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.

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

 

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.

 

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.