Remove Gray From Where It Doesn’t Belong

A strategy for living more “black and white” in a world quick to acknowledge the “shades of gray”.

The idea that life is composed of many shades of gray is popular and is repeated often. It is very much a cliché and like many clichés that are repeated many times over, its meaning has expanded. The original intention of the phrase becomes detached from the original meaning as it is repeated from person to person. Soon enough, people are hearing and repeating the phrase with no base understanding of the original idea and intent behind the words. It is said in a manner that makes one feel like they understand an idea that they may not fully grasp or appreciate. 

When looking externally, as in the case of a person looking out into the world, the concept of life being many shades of gray is accurate and succinct. As a single person in the world, one looks out into a vast sea of other people with varying perspectives, cultures, beliefs, and experiences. To try to project one’s ideas of what is right and wrong onto others is inconsiderate of all of the diversity that we are lucky to have. These are the gray areas that inform our view of the world. We, as people participating in the world, are affected and impacted by these shades of gray. 

In trying to observe the surrounding world, there are shades of gray that cannot be argued against, but what about when we turn the view from looking outside of ourselves, to looking within? 

When looking internally, one is not trying to assign order to the surrounding world; instead, they are trying to understand how they will interpret and react to it. In turning one’s view on themselves they are looking at their perspectives and opinions that are informed by their own culture, beliefs, and experiences. They are looking at how the outside world is interacting with and affecting them to sort out how they want to exist and respond to the world. When turning one’s view on themselves, there is limited value in continuing to acknowledge gray areas; to entertain gray areas in the context of oneself is potentially detrimental to one’s own progress and growth. 

When deciding how one is going to respond to the world or when one is constructing a Philosophy by which they are going to navigate themselves through life, there is no room for entertainment of “gray” – such reflection requires one to drive to “black and white” answers. 

Continue on if you’re not on board yet. 

Basing one’s Philosophy on shades of gray leaves the Philosophy itself vulnerable to influence from the outside. Each indecision left in one’s Philosophy is a crack in the foundation that the external noise can fight through. Without one making a decision for oneself, they risk allowing the influence of others to direct their path. “Gray” is easily manipulated. It is soft and malleable. Exactly as buildings are built on firm, strong concrete foundations rather than sand, so, too, should an individual base their own Philosophy on a hard, strong foundation. “Black and white” Philosophical ideas are a concrete foundation whereas the “shades of gray” are sand. Whereas “black and white” is decisive and direct, “gray” will leave one lost, confused, and without direction.

Below is a strategy to successfully remove the gray areas of one’s Philosophy when looking within and helps in sorting through how one is going to exist. 

Know and understand what needs a decision by knowing what directly affects you.

This strategy hinges on the base understanding that one is looking at how the external world is interacting with their own internal values and Philosophy; ultimately sorting out how one is going to respond to the external world. Only what directly impacts a person requires a response. Anything that lives outside of a person and does not impact their world does not require one to have a strong opinion on it. 

The definition of what does and does not affect any one person is based on one’s goals and Philosophy. Each person can choose what does and does not affect their world, but the analysis must be honest.

Determine the degree to which you are really affected by it. 

There are going to be topics that one encounters that are going to hit close to home and other topics that play out at the fringes of one’s existence. It is important to understand that there is a scale on which the goings-on of the world is going to affect an individual and it is important to place different topics on this scale to understand what the real impact to oneself is.

If an issue doesn’t play in one’s backyard, it is not close enough to make a meaningful impact on a person in the context of this reflection. 

Have the depth of research, analysis, and decision be consistent with the degree to which you are affected by it.

Some things will directly impact one’s core beliefs while other things will be a mild inconvenience to the fringes of one’s existence. The key is to have very strong and well-thought decisions on one’s core beliefs while allowing those other things that only affect the fringes of one’s Philosophy to be of lesser concern. One cannot spend incredible time and resources digging into those things that hang around the fringes of one’s Philosophy, nor should they. It is pulling attention and resources from the larger, more impactful issues facing an individual. The fringes are far away from one’s core and do not require a lot of attention. Decisions and opinions on these matters can change without much impact to one’s Philosophy.

Remain open – know that one cannot have all the answers. Life is about continuous learning.

The promotion of “black and white” versus accepting the shades of gray carries with it connotations of arrogance and ignorance. This idea of drawing lines in the sand when it comes to one’s interaction with the world and the world’s interaction with one’s Philosophy is a paradigm shift when talking about this topic.

It must be understood that it is impossible to be unchanging and that as one grows there will be things about their existing Philosophy that do not ring true with the person they are growing into. There will be time and opportunity to tweak one’s Philosophy and interactions with the world as their perspectives and experiences grow and mature. This leads into the next item:

Don’t be overly vocal about your decisions.

When one is highly opinionated and very vocal about those opinions, they paint themselves into a corner both as they are viewed by the world and as they view themselves. The more vocal one is, the more challenges they put in their own way when they want to change their path. Not only will they need to sort out the change wanting to be made but they must deal with the pressures they have placed upon themselves to maintain an image. 

Everything discussed thus far in the Transmission is about looking within and there is no discussion of taking one’s beliefs to the outside world. Even if one does choose to put their thoughts and beliefs in front of the public, it does not need to be in a combative manner. One does not need to take a position of one versus all. It is this approach to weaponizing ideas that makes people rigid in their ways because they are removing options – they have taken a combative stance and now must continue with that position to maintain their status. 

Make one’s position known through carrying out one’s plan – let actions do the explaining to others. There is no advantage to over-communicating one’s intentions when compared to simply executing on those intentions instead.

When making changes, move from one decision to another.

Finally, the way in which one makes changes to their Philosophy must be addressed. As one grows and reflects on new information, there will be times when one will realize that their existing Philosophy needs updating. The approach to incorporating changes into one’s Philosophy must be to move from one strong foundation of decision to another. When one has done the work to get out of the gray area, the fog of indecision, they must be careful not to re-enter that arena when faced with information that challenges their held beliefs. Before one leaves a belief behind in favor of a new iteration, they must have that new iteration sorted out and ready to go. Avoiding the gray area is to keep one from being too vulnerable to external influence. Changing out old beliefs that no longer work for new and improved beliefs is healthy and a part of growing. One must be careful that they do not lose their way in the transition period.


Appreciate life’s shades of gray but understand when and where those shades of gray must be appreciated. The shades of gray are responsible for many great things when looking at the larger picture of the world. The many beliefs, perspectives, and experiences unique to each individual offer numerous opportunities for the larger population as a whole; however, with all of those perspectives being communicated between individuals, it may be difficult to find how one is to navigate the world when considering their own path and Philosophy. It is in these instances where those shades of gray are causing confusion and frustration. Removing the shades of gray for oneself provides clarity and drives focused progress where continuing to entertain shades of gray internally serves to increase one’s exposure to manipulation by the surrounding world. Such people will feel lost and out of touch with themselves. It is beneficial to drive to a “black and white” answer for oneself and how one will interact with the world. It is important to understand, though, that these decisions are made for oneself and are not intended to be projected onto others.

This is the proper application of another cliché – “live and let live”. To live ourselves we must be led by our own Philosophy and beliefs and we must allow others to do the same. The interface of two people’s Philosophies must be handled by each individual. The line between the two must not be crossed for it is the projection of one set of beliefs onto another that encroaches upon each individual’s ability to live themselves.

The shades of gray are great and beautiful from a global perspective, but as an individual navigating the world today, the gray areas must be clarified to something more understandable and actionable for an individual.

Yours in strength

-Jersey

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Reputation and Trust

“My reputation precedes me”

Trust and reputation are interesting topics to think about. Both are going to be impactful to one’s success and their relationships with others, but they are two things about oneself that live entirely in the minds of others. In the end, one’s ability to be trustworthy and that reputation that precedes them is hinged upon how others perceive them. 

Neither trust nor reputation can be directly affected. In fact, attempting to directly affect trust and reputation will likely have the opposite effect than desired. In trying to bolster one’s trustworthiness one runs the risk of losing themselves as attempting to do things that are seen as trustworthy to others will likely result in taking actions that are untrue to oneself. This is because actions are being taken to appease another rather than serve one’s own wants. The same goes for reputation. To attempt to construct a specific reputation in the eyes of another one is going to be attempting to create a specific effect rather than stay true to one’s character and values. 

The fact that neither trust or reputation can be directly influenced makes them derivative characteristics. That is to say the value of one’s trust and reputation are derived from the actions that one does take. It is said that perception is reality and that is no more true than in this circumstance. The perception of the outside world is paramount in defining these qualities of a person. 

This is somewhat unsettling. In today’s climate of cancel-culture and the social power afforded to others via social media, it is an interesting thought that some of the most influential pieces of a person’s success live entirely outside of that person. 

Trust and reputation are two things that can take a person years to develop and take minutes to destroy. Both trust and reputation are fragile in that way. One lapse in judgement is all it takes to tarnish what one has taken years to build. 

What is the larger point here? I am not writing a Transmission to complain about the fragility of reputation and trust. Instead, it is worth noting how one builds a favorable reputation and proves to others that they are trustworthy. 

The secret is to not think about it or make either reputation or trust a concern. That’s it. Allow your actions to speak for themselves. Don’t attempt to prove your trustworthiness or attempt to fabricate a specific reputation. These qualities are more subtle and are products of many other things, as was stated earlier. 

The best way to gain the trust of others is to be authentic. To be true to one’s character makes them transparent in a way; others are able to see through the facade and into the core of a person. Authenticity can be felt just as inauthentic actions are. Authenticity breeds consistency and consistency makes trusting another easier. Authenticity and consistency breed natural actions further cementing one’s trustworthiness. It is easy to trust another when they are dependable. 

The best way to build a reputation is to have strong values and to live to those values relentlessly. Similar to trust, consistently living to one’s values will speak volumes more than taking sporadic and inconsistent action toward one’s values. When attempting to appease others, one’s reputation will weaken. A strong reputation is built in the same place it lives – in the minds of others. Allow others to form their own opinions. It is the Initiated’s job to lead them to the correct opinions through unrelenting adherence to their values. 

Rebuilding reputation and trust is another part of this too, especially if one has either damaged the view of themselves to others or if one is attempting to make changes in their lives and need to change how they are seen by a larger population. Again, consistency is key and focusing on one’s path to achieving their goals is the best way to show others what one wants them to see. Note; however, this one universal truth – others will take longer to notice the changes made than it will take for one to see the changes within themself. Other people will be slow on the uptake. They do not spend as much time with you as you do with yourself. They will not see all of the changes one makes. They are generally less interested in others than they are in themselves. All of this is fine – it just needs to be understood. 

At the end of the day, the changes being made and the reputation trying to be rebuilt is for oneself anyway. The reputation held by others is their reality, not the individual’s. While it is true that trustworthiness and reputation will impact one’s opportunities in life, a damaged reputation can be overcome with enough time and conviction to one’s path. 

The overarching point of this Transmission is that while trust and reputation are not entirely within the grasp of an individual, their actions affect how others see them. It is also in how one views themselves that will inform how they present themselves to the world and will influence the face that they share with the world. When one lives in line with their values, they have a greater chance at painting a favorable picture in the minds of others. One who is in lock-step with their values carries themselves differently, they have confidence and conviction, their decisions make sense. People pick up on these subtleties and it goes a long way in informing their perceptions. 

There will always be a small subset of the population that cannot be won over. These are the people that will forever be an enemy. These people deserve no attention and must be dropped from one’s mind – they are not worth the effort needed to try to change their mind. 

By living to one’s values and having a conviction in their Philosophy, they will create a favorable reputation and will be seen as authentic and trustworthy. Having strong character will open up many opportunities and will make it easier for one to navigate through the world.

In this instance, strength begets further strength. The momentum afforded by a strong reputation and a high level of trust can be brought forward to further one’s opportunities. 

Yours in strength

-Jersey

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Strategy and Unbalance

Unbalance will beat balance when there is a goal and strategy being pursued.

Balance in life is an idea thrown around often. It is commonly thought to be the answer to fulfillment and happiness by way of maintaining an equilibrium between all of the demands that are put upon a person. Remaining balanced is seen as the way that a person keeps their life “in check”, so to speak, not allowing any one area of life to take up an unreasonable or unhealthy portion of their time.

Balance is compromise. Said another way – balance can only be achieved through compromise. When balance is the goal, compromise is the method by which one is able to reach that goal. Prioritizing balance is a symptom of one who does not have a larger goal in place nor a strategy to achieve it. Without a goal or strategy, a person is simply existing. There is likely a lack of drive to achieve anything beyond comfort and contentment and so balance becomes the default goal. 

When there is a larger goal or purpose in a person’s life there is a drive to achieve a specific end. To achieve that specific end they will need a strategy. That strategy will specify the steps and actions needed to make progress toward the goal. Such a strategy will not focus on balance but rather on progress. Driving progress creates opportunity for unbalance and it is in an unbalanced state where real progress is made. 

Unbalance will always beat balance when there is a real goal being worked toward. It is because the unbalance will allow a person to be selective in their pursuits – to say “no” to all things that don’t support or align with the goal being pursued. Focusing one’s resources and abilities toward a single end will increase the effectiveness of those efforts where spreading one’s limited resources across many pursuits serves to make the impacts of those same efforts less potent. 

Below are the tactics and considerations needed to make an unbalanced strategy work effectively:

1. Have a clear, specific goal and know the strategy.

Strategy was discussed in the introduction but is important enough to be repeated as the first consideration. Unbalance is to be used for a specific purpose and that specific purpose must be known and understood in order to keep efforts in alignment with achievement. 

The idea of balance is thrown around in response to those who do not use unbalance as a tool but rather those that are too far unbalanced without having a larger strategy in play. Consider the advice given to workaholics – those that live and breathe their work while other aspects of their lives are left in disrepair. Often the workaholic does not have great relationships and their health is in need of work. Their work is their addiction and their addiction negatively impacts other areas of their lives. This subset of the population is extremely unbalanced and it is not a healthy existence. The problem is not simply that they work too much, though, it is that they work too much to the detriment of everything else around them. Said differently, it is not the amount of work they subject themselves to, it is that their work does not support anything outside of simply working more. 

2. Understand the degree of unbalance to be pursued.

Think of unbalance as a circle within which someone operates. The center of the circle is perfect balance and each step away from the center is a radius increasing the level of unbalance in any one direction. There should be a specific number of “steps” that one is comfortable taking away from perfect balance before they cross a threshold into an area that works against their goals. This is the threshold of strategic unbalance to harmful unbalance. 

The degree of strategic unbalance is defined by the goals and strategy put in place by any one person. There is no standard deviation from the center that is applicable to all people but rather the deviation must be defined by each individual.

Going back to the workaholic discussed in point 1, let’s take another look at their habits. We discussed that the problem is not the amount of work that said workaholic subjects themselves to; rather, the issue is that work is an addiction that controls them. Work is often done at the expense of other things like health and relationships. 

Now, what if a certain person’s strategy is established to be that unbalanced? What if a person has very aggressive goals and their strategy to achieve their goals is to be extremely off-balance to the point that they resemble a workaholic? Would that change anything?

It would. In this instance, the workload taken on is intentional and supporting a larger goal. An extremely unbalanced strategy can be effective if there are very specific goals being pursued and the timeframe of such extreme unbalance is defined. I wouldn’t recommend sacrificing health and relationships to achieve a goal, but I cannot speak in definitive terms for all. 

3. Make focus cyclical and put other disciplines in maintenance mode temporarily.

Humans cannot focus on too many things at the same time without performance slipping and so we must decide what few disciplines of our strategy we will focus on at any given time. When it is decided that one will focus on a select few disciplines, the others must go into maintenance mode while the chosen disciplines are built. This will allow progress made elsewhere to be maintained while building specific areas of focus. 

It must be understood that maintenance mode must be temporary. Maintenance is not progress and so one cannot allow certain disciplines to go into maintenance mode for too long or else that area will start to atrophy and begin to regress. It is important that one’s focus in an unbalanced strategy be cyclical – focus must shift on a chosen interval in order to ensure that all areas are being developed without losing ground in any one area. 

Cyclical focus is how one is able to grow in many areas while benefiting from the focus afforded by an unbalanced strategy. Whereas prioritizing balance will make everything of the same priority, cycling focus in an unbalanced strategy allows for a defined and meaningful level of priority and; therefore, the ability to truly excel in many areas. 

Wrap Up

This Transmission is an important part of the Initiated Lifestyle to understand. It is one thing to be motivated to do more and work harder, but one must also prioritize and understand how to work smart to get the most impact from their efforts. 

The ideas of an unbalanced strategy – having and understanding goals and strategy, defining a degree of unbalance, and cycling focus – are all basic ideas needing to be understood to lead both oneself and to lead a team. As a leader one must be able to see the larger goals and strategy and understand how the tactics being employed work to support that larger mission. Cycling focus, prioritizing efforts, and unbalancing resources to address specific issues are all tactics used by effective leaders, people, and teams to make the most efficient and effective use of resources. 

Unbalance will always beat balance. It is the difference between being effective in a few areas at a time and being ineffective in all areas at once. 

Set a plan and keep resources fluid enough that they can be shifted into those areas that need them. Cycle through the different areas of focus until all areas are built to where they need to be. It is a process. Meaningful change is not quick but takes discipline and time to build.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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