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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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

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