In this insightful new episode of Get Better Today, retired Navy SEAL commander Rich Diviney discusses the distinctions between peak and optimal performance, underscoring the necessity of adaptability and resilience in challenging situations. Rich Diviney provides an in-depth look into his SEAL training and debunks the myth of perpetual peak performance in athletic and business settings, stressing the importance of responsible energy management.

The conversation also delves into leadership attributes such as courage, perseverance, and humility, and Diviney shares his fascination with the intersection of neuroscience and performance. Additionally, Rich Diviney touches on the concept of multiple identities and their unconscious influence on behavior, explaining how these identities accumulate over time and shape actions. The dialogue emphasizes the need to identify and deconstruct these identities to pursue personal excellence and achieve goals.

Rich Diviney is a retired Navy SEAL commander. In a career spanning more than twenty years, he completed more than thirteen overseas deployments—eleven of which were to Iraq and Afghanistan. As the officer in charge of training for a specialized command, Diviney spearheaded the creation of a directorate that fused physical, mental, and emotional disciplines. He led his small team to create the first-ever “Mind Gym” that helped special operators train their brains to perform faster, longer, and better in all environments—especially high-stress ones. Diviney is the founder of The Attributes Inc., which is a specialized consulting firm in leadership and team building. Rich is also the author of The Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance.

Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, or on your favorite podcast platform. Watch the episode on YouTube.

Rich Diviney Episode Highlights

Understanding Optimal Performance: One of the key discussions in this podcast surrounds the critical distinction between peak and optimal performance. Rich Diviney reveals that peak performance is often perceived as the ultimate goal, especially in athletics, but in the real world, and particularly in the SEAL teams, optimal performance is what truly matters. “Peak performance is an apex, and there’s only one place you can go from an apex, and that’s down,” explains Rich. Optimal performance, on the other hand, is about doing the best possible in any given situation, whether it’s a peak condition or a gut-wrenching, difficult environment. This perspective allows for “responsible energy management,” which helps sustain long-term high performance.

Attributes of Leadership: Effective leadership is another cornerstone of Rich’s expertise. He stresses that being a leader and being in charge are two different things. Leadership is a behavior, not a position. Some critical attributes that define great leadership include empathy, decisiveness, accountability, and authenticity. These traits ensure that one’s team views them as a leader worth following. Rich underscores that real leaders build environments where team members can thrive autonomously. This style fosters trust, making it easier to shift into a more directive role when necessary without losing the team’s confidence.

Neuroscience and Performance: Rich’s fascination with neuroscience significantly influences his approach to teaching optimal performance. He collaborates closely with neuroscientists like Andrew Huberman, leveraging scientific insights to demystify what makes elite performers tick. One profound revelation is how we learn and adapt through neural connections fortified by experiences marked by intensity, novelty, and focus. This process underlines why experiential learning, even through failures, can accelerate skill acquisition and resilience.

Transition from Military Life to Civilian Life: Transitioning to civilian life is a common hurdle for many veterans. Rich Diviney shares that for him, the defining factor was prioritizing his identity as a husband and father over that of a Navy SEAL. This focus provided a foundation on which he could build new professional identities, such as author and entrepreneur. Rich emphasizes the importance of recognizing and building new identities post-transition while honoring past experiences. This mindset paves the way for successful adaptation and growth in civilian life.

Practicing Optimal Performance: Rich outlines several practical steps for maintaining optimal performance. The three components he shares center around physiology, recovery, and self-improvement.

  • Physiology: Prioritize proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise. These are foundational to high performance.
  • Recovery: Engage in activities that bring joy, which helps in micro-recovery moments and prevents burnout.
  • Self-Improvement: Adopt practices like breath work, mindfulness, or any routine that aids mental clarity and resilience.

Show Notes

00:00 Guest Introduction: Rich Diviney

1:10 Understanding Optimal Performance

6:10 The Journey to Becoming a Navy SEAL

8:57 Lessons from SEAL Training

19:51 Attributes of Optimal Performance

25:01 Leadership Insights and Practices

34:20 The Irony of Leadership

35:19 Courage, Humility, and Empathy in Leadership

37:13 Delegating Responsibility vs. Accountability

40:43 Decision-Making vs. Decisiveness

45:20 The Role of Neuroscience in Optimal Performance

50:45 High Performance Protocols

54:15 Transitioning to Civilian Life

55:03 The Power of Identity

1:01:31 Defining Excellence

Connect with Rich Diviney


The Attributes Book

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Embark on a transformative journey with 2x Wall Street Journal and National bestselling author and world-renowned thought leader Matt Mayberry on his podcast, Get Better Today.

In each captivating episode, Matt unlocks the underlying characteristics of success through riveting conversations with some of today’s most influential people, from pioneering CEOs and transformative leaders to world-class athletes and living legends. Step into Matt’s world of endless curiosity and experience a refreshing fusion of critical thinking, varying perspectives, and storytelling that redefines leadership, business acumen, personal development, and the art of peak performance.