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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Defining and Achieving Success

There is no honor in redefining success by lowering criteria to meet the current circumstance.

Success is a set of criteria that must be defined by an individual and is based on their Values and Philosophy. Success can be thought of simply as living in line with such Values and Philosophy. It must be defined with unmoving criteria if one wants to truly be successful. It cannot be defined on a moving scale. The criteria must be unchanging and the individual must rise to the level of achievement they seek. To move the scale of success is to cheapen the actual success one may achieve.

Success requires a great deal of discipline and strength to achieve. As one gets increasingly ambitious with their goals, their character must rise to match the challenges they face. There will be obstacles to overcome and many chances to quit along the path. The Initiated see these obstacles and run right at them with the intention of overcoming them. The drive to achieve based on Philosophy comes from deep within the Initiated. To the Initiated, to fail a pursuit is to betray their character – it is a significant occurrence. 

When an individual decides to define success for themselves they reject the ideals of the masses and give themselves the opportunity to succeed and stand out from the herd. There are some things that the Initiated must look out for, though. These are the tactics exploited by the masses in their effort to make achievement accessible to many and effectively diminish such achievement. These must be known to the Initiated when they decide they no longer want to subscribe to the ideas spread by society to stay true to their path. 

Early Exits

As mentioned, along the journey there will be opportunity to take an exit off of the path to a place of diminished success. These exits are named things like “good enough”, “close enough”, or “sufficient”. All of these terms mean that you have not reached the intended end but instead have just moved the end of the journey up to where one may currently be. This is the application of the sliding scale discussed above. These are the verbal equivalents of participation trophies – one did not win, but should feel some cheapened form of accomplishment for what they have been able to do. 

Another instance of early exits are found in revisiting the original intent of the journey. Said differently, going back to make sure one “understood” what the original goal of the pursuit was. Understood is in quotations here because the goal of such a practice is often not to gain better understanding but rather to redefine what the criteria for success was; in a situation where the goal proves to be more difficult to achieve than anticipated, the goal is redefined to something more attainable from where one currently sits. 

Society uses these tactics to diminish the meaning of achievement or to make success more accessible to the masses. When the standards prove to be too rigorous and when too many people complain of challenge, society responds with lessened requirements. Those that disagree with the new rules are attacked until the new, lower standards achieve mass adoption. 

This practice is a disservice to everyone who participates. The ability to change the rules of the game after the game starts only serves to make winning the game easier and brings the performance of the whole population down along with the game’s integrity. No longer are people challenged to rise to the occasion. Instead, the world makes it possible for the criteria to come lower to meet those people unfit to elevate themselves to such heights.

Recognizing and Accepting Failures

The easy interpretation of pitting success against failure is to say that without one, one cannot appreciate the other. Without knowledge and understanding of failure, one cannot appreciate success. This is too surface-level to be significant. One’s ability to recognize and accept their failures is paramount in maintaining the integrity of their successes. 

Those with a fragile ego will be unable to admit to their failures. When one is unable to recognize and own failures, they will need to spin their failures into success, or worse, defend themselves by pinning failures on circumstances or factors “out of their control”. Neither practice supports meaningful success. Instead, these practices breed weakness and diminish the success that may have happened by not allowing the true successes to stand on their own having to share the spotlight with the failures that are spun into successes. This is done in an effort to protect the ego of the individuals involved.

Society has created an attitude where everyone’s a winner. Society’s inability to address and define “losers” has cheapened the accomplishment of succeeding within the system. Those participants of the masses that are unable to look within for an answer to why they are unsuccessful are seen launching outward attacks citing things such as inequality of opportunity, favoritism, or any other excuse that deflects responsibility from themselves to the system as a whole. 

The acceptance in response to such attacks – the willingness to provide credibility to such assertions gives these people just the validation they need to continue thinking this way. The validation provides the justification needed to reinforce the narrative that the game is rigged against them and they will never succeed regardless of their efforts. This is a cancer that is taking hold of everyone with this mindset rotting the population from the inside out. 

The truth is that this mindset and perspective is just the thing that is diminishing these people’s chances at succeeding. Rather than shine a light on this fact, the masses continue to allow such a victimized perspective to continue and further go to foster these ideas with campaigns to “close the gap”.

Wrap Up

Success is achieved when one looks within for the answers to the question “how do I succeed”. By looking within one is going to find the methods and strategies needed to elevate themselves to a level of success rather than attempting to find all of the ways in which they can lower the requirements of success to come closer to them. This should be the goal of anyone setting out on the path to be successful and to get more than they currently have. They must find the ways that they must grow in order to get to where they want to go.

Society’s willingness and ability to continually lower expectations of people is hurting the population. Call it tough-love if preferred, but it is our obligation to keep the entry to success high and challenge others to reach that elevated level. This is how the Initiated grow and how everyone else should be challenged to do the same.

The Initiated must live in this world amongst these people that choose to look externally for the answers, but they do not need to engage with this outlook. Amongst all of the noise, the Initiated work to develop themselves in line with their own Values and Philosophy. The Initiated live to their own set of standards and will outperform the masses worrying about how badly they are being screwed by the world. 

Define success then put a plan together to achieve. Do not stop until you reach the promised land.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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Leaders Leading Leaders

A team of leaders will outperform a team of followers.

Conventional wisdom may say that a leader needs followers. There are numerous sayings warning of the dangers of having too many leaders on a team, such as “too many chiefs, not enough Indians”. Perceptions may be that there should be less leaders and more followers so that a leader can do their job without conflict and that there are people available to carry out the work. 

Could a team made up entirely of leaders succeed? Is it possible to not have enough leaders? Let’s say that the most successful teams are built entirely of leaders. Does that make sense?

I say it does – a team made up of leaders will outperform a team of followers.

A fact is that a leader that seeks followers may not be a great leader themself for it is far easier to lead followers than it is to lead other leaders. “Easier” in these terms is in relation to the skill level required by a leader. To lead followers, one must develop trust and build a position of higher status to be seen as a leader. To lead leaders; however, one must also do these things but further develop the skills required to listen to and accept conflicting ideas or criticisms. Leaders should actively seek this feedback from their team as such feedback will help to elevate the team’s performance. 

The skills and perspectives of leaders are simply different from those of followers. Much of the friction that can come into a leader/follower dynamic can be attributed to this fundamental miss in understanding.

Below I will make the case that a team of leaders will far exceed the performance of a team of followers through looking at three key characteristics that differ between leaders from followers:

Ownership

The most significant key characteristic of a leader is their understanding and application of ownership in both their perspective and acceptance of responsibility. Ownership means that anything and everything that falls under one’s given responsibilities as well as anything that comes in close proximity to those responsibilities is the leader’s to address. Whether they are the best equipped to handle a specific incident, whether they are trained or qualified, whether they are able to delegate the task to someone else, a leader will take ownership of the situation and see to it’s resolution. There are no hard limits to a leader’s responsibilities and they understand that as a leader, they are responsible for the success of the team rather than the success of only their assignment. 

This shift from self-performance to team-performance is founded in a leader’s ability to understand and buy into the team’s mission. A leader understands the importance of supporting the team’s mission and they will understand that this may require one to step outside of their comfort zones or to overstep a perceived boundary if they see an opportunity to address an issue that will ultimately impact the team. 

Ownership of one’s part within the team and within the mission takes on a different meaning when talking to a leader. A leader’s role in the team becomes less about specific responsibilities and more about success of a discipline. This shift in perspective invests an individual to mission success rather than task success. This change in perspective is difficult to foster with followers. While followers may be able to accept responsibility and also understand the team’s objective, followers have a difficult time stepping outside of the lines and stepping into different roles without being directed to do so. Followers lack the perspective to see how the dynamic of the team and of a situation shifts and ultimately the impacts that this shifting will have on the team’s success. 

This lack of perspective stems from the fact that a follower is not tasked to develop such perspective. As a follower, reliance is placed upon the leader of the group to provide direction. It must be understood that leaders are not perfect and cannot be vigilant and aware of all outside threats. Leaders rely on their team to keep their eyes open and scan the surroundings for such opportunities to head off issues before they turn into larger problems. Followers are less equipped to do this than leaders are.

It is in the interest of a leader and of the larger team that leaders are developed throughout the ranks to take advantage of the strength of ownership. 

Critical Thinking

Leaders are required to think critically to perform their jobs and to be effective. Leaders develop the skill to take in a lot of information, process and analyze, and synthesize a response or plan that will progress the team’s objective further. This all requires critical thinking – a “trust but verify” approach. 

A leader’s perspective to external stimuli is approached from the perspective of “does this make sense?” and “how does this align with the team’s goals?”. These questions will direct a leader’s next move and their response to the information. Leaders question frequently to ensure understanding of the situation and the information. This leads back to ownership; a leader feels the responsibility to make the correct decision not for only themself, but for the team’s objective and mission. 

An effective leader will be influenced less than a follower. Whereas a leader will question to ensure understanding, a follower’s mentality is more vulnerable to external influence and may allow such an individual to stray from the team’s objectives if they perceive they are being instructed by a perceived authority figure. It is in a follower’s nature to follow. 

As a leader, one must rely on their team members to execute on the team’s mission. This execution requires that the team members have the ability to stand up to adversity and make decisions that may be unpopular, but necessary to push the team forward. 

Decentralized Command

A team large enough will be unable to be managed effectively by a single leader. This is why militaries, corporations, and companies all make use of a hierarchy in their leadership structure. As explained here, the hierarchy of leadership allows each level within the hierarchy to focus on specific tasks that they are best equipped to handle in both skill and perspective. 

A hierarchy of this kind requires decentralized command (all credit for this term to Jocko) to make the most effective use of people and resources. Decentralized command is the idea that leadership is found and practiced at all levels of the organization. With a strong fundamental understanding of the organization’s procedures and mission goals, leaders at all levels have the latitude to make decisions that will allow them to carry out their part in supporting the larger objective. These decisions are the tactics that each leader at each level will use to effectively execute their own specific objectives.

This idea of decentralized command flows down to the lowest members on the totem pole. A team built of leaders will train their people and allow even the newest member of a team to make the decisions required to fulfill their role. 

When a team of leaders make use of decentralized command in this way, the team benefits from the unique perspectives and skills of the team members at all levels. This is the effective use of diversity that companies today attempt to foster. Decentralized command – empowering all members of the team to make decisions in support of the team’s objectives – is the most direct way to capitalize on the diversity of the team’s skills, backgrounds, and experiences. 

Wrap Up

The picture that many have of having “too many leaders”; the internal disagreement and differences of opinion that plague opposing leadership, is a reality only when dealing with underdeveloped leaders. Strong leaders that understand the team’s objectives understand that the benefit and success of the team is more important than being right. 

Leaders that understand their role in supporting the team’s vision can assume the roles required by the team and do their part in leading what is within their realm to accomplish with the methods and practices they see fit.

This speaks to the importance of the skill and strength of the most senior member of leadership in developing and clearly communicating the team’s objectives to the rest of the team allowing and empowering all members of the team to lead. 

Strong leaders build and lead leaders. Those leaders that seek followers are missing the point.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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Loneliness and Leadership

There will be times of loneliness when pursuing your own path. Such loneliness must be embraced, not feared.

Leadership requires sacrifice. To be a leader one must be prepared and willing to make tough decisions regardless of the popularity of such decisions. It requires one to have unwavering conviction to a set of values and ideals. It requires belief in a vision and the ability to visualize an end goal that may be unrecognizable to others. A leader must embrace the need to stand out in front of others and go against the status quo if they have any aspiration of executing on their vision. 

In the context of this Transmission, a leader is defined as the opposite of a follower. It is not used here to describe a leader of a team, though many of the same ideas discussed in this Transmission apply to team leadership as well. A leader as used here is one who breaks away from the masses rather than blindly following the herd; one who thinks critically and relates all external information back to one’s own Philosophy.

Leadership is a mindset in which all decisions are made based on a set of held values and does not consider the popularity of such decisions. A leader’s decisions and pursuits are driven by something deeper than preference – they are driven by the leader’s beliefs and vision. The success of a leader is not only defined by the number of people they are able to influence but also by their ability to face great adversity and remain true to their values and vision. A leader does not need the support of others along their path if they believe strongly in their mission. 

It can be anticipated that leadership can easily present one with situations where they are put into the position of the lone wolf – the single entity that must stand alone and go their own way. It is important that a leader is able to embrace this position of the lone wolf as it may be a required stage of the process of building their vision. 

A leader must not be afraid of being the lone wolf, but must not strive to be one, either. The lone wolf phase should only last as long as it takes to:

  1. Understand the vision and values that drove one to break away from the herd in the first place. This cements the vision and puts a strategy in place. 
  2. Develop the vision to a point where it is impervious to eternal influence.
  3. Build within oneself the values that they wish to find in others that align with their vision.

The position of the lone wolf is vulnerable. Without the support and protection of a pack, the lone wolf is exposed to attack. Even if the lone wolf is able to fend off attacks for a long while, eventually, the wolf will tire and be overcome by their attackers. With that said, the lone wolf phase of any change is simply something that must be endured and work through. Again, a leader operates from a place deeper than convenience or ease. The deep drive to enact change will push a leader into this uncomfortable and vulnerable position with the promise of coming out the other side better and more in alignment with their values. 

In this sense, community is not a requirement for a leader to be successful, but the available strength and benefit of a supportive community cannot be overstated. It is critical; however, that the leader searches for a community only after first understanding their vision and values. In this way, such a leader can be sure that the community they find will align with their vision and be that strength and support that will strengthen their cause rather than detract from it. 

Feelings of loneliness during the transition into becoming a self-leader or even a leader beginning a new pursuit is a reality of the situation. One’s vision lives within themselves and for them to change their life to be more in alignment with that vision will require one take it upon themselves to enact the required changes. The support of others may or may not be there in the beginning, but through unrelenting pursuit of the vision, one will be able to find others that will provide the support and strength that they need to carry them forward when their own strength is vulnerable. 

This loneliness must not be feared – it should instead be seen as an opportunity and personal challenge through which one strengthens their resolve and confidence to push forward in their pursuits. 

Stay focused and stay the path. You’re making progress.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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What is Leadership to a Team

Not all bosses are leaders and not all leaders are bosses.

Leadership is not found in a title – it is found in those who lead. It is the actions, ideas, and practices forged through experience. It is something that is recognized when it is seen and felt by those being led. 

Leadership involves more than being the head of a team. While leadership typically comes with elevated authority, successful leaders need not lean on that authority to lead their team. Leaders lean on the respect and trust between themselves and their team to lead their team to success. 

It takes many strong qualities to lead and to be seen and respected as a leader. It requires a level of self development and understanding that some are not willing to work to. 

So, what is leadership to a team?

Being a leader is a position of strength. It is admirable, it is respected, and it is a position of high responsibility and high reward when done effectively. Leadership is where the Tenets come to life in a setting outside of oneself. Leadership is far from easy and is a test of one’s mettle. It has the potential to test a person in many ways as the challenges of the mission often do not reveal themselves until they are unearthed. Even the best strategies must leave enough lateral movement for tactics to address issues as they come up.

Leadership of a team pulls from each of the Tenets to frame what it takes to be a competent and respected leader.

Strength

Leaders are strong individuals – both mentally and physically. A leader’s strength is something that is felt rather than explained – a leader’s team knows when they are in the presence of true strength.

Physical strength may not be required to carry out the tasks of a leader today; however, physical strength still remains a core characteristic of a competent leader. While a leader’s physical abilities may not help them to perform direct job duties, there is a lot that is understood about oneself mentally and emotionally that can only come through training one’s body. Through strength training, one forges new connections and understandings with their body, their confidence and sureness of self increases, and they have a different understanding of discipline and integrity that those who do not train their bodies will not understand.

Further, the physical strength is a metaphor for what it meant to be a leader in a more primal time. A leader’s responsibility was to protect their tribe from the outside – to protect their “us” from “them”. In an unrefined time violence was common and a leader must have been prepared to fight for what was theirs. This primal response is still alive and well today even if we do not acknowledge it outright – people are more apt to respect the person with a strong, fit physique than not. 

A physically weak leader may often be seen as equally mentally weak.

Mental strength and endurance is the other side of strength that a leader must embody. Not only does it take mental fortitude to make decisions and attack problems, they must accept the responsibilities of performing such job duties with grace and ease. The apparent ease with which one is able to accept the rigors of leadership will determine the confidence that one’s team has in the abilities of their leader. This directly feeds into the loyalty and support that that leader will have from their team and the mutual trust between team and leader that is necessary to a team’s success.

A leader must carry intensity with them into battle for the team will feed from their energy. Intensity is found under a heavy barbell and in study of strong leaders that have come before. It is through training the body and mind that one’s confidence is strengthened and turned into the hunger to succeed. 

The conviction that a leader brings to their role of enacting strategy is founded in the strength and belief in the systems that they put together. Weakness seen in a leader will create unease in the ranks.

Discipline

The most effective leaders rely on discipline amongst the ranks to perform job duties in alignment with the mission requirements. It is through discipline that the lower ranks of the team perform as is expected by the team leadership.

Low discipline teams will not be bought into the larger mission and will rely on motivation to complete project tasks. It is this reliance on motivation that will produce inconsistent and unreliable work products, which will make it difficult for the leader to monitor progress or keep confidence in the performance of the team. A leader that fails to create a disciplined environment makes the team’s performance suffer as well as their job harder.

In order to create such an environment of discipline the leader must embody the discipline that they expect of their followers. Without the ability to lead by example, a leader will have little chance of effectively creating such an environment.

The leader’s role is to push their team to perform efficiently. A leader must do this through setting deadlines for both themselves and their team and requiring that all parties, including themself, meet the deadlines set. Requiring the team to deliver on their commitments is the bedrock from which the team’s discipline will be built upon. Without this easy foundation of trust and discipline, the team will have little chance of being disciplined elsewhere.

Integrity

An effective leader builds teams up with Integrity – completeness and unity of all resources to maximize the efficiency of efforts of the team. It is the completeness and unification of resources that foster synergy amongst the team.

The attitude of teamwork is affected directly by a leader’s ability to integrate all parts and pieces of a team into the end goal. A leader must lead with the understanding that they are part of the team. A leader is not a boss and is not above the culture and values of the team as a whole. Any leader that puts themselves above the team loses their place as a leader and instead becomes a dictator or boss. 

Unity across all of the ranks will create strength that is stronger than the sum of the parts. 

A leader must understand that they are no longer only responsible for their own scope – all of the scope of their team is now their responsibility. The entire team’s performance is a reflection on the abilities of the leader. A strong leader will get more production and better product out of a team than that same team will produce under a less competent leader.

Creating a highly disciplined team makes large strides toward that team being built with Integrity. Through discipline all parts of the team will perform their tasks that support the other branches of the team. The ability of one side of the team to rely on the other side of the team creates unity among the ranks.

Wrap Up

The Initiated Philosophy and Initiated Lifestyle is built on the foundation of only four Tenets – Strength, Discipline, Integrity, and Leadership as these four concepts are all that are needed to build an Initiated life.

I used this Transmission to show how Leadership is supported by the other three Tenets in an effort to not only provide insight into why Leadership is important, but to show the Integrity and synergy that is possible through the study of the depth of these four Tenets. 

Leadership may be where the Tenets are brought out to others, but it is also how one approaches themself

The Initiated are leaders in all senses of the word. They can lead teams as well as be their own leaders of their lives. 

Forge Strength, Discipline, and Integrity – go forth and lead.

Yours in strength

-Jersey

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Lead Oneself Before Leading Others

A leader must first learn to lead themselves before stepping into a leadership role over others.

A leader has no business attempting to lead others until they have learned to lead themselves. One who is unable to stand on their own two feet and face adversity alone is unfit to assume the role and responsibilities placed upon a leader. The grit and determination required to get out from under the thumb of another and on one’s own must first be forged before setting sights toward a position of leadership over others. 

Many do not realize how manipulated by society they are and how deep external pressures have sunk their claws into their soft flesh. One cannot be considered a leader if they are well within the grasp of someone or something else – such a person does not have the outlook required to do what is right and required in consideration of the situation at hand.

A leader must be freestanding and ready to accept the challenges that lie ahead. They must exhibit the strength to stand on one’s own beliefs of right and wrong. Conviction and belief in the plan is a must. A leader must earn the respect and trust of their team and, once earned, protect that respect and trust. This is accomplished through being the example of what others in the team are expected to be.

The bulk of this Transmission will come down to the fact that to be considered a leader, one must lead by example. To be the example one must embody the characteristics that they expect their team to display.

Do What Is Right

What is “right” in the sense of leading oneself? What are the rules that will determine the rightness of one’s actions?

One’s philosophy is the set of guiding principles that one acts in accordance with in order to be “right”. The Philosophy, as the guiding words, will inform what principles one shall act in line with. 

“Right” is relative to each individual just as one’s Philosophy is unique to one’s own values and goals. When one makes the investment to live to their own code, rightness or wrongness as projected by others does not matter. 

Right and wrong is subjective when put out to the masses – what is right and just to one may be wholly wrong to another. It is not a leader’s job to pass judgement upon the ideals of others, their job is to execute the code or strategy to which they have constructed. 

To do what is right takes discipline, confidence, and strength, which are all requirements of a good leader. It is not enough to do what is mostly right or sometimes right. If one wants to be an effective leader, one must buy into doing what is right all of the time regardless of circumstance or challenges associated with the action. 

Do It Consistently

Discipline and Integrity are qualities that any good leader will expect of their team and so they must first be understood and built within oneself in order to bring that with them to the team environment. A leader does not act based on motivation; instead, they act in accordance with their code.

A strong code and belief in that code will drive one to act with more intensity than motivation could hope to muster. A code should serve to be a burning fire that drives intense action toward reaching enlightenment where enlightenment is the realization of one’s Philosophy and values. 

Consistency, therefore, does not come from what one “should” do, it comes from what one must do to live in line with their values. There are few things in this world that are non-negotiable and mission success and one’s values must be of this category. A leader must approach a mission with an attitude that mission success is non-negotiable. The tenacity required to adopt this approach is a tenacity that only comes from one who declares that failure is not an option. A leader must first learn this for themself and then inspire a team to feel the same.

Develop Lacking Skills

A leader must be in control of themselves – emotional intelligence and ego must be developed to a level at which neither will impact one’s ability to lead. 

The inability to control emotions makes a leader unreliable and reactive. Emotion does not appeal to logic and emotional decisions are rarely sound. If a leader cannot segregate emotion from the task at hand, they will be putting their future team at risk of the fallout of poor decisions. Inefficiencies and doubt will run rampant through the ranks under a leader that reacts with emotion rather than acts with intention. A leader must be able to remain sound of mind when facing opposition.

The inability to control ego will make a leader untrusted as their motives for taking specific actions may be suspect. A leader with too large a sense of self-importance will appear to be out for their own interests over the benefit of the team. Their communication with their team will be poor as one’s ego will not allow for them to accept criticisms of their work. An ego is a dangerous liability in a leadership position as it will act similar to emotion in that logic does not stand. Logic will take a back seat to the actions that will serve to protect or build a leader’s ego. Rather than the interests and successes of the team taking top priority, a leader with a hungry ego will put their ego first to be sure that it is fed the buffet of validation that it desires. 

Do It For Some Time

Experience is the greatest teacher because the stakes are real. When one is facing a challenge head-on, it is a decision to take action or fail. These same stakes do not exist when reading a book – if a theory or idea is not understood, one can go back and re-read the section to try again. In the field, facing the challenge head on, one must rely on whatever skills and knowledge one has gained to that point and get creative in filling gaps. 

The best and most useful knowledge is gained through such experience. Experience cannot be gained from the pages of a book but must be collected through repetitive trials. 

A leadership position will generally come with some level of accepted experience and it is for exactly this reason. A principle or idea is not learned until one is able to put it to use in a real world situation. What looks to be a great plan on paper can quickly fall apart in practice as there are challenges and environments in the real world that are not accurately captured in the pages of a book. 

It is these unexpected obstacles that test a leader’s resourcefulness and sticktoitiveness. A leader must learn to see adversity as opportunity and forge the ability to remain present and make sound decisions when the original plan does not go as scripted. This is first done when a leader is striving for their own goals – it is here that tactics are learned that can later be transferred to a team setting where there are more moving parts to consider.

Leadership is serious business. As a leader, one represents their team. The leader becomes the figurehead of those that are under them. A poor leader will not develop their people, will not represent them in the proper way, and will not keep their best interests at the heart of decisions. The team relies on the leader and to assume a leadership position must be approached with the care and gravity that it warrants. 

Wrap-Up

A leader is not a boss or a manager – these are positions granted by title. Leadership is not a title but rather found in the makeup of a person. It is found in a compilation of specific skills and knowledge that allow one to be seen as the person best fit to lead a team to success and victory. 

Leadership is not an idea that should be approached lightly. Leaders are called upon to lead by example. A leader shall be prepared to assume whatever role the situation requires – there is no task that is below a leader as a leader is only concerned with mission success. The ability and willingness to perform any job within the team builds the camaraderie and trust required to foster strong team ties and the trust needed between leader and team. 

Again, one has no business leading others until they are equipped and able to lead themselves. To allow one who does not know the meaning of leadership to be put into a leadership role is irresponsible to the team and further setting that “leader” up for failure. 

Leadership is an Initiated Tenet for a reason – leaders embody the characteristics that the Initiated train for. It is the culmination of one’s study and training and will pull from all of the buckets that one has acquired and built over years of work. 

Lead yourself. Lead your life. Then lead others.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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Simplicity

As one’s experience grows, they must remember that simplicity will always be effective.

The end of April brings with it the last Transmission on Integrity for the month. We have talked about what Integrity means, how it benefits us, and how truth plays its role. To round out the month, I want to explore simplicity, an idea that may be lost as one continues their study and growth.

It is a common progression as one gets more educated their understanding of a concept becomes more intricate. This is expected as large topics continue to be broken down into smaller and more specific pieces. Details are uncovered that bring new questions and further research. This is part of learning.

As one continues to study and get more specific, one must remember that in practice, simplicity will reign supreme. Simplicity does not indicate a lack of understanding; rather, the simplicity we are talking about here is the simplicity that can only be found from a place of intimate knowledge and understanding. The simplicity being discussed here is the simplicity in approach and execution. 

Below are tactics that display this point.

Ask the right questions

There are a select number of core issues that create many of the problems that we humans try to answer for. Many of the issues that show themselves on the surface are simply manifestations of these core issues – things like fear, insecurity, trust, relevance, legacy, and self-image, to name some.

The way to enact simplicity is to ask the right questions to understand what the core issue at play is. Once that is known, a simple plan can be built to address it and move on. 

Understand. Plan. Execute. – this is simplicity at its finest. Three words, three steps as a template for any obstacle or goal that one wants to achieve. 

Prioritize Simplicity

I hear a lot: “I’m scatterbrained” or “I’m all over the place” followed up with “that’s just the way my brain works”. This mentality is a deficiency and is symptomatic of one who complicates simple problems. Those same people that make these exclamations are likely the same people that will disagree with this entire Transmission. These people will disagree with the idea that complex problems can be driven down to core concepts and issues. They will state that people are complicated and this view is far too simplistic; that the problems we face as humans have too many layers to be looked at so directly. 

And to those people I say, “think whatever you want, but keep an open mind here and learn something”.

To prioritize simplicity one must learn to stay as far out of the weeds of the issue as one can while remaining effective in addressing the issue at hand. It is rarely necessary to understand every fine detail of a situation in order to resolve it – this is because of what was said earlier – most problems we face are manifestations of only a handful of core issues. Sticking to the larger ideas and resolving the big issues will likely resolve the little issues whereas to try to resolve each of the little issues will do nothing but introduce confusion, dead ends, and additional time to the final resolution.

Less is more

This is one strategy one can employ to simplify near anything. Finding a way to communicate with less words, enact processes with less steps, or develop systems with less pieces are all easy ways to simplify. 

This ties together a few points above. This can only be done effectively when there is a deep knowledge from where simplicity is founded and one asks the right questions to get the full understanding of what the core issues are. It is only when the problem is understood and one has a bag of tactics and ideas to pull from that one can begin to parse down their words and approach into something that will be maximally effective with the minimal amount of effort.

Looking at this from the other side, a lack of understanding or lack of knowledge is the fast lane to complication. Here is what I mean.

When one does not take the time to understand the problem they are facing, they will come up with a solution to what is thought to be the problem.

Sooner rather than later, though, that plan will be realized to be incomplete when the issue remains or the situation worsens. Maybe some tangential issue comes into the picture, maybe the real issue that lingers beneath the surface continues to fester and get worse. Now, as played, the team has already begun down the path with this plan that is now found to be incomplete. The next natural step is to amend the plan – put a new process into place to address the new issues. Chances are that the proper questions were not asked at this fork either, and so, down the road, another problem may present itself. A few iterations of this and you have a set of extremely complicated processes with many moving parts because one needed to keep putting band-aids on the problems as they came up.

This cycle is generally additive because there is often no opportunity to remove functions and processes that are already there as they are addressing the problems that came before. Adding new processes is the antithesis of simplification.

Accept Simplicity

We must accept simplicity as an answer for the idea to become more prevalent. It is important to understand that just because something is simple does not mean that it is unrefined or under developed. If simple is effective, there is no reason to develop additional complexity. 

Simplicity involves work; and work is always effective. It is the overly-complex plans that attempt to outsmart the problem by attempting to shortcut the solution. This must be understood and embraced for simplicity to be real. 

Use simplicity as the powerhouse that it is. Get ahead.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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The Objective and Subjective Truth

It is said there are two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Truth is truth. There can be only one scenario that truly happened and everything else is untrue.

However, it is also said that perception is reality.

The fact of the matter is that to try to live in search of the pure, honest truth is a practice in insanity; especially if a situation involves anyone other than yourself. 

People’s perceptions of events are colored by the lens through which they see the world. This lens makes the same event look different to different people. Such a lens is colored by one’s emotions, fears, insecurities, and experiences, among other things. The perceived truth, then, is influenced by such characteristics and produces a confusion that people must live in.

It stands to reason, then, that there is more than just one truth – there are the objective and subjective truths.

Objective Truth

The objective truth, which we have already established is nearly never realized, is the accurate count of events as they happened void of any emotion, fear, etc. The recounting of the objective truth has slim chance of being realized only when there is nothing to be gained or lost by such recount. 

This is why objective truths are unicorns – something that we may talk about but does not exist in the real world. Rarely is there a situation in which there is nothing to be gained or lost, or at least perceived to be gained or lost, by one’s involvement in a situation. The saying “no good deed goes unpunished” comes to mind, here. People are imperfect and will act to protect their own self-interests which will produce unreliable information, even in the best of cases.

Even with no ill-intent, people will see and report things as seen through their own lenses making objectivity rare.

Subjective Truth

The world deals exclusively in subjective truths. The subjective truth is perception; and perception is lousy with unreliable emotion and insecurity. 

The subjectivity of truth is what creates “gray areas” that make life all the more challenging to navigate. With each additional person added to a situation, the more fuzzy and distorted the truth becomes and it soon becomes a practice in finding the scenario of best fit – the most probable truth based on the scenario that makes the most sense to the most recollections of an event.

Gray Areas

I have discussed these gray areas before in decision making and I will discuss them again, here. I do not like gray areas and drive to see things for their objectivity and truth. I encourage others to do the same through intentional detachment from situations and focusing on facts rather than emotion.

There are people that make careers out of successfully navigating gray areas in a way that benefits them. There are people that live for the excitement of the negotiation and the thrill of playing to people’s emotions to change their perspective or have them thinking in a specific way. 

Navigating these gray areas is a necessary skill when dealing with emotional beings. Those that can do this the best will often be the most successful as they are best able to bring people to their side of an argument to strengthen their forces.  

The subjective nature of people makes many things that should not be negotiable, negotiable. This propensity to be influenced and persuaded leads to the many inefficiencies that people face daily. Succumbing to such influence and persuasion is weak; however, some will willingly be persuaded and influenced as it takes a load off of their shoulders and a decision off of their mind as they allow others to make their minds up for them. 

Integrity

As commentary on Integrity, it should be obvious that this willingness to be persuaded is low Integrity behavior. As we are discussing subjectivity, the fact that people are motivated by their own interests and self-preservation, my point somewhat makes itself. Those people that are attempting to persuade and influence others have their best interest in mind and are out to push their agenda forward. Allowing oneself to be persuaded is forfeiting Integrity to another and tainting one’s own Integrity. 

Without the strength and unity that comes with one’s Integrity, one is more susceptible to persuasion and outsourcing their decisions to those seen as an authority or as having more knowledge then oneself. That gray area that such people like to live in is leaving them exposed to those that have learned how to navigate this fog and lead others to make logical connections on their playing field rather than one’s own.

Living in This Reality

The subjective nature of truth in the real world leads to many unfair situations. The acceptance of the gray areas in day-to-day life is a cop-out that sidesteps logic and emotional development. Those that strive to find the objectivity in situations are fighting an uphill battle with minimal resources on their side. 

When such subjectivity cannot be beat, the Initiated must turn their attention instead toward navigating in this territory of indecision and half-truths. The ability to detach from one’s own emotions and focus instead on how to navigate the emotions of others is the best way to find closure. 

When two or more parties are driven by emotion over logic, there is no appeal being made to a logical and collected being. Emotion does not reason nor does it listen. Emotion is akin to a freight train barreling down the tracks destroying anything in its path. As it continues farther down the hill, the more momentum it picks up and the more destruction left in its path. It takes at least one person to derail the runaway train, pick up pieces of information left behind, and tie together the information into coherent thoughts. 

The Initiated will fill this role more often than not. The Initiated perform the required self-reflection and are equipped with the tools to handle such conflict. They are able to emotionally detach from a situation to be the voice of reason. 

It may be unfair that this responsibility should fall on the Initiated; however, as we are best equipped to take this role, it is our responsibility to see past our immediate impulse and look onward toward the bigger and better picture that must be upheld. 

Once one learns to navigate the minefield of others’ emotions, they are able to show others how to do the same for themselves. It is through such practice that the Initiated show the power of the Tenets.

Be better than average – fill the roles that we are best equipped to fill and make a difference in the world through making a difference in the immediate communities that you affect.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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Living with Integrity

Expanding on last week’s Transmission we look at more ways Integrity will improve aspects of one’s life.

After introducing Integrity and discussing the larger idea and power of the concept, I will continue to build on Integrity through discussion of some other characteristics of the Tenet. 

Last week I described Integrity as the larger picture of unifying one’s resources toward their vision and goal. Beginning with first understanding all of the parts that make up one’s vision, one can then begin to prioritize, plan, and strategize on how to get to that end. It is the building and strengthening of resources that provide Integrity to a plan as it is the unficiation and completeness of the plan that makes it stronger than the sum of all of its parts.

This drive for deeper understanding and strategy will provide further value in one’s life past efficiently and successfully executing on one’s goals; it will also show itself in how one acts toward others and how the actions and thoughts of others will affect them.

Self Validation

The power of a good strategy is that one will have views of the full picture and end goal. This will assist one in understanding the role each part of one’s life plays in that larger picture. With this, one can see how each gain in a single discipline or area feeds into their larger efforts and one is able to validate for themselves the good or bad they accomplish. 

The same cannot be said for someone who does not have such Integrity. Lacking a full view of the picture, the validation and praise from others will become important to the individual. Without understanding how one part affects and feeds into another, one does not understand how their actions are affecting the larger whole. This uneasiness will foster a reliance on external validation to fill that gap in understanding. 

Such reliance on something outside of oneself leaves oneself vulnerable. Not only do we not have control over how others act, we must realize and understand that people are inconsistent and driven by their own motivations. This speaks to the importance of building a strong community, which has been further discussed here.

The feeling of being unsure of one’s actions is what leaves the door open to relying on external validation; whereas, if one can build the knowledge to remove unsureness, they can gauge their own successes and validate their actions for themselves. If one does not currently know everything that is needed, the gaining of such knowledge will be part of their strategy and plan. As one continues to learn and fill knowledge gaps that may currently exist, they can further strengthen their ability to validate their actions for themselves. 

Projection onto Others

Along the same lines as self validation, the Integrity with which one lives their life will likely lessen the urge to project their beliefs and thoughts onto others. 

When one has a vision and feels the drive to get there, it is not important to convince others that they are doing the right thing or that their thoughts/beliefs are better than others. Their mission becomes about driving to their goal rather than getting support or acknowledgement from others.

Support from a community is great; but understood to not be necessary. A good community can boost one’s successes and a distracting community can be a liability. 

One who lives with Integrity influences those around them by living in line with their values and sharing their thoughts with those who show interest. Through leading by example one’s impact is genuine and lasting and further provides onlookers a better picture of what those values look like.

Fearlessness

With Integrity comes clarity – clarity in planning and execution, clarity in the mission, and clarity with oneself. It is clear what needs to be done to succeed and it is further clear to see that one individual’s success is not dependent upon the failure of another. When living with such focus and intention, one approaches problems and assess solutions differently.

With Integrity, one begins to assess paths not by chances of success but instead by efforts and resources needed to be successful. A plan with Integrity is not concerned with statistics of success – it is driven by more than this. Problems are approached with the belief that failure is not an option and that success simply depends upon the right plan and relentless execution.

The power of one’s resources multiply when all are focused on the same target. Much like a firearm, it is the barrel that contains and directs all of the energy of the cartridge, directing and optimizing that energy toward a single target. A plan, built with Integrity, is the barrel that will contain and focus one’s energy toward the goal.

Wrap Up

All of the Initiated Tenets are simple to grasp but have depth to study; this is by design. By choosing a small number of Tenets and then diving deep into the study of each one allows one to find connections and relationships that may otherwise have been missed. This idea itself is further application of the concept of Integrity and further speaks to the power of the concept.

The study and application of Integrity is carried through from cradle to grave – it is something that should be considered in the beginning when constructing one’s own philosophy and should carry all the way through execution to the end goal. 

Making sure that everything works together and works together well is the real way to optimize. 

Optimize and overcome.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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A Life With Integrity

The common definition of Integrity provides only the smallest piece of the concept.

To define Integrity as simply acting to a moral code or as acting with moral uprightness would be to miss the real power of the concept. While these definitions are not incorrect, they fail to capture the full scope of what it means to live with Integrity. To act with Integrity is to direct all actions and decisions to be in line with a moral code or set of acceptable behaviors; whereas to live with Integrity is to unify all areas of one’s life in alignment with a clear vision of where one wants to go. It is this idea of unity and completeness that is the real power Integrity.

A Short Metaphor

When a building or structure has integrity it means it is complete and structurally sound; it is built to spec combining all of the required components to make the structure stand safe and be equipped to perform its intended function. A structure’s integrity depends upon all features of its construction starting from the foundation, to the steel, to the wall systems, windows, interior, roof system, etc. Anything that is built on or within the structure must appropriately interact with all other parts for it is all of the pieces of the building that makes the final product safe, lasting, and fit for purpose. 

To reach that end, a building’s design is first based on the requirements of what the structure will be used for as the structure’s intended purpose will inform many of the design considerations. From there, engineers must consider the location of the structure, the construction schedule, and the budget. The combination of these criteria come together to inform the final design product that will be built. There exists an ideal combination of these criteria to optimize both the design and construction efforts to support the final goal of a safe and functioning building that can be built on time and on budget.

These same considerations that architects and engineers give to building design should be considered by each person that is planning and building their life. 

Defining the Criteria

A fulfilled life is a compilation of many components; some being direct ties to the Initiated tenets and some that are interpretations, applications, and implementations of those Tenets. Regardless, the fulfilled life for any person considers the many aspects that must support and integrate with each other to build a life that is more than the sum of all of its parts.

Consider some of the following things that are typical staples of descriptions of the “perfect life”. Consider the time and effort required to only maintain these different areas let alone excel in each of them:

  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Career
  • Financial stability
  • Physical ability
  • Physical attractiveness
  • Mental strength / Intelligence
  • Community
  • Hobbies
  • Travel

It is the integration and interaction of these things that come together to provide the full scope of what one’s life is intended to be. It is the application of Integrity that will optimize one’s efforts toward each area in support of the integrated whole.

Again, this list is general as each person must define their own goals and further define the level of importance assigned to each item in order to bring into focus what that ideal life will look like. One must visualize what that perfect combination will feel like, look like, sound like, where it is, and when it will be reached. From there, one can begin to build their plan to get there considering the role each one will play and how it will interact and integrate with the others.

This concept of Integrity is often overlooked or marginally implemented in constructing one’s plan. Understanding how all of these pieces will fit and interact with each other is important. It is often an oversight as it is the Integrity of the plan that will determine how close one will eventually come to that vision of their ideal life. 

On Limitations

A truth that must be accepted is that each person’s ability to achieve everything that they want will be limited by their ability to capitalize on their resources. Many do not have infinite resources available to them and even if one found themselves with unlimited financial or personnel resources at their disposal, they will still not be able to buy themselves more time. This is to say that one’s lifetime is finite. Delegating tasks and to create time to dedicate elsewhere is a good strategy, but time remains the universal limitation that all must aim to maximize.

Understanding and exploiting Integrity is the idea of unifying all resources and actions toward the same end. Spent resources that do not provide equivalent or exceeding returns must be limited as it will be a violation of the Integrity one seeks to build.

The Fallacy of Balance

Further to implementing Integrity is the understanding that perfect balance should not be pursued as the goal in building an integrated whole. To try to build all parts of one’s life equally and concurrently will be deciding to fail at all parts equally. Balance is only reached at the end of the pursuit, when there is no further building to be done. It is the point of contentment; of homeostasis – all parts have found their spot and no further adjustment is needed.

Instead, it is more beneficial to one trying to build their life to do so in an unbalanced but controlled manner; the idea being to delegate one’s resources more heavily to a smaller number of pursuits at any one time to maximize the gains from their efforts while other areas are put in maintenance mode as to not lose ground. Cycling through each area of the plan over a period of time allows one to build all of the pieces into the larger end picture. 

The degree of unbalance and the frequency of this cycling of focus is determined by one’s strategy.

This concept speaks to a larger unified expenditure of resources. Each action taken that is not in line with the larger goal violates the Integrity of one’s life. Optimizing one’s Integrity will afford them the maximum return on investment and will work toward the ideal combination of all of the parts and pieces. 

Further, by having a larger plan in place that bounds all actions those unbalanced actions will support the trend headed toward the peak of achievement.

Tying it Together

Integrity is the single Tenet that ties all of the other Tenets together. It is the driving undercurrent that makes the Initiated Lifestyle work. Without such Integrity toward a single vision, the Tenets will be disjointed and lacking the optimization to make the Initiated Lifestyle comprehensive. 

Integrity may be the most important Tenet to understand and implement as without it, one’s strategy will be plagued with inefficiencies and make the entire pursuit of the Lifestyle far harder than necessary. 

Integrity is required to optimize the strategy while the strategy is how one is going to get to that peak compilation of all of the Tenets. 

Build your life with Integrity and take advantage of the integration of efforts to compound the strength and potential each affords.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey 

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You Are As Good As Your Systems

The less you test your discipline, the more you can test yourself in other areas.

Each decision that one makes is an opportunity to succeed or to fail; therefore minimizing decisions through automation will reduce the potential for tactical failures.

Automation is a powerful concept. It says that anything that needs to be done repeatedly should just be set up into a repeatable system. A system can be a schedule, a procedure, or some other organization of activities that has a definitive time, period, and sequence through which it gets done.

The concept of automation is straightforward enough to understand and implement; so instead, let’s discuss the advantages afforded to someone who runs highly automated systems. Automation offers few specific advantages:

  1. It defines the amount of time one can reasonably expect to spend on a certain task

A system helps a person to plan around a specific activity. Take for instance a morning routine. This is a system that one puts into place and is the same few things they do every morning to get ready for their day. This will have a time commitment associated with it and it will take that specific amount of time each morning to get done. It is a system – repeatable and schedulable.

  1. Takes the guesswork out of when these tasks will get done.

Consider a training schedule. One such instance will say that a person must train 4 nights a week. A person should decide on which 4 nights they will work out each week and maintain that schedule. They have systematized their schedule to block out the same 4 nights each week for training. 

  1. Allows for one to maneuver around interruptions. 

If being realistic – there will be interruptions to these systems. Work will run late, a doctor appointment will be scheduled, or family will come into town. To say that once a system is in place that it will be followed with no deviation is not realistic.

With strong systems in place it is easy to work around these interruptions with minimal impact to the larger progress toward the goal.

Here is what I mean:

By knowing how long a certain activity takes, one will have the flexibility to find that chunk of time somewhere that better fits around the interruption. If it is defined that a training session takes an hour, all one must do is work a one hour chunk into their schedule to go bang out a workout. This immediately quantifies the amount of time required and simplifies finding a block of time where it fits. Further, having a schedule for the amount of times one must train in a week helps to determine on which days one can fit in these training sessions. 

Thinking of this a bit differently, with these two things figured out, one will no longer have to plan activities, rather, they are just moving blocks of time around on a schedule. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, necessarily, it just matters that one blocks out the necessary chunk of time to get it done. It takes all of the ancillary information out of the actual planning and scheduling and forces one to get the work done.

Said yet another way, all of the subjective nuances of a task are removed leaving only the objective blocks on a schedule. With this schedule, one simply has to either follow through on the activities or choose to fail; which is a far different thought than having to choose to succeed, as is the case when there is not a system established.

Remaining disciplined is already challenging enough – there are more more things that will work against an individual than for them in this regard. The more one can simplify and automate those systems that help them to remain disciplined, the less thought one has to put toward specific tasks. 

The more one tests their discipline, the more opportunity one gives themself to fail – so one should aim to test themselves less often in this way.

In practicing automation, discipline becomes mechanical. Rather than having to decide to be disciplined, one will instead have to decide to be undisciplined – which is arguably a far harder decision to force oneself to make.

You are only going to be as good as your systems – the less you test your discipline, the less often you will fail.

Fail less.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

A Disciplined Plan is a Proper Plan

Discipline practiced in the planning phase will pay dividends far larger than the initial resource investment.

The planning stage of any new goal is the first and most impactful stage to mission success. Armed with a good, actionable plan, the success rates of an individual or a team increases. This may beg the question, “What are the ingredients to a good plan?” 

There are many necessary ingredients and their proportions will change depending on the many unique factors and challenges that lay ahead; however, practicing discipline in the planning phase will significantly impact the quality of the plan created. The level of discipline in a plan can be seen in a number of ways. Three common displays of discipline in planning are:

  1. Defining the end point of the planning phase and stopping once that point is reached. Define the goals needed to be planned, to what level of detail, and what is to be left to field tactics along the path. The difference between planning (strategy) and tactics is expanded upon here.
  2. Commiting time and resources to put a plan together at the outset of the pursuit. It is tempting to jump into a new pursuit and figure it out along the way. This approach works for simpler pursuits with minimal moving parts, but in more complicated situations and especially if you are in a team setting, there are too many variables to be managed that decisions cannot be made “on the fly” without causing confusion and wasting resources.
  3. Taking inventory of available resources and skills. Setting the baseline for what is available and known against what will need to be acquired and developed to ensure mission success is a critical step in ensuring that the development of the plan will not overestimate existing resources and be forced to a limp by a weak assumption that cannot be realized. 

Point one is fairly straight-forward and so we will not spend a lot of effort discussing it. This is simply stating to define what the end looks like before one begins the process. Without this step, there will be no indication of when the plan is complete and enacting the plan can begin. This contributes to some trying to come up with a “perfect” plan or continuing to push off taking action because they are “not ready”. If one can define what a workable plan looks like and the high points it needs to hit, they can start taking action once those boxes are checked.

Point two is a little more interesting. This point is prioritizing the efforts needed to make a plan in the first place. Often, when one has an idea they would like to pursue, the automatic response is to dig right in and get going. They will purchase items they believe necessary, they will rearrange their schedules to create time for this new pursuit, they will start producing whatever output they feel is going to get them closer to the end. 

The reality of the situation is that this approach produces a lot of waste – wasted resources in the way of spent money and time that is not providing value to the end goal. 

A planning phase may be seen as wasted efforts in itself – it is taking up time and resources to put a plan together; however, more often than not, the resources expended to establish a good plan will pay for itself many times over in the form of saved money and efforts through minimizing pursuits of those things not in line with the plan.

Finally point three forces the plan to assess and have a real conversation with oneself about where they and their team are at, and more importantly, what will be needed to ensure the plan completes successfully.

Especially when pursuing a personal goal it is too easy to overestimate one’s abilities or underestimate the challenges that are involved in doing something seemingly simple. Ignorance is bliss – one simply doesn’t know what they don’t know.

The tendency to underestimate the time and effort required to get to one’s goals is common. Whether we don’t want to believe the amount of work we will need to put in to be successful or we think we can achieve more than we can, allowing oneself to create a plan with these poor assumptions is priming one to hit a wall somewhere along the line that they must then address while risking the possibility of getting discouraged and quitting.

This exercise will further inform the timeframe one gives themself to complete their goal and overall creates a more competent, actionable plan.

A disciplined plan followed by disciplined action will result in goals accomplished on time and on budget. 

You are not an exception to these common rules. Practice discipline, remain present and honest with yourself and create bulletproof plans of action.

Go forth and conquer.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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Motivation is Not Discipline

Anyone relying on motivation to drive action will forever be inconsistent.

Discipline and motivation take two paths to the same end – to drive action. They are not evenly matched contenders; however.

Motivation is an artificial catalyst for action created by the manipulation of emotions. It is only a matter of time before motivation will wane and without something else to pick up the torch, progress will be stunted. The progress made with motivation will slowly revert back to where one started only to wait for the next wave of motivation to come. 

Conversely, discipline is reliable and consistent. Rather than rely on external stimuli to create intention and action; discipline comes from within. It is created from strong values and defined by a person’s code. These values alone define the urgency and intention in one’s actions that motivation will artificially produce. 

A disciplined person does not require motivation to achieve. Regardless of the difficulty of the task at hand, the actions taken as a result of discipline happen out of need, rather than out of want. Disciplined actions inherently have a significance to them; the actions support a larger picture. Discipline will define a set of non negotiable requirements that a person must fulfil. It is who they are. The drive to take action; therefore, exists without motivation being needed. 

To the uninitiated, discipline may look like sacrifice. Discipline is easy to blame from the outside for one missing a night out at the bar or skipping out on desserts at the family birthday party. However, to the individual, going out to the bar or eating junk food is the real sacrifice if it is in conflict with their values and goals. A night out at the bar may result in waking up late the following day, sluggish performance, and sacrificed productivity; and keeping on diet may be more important than indulging on cake. 

This dedication to a goal speaks to the understanding of the larger picture. Discipline allows one to see past “one night out” and “one piece of cake” out to the next many nights out and offered cake. There is a higher meaning to one’s actions that does not involve maximizing immediate pleasures at the detriment of future progress. Discipline and the values that underpin it are the higher meaning themselves.

Motivation will artificially create a higher meaning or a call-to-action where one does not exist. The lack of higher significance is preyed upon by those selling motivation – it is the only way that they can be successful as motivation is relied upon when an individual cannot provide purpose for themselves. The lack of purpose comes from their own lack of strategy or real, tangible goals. 

Where motivation will fail an individual, discipline will remain. It is woven into the being of the Initiated individual and will remain with them wherever they go.

Stop seeking motivation and instead cultivate discipline.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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Accountability’s Shortfall

Accountability is touted as the end-all be-all answer, but here is one clear area for improvement.

“Accountability” is everywhere. Everyone must be held accountable. You must hold yourself accountable. You need to hold your teammates accountable. You should hold your boss accountable. 

I get it – the concept is important. The importance of holding people responsible for their words and actions cannot be understated. People should answer for their negligence, nonperformance, and transgressions and must stand behind their words and actions, own them, and face any consequences coming from them.

However, “accountability” is quickly becoming an overplayed idea; and worse yet, misapplied as the standard to resolve issues in areas of personal performance and behavior. Many say it; “accountability over everything”. It has become the marching orders of many individuals and corporations alike. 

There is one major flaw that we can improve upon, though.

What is Accountability

At its core, accountability simply states that people cannot act without having to answer for those actions. A code of acceptable conduct must be upheld and those that violate it must be held responsible. At its extreme, accountability is a thinly veiled threat.

Accountability’s largest handicap as an idea is that it is reactionary. Accountability requires that an act must first happen before there is an opportunity to work toward an answer. With this, accountability treats the symptoms of a larger problem rather than solve the problem itself; searching for answers rather than solutions. The solution to the root problem becomes secondary to holding the violating party accountable. Much like a game of Whack-a-Mole, the symptoms will continue to rear their heads requiring further accountability to smack them back down.

At best, accountability’s potential to be proactive is derived from one’s awareness that they may be held accountable for their actions. This knowledge may make them consider their actions before acting, but it may not. This approach is only marginally better than acting first and being held accountable later as the motivation to act correctly is not sound. These actions do not come from a place within oneself as dictated by an internal code of conduct, rather, it is the surroundings that are dictating the actions of the individual. 

Accountability exists outside of an individual – someone or something external to the individual assigns accountability. If a person does not recognize the authority of such surroundings, there is no hope for accountability to have any success in influencing behavior. Even when holding oneself accountable, this remains true (I’ll get to it).

A Two Party System

Accountability will forever be a two-party system. It defines a social dynamic in which one party must answer to another. One party must be accepted as an authority and the other party subservient to it; ie. those holding others accountable and those being held accountable, respectively. This is the fundamental principle that accountability is created upon. 

Two Parties When Holding Oneself Accountable

As stated above this two party concept still applies when holding oneself accountable. In such instances, there must be within a person an elevated version of themselves to which the current version is being held accountable. Those doughnuts and cupcakes must be answered for, the subsequent missed workout must be answered for, the laziness and netflix binge must be answered for; but to who? This elevated vision of what one should be is the authority providing the key piece of the accountability formula. 

The Alternative

550 words in and I have not offered a solution yet. Well, here it is.

There is more value in focusing on preventing the need for accountability – something that will prevent problems from surfacing to begin with. This alternate will empower individuals to take control back within themselves and exceed the expectations of their surroundings.

That alternate; that precursor to accountability is discipline.

Discipline is a far superior concept to accountability and what should instead be touted as the answer in matters of personal performance. As discipline comes from within rather than based on a judgement of the surroundings, there is unmatched consistency and power in its practice. It takes what was outsourced by accountability and brings it back within the individual. The individual does not need to answer to anyone because through discipline, there will be nothing to answer for.

Where accountability will step in and identify responsible parties, sequence of events, and succeed in pinpointing the exact entity responsible for the current situation, discipline could have prevented the situation from ever occurring, rendering accountability unnecessary. 

Solutions; Not Answers

Discipline is a solution rather than an answer; it will resolve the problems that accountability is hired to treat. Deadlines will be met, obstacles overcome, and progress made in whatever arena one is playing in. 

Accountability Isn’t Necessary Until Something Happens

The truth is no one thinks about accountability when everything goes right; and why would they? There is no reason to investigate for responsibility when the task has been completed. 

With this, why continue to tout accountability as the answer when discipline precedes it? 

Through focusing on discipline the finger-pointing inherent to accountability will disappear and the constructed hierarchy will cease to exist. It is a win in every category.

Discipline is what performs. Accountability pokes discipline in the eye when it has failed.

Forge discipline and rely on yourself. Stop relying on accountability. 

Yours in strength

-Jersey

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Lessons Learned Under the Bar Part 2

Here are four more lessons the iron is teaching. Are you listening yet?

Last week’s Transmission looked at three lessons the iron teaches on self-reliance, excuses, and discipline. It doesn’t end there. In its own ways, the iron teaches lessons that touch every corner of life. Here are four more lessons the barbell is teaching.

Growth

A barbell provides resistance. Through continuing to conquer the challenges of the iron, one begins to realize that only through overcoming challenge will one grow. A barbell that does not get heavier does not forge further strength. Continued strain against the weight forces the mind and body to either strengthen and overcome or get crushed.

Some avoid challenges in favor of comforts and content; however, there are no gains made in comfort – there is no drive for anything to change. Change is prompted by discomfort and is accomplished by the overcoming to regain balance. The Initiated individual understands this and continually seeks challenge. By continuing to seek out the challenges just as they continue to put plates onto the bar, one knows that they are growing and making progress toward a goal. Sore muscles are a reminder of the work put in just as the soreness and weariness that follows a challenge overcome signifies growth and progress made.

Time

Strength takes commitment and dedication; but it also just takes time. It does not come quickly nor easily. The path to the end is not a straight line. Career, stress, injury, etc. all impact performance in the gym and are a part of the game that must be endured. How one makes and protects the time to train and recover will correlate to their progress in the gym.

In today’s age of instant gratification and participation trophies, many don’t know failure. Many expect their successes to come faster than what may be reasonable. They expect some reward for simply showing up. There is no drive to put in the time needed to come out ahead. Strength does not play by these rules and neither does any other meaningful pursuit – there are no shortcuts. Repetition after repetition, session after session, one must approach challenges with intensity and purpose to cut one’s teeth and develop the skills needed to win.

Commitment

Gaining strength requires commitment to and belief in a plan of action. Commitment to a training block is needed to run the block through to the end and determine the validity or effectiveness of the block through analyzing results. If continually looking for the next best program or jumping from one training ideology to another, gains will be stunted and one will not be able to learn what does and does not work for them.

This is true of all things. If one continuously jumps from one pursuit to another, they are not allowing sufficient time to see one course of action through to the end. There is value missed – one will never learn how to close on a pursuit. There will remain some level of unfinished business if one does not commit to seeing things through to the end. 

Perspective

Stay after the weights long enough and one will eventually reach a level of strength at which the current weights lifted were unimaginable when first starting. As one has learned more about how to train, eat, sleep, lift, warm up, etc., they will begin to set their sights on higher weights – weights that were not in the realm of reality when first starting. Perspective shifts as experience is gained and ignorance wanes. 

Any new pursuit carries a learning curve. Through lifting one begins to understand that focused effort, education, and application will result in progress. One begins to gain clarity through the challenges they have overcome. This clarity builds with strength, as confidence and ability continue to build.


The barbell’s power is in its simplicity. With no purpose other than existing, it manages to command respect from those who understand its language. It tests and builds into strengths the same weaknesses it exposes. 

The iron shows a lifter what they choose to seek. 

Seek the truth.

Yours in strength,

Jersey

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Lessons Learned Under the Bar – Part 1

The iron is teaching lessons to those who know to listen.

The barbell is the most widely recognized tool for building strength. Spend enough time under the bar and one will get stronger. This is a known truth.

However, “stronger” means many things. One may read this to mean physical strength – the ability to lift more weight than previously able. While not incorrect, physical strength can be one of the smallest gains made in training. Through my years of powerlifting and strength training, my eyes were slowly opened to all of the other gains I had been making.

The barbell is an objective teacher; it has nothing to prove and no agenda to push. It is simply there to exist; to be an object to test the strength and resolve of those who wish to step up and conquer it. Simple.

In the relationship between barbell and lifter, only the lifter is able to adapt.

The barbell will expose one’s weaknesses and challenge them to overcome or quit.

To that end, here are some lessons the iron is teaching, if one learns to listen:

Self-Reliance

Lifting weights is the most individualized sports there is. The individual is both their team and opponent. The battle is between only the lifter and the barbell. For the seconds it takes to perform a lift, there is no one outside of the lifter that will effect the outcome. Pure self-reliance.

Outside of the gym, being self-reliant allows one to self-police one’s actions along their path. Without needing validation from others, one is able to choose the best course of action for themselves. The confidence to take action without needing permission from others increases effectiveness and efficiency in accomplishment of goals. Having the confidence in oneself to overcome the challenges that lay ahead allows one to attack said challenges with ferocity and focus. Self-reliance is critical to achieving what one sets out to do.

Excuses

One will quickly learn that excuses do not make gains in the gym. One can explain away poor training, poor diet, or poor sleep in any way they so choose; but in the end, the bar weight will not climb. Not only will excuses expose how mentally weak one is – with excuses, one will remain as physically competent as they had been before. If one finds a place to set blame outside of themselves for lackluster performance, they are wrong. Nothing outside of the confines of a squat rack matters when the bar is on one’s back.

Outside of training, the same principles apply. Making excuses in any arena attempts to justify one’s poor choices or lack of action; attempting to remove fault from oneself. No reflection, learning, or growth can happen when one cannot first admit their faults. Justification of poor actions will remove any semblance of ownership.

Discipline

Building muscle and strength takes many years to achieve. It is a process of breaking down and rebuilding muscles over time. It is the product of many well-thought choices and a discipline to achieve.

There will be times when training is not fun and motivation will be low. Whether it be a training block that is going to hammer a weak lift or a nagging injury that one must work around, there will be opportunities to back off from one’s training. The discipline forged under the bar will keep focus and intensity on the task at hand. A true lifter shows up regardless, knowing full well that consistency in training is more important than finding the motivation to go to train.

Any pursuit one chases must be pursued with discipline if expecting progress to be made. Few worthwhile pursuits will come to fruition overnight. The truth of the matter is that nearly nothing happens as quickly as one may hope it to and, many times, progress is not linear. Discipline is the driving force to continue to show up and put the work in regardless of short term results. It replaces outcome-oriented thinking with long term planning.


Lifting weights is far larger than building muscle or improving health. Through the unique challenges afforded by the inherent simplicity of a barbell, one will reflect upon oneself. As stated earlier – in the relationship between barbell and lifter, only the lifter is able to adapt. The barbell serves to expose the weaknesses of the lifter.

Can one handle this truth? A strong individual can.

The iron teaches many lessons to those that learn to listen. Its lessons are sometimes harsh and are paid for in hard work and sweat.

Gain physical strength under the bar, but understand that there is more to be gained.

Yours in strength,

Jersey

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Speak the Initiated Language

The language influenced by the Initiated tenets says more than what is communicated by the words.

Language – the words and phrases used in communication have a circular relationship with one’s philosophy; one influences the other. How one assembles their thoughts and communicates them both displays and informs their outlook.

The Initiated language is a product of the Initiated tenets. Strength, discipline, integrity, and leadership bleed through the words spoken by those living these principles. The language can be characterized by a driving undertone of action, strength, and fairness.

Strength. Confidence.

If there were only two words to describe the idea of the Initiated language – it would be strength and confidence. As wide and ambiguous as this description may be, it is easy to spot when listening to such speech. Strong communication and confidence are closely related; building and reinforcing each other.

Strong and confident language can be displayed in many ways. Whether it be fair statements to communicate ideas or calmness and collectedness in a disagreement the underlying strength and confidence of the words are felt without having to be directly addressed. The language is utilitarian: it is efficient, direct, and clear in its purpose to communicate an idea. There is no need for exaggerations or hyperbole – the language communicates what is rather than what may be wanted.

Thoughts project ability rather than limitation – a sureness that resistance will be overcome. There is a confidence in the speaker’s abilities which will, in turn, strengthen such abilities when put into practice; not unlike a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Strong language does not include passive verbs like “waiting”. The Initiated language speaks of action and pursuing what is wanted or needed. Words of passivity are replaced with words of action and intention. The Initiated will pursue information or materials needed to complete their objectives – they do not wait for someone else to provide for them.

Strong and confident speaking is shown in a person’s ability to make statements and assemble arguments with efficient use of words. By explanation of the converse – a lack of confidence often results in an individual rambling and will result in a person providing unrelated details to the idea they are trying to explain.

Ownership.

As leaders and adopters of the concepts of Extreme Ownership, Initiated individuals assume responsibility and ownership of a situation without searching for a convenient place to shift blame. Statements made come from a place of responsibility and self-reflection on the role the individual played in allowing for the situation to unfold as it had. This will be immediately followed by actions that need to be taken to resolve the situation and further the actions that will be taken moving forward to ensure that this does not happen again.

Belief in these concepts are heard in the communication and recapitulation of events. When analyzing a loss, the analysis and discussion seek to find mistakes and shortcomings. One does not search for the faults of others but rather how they can take different actions moving forward to ensure that the lapse in leadership does not result in similar situations again. Responsibility is taken upon the individual to make the changes necessary to strengthen themselves and their team.

This section focuses on loss or unfavorable situations because this is when ownership is tested most – it is easy to take responsibility for a win. The key in a winning situation is to remain humble. The Initiated do not seek the approval or applause from others – they are able to provide that for themselves. A job well-done is gratification enough and the Initiated individual would rather pass that praise down to their team for they understand that without a strong team, a leader cannot achieve the successes they are celebrating.

Emotion.

Emotion is the antithesis to logic. A highly emotional situation rarely fosters sound decisions and communication. In speaking the Initiated language, an awareness and pursuit of emotional intelligence is key.

Remaining level-headed and on topic regardless of the conversation is a strength and necessary skill to effectively communicate. Allowing emotion to bleed into language will change the words and phrasing diminishing the overall effectiveness of communication. This will diminish the impact and efficacy of the transmission of concepts from speaker to listener.

Maintaining control of communications and remaining centered leaves available all of the tools one has in their toolbox. The first person in a conversation to lose their composure will lose their position. Remaining centered supports one in their navigation of a conversation and having their tools available will support their arguments and ability to outwit their partner.


The Initiated language is more a philosophical concept than maybe a typical definition of language . The influence of the Initiated tenets informs much of the underlying concepts discussed above. Using language with undertones of strength, power, and responsibility will command respect from one’s peers and will further strengthen one’s own perspective of themselves and their abilities.

Speak the Initiated language – use it as a tool to reinforce the Initiated tenets as well as help communicate our tenets to those not yet Initiated.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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Strategy and Tactics in Action

The follow on to our last Transmission – we explore the application and practice of strategic and tactical planning.

In the last Transmission, the concepts of strategy and tactics were discussed as the two necessary pieces of a bulletproof plan to success. This Transmission will describe how these concepts are applied in both a team and in an individual setting along with some suggestions for how one can maximize the effectiveness of each.

Team Setting

A team setting for purposes of this discussion implies that there are many people organized into some hierarchy to provide clear custody of responsibilities. By definition, the hierarchy will have higher and lower level members. As noted previously, the spectrum of responsibilities in strategic planning to tactical planning shifts from one to the other as one moves from the top of the hierarchy to the bottom – more on this later.

A large challenge to overcome in a team environment is the dispatch of information throughout each of the team members. Each team member must have an exposure to the larger strategy allowing each member to buy into the team’s mission as well as understand how their specific role feeds into the larger strategy of the team. This creates a sense of ownership and understanding amongst the team members and fosters collective strength in team values.

At the lowest levels of a team, there must be an expectation set of taking tactical action. These boots-on-the-ground members of the team are responsible for planning and executing their responsibilities as dictated by the larger team objectives. These members must be provided the latitude to make decisions to maximize efficiency and resource expenditure. To allow for success in these endeavors, these team members must be provided the understanding of how their decisions and actions will add or detract from the overall team mission which enforces the importance noted of each team member having exposure and visibility to the larger strategy at play.

Above the lowest-ranking team members are the tactical planners. These tacticians are responsible for putting the tactical plan together for their team and to disperse the specific tactical objectives to each of the subordinate team members. The responsibilities at this level are to bridge the gap between the strategy and the field conditions and to tie the tactical pursuits into the larger strategic pursuits. This level is responsible for overseeing and managing tactical resources both materially and in manpower.

At the highest level of the hierarchy, and subsequently the furthest removed from the tactics at the field level, are the strategic planners. The highest level of the hierarchy should refrain from dictating tactical approaches for that would violate the principles of decentralized command and result in sub-optimal tactical planning. This will not be due to lack of tactical abilities, but rather from lack of intimacy with field conditions and resources. It is not the job of strategists to think tactically. It is imperative that the strategic thinkers are thinking strategically while incorporating the feedback they are getting from their lower levels or field units.

Of course, this is an oversimplification for explanation of the concept and the success of a team depends on many other things. In the real world, a team will contend with disengaged members, personality clashes, etc.; however, I would posit that if a clear hierarchy and delegation of responsibilities is established and maintained early, engagement across the team will increase over the course of the mission.

For the Individual

As an individual, the same principles of strategy and tactics will apply toward a mission or goal; however, the application will look different. As there is no hierarchy to separate responsibilities, time intervals will serve to delineate the hierarchy described above.

As a single entity, the individual will be required to be both the strategic and tactical planner. Note; however, both roles cannot be filled at the same time for there are different goals to be met by each process. As described above, strategy comes to form in a general flow with a defined end goal. The boundaries and ground-rules are set within the strategy. The tactics are the specific moves that will carry the mission from one milestone to the next along the larger path of the strategy.

It is the time interval on which an individual plans tactically and strategically that will determine which form of reflection and pursuit one is working on at any given time. Strategy shall be set and reviewed on longer intervals in the magnitude of years where tactical planning is generally done on weekly and monthly intervals; depending on the overall scope and length of time of a particular mission.

This is shown in the construction of a 10 year goal. Such a goal will will be of significant enough scope that there will be intermediate milestones set to provide context and frame of reference for the rate of progress being made. Without such milestones, it will be more difficult to understand how one is tracking toward the larger goal.

Driving to these milestones will be the work of the individual tactics employed to address each challenge along the way. Without intermediate tactics, it will be hard to make a strategic plan that provides the flexibility to compensate for the conditions of life.

As a side note, if a 10 year plan does not require milestones and tactics, the goal is far too small in scope and the reader should ask themselves why this goal cannot be achieved in far less time.

Challenge yourself to pursue large goals both for yourself and with the teams you lead or influence. Commit to a goal that is just outside of your current comfort level, then put a plan together to crush it.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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Strategy vs. Tactics

Discussion of strategic and tactical planning, the differences, and why both are needed to ensure success.

Accomplishing significant feats require time and effort. In order to challenge and change the status quo one must commit to the process and construct a plan of attack as lacking an appropriate plan increases the chances that the mission will not be successful. A plan is comprised of a balanced combination of strategy and tactics to engage the long term goal through a sequence of smaller steps. Both are needed to remain task focused and realize success.

Definitions

Defining the difference between strategy and tactics will do much of the heavy lifting toward providing the required context for this discussion.

Strategy is the high-level roadmap employed to get from the current position to the completion of a mission. Starting with wide swipes and developing further, a strategy will begin to orient one on their path to mission completion. The strategy will provide order and sequence to circumvent pitfalls and begin to bring context to required techniques and resources. A good strategy continues developing to strike a balance between specificity in direction of action and the ability to freely maneuver as real-time conditions dictate. The strategy should provide a clear picture of the finish line and define the outer bounds to confine and direct the tactics employed toward the end goal.

Tactics, then, are those individual maneuvers, techniques, and systems put in place at each step of a larger strategy to secure incremental progress toward the final goal. The latitude left within the outer bounds of a strategy is navigated using tactics. Tactics are more task focused and a short term plan on how to navigate the current opposition and support the overall strategy. Tactics are more direct and tangible actions and are dynamic in considering the changes taking place in the field.

Interaction of Strategy and Tactics

The interaction of strategy and tactics should now start coming into focus. Strategy provides the boundaries that tactics will operate within.

Balance is key as a strategy that is prescriptive will become too rigid and remove the flexibility necessary to make real-time decisions in the field. A strategy too wide will not focus the tactics employed and will allow tactical efforts to be exerted in too many directions diminishing the ultimate effectiveness of the efforts.

Strategy and tactics are relevant in all situations and environments in which there is a goal to be met.

They may have won the battle, but we will win the war.

This saying depicts the interaction of strategy and tactics in successes on the battlefield; the original example of the larger concept discussed here. Thinking of war as the overall strategy employed to bring ultimate success, the battles are seen as tactical wins that serve that larger purpose.

This also implies that tactics may be volatile in the short term and that a win or loss in a tactical pursuit does not dictate the larger success of the strategy; which is true. The level at which one looks at tactics is from a closer viewpoint than one looks at the overall strategy. Tactics are considered on a micro-scale whereas strategy is on the macro-scale. Tactical engagements may be won or lost but will ultimately aim to trend along the larger strategy. Without vision of the macro, the micro will inevitably come off course.

To be ultimately successful and rise above the volatility of tactical wins and losses, strategic and a tactical perspectives are required to ensure that the tactics are serving to progress the strategy. Without regular review and study of both levels of planning, the overall concentration and effectiveness of the tactical efforts will be diminished. The awareness of these ideas and the interconnection of the two will put one ahead of their opposition. Effectively building strong strategies supported by strong tactics is the recipe for sure success.

Strategize well and attack using strong tactics to ensure victory.

Yours in stregth,

-Jersey

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Stop Working Out; Start Training

Working out is not equivalent to strength training. We explore the differences.

To build muscle and strength one has to put in focused time and effort to see results. Consistently lifting heavier loads for more repetitions pushes the body to adapt; to rebuild damaged muscles stronger than they were and to make the neurological changes increasing the efficiency of motor skills necessary to perform the movements.

The quality of commitment to these ends is a core factor in determining the level of success one reaches in their pursuit. The difference between working out and training may seem subtle, but the differences will become significant the deeper one goes.

“Training” immediately invokes a sense of purpose and intent. To be able to train, one must first have a purpose for their pursuit. This purpose must be something substantial – it must be tangible with clear definitions of success and failure. The training plan is directed at achieving this purpose. It would follow that there is something being trained for.

By making the mindset shift from “working out” to “training”, the individual trips to the gym and time spent under the bar are referred to as training sessions. They begin to be incremental steps in support a larger end goal. Training sessions become deliberate and goal oriented. The training sessions will carry a gravity and significance.

When adopting the mindset of training for strength, the pursuit of the goal becomes encompassing of factors outside of the gym as well, where real strength gains are made. A complete training plan will look at diet, sleep patterns, and habits amongst other things. There is nothing off limits that cannot be tweaked and improved upon to give an individual the advantage toward achieving their goal. Said another way the larger purpose is held paramount over the sacrifices that are needed to reach the set goal. To achieve anything, sacrifice is necessary.

When training, one will need to work on their weaknesses to build them into strengths. The uncomfortable and un-fun become required activities to fortify the body and mind. When simply working out, the individual’s strengths may continue to be exercised to the detriment of weaknesses as there is no larger reason to train them. There is no drive to muscle through the un-fun lifts. There will not be meaningful progress made.

Working out is viewed as an activity and therefore does not imply the breadth of scope nor the significance of purpose that training does. Lacking a plan, there may not be continuity between workouts; that is to say, they may be unfocused as there is no inherent structure to sequential workouts. The workouts are not compounding on each other, diminishing the potential for results.

As a tenet, strength must be held as a value to the individual, not a priority. Training will set the correct mindset to embrace the challenges and train weaknesses in support of the larger goal. Take control of the time and efforts put into strength training to maximize the results.

Stop working out. Start training.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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The Archetype of the Initiated

The archetype of the Initiated is a product of its tenets – strength, discipline, integrity, leadership.

There is an archetype of the Initiated. The associated qualities of the Initiated’s four tenets are manifested in the Initiated few. This Transmission describes the archetype and how each of the core tenets are interpreted in action. This will help identify our Initiated brothers and sisters as well as provide a model to those that are training to align with the tenets of strength, discipline, integrity, and leadership.

Strength

Strength may be the most deceiving tenet. Many may define strength by a physical feat; i.e., pounds lifted. The Initiated holds a far wider definition of strength that includes mental and emotional strength in addition to the more obvious physical strength.

Mental and Emotional Strength

The Initiated rely on themselves first and foremost. The mental strength and fortitude required to take ownership of their values is trained. Mental strength is held in the highest regard and is unwavering in the face of opposition. The Initiated advance their position when confronted by resistance and remain confident in situations of uncertainty.

Emotional strength is regarded equally to mental strength. Without such emotional strength, the Initiated would succumb to the weakness and impulsiveness of their emotions. It is understood that emotional response is not reliable; emotions cloud judgement and produce poor choices. The Initiated drive to logical responses in lieu of emotional outbursts.

Continued learning, analysis, and challenging one’s thoughts and beliefs is systemic to the development of the Initiated; it is the training regimen for mental and emotional strength. Independent study, reading, and journaling are all habits attributed to successes in improving current mental and emotional strength.

Both the emotional and mental strength are exemplified in the Initiated’s attitude and approach to problem solving. They are not victims and do not acknowledge thoughts of defeat. This strength is the foundation from which their world is perceived.

Physical Strength

The Initiated live, breathe, and eat strong mind, strong body. A strong body is the vehicle by which the other tenets of the Initiated are delivered. The body is the outward manifestation of the strength within.

Achieved through work like lifting weights, calisthenics, or chopping wood – the Initiated forge their physical strength in many ways. The physical struggle required to break down and rebuild muscle works to sharpen mental and emotional fortitude the same as it does to fortify the physical form. The reciprocal nature of physical and mental strength is understood and exploited to produce maximum effect. The Initiated recognizes and understands the power to be found in this relationship.

The Initiated train; they do not work out. Strength training is approached with purpose. Whether it is training for competition or training for the rigors of the world, the Initiated train with both intent and intensity. The value of a strong, able body cannot be overvalued. The Initiated train their weaknesses until they become strengths. Training is not driven by ego or vanity – it is a means to effect more power into their challenges.

Discipline

As discussed in previous Transmissions, the Initiated forge bulletproof discipline that drives them to achieve. The Initiated have identified uncompromising values; their unnegotiable terms that they will not sacrifice. Things such as training, learning, and reflection are held to the utmost importance to the Initiated. When challenged to make sacrifice, these Principles are not to be bartered for time spent elsewhere.

The Initiated hold themselves to the highest standard of excellence and expect their output to be of a caliber acceptable to themselves; the job gets done right the first time. These qualities make the Initiated predictable, dependable, and reliable. They are trustworthy and understand the importance of such trust. These qualities are a source of pride and are protected. This builds the reputation of the Initiated individual.

The Initiated show up. They show up regularly, on time, prepared, and ready to perform. It is internalized that consistent moves made with intention will compound into large dividends. They are not afraid to put in the work for those things that they want and will stop at nothing short of achieving their goals. It is the reliance on themselves that drives the initiated to work harder, longer, and with more focus than their competition. The Initiated do not expect favors from anyone and know that for good luck to come, they must put in the work to make it so.

Integrity

The Initiated operate to a code; their own code. The philosophy of the Initiated includes the objective to be better and do better. This requires doing those things that must be done to do right by their peers.

Uncomfortable, hard, and challenging are acknowledged feelings but quickly set aside instead for actions of purpose, righteousness, and character. Integrity is upheld in the face of adversity as the Initiated knows what is right and takes actions toward that end.

Integrity rejects the easy way and the Initiated do not pursue the low-hanging fruit. These values are demanding and their ethos requires they rise to the occasion. These characteristics translate to all tasks and challenges placed before them. Challenges are faced head-on with no reserve.

Leadership

The Initiated are leaders in team settings, in their community, and to those not yet known to them. The strong values and the commitment and determination to live consistent with their values drives action. This action is often an unspoken inspiration to those around them. The Initiated influence their surroundings, commanding better performance from everyone they come in contact with simply by living to their values.

People respond to the values of the Initiated and the authenticity brought to the pursuit of their tenets place them in a position of influence and leadership to those around them.

The Initiated lead from any and all positions and can fall within any team setting to fill the roles required. It is not a hit to the ego of the Initaited if they are not a leader by title; rather the Initiated understand the power they have and can lead and influence from any position.

The Initiated understand the importance of trust in leadership and work to build a level of trust amongst their peers. They protect this gained trust and nurture it. It is this trust that makes them successful leaders.

The Archetype

The Initiated few can be identified from afar. They are the individuals who push themselves to be better. Each identified weakness becomes a priority to be addressed; each area of ignorance an opportunity to learn.

They speak a language of strength and action. They are confident in their abilities to learn, adapt, and overcome. As such, the Initiated carry themselves with a great deal of respect for themselves and their abilities.

The Initiated can identify those cut from the same cloth and they take care of their own.

Be the Initiated.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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On Discipline, The Driver of Achievement

Principles and goals are worthless if the discipline to achieve is not forged.

The Initiated defines their philosophy based on Principles and will find a community that mirrors them. This has been discussed; see Evaluate Principles, External Influence: The Community.

Once Principles, values, and philosophy are defined, it is time to get to work on building the resolve and skill to realize their potential. One of the guiding qualities dictating the success or failure of an individual on their path is the discipline with which they approach their challenges.

On Discipline

Discipline is a characteristic, a core concept of a person. It is something that must be pursued, it must be built. Discipline will become stronger over time, but is subject to regress if left ignored. Discipline is the drive behind intentional movement toward a goal. It is the focused exertion of effort that drives one to accomplishment.

The Initiated are on a path that forges bulletproof discipline for it is this discipline that will be relied upon when taking on the challenges that are ahead. The resolve to achieve, push forward, and improve requires that discipline outpace growth.

Motivation, and it’s Deception

Motivation feels like discipline to some; but motivation is truly the antithesis to discipline. Motivation is a feeling and manipulates emotion to influence action. It is variable, fleeting, and unreliable. Motivation is not the tool to reach for to achieve consistent results. Discipline will be around when motivation is long gone. Discipline has the staying power to remain.

Consistency brings results. As discipline is woven into the fibers of the Initiated’s being, it is always with them; available to be called upon when facing adversity.

Discipline and Challenge

It is easy to be disciplined when there is no opposition. It is in the face of challenge that the Initiated’s mettle is tested and determines whether the individual has the discipline to persevere.

This opposition wears many masks and makes itself known in a number of ways. The surroundings, relationships, and factors that are outside of one’s control can all put up challenges to achievement.

Opposition is also found in solitude. Deflating self-talk, poor self image, and poor resolve will challenge discipline from the inside. It is important that the Initiated fight these inner demons with the same intensity with which they push back against external opposition. The Initiated must be equipped to be their own support to continue that drive to the end.

On Success

It is the Initiated alone that will determine whether they succeed or fail on their path; the responsibility to achieve lies squarely on the shoulders of the individual. Without discipline, the Principles and values that have been defined are nothing more than dreams.

Principles are not easy to live by. Worthwhile Principles are not intended to be easy. The very establishment and commitment to the Initiated’s Principles is a commitment to challenge oneself and achieve.

Rely on yourself. Rely on Discipline. Achieve.

I’m pulling for you.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

External Influence: The Community

Community, the primary external influence, can be optimized.

Last week’s article Evaluate Principles discussed the evaluation of those Principles and corresponding values that direct one on their path. A personal philosophy built from such Principles will frame one’s decisions and actions toward achieving their goals. The necessity of evaluating Principles is predicated upon the influence of the surrounding environment to ensure that such external influences do not negatively alter such Principles.

It can be conversely said that in a silo it is a simplified process to define one’s Principles and to act upon them; however, it should go without saying that people do not each live in a silo insulated from the surrounding world. There are constant influences from the environment that attempt to pull attention and a following to their perspective. Both complimenting and conflicting ideals are passed around as fact from any outlet or person interacted with daily. The impacts from such a volume of available information will challenge the beliefs of anyone, regardless of the level of discipline one brings to their pursuits.

The most impactful external influence on a person will be from their close communities – those people or things that one respects and/or interacts with on a daily basis. As such, one’s community must be evaluated and carefully managed to ensure the surrounding community is providing the necessary support toward the realization of personal Principles and values.

A community that shares similar Principles and values to an individual’s will pay dividends in the form of:

  • Reinforcing personal philosophy and underlying Principles.
  • Help to clarify those parts of a personal philosophy that are under development or evaluation.
  • Explore one’s Principles to tighten up and make more concise the Principles held.
  • Push an individual to remain true to their Principles and achieve consistent with their values.

A community that does not share similar values will generally do the opposite of the above and will test the discipline and resolve of an individual toward their goals.

To say that discipline will defeat the constant challenges of an unsupportive community is a hard truth to actualize. A solid community is important when discipline waivers. If the community does not share similar Principles and the discipline to drive toward them; there is no support for the individual. An outlier will be tempted to work their way back to the majority, eventually.

Each person will rise or fall to the level of their surrounding community.

This quote should be considered for the weight of what the words truly say. The community that is built around an individual will either accelerate or challenge growth. It is important to be selective in who is invited into one’s community for the impacts that they will have.

To some, this article is a call to action, as it should be – to take a look at those who are in their community and evaluate their surroundings. A community is a tool in the initiated’s toolbox. A community is not a crutch nor is it a scapegoat for current circumstance. One should give back to their community more than they take. One’s community is not essential to their success; but it can be of great advantage. If one’s community is not pushing them to be better than they were the day before; that individual should consider splitting ways with their current situation in search of a new community.

With this said; allow the closing thought to be as follows:

Do not loathe being a lone wolf;
but also do not strive to be one, either.

Thank you for allowing thebeardreport. to be a part of your community.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

Evaluate Principles

Principles are the bedrock of philosophy and must be evaluated to remain true to their origins.

Principles are the foundation from which a person’s values are established. They shape decisions and perceptions of the surrounding world, provide a personal navigation system, and define good from bad. A person’s Principles are the essence of what a person is and what they stand for. Accepting this, the significance and importance of personal Principles becomes obvious. So too is revealed why opinions are shared so quickly and often by the surrounding world.

Authority figures and common people alike share ideas of right and wrong. The world is quick to share opinions and reactions to current events, the actions of other people, and any and all other happenings. A person’s Principles are woven throughout their commentary. With increasingly more avenues by which individuals are able to share their commentary; it is understood that an individual’s Principles are under constant barrage of competing and complimenting ideas. It can further be understood how Principles can be unintentionally altered when meeting such a volume of outside influence. Personal Principles; therefore, must be reviewed and evaluated regularly to maintain clear alignment with philosophy and goals.

Useful to the discussion is breaking down major categories of Principles:

  1. Internal – Internal Principles are those Principles that are the bedrock of a personal philosophy. These play the largest role in shaping a strong individual’s world view. These are held with the utmost conviction and are the most clearly defined to the individual. These are the unnegotiable Principles of the individual.
  2. External – External Principles are the principles held by the surrounding community. These are the principles that are broadcasted by others and are responsible for challenging personal values. Those weaker of conviction will allow these external Principles to dictate their values, actions, and perceptions.
  3. Pseudo-Internal – External influences are unavoidable and will act upon the internal Principles of an individual. Pseudo-internal Principles is a term coined to define those Principles that are made to feel important to an individual but are ultimately a conflict of internal Principles with outside influences. These Principles often feel unauthentic when pursued and cause internal conflict and confusion as they are regarded as important; however, are not of true importance to the individual.

The first goal in evaluating principles is to resolve all pseudo-internal Principles. As discussed above, these Principles are corrupted internal Principles and must be recategorized into an internal or external Principle and from there accepted or rejected. If identified as an external Principle, it must be identified as one that can either coexist with internal Principles or one to be avoided. Resolving pseudo-internal Principles removes uncertainty and doubt in an individuals philosophy and values.

Second to this is the goal of validating and prioritizing the values being pursued. While a person’s principles generally do not change much; the attached values and the pursuits of these values will marginally shift and morph as an individual grows. It is through this evaluation process that the opportunity to optimize efforts is realized.

There are potentially difficult realizations and decisions that will be revealed through this process. The nature of external influence is that it comes from the surrounding community, potentially from those people that are in one’s inner circle – those closest to an individual. If expectations have been established between an individual and their surrounding community, explicitly or otherwise, it may become realized that those expectations will ultimately not be fulfilled if they conflict with the Principles of the individual. These conflicts must be addressed and resolved in order to move forward.

Regardless of what is found through this process, the importance of performing these steps cannot be compromised by the findings. The resulting decisions must be made with conviction, confidence, and purpose in order to realign one’s values with their Principles. This is critical to forging on the path toward the life a person wants to live.

Evaluate Principles and remain true to self.

In the follow-up Transmission, External Influence: The Community, I take a closer look at the role and impacts one’s community can have on values.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

Thrive In Discomfort

The initiated do not avoid discomfort; rather, they seek it.

What is discomfort and what is its significance to people?

Discomfort is a feeling that goes hand in hand with challenge, unknown, and resistance. Discomfort is the antithesis of human nature. Humans seek comfort – it is the reason we live in houses, invented air conditioning, and go swimming when it’s hot. When humans feel uncomfortable, they want to change something to resolve that discomfort and return back to “normal”.

People have been developing products and services for years in an effort to address a point of potential discomfort for their customers. As this continues, it becomes increasingly easier to find fast and easy solutions to problems. This is not an issue in and of itself – specialization of products, trades, and skills have freed up the time of others to pursue different paths. The problem; however, is that it soon becomes too easy to seek comfort – and who wants to be uncomfortable?

Discomfort drives change and growth. The active avoidance of discomfort stunts the engagement of a person to the world around them. By hiring a handyman, a person loses the connection with their house. By taking their car to the mechanic for any unusual noise, they don’t understand the thing they rely on to get to and from their job each day. By choosing to sit in front of the television instead of getting in exercise, they lose their coordination and fitness.

Without feeling lacking there is no drive for a person to enact change.

Why would there be? If one is comfortable and happy, what reason would there be to step out of that comfort zone? It is the desire to resolve discomfort, to overcome a challenge, that is the drives a person to take action. Without this sense of discomfort, people become content and stagnant.

The initiated must remember to seek out new challenges, find discomfort, and attack it head on for they know how much there is to learn about the world as well as themselves in going through struggle. The initiated person is not scared to marinate in discomfort for a while – it does not overcome them. They are willing to chew on a problem, analyze the situation, come up with a plan, and proceed with a solution.

The more this practice is repeated, the more confidence is built. Therefore when faced with future challenge, one can pull from this experience and confidence; it is a compounding skill. There is self-trust built in knowing they have developed skills and tools needed to come up with a plan and overcome any challenge unfortunate enough to cross their path.

On the flip side, a content, comfortable person becomes stagnant. They do not have the desire to seek out new challenges and instead live in their comfortable bubble, consuming, with no outlet for their energy and creativity. These people are content to be the same person for the rest of their lives, or so they think.

This is not the way. Stagnation will catch up with these people eventually and they will eventually look for change.

Familiar with the term “mid-life crisis”? A mid-life crisis is nothing more than a realization of such deep stagnation that a person must make a big, often irresponsible, gesture to feel like they are taking back control of their lives.

Life is the longest game you’re going to play; it is also a game where there is unlimited potential to grow and get better. Like anything else, it is all dependent upon the amount and quality of work put into it.

Go out and seek discomforts. Struggle to lift heavy weights, challenge your mind, ask questions. Be humbled by trying something new. Learning does not stop with the completion of formal schooling nor does achievement of goals mean the game is won.

Be engaged. Be active. Move. Learn new things.

Thrive in discomfort.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

The Intentionality of Vinyl Records and Parallels Drawn

The ritual and intention in listening to a record and a parallel drawn to all media consumption.

Vinyl records have been experiencing an increase in popularity over the past 10 years after being sidelined when the compact disc took over. These bulky, immobile, 12″ disks requiring a phonograph, storage space, and special cleaning regimens to keep them playing right are again a relevant medium by which to listen to music.

Some people like them for the sound quality of the “pure analog sound”. Some like them for the history and uniqueness as no two copies of the same album will sound the same. Some just think they are plain cool and retro. These all hold some truth, but that is not what I hold to be the most significant quality of vinyl records.

The significance of vinyl records is the intimacy and intention that is required to listen to them.

There is a ritual associated with playing a record. First having to sort through shelves to find the record; pull it out of the sleeve, clean it, place it on the turntable, prep your needle, get the record spinning, drop the needle, and walk to your chair to listen. Twenty minutes later you’re back up repeating the cleaning and setting process for the B-side.

Each play of a record damages the grooves just a small amount until after enough plays, the sound quality begins to diminish. It’s a living copy of the music and it should be enjoyed for each play it gets.

There is engagement and appreciation in the listening that is harder to find in other music formats. There is intention behind the act of listening – a required level of purposefulness. It requires more focus than other formats.

Drawing a parallel from here to a larger view of media consumption the importance of intention is highlighted.

Consumption of television, social media, etc. continues to grow. Much of this consumption is done without intention or purpose and as a form of relaxation or unwinding. It is comfortable and easy; which is appealing. It doesn’t require much thought and allows the brain to turn off. Consuming in this manner without a purpose is essentially dead time, time forfeited without gain, and should be minimized appropriately in order to maximize growth potential.

Maximizing time and turning it into something fulfilling is the goal. Use available time for something that is going to be a benefit presently and in the future. I invite you to find a hobby that can be built upon over time; something that builds knowledge or a skill, something that keeps you up, moving, and off of the couch. This can be anything that requires purpose and intention to do. The benefits are abundant.

Let me know what you’re doing to keep yourself busy and engaged with intention in the comment section below. It may be helpful to the next person.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

Amass Choices to Remain Nimble

Choices are needed now to create flexibility later.

The Sunday Transmission thought of the week:

The surest way to increased stress is limited choice.

How often do complaints about a commitment get thrown around? Pretty fucking often – whether joking or serious, the feeling of being stuck in a position is stressful. The idea of having few alternatives and having to stick out an unfavorable situation drives up stress and having choices with steep consequences is limiting. Either situation may force the brain to make compromises and justifications in order to make it through such a situation.

This week I am reminded of the power in having choices. Specifically, choice in income and financial stability.

Anyone paying attention to financial advice or interested in personal finance has undoubtedly heard about diversifying portfolios and multiple income streams. While powerful in practice, it is too narrow. From a wider perspective, this is really a promotion of choice; as in, when one income stream or investment dries up or goes sideways, you’ve got the other diversified options to lean on.

The future is unknown and to put on the blinders and follow one path is potentially setting up an eventual realization that the walls have closed in and there is no reasonable or quick way to pivot. Responsibilities, expenses, and time are working against you and the later on you may be, the harder it is to change course.

Always aim to provide yourself choices and you reduce the risk of getting stuck without an alternate path. Keep your eyes up and scanning the surroundings for potential opportunities and lose the blinders – else you are only hurting yourself.

Yours in strength,

Jersey

Develop a Binary Mindset – An Argument Against “Shades of Gray”

Approaching decisions from a binary mindset promotes simplification and provides answers that can be acted upon.

For many years I have been told my thinking is binary, all or nothing, and that I don’t acknowledge all the shades of gray that exist in day-to-day life. For many years I have been left to figure out how I feel about this criticism. Is having this binary thought process – on/off, yes/no, right/wrong – an area for improvement? Should I acknowledge that there are shades of gray in everything?

Recently, my answer to these questions has come into focus. That answer is “NO”. I have decided to double down on this binary thought process, to continue to make binary decisions and put a period at the end of a sentence rather than leave an ellipsis.

To me, acknowledging a gray area is to acknowledge an uncertainty indicative of attempting to make a decision without full understanding of facts.

Adopting a binary thought process will set one up for success in a few ways:

  1. Setting up future binary decisions requires that no stone be left unturned throughout the decision-making process. If expectations of a binary resolution is set, the legwork must be done and the right questions asked in order to establish the best understanding of the question. From here one is able to form such a binary answer. A binary 1 or 0 does not have any understanding of “maybe”, “potentially”, or “what if”.
  2. A binary decision made is a question brought to closure. The lack of a binary decision leaves the question open to further examination, determination, analysis, and remains an open item detracting from the energy that can be put toward other things, namely, following the decided path to the end. A decision made with anything other than a firm “yes” or “no” is not concluded with a period; but rather a semicolon waiting for the rest of the decision to be made.
  3. When maintaining that a non-binary resolution is unacceptable, as is the case when rejecting the gray areas in favor of a binary answer, conversations are driven to either the desired “yes” or “no” OR an actionable, time bound path is defined by which this currently unresolved question is to be resolved. This provides a clear path to the next step; and at the end of the day, that is all a binary decision attempts to accomplish.

And this is all well and good when the correct answer is found the first time. How does this theory work out when it is later found out that that first decision, that initial “1” should have instead been a “0”?

Well, shit, you got it wrong. Nothing else to do but start back at the start of another process. In the simplest of instances, there is only one other alternative solution to the question at hand – the alternative to your first decision.

There is efficiency and simplicity in a binary decision and that’s where its power lies. A complex issue, when driven to a binary resolution, “1” or “0”, becomes a matter of choosing one path or another. Once a decision is made (and truly MADE) all of the focus can be put into exploring the path rather than considering what that other path may have been.

This binary mindset is not an excuse to be arrogant, as may happen if a person believes they are “right” and has the right answers. The purpose of the binary mindset is to simplify the thoughts and decisions and drive more action than theorizing. It is important to know that there is no way to be correct the first time, every time. The driving philosophy is to produce efficient, actionable resolutions based on the best information available. Know that there will be decisions made that are later found to be incorrect. In these instances a quick recovery, course correct, and new direction are all that is needed to right the ship.

Be cognizant of the times in which a question needs resolved. If there is uncertainty in the resolution, dig a level or two deeper and determine whether, with a few more minutes of research and thought, a gray area can be brought to a “1” or “0”, in true binary fashion.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey