When I was 24 years old I sat in a class room on Camp Barrett aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico. I was attending The Basic School, a place where the Marine Corps provides all newly commissioned officers with a six month intensive course in leadership. One of the best lessons in leadership I received from that school was presented to me when we received our first address from our Commanding Officer Colonel Todd Desgrosseilliers. He was a very small balding man and the recipient of a Silver Star. At the end of his discussion a fellow student began to stammer through an extremely complicated question.
Half-way through the question Colonel Degrosseilliers interrupted the young man and said leadership is simple. He turned toward the class and stated, “always do the right thing and when your actions come into question you will be able to withstand trial.” Many people disagreed with Colonel Degrosseilliers’ leadership style at the school. Yet this statement resounded with me deeply and it became something I would preach to the Marines I would one day be in charge of. So for you my son, how can I amplify such a simple statement into a lesson that is easy to digest and understand?
It starts with the story of a woman named Kitty Genovese. Kitty Genovese was a Boston native who was arriving home from work on the night of March 13th, 1964. She arrived home at 3:15am to find a man trailing her with a hunting knife. The man proceeded assault Kitty Genovese causing her to scream out for help. When she did scream for help the man ran away and Kitty crawled to her apartment before her wounds rendered her unconscious. No one came. Whats more is the man who assaulted her returned to the scene and proceeded to do horrible things to her. Again, no one came to her aid.
Police would go on to investigate the murder of Kitty Genovese and determine that around 38 people over heard the assault and not a single one of them came to her aid or even called the police. Psychologists would go on to investigate the cause of these people refusing to get in involved. What they discovered was a psychological phenomenon known as bystander effect. Bystander effect is when people witness a horrific event and do nothing to stop it out of the hope or belief that someone else will step in. Many of them choose not to help out of self preservation or a belief that this problem does not impact them directly.
I don’t tell you this story to scare you, but to give you a real life application for what it means to do the right thing. As a people we should despise and strengthen ourselves against evil people. Yet, what is more important is that we despise the inability of good people to stand up against those evil forces, people, and things that exist in this world. Bystander effect is a real thing that can and has overcome many of us. Your job is not to be a vigilante in this world who is constantly seeking trouble or you will surely find it. Your job is to prepare yourself for the evil that may one day darken your door or bring harm to those people you care about most.
Determining when you can and should step in to help a person you barely know is a decision you will struggle with on almost a daily basis. If you live a fulfilled life, you will be confronted with this choice and learn this lesson repeatedly. The day will come when I am unable to be near you to encourage you to step in or remain steadfast in your decision not to involve yourself in a questionable situation. What I can provide you with is a mantra that was also taught to me while at The Basic School in Quantico. Adopt the mantra, “If not me, then Who?”
Throughout history we can see this lesson repeated over and over again. At the conclusion of one of the darkest times in our world’s history, the holocaust, many people were forced to confront their inability to stand up against evil. Martin Niemoller poetically encompassed his inability to stand up in the following quote:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;Martin Niemoller
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.
I pray you are never faced with the guilt of failing to stand up for what you believe in. We will talk about guilt and the lessons it teaches us in another post. If I do my job as your father I will provide you plenty of lessons in choosing whether or not you should stand up and fight or remain a pacifist. At times both paths prove prudent. All I ask is that whenever you decide to walk away from conflict you ask yourself if you are doing the right thing. Until then I leave you with my favorite modification of a quote attributed to John Stuart Mill.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.
To read more about Lessons for my son click here
In our first lesson we talked about Love. Some of my more religious friends will probably be upset that God was not number one. I understand their reasoning and I hope they can empathize with my argument that you need to understand what love is before you can truly understand what God has done for you. I would like to set a couple of ground rules before we begin.
Your mother and I will baptize you in front of the God we believe in, doing so in the way we believe to be appropriate. I am only doing this because it is what her and I believe is right. This is a struggle for me to come to terms with because your Grammy did not force faith on me and I found God in my own way. I pray that you find God in your own way; if you don’t, I pray you at least take the lessons the bible teaches you, and store them deep in your heart and mind.
It was difficult in the time period your mother and I grew up in to be proud of our faith. Even now, we lack the same discipline in our faith that your Mimi exemplifies. I think it was easier to be a devout Christian years ago because everyone believed, and even if they didn’t they acted as if they did. The relationship most people of my generation have with God is much more relaxed than previous generations, if it exists at all.
I assume it will be even more non-existent in the time period you grow up in. People will move further and further away from faith. You may even be the odd child out if you decide early on to cherish your faith in God. Whether you choose to believe in God or not, I want you to take the following lessons from the bible and exemplify them in your own life. Any lesson you learn, can most likely be found first in the bible and the first lesson I taught you about love stems from God’s relationship with his son.
God So loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.John 3:16 (KJV)
You will learn the story of Jesus and how he died on the cross for us and for our sins. This lesson is hard to comprehend for a child. It is even harder to comprehend for a man. How can any being willingly sacrifice his own child for a group of people who question his own existence? I still don’t know the answer. What I have learned from this is that sacrifice is an extremely important part of our society. We need men and women who are willing to sacrifice themselves and their most cherished possessions for the betterment of society. Without this sacrifice our species will surely perish. Many of us believe this level of sacrifice only exists in the actions of God and his Son. I could spend this entire post talking about sacrifice of a son and love of a father. We could go into Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son for his belief in God. I can only hope that one day you are able to empathize with this level of sacrifice. Moreover, that you one day find a cause that you are so willing to sacrifice for.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
Fear is an emotion that many people in our society deal with on a regular basis. We will have an entire discussion of fear and strategies to deal with it. This discussion can start with the fact that your faith in God will shield you against all fears. Love for someone, or something that is so strong will grant you the ability to overcome fear. I have much to talk to you about in terms of fear but for now let your response to fear start with God and the lessons he teaches us. God does not instill a sense of fear inside of you. One day you will learn to appreciate the gift of fear. You will harness its capabilities and realize that it does not handicap you, but instead it provides you a sound mind. Should you have trouble shielding yourself from fear look only towards the next piece of scripture I want to share with you.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of GodEphesians 6 10:17 (KJV)
This verse is probably the one that has given me the most strength throughout my life. Your Uncle David handed me this verse on a coin before I left for the Marine Corps. During some of my darkest times in entry level training I relied upon this verse for strength. This verse embodies all of the lessons I want you to take from the bible. Your love of God will shield you from the spiritual wickedness that does exist in this world. There will be days where you will require support to even stand. It is provided to you. Your ability to sacrifice will be empowered by the tools that God gives you. I promise if you only believe, that no wicked will fall upon you.
I mean it when I say I want you to question your faith. I want you to find in your heart whether or not you believe in God’s existence. Even when you are absolutely sure in the existence of God I want you to question yourself. This questioning will either strengthen your faith or force you to look for answers elsewhere. When you have completely given up on God, come back to his lessons and question your faith again. God will not give up on you.
Most importantly, have the faith to believe in things even when others don’t. This starts with god but it bleeds into other parts of your life as well. Our society is pushing further into narcissistic though patterns. These patterns do not blend well with love of your fellow brother, or willingness to sacrifice for the good of the community. We need young men like you to develop the those capabilities to further the betterment of our nation and our people. Creation stories like those found in the bible are the basis for all beliefs, norms, and morals. If you can understand their basis in the bible you will be able to apply them to other social sciences.
I have so much more to teach you about God and the Bible. I hope it is a journey you will take my hand in one day. Until then just remember these three pieces of scripture and the lessons they teach you. Love will empower your sacrifice. It will embolden your actions in the presence of fear. It will shield you from the wicked. We will build on these principles. I will teach you more skills to empower you. For now, this foundation will be a tremendous support system to build upon.
To read about the impetus behind this series of blog posts click here
To learn about why I am posting this Series click here
Love is the beginning and the end of it all. You will learn early on in your life about love. You will most likely have a novice view on the emotion. Your inability to comprehend what love truly is, is something I can not fault you for. If you are a man of conviction you will never doubt the love you hold deep in your heart. I commend you for that, but I hope this lesson can serve you to expand that comprehension.
God willing, your first experience with love will be the love your mother and I share with you. That love will be expanded on and reinforced by the wonderful family that surrounds you. I hope your understanding of love expands in the ways you witness how I treat your mother and all of the other women in both of our lives. I will do my best to set the greatest example possible for the way you should treat women, as I myself have learned those lessons the hard way. We will discuss the love of women further but for now I ask that we consider love in terms that expand beyond that of man and woman, or between other family members.
The best lesson I ever learned about love was displayed to me in the book “Gates of Fire” by Steven Pressfield. I cannot wait to share with you, the stories of mankind’s history, and the amazing feats many men took part in when the chips were stacked against them. The 300 Spartans of Thermopylae are towards the top of this list, and you will know of them early on in your life. Pressfield’s depiction of love’s power in his book is what we will focus on for now.
In the book during the days leading up to the Spartan’s battle with the Persian empire at Thermopylae, one of the lieutenants named Dienekes, constantly questions his men about fear. Many times throughout the story he asks, what is the opposite of fear. His men quickly respond like I did and assume you would, claiming fearlessness to be the opposite of fear. Yet, the lieutenant reminds his men that fearlessness is only the absence of fear. Therefore the absence of an emotion cannot be the opposite of it. Much like the difference between bravery and courage is that courage is seen as being scared but having the will to go on anyway. Bravery is considered to be an adjective describing a person acting in the absence of fear.
I encourage you to take the time to ponder this in your own mind for as many days as you can before reading on. Take the time to work through this question in your own head and attempt to develop the patience within yourself to appreciate the journey this question takes you on.
Later on in Gates of Fire, after one of the worst days of battle just before the conflict would culminate Dienekes and his men surround a camp fire ruminating on the day’s events. A squire of Dienekes, nicknamed “Suicide” begins to discuss his beliefs about the Spartan men he admires so much. In discussing his nick-name Suicide says to the men, “For what can be more noble than … to extinguish the selfish self within, that part which looks only to its own preservation, to save its own skin.” Suicide delves into the concept more deeply and states;
“When a warrior fights not for himself, but for his brothers, when his most passionately sought goal is neither glory nor his own life’s preservation, but to spend his substance for them, his comrades, not to abandon them, not to prove unworthy of them, then his heart has truly achieved contempt for death, and with that he transcends himself and his actions touch the sublime.”
For an emotion to truly be the opposite of another emotion on the spectrum it cannot have multiple opposites. If we concede that sadness is the opposite of happiness, in the same vein happiness cannot simultaneously be the opposite of fear. Dienekes conceded to his men that he is not all knowing (willingness to admit you don’t know something when you are in charge is yet another lesson to discuss another time). Yet, he claimed that he believed he had determined what the opposite of fear was after witnessing the Suicide’s proclamation by the fire. He proclaimed it to be love.
Love is the opposite of fear. Fear cannot exist in your heart when it is filled with love. The focus of that love is so strong that a fear of what events lie ahead or surround you cannot exist simultaneously with love. I am fortunate that as your father I was never required to go to combat. Doing so may have led to the absence of my existence and consequentially yours too. I have served in the profession of arms though and I do believe I have experienced the love that exists between warriors. It is almost the most powerful form of love that does exist. The only forms of love more powerful are those you will hold in your heart for your mother, for the woman you choose for a wife, and the love you hold for your first child.
Now, those days are far off for you, as they should be. It is my hope that you are able to experience love in its many varieties so that you too are able to love yourself and those around you more deeply. I chose love as the first lesson I would endeavor to teach you for a reason. It is the Alpha and the Omega. It will drive you through your entire life. It is the seed of all emotions and all actions you partake in. Be they positive or negative I promise they are rooted in love. I hope you love hard, and feel the hurt that love brings. Coincidentally, that hurt will drive you to feel the joy that it brings and most importantly its ability to drive out fear. Love, son. Love, and one day you will be a great man.
To read Lessons For My Son: #2 … God; click here
Find any human being who is currently involved in the business world and you will catch them using words like “bootstrapping” and “MVP”. If you have no idea what these terms mean no harm no foul. If you have even dared to use them in conversation regardless of your lack of knowledge you are probably in good company.
You may see postmodernpatriot.blog and assume it is barebones or half-assed. If anything we are currently in beta-testing and doing so by providing customers the most minimally viable product possible. A minimally viable product or “MVP” is the most simplistic product that a business can take to market. For us this meant providing an area that publishes content to make better humans and empower people to live boldly. Of course this MVP does not exist without a grand vision of the future.
PMP plans to have a podcast in the coming year alongside semiannual or even monthly seminars that give people the skills they need to live boldly and own any room they enter into. However, in order to do so we needed to test out our concept by seeing how often we could release content that supported these ends. Yes, we would love this product to have all of the shiny bells and whistles possible, but doing so without running a proof of concept would be haphazard.
Moreover, we chose to bootstrap this product into development. Doing so meant providing our own funding which is not in abundance. We have the opportunity to go out and find outside investors who would support this endeavor but doing so would mean answering to other masters. So far we have been up for one month and we have released 5 posts. Doing so while handling a rigorous list of outside priorities.
Many of us have some grand idea for a side hustle or a new business that we hope will replace our current occupation. I would argue that for many of us this fairy-tale will exist regardless of how awesome our current occupation may be. It is a natural habit of humans to view the grass on the other side as greener. Regardless, we must fervently pursue those goals and dreams so our life becomes what we desire it to be.
If you have one of these grandiose ideas for something to sell or share, that is great. You should write that vision down and include all of those extra features and beautiful ideas you hope to one day execute on. Store it in a safe place for when you need to find new goals to execute later on. In the mean-time shave it all down. These are the initial stages of MVP development. Asking yourself how can we take this product to market tomorrow to test it out on consumers.
This action brings about one of Michael Porter’s key requirements for leaders in terms of strategic positioning. Determining what things your business will say no to. Southwest Airlines did this when they chose to be the airline with less frills and more direct flights that got you to your destination. Porter urges leaders to accept the trade-offs of their determination to deliver a product to customers that serves specific needs. As Porter puts it, “You can’t win by doing everything.”
Another good example of this practice of determining what to say no is visible in the strategy Trader Joes developed. They set out to serve a very specific market of customers. The under-paid and over-educated. Now they specifically target health conscious singles, couples, and small families. This action is referred to as defining your target market or as porter refers to it, “serving the broad needs of few.” Once you are able to better define your target market, you are able to better serve their specific needs.
Post-modern Patriot is employing all of these strategies with the employment of our bare-minimum blog. We say no to: spending money on frills and thrills, outsourcing work we can learn or do ourselves until we absolutely have to, and investing money until we are able to complete a proof of concept. This blog serves all those needs while allowing us to serve out target market. Young professionals who desire to live boldly and improve their own health, wealth, and relationships.
I think that the current issue we face in society today is the fact that our baseline of comfort is far too high. I am not introducing a new concept but I am introducing what I believe is a unique solution. We do not have to travel far without seeing some comfort of life offered in abundance. One we are able to devour almost immediately. For many of the us the walk to our car in the morning from our house, or into work can be the hardest part of our day. This horror is quickly pacified by the latte from our favorite coffee place, a sugary snack, or an endorphin rush from a scroll through social media.
What’s more is that the more this social media, sugary snack, or favorite coffee place exist in abundance the more we take them for granted. Yet when we are deprived of these same things we begin to appreciate their existence even more. Consider the taste of an average meal when you have been hungry for the entire day. Consider the cloak of warmth your heart feels from a hot shower after a day in the cold. Consider the way your bed swallows you into its arms after you have been sleep deprived for days or weeks. If it has been too long for you to remember any of these feelings than perhaps your baseline of comfort has risen to an extremely high level.
So, how do we drop down the baseline of comfort in order to gain a greater appreciation for those wonderful things that have become so common in everyday life? We do things that make us extremely uncomfortable. We do things that demonstrate our vulnerability to others and most importantly to ourselves. I say this at the risk of sounding like some cheesy inspirational quote on a poster or every self help guru on the internet. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is a necessary part of gaining an appreciation for every day life. It goes hand in hand with practicing gratitude for all of the wonderful things that you do have.
For me, experiencing nature and the elements has always been a way for me to be reminded of the many wonderful things I am afforded in life. Whether it is hiking through the Appalachian Trail, up the side of a mountain, or sleeping in the tree line for a week nature has always done a great job of making me realize two things. The first is how little I actually need to survive. I generally try to go out and survive on only the things I can carry, and I generally want to carry very little. When I return home and see all of the material possessions I have accumulated I am reminded of how many of them are actually a waste. Yet, I appreciate the fact that I am able to have many of these things and I am more likely to get rid of those that I am no longer thankful for.
The second reminder is the fact that I have so many wonderful parts of my life that I generally take for granted. The flavor of food, the hugs I get from my wife (babygurl), the comfort of my couch, and even the job I have are all so much more exciting. The bad parts of life are almost nonexistent at that point because I have experienced far worse from my challenging trip in nature. This was illustrated to me when after an extremely cold (-30 degrees F temperature) trip to Mount Washington I ran past a neighbor of mine in Virginia.
Virginia had recently received a foot of snow and it was about 27 degrees F outside. My neighbor was wearing the same neoprene face-mask my guide forced me to wear on Mount Washington in order to save me from getting frostbite. We walked by each other and I asked him how he was doing. He response was, “horrible … cold” and he kept walking. I couldn’t help myself but laugh in his face after such a response. I felt bad for doing so afterwards, but I realized that his baseline for cold and mine were now extremely different. His perception of 27 degrees F was one of extreme cold and discomfort. I saw that same temperature as a 57 degree F improvement on the temperatures I had just experienced and therefore, tolerable and even welcomed conditions.
This difference in perception of our surrounding environment was due to the fact that I had recently built up my level of comfort with discomfort. I had set a lower baseline that my neighbor. I argue that we all need to endeavor to lower our baseline and grow a greater appreciation for the flavor of life. Only through constant and consistent discomfort can we appreciate our every day comforts. For me it is experiencing the harsh environment our world has to offer. For you it may be taking up a new martial art practice and getting punched in the face. It could be something less harsh like a new workout regiment. Or perhaps it is something as simple as a 30 day no coffee challenge. Whatever it is, play with those comforts you are used to every day and grow comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I heard a quote recently that has stuck with me although I am unsure who to attribute it to. Like many people on the internet I could just throw it up and claim it was said by Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, or Abraham Lincoln. “Comparison is the seed of envy”. I’m sure someone smarter than me will pinpoint its origin, suffice to say I did not come up with it.
Today’s social media filled world forces us to constantly stand at the doorway of comparison prepared to enter the dark caverns of envy. Leaving us left to our own devices we may compare ourselves to every single person we know multiple times a day. A recent study done by the psychology department at the University of Pennsylvania concluded that limiting social media leads to a decrease in loneliness and depression. The study specifically points to the constant comparison we engage in on instagram as one of the causes of increased depression and loneliness due to the use of social media.
Now I love instagram and I am not claiming that we need to swear it off completely. I am all for limiting use of social media, and fortunately the iphone allows us to monitor our screen time very easily now. A little exercise I like to engage in though is what I call Abraham Lincoln’s Instagram.
Let us imagine for a moment that back in the day Abraham Lincoln had an instagram or twitter account. You would probably see a status update or a photo marking the occasion of the following events:
1832– Lincoln is chosen by the members of the Illinois Militia to be their company Captain.
1833– Lincoln is appointed Postmaster of New Salem, Illinois, and appointed to be Deputy Surveyor of Sangamon County.
1834– Lincoln is Elected to the Illinois State Legislature.
1836– Lincoln is reelected to the state Legislature and is granted a license to practice law in Illinois.
1839– Lincoln is nominated for House Speaker by the Whig Party.
Re-elected to Illinois House (running first in his district, Served as Whig floor leader.
1842– Lincoln is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Court.
1844– Lincoln opens a private Law practice of his own.
1846– Lincoln is elected to congress.
1849– Lincoln is given the opportunity to practice law in the U.S. Supreme Court. He was offered (but declined the opportunity to serve as secretary and later governor of the Oregon Territory.)
1854– Lincoln is elected to the Illinois State Legislature but denies because he is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
1860– Lincoln is elected to the office of the President of the United States.
An extremely impressive list of accomplishments. That list even removes a lot of the things that are listed on all of his greatest successes. Watching this series of events unfold from behind the lens of our own social media profiles would make many of us feel as though we were massive failures in comparison. Lincoln too was a massive failure at many things. Below are all the events Lincoln would not have tweeted about or posted to his instagram.
1816– Lincoln and his family do not possess the money to establish clear title to their farm land in Kentucky. Which forces them to leave the land behind and move to Illinois.
1818– Lincoln’s Mother dies of milk sickness when he is just 9 years old.
1831– Lincoln leaves home for a job at a general store with a man named Denton Offutt. Offutt promised to make Lincoln the manager of the store but over extended his budget and had to close up shop. Leaving Lincoln unemployed.
1832– Lincoln ran for State Legislature and lost.
1833– Lincoln takes out a loan to purchase a General Store with his parnter William F. Berry. The store does not fair well against more established competition and they have to close. Lincoln spends several years paying off his debt.
1835– Lincoln’s sweetheart Ann Rutledge dies.
1838– Lincoln is defeated in his attempt to become Speaker of the State Legislature.
1843– Lincoln seeks a nomination from the Whig Party to run for Congress and is rejected.
1854– Lincoln seeks a seat as a U.S. Senator for Illinois. He is unable to obtain the majority vote required.
1856– Lincoln fails to obtain the nomination for Vice President of the United States. Of note: he did not seek this nomination, he was considered as a potential candidate by the Whig party and could only obtain 100 votes of the require 363.
If you look at his successes and failures in sequential order it is almost as though each major accomplishment is followed by a failure. We can make the assumption that if Lincoln were alive today, we probably would only hear about the success list through his Instagram or Twitter. Granted, Lincoln’s humility was extremely noteworthy and it is possible Ole Honest Abe would have shared his failures too. Regardless, it demonstrates the point that many times in life we only see one side of a person’s story. It is more likely than not that they are facing the same trials and tribulations that you and I both are. The only difference we can make is the way in which we respond to setbacks.
I argue that one of the first ways to make a more positive response to setbacks is to limit comparison of ourselves to the one-sided stories displayed by the rest of world on social media. We have a hard enough time attempting to pick ourselves back up by our boot straps after adversity hits. Comparing ourselves to the rest of the world only amplifies those difficulties. Lincoln responded to the countless setbacks life threw at him with malice toward none. A lesson in resilience and perseverance for us all.
Big thanks to Snopes for ensuring that my post was based on fact-checked information and not “fake-news”.
If you like what you see then reach out to us or tell a friend. Thanks.
New Years Resolutions are Wonderful, breaking bad habits even better; consistency is what really moves the needle.-Postmodernpatriot.blog
I am all for people setting tangible realistic goals and setting out to achieve them. Even if that means failing and learning a lot about yourself. I think the setting of goals is what sets doers apart from watchers. If you are reading this blog and following this site you are probably a doer. The proverbial Man in the Arena Theodore Roosevelt speaks of. Many of us set goals in the hopes of starting a new habit or breaking an old habit.
If I can commend any book about understanding the psychology of habit it is “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. I recommend picking up this book, reading the first chapters and maybe one or two case studies. Otherwise it does become repetitive, or you can read below for the cliff notes version.
Every habit, good or bad, begins with a Cue, followed by a routine, ending with a reward. Breaking bad habits is all about identifying cues. For many smokers this means something like coffee. If you wake up every day and you get a craving for coffee this cues the routine of making coffee and drinking it. Which is then followed by the reward of that first cigarette. For some the cue can be alcohol. Others use certain drugs to cope with negative feelings, meaning their cue may be feeling down. We can have multiple cues. Breaking a bad habit is all about avoiding cues and interrupting routines.
There are many ways to avoid cues. This is the strategy of removing junk food from the house or refusing to walk by the vending machine at work in order to avoid temptation. We can use replacement strategies like snacking on trail mix with a little bit of candy mixed in, instead of straight candy. Finally we can look to interrupt the routine that leads to the reward or bad habit. This is the act of popping a piece of gum in your mouth the minute you crave something bad for you. Or you can really elevate your routine by replacing your bad reward with a good reward. I once had a Marine who did 10 push ups every time a craving arose while he was quitting chewing-tobacco.
Regardless of all of the information provided on how to develop a habit or shed an old one there is one factor that truly matters. That is consistency. Smoking is our example for this post so I researched the average number of times it takes for a person to quit smoking. The general rule of thumb is 5-7 times. However, a recent study by the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, claimed their survey concluded 30 to be the average number of attempts to quit a bad habit like cigarettes.
You can drop 20 pounds this year, and put it right back on in less than a month if you are not consistent in following your goals. The consistent and endless pursuit of a goal is what results in the majority of the learning. Talk to any life long martial artist. We must improve every day. Failure to improve upon yourself leads to perished skills, and allows the mind and body to grow soft.
“With the advancement of the information age, the commodity of experience is overvalued.”
The reason for this post and my decision to bring back the blog from retirement came from a discussion I had at a wedding this past weekend with friends. A close friend of mine and his wife were discussing the fact that my friend’s wife was beginning to teach a class at the college we all attended. My friend mentioned that his wife was nervous because she was only 28 and preparing to step up in front of a classroom of students not much younger than her (she had nothing to be nervous about because she is extremely intelligent and hard working). Never the less, it is a natural and humble thing to be nervous.
I immediately responded with an anecdote of some of my experiences as a platoon commander. I stepped up in front of a platoon of Marines at the age of 26 and many of them were between the age of 18-22. Some of them were far older than me. Some of them were combat hardened veterans who had been a part of some very serious conflict far off lands. Stepping up in front of them and giving orders can be a nerve wracking task. Many of these young men were total alpha types who were willing to tactfully challenge anyone, especially their new green eyed lieutenant.
If anyone ever asked me how much combat I had been to, in a manner that accused me of lacking experience, my response was always as follows. Napoleon had a mule with him that he brought to every battle he ever went to. That mule has been to more combat than both of us, but he doesn’t know more about tactics than I do. I don’t bring this story up to beat my chest or to claim that I am some tactical genius who knows more about battle than anyone else on the planet. To claim this would demonstrate my naïveté. Ironically enough I never ended up going to combat which I do consider a blessing although some of my peers disagree.
I bring this up to demonstrate the point that I always found to be extremely helpful in life. With the advancement of the information age, the commodity of experience is overvalued. We live in an era where the information released by experts is at our fingertips at almost every moment of the day. Name a skill you desire to obtain or develop and the odds are someone is in the middle of developing a course to teach it to you. This instant access to information undervalues the expertise of the very individuals providing instruction on said skill-set Additionally we have learned that data can provide the majority of information we need and many times the self proclaimed experiential guru’s are incorrect in comparison (Read “The Undoing Project” to learn about exceptions to this rule). Experience is a benefit and a privilege; and every guru started out as a novice. Yet, they had the basic skill set and work ethic to hone their craft. The information era shortens the distance in the transition between novice and guru.
Everything mentioned above is the reason for bringing back the blog and all of the other exciting things we have lined up for this website. I have been fortunate enough in my experiences as Marine Infantry Officer to grow and develop certain skills that some people have not had the privilege to develop yet. It would be a disservice for me to keep those experiences to myself. Some people will benefit from the experiences and skills that I share. Others won’t learn anything new and realize this site isn’t for them. If this site can be the vehicle I use to empower my audience to put an extremely high value on developing into better humans than I have accomplished my goals.
I would like to close by humbly adding, there are many men who know far more than I do about combat. It is my experience that those who have seen the worst of it, generally don’t accuse those who haven’t been there of lacking the skill set to succeed when they arrive.
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