Ultimate Strength Is Measured In Adaptability

Ultimate Strength transcends any one label, it is adaptable.

How do you define strength?

I like the definition I wrote for thebeardreport.’s homepage: The physical and mental ability to resist opposition, withstand attack, and push forward; because it begins to describe different sides of strength. By this definition, strength is not only physical but also mental. It does not only work to oppose incoming forces but also to push forward toward what’s next.

There are three pillars of strength (physical, mental, and emotional). When I think of strength, three visualizations come into focus:

  1. I see myself at the bottom of a heavy squat; face red, veins popping, and straining every muscle in my body to overcome the resistance from the weight. This is my representation of physical strength.
  2. I see myself making tough decisions that help me to stay on my path and achieve rather than falling victim to less beneficial influences. This is my representation of mental strength.
  3. I see myself as a calm person in a room full of panic; evaluating the facts, assessing, and deciding the best path forward. This is my representation of emotional strength. 

Beyond these three pillars strength breaks down further. Strength can be defined as rigid or flexible, and seen through the lens of specificity or generality. 

You may think of rigid strength as something that is over-designed. Rigid strength accomplishes its tasks through brute force or mass alone. There is little nuance to rigid strength; it does not flex. What you see is what you get. Think about a time where your friends wanted to pull you out to a bar and there was no amount of convincing they could have done that resulted in you going. This is rigidity. No flex to be found here.

Flexible strength will ebb and flow with the dynamics of its environment. If rigid strength is strength by excess, you can think of flexible strength as being optimized for its environment. Think about trying to get work done while staying at your in-laws house. You will need to be flexible in when you work, where you work, and what type of distractions there may be. Rigidity will not work here, you must be flexible to accommodate the situation.

Specific strength can be seen similar to a machine: designed and optimized to perform a defined set of tasks. Specific strength excels within a defined set of parameters and is weaker in all ways outside of those parameters. Think of specific strength as involving a skill. Developing a skill introduces specificity to what is otherwise general strength.

General strength may be thought of along the lines of the old adage “jack of all trades, master of none” in which this strength can be applied to a number of circumstances as it is less specific. Think about moving heavy objects around your yard. You may need to push, lift, or pull depending on what needs to be moved. To complete these tasks you need to have general strength that can be applied in a number of ways.

Now think of yourself.

You are human. You grow. You change. You learn. 

You adapt to many circumstances throughout life. 

When considering all of the roles you fill as a person, it stands to reason that you need to be adaptable. You need to be able to apply the strength you gain in one area to other areas of your life if there is any hope of efficiency. Ultimate strength; therefore, is adaptable; it transcends specific definition. Strength is an idea, a feeling, a characteristic, and an attribute.

How do you gain adaptability?

Adaptability is gained with depth; and within depth there are three categories:

  1. Depth in understanding
  2. Depth in building
  3. Depth in application

This is where this article gets fun for me. 

For purposes of discussion, let’s start with one of my favorite lifts – the squat. As a competitive powerlifter, the squat is a big deal. It is the first lift contested at a powerlifting meet and is all about commitment. Squatting a big weight requires you to be ok with putting your entire body under weights heavy enough to crush you. It requires focus, self-belief, and, maybe, a screw or two loose. But I digress.

Here’s the thing, though. I am not just a powerlifter – I do many other things. I have other hobbies that I like to do outside of the weightroom. I do not exist only to squat. I would like for the strength I build to be able to benefit me in other ways. In order to do this, I need adaptability. I develop that adaptability through understanding depth. Check it out:

1. Depth in understanding

The first part of building and developing squat strength is to understand what it takes to build a strong squat. The squat is a total body movement; you need a strong back, strong legs, and strong abs to support the weight. You need to understand the biomechanics of a squat to move your body efficiently. You need to understand how your body reacts to training loads. A big squat doesn’t happen overnight – you need to understand how to train the movement over a long period of time. 

2. Depth in building

Once you have the understanding, you need to execute. You need to not only accumulate squat repetitions to build the squat but you also need to perform different accessory movements to build up different areas of your body. You may need to drill different movements to gain needed flexibility or teach your body how to use different muscles. Having a depth of training techniques at your disposal will help you build more strength faster by being able to identify and strengthen specific weaknesses.

If I stopped here, I would have everything I needed to build a strong squat. This would be a form of specific strength. Knowing nothing outside what I described above would make me very good at performing a squat, and with enough time under the bar, I would be a very proficient squatter. As I said earlier, though, I am a person that does more than squat. I want my training to perform in other ways that better my life as a whole. 

With that, we move on to the third aspect of depth. 

3. Depth in application

Understanding and executing different applications for strength built in the first two steps is what allows me to be adaptable. 

In a physical sense, it is easy to see how a strong squat helps me in day-to-day life. Strong legs and a strong back help me when I go to move heavy boxes, I can pick up someone who has fallen over, I can support my motorcycle when I come to a red light, and being physically fit helps me to look good out by the pool (we all have a little vanity within us).

These different physical applications speak to the adaptability of strength built through training my squat. No longer am I turning into a machine that squats weight and squats weight only. All of a sudden, I understand how my training allows me to improve all these other parts of my life. I build a more capable human ready to tackle a range of roles and responsibilities that are required to live the life I want to live by being able to transfer skills and abilities from the weightroom to these other areas of my life.

As far as depth goes, this is still shallow. 

As someone who has spent an unknown number of hours under the barbell, I have gained far more from the iron than a strong body. While I was working at building my lifts and appreciating all of the physical things that have been improved through strengthening my body, I have been building my mind as well. 

It takes discipline to show up every day and put in the reps. It takes an ever-increasing drive to maintain high intensity through long workouts and training blocks. It takes self-reliance and confidence to approach weights that scare you while having the confidence that you will be the victor in this battle of man vs. steel. 

You don’t lose this mental edge when you leave the gym if you understand what you are building and how to apply it. When you understand that you are developing discipline each time you walk into the weight room, you can then take that discipline and apply it out in your world to your work life and your home life. 

The gains don’t stop at discipline and mental fortitude. When you push your body to do anything new you will sometimes fail. If you are pushing yourself hard in the gym, you will miss lifts. There will be training blocks that don’t result in personal best lifts. You can choose to be defeated by these situations and let your emotions best you when you aren’t performing; or, of course, you can let the iron teach you that this is all part of the process and that you will not always win in the short term. You can choose to remain objective and level headed and, ultimately, persevere. Emotional strength is flexed along with everything else in these situations and again, can be taken to all other areas of your life when you understand the depth of what you are doing.

This is Depth

Something as straightforward as squatting can develop skills that tie into the most core characteristics of an initiated individual. From that core, these skills are expressed in many ways across many disciplines of life. Again, this is only available to those that can recognize and build this type of depth. 

And this discussion is centered around only one activity – working out. When you understand depth in its three disciplines, this can be taken to any activity you do.


When you see the larger picture and understand depth in this way, you are able to take the strength you build in one discipline and apply it across all other areas of your life. This is adaptability and it is what makes a person ultimately strong. 

A big squat is strong, having a high IQ is strong, being able to navigate big emotions is strong, but none of this means anything if these skills don’t adapt.

If one of the pillars of strength should fall…

If one of the pillars of strength (physical, mental, emotional) should fall you begin to see how this affects depth, and therefore, adaptability. You become a commodity when you cannot adapt. You become more like a machine than a human; able to perform well in some areas, but not adaptable to all areas. Humans have many roles and enter into many different scenarios throughout their days, weeks, years, and lives. You need strength to succeed. To have ultimate strength, you need to adapt. 

When you understand depth both as a concept and as part of what you do, you no longer think in silos. Your knowledge and abilities begin to flow together and support each other. They begin to build Integrity. The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. 

This is strength. This is adaptability. This is why you need depth.

Yours in strength, 

-Chris

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The Proactive Leader

The leadership strategy to look ahead, get ahead, and stay ahead.

Here is the formula to be an effective, proactive leader – you need to look ahead, get ahead, and stay ahead. If you are able to put a strategy together that allows you to do all three of these things, you and your team will be in the best position for success.

I’m not going to do a long introduction for this one – let’s get right into it.

Look ahead.

This is the discovery phase of a new leadership campaign. As a leader, you are starting at the start and bringing your team through the journey through the finish line. In order to lead, you must know which direction you are headed and for that, you need a vision and a plan.

Start at a high level by identifying the start and end points and lay out some milestones along the way. This begins to segment the journey into more digestible steps that you can continue to break down further. The level of detail is dependent on the intricacy of the mission, the number of people on the team, and the experience level of the team. This plan follows your vision for the end goal and will equip you with your own North Star, keeping everything aligned in the right direction.

This is also the stage where you start to identify threats to your success. There are likely going to be some obvious challenges that you will need to account for and now is the time to begin building strategies and tactics for those instances. These are your first steps at steering your team away from problems to maximize their efficiency and minimize their frustration.

Infrastructure is another consideration in this phase – what personnel, training, material, workspace are needed to achieve this goal? How are you going to get it? Cost? Time? Consider all of the things that are potential road-blocks and get yourself and your team setup early so they can hit the ground running. 

Get Ahead

The next course of action as a leader is to get ahead of your team. The prep work going into the beginning of a new project or pursuit sets the tone for the rest of the mission. The leader needs to put in the work up front to get ahead, remove hurdles for the team, and give everyone the best chance of success, including themselves. 

You will be setting up responsibilities for the people on your team and building out the systems that your team will be using. Set this up early so that you can free yourself to do those other things that get you out a few strategic steps in front of the team. You can’t lead from the middle of the pack, strategically speaking – you need to be out of the weeds and keep your vision wide.

Stay Ahead

This is where the leader lives strategically – out ahead of the rest of the team. The leaders are the first thing that external conflict hits and they are the filter for what does and does not make its way to the team.

Leaders need to be aware that they are most effective when they are ahead of the team and can see oncoming problems as they materialize. When the leader gets buried in the weeds right next to his team, he is unable to effectively steer the ship away from the rocks. If he performs this part of his job well, his team should be none-the-wiser about all of the minor course corrections the leader implemented to avoid crashing on the rocks.

This step is also where a lack of discipline is going to show itself most to the leader. When a leader gets out ahead of the team and their deadlines, he needs to work to maintain this strategic advantage. This means that his deadlines are not going to be the same as the team’s deadlines. His actions are not going to be tied to any hard project deadlines that the team might be working to. 

With this, the leader needs to be able to set deadlines for himself and be disciplined to meet them, else, he will fall behind and lose that advantage that he had worked to give himself. Again, you cannot lead when you are at the same strategic level as everyone else – you must work to maintain a lead. 

As you are out in front of the team, you are scanning the horizon for any issues that are starting to form. This can be checking in with team leads, asking questions, or monitoring the industry. It is on you to keep your vision up and out just as it is your team’s responsibility to support the project schedule by contributing their parts. Don’t allow the lines to be blurred. A leader can and should help their team, but the divide between work responsibilities must be maintained in the leader’s head to ensure they have the ability to lead.

Results

When a leader looks ahead, gets ahead, and stays ahead, the effects are felt throughout the team. Like mentioned earlier, the leader should be initiating small course corrections and/or interjecting occasionally to address the problems that they are identifying. 

When a leader fails to look ahead and make corrections, the team feels the jolt of meeting a challenge head-on. The abrupt change of direction disrupts the team and damages productivity and workflow. More foresight leads to less re-work, less frustration, and better product. 

The nuances of leadership are challenging, but this structure will set a leader to be effective and ready to lead their team.

Yours in strength,

-Chris

There is a lot going on at thebeardreport. these days.

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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.”

And

“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?

Outliers

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

-Chris

There is a lot going on at thebeardreport. these days.

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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,

-Chris

There is a lot going on at thebeardreport. these days.

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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.

Context

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,

-Chris

There is a lot going on at thebeardreport. these days.

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