not everybody has a preponderance of those attributes, which means not everybody is necessarily going to be looked at as a great leader.

I guess anybody could at some point in their lives have someone else say, "You know what? I think of this person as a mentor, as a leader." I guess I'll modify my answer. Anybody can be a leader, but it's only because someone has said, "I will follow you. I choose to follow you."

Yeah, and a leader can be a bad thing, if you're a leader leading someone to a negative outcome.

Yeah, totally. But again, that's up to the person who's following.

Who's to say? There are tons of people in history, some people in current present day, who you look at and it's like, "I don't know why people look at that person as a leader," but they're still looked at as a leader.

It's their choice. It's not my choice, it's theirs. It's a very subjective designator. People have asked me, "Are leaders born or are they made?" And I say, "They're neither. They're chosen." And if you want to be chosen as a leader, you probably need to execute or behave with some of these attributes that we talk about.

Who do you want people to be once they finish reading your book?

I would love for people to be introspective about their performance. One of the things that I really got fascinated with as I went through this process, and certainly after coming out of the Navy, was this idea of "Who are we?" And really more specifically, "Who are we at our most raw?" Because we always hear the old adage, "It's in the worst times that the true us shows up." I'm always like, "Oh, who's the true us?"

And of course, I went through a career of the most raw all the time, so I was fortunate to put myself in an environment where the most raw was just on display, and what I think is, if people can come away with this, these attributes start to speak to who we are at our most raw, which allows someone to say, "Okay, now I know why I behave the way I do. In fact, and more importantly, now I know why I behave the way I do when things are at their worst."

If someone can have that realization, that's great. If they can read the book and start examining and building that introspection for themselves and understanding their own performance, gosh, it's a really cool thing for me.

A lot of your work has been about identifying the winners as quickly as possible, winners being the ones who are going to get the job done, whatever the job is.

If you were sitting down with a management team of an organization, I know you've done a bunch, how quickly can you determine how successful someone will be? And what type of things are you looking for?

Yeah, the process we go through with organizations is we first help them figure out what their attribute list looks like.

It's much easier for them to give themselves some of that feedback than to be told?

Well, it's actually not easy. We give them the tools, we give them the process to do that. But what we explained to them, and what someone will learn reading the book, is that the list of attributes required to be a great Navy SEAL team is going to look different than the list of attributes required to be a great sales team or a great teaching team or a great surgical team.

Whatever that is, that list of attributes is unique. And so what we'll do is we'll go into organizations and say, "Okay, we have a process we'll take you through to allow you to figure out what that master list looks like." Now you have a template from which you can say, "Okay, now we look at the positions in each position in the organization." We can say, "From this master list, what are the attributes that it takes to do this job, to do this job, to do this job?"

Now, you have something from which you can evaluate performance. Not only evaluate performance, but more importantly, hire the right people, because so many organizations spend so much money, waste so much money, on the wrong hires, and it's often because they're hiring for the wrong things. They're seeing skills, they're seeing stats, they're seeing resumes.

"Oh man, this person's awesome. They have all the things they need to have." They've never seen that person's attributes, and so therefore that person's going to come in as a "rockstar," and then either they actually turn into the A-hole, or the environment shifts and these people descend into chaos, because they just don't have what it takes. They have all the stuff on paper, but they don't have what it takes.

We help organizations figure out what that attribute list looks like, apply it to positions in their organization, and then apply it to hiring processes and performance evaluation processes so they can determine that. I can tell you exactly what it's going to take to be a great Navy SEAL, but I'm not going to be able to tell someone what it is to be a great accountant. But what we do is we have a process that allows them to help them figure that out.

Where do attributes link up with purpose? And how would you specifically help someone find what they're put on the planet to do?

Well, I have to reference my good buddy Simon Sinek, because he really helped solidify the importance of this why, and I think he says it so beautifully, and his organization has such a great process by which someone can help find their why.

The why is going to be the North Star, and so I guess where I fit in, where I'm really passionate about is, okay, once you have that why, how do you get there? And what are those tools that you have available to yourself to get there?

If the why is the destination, or at least the ideal to which you want to strive to, how can I adjust my performance and monitor my performance so that I can constantly be living that and getting there? And that's where I come in. If you want your why, check out Simon. Once you figure that out, or if you want to figure out how to get there, that's when the attributes begin to help.

Speaking of people like Simon and Andrew Huberman, who I know you are really well connected with. You’ve taught them so much. What have they taught you specifically about optimal performance or other areas of life?

Oh my gosh. Do we have another couple hours!?

Well, let me start with Simon. I was just with Simon this morning, so he's fresh on my mind. Simon has taught me so much about looking at ideas and simplifying them in a way that other people understand. He's brilliant at it. You can have great ideas all day long, but no one's going to listen to you if you can't articulate it in a way that people understand and relate to. He has always helped me simplify.

In fact, even when I was writing the book, I'd call him and say, "Okay, here's what I got. Here's how I'm mapping this out. What do you think?" And I remember a great example, I talk about the difference between skills and attributes, and I have three things on the skill side, three things on the attributes side. When I first called Simon, I had 10 things on the skills side and 10 things on the attribute side, and I remember reading that to him. He's like, "Okay, there's too much. Way too much. You've got to simplify that."

If your ‘why’ is the destination, or at least the ideal to which you strive toward, how can you adjust and monitor your performance so that you can constantly be living that and getting there?

Seriously, and I got it down to three things, and that's all I needed. He's taught me so much about that process, and it's so important, because there's a lot of great stuff out there that a lot of people don't have access to because it's just too complex. It's not articulated in a way that's simplified. That's really where he is helped, besides being a great friend, a great mentor, he's helped me, even when I got out of the Navy.

Andrew is almost the opposite, because Andrew and I, when we first started talking, he began to map complexity onto some of the ideas that I have, and by complexity, I mean neuroscience, biology, and physiology.

He's like, "We're going from three back to 10"!

That's right!

But I loved it, and I loved the idea, and when we first started to get together, which was I think five or six years ago now, we were talking about fear. We talked about stepping through fear and here's what I do. And he's like, "Okay, I think this is what's happening in the brain." And we spent hours. He came to Virginia Beach and we spent a lot of time mapping this out.

Andrew has been such an influence in helping map some of it out. I love the complex stuff, and actually, I deliberately left some complexity out of this book, because if it were up to me, it'd be way… I just love going complex, but again, I'm listening to Simon, "Hey, keep it simple."

Andrew has really helped me that way, and he's ignited and reignited my real interest and desire in taking some of these concepts of, "Hey, this is who we are. This is how we behave at our most raw." And say, "Okay, wait a second. This is why. It's because dopamine is getting released here, and serotonin here, and you have adrenaline here, and norepinephrine, which is the same thing, but acetylcholine." He just maps it on. "And because this and this," so much so that it's mind-blowing, right?

And any of us who listen to his podcast, sometimes you have to turn it off after 10 minutes. Okay, let me just absorb what I just heard for a second!

In Simon's case, he's really helped me think simply about things and how to design that. And Andrew's helped me add explanation and complexity.

What an amazing balance. I love it.

Yeah, I'm very, very grateful, very fortunate.

In your book, something I really loved was the way that you described resilience. I thought that that was absolutely fascinating, specifically how it differs from durability, and how the most resilient people are the ones who can actually just get back to that baseline as quickly as possible.

Well, resilience, it often gets conflated with perseverance, but it's not. Resilience you can think of as a rubber band. Am I stretching the rubber band? Is it resilient enough to go back to its original size? Resilience is the ability to get knocked off baseline, whether it be good or bad, and get back to baseline.

You can have great ideas all day long, but no one's going to listen to you if you can't articulate it in a way that people understand and relate to.

Perseverance is the ability to power through, and that, again, is an element of grit. But resilience is an element of grit, as well. I wanted to make that distinction, because I think a lot of times, some of these terms are either conflated or misinterpreted. And again, even with the language, I like to go down to the very elemental.

A lot of people essentially surrender their life when they allow something that happened to them a long time ago, like a divorce, to occupy their thoughts, and they stay very negative. If you were working with someone who wanted to lead their friend out of that situation – and out of that negativity – what would you encourage them to do?


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Rich Diviney does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. 🚀


Recover.

And the reason why is because trauma, in any form, whether it be mental, physical, whatever, you have to effectively recover from that trauma before you can reflect in a way that allows you to grow from it. And by recover, it means you get to a point where, if it's mental, you are no longer emotionally triggered by it. If it's physical, obviously, we know your muscles are healed enough so you can do it again. But recovery is really the key.

The length of time it takes to recover varies vastly depending on the level of trauma, what it is. But recovery is the key, and I would also offer that anybody who needs to recover, needs to recover to the degree that the event doesn't trigger them, so that they can actually reflect appropriately.

They may not be able to do it themselves. They may need help, and oftentimes do, and so that's why there are people out there who can help. If you are someone like this or you have a friend like this, encourage recovery. Encourage help with recovery, because it's only when we can actually start looking at those events objectively that we can start interrogating them objectively.

Because once you interrogate them objectively, you can start asking questions like, "Okay, how can I blame myself? What blame can I put myself? Who can I blame? Who else can I blame? What did I do right? What did they do right? What did I do wrong?" And the answers you get to those questions in an objective state are going to be vastly different from the answers you get to those questions if you are still emotional.

But the ones that you get from an objective state are going to allow you to grow.

Ask the right questions.

Sometimes, you need help to do that. We can't all do that on our own, and again, if it's significant, get help, get help, get help.

Last question, Rich, before we move into the Win the Day Rocket Round, on your best day, what's an affirmation that you would write on a flashcard that you could show yourself on your worst day?

If I were to point to one key to success in all domains, it's the ability to delay gratification. If you can delay reward, delay gratification, that is a key to success. To say, "Hey, I am going to do the hard work now, and it's going to suck, so that I might enjoy a reward later."

That's what I always want to remind myself of, and I think that's often the downfall of a lot of people who can't succeed, is they cannot delay gratification so that they can push through.

Again, I guess BUD/S is like that. Quitting is very singular. It's very pinpointed. And when you do it, you ain't coming back, so be very careful about that.

Delay gratification.

Final question: what's one thing you do to Win the Day?

I am grateful every day.

I hug my kids, kiss my kids, hug my wife, kiss my wife. I'm enormously grateful for where I am now.

And if things stopped now, if someone says, "Hey, I'm sorry, you're not going to go any further in terms of any more success, you're just going to stay steady," I'd be fine with it. I really would. I'd find something else to do, I guess, but I'm constantly grateful, and I think gratitude puts you in such a great state.

And by the way, Huberman has talked about it, there's powerful neurobiology that happens when we're truly grateful, and it can literally lift us out of some of the most depressive moods and states, so I try to be grateful.

Rich, thanks so much for coming on the show.

Thank you, James. It's a pleasure finally to get here, so thanks for having me.


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That’s all for this episode! Get out there and win the day.

Until next time…

Onward and upward always,

James Whittaker

PS - If you have a question and want it featured on the Win the Day podcast, email your question (in writing or as an audio message) to: info@jameswhitt.com


Resources / links mentioned:

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📚 'The Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance' by Rich Diviney.

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