Author Rich Diviney Reveals Hidden Drivers of Success

Retired U.S. Navy SEAL Rich Diviney has lived a life of service, but it’s not his 13 overseas deployments that made him a household name. Instead, it’s what he’s accomplished since retiring that’s captured the public’s attention and resulted in countless people bettering their lives. In his groundbreaking book, The Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance, Diviney offers an insightful look at the attributes driving today’s high-performing individuals and provides readers with a roadmap for success.

Diviney’s role in the SEAL selection process—where the Navy’s best and brightest experience such mental and physical exhaustion that only the most elite remain—gave him a unique look into the continuum of success and a rare glimpse at the metaphysical nature of resilience. As he watched the cycles repeat, he noticed it was difficult to predict a candidate’s success; this piqued his interest and drove his quest to understand why some rise to the challenge while others fail.

While the world measures success by wealth, power, and influence, the best-selling author and performance coach challenges these conventional beliefs and empowers readers with a refreshing perspective that reframes limitations as internal and temporary. Diviney argues that the attributes high performers use to achieve optimal results can be cultivated through commitment, dedication, and practice.

On a recent episode of the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast, Diviney discussed these attributes and how high-performing individuals leverage them. At the heart of his book lies a framework consisting of five categories: grit, mental acuity, drive, leadership, and team ability. Before watching the episode, learn more about why these categories are foundational to unlocking your full potential.

1. Grit

Grit contains the attributes of courage, perseverance, adaptability, and resilience. “Many people think of grit as an attribute; it’s not,” says Diviney. The author defines grit as the capacity to endure and push through acute challenges, arguing it’s vital to reaching optimal performance and making a lasting impact. By developing grit, highly successful people maintain a level of focus and determination that allows them to persevere and achieve their goals. In a culture that relies on instant gratification and sees quitting as an acceptable option, grit sets those who achieve greatness apart from those who merely exist.

2. Mental Acuity

Mental acuity includes four distinct attributes: situational awareness, task switching, learnability, and compartmentalization. While grit is about the ability to power through adversity, mental acuity encompasses the ability to process information to navigate complex challenges. Success requires we remain vigilant, adapt to change, and learn quickly in today’s fast-paced world. The final attribute in this category allows high-performing individuals to be hyper-selective about the information informing their decisions. “Compartmentalization is the ability to chunk an environment into meaningful elements, focus on what’s needed, and block everything else out,” says Diviney. “It’s the single most important attribute to make it through SEAL training.”

3. Drive

Drive consists of self-efficacy, cunning, open-mindedness, discipline, and narcissism. These attributes, when utilized effectively, can motivate individuals to pursue a life of success, impact, and fulfillment. Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s abilities, and cunning is the ability to navigate challenges. Open-mindedness is a willingness to embrace change and consider new ideas, while discipline helps us foster focus and consistency. Lastly, narcissism is the attribute that uses the desire for recognition to drive a person to seek continual improvement and strive for excellence. “Every human being on the planet at some point in their lives wants to stand out [and] be adored. We’re neurologically rewarded when it happens,” said Diviney. “A little bit of narcissism is [often] the impetus of some of our most audacious goals.” This combination of attributes can be a powerful motivation in achieving goals and aspirations.

4. Leadership

Effective leadership requires empathy, accountability, authenticity, decisiveness, and selflessness. Individuals can inspire and influence those around them by developing, utilizing, and mastering these five attributes. While important, Diviney emphasized that leaders must take a nuanced approach to empathy. “The best leaders have empathy on a dimmer switch; too much can be detrimental because [those you lead] will walk all over you. So, sometimes you must dial it up and other times down,” says Diviney. Next, accountability ensures that leaders take responsibility for their actions and decisions, while authenticity demands that they’re genuine and transparent. Decisiveness gives leaders the confidence to make bold moves, and selflessness allows them to prioritize the needs of those they’re responsible for over their own. These attributes inspire trust and respect within the team and put leaders on the path to greatness.

5. Team Ability

Team ability is crucial for success and includes the attributes of integrity, humility, conscientiousness, and humor. Integrity aligns an individual’s actions with a code they’ve agreed to abide by, while humility allows them to learn from their mistakes. Conscientiousness ensures high performers honor their commitments, and humor fosters strong relationships within a team and helps them navigate challenging situations. A good sense of humor goes a long way to increase morale during difficult times – which can be the difference between winning and losing. During the podcast, Diviney said that laughter is an involuntary response that strengthens bonds between people; it has a powerful neurological effect as it releases dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin, which connects us on a biological level.

Diviney proves himself to be a subject-matter expert whose engaging writing style makes complex concepts accessible to a broader audience. Praised for its unique perspective and practical approach, The Attributes is a must-read for anyone seeking a fresh take on success. Its hands-on approach provides strategies, real-world examples, and exercises that everyone will find helpful, from entrepreneurs and executives to athletes and artists. Hear from the author himself on this episode of the Everyday Warrior Podcast.

The Talking Series is a weekly segment that delves deeper into topics discussed by guests on the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast.

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