Human on the Inside with The Attributes’ Rich Diviney


5 min read

We’re big believers in the power of human skills. But don’t just take our word for it – the evidence for excellence powered by human (‘soft’) skills is everywhere! In this engaging, ever-enlightening series, we speak with industry leaders, innovators and game-changers to learn a little about their personal career journeys, and how human-led strategies, philosophies and cultures are proving a force for good in their working worlds …

Welcome Rich, and thanks for stepping into the #SuccessIsHuman Spotlight!
You’re the Founder of a consultancy The Attributes, and author of your newly published book The Attributes – 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance. You’re also a keynote speaker on Optimal Performance, Resilience & Stress Inoculation.

In 1 sentence (ok, we’ll give you 3), what does your job/work entail?

We help people explore and understand the unique set of attributes they have, and those that their businesses and teams require. This allows for a full understanding of performance and proper training and hiring practices.

Prior to establishing The Attributes, you had an exceptional 20+ year career as a Navy SEAL Officer where you completed more than 13 overseas deployments – 11 of which were to Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout your career, you’ve held multiple leadership positions including the Commanding Officer of a Navy SEAL Command, and since retiring in early 2017, have worked as a speaker, facilitator and consultant with leading organisations including the Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute and Simon Sinek Inc.

How does all this work speak to your personal purpose and what drives you as an individual?

For me, the work not only allowed me to explore aspects of leadership that I otherwise hadn’t, it also offered me some much needed experience speaking, teaching, and facilitating. All things that I was anxious about doing – but have been able to move through the fear and be successful.

Tell us a little about your personal education pathway/s – what led you to where you are now? How closely do your formal qualifications match your current career?

I have a degree from Purdue University in Political Science and History. Other than that, all of my education has been experiential through my years as a Navy SEAL. These experiences have allowed me the opportunity to really think deeply about human performance.

If you could share one piece of career advice to your 21 year old self it would be …

In all honesty, I wouldn’t share any advice – because everything that I have done (to include the mistakes) has led me to where I am now – and I’m happy to be here. So if it was really anything – it would be “trust your outcomes”, even when things seem dark.

Maximising the potential of individuals, communities and businesses through the power of human skills is the reason Maxme exists. Can you tell us a little about the role and / or value of human skills in your work / workplaces you’re involved with right now?

As I discuss in my book – skills are important – but they only explain a small part of our performance. Much of our performance is dependent on our attributes* – and, in fact, attributes underpin all skill acquisition.

*According to Diviney, attributes such as patience, situational awareness, and adaptability often inform the way we handle situations, especially stressful and challenging ones. In his new book, Diviney delves into the importance of assessing and developing our attributes—and explains how reflection, self-understanding, and a bit of vulnerability can give you a performance edge.

Self Awareness sets the critical foundation for all Maxme learning experiences. With that said … what’s your strongest trait / personal super power?

Probably my imagination. I have always imagined audacious goals and outcomes, and then set about achieving them. But if I can’t imagine them in the first place, then they’ll never come into existence.

And on the flip side, what’s one human / ‘soft’ skill you’ve had to really work on improving over the course of your career?

My self discipline. Creating rigidity and structure in a way that allows me to focus on individual accomplishments. My lack of self discipline sometimes manifests as laziness.

If you could share one piece of career advice with recent secondary or tertiary graduates, or other individuals keen to start exploring their personal attributes what would it be?

Start deliberately throwing yourself into uncertainty, challenge, and stress. It’s in these environments that attributes show up clearly and viscerally. Trying to stay on safe and comfortable pathways will not typically lead to self-awareness.

You’ve been granted approval to add one University graduate to your team, but have 100 applicants, all with outstanding academic results. How do you find your perfect candidate – what are you looking for?

Perseverance, creativity, and integrity.

In the words of John Dewey, “education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” What’s next on your #learning agenda?

I’m constantly reading different books and thinking about new ideas and perspectives. Would love to write a second book!