“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.
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.
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 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.
“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.
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.
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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.
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.
Keeping in line with pursuing my goals for 2017, I recently opened a new chapter in my life and began learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
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.
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.
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.
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….
- Have a fixed, limited mindset. This means that you see a long line of drudgery ahead of you. It’s useless. Why even try.
- 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.
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.
So, life decided to throw you another curve and your exercise program is out?
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.
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.
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.
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.*
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.
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!
Many people seem confident but they are posing, faking it until they (hopefully) make it. I know, I’ve clocked in many years of posing, but I am here to tell you: that faking it is not enough.
You will never make it like you want to make it by faking it… if you even make it at all. Faking it only keeps you in doubt and disbelief; you are constantly dodging or ignoring the nagging fear of being found out as a fake.
Like Neo, you must “begin to believe” and fight the Agents who tell you that you are just “Mr. Anderson”.
You must believe in yourself.
You must have confidence.
It doesn’t happen overnight. Confidence in yourself and in your abilities is cultivated and grown over time through the process of learning, attempting, failing, getting back up, and becoming competent. It is also grown through the natural teachers of life that come to you. When these teachers appear, embrace the training and opportunities that they bring to you in their season, their names are: Hardship, Challenge, Obstacle, Struggle.
Yes, these teachers can and do have the ability to slam you into the ground and keep you on your knees, if you let them. But, they are not there to destroy you, rather they are present to help move you forward and to help you grow.
Embrace the teachers, be thankful for what they can teach you. Let them show you what they have to offer, both the good and the bad. They will show you what you are made of, the strength you posses, the cracks in your foundation, the chinks in your armor. They will also show you the opportunities for growth; to do better and become more.
Embrace the lessons and build yourself up.
Learn from the mistakes.
Take stock and measure the lessons, see what you have come through and overcome… and believe in yourself.
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This does not mean being in attendance somewhere; being in a particular spot while you occupy a space.
It means being present; mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well as physically; to fully engage in what you are doing. Showing up means not just going through the motions. Too many of us go through life on auto-pilot. Not fully committing, wanting to keep one foot in and one foot out…just in case.
In case what?
Life is full of risk. Deal with it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the saying goes. Focus and commit!
This does not mean simply drawing your weapon of choice and being violent.
Violence of action is needed, to be unrelenting in your pursuit, but in this context it also means putting in the work. Putting in the blood, sweat, tears and time; the discipline required to giving it every damn thing you have, and then some. It means not quitting. Having the strength, will, and indomitable spirit to keep going. It means not turning back because there was a setback, or challenge, or it got hard.
Life IS hard.
Life will hit you and hit you and hit you, whether you want it to or not. And life hits hard, it pulls no punches. Many times in life, most times, you have to hit back. Hit back with the strength and fury that is within your heart. And never, ever quit.