Train for Courage

Courage 12/12/2019

Those first two months in my new position at work was rough. Everything was new. My level of expertise was developed in a quick training plan. I had very little experience in the field to draw from. To present my work was daunting as well. What if I made the wrong call? It could have an effect on the livelihoods of my fellow co-workers.

But as the days went by, I developed a greater familiarity with the work I was doing. I continued to train on my own. I grew in experience. Now, I make calls with greater confidence and present those calls without fear.

It’s my theory that the better trained you are, the more natural courage you have, because you have a belief in yourself. –David Hackworth

What are the things you fear? Is it a rational fear, or is it something that you can conquer? If other people have found a way, then it is possible for you to find a way as well. Bring to light that which you fear. Become familiar with it. Train for the inevitability that you will have to one day face that fear. Prepare yourself now, so that you don’t shy away from it when the day comes. With courage you will be able to rely on your training and overcome the obstacle that stands in your way.

Useful Pain

Courage 12/5/2019

Right now there is pain. Physically, you may not be able to fill it, but it resides deep within you. What is this pain that you cannot feel?

There is a place you imagine yourself occupying. It is a “one day in the future” place, and today is not that day. You want it with all your heart. It hurts. This is the pain of not being where you belong. The waiting is killing you. What can you do but wait?

There is another type of pain. It pierces the mind, body, and soul. Like the first pain it is self-inflicted. It is the pain of breaking yourself down. But this is okay, because you are resilient. You tear yourself down. You heal. You grow stronger. You repeat the process with greater and greater force. You become tougher. In the beginning, this pain sucks. But as you grow tougher, you get used to it. You endure.

When it comes to the first pain of patience, you must endure as well. What you must not do is get used to the pain. You cannot allow yourself to become used to it. You have to let it hurt so that you do not become complacent and decide to live with it. Embrace it. Bear your cross and endure.

You know, the path to being tough isn’t easy either. But you might as well embrace this pain too. Get used to it. There is no becoming too tough. Continue to refine your complete being by challenging yourself daily. There is no easy path on this journey. So in this, you must also bear your cross and endure.

We all have our burdens to carry. Take it all in, throw your shoulders back, and keep your head up high. Enjoy the process and get where you need to go. All this patience and toughness will come in handy. Bear the pain now, and one day these two pains will bear you through your most difficult trials.

Be patient and tough; one day this pain will be useful to you.-Ovid

Dare Incrementally

Courage 11/21/2019

To build strength, you have to move heavy things.

To build endurance, you have to move a lot.

Neither strength nor endurance can be built overnight. You have to do the work over time. If you stop doing either one, you will lose it.

Courage is similar. Sure, there are some who can perform one great act of courage out of the blue, but they rarely survive it without paying an enormous price. To be courageous tomorrow, without ever doing anything courageous in the past, would be foolhardy. A more logical approach would be to build up to it. In time, your courage “muscle” will strengthen. You will be able to achieve feats you never imagined were possible.

Nothing will come from nothing. Dare for mighty things. –William Shakespeare

Dare today to move a little past your comfort zone. Be a little more daring each day and find yourself prepared when the moment arrives.

You or the Team

Courage 11/14/2019

A few questions:

As an individual what do you want to accomplish? Is it to excel beyond your peers and gain notoriety? Is it to feel you belong to the group?

How do your goals as an individual help the team? Could you go all in as a contributor and still achieve the level of success you are looking for?

If you can complete your mission on your own, why even be on a team? If you can take home the championship on your own, then do you really need a quality supporting staff?


Take a moment and think about the guy in charge. You get to own all the decisions. You can fly off into glory or go down all alone with the ship. You can be the dictator or the chief collaborator. Both leadership styles have seen success, and both have seen failure.

But if you’re not “the guy,” your role might really be more important. You could be the valuable member of the team that ensures its success. You could be the one that gets “the guy” where he needs to go which will only help you in the future.

We must often put aside on our own egos and aspirations and work toward the team’s success. If the team loses, no matter how great our own individual performance, the team still loses. The mission doesn’t get accomplished, and “the guy” might be looking to replace members on the team. Do your part. Your contributions will not be missed if you give selflessly.

A team will always appreciate a great individual if he’s willing to sacrifice for the group. –Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Highway to the Uncomfortable Zone

Courage 10/10/2019

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. –Neale Donald Walsch

All of the above can be uncomfortable. All of the above can also have tremendous physiological benefits.

There is nothing wrong with being uncomfortable. If you get used to it, you may perceive life to be more enjoyable. You may become more resilient when faced with the hardships of life.

Life is about living, embracing both the good and the bad. Safe in the bed wondering if a lion is outside [Proverbs 22:13] is not living. If you truly want to live, then you need to move out of your comfort zone.

Which Button to Push?

Courage 10/3/2019

In 2005, Staples introduced the Easy Button. The idea: if you want something, it’s not that hard to get it. When it came to office supplies, Staples had it.

As technology continues to get better, things become easier. No more looking in the phone book, the encyclopedia, or on the map. If you need information, all you have to do is ask Google, Siri, Alexa, or any of the others out there. Life continues to get easier. We all have an easy button within arm’s reach. You can even choose to never leave your house again.

These days we expect everything to be easy. And when it time to do hard things, it is hard. And because our conditioning is to want it the easy way, why would ever choose to do the hard stuff?

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference. –Robert Frost

Every day we have a choice. We can choose easy or hard. Gymnastics coach Christopher Sommer put it well when he said, “If you want to be a stud later, you have to be a pud now.” Nobody wants to be pud at anything, but we all have to start somewhere. If we learn to do the hard things, they will become easier in the future and we will have a greater ability to do more hard things.

If we are always using the easy button to get through life, we will end up with a life unfulfilled and lacking substance. But if we have the courage to train for the hard things when life is easy, we may find ourselves stronger and more resilient to face the obstacles thrown before us.

Why I Am Running: Mental Warfare

I’ve started running again. Not dabbling as I have done before. Seriously running. I am still trying to figure out why. I can’t go very long. I am not very fast. But for some reason, I feel compelled to run.

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

This morning, I woke up at 3:45. By 4:15, I was out the door. My goal: to run 4 laps in the neighborhood. Each lap is 1.3 miles. If finish it, I will have racked up over 5 before the rooster has even started crowing.

Every morning, I go out with a goal in mind. In order to achieve that goal, I have to follow the plan. It starts when the alarm goes off. 

 Get dressed.
 Drink water.
 Lace up the boots.
 Get out the door.

One misstep throws off the timing. One moment of indecision and the plan could go by the wayside.

In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety. –Abraham Maslow

Getting out the door is the first step, but it is not the hardest one. The real test comes during the run.

It is early. It is quiet and cold. I am all alone with the exception of a few early morning commuters. There is nobody here to push me. Nobody to tell me to keep going. At any moment I could stop, and none would be the wiser. Along my route, the opportunity is always present to take the next turn for home. There is a hundred reasons why it would be okay to stop, a hundred reasons to call it quits.

There is a war raging within me on every run. A battle between running and walking, going and stopping, persisting and quitting. My body doesn’t want anything to do with it. My mind says buck up and learn to do the hard things.

The war rages between my body and my mind. The same war that began at 3:45 when my mind told my body to get up. It is a war that has been going on my entire life. Will I do what the body wants to do, or will I obey my mind?

If you are ruled by your mind you are a king; if by body, a slave. –Cato

I have a picture in my mind. It is a version of myself that is faster and has the ability to conquer long distances, all while injury-free. Without this belief, I would never run. But I do believe, and so, I run. I am willing to find out if that which is in mind can become reality. Can my mind truly conquer my body? And if it can…

What else could it conquer?

Imagine a king. What the king wills shall be done. Within reason, a good king could go anywhere, could do anything. A king is like the mind. A good mind, within reason, could go anywhere, could will the body to do anything. Would you be king or would you be ruled by the body?

We all have it within us to go out and be the conquerors of our own bodies. To do so is simple. It is not easy, but it is simple. You do the work. Every day. You don’t give in to the desires of the flesh. You choose differently. You take the courageous step to be different. And if your mind wills it, the body will obey.

By the way, 5.2 miles this morning before the first of the cock-a-doodle-doos.

Courage 2/28/2019

It takes more than just a good looking body. You’ve got to have the heart and soul to go with it. -Epictetus

The body is the foundation, but if you are not developing the soul and spirit, you will always be lacking.

____________________

The Virtue of Courage

Do you have the heart to forge ahead? Can you keep going even though your body and your mind wants you to stop? There are those who bend underneath the pressure, and then there are those who have the fortitude to continue standing. The heart of courage, a chief virtue of the soul.

_____________________

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Mistake Free

This is the fourth in a 7-part series comparing Sun Tzu’s The Art of War to youth wrestling and how we can apply these lessons in our own lives.

Click here for Part 1: It begins with Practice

Click here for Part 2: What are your Questions

Click here for Part 3: Winning with Ease

He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated. –The Art of War, Chapter 4:13 Tactical Dispositions

The wrestler that makes a mistake ends up on his back. The only way to not get in this position is to not­ allow the opponent an opportunity. Becoming mistake-free results in victory. If your opponent has done his research on you, he will know it when he steps on the mat. Your reputation will precede you, and your opponent will arrive already defeated.

As a mortarman in the Army, I couldn’t make a mistake. My team couldn’t make a mistake. One wrong move, one miscalculation, or one errant round could result in killing the people that counted on us for their protection.

Mistakes sink ships on the ocean. They kill businesses by damaging their reputation and the trust people put in them. Mistakes prevent you from going where you want to go.

It is difficult to be mistake free in life, but there are measures we can take to prevent mistakes. There are things we can do to offset the damage and not allow it to escalate into something we can’t fix. We can prepare, be ever-vigilant, and have a partner or coach that is looking out for us. Good coaches identify areas that need improvement. They correct issues early on so that they will not become a problem later on. They are there to prevent you from making mistakes. They are the checks and balances similar to the platoon sergeants and squad leaders of a fire team. They are there to watch, direct, and correct.

When I was younger, I thought I was alone. I isolated myself and listened to my own counselling. It wasn’t very sound, and to this day I am still paying for some of those mistakes. What I needed back then was someone to keep me in check. There were plenty of people out there that would have done it, but I wasn’t looking. It wasn’t until I was older that I started looking. By then my exterior was already hardened making it more difficult for others to get through. I am still working on this area, still working on becoming vulnerable enough to those closest to me. The good news is that I am working on this area and getting better.

It is hard to go through life alone and not make a mistake. We all need a partner, a coach, or a mentor that can see our blind spots. The influencers in your life cannot be afraid to offer counselling. And once they do, it is your job to trust them, listen, and take action. Only then can you come closer to becoming mistake free and establishing the certainty of your victory.

Courage 2/21/2019

It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it. -Seneca

Yes, it sucks, but you have to get over it. Face the reality of what it is. Do not fall for those sugar-coated lies that mask the real problem.

____________________

The Virtue of Courage

Do you have the heart to forge ahead? Can you keep going even though your body and your mind wants you to stop? There are those who bend underneath the pressure, and then there are those who have the fortitude to continue standing. The heart of courage, a chief virtue of the soul.

_____________________

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