Navy SEALs are the best of the best—highly intelligent and courageous individuals who are committed to intense training that pushes them to their physical and mental limits. Self-assurance, strength, and the ability to perform under highly stressful situations are requirements of the job. With determination and teamwork, these are people who continuously strive for improvement.
Mark Divine is a prime example. At the age of 26, Divine graduated as “Honor Man” (the #1-ranked trainee) of his SEAL BUD/S class. After serving 9 years on active SEAL duty and an additional 11 years as a Reserve SEAL, he was tapped by the government to develop a nationwide mentorship program for SEAL trainees. Beyond the typical mental toughness techniques you might expect in such a leadership program, Divine includes brain healthy strategies such as meditation, yoga, and laughter. The program reduced SEAL trainee attrition by 5%.
Why would someone as accomplished and successful as Divine want to see a psychiatrist for a brain scan? “I’m seeking to go from good to great, or from great to optimized for the rest of my life,” he says to Daniel Amen, MD, in an episode of Scan My Brain. This is a common desire for high performers who are determined to be the very best version of themselves and stay at the top of their game.
EVEN TOP PERFORMERS CAN IMPROVE BRAIN HEALTH
People who reach the highest echelons of success—CEOs, entertainers, tech developers, entrepreneurs, inventors, athletes, financial experts—can always do better. They often hire coaches, organizational gurus, and leadership experts to guide them to the next level. But almost all of them neglect to focus on the one thing that is the foundation of all success: the brain.
The brain is what allows these people to be creative geniuses, smart risk-takers, innovative problem-solvers, persistent in the face of rejection, and more. But what if their brain could be even better? What more could they do with enhanced brainpower? What would you do with 10% better brain performance?
That’s what Divine wanted to achieve. And that’s why he underwent brain SPECT imaging to assess his current brain health and find ways to optimize it. SPECT is a functional brain imaging technology that measures blood flow and activity in the brain. It helps identify areas of the brain with healthy activity, too much activity, and too little activity. Based on this information, treatments can be targeted to enhance brain activity, which can improve:
- Focus and attention
- Measured risk-taking
- Emotional stability
- Processing speed
- And much more
OVERCOMING TRAUMA CAN BOOST SUCCESS
Being at the top of one’s game doesn’t mean that a person lived a charmed life or had everything handed to them. In fact, it’s often a completely different scenario. Some highly successful people grew up in a chaotic environment, had a traumatic upbringing, or faced adverse childhood experiences. These types of experiences can be debilitating for some people, but for others, it can be a motivator. Overcoming adversity can drive certain individuals, leading to something called post-traumatic growth.
That’s what happened to Divine, who says, “I grew up in a pretty traumatic family.” He adds, “7 or 8 generations of alcohol on both sides of the family. Father was pretty abusive. I love him to death…but there’s a lot of trauma that is associated with that.”
In addition to early childhood trauma, lifestyle habits and other life events can negatively impact the brain. For example, Divine played soccer growing up and repeatedly “headed” a soccer ball, which can harm the brain. He had a nasty waterskiing accident that caused him to black out. He also says he engaged in binge drinking during early adulthood. Then with 20 years as a Navy SEAL, he endured multiple microtraumas to the brain, including several parachute accidents, explosive blasts, and more than one head injury.
Divine felt like he had learned coping mechanisms to deal with his traumatic upbringing—primarily exercise—which served him well as a SEAL. He gave up drinking some time ago, but he was still concerned about the multiple head injuries.
BRAIN SCANS SHOW WHERE OPTIMIZATION IS NEEDED
Most people never get a chance to see their brain, so they don’t know which areas require optimization. For Divine, getting a SPECT scan gave him that opportunity. His scan revealed telltale signs of past head injuries in specific brain regions as well as overactivation in other areas. With these findings, Divine was able to receive a personalized treatment plan including nutritional supplements, lifestyle changes, and psychological strategies to optimize his brain.
“It’s good to know, to look inside, to look under the hood, so to speak, and see that there’s room for improvement,” he says.
When Divine heard that by following his treatment program, he could possibly achieve a 10% improvement in brain function, he was thrilled. Think of what you could do with 10% more brain function!
Peak performance and brain optimization can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.