FORGING KOKORO CHARACTER
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle
Let’s get back to basics and start to examine how we can develop this fifth mountain in our own lives. We can’t even begin to develop Kokoro until a few solid values are forged into habits. Our habits define us. They are the little actions we take every moment, day in and day out. The problem is that many of our habits, though maybe not “bad” habits such as smoking or overeating, are not “excellence habits.” Thus we tend to view them as “ok” and do nothing about them, while wondering why we don’t get the results of elite performers.
We must examine our habits, and seek to drive out weak habits with excellence habits. As a nail drives out another nail, so a new habit will drive out an old. What are the “excellence habits” of Unbeatable Mind, practiced by SEALs, top tier athletes and other elite performers?
The three values we will immediately forge into excellence habits are discipline, drive and determination. These three words are more than values, they are a way of life that when habituated will propel you relentlessly toward victory over any goal or challenge.
When we habituate discipline, drive and determination, we become motivated by great challenges. We learn to “embrace the suck” and grow stronger through trial and tribulation. We develop self-knowledge of our powers of accomplishment through a disciplined approach to self-mastery. We grow stronger by driving forward, not shying from hard challenges or quitting when the going gets unfathomable. We grow through quiet determination to win and we persevering until we do. Our kokoro spirit is stoked and strengthened by habituating discipline, drive and determination.
Discipline is the habit of the daily grind. Discipline literally means to be a disciple to a higher purpose. Developing the discipline to train hard every day means we are a disciple to the higher purpose of training, which is to develop ourselves fully as human beings. We do this not so we look good, or to stoke our egos, but so that we can be more useful in life and fulfill our purpose for being here. Discipline starts with training the mind to reject discomfort, embrace pain if we must, avoid distractions, and eject negativity from our lives. Harken back to the First Premise lesson and you see how discipline of the mind stems from gaining control of and taming our minds. Then seek to use our minds wisely to develop effective skills, knowledge and strategies for accomplishing our goals without wavering or quitting.
Drive provides the motivation behind our disciplined actions. Drive is fueled by the desire, belief and expectation that we can achieve – that we are capable of more measure than we have given before. Drive comes from deep within, and is a reflection of our purpose enacted in the arena. Drive is a powerful “why” propelling us forward relentlessly. We habituate drive by contemplating deeply our purpose, and connecting with it daily. The Unbeatable Mind morning ritual is an excellent method for doing this. Journaling and ensuring that our purpose is ever present when we make decisions is another. Does this action move me closer or farther from my purpose, my main aim in life? We should be “driven” to stay on purpose and not allow ourselves to get pulled off.
We have all been pulled off track before. In early 2006 my company was hired by the Navy to launch the SEAL Mentor program for the Navy Recruiting Command. This program was a huge endeavor, and the team I recruited did an amazing job taking the pass rate on the SEAL screening test (the PST) from 33% to over 85% at boot camp in the first 9 months. Yes somehow the contract was tossed out and awarded to Blackwater USA (now XE) one year into what was a 5 year deal. Though the reasons for this were pretty suspect on the surface, the bottom line was that this pursuit was “off purpose” for me and losing it got me back on track. It should never be about the money. For a small company like mine, the impact of the loss seemed like a huge blow at the time. However, it did not take me long to see the reason it had to go – my purpose was to train warriors, not run a government contract handcuffed by the bureaucracy. Everything that happens to us can have a silver lining if we know our purpose!
Determination is the willpower to keep going after everyone else has gone home. The SEAL trainees who succeed are the ones who go the extra mile on every evolution, including the evolutions not graded or observed by the training cadre. When everyone else is done for the day, the determined will stay for an extra hour honing a skill, working on their gear or studying. Similarly, the best athletes, actors, doctors and warriors are not always the most talented. Rather they are the ones who work the hardest. They are determined to be on the team, determined to be the best, and they go after it through relentless hard work. News flash to the world: hard work works! I know I am preaching to the choir in Unbeatable Mind, but the FIFO system, “ first in, last out,” is the accounting system of the determined individual.