Remove Gray From Where It Doesn’t Belong

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue on if you’re not on board yet. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t be overly vocal about your decisions.

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

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

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

When making changes, move from one decision to another.

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


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

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

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

Yours in strength

-Jersey

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On Discipline, The Driver of Achievement

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

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

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

On Discipline

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

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

Motivation, and it’s Deception

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

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

Discipline and Challenge

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

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

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

On Success

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

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

Rely on yourself. Rely on Discipline. Achieve.

I’m pulling for you.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

External Influence: The Community

Community, the primary external influence, can be optimized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

Evaluate Principles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evaluate Principles and remain true to self.

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

Yours in strength,

-Jersey