John Lovell
Be Empowered

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John Lovell
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Show Notes

John Lovell (@JohnLovell_wps) is the CEO and founder of the Warrior Poet Society. A values-based community dedicated to physical protection, pursuit of truth, and living a higher purpose. His mission is to teach and train individuals in a life that they feel balanced and fulfilled. He’s a former Army Ranger who served in the Second Ranger Battalion. He is the author of The Warrior Poets Way: A Guide to Living Free and Dying Well. He is an outstanding public speaker and firearms instructor who has chosen the life of a homesteader on a small farm in Georgia, where he lives with his wife and two kids.

Former Army Ranger, Author, and Missionary John Lovell(@JohnLovell_wps) is a homesteader on a small farm in Georgia, where he lives with his wife and two kids. He founded The Warrior Poet Society, a values-based community dedicated to physical protection, pursuit of truth, and living a higher purpose. John has gained over 100 million views across social media and streaming platforms. His book, The Warrior Poets Way: A Guide to Living Free and Dying Well, is a wonderful look at living and leading your own life.

“Goodness means I could be ready to die with a smile on my lips and a song in my heart.”

John Lovell

Key Takeaways:

  • Adapt Your Leadership: Acknowledging that there is no turnkey way to lead individuals is a component of good leadership. Leaders need to read what drives each team member and guide them accordingly. Be flexible with your leadership style to curate meaningful and successful outcomes.
  • Easy Leadership: Have systems that serve your organization and people in place. When you have adequate systems, and your people love and appreciate you as a leader, they want you to win. Once you have people’s loyalty, they will do their best to anticipate what you need before you ask for it. This makes it easier to be a leader. To create this environment, you have to honestly care about the people around you and try to know them so they reciprocate and put in the effort to know you. 
  • Warrior Poet: Someone who lives for a higher purpose and is ready to sacrifice to defend others. It’s someone who recognizes that you should be entirely a lover and a fighter. You should be fully a lion and fully a lamp. You should be both. To be deficient in either is a deficiency in both because a real warrior protects, a real warrior loves, and a real lover protects. Protection and love flow into each other, and it is a requirement to balance out a person. 
  • Face Your Death: It is unnecessary to put yourself in harm’s way to access the teaching of facing your mortality. This can be a meditation instead of actual life circumstances. Meditate on your own demise. Ask yourself exactly what’s worth living for. What would you immediately declutter if you discovered today was your last day? Now, 1-2-3, go and make the changes so each action you make is towards the stuff that really matters. 

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Mark Divine 0:00  

This is Mark Divine and I am the host of the Mark Divine Show. Thanks so much for joining me today, super appreciate it. On this show, I dig in and learn what it’s like to be courageous by speaking to some of the most fearless and interesting folks that I can find in the world. My guests include folks from all walks of life; martial arts grandmasters, high powered CEOs, and warrior poets like my guest today, John Lovell. Who’s the founder and CEO of the Warrior Poet Society, which is a values-based community dedicated to physical protection, pursuit of truth, and living a higher purpose. John has gained over 100 million views across his social media and streaming platforms. He’s a former Army Ranger, served in the Second Ranger Battalion after his service, he became a Christian missionary for four years in Central America. And he’s a content creator, an awesome public speaker, firearms instructor, and homesteader on a small farm in Georgia, where he lives with his wife and his two kids. Super stoked to have John with me today. John, thanks so much for joining me today on the Mark Divine show. Super stoked to have you here, buddy.

John Lovell 1:00

It is good to be here, man.


Mark Divine 1:02

Yeah, I got your book right here. And I was going through it last night. I really loved it. Great work. I really want to just get into the foundation of who John Lovell was like, what was your origin story? Where did you grow up? What were some of the big setbacks and breakthroughs that shaped you to even want to be an Army Ranger and to become the man you are today? So let’s start there. 


John Lovell 1:23

Sure. So I grew up in the woods, where all kids should grow up playing and building forts, climbing trees. And growing up, I just was really interested in having fun. Like, every little kid. Once high school hit, middle school hit, I was really more interested into being cool and accepted. And so that was its own pathway. 


Mark Divine 1:42

What were your parents like, through all this? How did your mom shape you? How did your dad shape here? I’m really fascinated about this whole idea of like, foundational conditioning that comes from early childhood. We’re born like a piece of rock clay, and then we immediately start getting conditioned. And the parents have usually the biggest effect on that unless you have some surrogate or you didn’t have any parents. So I’m curious, how do they shape the clay of John?


John Lovell 2:04

My dad was a businessman, still is even 75 years old, still working. The only thing I ever really saw him fail at in terms of vocational pursuit was retirement, he was terrible at retirement, went back to work and said, I’m gonna keep working until I dropped dead. You stop moving your rust out, man. And so my dad was all about preparing me to work hard, keep my word, be able to focus in, but it was really more of the here son grow up fast, so I can coach you to be a man when so that was really I will protect I will provide but I’m going to coach you. And so it was more of a life coach father. Mom was a classic nurturer. We went off to school for private schools and public schools and then back to private schools. And I went to a boarding school I was such a troubled teen, I got booted out of my house at 15. And so that was an entirely different track. 


Mark Divine 2:55

What was it that caused you to get booted out of your house and what turned you around? Again, I’m looking for inflection points. One of the things that people gloss over often is subtle moments that when you look back on actually were major pivot points. 


John Lovell 3:08

Man, I was a punk I just lived at the Kurian style of give me no pain give me all pleasure. Chasing skirts and bad substances I shouldn’t have and got in trouble with the law some and was hanging out with a bunch of friends that my parents would just say these are biggest bunch of losers going nowhere I’ve ever seen. And so they wanted a big cataclysmic shift. My dad, he’s like, I’m not really sure how to deal with this. But here, this is a mallet that will solve the problem. I’ll send him off to boarding school. And so that was the solution. And that’s what I was forced to do. 


Mark Divine 3:45

Yeah, actually, it’s funny because my three siblings were all sent to boarding school. And my mom kept me home. Because I was the good boy, which actually is why I rebelled. And I guess that’s my point. You’re a warrior poet. And you know that emotional development is so crucial for men. And it’s one of my missions to get men to open their eyes to the fact that it doesn’t make you weak to do emotional development actually makes you stronger. 


John Lovell 4:08

I think that’s good. 


Mark Divine 4:08

And then you start to understand how much you are living out the conditioning of your childhood, And when you do that work.


John Lovell 4:14

I think that’s a good thought. I like that I can get behind it. Later in high school, I found wrestling and instead of it being all about play, and then being cool, then it was about winning. And I really found and fell in love with combat with fighting and the chesss of violence and fighting. 


Mark Divine 4:31

Wrestling scared me I did it for six months, and same thing with football. I just didn’t find myself drawn to maybe it’s because I was taller kind of triathlete guy. 


John Lovell 4:40

You probably didn’t like the outfits.


Mark Divine 4:42

I just thought they were really corny. You know, he’s like, I’m not gonna wear one of those outfits. I think that’s right. I didn’t even like the triathlon outfit, so…


John Lovell 4:48

Corny is such a euphemism. Thank you so much for saying that to us wrestlers. It was worse than corny is a different category. Spandex body suits just, nope.


Mark Divine  5:00  

Yeah, did they change that at all? 


John Lovell 5:01

Nope, still rocking it. But if that’s the cost of just getting out there and going toe to toe and legally fighting another man for six minutes, I’m like, alright, I’ll sign up for that. It was good times. 


Mark Divine 5:11

Yeah, it is incredible conditioning. And you have to face your fears quite a bit. I know, it was quite a lot of rules in high school wrestling, but there’s times probably where you thought you were gonna get choked out, or you just were at the end of your rope, right? 


John Lovell 5:24

Yeah. And I mean, just I have found I hated losing, I just couldn’t stand it. And I tortured myself, I never would have tried for something like Special Operations. If I had not gone through just starving my body for years, going toe to toe, after about four minutes, if you’ve been going hard, you are just done, you can’t sprint for four minutes, and then you have to go two more. And then oftentimes, my second year wrestling, I wasn’t the best wrestler, I just hang in there for the first four minutes. And then it became like a competition on who could dig deeper, who had the biggest heart, who would just have that gritty, I will not quit. And typically, I never found another man that would dig deeper and fight harder than me. Later, I got much better in technique, I’d have to dip into those deep wells of misery to be able to come out on top, but it was definitely character-shaping. 


Mark Divine 6:23

Yeah. And I love that character really is about self-awareness, just knowing, finding and discovering how much you have to give and then hitting that wall and being able to give more, I finally found that in crew, because rowing crew is a gut-busting sport, just like the sprint especially, you just get to that place where you’re like, I don’t have another ounce to give. And then you just have to find and I always found it, that ability to just go there. And when I got to Buds, there was nothing that the instructors could do to me to hurt me. How did wrestling prepare you for ranger training?


John Lovell 6:54

I discovered that I just hated losing and I had a no quit part of me. And so that was very revealing. And not only did I just discover that was there, I cultivated it to make it much more because surely, there was choice in there, I could have just rolled over except the pin. And maybe no one would begrudge me for it. But I would have known, but my dad also really helped me when I was a little boy playing soccer. And I write about this in my book, but he would sit me down and really focus me he made me close my eyes. And he would say focusing type words, he’d be like, you are the fastest kid out there, no one can touch you. And so I learned focus early on. And then growing up, I was always working really crappy jobs. I worked construction cleanup for two years. Man, that’s a crappy job.


Mark Divine 7:46

It’s a crappy job.


John Lovell 7:47

And I worked really hard all the time. And that early do not quit character development, the ability to suffer and to suffer well, that was really some of the nuts and bolts of it. 


Mark Divine 7:59

Yea, internal dialogue is so key for people, right? You see the guys that quit Ranger School or Buds. One of the things that they got going on wrong is they’re just talking to themselves poorly. 


John Lovell 8:09



Mark Divine 8:10

They’ve got some negative dialogue they’ve got some can’t, won’t, couldn’t shouldn’t whatever. But it sounds like your father taught you how to have a positive internal dialogue actually gave you mantras. Or maybe you just thought it was a belief system. Oh, yeah, I am good. I am fast. But he probably gave me some internal dialogue so that when times got tough, you could lean on that.


John Lovell 8:29

He did for sure. Self speaking. I think it’s so big. My wife and I are currently watching the Alone TV series. Have you seen this? 


Mark Divine

I have not, I’ll have to check it out. 


John Lovell 8:38

Pretty good. But the premise is they drop a bunch of contestants off. They’re all alone. But you can tell who’s about to quit because that self-talk starts getting negative and they’re justifying and then they, oh, I’m not really after the prize money. I’ve been on this journey. And the journey is over now. And it’s all that stuff. 


Mark Divine 8:57

I hear that in our SEALFIT all the time. Yeah, I got what I wanted out of this. I’m gonna leave now. Yeah, internal dialogue is key. And if you grew up in an environment like I did, I had to curate my own self-talk. So if you’re listening to this, and you have a father and mom, who gave you that positive self-talk, you develop yourself goodonya, but I’d reckon probably more than 60 or 70% of the population does not have that. And then you’re just getting flooded with all this negative stuff through news and all the cultural stuff, which I want to get into later. So I always say just turn that shit off and start talking nicely to yourself. It makes a massive difference in your life.


John Lovell 9:29

I had two different wrestling coaches because I switched schools, one of the wrestling coaches, gritty, no nonsense practical, really tough. He was a winner. And it showed and just eased out incredibly masculine guy, he left a really indelible mark on me. My junior year, I would be at a boarding school and I’ve taught some type of psychology and he would become my wrestling coach, and he didn’t have that drive. He didn’t have that grit. And really, that was an entirely different thing under poor leadership, I didn’t do well, I actually ended up losing my love for wrestling, he wasn’t a winner, like my previous coach. 


Mark Divine 10:07

That’s another really good point. In a relationship where someone has a big influence over you, whether it’s a coach or a boss and they’re negative, then you have to know that it’s going to affect you, you’re going to get stained by that unless you’ve developed the capacity to radically protect yourself from someone else’s negative thinking and energy and toxic whatever, even if it’s toxic positivity. 


John Lovell 10:29

That’s tough.


Mark Divine 10:30

It can be done but it’s tough work, you know, requires daily discipline, mental development. So what led you into the the army? 


John Lovell 10:37

So I ended up going into college first, I majored in fraternity I was a guy like…


Mark Divine 10:43

I did that too. 


John Lovell 10:45

Like drunk Tuesday afternoon. 


Mark Divine 10:47

Yeah, yeah.


John Lovell 10:47

Everybody’s like, he’s drunk at this time? This guy was.


Mark Divine 10:50

It seemed perfectly normal at the time.


John Lovell 10:52

Yeah, man, I was just a punk I was extending adolescence indefinitely. Somewhere it’s my very first year of college, partying it up. I just felt somehow like a light switch coming on. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to go, door kick-in, fast rappelling. I wanted to do the Special Operations thing. And Rangers don’t have very good PR.


Mark Divine 11:16

SEALs don’t have PR in fact, we are our own PR, much to the chagrin of SOCOM. Yeah.


John Lovell 11:21

We don’t chase after those book deals as a SEAL has me on to talk about my book. Oh, the irony. 


Mark Divine 11:27

Oh, the irony.


John Lovell 11:27

I can’t take the irony, it’s so good. Anyway, I was planning on SEALs. And after I had quit college, the party kid was put aside, and I re-invigorated the wrestler, John and I started just torturing myself in preparation. I was going to do the SEAL thing because I knew SEALs for SEALs. And I did cold water training every day when holding my breath underwater and see how long I could do that. And then just brutally torturing myself and all the exercise methods that I could and I developed such a disdain for cold water when I learned what Army Rangers were I’m like, wait, I can do similar stuff without the cold water.

Uh, funny enough, ironically enough, my very first week in Ranger Battalion I’d get hypothermia from cold water. But…


Mark Divine 12:15

I know a lot of people hype out in Ranger School. Oh, there is irony there.


John Lovell 12:18

This was Ranger Battalion, not Ranger School.


Mark Divine 12:19

Oh, Ranger Batallion


John Lovell 12:20

Anyway. Fun times, I could have rattled off a whole list of things of patriotism and GI Bill and belong to something greater than myself. I had a whole rap sheet, but I was careening toward a divine appointment. 


Mark Divine 12:35

So tell us about Ranger School. What did you learn? What were some of the interesting things there and summarize your kind of career as a Ranger, and what you’ve learned, and how it can help them?


John Lovell 12:44

I didn’t go straight to Ranger School. Before they send you to Ranger School. You got to get to Ranger Battalion. That’s where you really do your job. Think of that like a law firm and Ranger School is like passing the bar. I had to spend a year at Ranger Battalion first and my leader specifically tried to make my life a living hell, he got buyer’s remorse. He picked me out of a lineup of young skin headed Rangers, and he wanted the best Ranger he could get. And so here’s this big lineup of Rangers, and he’s looking at all our scores. And I seem to be the best win. Crushing everything they threw at me, um, combatives champ and Ranger indoctrination program and I’m annihilating my PT scores. And he’s like, I’ll take this one. He talked like that you don’t like Satan and Garnet. Then he got buyer’s remorse when he found out that I was a Christian because he thought I would be a conscientious objector. And so immediately wanted to make my life miserable. So I’d quit. And he had a perception of just like training up this T-2000, robot kind of Ranger where he could turn around and like, destroy. And I wasn’t that and so he really made my life very awful and miserable in hazing and terrible ways.


Mark Divine 13:54 

That’s Funny.


John Lovell 13:55

After that, I’d go to Ranger School, you get back after going through that suck fest. And now you’ve proved yourself and you can start gaining rank and I would gain rank very fastly. 


Mark Divine 14:05

Can you tell us about Ranger School? I didn’t get a chance to go to Ranger School. So I’m curious. 


John Lovell 14:09

Yeah, you did Buds. It’s just all the mental games and things they do to hurt you. It’s all just repackaged differently. Instead of us playing in little shorts with big logs in the surf and sand and cold water. We’re just doing night missions in the woods with night vision that doesn’t work at all, just walking on bloody feet and emaciated and sleep deprived and it’s just it’s a different repackaging of the same sock. All the tactics were really more antiquated Vietnam kind of stuff, which, some of those principles still hold true. And whenever you’re jungle-ish or wooded or mountainous terrain, however, really Ranger School I came out tactically worse at my job than I was when I went in. 

Really ,seriously the Ranger instructors. A lot of them didn’t even come from Ranger Battalion. If somebody gets the Ranger tab that’s not like the real Ranger Battalion, that’s day in day out of learning how to kick in doors and seize airfields and do all the things Rangers do. Ranger School is a 60-day suck fest, rite of passage where you learn a lot about personal limits and leadership. 


Mark Divine 15:19

Yeah, I had to learn that the hard way. You don’t find people going through Buds who aren’t going to be SEALs. They don’t allow it. But I remember a lot of Senior Army officers are wearing this Ranger tab and I’m thinking to myself, I don’t like that Rangers. And someone had to school me and said you know what, he’s not a Ranger. 


John Lovell 15:36

Yeah, that’s right, correct.


Mark Divine 15:35

He just went through Ranger School.


John Lovell 15:38

Completely different. I’ve seen a lot of jacked-up dudes with tabs, we do have a rite of passage to guarding who gets into Ranger Battalion and that’s Ranger assessment selection program, BRASS. When I went through it was called RIP. And now we’ll do the old curmudgeon thing where I’ll be like back when it was hard. It was harder though. Truley, it was RIP Ranger Indoctrination Program. And then the basic training was very easy for me. The AIT and then Airborne School man, if we ran any slower in airborne school we’d be backing up. 


Mark Divine 16:07

I did that Airborne School. When the SEALs first started, they basically would take you up day one and throw you out with a freefall shoot and that was back in the 60s and 70s. 


John Lovell 16:16

I love that. 


Mark Divine 16:17

Then they started sending us to the three weeks of Airborne Ranger School. And we used to say, Man, they packed about three days of training into three weeks.


John Lovell 16:24  

It’s awful.


Mark Divine 16:26

It was awful, yeah.


John Lovell 16:27

I almost quit Airborne School because if somebody chanted the word airborne to me one more time I was just going to…


Mark Divine 16:33

Eat your boots. 


John Lovell 16:34

Yeah, I’m just like, I’m done. I can’t handle it. I’m mentally tapping it. No, not truly, that’s a tongue in cheek story. But the whole point is, nothing was hard about it, except the fact that it was all so stupid. It was just so maddeningly stupid. And there was a lesson in that where I had to learn some mental resiliency that’s important for doing life in general. Um, some stuffs stupid, and you just gotta be tough enough to endure it. But those easier rites of passage, those were really easy once I got to RIP, that wasn’t funny anymore. That was awful. That was awful time for me. And that guarded the door so that you could get into Ranger Battalion where the suck really started to happen. 


Mark Divine 17:11

It almost sounds like RIP is more like BUDs, but it’s shorter. How long is RIP? 


John Lovell 17:14

No, it was like four weeks. I don’t know what it’s at now. But it wouldn’t be as intense as something like BUDs were ,especially your Hell Week. Nothing in there would have been nearly that bad. But maybe on the easier weeks, it would have been something akin to that, maybe. 


Mark Divine 17:31

What were some of your biggest lessons, either leadership, or life, or big ahas was the got from being a Ranger? 


John Lovell 17:38

Yeah, sure. When I became a young sergeant, and I wasn’t in for ages, I did a short time moved on and did a whole bunch of other stuff that balances me out and really would lead to warrior poet. But what I learned is I gained rank very quickly. And I was trying to motivate troops and be a good leader. Now, first off, I was just doing how I was led, which is you put the fear of God in them. And if things don’t go exactly your way you punish young privates, you look disapprovingly at your spec force, and maybe you’ll give them the respect of a private thrashing. And then you’re younger non comps and all the way up. It’s more of professional respect of closed doors were first name basis and doing all that stuff. It’s that. But I wanted to learn how to be a good leader. And I found that yelling at everyone wasn’t the turnkey solution to leading soldiers. I remember a guy named Zack who was a former SWAT cop, and then he came in, and he was just so ridiculously hard on him. If I was to add any difficulty to that which I could have done, as his leader, it just would have annihilate him. He didn’t need that. He was a self correcting dude, he needed to clear left and right limits. Don’t micromanage him and power him spin this guy up and let him go. He’s self motivated. Then another dude named Cassidy and this guy, there’s nothing I could do to fix this guy. I did everything he was my biggest leadership failure. And man, that was really challenging because he was probably my only real leadership challenge where I’m like, I could not make that kid a Ranger. I tried, I couldn’t do it. It just didn’t have what it took. Most of the other ones though, I found some type of fung shui where you would adapt your leadership model to the person. I found that yelling at guys wasn’t the best way always, some guys actually need that or they just need it in little spurts at little time. So I see a bunch of tumblers and locks around here. And I got to know how to open each one of them real quick so I can get good results motivation and I want to grow the person not just get what I want in that moment. My guys though, did come to love me. And that was a real cool thing where it’s not that they would wait for my orders is that they would try to anticipate my orders and that was a different thing that I didn’t really see to my left and right and so once I saw that I was fascinated like wow, leadership is such an easier thing when they want you to win, and they care about you. 

And they knew, no, I’m looking out for you. And I care about you as you take care of the boys, and they’ll take care of you. 


Mark Divine 20:09



John Lovell 20:10

In the military context, I won’t necessarily say that about the civilian, I learned something different in the civilian world. 


Mark Divine 20:15

Yeah, I found that out, too. When I left SEALs, I was like, holy shit, it’s much harder to lead in a civilian business environment. Because you don’t have all the systems and culture of the special ops community that has already prepped the battlefield for you so to speak. As a leader, you’re dealing with all sorts of different cats and dogs, you don’t have the systems of selection and acculturation that happen and you don’t have the rules and regs that are quietly holding people in check and in line, I think leading in the military is way easier than in civilian world. 


John Lovell 20:42

I think in some respects, you’re absolutely right. What bothered me is when I got out and started working jobs and trying to climb that ladder, and do all the right stuff, leaders would take kind of military vernacular or team language, and they would speak that, and I had the understanding that, okay, I’ll take care of you. And then you’ll take care of me, if I take care of the business business to take care of me. It’s not like a mission where we’re all trying to make it out alive and accomplish the mission. It’s no, let’s all make as much money as possible, and the company makes a lot of money. And they’d make even more if they pay me less, and I would just shut up and produce. Nope, they just want to maximize profit. Oftentimes, I’m not saying that of everyone. But it meant that our objective isn’t necessarily truly tied together, though, we’ll give lip service to take that mountain together, really, I found secretly, most folks were just in it for themselves. And that was confusing. And I felt stupid. Like I, oh, I was out here doing the whole team thing. I’m the only one. I’m the only one doing the team thing. No one else is great.


Mark Divine  21:45 

Yeah, I’ve been there. It is solvable. But it takes a long time. And you have to have the right people who are really into that. That’s something we’re trying to crack the code on with our corporate work, but it is not easy. Tell me about this missionary work that you did. And you know, let’s segue from there into your warrior poet work. This is rounding out the character of John. So I want to know what the missionary work and the softening of the heart and what led you to become a warrior poet in your own words? 


John Lovell 22:14

Yeah. So military was a stop along my way, is the best time I never want to do again, loved it. I ended up going back to college, I got a degree over a long period of time, was while I was working jobs, and then I ended up going into business and stuff. And that went very well. I got married along the way. And my wife and I had always had our desire to be able to go be foreign missionaries. And so that it just been on our plan of, wouldn’t it be real cool to go live abroad and serve the Lord for like a year? And we thought, yeah, that’d be cool. And so all of a sudden, a an opportunity came across our bow. And we found that we could actually do it. And it was insanity. But we’re like, Yeah, let’s do this. It’d be fun. And so we did it. But then we ended up staying for four years, what we did is we had this house abroad in Central America, and 30 college age students would live there. Our job was to take these college students train them up for nine months, we’d also engage in missions, and we planted a church. And so we were doing all of that stuff abroad. And so really, really cool thing. That’s where I really learned to be a teacher. 

I was teaching in the military, obviously, however, I really made teaching a science and became far better at oral communication, studying that, and to be able to turn on charisma and really own an audience. And so that was a really important thing for me, I also devoted myself to study I fell in love with reading. And so man, old dusty, theological works, I’d unearthed from the 1800s, and I would read the stuff cover to cover. And so I would literally have some study days where there should be 13 hours I would forget to eat, I would be so engrossed in all the soteriology, and hermeneutics and homiletics, whatever, all the kinds of things, and a bunch of other subjects as well. But I fell in love with reading and for years, I just devoted myself to study was the scholarly impulse, the philosopher and the poet, being born doing a great and selfless work abroad. 


Mark Divine 24:26

That’s awesome. I talk a lot about life purpose in the context of archetypal energy, and how like those of us drawn into especially the Special Ops, we have a very strong warrior archetype in us obviously, or else we wouldn’t be drawn to that there’s some guys in there who just want to play whack a mole and and not true warriors, and whether you and I would define that term. But if you’re really following your purpose, then you can’t not do that. But then as you evolve if you’re a self-evolutionary individual, like you are, then that warrior archetype will start to open up to be inclusive of other archetypes and very common other archetypes that go with the warrior archetype, the leader, the scholar, of philosopher, and the monk, and the poet, right. That whole archetypal energy or impulse comes from that heart center that we talked about earlier.


John Lovell 25:12

Like you and like most of our brothers in arms, we wax far more lion and lamb, or far easier to get in touch with that warrior archetype. What I found is the whole poet aspect really sucked still to this day as something I work on. Because I think it’s important, the warrior is able to defend a family well, he’s not actually able to keep one together very well. 


Mark Divine 25:34



John Lovell 25:34

The warriors are good at winning at war. But they’re bad at thriving and peace. I know too many buddies and so do you that were very successful at war, just to come back and suck at life. And so what I find is the poet has a massive amount to teach, and we’ve got to be balanced men. So you don’t treat a wife and kids the exact same way you treat dudes, especially in a high stakes environment. And so I had to really grow in that. And so to this day, when I’m, you know, grumpy John about something, or my wife knows when I’m off, like two days before I even recognize that, and then just what’s going on with you. And I just feel like a moron still to this day, because I’m like, Alright, I can still feel my feelings. I don’t know what they’re telling me. I don’t know. But it takes me a while to unpack. I don’t have a high regard of introspective emotional intelligence. And I wish I did. Because my wife when something’s off with her, she usually knows exactly what it is right away. I’ll feel like no, that’s not bothering me. Three days later, I’m like, oh, no, that really is bothering me. And I felt fine. I didn’t feel affected. But the body keeps score. And that was affecting me. And so still to this day, it’s a challenge. 


Mark Divine 26:51

Yeah. And it’s not easy for guys to find that kind of emotional self awareness. It is findable, you know, through deep practice of introspection, and a lot of therapy. But we’re so conditioned at our stage of development as a culture. And where we’ve been men are so conditioned, you know, for that all action all the time, right? Bias toward winning, that it’s hard to even understand what you just said, most people would be like, I don’t even know what he’s talking about. 


John Lovell 22:17

And I think most folks listening in to your podcast, absolutely. And then if we get outside of our little worlds, into the mainstream culture, that’s the only language they speak, they don’t have a warrior archetype at all. And that’s really awful. You and I are in a race to the top, let’s be winners. And let’s study what that is. And let’s have grit, and intelligence so that we can tactfully come about and find the top of that pyramid. Let’s climb that ladder quickly. And the rest of the United States seems to be in a race to the bottom, let’s become weak losers, victims, making everyone else be accountable for our real problems. And it’s a race to the bottom. 


Mark Divine 27:59

I agree with the race to the bottom, but I don’t agree that it’s the rest of the United States. I think it’s a very small, deliberate Cabal, who’s trying to push America to the bottom, through divisiveness, look at the frickin media, it’s just awful. It should be outlawed. I know, you’ve talked about that toward the end of your book about just not trusting the news. This is one of my first teachings declutter and turn off the TV, because it’s crap. But I think there’s a lot of good people out there. They’re just being fed negativity. 


John Lovell 28:30

I don’t know what the numbers are. I like to think on my better days, I think we’re the silent, overwhelming majority.


Mark Divine 28:37

I would hope so. 


John Lovell 28:38

Perhaps the majority of the population is with us for just decent sanity. But our institutions of power and all the different sectors, they’re calling the shots, and there’s the race to the bottom. 


Mark Divine 28:50

They seem to have been co-opted at a minimum and conditioned or mass formationed into believing a certain one way is the only way and it’s very dangerous. I agree with you. We’re in for some interesting times in next few years. So how would you define what a warrior poet is, is that the Yin Yang, the masculine and feminine working together in harmony?


John Lovell 29:11

No, you know, not so much warrior poet, it’s very broad. It’s someone who lives for higher purpose and who is ready to sacrifice in the defense of others. It’s someone who recognizes that you should be fully lover and a fighter, you should be fully lion and fully a lamp, you should be both. And to be deficient in either one is a deficiency in both, because a real warrior protects a real warrior loves, right and a real lover protects and so they flow into each other and it is a requirement to balance out a person. 


Mark Divine 29:52

I would just say that Yin Yang is just balance. If you really understand the true imagery or the metaphor behind it like in the black in the white, right in the black section, there’s a white dot. And in, the white section, there’s a black dot.


John Lovell 30:04



Mark Divine 3:04

And that’s what you just described. If someone is action, they’re still a lover. And as someone is all lover, they’re still prone toward action. And then ideas to ride the line between the two always in balance, like a razor’s edge. You’re always moving from one side to the others, no perfect balance. But you’re always aware if you’re in the action for your mode. You’re not too far from the lover. 


John Lovell 30:25

Yeah, I really like that. I think a real man is successful based off two things. One is what priority has he set for his life. And the second is how well does he balanced between those priorities? 


Mark Divine 30:37

Yeah, I love that. You have a chapter in your book that you need to face death before you die, which I agree, we’ll talk a little bit more about that. 


John Lovell 30:44

Yeah, it is difficult to know how to do life until you’ve really faced death. And so I’ve had many brushes with deaths and almost dead moments, I’m sure you’ve had quite a few, but that when those happen, you find your heart in your throat. And as the adrenaline passes, you know exactly what you want to do when you get home. And when you get safe. You’re gonna ask that girl out, you’re gonna marry her, you’re gonna buy a little house on that little spot of land, you’re gonna pull the trigger on that you’re gonna go into business, you’re gonna get out of the military, you’re gonna do such as you start making plans and dreams, you see the faces of the people that actually matter the most to you. And so I’m not saying hey, everybody should go bungee jumping in a real shady spot with a spotty rubber band. Don’t try to make that happen by the way, yeah.


Mark Divine 31:31

Been there, done that by the way.


John Lovell  31:33  

Yeah, anyway but I’m just saying, someone who has faced their own demise really can look at life with increased vitality, and know exactly what’s worth living for. All the stuff that’s right now crowding in with the tyranny of the urgent, all the things that you think are really important, if you found today was your last day, you would immediately be able to declutter all of that stuff, and you would know the 1-2-3 things, the only stuff that really matters. And so by facing your own death, and I really go deep into it in the chapter, it really unpacks in a practical way, how they can go about doing that, why the exercise is essential.


Mark Divine 32:17

Like Stephen Covey says, begin with the end in mind, why not do that with your life? So really understand, what’s going to be important when you’re in your last few months. And the research been done is people at the end of their life are like, gosh, they don’t say I wish I had more money, or I wish I had built more businesses, or I wish I had done more crazy things. It’s always I wish I had been a better communicator, I had more time to spend with my family, done something more meaningful. 


John Lovell 32:39

That’s it, man. 


Mark Divine 32:43

And that kind of ties into this idea of goodness, not greatness. Again, part of our weird cultural right now is a glorification of the ego. Everyone trying to be the best, the fastest, climb more mountains and run more marathons in every continent than anyone else. And I have countless podcasts for these people and their, their stories are really interesting. But I’m always saying like, what are you trying to prove? Are you trying to prove your own greatness to the world? And so your idea of goodness, not greatness has really resonated with me. I’ve talked about that a little bit. 


John Lovell 33:07

Yeah, I get why the greatness aspect is attractive. I see a lot of people really chasing after that. For my part. Yeah, I’ll make a lot of habits today, I’ll play a smart game, and I’ll work real hard. And maybe one day someone will call me great. And if they don’t, I don’t really give a crap. That’s not where the big stuff that matters the most in my life is returning again, to the end in mind, I won’t care whether they’ve erected a statue of me in my local town square, what I care about is that I am dying with unfinished business healed relationships, that have made an impact in real people’s lives in front of me, I didn’t live the life that culture would look up to and, and celebrate it and want to boost me on their shoulders for have, I lived for a greater purpose other than myself and my own accolades, and it made a difference. 


Mark Divine 34:02

Yeah, so important is to redefine success in terms of what’s going to give you that peace of mind to know that you have zero regrets. 


John Lovell 34:09

I’ve been very poor, and I’ve been very blessed in my life. And I’ll say earthly riches are filled with all kinds of poverty. That’s Church Father Augustine, that’s not mine. I wouldn’t be smart enough to come up with that. But truly, some of the most miserable people I know, are very wealthy people. Also, some of the most miserable people I know, are extremely poor people. And so you can be miserable. Either way. I’m just saying the metrics for success are so off kilter, that it’s difficult to shake anyone awake today and talk to him about the things that matter most and they may get lip service to it. But then as soon as you were able to speak that truth of it’s about taking care of that bride from your youth, then pursuing her like you’re dating to foster a long healthy marriage that keeps growing. That’s crazy hard. No one’s doing that you want to stand out and be great, have a great marriage. And you can only have a great marriage by being a good man. You can’t do it any other way.

And so give me goodness, goodness gives fulfillment giveness mix in forevermore con lives around, goodness means I could be ready to die with a smile on my lips and a song in my heart. 


Mark Divine 35:23

Yeah, I’d love that. That’s great, John. So you teach firearms? What’s the number one thing that someone needs to know how to do with a firearm? If someone’s listening saying I don’t really know how to use a firearm, and you said, Well, I can teach you this one thing, or these two things. And I could do it in an hour or a day at a minimum, and they’re going to be effective. Is it possible to teach someone that?


John Lovell 35:45

I can usually oftentimes in 5-10 minutes put somebody farther ahead than they’ve been able to make progress on their own in a few years? Yeah, as a good coach, I can go straight to it. Now each person is a little bit different. But especially when you’re starting off, you know where that starting line is. Before anyone is ever able to come to me, they’ve got to watch my YouTube video on universal firearm safety rules. I’m like, go check out the four universal firearm safety rules, and then after you’ve watched that, and you’ve got that now we’re good to go. I’ll also want them to learn some knowledge of like, how do you pick it up properly? How do you rack that slide? How do you load How do you unload, I would prefer they would already do that. So that I could spend just a couple minutes showing here’s your grip, here’s your platform, how to build a good base. And then here is how you line up sights good, but where I really want to get as fast as I can, is to how you press the trigger. And to not anticipate the shot. 

The anticipation of the shot is why every right-handed shooter is shooting down and left is why you’re missing really badly. And so to build some initial fundamentals, I need to get you to stop anticipating the shot. But that’s something that’s very hard for them to overcome on their own. And I’ve got my own little science for overcoming it. 


Mark Divine 36:59

That’s cool. And you run seminars like that. 


John Lovell 37:02

Yeah, we run pistol and rifle classes, we teach some one-man room-clearing stuff. Mark, you’re a room-clearing expert from back in the day, you would hate some of this because it goes against what we learned how to do in teams. But when you’re alone, you’re responsible for all work 360. 


Mark Divine 37:18

Also, if you’re alone, you’re usually in the house, aren’t you? Are you talking about if you’re in the house and intruder comes in, or if you’re going in a house?


John Lovell 37:24

If the civilian ever gets in a gunfight, it will be in and around structures, whether you’re fighting your way out of a workplace under siege, or there’s an active killer event, whether you’re going to or away, whether you pull it up on your house, there’s a strange vehicle in the driveway and your front doors kicked open. Now I’m clearing out for actual home defense, I would rather someone have a better home defense plan. So they wouldn’t have to clear the house and that said, I’m gonna wait in a dark corner and you’re gonna just walk in front of my sights. And then you’ll be talking to Jesus. And you’ll be really confused. And then there’ll be like, Hey, John, do you want better use of angles in real space and time? 


Mark Divine 38:01

That’s awesome. All right. You’re a homesteader. And I always think of Yellowstone movie when I think of homesteading, like going out and just like finding a piece of land and building the house. But I think you mean is your whole family. You’re just raising your family on this land. And you’re trying to be as sustainable as possible and not have to rely on government for anything you don’t have to rely on. Is that right? 


John Lovell 38:23

Yeah. So far, I have not branded local cowboys, and I’ve dropped no one off at the train station, which is a metaphor for murdering them. So I have not done any of that yet. I have raised my family out on our homestead. So we’ve got some acreage and I’ve got horses and cows and chickens and alpacas.


Mark Divine 38:42

How sustainable are you? Like how self-sufficient? 


John Lovell 38:45

Right now I’m at my home office right now. Everything’s running on solar this moment. So I’m off grid. 


Mark Divine 38:52

What’s the most challenging thing? I have an interest in going, it’s harder for me in a suburban California town. But when I got out of active duty, I stayed in the reserves, I bought 40 acres out near Telluride, Colorado, and I always had a vision of doing something like what you’re doing, I ended up selling that property. But now I’m like, Okay, it’s time for me to go back and, and do that. 


John Lovell 39:10

I think it’s time brother, do it. It’s a better life, in our opinion, where my kids are growing up in the woods. And we read all the time I read to my boys at night, and their creativity is launching on and they’ve got chores, and they’ve got jobs if they don’t take care of the chickens, and the Great Pyrenees dogs that protect them. If they don’t take care of them. Those animals will die. We’ve told them of like boys, they’re 9 and 10. If you don’t take care of those animals, they will not eat, they will die, we will let them die. Now go take care of your animals.


Mark Divine 39:44

You teach them you know how to stalk and hunt?


John Lovell 39:46

Yeah, we’re eating healthier too. We have cows and so when we eat hamburgers and steaks all the time, and I know where the meat came from, and so of like, we grow our own food. There’s no pesticide there’s no hormones in our stuff anymore. We’ve got our own water, no one’s pumping crazy stuff into our water unbeknownst to us. And so we’re healthier. We’re outside, our home isn’t filled with screens, and we don’t have bad influences. And our kids are part of a homeschool Co-Op. So we’re always hanging out with like-minded families, and we’re in charge of their education. I like life this way. It feels wildly healthier in a way that the rest of the world has no idea what in the world we’re even doing. And so it’s cool, man. 


Mark Divine 40:29

That is cool. Wish we could do that at scale. I don’t know how to do that at scale. 


John Lovell 40:33

Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know. 


Mark Divine 40:34

John, this has been a really fun conversation. Thanks so much for your time. And thanks for doing the work and writing this awesome book, Warrior Poet Way. Where do you like people to connect with you? What’s your website or social media handles and stuff like that? 


John Lovell 40:48

Sure. So the book is available, any place where books are sold? If you guys want to connect with us, visit our website, WarriorPoetSociety.com. And then just type in warrior poet on whatever social place that is censoring us, you can’t find us. Anyway, YouTube, good luck. Maybe you’ll find Warrior Poets Society on YouTube. We’ve got way over a million followers on it. But big tech hates us, man. They hate us.


Unknown Speaker  41:14  

Yeah, we’re gonna fix that. It’s like a team of teams. Right? 


John Lovell 41:18



Mark Divine 41:18

It’s gonna take a lot of us spreading the light. And so I appreciate what you’re doing. 


John Lovell 41:22

Thank you. I really appreciate you your mission. I look forward to really leaning in more into what you’re doing. You’re an awesome, dude. You’re a good guy. You’re doing a good thing. So thanks, man. Thanks.


Mark Divine 41:32  

What a great guy. What a great episode. Thank you so much, John, for your time and for your book, The Warrior Poet. Wow, really interesting. And doing some great stuff. And I’m inspired shownotes are up at our website at Mark Divine.com Video beyond a YouTube channel. You can find me on Twitter at Mark Divine. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook @ Real Mark Divine or you can hit me up on my LinkedIn channel. Check out my newsletter Divine Inspiration, which comes out every Tuesday, where I disseminate my most top-of-mind inspirational people habits, products, my blog, and show notes from the podcast of the week to help you lead a life of compassion and courage. get exclusive content just for subscribers, go to Mark Divine.com to sign up and please share it with your friends. 

Thanks so much my awesome team, Catherine Divine, and Jason Sanderson and Geoff Haskell who helped produce this podcast and newsletter and bring guests like John to you every week. Ratings and reviews are very helpful. So if you haven’t done so please consider rating and reviewing. Wherever you listen, especially Apple, we’re shooting for 5005-star reviews, it helps us stay at the top of the rankings and help other people find the show. So it’s very helpful. And thank you for that. And I appreciate that you are listening and that you’re sharing the show and these episodes, and that you’re doing the work because you’re right, I’ve often said this, but there is not one world out there. There are 8 billion worlds, you are responsible for your world. And that requires self-awareness and requires discipline requires you to have a positive attitude, and to take control back. We talked about a lot of that on this podcast. You can do the work we can help you out at my company SEALFIT.com and UnbeatableMind.com. If you want to learn more about our programs, go check out those websites and see what’s up. And again, thanks for doing your work. Until next time, stay focused and be unbeatable. Hooyah, Divine out.


Transcribed by Catherine and https://otter.ai



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