BJJ White Belt: First Stripe

It’s been about two months since I started the path of learning Brazilian Jiu-JitsuGoing forward, I’ll be writing a series of “BJJ White Belt” posts mixed in with what I write here at In Pursuit of Mastery. I figure it would be cool to document the journey from a white belt perspective.

For those farther along the path it might help remind them of the “good ole days” of being a white belt or maybe even rekindle the fire if things have gotten “blah” in their training. For me, I know that I’ll be able to look back on these posts and see where I’ve come from.

 

So yeah, the title of the post? That happened last Monday, 05/08/2017.

For those who don’t have any martial arts background, stripes on a belt basically indicate progression along the way to the next rank or belt. Depending on the system a stripe can mean anything from a quarter, a third or even halfway to the next level. For example, in another life I studied Tae Kwon Do (ITF) for about eleven years. In that system, a stripe was the halfway mark to the next belt. From what I understand in BJJ, a white belt earns four stripes before being close to eligibility for testing the next belt.

Monday night was a great session, ending like we do most nights with some rolling. I was dripping sweat and lining up with my fellow students for dismissal. I noticed our Coach, Shane, had grabbed the tape he uses for stripes on belts. Like most systems I’ve encountered, the white stripes are usually medical tape (some use electrical tape as they come in various colors). I’m thinking to myself, “Cool, somebody might be getting a stripe tonight, wonder who it is?” And then he walks up to me!

It was an awesome feeling: surprise, acknowledgement, accomplishment and a little sprinkling of pride (the good kind) all rolled into one.

From talking with him after it all went down, our Coach looks for certain indicators in our progression before giving that first stripe out. For the sake of intellectual honesty, the thought had crossed my mind within the past week about “when” I’d get that first stripe but, I also figured that I was at least another month from getting there.

So, it definitely came earlier than expected and I am grateful to have earned it. Like my Coach has said, it is really about your own journey in this art. You can look to others as markers and examples, but you can’t necessarily compare yourself to them. In many ways, it is you vs you. Improving daily, weekly, monthly. One step at a time. Am I better than I was yesterday? Last week? Last month?

Me VS ME: that is definitely something I can relate to.

As far as BJJ is concerned. There is improvement, a little bit at a time. Things are beginning to click, a little bit at a time. My defense is getting a little bit better. I’m a little bit more aware of what’s going on around me, even if it is a case of, “Now what the fuck do I do?!?”. I’ve been able to successfully execute a move or two that we’ve practiced earlier in class before getting into some live rolling. For me, the exciting part of that was actually finding the opening, “Ah, there it is!” and getting it done.

I still feel like a fish out of water most times, but I feel like I’m flopping closer to the water than I was before.

I’m still loving it.

I enjoy the balance that our Coach places between getting many reps in on a move we’ll work that night and on stress testing it with live rolling. This helps me see how important it is to find the harmony between the two so I get the mechanics of the move down and also understand how it can or can’t work in a roll, especially when your partner knows what you are trying to do.

I’m enjoying through both personal experience and witnessing in real time, how there is a place for strength, but also a place for technique. I can see now from just a little “inside view” why BJJ blew up the UFC and changed the game completely. So much goes into this, body mechanics, positioning, leverage, etc.

I’ve noticed how strategy can and is a big factor. Many…many times I’ve been sidetracked by my coaches or a senior student with what I thought was the “attack” only to be baited or flanked into the real trap. Humbling, eye-opening and fucking brilliant. Again, keep in mind, this is just a new white belt speaking. I know I’ve got a way to go.

Going forward, I’m currently rethinking/retooling my weight training and conditioning programs. I think I am on the right track but I still feel something is missing so I’ll have to play with it a bit and do some fine tuning. I also either need to find a way to put a hard drive in my brain to playback what I’ve learned, or start taking notes. I think the notebook would be easiest…

I’ll get there.

Pursue Mastery. One step at a time.

Train, train more. Train harder.

Inspired by this post over at SHTFPLAN.

Antifa (link for humor, but truth is oft found in humor) and their ilk are speaking more and more about training, organizing, and learning how to be proficient in hand to hand combat as well as weapons. These are people who are willing to make IEDs out of glass bottles and M-80s and throw them into a crowd, as well as deliver bricks to the face of someone opposing them.

They are willing to be violent, very willing. Just disagreeing with them is enough of a reason for them to become violent. Now granted, I’m not looking to go to events in places that mobs like this congregate, but that’s not the point. I could be caught unaware and be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Shit happens. The point that I want to focus on here is training. How well are you going to fare against them when they up the ante on their training and you are at the wrong place at the wrong time and you just happen to look like someone they hate and do not tolerate?

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Train, train more.

Train harder.

Like I was explaining to a friend a few weeks back. I’m not training to defend myself against a coward who will tuck tail and run as soon as my right cross connects with his chin. No. I’m training for the 350lb gorilla looking motherfucker with his five friends ambushing me, hell-bent on destroying me and doing unspeakable evil to my loved ones. My mindset is this: I am the only one that stands in the way.

Appropriately enough, Tim Kennedy shared a similar sentiment this morning. Emphasis in bold is mine.

If you keep knocking on the devil’s door, at some point he is going to answer it. In that single moment, when you’re going to have to fight for your life, what you do then and there truly won’t matter. There will have been thousands of decisions up to that point that will dictate the outcome. Every one of those decisions contributes to your survival or failure and potential death. Your life may not matter, but those behind you that you are there to protect will face the horrors of evil without you standing in the way. Have you trained? Have you put the blood, sweat, and tears into preparing for this chance to be the defender we need? Your spouse, children, and potentially hundreds of innocent and vulnerable lives, with nothing to stop the violence headed their way but you… what have you done to prepare you for that fight?

I’ll look this devil trying to dish out death straight in the eye and tell him to pick his poison. Either way, he’s going to die.  ~Tim Kennedy

Now, if recently re-enlisted Special Forces/retired UFC MMA fighter Tim Kennedy believes there is no such thing as enough training, and if others like him down the line believe the same, and guys like me who are so low on the totem pole that we’re not even on the radar believe there is no such thing as “enough”… What makes you believe your training is enough?

Train, train more.

Train harder.

There is no such thing as “good enough”. Do not believe for one second that you can “just go to guns” or draw a knife and be guaranteed victory. No, train with the understanding and mindset that there are people out there that can easily take that gun from you and whip you to death with it, or take that knife from you and ventilate your chest cavity with impunity.

Let that sink in.

I am not the baddest, meanest, most lethal motherfucker out there, I am well aware of my shortcomings as well as my proficiency. That being said, every day I am trying to get the edge of my “knife” sharper. To be more resilient, stronger, faster, to endure more and be harder to kill than I was yesterday. This is why I enjoy training with and around guys who are better than me. This is why I seek out training from highly proficient people whenever I can: the range, the gym, the mat. I keep hubris in check and embrace the humility of knowing there are always bigger, stronger, faster, more proficient people out there.

Train, then train more.

Train harder.

Pursue Mastery.

Acta Non Verba

“A good man doesn’t go around begging people to believe in his goodness. His actions and behavior speak for him.” ~C.H.

As the Scripture goes, “by their fruit you shall know them”. Actions and behavior, these things prove what you are about; these are the fruits of what you really believe or value. You can emote, prattle on and make convincing cases about all the things you believe or support and the positions you take. But without corresponding action, it doesn’t really matter.

Men. Fucking. Do.

Acta Non Verba. Actions not words. Like it or not, this is the plumb-line. You’ve heard it a million different ways: Talk is Cheap. Put up or Shut up. Put your money where your mouth is. Walk the walk. Prove it.

If you pause and listen to all the talk around you from your friends, your family, your coworkers, etc., and compare what they say versus what they do, you can very quickly make assessments as to who is full of shit. Their behaviors and actions prove what they are really about. This is very disruptive, I know, because talk is always the easier and more comfortable path. It’s disruptive because it is the wind that will cause our house of cards to tumble and be scattered. Politics, Religion, Work, Relationships, Passions, Hobbies, Businesses, etc… all of these and more are weighed by what you do over what you say. Well, except maybe politics and religion, people seem to eat up massive amounts of bullshit in this area before calling leaders out on what they actually do… but I digress.

Acta Non Verba not only sifts the wheat from the chaff, but it can actually help us find the harmony in our own beliefs as well. Notice, I said harmony and not balance. Balance is like a see-saw with no motion. Harmony is more like two people working in cooperation with each other on that see-saw. The tides ebb and flow, bands and orchestras work together, peoples and tribes find a way to create civilization. It is all more harmony than balance. Applying Acta Non Verba helps find the harmony by prioritizing and executing; sifting through and finding the most important things and then acting on them first.

I’ve been putting Acta Non Verba into action in my own life over the last few years; taking inventory of what I do versus say and focusing on the doing more than saying. And if I don’t do then I shut the fuck up. It is a great reminder to continually strive to become a better man. To show, through my consistent actions and behaviors, the kind of man I am and am becoming. Talk is cheap. Actions have value.

No more, “I’m gonna do…”. No more, “I’m planning on doing…”. No more, “I should do…”

No more. NO MORE.

“Talk – Action = ZERO”

There is much more that could be unpacked here, but I am trying to keep my posts shorter and to the point.

ACTA. NON. VERBA.

Pursue Mastery.

 

Ingredients of Transformation

Some of this may seem obvious. Hell, all of it might. However, this is part of pursuing mastery. Mastery isn’t just about learning more and more things and having a shitty understanding or ability to execute on them just because you have reached a certain level. No, Mastery is about refining. Perfecting the understanding, the execution of the basics and applying that level of mastery to each area.

There are three key ingredients in order for transformation to take place: time, struggle and change. Unlike a progression of steps, these things work in harmony with each other. It might seem obvious, but if time is cut short, the transformation isn’t what it should be. If there is no struggle, the transformation will not keep. If there is no change, the transformation did not happen. For lack of a better word, there is work involved in the transformation and if these three elements of work are not present, the transformation is stunted at best and completely non-existant at worst.

Let’s take a brief look at each of these ingredients.

Time 

Time is our most precious commodity.

I’ve said it many, many times in one form or another: our shared destination is six feet underground – or a pile of ash, the choice is yours, possibly. Regardless of the final destination of our bodies, we are going to die. Full stop.

Time is precious. Memento Mori. Some of us realize the value of this early on, some only realize it when it is close to expiring. We want our lives to be better, our families whole, our bodies to look good, our marriages repaired. The flaw we usually share is that we want the results RIGHT-THE-FUCK-NOW!! We don’t want to be inconvenienced with a time factor holding us back from what we want.

But it doesn’t work that way. (reread this as many times as you need to)

Time is crucial to the process of transformation, it is a requirement that must be met. There is a price to be paid. The “cost” depends on the kind of transformation taking place. In transforming a business, a relationship, in recreating a brand, none of it happens overnight. We don’t have the same rules as fairy tales. I cannot waive a magic wand or say some incantation and have what I desire.

Like it or not, time is the price. But this payment is an investment, not a squandering of resources.

You might as well embrace this truth.

Time is part of the struggle.

Struggle

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” ~Frederick Douglass

Take a look at the examples of transformation in the natural world: plant, animal, mineral or human. There is the factor of time, time overlaps the entire process, and there is a struggle.

Struggle is 100% necessary to the process.

Prices must be paid. Those things that come to us easily with little to no price to pay usually aren’t as highly valued as something you have poored blood, sweat, tears and time into. You can deny it all you want, but it doesn’t change this universal rule that if it hasn’t been worked for, fought for, bled for… their is little value.

Further, the struggle must be complete. It cannot be stopped prematurely or aided where struggle is no longer a factor. Like a bird breaking out of it’s shell or a baby giraffe learning to walk, that struggle is helping forge the survival instinct. If that animal is assisted, that instinct is stunted; not fully developed.

Go to Instagram and type in the hashtag #transformation, pay special attention to the pictures that show progressions over time. I’m talking about the pictures that document one, two, or five years of progress. They have fought, they have struggled, they have paid the price over time. “Sticking with it” is part of that struggle. This is where time can take its toll. Persistance can and will beat resistance. Whether it is in relationships, business, physical fitness, you name it. Continually striving to improve, push forward and staying with it, even when you are hitting the plateaus where nothing seems to work. That is part of the struggle.

Change

You are human, you are not an immovable statue of granite. For better or worse, both time and struggle will change you. The kind of change and transformation that takes place is entirely up to you.

In the context of what I’ve been writing, we are speaking of intentional transformation. As you intentionally put in the time, the effort, the struggle, the transformation will begin to take hold. Maybe you are trying to change certain mindsets you have, maybe you are trying to improve your health, or change the branding of your business. All of these things take time and effort.

If the transformation isn’t happening, check the factors of time and struggle. Has enough time passed? Are you doing the work? Is it the right kind of work for the transformation you seek?

Apply patience for the time that is needed and endurance for the work and struggle.

Pursue Mastery.

 

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Promethean Fire

I get asked, “Tom, how do you stay motivated?” at least once a month. Somehow, I give the impression that I am a nuclear reactor of full of motivation, sunshine and unicorns. I give the impression that it is easy.

It’s not, really.

So, how do I stay motivated? In a word: Darkness.

Like Bruce Banner says in the first Avengers movie about becoming The Hulk, “That’s my secret, I’m always angry.” Despite my positive outlook (or stubbornness to eschew being pessimistic or negative) and despite my trying to find out what I can do versus what I can’t do, I’m “always” in Darkness.

Let me make an attempt to “wax poetically” for you, maybe it’ll make better sense that way.

Over the years, I’ve heard this little voice from the darkness say, “Give up.” It happens at least weekly, sometimes daily. Give up on the vision I am creating, give up on everything I am working for, stop believing, stop struggling, stop fighting, stop dreaming, just give up on your hopes and dreams.

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In Greek mythology we are told the tale of Zeus snuffing out all the fires in the world, and Prometheus bringing it back (yes it’s a gross oversimplification of the myth, get over it). I have recognized that through the years there has also been this light, a Promethean-like fire, within me. Defiant of the assault that is hell-bent to snuff out the light of my world. By its presence alone, the fire says, “keep going. Keep moving forward.” The quest to snuff out this light has been a harrowing trial over the last little bit, for sure. All I know is, if this fire goes out, then my world will grow cold and a plague of death will spread throughout it.

So, guarding and clinging to this light, I don’t turn to run away from the darkness, despite everything in me screaming to run away. No, I run towards it. I might be fearful and the darkness is certainly the holder of things unknown, but I move towards it.

I do the only thing I know how to do right now.

I struggle and fight. Like the fire, I burn and I defy.

I get to the gym, I train, I challenge myself. Hitting the gym, lifting weights, doing my boxing/conditioning, and now training BJJ helps me put the darkness in perspective. It has helped keep the light going. The training is used as a transcendent tool. Yes, my body gets stronger, but my mind, my will, my spirit are strengthened even more. I read, challenging myself on a different mental level than how my mind is challenged on the physical level. I read, I learn, I reflect, I plan and execute.

From this place of self-inflicted hardship, discipline, sweat and toil, and learning, the light brightens and things don’t seem as bad, they feel more manageable.

To me, it is of the utmost importance to protect this “light”. It is mission critical.

Mission Critical. I can not fail. I must not. That is how I stay motivated. Guard your light. Stay vigilant. Make it mission critical.

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

 

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.

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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