The 7-P Process
The 7 P’s of Authentic Leadership are a simple process for defining some basic things about ourselves that impact the rest of our lives. This process is essential to go through as we gain awareness of the importance of self-mastery, assuming that we do (not everyone does). The 7-P’s are essential to leading your “I” and include your personal statement of your Passion, Purpose, Principles, Possibilities, Priorities, Path and Plan. Let’s look at each in more detail.
Passion: Your passion is the essence of what files you up. It is the intersection of your skills, capacities, talents and spirit. Some of us know what we are passionate about without any prodding – art, music, math, cooking, service, yoga and guns are all great examples of things I have seen folks so passionate about that they either do these things exclusively in their spare time, or they find a way to earn a living from them. My passion is training others in an integral warrior model – imagine how cool it is to earn a living teaching, training and doing all this stuff myself to lead by example. I am incredibly blessed, as is anyone who can hone in on his or her passion, and align it with their purpose. How do we know what our passion is if it doesn’t jump into our head when we ask that question? By asking more and better questions! I recommend a 7 layer questioning process to accompany your 7-P process to get to the root of any issue. Here is an example:
- What am I passionate about? I am not sure, but I like being outdoors..
- What about being outdoors do I like? Well, I love the feeling I have in when I go into the woods and spend time alone.
- What is so nice about being in the woods alone that makes me feel good? I would say it is the connection to nature and how my mind settles when I am in the woods. I just feel complete.
- What can I do to spend more time in nature? I can plan more outings and camping trips with my family.
- Is there a message in my love for the woods – if it makes me feel so alive can I align this passion with something I do for a living? Not really, I am pretty well entrenched in my financial planning practice…that would be too disruptive and I would probably be doing a selfish thing and my family would think I am nuts and bail on me.
- What about some other ideas that are more involved in nature, and my love for nature, but not as time consuming as a job? Hmmm interesting question, I guess I could learn to lead nature classes, or I could volunteer for the Sierra Club, or I could volunteer to cut trails on the weekend with the park rangers.
- Which of these should I pursue now, knowing that this positive and forward leaning action will align my passion closer to my purpose, allowing me to grow as an integral, authentic and unbeatable mind leader? I am volunteering for the Sierra Club – HOOYAH! – thank you Unbeatable Mind!
Clearly this line of questioning could have yielded a completely different action.
For instance the answer to question 3 could have led us down the path of asking how we can spend more time alone, regardless of whether in nature or not. So the passion may be more akin to doing more contemplative practices, spiritual insight seeking and joining a meditation group. In fact I highly encourage us all to form an Unbeatable Mind local practice group for this very reason!
Asking the right questions in life defines our reality for us. After all, isn’t the first premise about clearing our head so we can fill it with the right thoughts and images? What are real thoughts if not inspired question and answer sessions in our minds? Use this process to hone your questioning skills and nd what you are passionate about, then use it do help define your purpose.
Purpose: Purpose relates very closely to passion, in that it is typically fulfilled in a role fueled by our passion, which helps define who we are as a human as we seek meaning in life.
Thus our purpose can be our major defining role in life. Many of us never find this, or spend our entire lives out of alignment with a purpose we may know is simmering under the surface noise. Alas we feel we are too late to change or we lack the courage to actualize it. Many older guys who come through Kokoro camp are checking in with their warrior purpose after choosing a different path early in life, wondering for many years if they made the right decision. At SEALFIT Academy and Kokoro they learn about this warrior path, and how they can still live this underlying purpose outside of a typical warrior profession. We can also find purpose by aligning the values of our business or team with our purpose driven values, as I have done with SEALFIT. If we own a business or work for a business, ask if its purpose is in alignment with ours. If not use the 7-question process to ask how we can align them so we can be fulfilled in that role or job. If the answer is no, then it is highly encouraged that we change careers or jobs to something that is aligned with our purpose.
Principles: Principles are values, stated as our own personal code. How do we develop our own personal code? Through asking the right questions, of course! The process is usually iterative and our principles will often morph over time. We come to them through introspection, trial and error. The SEAL Teams did not have a stated, written down code until 2006 when Captain O’Connell and Commander Wilson took the lead to codify the values of the Teams. Until then the SEALs had a value system that was communicated through action (offensive, leadership, team focus, mission focus, earn the trident every day), through stories (leave no man behind, you are only as fast as your slowest man, front sight focus) and metaphors or slogans (failure is not an option, the only easy day was yesterday, embrace the suck, pain is weakness leaving the body, if you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin!). This is how cultural norms / values are most often and most effectively transmitted in any organization or society.
The problem is that the interpretation is left up to the aspirant, and as new generations come into the tribe they may interpret the spoken code different than their predecessors intended. An example is “If you ain’t cheatin you ain’t tryin.” I heard this many times at BUD/s, and to me it meant that we had to think unconventionally and out of the box, but within the legal constraints of the organization and society. However twenty years later many of the young guys coming into BUD/s, who grew up with our morally relativistic social norms took this to mean that cheating was condoned. After all that is how they got through school, and the norm was “just don’t get caught.” So in an organization where absolute integrity was required of everyone, this cultural value passed down from our Vietnam era brothers was not working. Thus it was discarded, along with others, and a firm written code was enshrined. Here it is:
Loyalty to country, team and teammate
Serve with honor and integrity, on and off the battlefield
Ready to lead, ready to follow, never quit!
Take responsibility for your actions, and those of your teammates Excel as warriors through discipline and innovation
Train for war, fight to win, defeat our nation’s enemies
Earn your Trident every day
A code then is simply the unspoken values of an individual or organization, expressed in words, and lived through action. They must be supported by the systems of the organization. Our SEALFIT codes has similarities to the Navy SEAL code since those values were so enshrined in me, and are such an inspirational model for us all. The values it encodes are eternally strong values that create courageous and authentic individuals when habituated. Let’s review the SEALFIT code:
Loyalty – to our family, friends and our team
In ancient times loyalty was a prime directive. You were loyal to your family, tribe and clan. How do you continue to reflect that prime directive? Are you loyal to people, groups or causes? Do you tolerate disloyalty by yourself or others? Are there higher order values beyond loyalty that would necessitate disloyalty? How is your loyalty expressed in different relationships? What does it mean to be loyal to a spouse, co-worker, friend or your child?
Service – to others before self
Service and discipline are root values of the warrior. With service we are not abandoning the self and being misused by others but it’s about expanding our concept of self to embrace and include others. It’s about expanding our circles of connection, compassion and care. We must ask ourselves daily how we can serve others. Is our service to others driven by a larger more expansive picture and experience of self or by fear and insecurities? Is it driven by a subtle greed, such as in feel good philanthropy? Essentially we must ensure that our service is authentic and not contrived, or the trust bond will be broken.
Honor and integrity – in public as well as in private
Our intentions, words and deeds line up and are expressions of our habits, which form our character. As is said in the Bible “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” In ancient times our word meant everything. If you pledged to do something, then it must be done. In Unbeatable Mind we are revitalizing these ancient ways of being in the world. How much integrity do you have? Where do you fall down on following through? Where do your intentions, words and deeds not match? Keep in mind that another word for integrity is trust. Can people trust what you say and what you do? Do you do the right thing when no one is looking? Of course someone is always seeing…and that is your witness. So be careful to align your thoughts, words and deeds. In fact, you may have noticed if you worked hard on our authentic listening exercise that it is really hard to do. That should tell us something…that words should be used sparingly and our eyes and ears with abandon.
Leadership and followership – we must be good at both to be effective at anything
We focus a lot on leadership in this lesson but the other side of the coin is “followship.” A good leader knows when to lead and when to follow and a good follower knows when to follow and when to lead. Sometimes when we are in followship mode we can also be called upon to lead. I observed that authentic teams the leader and follower roles are always shifting as if on a swivel. The role leader will step aside to let the expert leader guide the team through a risky evolution. Then the role leader steps back in. Often there are a multitude of leaders on a mission and all know their place. Things can get sticky when the person in the role of institutional leader (like the CO at SDVT-1 in my earlier example) do not get this very important point and try to control every aspect of a mission or project. Soon this lack of trust and authenticity spoils it for everyone and performance is dumbed down to a “let’s just get this over with” mentality.
Responsibility – for both our actions and those of our teammates
In ancient times, one was accountable for the sins of their father. Now, individuals are barely held accountable for their own sins. Imagine if we were held to account for ourselves, our family, our friends and our teammates. How would you have to be different than you are now in terms of those relationships? Another aspect of responsibility is being able to ‘respond’ and not ‘react’ in any particular situation. If you’re reactive it is by habit and not choice. We are not in control of your mind, rather a puppet to your poisoned subconscious background of obviousness. If we respond, than it’s by choice and a sign that we are free.
Discipline, drive and determination – the only easy day was yesterday
This should be a no-brainer for those who have taken up the Unbeatable Mind program. We must habituate discipline, drive and determination on our pathway to self-mastery. Anything short and we will stray from the path, not fulfilling our contract to develop to our fullest capacity as a human and to fulfill our purpose in this life. This principle is a BIG DEAL! The 10,000 cut or 10,000 hour rule to mastery is germane. Practice, practice, practice and seek to excel. Day in and day out we train and practice, eventually learning to love the process of sharpening the sword of our awareness and skills.
Innovation – adapt, improvise and overcome
This value is about developing a flexible mindset. Leaning into risk and failure as a way to learn and grow, rather than shying from risk and failure to protect our career, reputation or self. Innovation also comes as we open ourselves up to the Relaxed State and tap into our right brain, intuitive and creative subconscious minds. Recall the story about the inventor who sits for ideas. Why don’t we try this idea ourselves?
SEALs are extremely innovative and always breaking things to remake them better. The Asset Reallocation Specialist would never fly in another organization that didn’t honor innovation and risk. The blacked out boogie boards SEAL Team 5 used in combat for Operation Deception at the dawn of Desert Storm were a brilliant innovation to a complex problem – how can 14 SEALs swim hundreds of pounds of C-4 demolition to shore without being detected? We must develop the habit of adapting; improvising and overcoming obstacles at an individual and team level, and hard wire it into our authentic leadership profile.
The 7 “P”s: Purpose, Passion, Principles, Possibilities, Priorities, Path, Plan
The first 3 “Ps” are the most important, and will take the most time to figure out. In fact they will be with us for the rest of your life, and you will fine tune them as we gain new insights and experiences. The morning ritual is the best times to connect with your 3 Ps and ask good questions to ground your day so that it is connected to your passion, purpose and principles. The remaining 4 Ps are about aligning our actions with our first 3 Ps, so that we can be more productive and powerful in everything we set our minds to.
Possibilities: Once we gain insight into our purpose and passion, then new possibilities open up to us. Another way of thinking about this is the possibilities that open to us as we grow along our lines of development and attain new stages of awareness. We will be open, flexible and adaptable within the scope of our personal vision ( first 2 P’s) and within the boundaries of our personal ethical code (3rd P). When I “discovered” this process I was 3 years into my career as a CPA, hating life. The silence of my martial arts training, long runs and my Zen meditation practice began to penetrate my outer armor so that I could listen to that “still voice” inside of me. It was telling me I was not aligned with my passion or purpose. I spent many hours asking questions around what I was passionate about – I came up with words like: adventure, outdoors, leadership, fitness, challenge, new things, constant learning, enlightenment (not that I had a clue what that meant at the time!). These answers fueled insight into my values and also my purpose. I articulated my purpose at the time as “to lead and grow as a leader in a high risk, high adventure profession.” This, as you can see, now opened up new possibilities for me, some of which I decided to investigated, such as: US Marine fighter pilot, oil rigger, and US Navy SEAL. I chose SEAL. Then I had to re-orient my priorities determine my unique path to earn the coveted Navy SEAL Trident.
Priorities: The goal is set, we are fired up, finally aligned and excited about our new possibility. But soon we find that we don’t have the time or energy to take the massive action required to move the dial toward it. We get discouraged, and quit after a few months. We did not take the important step of reorganizing our priorities around the new objective we defined in the possibility stage of the 7-P process. Discovering what’s important in terms of utilizing our time, energy and resources toward particular goals is essential or we will simply be too scattered in focus. Time and energy are precious, so we must decide early on those actions, people and skills that are essential to move us toward our goal.
Path: Once we decide upon a particular possibility, it doesn’t rule out other possibilities, rather it turns them into “plan B.” However, it is plan A that now becomes our path that we walk toward our objective. It’s not just about the means to an end and micro-goals along the way but also how this particular path, aligns with our purpose and principles. When I decided to choose the SEAL possibility, I had to determine my path. Every new SEAL candidate’s path is unique to them. For me, with an MBA and CPA I was interested in an officer slot to the SEALs. There were two slots a year allotted in 1989. I needed to find a way to slip through that very narrow needle to ensure my newfound goal would be met! The path I laid out included a radical focus on my physical and mental training, while taking care of the outer strategic and tactical things I needed to do to get a SEAL contract that included Officer Candidate School.
Plan: A SEAL saying is “proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance!” Now that the path is laid out, what is your specific plan? What is our flexible yet specific design plan that will most ensure victory? For my SEAL example my plan included hours of inner work, in particular envisioning myself in the new role. I powered these envisioning sessions with an intense belief and expectation that this was the right path for me and that I had already earned the trident. Somewhere along the way, even before the recruited informed me that I had earned a slot to Officer Candidate School with a follow-on set of orders to BUD/s, I had the incredible experience of sensing that I had actually earned the Trident already…but inside of myself. All I had to do was show up and put out 100% and it was mine! What a huge relief and sense of confidence this gave me. I had discovered the “First Premise” of Unbeatable Mind – that we must win in our minds BEFORE we enter the arena.
Train hard, stay present and have fun – Mark Divine