EPISODE 385
Colin O’Brady
Walk To Remember (with Colin O’Brady)

Today, Commander Divine speaks with Colin O’Brady, New York Times bestselling author and ten-time world record breaking athlete. In this episode, Colin shares the incredible story of at 22 being told he’d never walk normally again – to breaking 10 world records by leveraging the power of his mind and heart. Colin also details his new obsession: helping others tap into their own “Possible Mindset™” by walking 12-hours in a single day, the inspiration for his new book, The 12-Hour Walk.

Colin O’Brady
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Show Notes

Today, I speak with Colin O’Brady, New York Times bestselling author and ten-time world record breaking athlete. In this episode, Colin shares the incredible story of at 22 being told he’d never walk normally again – to breaking 10 world records by leveraging the power of his mind and heart. Colin also details his new obsession: helping others tap into their own “Possible Mindset™” by walking 12-hours in a single day, the inspiration for his new book, The 12-Hour Walk.

Key Takeaways:

  • A walk can change everything. Colin shares how a simple idea sparked out of lockdown turned into a worldwide movement and the focus of his new book: The 12-Hour Walk. It changed him and his priorities, and brought him back to the blissful feeling of “infinite love.”
  • From barely walking to record-breaking. After a tragic accident in Thailand and at his lowest point, Colin shares the story of his mother instilling in him a “possible” mindset, which helped him envision (and achieve) completing a triathlon after being told he’d never walk normally again. Spoiler: he won first place… and then broke 12 records.
  • Kokoro and flow state. Colin and I connect deeply on the merging of the heart and mind (Kokoro) – and the awakening taking place that’s cracking open the hearts of leaders to find flow & even greater success.
  • Coming together makes us all better. From losing friends on one record attempt to competing with Spec Ops veterans in another, Colin shares his unique perspective on the power of community & friendly competition to bring out the best in all of us. Hooyah.

Mark Divine  0:02  

Coming up on the Mark Divine show,

Colin O’Brady  0:04  

And I start doing math, it’s so funny. I go, I go, okay, so I’m 77 miles away from the finish line. How many more days is that going to be? Well, that’s like four more days or like 40 some hours given my pace, you know, all that kind of stuff. And I’m like, well, the sun never sets in Antarctica. It’s 24 hours of daylight here. And I say to myself, was just internally I’m like, what if I don’t stop? How about I just don’t stop. I feel amazing. Like I should just keep going.

Mark Divine  0:33  

I’m Mark Divine and I’m the host of the Mark Divine Show. Thanks for joining me today. In this show, I explore what it means to be fearless through the lens, the world’s most inspirational, compassionate and resilient leaders. I interview guests from all walks of life, including Stoic philosophers, psychedelic researchers, entrepreneurs, and world record holding adventurers like our guest today, Colin O’Brady. Today, we’re going to be talking about Colin’s adventures and also his concept of The 12-Hour Walk: Invest One Day, Conquer Your Mind, and Unlock Your Best Life. Colin’s a 10 time world record breaking explorer. He’s a speaker, an entrepreneur, an expert on mindset. His feats include the world’s first solo unsupported, fully human powered crossing of Antarctica, speed records for the Explorer’s Grand Slam in the seven summits and the first human powered ocean row across the Drake Passage. incredible. His highly publicized expeditions have been followed by millions. And his work has been featured by the New York Times, Tonight Show, Joe Rogan Experience in today’s show is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Impossible First, and now as I mentioned, the 12 hour walk one day, conquer your mind and unlock your best life. Colin, thanks for joining me today.

Mark Divine  0:02  

Coming up on the Mark Divine show,

Colin O’Brady  0:04  

And I start doing math, it’s so funny. I go, I go, okay, so I’m 77 miles away from the finish line. How many more days is that going to be? Well, that’s like four more days or like 40 some hours given my pace, you know, all that kind of stuff. And I’m like, well, the sun never sets in Antarctica. It’s 24 hours of daylight here. And I say to myself, was just internally I’m like, what if I don’t stop? How about I just don’t stop. I feel amazing. Like I should just keep going.

Mark Divine  0:33  

I’m Mark Divine and I’m the host of the Mark Divine Show. Thanks for joining me today. In this show, I explore what it means to be fearless through the lens, the world’s most inspirational, compassionate and resilient leaders. I interview guests from all walks of life, including Stoic philosophers, psychedelic researchers, entrepreneurs, and world record holding adventurers like our guest today, Colin O’Brady. Today, we’re going to be talking about Colin’s adventures and also his concept of The 12-Hour Walk: Invest One Day, Conquer Your Mind, and Unlock Your Best Life. Colin’s a 10 time world record breaking explorer. He’s a speaker, an entrepreneur, an expert on mindset. His feats include the world’s first solo unsupported, fully human powered crossing of Antarctica, speed records for the Explorer’s Grand Slam in the seven summits and the first human powered ocean row across the Drake Passage. incredible. His highly publicized expeditions have been followed by millions. And his work has been featured by the New York Times, Tonight Show, Joe Rogan Experience in today’s show is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Impossible First, and now as I mentioned, the 12 hour walk one day, conquer your mind and unlock your best life. Colin, thanks for joining me today.

 

Colin O’Brady  1:42  

Yeah, great to be here.

 

Mark Divine  1:44  

So you’ve had a pretty interesting life. To say the least. Give us a sense of, give us a little bit of your, like, background and what led you to be an adventurer and you know an expert in mental toughness and whatever you’re doing today.

 

Colin O’Brady  1:56  

I grew up in Portland, Oregon, some have an untraditional background, was born on a hippie commune in Olympia Washington with 30 people at my home birth on a futon with my mom playing Bob Marley Redemption Song on repeat. So not the typical way to come into the world. But yeah, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, mostly in Portland, Oregon. And, you know, my parents were young, when they had me. Didn’t have a lot of money when I was a kid, but always kind of took us into the outdoors. My dad used to say, you know, we don’t have a lot of money, but the outdoors are free. And so most of our free time as a family was spent, you know, exploring the trails and the Alpine wilderness nearby our house, you know, we just see in Portland, Oregon, you can drive to, you know, lakes and trailheads and whatnot pretty easily. And so I think that was what really kind of initially inspired me to enjoy the wilderness and enjoy adventure. But I always kind of dreamed of bigger, of more, you know, of seeing further off places. My whole childhood and adolescence, saved up money to one day when I graduated from college to travel, but as a kid in terms of athletics, I was a nationally ranked swimmer and soccer player. And so those were kind of my sports growing up. I think that was some of the foundational elements of my upbringing that really kind of coalesced now into, you know, all sorts of adventures and 10 world records and various things that I’ve done in the world of endurance.

 

Mark Divine  3:11  

Well, I wanted to talk about a lot of that stuff. But before that, I just brought a guy into my company who grew up in a commune in upstate New York, but I didn’t realize there’s so many communes around this country. 

 

Colin O’Brady

I had but yeah, there’s quite a few. There are quite a few. 

 

Mark Divine

He had 16 parents, right. Do you? Did you were you really close to… 

 

Colin O’Brady  3:30  

I was very close. There’s four, there’s, you know, obviously, my biological parents, but then they divorced, remarried, when I was quite young. And so I feel like I was raised by four parents. Even when my parents divorced, we lived eight blocks away from each other. And so we’re kind of in and out of each other’s houses very amicable between my mother and father and stepfather, etc. So yeah, kind of raised by a village, so to speak, for sure.

 

Mark Divine  3:51  

I mean, how do you think that shaped your mindset? What are some of the, the thought processes or influences you have today that you think are different from, like, the mainstream because of that experience?

 

Colin O’Brady  4:00  

There’s many, but I would if I tell you, but from the parental sense, you know, I think my mother had probably the most direct impact on me, you know, people ask her now, she’s been interviewed many times, like, your son’s walking across Antarctica by himself, he’s climbing these mountains. He’s doing these, like, risky things. Like you must be so afraid, you know, you must be so afraid for him. Here’s mother and she says, You know, I want sense I am afraid but she says you know, careful what you wish for when you tell their kid they can do anything they set their mind to since they were you know, young age. You know, there’s a hugely influential mom with my mother in my early 20s. So after college, like I said, I’d saved up to travel around the world, didn’t have a lot of money with a few 1,000 bucks and a backpack and a surfboard bought a one way ticket to travel around the world. And I found myself it was amazing experience, you know, living on the cheap, you know, sleeping on floors hitchhiking around, just getting by as I could, you know, a little bit of money in my pocket for a couple of beers and trying to just be a young person seeing a little bit of the world. Amazing experience on time I found myself on this small beach in rural Thailand, and I saw a couple guys jumping a flaming jump trope that was doused in kerosene and my 22 year old, you know, not fully formed prefrontal cortex, like why would I want to do that this looks awesome, of course. Turns out it’s a terrible, terrible, terrible idea. And I should have seen that coming from a mile away, but I didn’t. But, you know, long story short, I tripped on the rope wrapped around my legs, splattered my body with kerosene lit my body completely on fire to my mouth. And I had to jump into the ocean. Thankfully, the ocean was right there, which put out all the flames and saved my life, but not before about 25% of my body was severely burned predominantly my legs and feet. You know, I was in rural Thailand on an island which didn’t have a hospital at a moped ride on a dirt path to a one room nursing station underwent eight surgeries and various, you know, crazy, you know, really remote Thai hospitals, there was a cat running around my bed and across my chest in the ICU. And the physical pain was immense. I was afraid it was a terrible situation. But I’ll never forget the mental duress, which was way worse when the doctor walks in that day four, day five. And he goes, Hey, Colin, I hate to tell you this, but you’re so badly burned, particularly across your knee joints, ligaments, etc, and your ankles, that you will probably never walk normally again. And I just remember this just deep sinking feeling. And I think this would be a terrible diagnosis for any person at any age. But I’m 22, got my whole life in front of me I you know, identify being very much in my body as an athlete, you know, and all of a sudden instant, based on my own stupidity, no one else to blame, but myself, you know, all feels like it’s taken away from me. 

 

Thankfully, my mother, she came over to the Thai hospital, found me about day four, day five. And I know now she was, you know, crying in the hallways pleading with them, any good news, but she wouldn’t ever show me her own fear. Instead, she came into my hospital room every single day with this huge smile on her face. And this big air of positivity wrapping me in her arms, quite literally. And being like, you know, this is a terrible situation, but your life’s not over. What do you want to do any get out of here, let’s visualize that. Let’s visualize a positive outcome. I didn’t call it that at the time. But I call it this now. It kind of frames a main core concept in my new book, The 12 hour walk I call it the possible mindset. And I define that as an empowered way of thinking that unlocks the life of limitless possibilities. And my mother’s saying to me dream, without limits, just play along with this game with me for a second and I said, close your eyes, visualize the first positive thing that pops in your head. So I close my eyes, and I open them and she goes, what do you see? And I was like, I don’t want to tell you’re gonna make fun of me. It’s ridiculous. Because I know what you see. And I said, Well, I saw myself crossing the finish line of a triathlon. And she goes, great, that’s your goal. You’re gonna you’re gonna race a triathlon. I’m like, looking down on my leg. She could have easily been like, yeah, I said, set a goal. But I mean, like your legs when the doctor just told you….

 

Mark Divine  7:32  

It’s supposed to be a realistic goal, right? (laughing)

 

Colin O’Brady  7:35  

Pretty unrealistic, right? And she goes, in fact, you should start training right now. Let’s make some incremental progress towards that. That might be years off, but let’s do something now. And she yells over the doctor. She goes, hey, Doc, Doc, my son’s training for a triathlon. He goes, what are you talking about? She goes, yeah, he needs some weights. So she forces this Thai doctor to bring in these 10 pound dumbbells and I have this photograph of me with my waist bandage from the waist down, blood seeping out of this gauze, and I’m lifting 10 pound dumbbells. There’s a Thai doctor in the background looking at me like somebody has a knock some sense in the stupid American kid. This is ridiculous. I’m like Doc, I’m training for a triathlon. Long story short, obviously long road to recovery. I was in that Thai hospital for several months, I was carried on and off the plane. When I got home, I was in a wheelchair, and slowly regained some mobility and worked super hard to get back there. But always focused on this triathlon goal and 18 months after being severely burned in this fire, 18 months after being told I would never walk again normally. I raced the Chicago triathlon. And to my complete and utter surprise, I didn’t just finish the race, but I actually won the entire race placing first out of nearly 5000 triathletes on the day. 

 

Mark Divine  8:37  

Yeah, your first race?

 

Colin O’Brady

First race. 

 

Mark Divine

So you might have had some fundamental athleticism, you know, as a competitive swimmer and whatnot. 

 

Colin O’Brady  8:44  

There’s certainly some fundamental athleticism in there. But what is very apparent to me and what, this was 15 years ago, when I’ve carried forward is, you know, I’ve set 10 world records since then, I’ve done various things in athleticism. I’ve been a professional athletes since then. But I am certain that I’m not sitting here having this conversation with you. I’m certain that I don’t walk across Antarctica. So I’m certain I don’t do many of the things I’ve done had I not been through that adversity, and more importantly, had my mom in that moment, we’re talking about mindset and mental toughness taught me this lesson because left up to my own devices, I was in a negative downward spiral. I was not going to realize the power within myself. And I don’t think we’re not, you know, I tell his story. I’m not like, yeah, maybe there have been under some underlying, you know, I swam, I was obviously a competitive athlete, etcetera. So I had some of that going for me. But I believe all of us, every single human, I think, you know, this in your work and what you do at SEALFIT. We all have reservoirs of untapped potential ways to unlock so much more within ourselves. And sometimes tragedy, certainly adversity, is a great teacher, oftentimes.

 

Mark Divine  9:43  

Couple things one is your mom was your first coach. Absolutely. And she was an outstanding performance coach, tell you what, like just listening to the way she articulated you know what we’re now known as performance psychology or you know, winning mindset. Just, just awesome. Like what a blessing and to this idea that sometimes it takes, you know, extreme adversity to kind of wake you up to your potential. I have a real quick story. I was 17 when this happened, but I got diagnosed with melanoma cancer, I went in for a hernia operation because I tried to lift this like 600 pound log onto a log splitter for my dad, you know, it was all ego. Didn’t work, obviously. Throughout my back little hernia, I went to the hospital and I said, Hey, Doc was while you put me on to look at this little growth on my leg, and they came back, didn’t give a shit about the hernia. I healed up real quick for that. And they said, Mark, you know, sorry, you got stage four, melanoma cancer, we’re gonna take out your lymph nodes. We’ve already scheduled the surgery about ready to wheel me in, my parents are going with this. I have, you know, I didn’t have that the mom coach that you had my parents were like, oh, and that was my first awakening to the creative potential inside of me, because I immediately had this hit that that wasn’t true, that that was a false diagnosis. It was my Sadhguru. My inner Guru said, nope, that’s not it. And I said, no, I’m not going to get that surgery and freaked my parents and the doctors out there, I was 17 years old. And that’s when I started to learn to trust that inner guide, and I’m like, Oh, shit, wow, there’s something going on here. And they were wrong, of course, because I never would have been a seal. I never would have that swimmer. 

 

Colin O’Brady  11:17  

And I think that’s an amazing story. And something that I’m really passionate about telling people when I speak about a lot in my new book that’s full firewalk is the power of intuition. You know, people say all the time, I don’t have the answer. I don’t know, I need to make this pro and cons list and ask a million people and I say, more often than not like you actually do know the answer. You do know the answer. A similar kind of intuition or trusting that saved my life this past year. I was, I was attempting to be the first person to climb K2 in Winter. So K2, second tallest mountain in the world. 

 

Mark Divine

That’s a dangerous climb.

 

Colin O’Brady

Never been climbed in winter before and was over there, was climbing with a partner of mine by the name of Dr. John, incredible climber. And there were several other teams over there of some elite climbers, a dozen or so, they come, best climbers from all around the world. And it’s such a crazy intense climb that we all sort of colluded, like we were like, obviously, we all want to be the first but like, it’s just so intense. So we decided to, like, help each other out, fixed ropes, kind of go on the same day, look out for each other a little bit. But we were climbing autonomously. At the end of the day, we’re making our own decisions with our own, you know, teammate. Dr. John, he turned back on day one, he just had an intuition and we’ve been over there for two months building up to this you know, getting ready climbing up the mountain climb back down the mountain getting ropes getting camp supplied higher up. And finally we get the small weather window to go for a push right at a base camp or not far to base camp, he looks at me and he’s like, something’s off for me today, man. Like, I’m going to turn around and we had talked about this, we, you know, we know that K2 has about a 25% fatality rate. You know, every one in four people that summit, one person dies. And so we said if any either of us ever want to bail, we’re not going to like be like, Come on, man. Suck it up. You know, it’s like, that’s a very personal decision. Respect it.

 

Mark Divine  12:50  

But you’re gonna go on without him? That was also part of the agreement?

 

Colin O’Brady  12:53  

Yeah, I said, we keep going. You know, there’s all sorts of details to thrive on all the details. But basically, long story short, I end up at Camp Three, at 24,000 feet, it’s getting dark. And the plan is just to rest there for a few hours, and then continue climbing through the night. Another long summit push to try to make this, you know, historic summit of K2 this elite Nepalese team had reached the summit a couple of weeks before, which was very celebrated and amazing for the country in Nepal, and those guys who are still pushing for it. And as I get up there, I’m in this tent, and I’ve got my tent, I’m out kind of getting rest and recover. And all of a sudden, a bunch of other climbers come up from other teams, and start kind of hearing this commotion outside and they’re all confused. Basically, they had forgot their tent, they had forgot their tent at the last camp. And now they’re outside. In the elements, it’s minus 70 degrees outside or 24,000 feet in the middle of the night. And they have no tent. And so of course, like there’s no way you know, I become friends with these guys. But if I wasn’t friends to this, guys, of course, I’m gonna let them into my tent, like there’s just a 0% chance that’s not going to happen. Even though it’s, it’s detrimental to me, because there’s not enough space before, I know that I’ve got seven people inside my tent and eight holes in fuel. It’s a tiny little tent and I’m curled up in the fetal position, I’ll just jump in there, was just jammed in there. And I can’t really do the things I need to do to prepare for the climb. So let’s be leaving for the summit in a few hours. And the weather is going to turn bad after that. And this is our one and only shot. And we start obviously having a conversation and everyone’s gone. I’m like, they’re like, oh, this is a bad situation. This isn’t ideal, whatever. But like, we’re going for it, like we’re gonna go for it, we’re gonna go for it. And I had been climbing very strong that day. That’s why I was there first, I’d climb faster than everyone else to get to Camp Three. So I was actually, I got up to the highest part of Camp Three by myself, before the people are arriving. And they’re like, Colin, so what time are you going to leave? And I was like, you know, I was kind of like hedging. I’m not really sure. You know, like, what do you mean? And I was like, give me a second. So I close my eyes in this tent. And I have a deep meditation practice, but I go kind of go inside of my body and just have to do some breathing and go inside and look like I’m the guy who has pushed through all sorts of crazy hard situations. I know you are as well and all the stuff you’ve done Mark, you know, kind of my brand is like oh the guy who pushes through, the guy who walked across Antarctica alone, the guy who does, you know, when it gets hard to keep, keeps pushing. And I go inside and kind of do this little bit of breath work and breathing inside. And there was just a very clear, intuitive voice that just says, don’t go. And I sat with that for a second, I really pushed that against my ego, like, my ego is going, he’s like, I’m like, okay, are you okay with this? Because if you make this decision, and these other guys go and they summit and their names are crushed, you know headlines world global headlines is a big deal this bike of this K2, get summit in Winter, it’s gonna be a huge deal. Like, how do you feel about that? Like I asked, checked my own ego, I’m having a conversation with myself. 

 

And I was like, I’m gonna be happy for these guys. I want them to succeed, you know, but like, there’s something in telling me right now. Don’t go. So I open my eyes, and I say these other guys who are in my tent. Now I say, Hey, I’m not gonna go for the summit. And they’re like, what? Like, what are you talking about? You’re Colin O’Brady, what, you know, whatever. Like, we all have respect for each other, like, you come to vote to get here. And I was like, I’m just have this intuitive voice that is telling me, this is the end of this climb for me, but I’m pumped for you guys. I’ll be down at base camp. I can’t wait to celebrate your guys’ success. Like, if you guys want to go, you should totally go. This is the weather window. And they step out into the night and they climb through the best climbers in the world. And they never come back. I lost five friends up there that night. And I mean that, the 10 things, obviously a bad situation. But these are incredibly strong climbers. These are incredibly badass people. The weather was good, like the things like that. But again, there was something inside me that just said that this is not the moment. And so again, it’s a sad story and saying certainly still deal with the sadness and trauma of losing friends. Maybe not always with life and death stakes. But like you said, and I think we all have this in us, like I really fundamentally believe and in our modern society, with our phone buzzing and our responsibilities and our to-do lists. And I gotta, you know, drop the kid off at this and do the thing. Like, it is so easy to get out of tune with our own internal dialogue. But when we can tap into that there is so much power from within. And we more often than not, I fundamentally believe have the answers to many of life’s big questions.

 

Mark Divine  16:59  

100%. And it’s not just the distraction, it’s the pressure to do, the bias toward action, bias toward some sort of achievement marker on the board. I mean, look, you got 10 World Records, right? And there’s going to be a time in your life where you like, well, that’s who gives a shit. It just doesn’t matter. 

 

Colin O’Brady

I totally agree. 

 

Mark Divine 

But it matters to a lot of people. And then they that, gets into the ego personality, which says, Well, I can’t quit, right? I’ve come this far.

 

Colin O’Brady  17:24  

In this moment, right? Because it’s a year and a half ago, I’d already you know, several records, like I said that the external, the ego, but also the external, you know, it’s kind of like, oh, and this is the epic moment. And then Colin kept going. And he summited, and like, he’s the guy who does that they like to like, like, at what point do you’re like that achievement, that marker, that whatever. And had I been a younger man or hadn’t had the wisdom of some of the other experience I’ve had, I don’t know, I may have gone that night, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. And again, it’s not to criticize the others who made the decision that they made.

 

Mark Divine  17:51  

It’s fine to have those lofty goals. In fact, lofty are the goals, like the BHAG’s, is very, very motivating, and incredibly inspiring. And it recruits all sorts of energy and resources and mentors, and challenges. And so you grow, but that without the balance of the introspection, the quiet time, you know, learning how to qui-essence your mind so that you can listen to that inner voice, and also in power, the vision that your mom had you learn. There’s a lot of reasons why we need to learn, in my opinion, to balance that bias for action with an equal bias for just silence and reflection and doing nothing. How did you learn that?

 

Colin O’Brady  18:30  

I love that you say that because quite literally, my new book is a call to action for people to take a 12 hour walk in silence, no music, no podcast by themselves. It’s literally the whole entire purpose. So we could talk more about that. But how did I learn that? It’s so funny. So I have five older sisters, big family. I’m a, you know, classically extroverted person, very social, etc. And I remember my sisters used to say to me, like, you know, they’d like go into their bedroom, I’d want to follow them in there. It’s like chatting to them and knowing them like a little brother does, right? It’s like, you never want to be alone. Like, you never want to be alone. And I thought that was true. Until I realized that for hours every single day. I didn’t realize this literally reflecting back on my life, you know, into my late 20s and 30s going like yes, I’m an extroverted person, except for I swam four hours a day every single day. And that is the least social sport ever. There’s like there’s no way to talk to anybody. You can’t even barely see anything. There’s no external inputs, which is I realized…

 

Mark Divine

Your head and with your breath. 

 

Colin O’Brady

Yeah, head and breath, right. And so I realized that unbeknownst to me, I guess in consciously I was doing a deep solitude meditative practice, which is the mental toughness required of swimming back and forth the 25 yard pool endlessly for day after day after day. I took that one step further, which is a huge massive shift for me in my life in 2011. So after winning that Chicago triathlon, I quit my career in finance and end up racing triathlon, professionally, far less lucrative of a career but I was passionate about exploring the limits of my body. Race for The US National Team, 25 countries, six continents, all around the world. And I was pretty early in my professional career, maybe a year or so in, and I’m doing this race, my friend who lives nearby came to the race. And he brought his wife and his wife, I’d met her a couple times. And now we’re super well, Turkish woman, they recently married, and she pulls me aside after the race, and she goes, I’ve never really been at a professional sporting event before. Like, I’m not like into sports. I’m like, oh, that’s cool. She’s like, oh, it’s fantastic to watch this. And she just looks at me and she goes, so what are you doing to train your mind? Just like a super reasonable question. And I feel like I have been caught with my pants down. I’m like, I, you know, some visualiza… you know, like, I don’t have an answer. Like, I’m like, I’m some visualization mentals, like, whatever. And she’s like, wait a second, I just saw you crush yourself for two hours with some of the best athletes in the world. Obviously, you swim a lot, you bike a lot, you run a lot, but you’re telling me like with how hard you’re pushing your body in that way, you’re not actually doing true, like mental training, like a daily practice of some kind? And I’m like, no, I guess not. And I was just by like, vulnerable enough to be like, what do you recommend? And she looks at me, she goes, look, I’m not an athlete. She goes, but I’ve done this thing several times. It’s changed my mindset, enough completely different avenue of her life. And I was like, what is it she goes, I go to these silent meditation retreats. 10 Day Vipassana meditation. So tell me more about it. She said it was free to go, 10 days, no reading, no writing, no eye contact. And you know, they kind of teach you how to do that. And I was like, well, I’ve never meditated for a minute in my life. Can I go and she was like, most people would meditate longer than that before they went, but you’re you know, and I was like, I’m going, you know, I’m excited to dive in the deep end kind of person. And so I sign up for a 10 day silent meditation retreat, having never meditated a minute in my life. And it’s safe to say without all cliches aside, I mean, it was life changing. It really opened up my mind and allowed me to have then the mental and daily practice to actually realize like, oh, I love to say now the most important muscle any of us has is the six inches between our ears. And I say muscle intentionally because I think sometimes we forget, I know you don’t forget, but oftentimes people forget, like, do you want to get big biceps, go rip bicep curls and do the bench press. You want to have a strong mind? Well, you need to take your mind to the mental gym and actually put the reps in to flex and develop that muscle. And a decade or so ago with vipassana meditation was my on ramp to that and particularly I’m on ramp not just the mental toughness side, but to the silence, the stillness, the power from within by being rather than doing like we said before.

 

Mark Divine  22:27  

it’s really actually quite simple. When you start to apply mental training techniques such as meditation and visualization and breath work to strengthen and concentrate the mind because you’re special. You’re, you’re a finance guy, I was a Navy Seal, like we trained a lot of concentration techniques without even knowing it. But then if you can’t get in open your heart and enjoying heart and mind, which is actually the name of one of our events is called Kokoro. The 50, you would love this, by the way, it’s 50 hours non stop kind of Navy SEAL Hell Week, we call it Kokoro. Because Kokoro means merging your heart and your mind into your actions. And that’s what allows you to to accept help and to be a great teammate and to what you said earlier recognize it’s not just about you, this is about team it’s about doing something good for humanity. 

 

Colin O’Brady  23:10  

You know, I love what you said there because it couldn’t be more, could be a more apropos to my life and I’m just smiling ear to ear here and what you’re talking about because I resonate so much with it. So many years after that first pasta meditation I attempt to be, become the first person across the entire continent of Antarctica solo and unsupported. 

 

Mark Divine

I remember that by the way, that’s pretty intense. 

 

Colin O’Brady

Yeah, so 54 days alone in Antarctica, 2000 miles, basically just short of 1000 miles and pulling a 375 pound sled and because unsupported means no resupplies of food.

 

Mark Divine  23:40  

Wasn’t there somebody else doing it the same time as you?

 

Colin O’Brady  23:43  

Yeah, I’ll tell you that part of it too, basically. Yeah, unsupported means no resupplies of food or fuel. So basically, whatever you’re taking with you from the beginning, that’s it. There’s no like depots and somebody dropping off extra food for you and that makes it, that’s what no one had ever done before because it’s like the purest form of polar travel. But you got to go 1000 miles you’re by yourself you’re like well if I take 1000 pounds of food I’m never going to pull my sled on the first day. You know if I take you 50 pounds of food I’m going to run out in a couple of weeks in people that attempted this crossing people had run out of supplies someone had died attempting this crossing people were like the math equation doesn’t quite add up like you can’t quite bring enough. 

 

I was burning 10,000 calories a day I was eating 7,000 from day one. So you imagined by the end I was a bag of bones to say the least. And yes there was another guy out there battling so I set this goal for myself trained up for a year built the project logistics, sponsors to be able to afford it etc. I’m getting ready to fly down there. Do this interview with The New York Times announcing it to the world and I’m based on the same day at this British guy British Special Forces guy actually announces the same project in the London Telegraph and we find out each other like oh, wait, you’re the same time like what like what’s your plan and turns out there’s very, very little logistics. It’s not like you can like book, a flight on Kayak like down to the edge of Florida right. So there’s one guy basically with one plane they can take you to the edge of Antarctica we obviously both called the same guy. So before we know it, we’re sitting shoulder to shoulder in a cargo plane being flown to the edge of the Antarctic continent. 

 

Not only now racing history but shoulder to shoulder getting dropped off on the exact same day to now battle head to head 1000 mile journey pulling these sleds and this guy is is a badass, his name’s Captain Lewis Rudd, like I said British Special Forces guy very experienced Antarctica much more experienced than I was at that point. And it was an intense battle. You know, long story short, he kicks my ass in the first week, they completely, so much so that on the first day I’m pulling my sled I can barely move it. I start crying on the first day feeling so sorry for myself because I can only pull it like 10 steps at a time. But Antarctica doesn’t take it easy on you. When you when it’s minus 40 degrees outside you start crying, well, the tears, they actually freeze to your face, which is like the most all time could ever have off me there’s so many different bits and pieces. 

 

And I pulled my sled, ultimately I caught up to Captain Lou on the sixth day came in front of him stayed in front of them until the end and completed the crossing first. I was pulling my sled 12 hours a day. And I love to talk more about this new book and what that means. It’s called Action Repeal. But we’re talking about the heart resonates so much with me. I wrote a book about specifically about the Antarctica crossing a few years ago called The Impossible First. New York Times Best Selling memoir about the crossing specifically. And the last chapter of that book is not titled, “I did it, I’m awesome.” Or I won the race. Or look how awesome I am. The last chapter of that book, which is about the conclusion which is about me, coming first, I suppose in this race is titled Infinite Love. Because after all the competitiveness and the intensity and pushing my body and the achievement and the goal, what I actually felt at the end of that journey was this deep, deep, deep resonance in my heart and soul, a connectedness to my family, a connectedness community, a connectedness to the camaraderie of my competitor, Captain Lou ultimately, like love and compassion for him being out there and him actually being out there elevating me to become my best and a gratitude and love for that. And so I literally might sound silly, but I stood out there on the ice on these last couple days with my arms outstretched. And I would say out loud, like infinite love, infinite love, because I just felt this deep resonance with soul spirit as one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful experience of my entire life. And it had nothing to do with the, you know, the external achievement of the goal and had much more to do with connecting that muscle between the six inches between the ears. And like you said, the other most important muscle, that heart and that soul and to me that is what has stuck with me way way beyond the the achievement of the of the goal.

 

Mark Divine  27:48  

Just show you that spiritual development or spiritual growth or awakening can happen in so many ways. And the physical life is a legitimate path. You’re just burning off all of the negativity, all the karma that you know what the yogi’s were called Southsea, the purity of purification and cleansing your mind you’re out in nature, you know, you’re in a constant meditation after the first few days or that probably 100% You know, so you’ve gone quiet inside even though you’re doing an activity, right? And all of that comes together and then the release the end of it. Right, you haven’t, it’s just extraordinary experience.

 

Colin O’Brady  28:24  

It’s powerful. And yeah, and so really the the new book that’s just out called the 12 hour walk is built off this but in an accessible way. At scale, I recognize that everyone’s going to go pull a 375 pound sled across Antarctica as I think in your work you’ve recognized not every person is actually training to be a Navy SEAL or this but average civilians are like but I want to understand the intensity I want to put my mind and body through this to have the spiritual and emotional growth. So the 12 hour walk was born from the COVID locked down actually, you know even after having this kind of spiritual awakening within my own self and mindset from crossing Antarctica and other things I’ve done like after that I rode a boat across the Drake Passage, the most dangerous stretch of ocean in the world. 40 foot swells in a 20 foot rowboat no one had ever done that and various other things like that. I found myself during the COVID lockdown locked down in my house just like the rest of us. Everything’s canceled everything I got going on cancelled, staring at my phone looking at my social media too much you know doom scrolling the news and all these headlines and long story short man I felt pretty far away from that infinite love feeling. I felt depressed. I felt anxious. I felt fearful. I felt just disrupted in my life. Like what’s going on? I thought back, when was the last time that I felt that deeply connected. And I said, I said to my wife I was sitting on the Oregon coast where we were locked down my wife and my dog and this old cabin. I was like last time I felt that connected was actually pulling my sled across Antarctica 12 hours per day. And so I said to her, this might sound ridiculous, but I’m gonna go out tomorrow all day by myself and go for a long walk, probably 12 hours. She’s like, great, have fun, I’ll see you at dinner. Whatever. Just kind of laughed at me and I step outside my front door and I go for a walk and 20 minutes When my phone buzzes in my pocket, buddy mine texted me pull up my phone, but to text him back and I’m like, what am I doing? Like I’ve been literally like, just doom scrolling the news, like to whatever I was like, I don’t need my phone for this. So I put my phone in airplane mode. And I ended up walking alone in silence, no music, no podcast that did this. That’s what I did in Antarctica, too. I deleted all my content before Antarctica, those 54 days were spent in complete silence. 

 

And I get back to my front door, and I’ve tapped back into this I’ve tapped back into this self like all of a sudden, just that worry that fear that anxiety, being outside, putting my body through this, switching off the, you know, external, you know, inputs of the phone, and music and all these things. And I just kind of felt all of a sudden better than I felt in a long time. And I walked back through the front door, my dog jumps up on my lap, my wife looks over me and she goes to you’re back. And I was like, yeah, I told you I’d come back around dinner. She goes, No, no, no, you’re back. Like she can see that my spirit, you know, the light in my eyes is back. Now, I did this. And admittedly, I thought to myself, Okay, cool. Like, I’m the guy who walked across Antarctica 12 hours a day alone for 54 days, I go for a long walk, it feels good to me. Like maybe this is like a me thing like, whatever. I don’t think this has broad applications. But as we all did, I think during COVID, lockdown, had, I had family and friends and colleagues and people in my community that were struggling, you know, have going through hard times in their own life for various reasons. And so I started telling people, hey, I did this 12 hour walk, it was a massively, hugely positive influence on me, maybe you should try it. And before I knew it, dozens of people fit not so fit young, not so young, old, my 77 year old mother in law. I said, look, it’s not a race, I don’t care if you go for one mile, or 50 miles, I don’t care if you take a bunch of breaks, but commit to the 12 hours, move your body when you can. And like I said, for my 77 year old mother in law that looked like one time around her block. And then she sat on her front porch and silence for an hour and then did another lap around her block. For my ultra marathon friend, he did you know, 50 miles or whatever that is practically running the whole thing. And neither one of them are doing the 12 hour walk better than the other, the one thing that everyone has in common around this, why I’m so excited about this book. But more importantly, I’m excited about the global movement I’m building around it is this is free. This is outside your front door, you can do this any day of the week. And in just 12 hours, you can harvest a massive shift, you can really, really sharpen, conquer your mind and instrumental ways. And the book itself is edge of your seat storytelling from the Drake Passage, from Everest, from K2. You know, it’s like it’s an exciting read, but through the lens of battling the limiting beliefs that we all have inside of us, right? I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough time. I don’t like being uncomfortable. What if I fail? What if people criticize me and realizing that not just by reading this book and taking my word for it, and I know that you embody this in your work, you’re like, No, I can teach you something. But you got to feel it for yourself, you got to embody it, you got to actually have a visceral embodied experience. And this is in the most accessible way and invitation. And my biggest goal with this is to empower 10 million people inspired, 10 million people to take this 12 hour walk free right outside your front door. And you know, you can sign up on my website, 12 hour walk.com, pick a date. And basically what that does is holds you accountable to a date. And I’m going to show up in your inbox as an accountability partner to say, hey, you’re doing this next week, right? And track you on your, on your way. But that’s what I’m excited about, about spreading that message. I know it’s something I think anyways, is something that you resonate with knowing a little bit about your work and all the amazing things you’ve done to help people find this within their own self, because we are powerful beyond measure. But we can also so easily, myself included, get in our own way of our mind trip us up and lose our connectedness to Spirit for sure.

 

Mark Divine  33:32  

I love it. I love it. I mean, I’m going to do it. By the way, we used to take clients, our high end clients who are coaching with us for a year long, we would take them on a 12 hour hike, it was just because it was half of 24 hours, it was no, nothing special about the number. And we usually go about 35, 36 miles, and we’d finished up at 300 burpees at the end. But it always, and this is the part where it differs, you know, so I’m not saying that I had the same idea or…

 

Colin O’Brady  33:56  

No, I love this, I love it. 

 

Mark Divine  33:58  

Well, I would encourage everyone, I would encourage the team to not talk and to put their phones down. And what I noticed and I want to bring it back to this is just how hard it was for everyone to do that. Especially if you go together. And this is why I think your idea is great. But it really should be done alone. 

 

Colin O’Brady  34:13  

That’s meant to be done alone.

 

Mark Divine  34:16  

No chit chat, leave your phone behind, a few things will happen. I’m sure you go through it in the book, but you know, your mind just settles down. And all the fear that you’re missing out on something, you know, reveals itself to you is just false. And then you get into that really extended flow state, like we see that in our Kokoro Camp is 50 hours of nonstop training. We have people experiencing like eight hour flow states toward the end of the, of the experience and they’ve been like, physically just beat the crap out of, right? There’s nothing left physically yet they’re gaining strength. They’re pulling it from somewhere. It’s extraordinary.

 

Colin O’Brady  34:51  

And I’ve seen this happen over and over again with people with a 12 hour walk and it’s derivative my own experience, which is the physics on my body of pulling that 375 pounds. sled and not eating enough food for 54 days and a minus 40 degree environment, my body was wrecked by the end. I mean I was a bag of bones.

 

Mark Divine  35:07  

You should be breaking down and you know, turning into a pile of dust.

 

Colin O’Brady  35:11  

Yeah I mean, you know, I’ve got frostbite on my cheek and face, my fingers are cracking them by putting superglue in my fingers because they’re cracking because of this. So cool. I mean, I’m just beat up like as beat up, as I know. And I anticipated that but I was really in a dark place physically. But the silence and the stillness in the quiet in my brain, I tapped into these flow states myself in such a deep way that as though my body was declining, my mind got stronger, and sharper and more focus. And actually, I was very low on food at the very end. But you know, my average mileage was about 15, 20 miles per day. By the end once my sled got a little bit lighter from eating the food, and I start pulling my sled ends up being Christmas day actually is a 53rd day if I was out there, start pulling my sled I’m really low on food anyways. And I tap into this flow state, and I’ve tapped in to others throughout this journey been so quiet my mind but had tap and just deep, deep deep inside. And all of a sudden, I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt my entire life. And I start doing math it’s so funny. I go, I go, Okay, so I’m 77 miles away from the finish line. How many more days is that going to be? Well, that’s like four more days or like 40 Some hours given my pace, you know, all that kind of stuff. And I’m like, well, the sun never sets in Antarctica, it’s 24 hours of daylight here. And I say to myself was just internally, I’m like, what if I don’t stop? How about I just don’t stop, I feel amazing. Like I should just keep going. And I commit to myself on hour one of this day. I’m like, you know what, I’m not going to set up my tent again till I’m done with this thing. And I ended up for 33 hours nonstop in the deepest flow state of my life, pulling for 77 miles, not on the first day, not on the second day, but on the 53rd and 54th day finishing this thing, because. And that’s what you do with your clients like you can find these places in our mind. And all of a sudden, you’re, you realize how much more strength you have, how much further you can go, you know that there are limits well beyond what we think are where our first point our mind tells us. So you couldn’t possibly go one more day. And you reflect on that from day one where I’m crying, I can barely pull my sled in our one. It’s not like I took a day off in between there. I got physically weaker every single day, and the science proves that out. But that strength are then built and built and built. So I found myself in this flow state doing something that’s almost hard, even having lived it to wrap my mind around when I pulled off in that final 33 hour push.

 

Mark Divine  37:27  

The first quarter of any challenge is harder than the last quarter. Agreed. It’s incredible. I love that I’m going to encourage everybody to do that. I’m going to go sign up for a 12 hour walk, I could use each one of those myself right now. Love it, and on average our community do it and that’s terrific. So the book is out, or where are we at with it?

 

Colin O’Brady  37:46  

The book is out. Yeah, you can get the book anywhere 12 hour walk, you know, Amazon local bookstore, Barnes Noble airports, etc. It’s everywhere. And yeah, you can sign up, it’s completely free to sign up, but 12 hour walk.com. There’s also an app that I built that allows your phone to be in airplane mode, but everyone’s like, but I might get lost without a map. And that’s great. So I’m going to solve that for you. I’m going to create a map thing based on a Google Maps overlay. But in my app that tracks you in airplane mode, so you know where you are, you know where you’ve been, you can reflect on your walk. And now you don’t have any excuses as to well, I turned my phone on, I answer my Instagram and these five emails because I was also looking at the map. So I’ve solved that for you. So there’s a whole digital ecosystem online, obviously in the book as well. There’s FAQs, answering you know people have normal questions, where do I go to the bathroom? Or what should I eat, you know, things like that. And then the book is really about mindset and it’s an essential companion to doing the walk. But it’s amazing man, we’ve already had people in every single time zone, every single continent except for Antarctica, although I think I did some twelve hour walks down there a couple years ago. So counts but you know, we’ve got people literally every timezone every single day doing this walk. So continuously 24 hours around the clock, there are people out in the world, experiencing the power of the 12 hour walk. And like I said, my goal is to inspire 10 million people to take this walk and unlock the power from within and unlock that possible mindset. So love you and anyone else listening to go to 12hourwalk.com Sign up, you’ll thank yourself it’s truly a gift that not from me, but it’s a gift that you can give yourself.

 

Mark Divine  39:08  

Yeah, I’m totally agree and the more people who develop the capacity for the quietude and internal is. It doesn’t just help them and helps everybody.

 

Colin O’Brady  39:16  

Totally Yes, it’s a ripple effect of positivity in the, in your community, your your immediate community, your family, your colleagues, your, your inner self, etc. And that’s, you know, when I think about 10 million people having done the walkout, to think about the multiplication on that of the others, the ripple effect of people in proximity.

 

Mark Divine  39:33  

Our vision and mission is to transform 100 million people through our integrated development, vertical development becoming more whole, more complete. Silence is a big part of our training methodologies. And so one of the things I often say is for the first time that we are aware of in human history, we can scale consciousness because of what you’re doing and what others are doing and what we’re doing. So imagine if 100 million people were silent, and also visualizing that positive future like your mom was talking about. 

 

Colin O’Brady

So powerful.

 

Mark Divine

Even the change that Gandhi talked about being the change you want to see in the world at scale. That’s where it’s at.

 

Colin O’Brady  40:08  

Yes, yes, yes, you’re speaking my language man. I said, I admire the hell out of all the stuff you’re doing. And it’s always so fun to encounter like minded folks.

 

Mark Divine  40:16  

Likewise, what’s next for you?

 

Colin O’Brady  40:18  

I don’t have the next adventure on the immediate horizon. I am trying to start a family right now. So different event, adventure of a different kind, of fatherhood. But there will, of course, be other expeditions and other adventures that I’m always, I’ve got a list of ideas, there’s a little bit of an internal shift for me, I’ve definitely been driven by achievement in all sorts of ways in my life. And I’m still driven by that in certain capacities. But whatever I do next has to also really deeply speak to my heart and my soul and curiosity around that. So we’ll see, like I said, there’s a list of ideas, nothing I’ve shared with the world yet, but there certainly will be more because I learned so much. But I’m really, is knowing your work from afar. I think you are as well. You know, this point in my career has excitement around inspiring others and seeing that change, and others just for the 12 hour walk. It’s so fun, I encourage people to set an intention before and reflect on it after via video and just getting these videos and reflections from other people that are, you know, coming to this experience, you know, they’re completely different frame of reference to the world that I have. And just seeing that light up people. You know, that’s my current Everest, climbing that mountain is really fun and rewarding in a deep, deep way.

 

Mark Divine  41:22  

Well, it’s been such an honor to chat with you and to get to know you and stand by to support your, your vision and let us know how we can help beyond walking for 12 hours in quiet, which I’m looking forward to doing.

 

Colin O’Brady  41:33  

Awesome. Can’t wait to hear about your experience. See how it goes.

 

Mark Divine  41:36  

Right on. All right, Colin, thanks so much. And have a great day. 

 

What a great episode, Colin O’Brady. What a fascinating man. Like I can’t believe some of the things that this guy has done. Very, very cool. I’m so stoked to have met him and I’m gonna go do the 12 hour walk. Fascinating stuff. Anyways, thanks again, Colin’s show notes and transcripts are up at MarkDivine.com. Video will be at our YouTube channel, Markdivine.com/youtube on Twitter, you could find me at MarkDivine and on Instagram and Facebook at RealMarkDivine and you can always send me a note at LinkedIn. Quick plug for the newsletter Divine Inspiration, comes out every Tuesday with my blog and with other top of mind inspirational people, stories, habits, whatever. And also a condensed shownote synopsis of the podcast, so you can get a glimpse there. Go to MarkDivine.com to subscribe if you’re not on that list. Shout out to my amazing team Geoff Haskell, Jeff Torres, Q. Williams, Jason Sanderson, who bring this incredible show to you, every week. 

 

Appreciate your reviews. If you haven’t reviewed or rated it, please consider doing so at Apple or wherever you listen to it, it helps other people find it and gives us the credibility to keep things rolling and growing. The world’s changing fast. And we seem like we’re divided and alone, but we’re not because we are unbeatable. And we are a tribe and we’re gonna support each other. And we’re gonna be the change you want to see in the world. So I thank you for being part of that journey. Until next time, be unbeatable. Stay focused and Hooyah.

 

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