The Twelve Tasks of “Total Self Mastery”


At the end of every year, I think about…everything. The year ahead, the year behind, what I’ve done to win, and what I’ve done to LEARN. And I say it that way because if you think about your failures right, that is often the best way to learn. When you fail at something, you can learn what doesn’t work, and that helps you learn what might work, and that makes you a learner…not a loser.

Notice that I said you CAN learn – on the other hand, you can also always choose to feel like a victim, and complain about how “they” won’t let you win, or that you’re a born loser, or so on…and all of that is in complete denial of the truth about your life: You Control Only You. You control only you, and 99% of all your results are tied directly to how well you choose to do that.

Notice also that I’m emphasizing the word Choose. That power of choice is in your hands in every minute of every day. There is always something you can do, once you comprehend your power to choose in every situation.

As I’ve been pondering these things, I realized that we’re quickly winding down this first full year of our podcast, Beyond Your Limits with Rob DuBois, where we feature breakthroughs and brainstorms, heroes and humility and life hacks, and basically present an all-you-can-eat buffet of new ideas so you can choose to grow, and give, for your whole life…without limits.

The Twelve Tasks

So I wanted to re-center, before we blast into this next year, and get back to basics and the core of all this “Total Self-Mastery” stuff: the Twelve Tasks.

I recommend you read through this, and take notes, and pass it along to your kids and anyone else you want to see thrive in their lives as learners, and winners, and individuals who really own their outcomes.

Let me share my big fat WHY you should care about the Twelve Tasks of Total Self-Mastery:

Without structure, your body would plop down on the ground and lie powerless. Without bones, you would be unable to walk or jump or type, or even to chew food. And for most of my life, for most of my military career, I was a guy who resisted structure, and organization, and all the things that make armies and companies and countries work.

I still resist getting rolled up in stupid forms of structure, like bureaucracies and hate groups and certain organized religions where the preacher is more interested in selling his ego-based worldview than in seeing and serving each person in the way they need – personally.

But despite my being this kind of a “hairless hippie” with a passion for freedoms, I learned along the way (very late in life, I have to admit) that my own discipline is the only way to true personal freedom and the power to get shit done so that I can make the difference I was made to make.

Direct Your Life…Or Someone Else Will

And notice that I said “so that….” You might think you’re doing life right if you just “go with the flow” (something I’m also a big fan of doing), but there is a secret paradox, here – if you don’t do some thing “on purpose,” your true purpose can never be accomplished. You have to choose to do things…or things will just be done TO you.

And usually, those things that others choose to do to you will not be in your best interests. It will be for theirs. And you will meander on, complaining that “they” never give you a break – and they will continue to get more of what they want because you’re doing it for them.

So assume command! (Navy reference.) if you choose to do some thing, you’ll get more done that you want to be done, and you’ll become more of what you want to be…and you’ll have more actual freedom, because you’re setting the conditions for your outcomes rather than waiting for somebody else to do it for you, for their benefit.

Let’s dive in.


Task ONE is Commit To Growth.

The secret to completing is committing.

Nobody ever graduated BUD/S, or SEAL training, without committing. (It’s hard enough even if you do!) This also goes for brain surgeons, and architects, and professors, and champion bodybuilders, and famous novelists, and so on.

You’re not guaranteed to become a famous novelist just because you commit to your writing, but it’s a sure bet you won’t accomplish that without it.

Do you like podcasts? Then you’re going to love Beyond Your Limits. I recommend starting with Episode 001, “Task 01,” which hit the Web back on January 9, 2022. I was fortunate to interview my close friend, psychologist, and all-around-prince-among-men, Michael Ostrolenk, on his thoughts about the importance of Committing to Growth.

And this Task is first of all 12, because it’s the foundation for success in any worthwhile undertaking, to include applying the remaining 11.

This Task also starts the “Impact Mindset” section, the first of two parts that make up the Twelve Tasks of our “Impact System”: 1 through 6 are the Impact Mindset, and 7 through 12 are the “Impact Method.” More on that, below.


Task TWO is Build Your Body.

Your Body, the Physical dimension of your life as a human being, is the foundation of the “Five Powers” we address in Tasks 2 through 6: Body, Mind, Heart, Soul, and Done.

If you’re not taking care of your physical health, your finances, your property (an example is auto maintenance), or anything else that matters in the material world, other areas will naturally suffer. Being in terrible physical condition impacts the effectiveness of your thought life, your feelings, and so on. (Each of the other Five Powers also affects the others, and we’ll come to that.)

I like to emphasize a very simple concept to help you stay on track on this topic: the “SEAT” model. SEAT is an acronym for “Sleep, Eat, And Train.” The order is important – sleep is the simplest activity you can prioritize for your physical wellness. It’s free, doesn’t require a gym membership, and will make a world of difference in how clearly you think, how balanced you are emotionally, and how effective your judgment is on questions that really matter. Questions of ethical decision making.

“Eat,” which includes proper hydration and the right amounts of the right nutrients, comes after sleep but before “Train” because you just can’t out-train a crappy diet. Try going to the clown’s fast food joint three meals every day and you’ll quickly find it really doesn’t matter how many pushups you do to try and get healthy.

Again, if you don’t want to wait for the upcoming blog post that will cover this Task later this month, jump back to January of 2022 and listen to Episode 002 of Beyond Your Limits: “Task 02: Build Your Body.”


Task THREE is Mold Your Mind.

We are “more than meat.”

Like your Body, you can obviously train your Mind. We typically think of schooling and study in the traditional sense, but what about the angles of creativity, curiosity, openness to learning, and mental agility?

In her book “Mindset,” Dr. Carol Dweck elaborates on a distinction between the two mindsets typically held by individuals – all individuals: we each tend to approach the world with either a “growth” mindset, or a “fixed” one. The former allows for accepting new ideas and evolving as a person. Being trapped in a fixed mindset, on the other hand, leads to rigid thinking, unreasonable biases, and what I consider to be a generally undesirable way of life. It’s largely motivated by fear of change, rather than well-founded and dynamic opinion. Think Archie Bunker.


Task FOUR is Heal Your Heart.

As with the Body and the Mind, we can “train” our emotional dimension. This enables what is popularly called “resilience,” or being better equipped to deal with challenging situations, as well as a greater capacity for empathy and communication. As with the fear foundation of a closed or fixed Mind, closed hearts are often a result of fear as well – fear of being judged by others, fear of not being accepted, or fear of accepting some undesired quality we know about in our inner lives that we dread having others discover!

Training the Heart can include having deliberately deep or uncomfortable conversations with loved ones, or trying to see things through somebody else’s eyes, as a couple of examples. And as mentioned, the conditions of your Body and Mind and Heart have direct effects on one another. If you’re distraught about getting dumped by the person of your dreams, you’re probably not going to be making the best physically healthy choices or be ready for that imminent calculus exam!


Task FIVE is Search Your Soul.

You may hear the term “Soul” and assume that this fourth Power is about which religion a person chooses, or whether they accept one at all. Spiritual faith is a component of the Soul category, but it’s more of a supporting character – I like to think of the Soul as our “Ethical” aspect, and the muscle of this Power as being our conscience.

This is distinct from Mind and Heart because a very smart person can make low-quality decisions through rationalization, and someone who holds feelings as paramount can do the same by not holding people accountable.

We usually know what’s “right” in difficult situations. The greater difficulty tends to come from facing the decision to do it. That’s your conscience.


Task SIX is Declare Your “Done.”

This is the Power of healthy boundaries. As Stephen Covey says in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “It’s easy to say No when you have a deeper, burning Yes inside.” In other words, by using the competence of your Mind, the compassion of your Heart, and the compass of your Soul, you can recognize when apparent opportunities are not necessarily the best use of your time.

You may have a chance to go out with the boys/girls on a particular night, but remember that you have that important exam coming up, or a promised date night with your partner, and decide to forgo the fun time in favor of a commitment that will improve the quality of your life.

I like to look at this fifth Power as the “Done Zone,” and consider it the muscle of Leadership. Without knowing what to say no to, others will have the option to determine how you use your limited hours and you’ll remain an observer in your life, rather than the driver.

Be a leader, not a follower.


Task SEVEN is Clarify Your Condition.

As mentioned, Tasks 7 through 12 form the “Impact Method” part of this Impact System. They also spell the acronym C.H.O.O.S.E. (Handy, right?) We do a deep dive on the Impact Method in our six-week, online and interactive “Unchained” course. If you’re interested in learning more about Unchained, hit me up at or take a look at the writeup under our “Shop” tab at

Task 7 is also the beginning of our version of the SWOT portion of the Tasks, familiar to many businesspeople as an assessment tool: “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.”

Clarification is the cornerstone of effective planning and execution. You have to take stock of your own assets and liabilities if you hope to make effective decisions about improving your situation. Task 7 sets the stage.


Task EIGHT is Highlight Your Gaps.

I’ve been conducting “Red Team” security assessments for the U.S. government and corporate customers for more than 20 years. The key function of red teaming is to look at an entity with the perspective of an adversary. In other words, where are the vulnerabilities? In the 8th Task you turn the lens on yourself and do a deep dive on where you are weakest. (Our Unchained course guides you through many exercises over its six weeks, and this block of instruction can be the most challenging – but most rewarding – for many students to complete.)


Task NINE is Observe Your Arena.

In cooperation with the aforementioned SWOT analysis, Task 9 also starts our version of an overlapping OODA methodology to help you understand not only what you have inside, but what the outside world brings to your table of opportunities and dangers. OODA is a military acronym for “Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act” and if you listen to Episode 009 of Beyond Your Limits, you’ll have the privilege to learn about OODA from our very own Director of Sales and Marketing, Patrick “Sledge” Mullins, who is also a veteran USAF fighter pilot and pilot trainer.

Taking a good look around in the process of Observing Your Arena will reveal a lot about those things you face that could help or harm you.


Task TEN is Orient Your Options.

Once you’ve gone through Tasks 1 through 9, you have gathered a hell of a lot of useful information about yourself and your environment. Now it’s time to get serious about assessing the best opportunities – and avoiding the worst threats! – to put you on course for optimal success. You’re going to Orient Your Options, to consider everything you’ve learned through disciplined evaluation, and prepare yourself to ….


Select Your Path in Task Eleven.

In some ways, this is the final exam of all the work you’ve done to date. Remember the lesson about saying No, more? Yep, now the rubber meets the road and you’ll say no to everything that does not serve to move you toward the goals you’ve established and committed to. In the Unchained course, this Task includes our trademarked Navy SEAL “I.M.P.A.C.T. Planning Method” (IPM) to help you make the best decisions and lay the right course.

(If you’d like to download your own free, full-color PDF of the IPM, visit the “Work With Us” tab at

Once you’ve completed this process of Selecting Your Path, all that’s left is to …


Execute Your Mission as Task Twelve.

Preparation is the real work of any job. When I paint a room in my home, a good 8o% of my effort is spent in moving out furniture, cleaning the walls, patching holes, laying out floor protection, taping the trim, gathering my materials, and other assorted actions that have nothing to do with putting a brush on the wall. If you do your prep right, the actual work is much easier to carry out.

And now that you’ve deliberately completed Tasks 1 through 11, your execution will be excellent!


I hope you’ve found this primer on the Twelve Tasks and the Impact System to be useful. I hope you’ll apply at least some of them in your own life! If you remember that You Control Only You, and then add the corollary that “Only You Control You,” unimaginably cool things can open up for you. You are the Master and Commander of your life journey.

…And I want to start the cool things by laying out our promised contest.

Your Chance To Be My Podcast Guest!

Until December 31st at midnight Hawai’i time, I’d like to hear what you think about the Twelve Tasks. We’ll be collecting entries at my personal email address ( throughout this contest period, and in January the team will get together to pick out our FOUR favorite submissions.

Simply write out a paragraph about something you’ve realized through reading this post, or listening to the 12/5/2022 episode of Beyond Your Limits with Rob DuBois on the same topic, and send it to the address above.

We’re going to share our favorites on social and in our regular emails, and add this:

Three entrants will receive a signed copy of my first book, Powerful Peace: A Navy SEAL’s Lessons on Peace from a Lifetime at War.” (We’ll hit you up via email for your shipping address if you’re selected.)

And the grand prize winner, in addition to getting two signed copies of Powerful Peace, will be getting a phone call from me to discuss your ideas on the subject you write about…and then I’ll invite you to be my guest on Beyond Your Limits!

You see, at Impact Actual we take a very “growth mindset” approach to the principles you’re reading here. We know that we don’t know it all. We want to keep learning – with you. Your ideas can inform future evolution for the Twelve Tasks of “Total Self Mastery.”

Let’s learn together.

See you soon,

– Rob

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Rob DuBois