The Big 4 of Mental Toughness

The Big 4 of Mental Toughness

Imagine showing up at Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training (BUD/s) on day one. Around you stand 175 swarthy SEAL candidates from all walks of life. Some are monster Adonis types who played linebacker for their college football team. Others are boxers and wrestlers. Others are underwater combat experts (code for water polo). Still others look like they just parked the tractor in the barn and hopped on a bus to Coronado.

Every one of them is about ready to fight three fights, and the 40 or so who can win all three simultaneously while maintaining a great attitude and their health, will call themselves SEALs in 11 months.
If you wonder whether you will be one of them…you won’t.

First, let’s discuss the 3 fights.   As my buddy Tony Blauer likes to point out – in a street fight you fight 3 battles.

The first is inside you. That battle is overcoming your fears, steeling your resolve, maintaining an offensive mind set, developing skills, knowledge and personal power, and not succumbing to the habit of conveying special powers upon your enemy.

The second fight is the actual engagement; the one most would consider the fight. This is often the easiest of the 3, and is certainly the shortest in terms of time invested.

The third fight is between you and the system. Even if ambushed, a SEAL who beats the crud out of an assailant in California will have to answer for why a Navy SEAL with 25 years of martial arts experience could not control the use of force.

Back to wet and cold on the BUD/s grinder. The second fight is clear to you. You must fight each and every one of these guys to earn the right to be standing tall on graduation day. That means that, out of 40 potential finishers, 39 will be your potential teammates, and the other 135 are your enemies. You are locked in a competitive battle with them to lock your position in the 40. You must do so by being crafty, every watchful, exploiting opportunity, being Machiavellian and Aristotelian at the same time. You must be intensely cooperative and forge a winning team, while also being intensely competitive – the stakes are the coveted trident, which some have literally died earning.

The third fight is against the instructors and the system. This fight is also pretty clear to you. The instructor’s sole job is to determine whether you have what it takes to be on the team. They don’t care about you personally. Whether you or the next guy makes it is completely irrelevant to them. The instructors all have PhD’s in exploiting weakness, finding your opening, crawling inside of you and tearing you apart from the inside out. You will not make it…unless…

You win the first fight first. The first fight is in your mind. You must win in the mind, before stepping foot onto the battleground. This is true for any situation in life. The question, then, becomes how.

This is where the “big 4” come in. I can write volumes about mental toughness, but when it comes to tactics, the big 4 always bubble up to the top. You must master these 4 tactics to win in your mind before you step into the combat-like arenas of life.

Whether you are a SEAL candidate or business professional, the big 4 are your toolkit to mental toughness and success. Stand by for more in the next issue.

Until then, train hard, stay safe and have fun!

–Mark Divine, founder SEALFIT / Unbeatable Mind


Read below about the impact Unbeatable Mind Academy has had on Michael M:

Quick note of thanks and another example of how the work you are doing is truly impacting lives.

I signed up for UM right around the the time it became clear I was getting a divorce. Being a father of three under the age of 7 and the sole income earner for my family, the prospect of an eight year marriage ending coupled with the reality that I will now only be seeing my children on a part time basis was a daunting one. I joined UM in hopes that I would be able to access another tool in my arsenal to assist with dealing what would surely be a tough run.

My expectations were exceeded. A serious dedication to UM has truly enabled me to continue to be the rock that I have always been for my family. I am very early on (Lesson 3), but the techniques have been there from the beginning to put me in a position of grace, strength, humility, empathy, class, understanding, perspective and mental toughness that will make my children proud.

The reason I’m telling you this is that I think it is critical that you understand how important the work is that you are doing. Please continue the outstanding dedication to this program, and to also learn from the incredible community that you have assembled (the fact that you are actively improving the program and soliciting feedback from the group speaks volumes that you are practicing what you preach).

Thank you for providing a resource that has been essential in getting me through what has been the toughest test of my life so far. My family (both sides), friends and colleagues have consistently commented on how remarkably and deftly I am handling my situation, which I think is a true testament to UM. There has not been one minute of Pity Party, nor will there be. Ever.

Thank you for your coaching, wisdom, and obvious sincere compassion for your students.

Keep it up Coach


Leave a Reply