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Staying in the Fight by Mark Divine - CrossFit Journal

Staying in the Fight

By Mark Divine

In LEO/Mil, Rest Day/Theory

September 12, 2011

PDF Article

Former SEAL Mark Divine shares the secrets of true mental toughness.

What separates survivors from quitters in extreme challenges? When you look at the tactics used by successful SEALs, SEALFIT graduates, ultra-endurance athletes and survivors of natural disasters, they are surprisingly similar.

In the case of BUD/s selection or SEALFIT Kokoro Camp, quitting means you get a blanket and a cup of coffee. However, you must then deal with the long-term pain of regret. In the event of a firefight, accident or natural disaster, the stakes are much higher: life or death. Quitting is simply not an option.

So how can you learn to treat every worthy obstacle with the same hair-on-fire intensity as the life-and-death ones? The answer to this question is the Holy Grail of mental-toughness research. How can we train ourselves to make both minor and serious decisions with clarity and strength during our weakest moments? A single bad decision, made in a moment of weakness, can have disastrous consequences.

What follows are some tactics we teach at SEALFIT to help stay motivated, clear-headed and in control of our decisions so we can stay in the fight when it gets really shitty.

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23 Comments on “Staying in the Fight”


wrote …

I think this may be the best article I have ever read here in the Journal.


wrote …

Wow great article. I agree Matt realistic and practical.


wrote …

I agree with Matt. Mark Divine has really helped me get my head back in the game and understand that mental toughness can influence our daily life. Good stuff....


Gerard Mcauliffe wrote …

Magnificent article.


wrote …

Great article! Even for those of us who have quit when things got tough (BUD/S Class 224), or maybe especially for us, this article is a great read in knowing how to overcome and succeed when things get really tough! Thanks!


wrote …

This article was so good! I have heard most of this stuff before, but this article gave it new meaning and significance. One to print and keep close. Thanks, Mark!


wrote …

Great article about mental toughness by Mr. Divine. The part about the use of visualization to help with accomplishing ones' goals is dead-on. Visualization should be part of "practice" for any important life event, sport competition, etc. In my opinion, visualization is a very powerful component to success and should be taught and used by more people. Other stategies mentioned in the article are great tools as well. I was glad to come across this article in the Journal tonight.

-James Ryan


wrote …

Great article - applicable to many things in life.


wrote …

Hello Mark!

Many thanks for writing such an outstanding article and sharing it with the CrossFit community. Your training and experience in the mindset arena are tops.

Be Safe and Godspeed!
George Ryan


wrote …

Excellent article! I agree with Joseph, these lessons are applicable to more than just Crossfit.


wrote …

Great article. Thought it was worth repeating.


Mark Divine wrote …

Thanks for the kind words folks...much appreciated. Mark Divine


wrote …

I love the article, and want more! Do you have a book or other material we can purchase from you Mark? I agree with all of the above comments. This is not only great advice to apply to CF, but to life overall!


wrote …

Awesome article and I love the insight on comparing WODS and selection training. Not many people talk about the little goals to achieve bigger goals and I think it's a great tool to use on your athletes to keep their heads in the game.


Ben O'Grady wrote …

Agreed with comments above, this is one of the clearest and most practical articles on the mental game I've read. Keep up the good work. I'll be sharing this around.


Brandon Nugent wrote …

Seriously, well articulated, digestible, and I gotta say, motivating.

Thank-you for this!


Chris Cavallerano wrote …

Fantastic article and contribution Mark Divine. You are a brilliant light in the CF community. Shine on, share often!


wrote …

Mark, this is an outstanding article my friend. I think daily of the lessons you taught me during Kokoro. Thanks for all you do for the CrossFit and LEO/MIL community - you are a true leader and shining example of the Warrior Spirit.


john mcevoy wrote …

Awesome article. It relates to a lot of books I have read and techniques I try to incorporate into my life.
I am hoping to get to Kokoro next year.


wrote …

Cdr. Divine's article motivates me to make my first-ever post on this forum.

It concise, elegant language he lays out a series of issues and provides answers applicable to every life experience and field of endeavor.

He is a man who has accomplished much in life and thought deeply about how to communicate the process of his accomplishment to others.

Cdr. Divine's inspired and inspiring eloquence is not limited to the page. In the Kokoro Camp videos featured here and on his SealFit site he says:

"I want you to cross this river and pick up a rock the size of your will to live and then bring it back." Unforgettable.

For those of us who have visualized the passage through an experience such as chemo-therapy as the fording of a river, we now know what to do once reaching the far shore.

Thank you, Cdr. Divine, for this excellent article. And for your service to our country, thank you from a grateful American.


wrote …

I need to read something like this, I have been beat with injuries and tough times at work, and I'm pumped to stay in the fight. Great article Cdr. Divine. Thanks!


wrote …

FANTASTIC! This is realy a MUST READ for everyone!!

Thank you so much Mark for this great article!!

All the best.

Nicolas Gomez - Crossfit Copenhagen Denmark.


wrote …

Great!! Just Great!!!!
"Embrace the suck!!!!!" This is the quote I needed to get my mind back and focused on Life and Crossfit.

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