Remember that you are but a man…

“Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four of five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

~Brandon Lee, 1965-1993

Mastery over self includes the wading into the depths of the existential, the mysterious, the spiritual. It also includes coming to grips with things that are inevitable and beyond your control. And sometimes, like contemplating the subject of your death, they cover all of the aforementioned depths at once.

Death is certain; inevitable for every living thing on this planet. It is by and large out of our control. It is mysterious, spiritual and by it’s very nature existential. We all must face the understanding of our own inescapable passing, or avoid it and try to put it out of our minds until the very end.

Self Mastery dictates we face it, and face it long before it happens.

I’m obviously not the first person in the long line of humanity to have these thoughts. So, while these might be my thoughts, I understand that the majority of them are not “original” by any stretch of the imagination.

 

I planted some seeds for this post on mortality in “Eulogy” and in my more recent post regarding transformation.

So, let’s begin.

Memento Mori

 


First, Memento Mori has gained a lot of traction over the last few years. It is being brought back into the consciousness of the culture and I think that is a good thing. The saying might be new to you, but I’ve seen it popping up in so many places.

My first introduction to the phrase itself was from an article over at The Art of Manliness back in 2012. Here is a small excerpt from that article, giving the brief background of the phrase itself:

Memento mori is Latin for “Remember death.” The phrase is believed to originate from an ancient Roman tradition in which a servant would be tasked with standing behind a victorious general as he paraded though town. As the general basked in the glory of the cheering crowds, the servant would whisper in the general’s ear: “Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!” = “Look behind you! Remember that you are but a man! Remember that you will die!”

Memento mori. Remember that you will die.

Memento Mori, Remember that you will die.

Indeed. It is in the remembering that I think the challenge lies. Which is why we need reminders. The very reason I got that tattoo pictured above was to have a constant reminder that I am choosing to understand, contemplate and face my inevitable death now instead of coming to terms with it later in life. As we understand something, that understanding changes, develops and hopefully ripens and gets better with age. This is my goal, my aim with death. That by the time it comes, my understanding has gotten better with the days, years and decades that will hopefully pass before I die.

If you think about it, your life is like a movie. What I mean by that is you only see it from your lense, your particular camera angle. No matter how emphathetic you believe you are. You literally cannot see the scenes in your life play out through someone else’s eyes. You can only witness everything that happens from your seat in the theater, like a fully interactive movie experience built for one.

I am fully aware and recognize that I will die one day; my movie will end. It is the way of this world and I accept that. At the same time, I find myself still having those, “Oh shit! I’m going to fucking die!” moments.

Some questions come to mind when I think of the possible endings of my movie.

  • What will I see when death comes?
  • Will I be able to grasp/comprehend that I am dead?
  • What happens to my consciousness?
  • Will “I” live on?
  • Will my consciousness live on for a few moments after death and then fade?
  • Will “I” just cease to be completely?
  • What if this life is all there is, and then nothing?
  • What if there’s more to come? What will I see on the other side?
  • Why do we not have 100% proof either way?

I’ve played a mental exercise regarding my death multiple times. The scene is usually me on my death bed, breathing my last. In my mind I am trying to picture what happens next, but I’m only left with a black curtain. As I am mortal, I haven’t the luxury of peering through the Void.

My consciousness fades to black.

My physical body is now as inanimate and non-sentient as a coffin nail.

There is no “me” anymore. I do not and cannot even comprehend it, I’m just… gone.

All my thoughts, desires, dreams, my essence, my “soul”… gone.

Just…nothing.

Everything that is “me” has crossed the event horizon, spaghettifying into the black hole of mortality and death in the blink of an eye… forever.

“I” remain only in the memory of those that remain.

Daily Stoic has a great, short piece on this exact thing. Literally short enough to include in it’s entirety:

It’s scary to think that we will someday die. What of our family, we think? What of our possessions, our potential, and our plans? Death in this way, is a great loss. The poet Lucretius described it in haunting language: “Never again will your dear children race for the prize of your first kisses and touch your heart with pleasure too profound for words.”

What we forget, of course, is pointed out in the next line. “You will not care, because you will not exist.” Jack London, speaking like a Stoic, has an equally clever and profound line. With death, he says, man “does not lose anything, for with the loss of himself, he loses the knowledge of loss.”

Nothing after death is the most haunting and most liberating thought to me, leaning more on the haunting side than liberating. What’s funny to me is, for the most part, the same reasons it is liberating are the same reasons it is haunting.

All I have ever known, is my own personal movie, and contemplating that sort of emptiness is hard to grab a hold of. I don’t want that movie to end. I want more. You don’t feel, think, nothing. You are just gone. You will not exist. We get this small little vapor of life as sentient beings able to grasp, think and wrestle with complex thoughts… and then it’s all gone… with no meaning.

“On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Dying in many respects, is a leap of faith.

I’ve spent the majority of my early teens through adult life as a Christian. I’ll be thirty-eight in just under a month. The whole of the Christian faith hinges on a Resurrection: Life after death of the Savior. And if there wasn’t a Resurrection and if there is no resurrection for the believers, like the Apostle Paul said, we are the sorriest and most pitiable of creatures**. I still believe that the Christian faith holds merit, but if compared to the whole majority of my Christian friends and family – or even myself five years ago – I’m practically an atheist. Like the boy in “The Polar Express”, I want to believe. But, for both our sakes I won’t unpack that box here.

**I’m going off memory here. You get the gist. Save your time, I don’t need a deep theological exegesis on the nuances of the scripture/s I paraphrased.

Faith – or lack thereof – not withstanding, I find it hard to accept that death would be the end.

Maybe its cognitive bias or some other form of bias on my part. But, we are sentient beings, conscious and self-aware. God-like in our potential for thinking, creating, destroying and reproducing. Demon-like in our potential to scorch the earth in tragedy, bloodshed, despair and destruction.

We humans have so many spiritual like qualities that makes us “us” in our spirit, soul, and/or consciousness, it is hard to accept that it would just end. With so many examples of life in a cyclical nature and so many other examples of transformation where there is a kind of death and a newer life comes from it, it is hard to accept that we would not transform yet again in some way.

Action

Regardless of whether life will end at death or continue on in some other way, we are still left with a decision to make.

We can’t sit on our ass and waste the time away.

We must decide what to do with the time we have here, right now. It is seen so much on social media, inspirational quotes and memes, motivational videos and the like that it has become white noise, despite the truth it holds: You only have this one life.

We have been given a small sliver of time on this amazing planet.

The only solution is to make the best of it, yes?

The only solution is to embrace this life, yes?

 

Search yourself, we, all of us, make space for what is truly a priority in our lives. We constantly complain about not enough time or money for the higher things in life yet all one needs to do in order to know what our real priorities are, is to take a look at what people will make time for or spend their money on.

Human nature is fairly simple sometimes.

I was going to try and wax eloquently in this action section regarding living your passions, etc. However, there is a lot of that out there and without the conviction of mortality, I think much of it is just white noise.

So I will just end this post with these last four short sentences.

 

You will die.

It is coming.

It could be today.

Act accordingly.

 

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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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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

 

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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Becoming for Tribe

cropped-10636849_10205073540267038_7446655312213901552_o.jpg

 

What kind of person do I want to be? What does that transformation look like? What kind of people do I want to attract into my life? Are those things congruent with each other?

I want to be surrounded the kind of people who would challenge me to grow through their own actions, not just their words. To become better, to constantly strive to improve, to never settle for the status quo. I want to be surrounded by strong people – strong men who as a by product should have or attract strong women – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, so I am pursuing that same strength in me. I want to be surrounded by people that are constantly growing, striving for more; who have growth mindsets, not stagnant and fixed. People with fierce hearts and fierce loyalty. People who enjoy the sacred and the secular; who aren’t afraid of living or dying, but rather, afraid that they will meet death having never lived. People not stuck in the little stories and little dramas that ensnare so many and drag them down. People who passionately live, laugh, love, learn, fight and fuck and feast.

In fewer words: I’m looking to build a Tribe.

In building my Tribe, then, I need to become the person whose actions and words challenge people to become better, to constantly strive to improve, to never settle for the status quo. I need to continue to get stronger, mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. To continue my growth mindset. I need to possess and fierce heart and fierce loyalty. To enjoy the sacred and secular and to be afraid of meeting death having not ever lived. I need to not allow small, petty stories and dramas to bog me down and ensnare me. I need to passionately live, laugh, love, fight, fuck and feast.

I’ve noticed as I am moving towards what I want, my tolerance levels have changed. I am beginning to draw clearer boundary lines along the perimeter of my life. I am becoming very selective as to who gets to be inside and who does not. As I look at myself and who I want to become and who I want to attract into my life, I’ve began measuring and weigh those who have been in the perimeter and whether or not they should be there. I know, it sounds very, intolerant. It can be. It is.

You shouldn’t fear intolerance.

Do these people inside your perimeter add value, real value to your life? Do they challenge you to grow? If they do, maybe they deserve to be inside your perimeter.

Do they drag you down into nit-picky bullshit drama? Do they constantly run their mouths with excuses of why they aren’t growing? If they do, maybe they don’t deserve a place inside your perimeter.

You should be intolerant about that which would hinder you from living the life you desire and reaching goals you are shooting for.

This is your life.

Pursue Mastery.

Show Up and Fight.

Show up.

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!

Fight.

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.

Show up and fight.

Cultivating Strength – Abandoning Weakness

It has been almost a year since my last post and boy… has it been an interesting year.

I want to write out a few things about Strength and Weakness; ironing it out from the jumbled mess in my mind. Hopefully you can relate to this, or maybe it will resonate with you in someway; maybe even serve as a swift kick in the ass to go do something about your own life. Maybe you are going down a similar path as I and you’ve found the same thing to be true, there really isn’t anything new under the sun.

I want to speak about the “holistic” view, for lack of a better term, of strength and weakness. At any given moment, you are making a choice to cultivate strength and abandon weakness, or cultivate weakness and abandon strength.

You cannot be neutral. Your mind, your body, your spirit and your emotions are either worked and strengthened or they begin to atrophy and rot. There is no middle ground where you can build up to a certain spot and then just coast the rest of your life. Your mind dulls without challenge, as does your spirit. You body wastes away without certain stimuli. Your emotions take on a life of their own if they are not exercised and harnessed appropriately, you become subject to them instead of the other way around.

I must confront my weaknesses. If they cannot be made into strengths, I must abandon them. I must kill them, starve them out and replace them with strengths.

So must you.

…I fucking hate weakness in my life. I abhor it.

Over this last year, I have been bitch-slapped hard by certain circumstances and events that have come up in my life. Things I do not wish to talk about here and now, on this particular forum. Through this epic bitch-slap, I have had the opportunity to confront a metric shit-ton of my weaknesses. Many of which, I believe, caused or aided in the majority of the events.

A month into the “events”, my birthday came and went. I realized that I couldn’t fight, barter, beg, advocate, discuss, dialogue or construct a logical argument strong enough to change the situation. It is what it is. The only thing I could do was to work on myself, improve myself, make an impact on those things I have direct control over: my life. On that day, I made a personal goal of becoming the best possible version of myself by my next birthday. I have made much progress. I have learned a lot about myself, my body, my thoughts, my weaknesses, my strengths, my capabilities and shortcomings. I have learned a lot about relationships. I am definitely a “better” version. And I continue to evolve into something better.

One of the things that I learned, the thing that has been bubbling up in me lately is that I fucking hate weakness in my life. I abhor it.

Subsequently, I hate weakness in other people.

Weakness is what hinders us from becoming the best versions of ourselves possible.

Beneath the finger pointing at our spouse, what is it that keeps you from truly connecting and coming to a synergistic understanding and appreciation of the other person? Weakness.

Beneath the excuses of why we don’t have time, beneath hiding behind an ailment or two, what keeps us from committing to working out? Weakness.

What keeps us living in the glory days of high school or college or our first career when in the here and now, in the context of the majority of your and everyone else’s lives it doesn’t fucking matter anymore? Weakness.

Behind the hesitancy to sit down and read a real book that will challenge you and help you grow, what is it that causes you to stop after three pages and never come back to it? Weakness.

What keeps you from sitting down in some quiet spot and reflecting on the day and what you are trying to accomplish, or meditating, or communing with your Higher Power/God? Weakness.

You get the idea.

Putting my fingers to the keyboard and writing this is helping me cultivate strength and abandon weakness. How so? Well, because I realized that there are many times that I care entirely too much about what people could potentially say. I have been methodically confronting this. Cultivating the thicker skin to not give as much of a fuck anymore. If you make a comment you make a comment. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it.

When you push yourself physically and you accomplish something you have never done before it will spill over into the arenas of the mental, emotional and even the spiritual… And nobody can take that from you.

I had the opportunity to travel recently and learn from a really good teacher about how to effectively use my pistol from concealment. A weak area in my life. It was a good thing. I now have tools to help me eradicate this weakness. What I didn’t expect was how this event brought up feelings, thoughts and other darkness I had been dealing with over this last year. I think, by way of an event six hours from my “natural habitat” which challenged mentally and physically for two days in the blazing sun and exposed my weakness in one area,  it helped open the door for even further self examination and reflection about other areas. Something that I welcomed with open arms.

We need these kinds of door-opening experiences in our lives. I need them.

Last year, I was working out about four times a week before the shit started to unfold. After, I was at the gym every day. I needed the physical challenge to help me. By pushing my body mentally and physically in one area, it helped me deal with the stresses and damages of another area.

I have had a handful of what I would call “spiritual” moments while lifting and training; rewarding for my spirit, mind, emotions and my body. Those who have pushed themselves hard understand what I am trying to convey here. You are lifting the heaviest you ever lifted or pushing yourself farther than you have ever gone and every fiber of your being is screaming out as you do it. Once done, you feel taller. You are euphoric. You think, did I really just do that?

Fuck yes, you did!

The discipline you applied to your body, to make it do what you wanted to do. The discipline you applied to your mind, to shut out the outside world and your fears down to focus on they task at hand. The emotional energy you poured into that lift or that run, to block out the doubts or fears. When you push yourself physically and you accomplish something you have never done before, it will spill over into the arenas of the mental, emotional and even the spiritual. They all came together in a kind of synergy and impact your very soul. You learn more about yourself and what you are capable of.

And nobody, nobody, can take that from you.

Being open, being gentle and being tender are not weaknesses.

Just want to clear something up for the readers automatically thinking this is some “macho alpha-male” circle jerk..

My father, a warrior in his own right, used to tell me as a kid, “There is Strength in being gentle.” Sometimes he would use the world tender. Sometimes the way the sentence was put together was different. You get the idea.

In order to improve your life, in any area, requires an openness, a degree of vulnerability. Some of the most badass, alpha-male people I know humble themselves and seek out and/or hire coaches to equip them with what they need to hit the next level in all areas of their lives.

Being open in a relationship, or confiding in a friend takes a deal of risk, and it takes strength to let your guard down, not give in to fear and cowardice – which are fruits of weakness – and to tell them what is going on in the depths of your being.

I could go on. Hopefully you get the picture there.

Being open, being gentle and being tender are not weaknesses

It’s about viewing those things as they truly are: weaknesses in the structure of your life that need to be dealt with.

Buttercup, you only get one life to live, so let me ask you:

Is the life you are currently living – your mental state, your relationships, your physical state, your emotional life, your spiritual life – are you going to be pleased on the other side of eternity when you look back at this life? (if you are any sort of religious person)

Do you believe that with absolute certainty that if you could do your life over again, you would do everything exactly the same?  (applicable to anyone)

Anyone I have ever talked to wants to change at least one thing in their lives, even the devout among my friends and acquaintances. This should help people realize that there is more potential to your life than where you are currently and what you are doing. You can’t go back, but you can still improve your life.

Some of you might be put off by my use of the word “weakness” in the context of this article. Let me make something clear, this is about improving your life. Constantly improving yourself.

You can call them flaws, chinks in your armor, structural issues or “areas for improvement”, or whatever makes you feel better. But if those terms aren’t really working for you, evidenced by the fact that you are still “dealing” with those “areas”, then why not call them what they are?

A lot of the things that have happened in the last year culminated into that “event” due to my own weaknesses. Many would say and have said to me that, it’s not my “fault”, which I know what they mean and I can agree. Rather, I have used this as an opportunity to further examine and confront my own life. I have found, and have had things revealed to me things that were lacking which definitely helped contribute to bringing things to a head. So, I owned it. I took the responsibility. Might not have been my fault, but guess what, cupcake? It was my fault.

It’s about taking some responsibility and owning your shit. Always being reactive in life, playing the victim, blaming, finger pointing, and navel gazing – these are weak practices for weak individuals. Being proactive, focusing on improving yourself, learning what you can do better, not allowing situations to govern your life on any plane – these are strong practices.

You can point the finger all you want but at the end of the day, you will still have your weaknesses: unchecked, ignored, growing and festering. OR, you can work on them one piece at a time, consistently and constantly, improving yourself daily and at the end of the day, those weaknesses are fewer and fewer. It’s about viewing those things as they truly are:  weaknesses in the structure of your life that need to be dealt with.

You should value yourself highly enough to want to improve.

If you read anything at all about positive and constructive mindsets, you find that people usually possess a combination of two mindsets. Growth & Abundance Mindsets or Fixed & Scarcity Mindsets. Long story short: Growth mindsets view themselves as people who can change, they can learn, adapt, improve, in short they can grow. The Fixed mindset is the opposite, they are set in their ways, can’t learn anything new, adverse to change, unable to adapt or improve. The one with an Abundance Mindset, sees unlimited potential and resources, tools and avenues to help them achieve their goals and dreams. The one with a Scarcity Mindset basically sees limits on everything: resources, tools for growth, etc.

One pair of Mindsets are Strong and on pair of Mindsets are Weak. Which do you have?

Looking for and dealing with these weaknesses shouldn’t come from a place of self-hate and self-loathing. That helps zero out of zero people. Value your relationships highly enough to want to have a better impact! No person is an island unto themselves. Yes, there are many things we can and should be able to do on our own. We should be taking initiative to change and improve our lives instead of waiting for someone with a plan to come and save us from whatever issue we are dealing with. From that state of self-improvement and independence we can be interdependent with others. Bringing and adding value, working together, having synergy where your strengths compliment someone’s weaknesses and vice versa. And ideally, where your weaknesses are improved by the example and strength of someone else. You don’t stay weak, you grow.

You should value yourself highly enough to want to improve. But only you can do that.

What are your weak areas? … Limit the external forces that weaken you.

I have found weaknesses in my role at work. Weaknesses in my approach to living my dreams and goals. Weaknesses in my role as a parent.Weaknesses in my will-power. The list goes on. But I don’t hate myself. I see the weakness, and I acknowledge it. Then I put a target on it, because I’m going to shoot that thing down. As the saying goes, “Win or Learn, I never lose. I may not make it immediately, but I will make it absolutely and definitely.”

Do I see weaknesses in others? Absolutely I do. It’s one of those “plank-eye” things that Jesus talked about. As I see my flaws, weaknesses and the planks in my eye clearer, I being to see the specks and “areas for improvement” in others. The only thing is, I am not out there every day confronting my friends and family about their supposed weaknesses. That’s their deal. I can’t do the work for them, they have to do the work. And if they can’t see it or refuse to do the work, I won’t be able to help them anyway. Their personal stagnation, the atrophy of their mind, body, spirit and emotions is on the, not me. I have my own plank to deal with.

I am all about helping people, that’s the whole interdependent thing. Alone I am strong, but interdependently with other people, we are practically unstoppable. But you have to do the work, too. I can’t do it for you. If you, dear reader, were to come to me and ask for my help, I would love to assist. But, I warn you, you might see a few weaknesses now, but you will definitely not like what you see or have revealed to you down the road and have to confront. No one does. But it is a challenge we should own and be willing to take.

Through my example, and possibly through my repeated Instagram & Facebook posts showing what I am doing, I have had a few people approach me asking what they can do to improve. Some have taken the advice and tough love and are little by little improving their lives. Some have filed their butt-hurt forms and rejected the advice and tough love. Could’ve been a weakness on my part for not using tact in the way I was communicating, or it could’ve been that person being too weak to swallow their pride, look hard into the mirror and face the truth. Maybe a bit of both.

So, more than likely you’ve been identifying weaknesses in your life that you want to improve. What are your weak ares? Write out some goals. You don’t need to go on Facebook and broadcast your goals. I didn’t. Write them down, keep them to yourself and fucking kill those goals!

Limit the external forces that weaken you. Television, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, whatever. That’s one thing I have done. I have been culling my Facebook feeds and Instagram. I want to see things that are motivating, and challenging. I want to see people improving their lives. If not, I might stay friends with you, but you are on the ignore list. Don’t get offended, cupcake, I just don’t want to see your verbal vomit and your infantile bitch sessions.

Now, at 2734 words and counting. Hopefully some of this resonated with you. Take what is useful to you and confront the weaknesses in your life.

Be Strong.

For you.

For your family.

For Life.