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,

-Chris

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Strategy and Tactics in Action

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

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

Team Setting

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the Individual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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The Archetype of the Initiated

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

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

Strength

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

Mental and Emotional Strength

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

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

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

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

Physical Strength

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

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

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

Discipline

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

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

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

Integrity

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

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

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

Leadership

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

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

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

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

The Archetype

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

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

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

Be the Initiated.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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External Influence: The Community

Community, the primary external influence, can be optimized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in strength,

-Jersey