Between What Should Be and What Is

What are you doing to close the gap?

The word “should” can be powerful. It can be a tool to help solve problems, it can identify a hurdle that you have to overcome, or it can be a point of stagnation – it comes down to actions surrounding the word.

Should expresses an expectation. In some ways it is used as a hypothesis as in:

“If I do this then that should happen”.

In other ways it is used to express an opinion or a projection of what is “right”:

“This should be the way the world works”.

When a specific set of actions is laid out ahead of “should”, as is the case in the first example, you can call that a proactive approach to expectations. It communicates an expected outcome based on the steps leading up to the result. This is the idea behind the scientific method and it lends itself to learning and growing. It is part of an analytical process and provides feedback on how well you understand a specific scenario. It is also iterative in that it gives you information to use the next time you are faced with a similar situation.

When should is a reaction, as is the case in the second example, this is projecting an idea onto something else. It can be thought of as virtue signalling, in a way, in that it is an expression of an opinion. Depending upon the actions taken following such statements, this can either be the starting point of motion or a place of stagnation – we will look at this more below.

The Proactive Approach

The proactive side of the argument – where “should” is used to express a hypothesis – holds a lot of benefit to an individual. Like was mentioned before, this method of guessing the result based on actions taken is a great way to learn, iterate, and improve.

Using this method to solve any problem helps to take the subjective influence out of learning and helps us to stay objective when analyzing a situation. This is helpful when dealing with humans, as we are emotional creatures by nature. 

By thinking through and predicting how a course of action will end up, you will give yourself a data point to check in with – you will have context for how a situation unfolds. After the dust settles, you will be able to analyze the situation and find things that didn’t go as planned or that you can do better. You will also identify those things that you did well and keep those for next time. 

When things go totally sideways and the train jumps the track, you can then go back to the drawing board and think up a new solution and try the whole deal over again. Thinking in this more objective manner helps to keep you out of the subjective headspace where feelings and emotions cloud judgement.

The Reactive Approach

The more interesting side of “should” is the reactive side. This side of the discussion forks one of two ways – one initiates action to take place, the other is stagnation; again, it depends on what else happens around “should”. 

The reactive side of “should” sounds like the following:

“It shouldn’t be this hard” 

“This should just take care of itself”

Well, reality is that the situation is exactly that hard and that thing is likely not going to just take care of itself. The question that needs answered here is, what are you going to do to overcome these challenges?

There are two ways to go from here – the Initiated way and the weak way.

The Weak Way

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this section, but it is important to discuss. The weak path is chosen by those who want to continue to stay in this world of “should”. They don’t want to change their routines, they don’t want to step up and take action, they want to continue to stay stagnant and find comfort in their great ideas of what “should be”. 

These people may seek validation from others for their great and groundbreaking ideas of what should be and they will be proud of themselves for having standards higher than the situation they find themselves in.

These people are draining to be around. Nothing is ever good enough for them.

The Initiated Way

The stronger path, the Initiated path, is to pick up the ball and run with it. When you begin to feel that something is not right or doesn’t align with your expectations, you seek to change. 

In this case, “should” is the starting point for action. It sets off a lightbulb that tells you you may need to hit the drawing boards to figure out a solution. This is the path chosen by people that accept the challenge and decide to do something differently.

There are two variables that need to be considered in these situations by an individual who is deciding they will not be bested and that they will come out on top.

  1. What actions are you willing to do?
  2. What are the limitations of the situation you are in?

The first point is important to break down a bit further. It refers to what actions you are willing to do, not what you’re able to do. This is an important distinction.

Part of self-reliance is having the awareness and discipline to set boundaries. Not every situation that you come across will be worth dying on the hill for – some things are just not that critical; and these things should be recognized early so that you can approach them accordingly. 

Once you understand what you are willing to do, then you can start to put a plan together for what you will do – what actions are you going to take to overcome this situation and close the gap between what “should be” and what “is”. 

The second point is to understand the limitations of the situation you are in. Again, this is tied to awareness, but there will be some situations where there are limitations in what you are able to accomplish. You are not going to overhaul an organization’s operations, for example, so if what “should be” cannot exist within the rules of an organization, you’re limited in what you will be able to do to close the gap while remaining in that arena.

There is no value in being the martyr for causes that are not that important. There is greater value in taking action to find a way out of your problem that works for you.

After mulling over these two considerations, you will be able to decide on a path forward but it will result in either:

  1. Closing the gap between what is and what should be – making changes to positively impact the situation you find yourself in.
  2. Cutting ties with whatever the situation is and moving on – by first deciding whether you achieve your goals with the limitations at hand, you can then decide whether cutting ties with the situation and moving on is the better choice. No reason to stick around if you cannot succeed in what you want to do where you are at.

Again, I must reiterate, self-reliance is about having the awareness to be able to take a step back and see what the situation is to decide to act accordingly. 

Further, remember that this is all driven toward taking action in some way. The point is that “should” doesn’t accomplish anything on its own. Closing the gap requires you to take decisive action. Either stay and make changes or leave and solve your problems another way; whichever path gives you the best chance of success.

Finally, allow me to clarify that there is a difference between cutting ties with a situation and running away from problems. I am not suggesting that you run away from anything; I am saying something different. I am saying that if, when you take a look at the situation and challenges you are up against, you see that the limitations are too great, you have a choice to make.

  1. Either the problem is not that important and therefore does not need to be pursued further in which case I am suggesting you put your efforts toward more pressing matters.
  2. Or, if the limitations are too great to overcome how you initially planned, it is on you to find another route to get where you want to go. This may involve cutting ties with your immediate situation and coming at the problem from another angle.

Wrap Up

Whenever you hear the word “should” your ears should perk up. Look at how it’s being used, who is using it, and what they are talking about. 

It should be an indication that there is action to be taken. It shouldn’t be an excuse to complain about a situation taking place and it shouldn’t be used to seek validation for an idea.

Instead of using “should”, use more concrete language. Form an opinion, state that opinion confidently, and take action. Passing off great ideas of what “should be” are worth little unless you’re going to follow that up with actions to close the gap.

Yours in strength,


There is a lot going on at thebeardreport. these days. The Newsletter is back up and running and we have now released The Initiated Lifestyle Podcast.

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Strategies For Setting Better Goals

Understand these ideas if you want to set better goals and increase your win-rate.

Setting goals is one of those things that is often talked about but rarely executed well. We are told to set goals at work, in our personal lives, and for anything that we want to achieve. Some people dislike setting goals or have difficulty doing so. Some just don’t see the value in the exercise.

I am a fan of setting goals, and you should be, too. It is one of the few pieces of commonly shared advice that I agree with. There are some models for setting successful goals out there and they cover some of the big improvements that can be made when setting goals. One such model for goal setting is setting SMART goals. 

SMART is an acronym for:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relevant

T – Time-bound

The SMART model is a great model for the mechanics of setting goals; however, it falls short in application because it doesn’t cover some of the more fundamentals needed to make the best and most successful goals you can make.

A lot of what was discussed in the last few blog posts apply here in terms of having your goals be a part of your Values and Philosophy if you really want to achieve them. Your goals must align with your Philosophy and your vision for yourself; else, pursuing those goals is going to pull you off course.

Beyond that, there are some other core ideas that will benefit you as you set out to make goals for yourself. These are a few steps deeper than the common pieces of advice thrown around. 

Additive and Iterative Goals

We should first consider the types of goals that we create as they come in two flavors – additive and iterative.

When you start a new pursuit or want to change directions in life, you are going to create additive goals. These are goals that require you to develop new behaviors and to carve time out of your schedule to work on them. These are goals built around those activities that you are not currently doing and need to have their place in your Strategy.

Your iterative goals are those goals created to continue to lead you along your current path. When you have your Philosophy and Strategies working to achieve goals, you have a direction to move in. Your iterative goals are your smaller goals that you will set for yourself to create milestones along the way. Iterative goals continue to grow as you grow so that once you achieve one, you modify it; growing to the next step along your path.

It is important to understand the types of goals you are setting because you have a limited number of resources at your disposal – there is a finite amount of time and energy you have in a day to accomplish different things. If you have too many goals and exceed what you are able to put out, you are setting yourself up for failure. This becomes a problem more so with additive goals rather than iterative goals. The important take-away here is that you need to have a plan for accomplishing your goal before you set it. If you cannot determine where you are going to spend time pursuing an additive goal, you don’t get to set it as a goal. This is how you maintain consistent action without feeling overwhelmed.

Iterative goals are less of a concern in this way because, as defined, they grow with you. As you achieve one, it changes to something bigger. The number of iterative goals you have will remain close to the same number, they just change periodically.

A quick aside – what happens when you have a goal to stop doing something – a subtractive goal? These types of goals need to be framed as an additive goal to maximize their success. If you only focus on stopping something, this is called avoidance, and is only a short term solution to the problem. Avoidance of a problem is prone to failure because you are having to actively keep yourself from doing something – you need to spend time thinking about that thing you want to stop. It takes willpower to prevent yourself from falling into old habits and is not sustainable. 

Instead, you should create additive goals in these instances to replace your old habit with a new one. So, instead of your goal being to stop drinking soda, for example, you would set a goal to drink more water. You are taking something subtractive (stop drinking soda) and creating an additive goal (drink more water). This will help you to be more successful because you are focusing on accomplishing something rather than refraining from something.

Timing and Understanding

Many goals that are not accomplished are doomed from the get-go. When you have a poor understanding of what accomplishing a goal actually requires, you enter into setting and pursuing goals with unrealistic expectations. Not meeting these expectations leads to frustration and disappointment and will ultimately result in you walking away from that goal.

To prevent this from happening to you, don’t set goals too early. Anything worth doing is worth doing right and is likely to take some time and effort to do. Spending some time up front to learn about what you are going after is time well spent.

At the beginning, just learn. Watch videos, read articles, play in sandbox a little bit. Figure out how this new activity feels, figure out how and where you are going to fit it into your life. Get a feel for how long it will take and what type of costs are involved. These are all things best learned by getting involved; immersing yourself in the arena and just feeling it out.

Once you have at least a basic understanding of what you’re looking to do, then start to define your goal and some iterative goals to go along with it, as required. 

You don’t want only one goal that is going to take years to accomplish because it makes it difficult to track. You need intermediate, iterative goals along the way to give you an idea of how you’re tracking.

Understand Your Direct Impact

Another important concept to make sure you consider is that you must understand how and to what level you are able to directly impact your way toward a successful end. Too often, especially in the corporate world, people make goals that are largely out of their hands. For example, a goal of “I want to be promoted by next year” is not a good goal to set for a few reasons:

  1. There are a lot of factors outside of your control that will determine whether you get that promotion.
    1. Is there a job opening?
    2. Who else are you competing against?
    3. What are the criteria to be considered for a promotion?
    4. Who is going to take your position if you get the job?
  2. You will be relying on someone else to create that opportunity for you.
  3. Whether you get promoted is not your decision.

Now, since you are Initiated, you are already thinking of ways you are going to get that promotion – you’ll work harder, take on more responsibility, etc. You are going to show everyone why you deserve that promotion – and that is exactly what you should do. However, in the context of setting goals, “I want to be promoted” is not the goal you should set.

Instead, you should set goals that you have more control over. Construct goals around what responsibilities you are going to take over and which tasks you are going to seize ownership of. Determine what training you are going to complete to make yourself more qualified. These are all better goals than a promotion because you have far more impact over your achievement of these things. Ultimately, your goal is to prove you deserve a promotion, but these other goals are better in terms of ensuring achievement and will also give you the best chances of achieving what you really want.

Also important to consider is that this alternate approach is providing you a contingency plan. Never leave yourself in a position where you are relying on others for your ultimate success. 

Here’s what I mean:

Staying with this example of a job promotion – if you have gone forward and done everything you could do to prove you are the man (or woman) for the job and you still get passed over for the promotion – you always have the option to leave. Should it come down to that, you have all of these qualifications to put on your resume to show the next employer why you deserve the job that you want rather than the job you already have. This is the Initiated way to handle a situation. This is self-reliance. Elevate yourself to be able to play at the next level and then go find the opportunity you need to get there. Rinse and repeat until you get to where you want to be.

On Achievement

It was touched on before but each of your additive goals should turn into iterative goals down the road. If you create goals that align with your Philosophy and your Values, you should always have another iterative goal to go after. 

Even if you have a lofty goal that is going to take you years to achieve, that’s great. As you start to close in on that big goal you should start looking for how you are going to roll that achievement into the next large goal – iterating your achievements and carrying that momentum into the next pursuit. 

Said differently, if you are setting good goals in alignment with your Philosophy and where you ultimately want to go, it will be easy to carry that momentum from one goal into another because it is all connected – your Integrity is strong. There should be an obvious next step for you so that you continue down the path you have laid out for yourself.

Perhaps one of the worst things a person can do is set a dead ended goal – a goal that once achieved, doesn’t leave them anywhere else to go. Upon achievement of these goals, they hit a wall and all of that momentum is lost. The achievement of a goal should be short lived and followed quickly with the next action. 

In these instances it is worth considering what the real value of achieving that goal was. Was it integrated into a person’s path? Was that pursuit strengthening their Integrity? In the case of hitting a dead end with nowhere to go next, it may be the case that this was an offshoot of their path and now that they have reached the end they need to bushwack their way back. The efforts to achieve that goal may not have been as fruitful as it could have been.

Wrap Up

These tactics for setting goals will ensure that you are setting the right goals for the right reasons. Considering these criteria when setting goals will leave you with the best chances of achieving your goals because they will be created in alignment with your Values and your Philosophy rather than being disconnected from them. 

Create strong goals for yourself that have a high probability of success and go work your ass off until you make them happen.

Yours in strength,


There is a lot going on at thebeardreport. these days. The Newsletter is back up and running and we have now released The Initiated Lifestyle Podcast.

If you liked the ideas discussed here, sign up for the Newsletter and check out the Podcast.

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Relying on Accountability to Drive Change – A Weak Approach

Accountability is not designed to drive change.

It seems we hear “accountability” everywhere these days. Whether people are saying that they need to be held accountable, they are going to hold you accountable, or whether they will hold themselves accountable, it is a common idea in the self-development space when people want to make changes in their life. 

Also see:

“I want to do that, I just struggle to hold myself accountable.”


“I would do better if someone held me accountable.”

Here’s the truth – these two sentences don’t mean what they appear to mean. Both of these sentences communicate:

“I don’t really want to do that but I think that I should. I think that it would benefit me, but if it were up to me, I wouldn’t change a thing”

This is because accountability is addressing the surface level of why people don’t make changes and they don’t have something deeper driving them to change. The better question to investigate, though, is why don’t people have the drive to do things they say they want to do? Why do most new-year’s resolutions fail before April? Why is accountability such a popular idea with it being fragile as it is?


We first need to cover what types of activities accountability aims to achieve, which is the outliers. The outliers are those activities that lay outside of one’s Philosophy. They are the changes that people say they want to make but are not a Value that they hold; instead, they are held as a “want” or a “nice to have”. These are the things that people like to talk about but don’t like to take action on. It takes time and work to accomplish meaningful things in meaningful ways. It takes commitment. 

These outliers, though, sit just outside of a person’s Values. They are not tied to their Philosophy, there isn’t a strategy associated with them, they don’t have their place in a person’s life. They are the out-of-town relatives that you see during the holidays rather than the family that lives in your house. You visit these outliers when it’s convenient, but they will be lower priorities to you than those things that are part of your Philosophy. 

Think about this for a second – do you need to think twice about doing those things that are part of your identity or do they just happen naturally? 

Does a smoker need to be reminded to smoke?

Does the Netflix binger need to be reminded to watch TV?

These things are not outliers to these people – they are a part of their identity, their Philosophy, and they do these things automatically. 

Until you move things from being outliers to coming into your life as a Value, you will continue to rely on these “feel-good” ideas of accountability and motivation to drive change. The changes you are trying to make are not a part of your identity yet, so you need to be pushed to do them by something external to you. As they are not a Value to you, they remain a “want” rather than a “need”. 

When the going gets tough, or when you start to hit challenges along the road, that idealization of that “want” fades. As you learn about what it really takes to get to the level of achievement you want, you start to think that maybe you don’t want it that bad or that maybe it isn’t really important to you, and you begin to regress back to your old habits and abandon that pursuit.

Accountability Is A Few Levels Too High

I said earlier that accountability addresses the surface level issues that prevent people from making change. It is a surface level solution, too, meaning that staying up at the level that accountability operates at will prevent you from diving deeper. 

The deeper dive is where you find Values, Philosophy, and Identity – the real drivers of habits. You need to get down to these levels if you want to make real and lasting changes in your life. 

Accountability will always rely on someone or something holding you accountable – even if you are a believer in holding yourself accountable. Accountability will always be a two party system; it is fundamental to how the idea works. 

Further, accountability is built upon a system of avoiding punishment for failing rather than realizing fulfillment as when you hold Values and work to live in alignment with them.

Unpacking that statement further, accountability relies on the truth that there must be some consequence for not performing. Some of accountabilities methods for doing this are:

  1. Pride – if you don’t do what you are supposed to do, you need to admit to someone that you failed to meet expectations and it is a hit to your pride. 
  2. Monetary – if you are paying for a service and not using it, you are punished by having to pay the fees you agreed to pay without getting the value that you intended to get. 

Lacking Integrity

A result of relying on accountability to drive changes in life is the lack of Integrity that comes along with it. 

Accountability drives action for discrete activities like going to the gym. When an aspiring gym-goer hires a coach, accountability to actually go to the gym is often one of the services they are paying for.

There are a few issues with this.

  1. A fitness coach can only hold someone accountable for a limited number of things.
  2. Hiring a coach to help you in the gym is a discrete activity that is often an outlier to people that feel they want to get in shape – they cannot help integrate this within the larger picture of your Philosophy.

Both of these issues point to lacking Integrity in the larger plan of one’s life. The power of living with strong Integrity is that everything you do is tied to everything else, but most importantly it is tied to your core beliefs. 

Seeking accountability to drive action often leaves you with a fragmented set of priorities and you have different people holding you accountable to each of them.

If you were to take a step back and build a cohesive set of Values that included everything that you wanted to accomplish, you wouldn’t need to be held accountable as you would begin doing these things out of necessity. They would be a part of your identity and your purpose. To not do these things would be a betrayal to yourself. 

Make the changes you want to make Values. Go deeper than accountability and motivation. Drive action for yourself because you need to be doing the different things you are doing, not because you think you want them.

Yours in strength


There is a lot going on at thebeardreport. these days. The Newsletter is back up and running and we have now released The Initiated Lifestyle Podcast.

If you liked the ideas discussed here, sign up for the Newsletter and check out the Podcast.

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When You Stand on Crumbling Ground

Weak foundations fail when they are put to the test.

Last week covered the grounding effect of a strong Philosophy and how you are able to ground yourself to something, have context to understand new ideas, and how all of that allows you to best use the strengths that you have. By standing on a strong foundation, you are able to stay your course and without something coming along and knocking you off your path.

This is not reality for some, though. Some do not know what a strong Philosophy is nor do they realize their foundation is weak. As humans trend more toward finding comforts and outwardly blaming others for their shortcomings, they are not reflecting on themselves and their own Philosophies.

Any foundation, even the weakest ones, only fail when they are stressed. That is to say, even the weakest foundations will remain intact if they are not stressed to their failure point.

In calm times, weak foundations work just fine. They have supported the structure above up to this point and they have proven they are strong enough to do that; however, the storms are out there. Life is not stress-free. There are people with different ideas of what is “right”, there is disagreement, conflict; there are any number of things that can stress someone’s foundation. 

There are common characteristics of people with weak Philosophies and it is useful to be able to recognize these things to both better understand these people when you encounter them and to be able to identify weaknesses in your own Philosophies when you need to take a look at yourself.

The Feeling of Weakness

The feeling of a weak Philosophy or a weak foundation can be characterized from uneasiness to fear. You can imagine standing in place and feeling the ground below you beginning to give under the stress you are trying to handle. You are being loaded with the stresses of the world, but your foundation is giving way. It would almost be like standing in quicksand.

Or it can feel like you’re standing on the edge of a cliff. You have no ground behind you to be able to take a step back. As the problems of the world start to come at you, you have nothing to do but stand there and hope that you can take the blow. If you can’t, you’re going to get pushed off the edge of the cliff. Neither are comfortable feelings. 

A strong Philosophy will place you in an area with ample space around you to maneuver, absorb the blow if needed, or take a step back to buy some more time. A weak Philosophy does not give you many options. Each opposition feels like a high-stress situation and you feel trapped. You can’t see any path around the challenge because you are only able to worry about what this challenge is going to do to you and your fragile foundation. 

It is uncomfortable and scary.

Rather than take action, people in this position must resort to reactions as they do not have the luxury of time and space to create a better plan. Reactions are less likely to be the best course of action because they are decisions made under pressure. 

There are a few common reactions in these situations.

Arguing – going on the offensive to protect a weak Philosophy

When someone with weak Values and beliefs is confronted with opposing views, their reaction can surface in the form of an argument. When someone is perched on the edge of the cliff and they are confronted with opposing ideas, they cannot afford to take the blow or step back and take an objective look at things; else they risk losing whatever small bit of safe ground they had behind them. 

Their only option is to go on the offensive; to argue. They need to protect themselves by trying to gain more ground in the face of conflict. They need to find validation for their ideas so that they can remain where they are.

If people understood how weak their foundation was or how closely they were standing to the edge, they would want to put in the work to move off of the edge during the quiet times; however, like I said earlier, few can see how close they really are to the edge until they feel the pressure. So, when pressure comes, they must fight. They will argue until the problem goes away and they live to see another day. 

You would think this would be an eye-opener for these people; that after that brush with danger that they would see how close to the edge they really are standing. 

This isn’t the case.

More often than not these people see arguing as an effective method to manage this type of situation. Now that they already have that one success story, they gain confidence that they will be able to argue away all types of issues that crop up down the road. Because they are comfortable with where they are currently at and they feel they have a method to ensure their safety, they have little drive to put in the work to strengthen their Philosophy and take some steps away from the edge of the cliff.

These people will instead continue to argue more often. Because they are not strengthening their Philosophy, it continues to grow weaker. It takes less to make them feel the threat of losing their footing. They rely on the tactics they have developed. 

These people are often on the offensive and look at how they can blame others for their situation. They deflect issues, refuse ownership, and will remain in that same position dancing right on the edge of falling.

Sources – dismissing those thoughts that don’t come from “reputable” sources

There are another group of people, a subset of the argumentative people, that require sources for all of the information they hear. These people build their Philosophies and their foundation through compiling ideas from other people. Lacking their own critical thought, they listen to others that are believed to be authorities on any number of topics, and then cherry pick the excerpts that best support whatever their position may be.

Because this group of people don’t take the time to do much critical thinking themselves, they don’t see that others can, and do, come up with their own ideas. In disagreements, these people want sources because they want to attempt to understand who is really behind the arguments being presented because this is how they think.

This approach to a Philosophy is weak for a few reasons:

  1. By compiling the thoughts of others, these people will have gaps in their logic and Philosophy. Segmenting a Philosophy into excerpts of others makes it difficult to have strong Integrity as the pieces likely don’t link together in a meaningful way. These Philosophies end up being a compilation of facts without the logic ties that make them into one, cohesive system. 
  2. It lacks depth of understanding. When a person decides to adopt ideas from other sources, they often do not understand all of the underlying reasoning and support that went into the original statements, nor do they understand the depth of these ideas as they apply to themselves. Neither of these scenarios make for a strong, integrated set of ideas.
Influence – following a new set of ideas because they sound good

Lastly, a person with a weak or lacking Philosophy can be easier to influence than those with a strong Philosophy. As they are not tied down to a strong foundation, these people can float with the direction of the winds and follow whichever crowd they decide has the best answers. 

These are the people that have frequent revelations or have a new set of ideas and Values each time you see them. Without doing the homework to define a Philosophy for themselves, they often believe they have “found the answers” and adopt these new ideas.

This, too, leaves a person feeling uneasy; though, in a different way. When this person first finds a new set of beliefs, they are in the honeymoon phase of the relationship. Everything this new set of ideas and Values does is great and it has the answers that they have been looking for forever – they finally found it. 

Eventually, though, they may begin to feel that this set of Values isn’t checking all their boxes. They are not headed in the direction that they want to go and they begin to see these adopted Values aren’t going to take them there. 

The influenced feel trapped until they catch wind that another group has different ideas and they go along and follow that group for a while, and the cycle repeats itself.

Being easily influenced makes it difficult to lead oneself in a specific direction. When you get caught up in crosswinds, you can’t stay on the road – you are floating along at the mercy of the wind. 

These people will feel like they are staying in one spot because they keep getting put on these paths that don’t progress them forward, just sideways.

Reaching Out for Something

The common thread woven through each of these profiles is that they are all reaching for something. Whether they call it meaning, understanding, safety, optimization, whatever, they are reaching outward for ideas, logic, or Values that will tie them down to the ground and resolve whatever feelings of uneasiness they are experiencing.

The arguers reach out looking for logic that proves them right while deflecting the responsibility and ownership off of them and onto someone else – anything that keeps them safe from stepping backward off of the cliff.

Those looking for sources are reaching for validation of ideas. Rather than validate thoughts and ideas for themselves, they look to “authorities” for validation. These people, too, are trying to tie themselves down to a solid foundation in their own way.

Those easily influenced are reaching for found answers rather than creating their own answers. By flowing with the direction of the wind they find someone that is saying something attractive and hitch their wagons up to that horse thinking they finally found the answers.

None of these groups are doing the work for themselves or providing their own answers; instead, they are looking for someone else to provide answers to them. 

Their Philosophies would be stronger and more complete, with stronger Integrity, if they would put the work in themselves, but they either don’t want to face the questions required to do so or they cannot see that they have this kind of work to do – they lack the vision to look at themselves this way.

Rather than reaching outward, these groups of people would benefit more from looking within and challenging themselves to answer their own questions. They can get custom-tailored solutions rather than buying off the rack.

It is beneficial to you to understand what a weak Philosophy looks like so that you can use this understanding to strengthen yourself. It is also beneficial to be able to understand others that exhibit some of the common behaviors you see so that you can better contextualize people that you interact with in the world.

Understand that reading this and understanding these concepts puts you in a small group of individuals who are ready to take in this information. Because of this, you are going to encounter people from one of the other three groups above far more often than you will encounter those who think like you and me. It is important to understand the world around you so that you can find how you navigate through it. 

These people with weak Philosophies are not bad people, they are simply on their own journey and some will figure this out sooner or later and make the necessary changes. There are others that will be stuck in the same rut forever. It is our job to do our best and be an example for others.

Yours in strength,


There is a lot going on at thebeardreport. these days. The Newsletter is back up and running and we have now released The Initiated Lifestyle Podcast.

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Your Philosophy is Your Ground

Be unshakeable; ready to weather any storm

The floor drops out from underneath you, your heart is up in your throat, and you’re grabbing onto anything that you can reach as you endure that feeling of freefall. It’s exciting on roller coasters; however, it is not what you want to feel as you’re living your day-to-day life.

That feeling of having little control and reaching for anything that won’t give way is a feeling that is familiar to those not grounded. Whether they are going through a tough time or are “trying to find themselves” these people are lost, freefalling, and trying to right their ship.

Conversely, think of an old tree. It’s been around for the last 100 years. In that time it has weathered many storms, rains, high winds, lightning, but it still stands. It’s roots are still holding strong to the ground beneath it. It’s grabbed a hold of the earth and is sturdy. This is what having a strong Philosophy provides for people; they feel like this tree – sturdy, immoveable, ready to weather any storms.

As the world continues on the noise increases. News outlets, social media, reality television – all competing for their piece of your attention. The rate at which new media is created increases by the day. Along with all that noise there are conflicting opinions, persuasion, and “recruiting”. It’s easy enough to get lost today and I expect it to get worse as time continues on.

It is important that each person equips themselves with their own Values and Philosophy so that they have the context and tools needed to navigate through all of the noise. 

A Strong Philosophy is a Strong Foundation

A strong system of Values and beliefs is your ground. They are things that you can grab onto as the windstorm picks up. When you are confronted with different opinions and information your Philosophy will provide the context needed to analyze and evaluate the information laid out in front of you.

A strong Philosophy is the foundation upon which one can build a life. The elevation to which one can build is limited by what their foundation can support. If you try to build too tall, too fast, before laying the proper foundation, there will eventually come a point where you will reach the capacity of the foundation below or you risk it, making the daily gamble that the wind does not blow hard enough to blow over what you have built. 

I’m sure you are able to think of stories of the person that had such promise but stalled or someone that continued beyond their limits too quickly and paid for it somewhere down the line. 

Your Philosophy Grounds You

People turn to any number of things to find stability. Some choose advice from friends, some choose the news, Facebook groups, religion – my point is that when people feel lost or that they don’t have answers to the questions they face, they begin to look for answers. Whether they are confused, scared, or they don’t know how to feel, people are on the lookout for answers to their problems. They are trying to resolve the instability of an unknown with the stability of an answer.

Friends, news, and/or religion, all provide these answers and stability in their own way. People will search until they find an answer that seems reasonable enough to answer their question and they are content. 

A strong Philosophy allows people to answer these questions for themselves. Philosophy itself is the stability that people are looking for. The answers found in one’s Philosophy are consistent with the makeup of the individual trying to resolve their questions.

Find Your Own Answers Before You Need Them

The idea behind the Initiated Philosophy is that each individual builds their Philosophy for themselves. It is a process of deep reflection, tough questions, and fearless discovery. Through this process you will define what is important to you and what is not. You will explore the dusty corners of yourself to find what things about your belief system are underdeveloped or inconsistent with your goals. From there, you will develop your guiding Principles. 

It is through that process that you will find the answers you need before you need them. Better yet, you will understand yourself better than you ever have before. 

  • What makes you tick?
  • What motivates you?
  • What makes you uneasy? 
  • Why?
  • What can you do to change it?
  • Where do you need to grow?
  • What are your strengths?
  • How can you best use those strengths?
  • How can you best use those strengths to support your weaknesses?

And so on.

You should begin to see now that in going this deep in self discovery you discover the voids in your existing ideas about who you are and what you’re about and begin a process of filling those gaps.


Earlier I mentioned the idea of a Philosophy providing context and this is another cool thing about developing a strong Philosophy for yourself rather than adopting ideas from other sources. 

We just discussed the depth at which you need to go to effectively discover all of the voids in your belief system and how from there you can begin to close those gaps and strengthen the Integrity of your Philosophy by ditching what isn’t serving you and keeping what is.

This is the best way to develop an intimate relationship with your thoughts and beliefs. Like a motorcycle that you have built from the ground up – you know its quirks, its weak points, and you’re the only person that knows your specific bike inside and out. Your Philosophy is similar – you’re the person with the most familiarity of the inner workings of it, you will know why each Value is there and how they all interact with each other.

As much as I talk about your Philosophy being strong and strengthening Integrity and finding the answers before you need them, understand that this is not to say that you are going to have EVERYTHING sorted out at the onset of this new life you’re about to lead.

The world around you will change, you will hit unexpected bumps in the road, you are going to grow and your priorities and Values will shift – this is all part of the journey.

The power of the context you gain is in how your Philosophy helps you handle these challenges. By doing this deep dive and understanding how you operate, you have a baseline to start from. When you encounter something that conflicts with your beliefs you are not rocked off of your foundation because your foundation is the strongest you could have made it to that point. You have a strong footing to be able to absorb the initial blow, take a look at it from all sides, and have the strength to move forward how you best see fit. 

Rather than that feeling of freefall where you’re grabbing for anything that you can reach, you are grounded to your Philosophy and a strong set of Values that you can use to navigate through situations. You don’t need to stress your grip strength because you are not reaching for anything to begin with – you’re already planted atop an immovable ground.

Think of context like this – say you learned Spanish in Spain and took a vacation to Mexico. You will be able to communicate well enough but there will be local differences in the Mexican language that you will need to work around. You will adopt useful words and phrases in Mexico that will allow you to navigate better; you will have modified your understanding of the language a little bit, but it is because you were fluent in Spanish to begin with that you are able to make these changes to your understanding of the language. 

Hopefully you draw the parallel between Philosophical context and the linguistic context allowing the incorporation of useful phrases into the original understanding of Spanish. It is because of the understanding of the Spanish language that you are able to understand the new dialect and adapt; whereas if you did not understand Spanish at all, you would be lost.

Your Philosophy is what you know and will provide context as you encounter different opinions. Because you have that understanding of your Philosophy, you are able to adapt as YOU see fit. You also have a strong foundation to stand upon if you decide you want to push back against different beliefs. 

This is the context that a strong Philosophy provides. It informs your gut-check decisions and helps you to conceptualize “good” and “bad” relative to yourself. Then it is there to provide the same reference point if you decide that what you’re looking at is worthy of further investigation.

Built Not Bought

I want to drive home the importance and advantage of building a Philosophy rather than adopting one. 

First, there is rarely a scenario where someone else’s Philosophy will check all of your boxes. You may agree with most of what another person believes but there is rarely a scenario where everything that another person says entirely resonates with you. There will be gaps in that Philosophy that you must fill. 

Second, you will not have the same level of understanding when adopting another belief system than if you develop your own. You can study another ideology for a long time before you gain the confidence to say that you understand enough. Until that time, you will not be on firm, solid ground – your foundation will be soft and able to give as you cannot firmly plant your feet on all of the ideas within this belief system you have adopted – this is the topic of next week’s Transmission, by the way. Make sure to check that out. 

Further to this point – all that time you spent trying to understand someone else’s Philosophy could have been spent refining and applying your own. You could have already started your journey but instead decided that there was something more to learn by studying someone else’s system.

So – I have presented two things. The first says that, even if you were to adopt the ideas of another person or group, you will need to do some level of self-reflection to fill in the gaps when you encounter those parts that don’t resonate with you. The second point is that you will need to put in the time to study the ideas of this ideology to make sure you understand all of the links and application of the ideas you hold, leaving you on a soft foundation in the mean-time.

So, now I ask this – what are you really gaining by adopting a belief system rather than developing your own? 

From where I’m sitting, not much. 

You will develop a Philosophy quicker than you will learn one and you will be more grounded to the Philosophy that you build for yourself than the one that you adopt. 

Rely on yourself, build it yourself, and get exactly what you want.

Yours in strength,


There is a lot going on at thebeardreport. these days. The Newsletter is back up and running and we have now released The Initiated Lifestyle Podcast.

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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


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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


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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,


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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,


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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. 


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,


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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.


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,


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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,


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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 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.


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.


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.


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,


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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,


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,