Former Navy SEAL on leadership, how to optimize human performance and the secrets to being your best self – Rich Diviney

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Some people thrive – even when things get hard. How do they do this?

How can you succeed in any situation and develop greatness, creating optimal performance in all areas of your life?

Today’s guest became obsessed with better understanding what differentiates those who succeed from those who fail – and everything related to optimizing human performance. 

Rich Diviney has more than 20 years of experience as a Navy SEAL Officer. He completed more than 13 overseas deployments (11 of which were to Iraq and Afghanistan), achieved multiple leadership positions (including the Commanding Officer of a Navy SEAL Command), and since retirement in early 2017, has worked as a speaker, facilitator, and consultant with the Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute and Simon Sinek Inc.

He has taught leadership and optimal performance to more than five thousand business, athletic, and military leaders from organizations such as American Airlines, Meijer Inc., the San Francisco 49ers, Pegasystems, Zoom, and Deloitte.

During his twenty years as a Navy SEAL, Rich was intimately involved in the world-renowned SEAL selection process, which whittles exceptional candidates down to a small cadre of the most elite optimal performers. But he was often surprised by which recruits washed out and which succeeded.

Someone could have all the right skills and still fail, while recruits he might have initially dismissed would prove to be top performers. The seemingly objective criteria weren’t telling him what he most needed to know: Who could be part of the world’s most elite military unit?

Through years of observation, Rich learned to identify a successful recruit’s core Attributes, the innate traits for how a person performs as an individual and as part of a team. That same methodology can be used by anyone in their personal or professional lives.

In his book The Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance, Rich shows how they can be applied to a team as readily as a person. Understanding your own attributes and those of the people around you can fast-track optimal performance in all areas of your life.

Rich’s deeply held belief is that each individual has unlimited potential that, once unlocked, can lead to not only living the life of one’s purpose and dreams – but also allow for inspirational contribution to others.

This potential often goes untapped due to a lack of understanding and resources from which to draw upon.

Rich teaches principles of leadership with the highest level of humanity and humility. This is another fascinating episode and will leave you wanting more.

I loved diving deep into the mindset of a Navy SEAL and learning all the techniques, lessons, and wisdom that Rich shared as principles of leadership.

I was honoured to have Rich on the show, and I am excited to share this interview with you all!

Enjoy 🙂 


  1. Skills are not inherent to our nature, we are not born with them. They are visible and therefore easy to measure and score … However they do not show us how, when environments become difficult and uncertain, we would behave. Skills tell us what is. Attributes on the other hand tell us what could be, and can unveil potential. They are not visible, and show most visibly at times of uncertainty, difficulty and stress 
  2. Our potential is in the unknown, it is about what could be … If we regularly push ourselves into the unknown and beyond our edge, when uncertain situations arise we are often better equipped to deal with these
  3. Facing adversity and high-stake risk environments is very humbling and very attributes-rich
  4. Fear is the combination of uncertainty and anxiety – you can have one without the other. Uncertain but not anxious and anxious but not uncertain. We can train ourselves to recognize that fear is not a productive emotion … And get good at slowing down our nervosity and focusing on what we can control. The way to lower the fear is to understand 2 elements: 
    1. 1) Our anxiety, which is internally focused and therefore which we can dial down if we understand it (e.g. breathing exercises, practising open gaze) 
    2. 2) The uncertainty which is external, and we can evaluate through asking questions about our environment in order to assess what we can control and make a first step
  5. Being in charge does not mean being a leader – and we can’t call ourselves a leader – like we can’t call ourselves good looking or funny. Leadership is a behavior, not a position, and other people decide whether we are a leader. Empathy, selflessness, authenticity, decisiveness and accountability are key behaviors of leadership
  6. The best leaders don’t lead from the front but from behind, selflessly, they push their people forward so their people shine
  7. Trust is not just about skills but is based on a set of behaviors, aligned to those of leadership, as well as vulnerability, which is as much about showing our strengths as our weaknesses so team members can lean on one another
  8. Narcissism is an attribute for drive, when managed and contained in moderation 
  9. We can have empathy, and understanding for our enemies, putting ourselves in other shoes even if we do not agree with them and have a different viewpoint 
  10. Cunning is the ability to problem solve in a deliberate manner that is outside preconceived rules and constraints, with an open mind and curiosity
  11. Self-discipline and discipline are two different things: self-discipline involves those objectives that we set and on which the external world has no say as to whether or not we accomplish them … however discipline involves environments where the external world has a say and might throw things at us that might take us off track and require adaptability and being comfortable with a lack of structure 
  12. The fear of rejection can be very powerful to push ourselves beyond our edge, if it is controlled enough so that it doesn’t lead to doing things we don’t want to do or to a lack of confidence
  13. Positive thinking and visualization is powerful to achieve our goals. When we decide to place focus on something, we select the bits of information through all of our five senses, that we want to process with our conscious minds – we instruct our brains to see opportunities we might not have paid attention to before 
  14. Every team has a class clown: humor is an important attribute of optimal performance, trust and bonding in teams
  15. In the conduct of any goal, it is important to be resolute in the outcome but flexible in the approach


If you are ready to create a more intentional and regret-free life and career that unlocks your unique potential and lights you up, start here!

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