BJJ White Belt: Starting from the Bottom

Keeping in line with pursuing my goals for 2017, I recently opened a new chapter in my life and began learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Day 1, Intro Class.

For the first time in years I joined a martial arts school, put on a uniform (Gi) and donned a white belt. It is a newer school in the area led by both an experienced brown belt and a purple belt. The rest of us are white belts of varying degrees and as of this writing, I only have five sessions under my belt. The other white belts are light years ahead of me.

And I don’t mind it at all.

In fact, I’m loving it.

I’ve had the opportunity to be a “white belt” in many areas over the last few years. Weightlifting for one; learning the proper form for the big lifts and slowly progressing upwards until I hit my goals.

Taking an amazing Pistol Course last year is another.

Although the feeling of being a fish out of water or not knowing your ass from a hole in the ground or being shown just how much of a “white belt” you really are can be frustrating, to say the least, it is one that I enjoy in a twisted sort of way. There is always room to grow and become better.

Ego and Hubris (the way I view them), don’t get along.

Ego is a positive force in your life as it drives you to do better, to want to become more and strive to go to the next level. Hubris is the part that has to be checked.

Hubris will tell you, “You’re good enough, just the way you are.”

Ego says, “You can do better. You can improve.”

Hubris says, “Just practice on your own. You got this.”

Ego will reply, “You should practice on your own, but you also need to seek training. You need to get around people who are better than you so you can be challenged, stretched and step your game up.”

And I’ve had plenty of opportunities to either let my ego push me towards growth or let hubris pull me towards stagnation.

Humility is a necessity to furthering your training.

Like I mention in the above linked article about humility, I like to approach training with an “empty cup” mentality. It helps me to keep hubris in check, even in “familiar” territory, so I can learn and absorb as much as possible in order to grow and become better. It can be hard at times, but I’ve found that taking the empty cup approach usually yields the most return on investment for me.

So now I’m learning BJJ, starting from the bottom in so many ways. I’m still green. I’m in unfamiliar territory. Flopping around on the mat, trying to learn how to roll my body. I am dripping wet with sweat after each session. I’m learning that while what I’ve accomplished in the gym regarding strength and endurance is good, it’s not everything against a younger, lighter training partner who is even a month or two ahead of you in practice. There are different breeds and degrees of strength and endurance needed for this new chapter. To top it all off, I’m nursing a weakened/strained shoulder due to over-training at the gym.

There are ample servings of humble pie for me to digest during this new season of my life.

My cup is so damn empty.

And I’m fucking loving it!

Another day of training, another opportunity to improve.

Use your Ego for good. Check hubris at the door. Become better.

Pursue Mastery.

Eulogy

graves

There is a man in my community, I’ve never met him, he passed away about ten years ago. However, his impact was huge. There are still ripple effects happening because of the way he added value to people’s lives and made an impact. Think about that… ten years later, his name is still being spoken and he is still having an impact. No foundation in his name, no organization. Just a man who made a difference.

“He had a lot to say. He had a lot of nothing to say. We’ll miss him…”

~Eulogy, TOOL, Aenima

Take a moment to ponder your death. Think about the people that will attend your funeral. Think about the people that can’t or won’t attend. Enemies. Acquaintances. Friends. Family. Community. Tribe.

What are these people going to say about you when you are gone?

Will you be truly missed once you pass from this world or will there be a great sigh of relief?

Will your name be spoken of ten years after your death? Ten months? Ten weeks?

“Standing above the crowd, he had a voice that was strong and loud. We’ll miss him. Ranting and pointing his finger at everything but his heart. We’ll miss him.”  ~Eulogy

Don’t fool yourself. Are you adding value to those in your life, especially those that are closest to you? Or, are you sucking all the damn life out of every relationship and interaction you have? Are you truly engaging people to bring the best out of them and yourself (again, adding value) or are you just being an asshole who wants his opinion heard and submitted to?

How do you know?

I’m not saying to seek to be everyone’s best friend.But don’t be that miserable fuck that everyone sees coming and mutters a curse word or two under their breath, frantically looks for something else to do before putting on the facade and having to deal with your unbearable ass.

Check yourself. Build yourself up. Build others up. Reciprocate the value they bring and add value of your own.

Not everyone is going to like you. Don’t waste your time on trying to make people like you. Great people always have a metric shit-ton of haters. All the haters can do is talk shit while you build. That’s what the greats do. The haters try to heap on shit, the hated keep building and let their work speak for themselves.

“The world lost a great man when he died…” This could be said in one of two ways at your funeral. The first can be said in an emotional kind of lip service. They are saying what they feel at the time, but more than likely it is only based in emotion and how they wish things to be. The second option is that the world truly lost a great fucking man.

Which do you wish it to be?

You don’t need to make headlines to be a great man. Think of the gentleman I mentioned at the beginning of the article. There are countless “unsung heroes” like him out there. They are unsung, only because on a macro level, they weren’t well known by even the local media, much less nationwide. However, within their community, friends, family and tribe… that’s another story altogether. Their names will be sung for decades…

Pursue Mastery… even in this.

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”

~Marcus Aurelius

 

Gear Review: Tier 1 Concealed AGIS Holster

This review is a few months in the making, okay…truth be told, its more like four months in the making. Okay, maybe this should be considered more “informative” since I don’t go through holsters fairly quick and I’m not keen on wanting to review every holster under the sun. So, maybe a little back story?

I like making connections with and supporting local businesses. Granted this means my immediate city, county and surrounding areas, but I personally like to expand that boundary to a reasonable drive time, say within 6-7 hours. Tier 1 falls into the latter category from my location. In late June 2016, I took a road trip just south of Salt Lake City and I had the privilege of meeting Jared, the founder of Tier 1 Concealed, during the second day of Baret Fawbush’s Two Day CCW Fundamental Course. As luck would have it, I was able to be on the firing line with him and witness first hand the skill that he has developed through consistent hard work and discipline. Seriously, check out his Instagram account (@t1cs).

I made a small connection with him that day at the range and have been following him on IG ever since. Having made that small connection, I was definitely interested in purchasing his product and I planned on checking the product out once I returned home. We spoke a few times  through the Instagram DM system regarding his holsters and he is really good at responding, especially when you consider he has 38,000+ followers and must receive a deluge of DMs. Anyways, I have said all that to say this: I have not been compensated in any way for this review, nor has Jared asked me to do it.

In all honesty, his holsters speak for themselves and I could end this “informative” review with that and the statement that follows this colon: They are worth it.

I purchased my holster at full price and told Jared via our Instagram DMs that I would be writing a review after I worked with the holster for a while.

First Impressions

Up until the time I received the Custom Tier 1 Concealed AGIS, which was a few months after meeting Jared in Utah, I had been shooting the Springfield 😄 .45, 4″service model and using Alien Gear’s Tuck 3.0 IWB holster (a “local” Idaho company) for a few years. As a quick aside, Alien Gear’s “Free Shell Trades For Life” deal is the real thing. I sent my worn 2.0 back and requested a shell for the Glock 19, they delivered and actually upgraded my holster to the 3.0 at no cost. They keep their word and their service is on point. I’ve got to give them major props for that. Now, back to the AGIS.

About a month prior to ordering the AGIS I had traded in my Springfield for the Gen4 Glock19 in 9mm. I’d never had an appendix carry holster before and was excited to see how this holster would work and I didn’t want to order the AGIS until I traded in my pistol.

I ordered a custom AGIS instead of the Quick Ship model because, well, I wanted to choose my colors! Haha. I chose a “Spartan-esque” color scheme: blood-red and dark grey. As you can see below… the color scheme is legit. And if you don’t like it, choose your own, the custom choice has a TON of options!

 

I completely geeked out at this piece of hardware upon receiving it. Obviously I had to try it on and wear it for a bit. Wearing it in appendix carry was definitely different from what I was used to with the Alien Gear holster. So, after playing with the retention a bit (more on that below) my next step was to break it apart and play with the separate pieces!

 

I thought Jared’s idea was pretty awesome. A two-in-one holster, having break-away snaps to change the AGIS from an Appendix Carry holster to a “strong side” holster with a spare mag located elsewhere. The first couple times I drove around, this is exactly what I did with the holster. The snaps are secured fairly well but are easy enough to break apart to separate the two pieces.

After the first couple weeks of carrying the AGIS like I used to carry the Alien Gear, I went full Appendix and haven’t looked back. I’ve never had the snaps break-away while carrying Appendix. I still like the idea of switching to strong side with the AGIS, and after using it in both, I would purchase an extra clip to attach to the holster, for me one clip isn’t enough when the holster is broke apart and thankfully the AGIS is able to be modified like that. So, win-win!

Durability & Retention

After wearing it for a while that first day, I took it off and held it upside down over my bed with the Glock in the holster, fully loaded plus the spare mag and shook it hard. Relax, the chamber in the Glock was empty… It took some considerable effort before I was able to get the thing to release the Glock by shaking it! “Out of the box” retention: Damn!

Over the months of use, I’ve played with the retention to find just the right bit of give that I like. It’s slightly looser than how it came from Tier 1, but not by much. The retention is awesome, and with the custom molding specific to my Glock… I love it. Seriously.

I’ve tripped, tumbled and even wrestled with my young son on the lawn, all while carrying. This holster handles like a champ. Seriously, the thing that impressed me the most about it’s retention and even concealment was how it handled at a school function where I took a good tumble. Ok, gravity is one of my mortal enemies… been like that since I was a kid, but I think this small story is worth it.

It was the Fall Celebration at my children’s school, our youngest one was playing in one of those big bouncy houses and it was time to go. He’s four, so, four-year olds don’t want to go when its time. I had to go in and get him. Now, you think you know where this story is going, but nothing happened inside the bouncy house. When I finally got my son out, I got caught up on something, don’t know what or how, but long-story-short we both tumbled backwards and as I am holding him, we did a weird somersault. Firearm stayed perfectly secure the whole time. Nobody was the wiser of me carrying.

Concealment

For concealment, I think pictures are worth more here than what I could say. So, please take a look at the pics below. I will say this one thing: I work in a corporate finance environment where guns are a “no-no”; slacks, shirts, ties, suits, you get the idea. From professional attire to regular “street” wear, I can easily and confidently carry in any environment with this holster. Okay, maybe not the local swim park… my swim trunks don’t support a gun, holster and belt… but other than that, you get the picture.

 

Driving

I really like the accessibility that the AGIS provides for my Glock while driving, well, once I learned the “best” way to set things up. I learned this trick from Baret Fawbush’s IG account and having done it myself, it is an awesome way to set things up. See the pics below.

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If you look closely at the top image, the seat belt is secured behind the AGIS. This keeps my body secured properly in the vehicle, with the chest harness coming appropriately across my chest and over my shoulder, while allowing me easy access to my firearm.

The middle and last image gives you a look at how everything comes together with seatbelt on and my shirt concealing the firearm to the point of raising the shirt to access the gun. It is a much, much better way than what I was doing, which was just putting on my seatbelt across the front of the AGIS, which actually pushes it further into my belly making purchasing the firearm that much harder in the event of actually needing to get a hold of it in an emergency situation.

Jeans and T-Shirt

So, to be fair, the pics I’ve shown thus far were all taken over the late Fall and Winter. So I have on multiple layers, etc. What about just jeans and a t-shirt?

Look no further.

These pics were taken today, 02/18/17. The undershirt I am wearing is a black Hanes “a-frame”.

 

So, by now, almost 1500 words in, I’m sure you can tell that I really enjoy this holster from Tier 1 Concealed. If you look on the website, they have a KOPIS design which is a lower profile appendix carry holster without the break-away snaps. I plan on getting that one too but for now, I am highly satisfied with my AGIS and will be using it for a long time to come.

There are things you will have to figure out for yourself, like going to the bathroom at home or in public, but I assume that if you’ve made it this far down the page, you are a “big boy” or “big girl” and you’ll figure that out on your own.

Check out Tier 1 Concealed Holsters HERE

Tier 1 Concealed can be found on Instagram at @tier1concealed and you can check out Jared at @t1cs

Baret Fawbush can be found HERE as well as Instagram at @truexodus

Thanks for reading.

Pursue Mastery.

This isn’t LOST…

At almost 400 words above my self imposed limit of 500-ish words, it was interesting to watch how this piece ended up taking shape, I started in one direction and the final product took me by surprise.

This is the closest thing I believe I’ve  actually written to what I would call a “political post”in quite some time. Other, more well thought out articles I’m sure have been written that cover what I am about to cover. This is me chiming in. Fuck it. Overall, this is about you and how you approach your life, on the ground level.

Here’s the “Too Long Didn’t Read”:

TLDR: Don’t focus on and be limited by amalgamous memories of the “good ole days”. Focus on improving yourself and creating something better and let that create a ripple effect into your circles of influence.

 

And now…the post itself. Thanks for stopping by!

“In every age ‘the good old days’ were a myth. No one ever thought they were good at the time. For every age has consisted of crises that seemed intolerable to the people who lived through them.” ~Brooks Atkinson

Ah, the “good old days….”

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There is no going back. You should realize the futilitiy of this by now. We rehash movies, TV shows, activities, relationships, political movements, etc., etc., in order to try and “bring back” some nostalgic feeling of how things “used to be”… used to be. Success here is limited and usually short lived.

Trust me, you may not know it, but you don’t want to “go back”.

The memories you have of how things “were” are just an amalgam of memories, stories and things that happened, rolled into one thing called “the good old days”, whatever that is for you. Like the quote above, there have been times of trial and shittiness for every generation. Maybe some were simpler than others, maybe some more dire than others, but each generation faces their own crises.

If we think about this in terms of building upon our past, then each successing generation should be “better” in some way,shape or form than its predecessors. So why wish for things to regress? Let’s look at making things better than they were.

Read into this paragraph what you will but despite having a nice ring to it, the MAGA mantra just doesn’t do it for me. There has been plenty of great and terrible over the span of this wonderful country. I get it, for all intents and purposes, its a “meme”, it relates a specific idea very quickly.

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(joke, chill the fuck out)

Do I like how certain things have played out over the last sixteen years or so? Absolutely not, there was some good with the bad. Would I like to see a “return” to certain things from the past of this glorious country? I would actually like to see a product improvement. Give me version 2.0 or 3.0 instead of a return to the original, something that enhances the features that we loved of the original product.

For the record, I have an abundance/growth mindset. I see a metric shit-ton of potential. I see a whole lot of fucking good that I and you could make of our lives. This is still THE LAND of Opportunity.

I guess the overall point so far that I am trying to make here is nobody really wants to go back. What they want is to have all of the idealized good and none of the bad. Whether that is represented in things of the past, or ideas of a utopian future that disregards human nature. Regardless, moving for sweeping change from the top down will never fix things permanently. Doesn’t matter if you have a D or an R in The Office. It’ll band-aid some stuff, but then in four or eight years, the band-aid is ripped off and a different method is applied…all while the problem never gets fixed. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Absolutely not. We should do what we can to lay a good foundation and foster the resources and potential for the next generation to springboard into creating something better than we had.

Guys, good and bad are going to come with every age and generation. Gandalf and Frodo had the best conversation regarding this:

Frodo: “I wish none of this had happened.”

Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

So, how do we do that?

Start small. Start with yourself.

Too many people want to put shit out on blast and try to create “awareness” when they aren’t even fucking aware of their own weaknesses, failures and shortcomings. It just ends up being masturbatory virtue signaling and white noise.

Work on you.

Improve and add value to your life and then to the lives of others, your family, your job, your neighborhood, your community, your town, your county, your state, your region, your country.

I get it, we will always have a lot of top-down. Maybe if we focus on a bottom-up approach, also, we can get shit fixed on a level where we can meet in the middle with the top-down and actually see some lasting, positive change.

 

Do More.

One of the hardest things for people to get over when it comes to becoming a better version of yourself is the fact that there is always something more you could do. I know that I wrestled with this a bit myself. There is no such thing as the finish line. The only time you are “finished” is when your body ceases its life and your consciousness takes that step across the final barrier.

Let’s relate this to climbing a mountain, it certainly feels like it sometimes, doesn’t it?We, ourselves, feel like our own journey is constantly going up and down, trudging onward and upwards. We descend or we see people descend into different kinds of valleys and ravines. We also see people climb up to great heights and partake of breathtaking views. As long as you are alive, negotiating this terrain, it doesn’t have an end in sight. Rather, you should be encountering waypoints, markers indicating you are on the path to your particular peak or final destination.

There is always something more that we can do to improve ourselves and our situation. One more step, one more level, one more area. One more waypoint to reach on the journey.

Because, why the fuck not!

Now, to circle back real quick on the first few paragraphs of this post, you can have one of two mindsets when it comes to knowing that there is always something more that can be done, one more thing you can do….

  1. Have a fixed, limited mindset. This means that you see a long line of drudgery ahead of you. It’s useless. Why even try.
  2. Have a growth, abundance mindset. This means that you see nothing but opportunities ahead of you. If you go down into a ravine, you can find your way out. There is more than one way to climb the mountain.

The choice is yours, but given the amazing lottery called life on earth that you’ve won, I’d encourage you to choose growth and abundance for your mindset.

choose-wisely

If you want a good reason, go listen to how Gary Vaynerchuk explains that lottery you won. Basically, you are more likely to hit the lotto something like nine times in your lifetime than you are being born on this earth. The odds are 400,000,000,000,000:1.  Yeah, Four-Hundred-Fucking-Trillion-to-One. Live in America? Do you know how fucking good you have it, even if you are among the lowest earning income bracket compared to the rest of the world?

So, why aren’t you working on yourself?

If you always stay the same, you become stagnant. Like water, there is nothing good that comes from being stagnant. If you’ve fallen for the lie that “you are fine just the way you are, just be yourself…” I have news for you: you are being fucking lied to. You being you is great and all, but you being you and not adding value to yourself, your community, your tribe, your job, or whatever isn’t good.

Choose wisely.

Become more.

Poetry.

Coming out of a rather intense training session a couple weeks back, I had a few lines in my head.

Poetry?

Song?

Not sure.

So I played around with it, rewrote, rephrased, reworded. And I think its done. So, fuck it. Mastery is about exposing weaknesses and  can also be trying new things, or old things once more.

This would fit into the category of “all of the above”.

 

 

“Fire Resides Within”

A fire surrounded me and I was afraid.

I saw pain and destruction; hopeless, unavoidable.

I was tempted to run, escape, evade!

Futile thoughts, where could I go?

No way but through, they say.

Turning, I walked in, embrancing the fire.

Facing my fear, the fire raged around me.

I sought to work with it, channel it, turn it for good.

A deadly dance.

Immolated, like a living sacrifice.

Singed, scarred, burned.

Rejuvenated, like a ragged and worn Phoenix.

Rrenewed, reconstructed, repurposed.

Educated, like an eager student.

Learning, adapting, growing.

Raging, destroying, creating.

Everything I touch feels the flame.

The fire no longer surrounds me.

I am a host of the fire.

The fire resides within.

 

 

Do whatcha can with watcha got!

So, life decided to throw you another curve and your exercise program is out?

Great!

Let’s take a few moments to talk about that.

Currently, my area, like many across the nation, is getting hit hard with winter storms. Really bad road conditions, record snow days for schools around the area, etc. Which means it makes it hard for many people, myself included to get to the gym. So what do we do?

Success Starts (and ends) in the Kitchen

If you literally can’t do anything at all for your PT goals, whether it be from a crisis of life or from weather or whatever, being mindful of what you fuel your body with is crucial. It’s a hard mentality to break from, but, you don’t “earn” junk food. That’s like saying, “Hey, I’ve earned putting this poison into my body!” WTF?

Depending on your goals, 80-95% or more of your success is going to start and end in the kitchen. Again, that 15%+ differential is due to your specific goals: lose weight, build muscle, cutting fat, etc. The fuel you put into your body is just as important during rest days or down time, as it is on the days you are working out.

Good fuel in. Continuously.

Think of it this way. The meals you have today are resulting in how your body looks, feels and responds tomorrow and the day after, and the day after that. It is a cyclical process. If you want your body to perform good at the gym on Wednesday, then what you have put in your body Monday and Tuesday can and will effect your performance. Again, I’m no licensed dietician or personal trainer. But the information I am giving you is from the trenches. Actually doing it myself and speaking to others who are in the trenches themselves and getting after it.

Take it as you will.

Move, now!

You can do something. If you can’t get to the gym, you can adapt, improvise and overcome. For those getting hit with severe winter weather, we are getting plenty of opportunities to shovel our walkways and driveways. Put the kids in the sled and pull them around the neighborhood. Go for a walk in six inches or more of snow. Do bodyweight squats and lunges inside. Do push-ups.

The point is there is always something you can do!

For example, I wasn’t able to get to the gym this morning for my upper body routine, so, do you know what I am doing?

Pushups. All day long.

Seriously.

Final Thoughts

So, no excuses. I know it is tempting to want to hibernate. It is tempting to start eating all the warm comfort food in sight. Move against that urge.

Find a way to move, every single day.

Be mindful of the fuel you put into your body.

The kind of ROI you get later will be up to your actions today.

Pursue Mastery.

 

Making something out of a “Shit Sandwich”

Or: “Using anger, depression, rage and other shit in a positive way.”

So, life has hit you pretty hard, huh? Looks like you have a few cuts, a bloody lip and a couple of bruises from life’s little beat down… yeah, that does suck. I feel for you. So, let me be the first to extend my hand to you and pull you up with a hearty, “Welcome to the human experience!”

Now, I don’t mean to be glib about whatever has happened to you or whatever you are going through. Maybe you lost a job, or a friend/loved one, maybe your spouse decided that they were no longer in love with you and wanted out. It all sucks. I’ve been there.

Now, I’m not a doctor or other sort of licensed professional, however, let me share a few things that I have found to be helpful. One word before moving on, don’t take these things as listed in order of importance. Granted, you might have to take one on or two of these things before the others, but I like to view them in a holistic manner, much like in a circle. Each of these things can, should and do weave in and out of the other, complimenting and working with the other areas. Got it? Good. Let’s go.

Positive Ownership

No, ownership isn’t about “everything” being your fault. However, I have found that taking ownership of the things I can control and/or change help me avoid falling into a victim or “why me?!” negative thought process and mentality.

Let’s take the disintegration of a relationship for example. Say your spouse is leaving you. I know that you didn’t force your spouse into this situation, but what role did you play in the disintegration of that relationship and bringing your spouse to that point?

Own that shit and move forward.

Yeah, owning your faults and mistakes is hard. But it is really hard, if not impossible to move forward, if you can’t acknowledge it. What good does denial do you? When all you are doing is ignoring or denying any part you may have played in the situation, history will repeat itself. Why? Because you have refused to acknowledge it; to work on you so the situation doesn’t repeat itself.

Now, there is a lot in this world that we cannot control. But we take ownership of what we can, and the rest is up to the battle in your mind.

Mindfulness & Mindset

Are you of the mindset that you can grow, or are you fixed? One leads to adaptability, change and survival, the other leads to stagnation and death. You choose.

I have found that on top of ownership, taking on certain mindsets will help you continue to move forward. Having a growth mindset, for example. You are going to learn, improve and grow out of this, no matter what. Adopting the mindset of an indomitable spirit, you will not let whatever is coming at you win. Meaning, if you can’t overcome and move past this, then that thing, whatever it is, wins. You will win, you will overcome, move past, learn, improve and grow.

Embracing a Stoic approach regarding the situation can be helpful as well. It is what it is. The only thing to do is move forward. The situation might improve, it might not, but it will not hinder you.

Now, move.

Physical Challenge

Actual, physical movement is crucial. I have found that getting up off of my recently knocked down ass and hitting the gym is one of the best things that anyone can do to improve their overall well-being during a time in your life when you are going through a shit-storm.

I’ve already mentioned some of the by-products of PT in earlier posts. However, the release of chemicals that your body goes through during an intense PT sessions has to be one of the best natural highs known to man. I’d say its up there with really good sex. And yes, I am doing it right. I’d go so far as to say, I’ve had something akin to a spiritual worship experience many times when I am training hard. As I’ve visualized funneling all the shit I was going through into the weight bar, or training apparatus I was using and began to push myself to my limits, I’ve come to a place where it felt as though all my mental, emotional and physical energies, synapses or whatever you want to call it, were firing all at once and all at “11”. It is an un-fucking-believeable feeling.

Sure, the burden of whatever you are going through is there. But, it is lighter. And when you compare it to the PT “torture” you just put yourself through in spite of your situation… it feels lighter, more manageable, and you know you’ll make it through another day, another week, another month.

Continued Growth

You are taking ownership, challenging yourself physically and keeping a proper mindset. Good. Don’t overlook the power of adding value to your life by way of learning. There are excellent resources out there for little to no cost, from Amazon to Libraries to iTunes.

Make strong the mind as well as the body.

I read a ton of books last year, and I am looking forward to everything I will be learning and exposing myself to this year. I want to improve my mindset, improve my thought processes, understand more, learn more. I do this because I want to add value to my life and in turn, add value to the lives of my family and those who are in or will come into my Tribe.

Sometimes, the bst way to take ownership, to improve your mindset or to know what to do in order to challenge your body is to R E A D. Don’t underestimate the power of self development and improvement in the realm of your mind.

Blood Brother

Have the balls, be vulernable and reach out to someone you know.

Not everyone can understand your situation. Not everyone is strong enough to weather the storm with you and give you the space to breathe, mourn, rage and improve. Not everyone will stick with you. Not everyone has gone through what you have.

But there is at least someone who will understand, stay the course and has been where you have been. Find them.

Check in with them and spend time with them. Share what you have learned, ask questions, give them the opportunity of being a sounding board for you. That person or group of people can even recommend books, podcasts, or other resources that either they have used or think might help you.

Doing all the other stuff is great and you can go far, but nobody is an island. We are genetically wired for human interaction and companionship.

Final Thought

Like in The Matrix, you can either take the red pill or the blue pill. If you take the blue pill, you can believe whatever you want to believe and go about your business, stumbling and repeating mistakes, stagnating and regressing. Or you can take the red pill. Change, adapt, learn, improve, grow, move forward and overcome.

The choice is yours. It always has been.

Has this helped you? Let me know in the comments!

Do you think this could help someone you know? Share it!

Pursue Mastery.

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Goals: Make ’em, Dominate ’em.

I am breaking my self-imposed 500 word limit for this post. Here is your “TLDR” (too long didn’t read):

Make goals, write them down, review them often. Do the work. You will surprise yourself.

And now, the post…

During the last week of 2015 and into the first days of the new year, I sat down, reflected on everything that had come my way that year and wrote out my goals for 2016.

What did I want to accomplish in the realm of PT?

What books did I want to read?

What goals did I want to achieve for my family?

What tasks did I want to tackle around the house?

What did I want my body to look like?

What did I want my thought life to look like?

Why did I want to improve?

I wrote down affirmations and mindsets that I wanted to maintain through the year, things that would help remind me why I am doing what I am doing. It wasn’t a “New Year, New Me!” New Years Resolution thing. It was deliberate, detailed, and direct. All in all, I had about six pages written out. I reviewed it daily, going over the affirmations and mindsets as well as the goals. Many times, I would say them out loud.

Halfway through the year, I modified the affirmations and mindsets to better reflect the things I had learned, as well as buttressing the goals I had already made. Did I hit all the goals? No. But I did make quite an impact to my list and I learned a lot along the way.

Out of the nine specific performance goals I had in the realm of physical fitness, I fulfilled two. In November, I was able to Squat and Dead-lift five sets of five reps/set at 225lbs. Among the others were goals regarding running, hitting a specific amount of pull ups, Bench Pressing and Overhead Pressing a specific amount of weight in the 5×5 model, as well as having a “defined six-pack abs”.

I set out with seven supporting goals for PT, things like “working out every day with intentionality and purpose”, getting proper rest, taking “no more than two consecutive rest days in a row”, limiting alcoholic drinks to “two per month”. And I noticed that the more specific my goal was, the more apt I was to hit it. The more vague it was, the least likely it was that I would hit it. I solidly fulfilled four of the seven.

Now, I don’t view the other goals that I didn’t hit as complete failures. By and large they weren’t. I made progress in all of them and I learned by the end of the year that some of the goals were a bit too high and would take more calculated steps to eventually achieve. The Bench Press, for example, I wanted to do the same work as the Deadlift and Squat. I’m not wired for those kinds of rapid gains, so, for the Bench, I need to take a slower and more methodical approach. Having six-pack abs was also unrealistic in that I focused solely on strength gains and didn’t do any sort of “cutting”. Did I build my core? Absolutely! You can make out a slight “design” of abs, but I still have a layer of fat to take care of. Of this, I am not ashamed.

Moving on to other goals.

I made nine miscellaneous goals, ranging from taking my family on an out-of-town Christmas vacation, to cleaning up the garage, to getting back into writing on my blog. I was able to accomplish six of these, including the Christmas vacation.

Regarding expanding my mind and learning, I set out with a list of thirteen books that I wanted to read. They ranged in topics from Leadership to Influence to Relationships to Finance. I read a total of twenty-two books, plus one carried over from December 2015 and as of the end of December 2016, I was juggling three others. As I learned and read, the reading list began to evolve. I began listening to podcasts as well. I can say with confidence that I have been exposed to some great thinking, interesting ideas and challenging reads. I haven’t regretted a single book. It was because of everything that I have read that I changed the name of the blog from “Strong 4 Family” to “In Pursuit of Mastery”. Maybe I’ll create a recommended reading list sometime.

The point of everything I have written above isn’t to brag. Just go back up to the TLDR disclosure:

Make goals, write them down, review them often. Do the work. You will surprise yourself.

 

 

I learned that, even though doing what I did yielded some good fruit, I can do more and I plan on trying a different approach this year to see what I can accomplish.

For example, in the realm of PT, instead of writing out goals with a year-end time stamp like I did in 2016. And yes, I do have a reading list for this year. It is starting much bigger than last year, with twenty-four books so far. I’ve left some blank spaces so I can write in further works. I’m looking forward to seeing how much I read by the end of the year. I am making all of my goals revolve around each quarter of the year, areas such as blogging, to-do projects for the house, things to do with my family, etc. I want to see how effective I can be by focusing on the quarter in front of me, while being mindful of the rest of the year because the goals ultimately contribute to the year-end goals

Yes, I have revised or added new and different mindset focuses and affirmations. I’ve also included a section for mindfulness, which is new for me, so I can review and reflect on each day and week’s progress. I also learned that five, six or seven pages to review daily can really add up in time spent being more effective in another area. Since I do not want to abandon the practice altogether, I have broken up the pages to review specific sections once a day. My hope is that I will not fall off the review wagon late into the year, as I did in 2016.

All in all, I have nine pages written out this year. And just like last year, I will carry these pages in a three-ring binder. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes…

Hopefully you have gleaned something from this. Want to change? Like really change? Then don’t fall for the New Year Resolution bullshit!

The process really isn’t anything new or groundbreaking.

Make goals – Make them matter to you, they need some umph and purpose behind them!

Write them down – Be as specific as possible, include deadlines.

Review them often – Keep them fresh in your mind.

Do the work – Nobody will do it for you, cupcake! Get to work!

You will surprise yourself – Seriously, you will be pleasantly surprised at what you accomplish.

As in all things, the picture below goes far beyond PT…

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Pursue Mastery.

GET. OFF. YOUR. APP.

If you were look at how people were able to access information, contact others across the globe, be entertained, track data, etc. in 1916, 1816, 1716 and 1616 and then compare it to what we have now at our literal fingertips, I assume the responses from people of those times would go something like this.*

Marvelous! 1916

Wondrous! 1816

Unfathomable! (Potentially Blasphemy!)1716

Blasphemy! Witchcraft! Burn the Witch! 1616

*These might not be 100% accurate as I do not hold a degree in History, nor did I live during these times. Hopefully, you get the point and humor of what I’m trying to say there. If not, I probably can’t help you.

For all intents and purposes, we possess a mere God-like ability to do what scholars, learned men and commoners from the ages only wished they could do. Myself included, we use it primarily for social media when we could be using it primarily to help us advance, improve, learn and get better. This isn’t an original thought, by any means. But it is a thought we should return to again and again. Like a sign post, helping us stay on course. Relax, I’m not here to rant about social media.

This year is coming to a close…rapidly. Did you create a list of goals this year? How are you doing with those? Are you assessing your progress and using that information to plan the coming year’s goals for a more effective campaign?

There are distractions on so many levels. It is time to cut them loose. It is time to make a change.

Where to start?

GET. OFF. YOUR. APP.

Are you building a business? Trying to create an extra stream of income? Trying to achieve a goal you have set for yourself? Looking to improve your life and better yourself? Use the apps that are necessary for that and eliminate or put strict time limits on the rest.

Train. Build. Add Value. Improve. Learn. Create. Grow. Become.

There is nothing inheritly wrong with entertainment. How much could you accomplish if you cut that four or five hours a night down to one? What would you do with that extra three or four hours if you dedicated them to self improvement and bettering your life?

Don’t wait for New Years Resolutions. Fuck that shit.

Get moving, now.

Don’t try and take on more than you can chew, and sabotage your efforts. Take small steps. Cut thirty minutes off your distractions today and put it towards PT, reading, setting goals for next year, learning, cleaning your house, budgeting, pursuing mastery in your life! Next week, cut another thirty minutes off and by the end of the month you will have converted two hours of wasted time into two hours of productivity. Per day.

That’s fourteen fucking hours of extra productivity a week!

Use the momentum you build in this month to propel you into the new year with a clearer vision and some action behind your words.

Eliminate distractions.

Become Productive.

Pursue Mastery.

 

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In conjunction with this short, motivational post, I am excited to announce the launch of a new shirt with two different font designs to choose from. Both are available in Ladies and Men’s Tees as well as a Hoodie. I am a fan of the Instagram, so I figured it would be clever to use an Instagram-esque font for the first design, given the overall theme of the essay. I really liked the font of the previous shirt, it’s bold and clean, so I’m using it again for the second version of the shirt. Get yours now and get moving on your goals!

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Get the above design here.  

 

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 Get the second design here.