There’s No Shame In Coming In Last: NEVER QUIT

Keep going.  Never quit.

Keep going. Never quit.

I read a blog yesterday written by a wanna-be fitness coach who is entering her first CrossFit competition soon. One of her stated goals for this competition is to “not come in last.”

Sigh.

Here’s what that “goal” says to me about the person who wrote it: she’s insecure about her fitness level and doesn’t want to look like a loser when everyone else finishes before her.

Talk about missing the point – especially since she apparently wants to coach others.

There is absolutely no shame in coming in last. And if you think anyone is going to stand there and chuckle at you for doing so, then clearly you haven’t been doing CrossFit long enough to understand how amazing the community is. The loudest cheers are always for the people who finish last. We’ve all been there. We’ve all been the last to complete a WOD. We’ve all had that moment of absolute suck with heaving lungs, pounding hearts, and sweat pouring from our bodies. All you want to do is crash to the ground and die.

But you don’t.

You keep going. One rep at a time. Until it’s done.

People who only do things they’re good at aren’t growing or evolving as human beings. Staying in your comfort zone is not how you improve, it’s how you stagnate. And thinking that coming in last is somehow embarrassing or less than acceptable is silly.

Here’s how progress works in CrossFit (at least from my perspective. I don’t have my L1 yet or anything, lol):

  • 1. Learn how to do the WOD (in other words, how to properly and safely do each movement in the workout) scaled to your appropriate level (less weight or reps or rounds than as prescribed).
  • 2. As you get better, you scale the WODs less. Maybe you increase the number of reps or the amount of weight or the number of rounds.
  • 3. RX the WOD. Now you complete the WOD by doing it with the prescribed amount of weight and reps and rounds.
  • 4. RX the WOD and work on the time. Now you start whittling away at your time and try to complete the WODs faster.
  • 5. RX+ Maybe that weight isn’t challenging anymore. Maybe the rep scheme doesn’t fatigue you as much any more. Perhaps you want more rounds. So now you adjust things to increase the challenge.

At each and every stage, there is a high probability that you are, in fact, going to be last. It’s only logical. As you challenge your body, it has to grow to adapt to the new stress you’re placing on it. You can’t simply go from scaled workout to RX and think that you’ll finish first. It doesn’t happen that way. Any new stress or skill is going to challenge your body and result in a slower time to finish. Once your body grows and adapts, you’ll be able to do it faster. Right up until you challenge yourself again.

Yes, I’ve seen plenty of people come into the box who do *exactly* the same thing over and over again. They’re still using light dumbbells, they’re still substituting exercises for other exercises, and they’ve completely plateaued in their progress. They’re not getting stronger; they’re not getting faster; and they’re certainly not getting any fitter. These are the same people who then get disgruntled and whine about their lack of progress. Or worse, they leave the box and say “CrossFit doesn’t work.”

It’s because their thought process is wrong. And it stems from the same mentality as what that blogger wrote.

If you can’t get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable – of moving outside of your tidy little box of convenience – then you will never ever grow to achieve what you’re truly capable of achieving. Forget about what others might (or probably won’t) think of you coming in last. Who gives a shit? You’re challenging yourself. The real competition is inside your head. As long as you know you pushed yourself harder today than you did yesterday – that you struggled to do better – then the opinions of anyone else don’t really matter one little bit.

I’ve said this before to countless other people. I would rather go into a hostile situation with someone who has a “never quit” attitude than someone who has never been challenged. Send me in with the guy who failed, picked himself up, failed again, picked himself back up, and dragged his sore as shit body over the finish line long after everyone else has finished. You can keep the gazelles who cruised through easily and without breaking a sweat. Because frankly, those people aren’t an asset. They’re a liability when the shit hits the fan. I want the guys who know how to keep going when all you want to do is quit. I want the guys who know how to keep fighting through pain and tears and crying and all the other discomforts that come from being outside their comfort zone.

Those are the winners.

Challenge does not equal easy. Growth never is simple. And anything meant to improve you is going to be hard.

Martial arts, fitness, CrossFit…hell, LIFE (or at least a life worth living) are all like this. But the joy and satisfaction you enjoy after the hard struggles have been faced and overcome are worth SO much more than whatever pleasure a lazy attitude brings.

Don’t be afraid of failure. Don’t be afraid of “not getting it right.” Don’t be afraid of looking like a beginner. Everyone worth knowing has been there before. If you want to truly grow and get better and improve and then be able to inspire others to the same achievements or higher, then you need to fail. You need to be uncomfortable. You need to get crushed and humbled and have your ass kicked. It’s there that you find the true strength that will enable growth and push you to the next level. I’ve been there so many times in my life; I’ve failed at every single endeavor I’ve ever attempted – sometimes many times at the same thing – and I know what it’s like to get crushed.

But it’s worth it.

So I’ll say the opposite of what this blogger said: come in last.

And be proud that you did.

Like this article? Found it useful? Consider using the Cent Up button below to say thanks with a few coins!

7 Ways To Not Suck At 2015

Gettin' after it in 2015

Gettin’ after it in 2015

The new year is upon us, and with it, a non-stop avalanche of blog posts about how to make the best of your new year. And here’s one more.

As I did last year, when I offered up some tips to improve your 2014, I’m back with another list of things I’m working on and you might want to as well. Your quality of life may well improve and you could end up crushing 2015 instead of being a passive participant waiting for the year to crush you instead.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

1. Own Your Shit

This is a big one. In fact, I could pretty much write a series of blog posts about how badly society in general needs to do this. Own your shit means taking responsibility for everything you do. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s not enough to trumpet your achievements and then act like you’re perfect – because no one is – especially if you’ve screwed up recently. You have to own the bad things, too. Did you treat someone like shit? Own it – apologize and resolve to not do that again. Did you pull a douchebag move in the office? Admit it was a douchebag move. If you only accept the good side of yourself without embracing the bad then you’re completely out of balance. Eventually, you’ll start believing your own hype to the point that you’re living in fantasy world instead of real life. I’ve seen people close to me completely shut themselves off from wanting to hear anything bad, thinking (mistakenly) that it somehow protects them from heart ache or stress. It doesn’t. You’ve got to be able to own what you do, when you do it.

2. Don’t Deflect

This is closely related to point 1 up above. In fact, it’s kind of a subset of #1. People like pretending they’re owning up to something but then they pull this maneuver, “It’s just that…” or “Yeah, but he was the one…” or “I didn’t do anything…” And then they proceed to deflect responsibility onto someone else, when they know full well they were involved and/or partially (or totally) responsible. It’s almost like when someone says to you, “Listen, I don’t mean to insult you…” And then they proceed to insult you. Or the ever classic, “Hey no offense, but…” I’m about to offend you. Stop deflecting and own your share of the shit.

3. Steer Clear of Complainers

Yes, yes, and more yes. Steer clear of these people. Look, I get it: you’ve got a tricky hangnail and your world has turned to shit because of it. Hang-nail-apocalypse is upon you. Right. Tragic.

Gimme a frickin’ break. Everyone – and I mean everyone – has challenges in their lives. But not all of us feel the need to rent a billboard and let the world know about it. For some people, you can’t even ask them how they’re doing without unleashing a torrent of “oh my gawwwwd, my eyebrow is killing me…” Chronic complainers are a fountain of negativity. They spew bad energy into the universe that will overwhelm any attempt on your part to cheer them up. Try complimenting a chronic complainer on something and not only will they NOT thank you for the compliment, they’ll then spend another ten minutes emasculating the precious positive words you just sent their way. After a while, it’s not worth your time or energy trying to help people who won’t be happy unless they have something to bitch about. So the next time you start complaining, think about everything you have to be grateful for that others may not have. This isn’t to say go all unicorns and rainbows because that’s not healthy either, but honestly, your life is probably not all that bad. After all, you’ve got a roof over your head and no one is shooting at you (hopefully). It could always be worse. Remember that.

4. Don’t Be A Black Hole

We all know people like this: all they seem to do is suck off the universe and never, ever give anything back. They’re so focused on themselves, that they fail to see the bigger picture of how we’re all connected. They take good people in their lives for granted, expecting them to always be there…until they’re not. Don’t be one of those clueless, unappreciative types. Remember who your friends are and thank them every once in a while for just being who they are. If you never initiate anything – conversation, text, dialogue of some sort – then is that particular friendship really a 50-50 balanced thing? Probably not. Give to get. Respect and appreciate the wonderful people in your life.

5. Be With Evolved People

It’s pretty simple: you can’t do epic shit with basic people. And I don’t know about you, but I’m here to do epic shit. So I surround myself with people who have soaring spirits, brilliant minds, physically impressive bodies, and great attitudes. I don’t want to talk about my mortgage or the two weeks of vacation I’m taking next year if the firm pays out that bonus. Yawn. Seriously. If that’s you and it makes you happy, then great. But my god, I want to be challenged by everything. I want to explore and seek out adventures. I don’t give a rat’s ass what society thinks of me and what I have planned. That nice neat box that most sheep are content with? Give me a break. I’m on a quest to evolve and elevate myself as much as possible. I’m 45 years old and enjoying life like never before. The last thing I want to do is tie my spirit down by hanging out with middle aged people who think the best years of their lives are behind them and all that lies ahead are a boring retirement, no surprises, and an eventual coffin. Ugh.

6. Don’t Forget to Laugh

Find something stupid or silly to crack up about every single day. Don’t give a damn if something ridiculous makes you laugh. Don’t care what others think. Enjoy a spontaneous explosion of joy and mirth every day and your world will naturally be better because of it.

7. Progression Not Perfection

Aspire to the concept of perfection with the understanding that it will never happen. But demand progression, always. Perfection is the idea of an end goal that you hope to achieve some day in the distant future. Progression is the journey onward and upward that will always bring you closer to achieving that goal. Take steps every day that move you forward. Don’t settle for “good enough,” because it never is. You weren’t put on this planet to be “good enough;” you were born to be amazing and vibrant and to wring every last bit of life out of this place before your journey continues elsewhere. So get after it.

Have a great 2015!

Like this article? Found it useful? Consider using the Cent Up button below to say thanks with a few coins!

The Sydney Siege & Self-Protection

Police Hostage Situation Developing In SydneyNOTE: I originally wrote this up over on Facebook, but a good friend of mine, Jim Cobb, requested that I turn it into a blog post. So here it is.

My newsfeed is filled with a staggering amount of ignorance today in the wake of the Sydney siege. We live in a dangerous world; there are no places that are immune to violence and bad things can happen *anywhere.* Your life is first and foremost YOUR responsibility. To that end, you should – at the very least – have a basic understanding of the following items.

1. Environment: when you enter a new location, take note of entrances and exits. How many avenues of escape do you see if it became suddenly necessary to flee? If you’re in a restaurant, the kitchen likely has a door in the back. Does your office have a freight elevator? Stairs? Are you sitting with your back to a wall so you can observe a wider field of view in your area? Run down a mental checklist in your head; it’s not hard and it doesn’t take that long.

2. Firearms: a lot of people don’t like guns. That’s fine, but you should still have a working knowledge of various types. In the Sydney incident, for example, the gunman reportedly had a shotgun. If you were in that situation, you could ask yourself several questions: what type of load does it potentially have? Slugs or shot? (the difference between a “spray” effect or not) Does he have to pump every time to shoot? If so, there’s a better chance of escape before he can chamber a fresh round and fire again. (compare that to a situation involving a full-auto AK47 where he could spray off a full clip of devastation before needing to swap magazines).

3. Hostage Rescue Tactics: if you find yourself in a situation, you should understand the basics of hostage rescue. This way, you’ll have an idea of what is going on on the outside and that knowledge could well keep your morale up. Ordinarily, this will break down as follows: the assault team arrives and immediately sets up an immediate action plan (this is the plan for what happens if everything goes to shit immediately and the gunman starts killing people; they have to storm the location and do the best with what little info they have). Sniper teams will set up to relay intelligence to the assaulters. Negotiators will be trying to establish first contact and then develop rapport with the offender. All intelligence gathered will be relayed to the assault teams and they will develop and refine the plan for going in. One assault team is usually ready to deploy immediately while another rests. Negotiators will attempt to get the offender to release a few people as a token of good faith, usually in exchange for a small demand from the bad guy. This isn’t always the case, nor will the negotiators promise things they can’t deliver since that jeopardizes any rapport built up. As the hours drag on, both sides will grow weary. In a confined space like an airplane, it will smell like hell. This is a dangerous time, especially at night, so you need to be extremely vigilant. In the event the situation deteriorates and the decision is made to send the assault team in, they will lead with flash/bangs that will shock and disorient you. Lay down as the team comes in – get your head down. Once they have neutralized the threat, you will be roughly manhandled out of the immediate area. This is not the time to be offended at how you are being handled. The team’s concern is twofold: get you out of the danger, and also make sure you are not another threat. Don’t give them a hard time and pretend you’re important – you ain’t. This is a brutally short thumbnail of tactics, research for more comprehensive stuff.

4. Your Priorities: If you’re alone and can escape safely, you need to know what you are willing to risk. Some people simply can’t bring themselves to try to escape. Others jump at the chance. Be honest about what you are prepared to do. If you have children with you, how will you get them out of harm’s way? What will your exit route be? Can you put obstacles between you and the gunman? Can you hide? Are you prepared to fight and potentially kill someone? All of these are hard questions that you need to ask yourself. Are you armed? Have you trained under extreme duress conditions? In low light? Amid screams and confusion? If you haven’t, then don’t make the matter worse by pulling a gun. The team coming through that door has no clue if you’re a good guy or a bad guy. They will see a gun and label you immediately as a threat. And those guys HAVE trained to shoot under the worst possible conditions. In other words, don’t think you’ll go Hollywood if the shit hits the fan. Be smart. Otherwise your ego could make a bad situation catastrophically worse.

5. Practice Being Gray: in the event you become a hostage, don’t try to stand out. Don’t make eye contact – even if you’re the biggest baddest SOB on the planet. In fact, if you stare at the bad guy or if you make him feel intimidated, he may simply use you as an example of his intention even more readily. You want to blend into the background as much as possible and reduce the likelihood that you’ll be noticed. Don’t try to friend the attacker. Instead, keep your wits about you. Practice simple breathing exercises to keep calm. Don’t ask for anything. If the bad guy lets you go to the bathroom, or eat, or drink – take advantage of it, but don’t press the issue. Don’t ask the bad guy questions about why he’s doing this or if he has family. Make a note of anything you can potentially relay to the authorities in the event you’re able to escape. They will interrogate you about what you saw: how many bad guys? weapons? explosives? what is his mental state? what languages are they speaking? etc. etc. All of this will be fed to the intel teams that are developing a picture of the bad guys, which then is fed to the assaulters. The longer the duration of time you are held hostage, the more likely it is that some of your fellow hostages will begin exhibiting signs of Stockholm Syndrome, which is a tendency to start sympathizing with the bad guy. Be aware of this. And make a note of who among the hostages may be aligning themselves with the hostage taker.

At the end of the day, this isn’t paranoia; it’s self-protection. The world is a dangerous place and you have choices: you can be active and embrace life, knowledgable about a wide variety of topics that could help lengthen your lifespan. Or you can live lazily among the sheep, given to hysteria and panic when things go bad.

Eyes up, head on a swivel. Stay alive.

Like this article? Found it useful? Consider using the Cent Up button below to say thanks with a few coins!

Burpees for Breakfast: 50 Burpees Every Single Day in 2014

If you read my post on 10 Ways to Make Your 2014 Better, you know that helping others is always a big part of any new year plans. It’s something I firmly believe in; you generate all sorts of good karma and the positivity of helping really goes far beyond the act itself.

This year, I resolved to do something a bit crazy: 50 burpees every single day for the entire year – all to raise money for NO KID HUNGRY, a great charity that provides meals and education to children in need. The fact is, 1-in-5 kids in the United States is considered hungry. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that fact; no child should ever want for food, especially in this country! But they do, and so, I’m hoping to do something about it.

So I launched BURPEES FOR BREAKFAST.

My goal is to raise $50,000 over the course of 2014. If I reach that goal, the money will provide 500,000 meals. Half a million meals for kids who are hungry! That’s substantial.

Here’s a short information video I shot talking about my plans:

I started this on January 1st and I’m thirteen days into it. We’ve already raised $1,290 dollars – enough to provide 12,900 meals – but I’m going to keep going until we blast through that $50,000 goal.

Obviously, I need your help. Donations are the best way to help – even a small amount helps. One $10 donation provides 100 meals. Please give what you can.

But I’m also trying to spread the word about this campaign. Let your newspapers, news stations, magazines, websites – everyone – know what I’m doing. It is possible to change the world in only five minutes each day – that’s about the amount of time it takes me to do the burpees – but I need your help to make this goal a reality.

You can donate by going to this page. The donations go directly to the charity itself.

The official website for Burpees for Breakfast is here and I videotape myself doing the 50 burpees every single day and post it there. Scan back for some interesting episodes! There is also a Facebook page here.

Thank you for your donations & help!

10 Ways to Make Your 2014 Better Than 2013

So, yes, I know we’re almost a week into the New Year. And yes, I know everyone has pretty much already come out with their suggestions on how to be better. I’m late, what can I say?

Seriously, though, with 2014 firmly locked in, here are my tips for making the most of it. I hope you like them, or at least they give you some ideas to think about.

1. Set Boundaries

There’s a lot of overlap in our lives – a lot more than when I was growing up. Technology has enabled parts of our lives to bleed into other areas. Out to dinner with your family? Your smart phone dings and lets you know there’s a work email waiting to be read. Getting ready to work out? Hang on, I have to check in on Facebook. Look at that! I have to Instagram that joint!

For 2014, try setting up boundaries. When you’re engaged in one activity, give it your full focus. If you’re at work, resist the urge to be distracted by emails, Facebook, Pinterest, or even the latest game app. Likewise, when you’re away from work, don’t work – play! You’ll find your focus improves and you’ll probably get more done. While splitting your attention may be necessary some times, try working on your focus when it’s not.

2. Leave the Drama Behind

We’ve all got people in our lives that we’d rather not have there. Negative Nancys, Passive Aggressive idiots. For 2014, resolve to get those people out of your life. Surround yourself with a better caliber of human beings. A rising tide floats all boats and if you are with positive and fun people, you will naturally find your attitude and outlook improving. Dump anyone who affects you negatively. This may sound harsh, but if you are interested in making your life better than last year, then you’ll need to make some cuts.

This is not to say that you should surround yourself with “yes people” who will tell you anything you want to hear. They’re actually a negative influence as well. You should find a circle of friends who are happy, positive, and accomplished – but who will also call you on your BS if need be. These people get things done and know how to have fun.

And by the way, family doesn’t get special treatment here. If you have family members who are always unsupportive of your dreams and goals, who are always negative, pessimistic, passive aggressive, or who drag you down in any way, consider parting ways with them. I’ve never understood why so many people sacrifice their happiness and put up with idiotic behavior simply because they share blood with someone. If anything, family should be held to even higher standards than your friends.

3. Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You

Eleanor Roosevelt said this and I happen to love it. And no, this does not mean you have to go tightrope walking across the Grand Canyon. It simply means that you find something everyday that challenges you in some fashion. Through continuous challenge we grow and expand our thinking. If you only ever do the same things that feel comfortable to you, you will never grow as a human being and you’ll never appreciate the richness that life has to offer. Get out of your comfort zone and explore the world around you. Try something that the old you would shake your head at.

4. Change The World In 5 Minutes Each Day

I know what you’re thinking, “that’s impossible. You can’t change the world in 5 minutes a day.”

Actually, you can. Right now, I’m doing a fundraising drive for the folks at NO KID HUNGRY, a wonderful charity that provides meals to disadvantaged children in the US. To help raise money, I’m doing 50 burpees every single day in 2014 for my BURPEES FOR BREAKFAST campaign. That works out to 18,250 burpees over the course of the year, but it also only takes me about 5 minutes (sometimes more) to do them. 5 minutes of my day devoted to helping children who don’t get enough to eat. Check out the website for more info and please be sure to donate!

And you know what? You can do something like this yourself! Imagine doing something tangible that will have a real, lasting positive effect on the world at large over the course of 2014. When you break it down into a manageable bit of time, like 5 minutes each day, then over the long run, you build up a substantial impact.

And this doesn’t work with just charity; you can set up any goal you have in this fashion. Want to write a book? Devote five minutes each day to writing and watch how fast the words add up. Want to get better at anything? Give yourself five minutes each day to practice and your skill level will improve dramatically.

5. Doodle

Buy yourself a big pad of paper with no lines. Write “2014” on the cover. Open it up to the very first page and draw something.

Anything.

Why do this? We live in a world with rules, laws, and expectations about what our behavior “should” be. The simple act of drawing whatever you want to draw is incredibly liberating. You can go in any direction. You can draw whatever you want. Cartoon away. Sketch out an invention you’ve always wanted to try to build. There are no lines on the paper and there are no limits to what you could draw. Let your mind enjoy this blank canvas and play. It doesn’t matter if you think you have zero artistic ability; it only matters that you free your mind and give it permission to go anywhere.

6. Once Each Day Find Your Hara

Your “hara,” as it’s called in Japanese, is the area about two inches below your belly button. It’s also the place where babies breathe from. As we grow older, many people tend to breathe from their chests rather than their lower abdomen. But the benefits of “belly breathing” are immense. You bring more oxygen into your body this way and better fill your lungs, plus it’s incredibly relaxing. Once each day, practice taking ten deep belly breaths. Do it before you go to sleep and you may drop off sooner than you usually do. Deep belly breathing is also an excellent way to calm down if you find yourself getting tense.

Simply lie on your back, place your hands over your lower abdomen, and take a deep breath in through your nose feeling your hands lift as your abdomen expands. Bring your awareness down to where your hands are. Exhale smoothly through your nose and repeat for at least ten breaths.

7. Help Two People Every Week

Make a conscious effort to help more people this year. It can be as simple as helping them spread the word about a new project they’re working on. You might offer to pick up a friend’s child at daycare.

Why two people? Because it’s pretty easy to help one person each week, but helping two means you actually have to look for the opportunity to help someone, rather than just cruising through knowing that the universe will inevitably throw someone your way who needs a helping hand. Putting effort into finding someone who needs help – no matter how small – means you are being active about helping and doing good, rather than just passively accepting. Two people each week means you’re helping over 100 people throughout the course of the year. That’s some pretty good karma you’re generating!

8. Be A Beacon of Positive Energy

Being negative is easy. It takes very little energy to bitch about life, to complain when things don’t go your way, or even moan about the weather. Resolve to avoid doing those things. There are more than enough people out there complaining and bitching and woe-is-me’ing about life. The universe doesn’t need you joining them.

Instead, focus on the good in your life. Share something inspirational. Compliment someone in your Facebook friends list. Put forth something positive and watch the effects. This isn’t to say you need to become all rainbows and unicorns – let’s be real, here. But by consciously trying to limit the amount of negative energy you put out, you’ll be doing everyone a favor. It’s not easy being positive all the time and it does take a lot of energy, but the rewards are a lot better than just dishing out the bad juju.

9. Exercise

You need to. There’s no excuse for not doing something. You don’t have time? Everyone is busy. You don’t have the money? You don’t need to join a gym. You don’t have the willpower? Connect with friends and make it a group effort.

The simple truth is that exercise will make you feel better in so many ways, it would be impossible to list them all. Is it hard? Sometimes. But the struggle is worth it. Go for a walk. Skip rope. Do push-ups. Crank out some crunches. Join a real gym. Get into CrossFit, like I did one year ago. The community of people you’ll be training with will be like nothing you’ve experienced before. The workouts are hard but the results are simply incredible.

Think of your body like a car. If you simply leave it in the garage and never drive it anywhere, it will fall apart. The same is true of your body. Get the juices flowing. Get that engine churning. Work the pistons. Soon you’ll have a sports car instead of a broken-down jalopy.

10. Write This Stuff Down

Buy a journal, make a Google doc, video tape, or make an audio recording of all of this stuff. Especially the people you help over the course of 2014. No, you’re not jockeying to win sainthood, but having a concrete reminder of what you’ve done this year next December 31st is going to be rewarding on a number of levels. People and experiences tend to vanish from our memories and if you’re out there doing good, it’s always nice to remember what you’ve done for others – especially if the year doesn’t go quite to plan. Next December, when you’re reflecting on the previous twelve months, pull that journal out and look at everything you’ve done, and everyone you’ve helped. It may make you smile more than once!

Intentional Adversity

Yesterday afternoon, I went back to CrossFit as I normally do with my wife, who takes the 5:30pm class. Usually, I work on my Strength Program while she takes the class. The Strength Training Program is an ongoing thing that I’m in the midst of, focusing on olympic lifts and building up strength using weights. I happen to really enjoy it and the challenges it represents.

But as my wife’s 5:30pm class was getting underway, Spencer brought up the subject of the October Challenge. I hadn’t heard about this yet, so my ears perked up and then I walked over to the white board to see what it was. Very simply, the challenge was to push the sled for an hour. Now, the sled in this case isn’t what you go hurtling down the hills on during a nice winter day. It’s an unsightly hunk of steel that weighs close to a hundred pounds. And you can add weight to it in many different (awful) combinations.

One of my other CrossFit pals had already done the challenge the night before. The standard was to add two 45 pound plates to the sled and wear a weighted twenty pound vest while pushing it for one hour. Spencer noticed my interested and asked if I wanted in. I told him, “Hell yes.”

But before that, I had to finish my strength training. Once I was done, I asked my wife if she had her headphones and then popped them into my iPhone. I asked Spencer what the parameters were for the challenge – if I could stop for water, etc. He said you could stop, the goal was to simply accumulate as many lengths of the 20-yard turf pushing the sled in one hour as possible.

Easy day.

Well, not easy at all. But that was the point. I got the sled out, put the weights on, and then strapped the vest on as well. I put on iTunes radio to the Def Leppard station, Spencer gave me a countdown, and then I was off.

For sixty minutes, I pushed that sled. Not non-stop. But my breaks were quick and involved sopping the pouring sweat from my face and rehydrating with my water bottle. With music literally blasting in my ears, I kept my head down and my legs churning. One length after another and another until my buddy Steve called out what I thought was thirty seconds. (Tough to hear with the music screaming). So for what I thought was thirty seconds, I pushed even harder – almost running the sled down the turf. I collapsed in a heap at the end.

But Steve kept yelling.

I’d misheard him; I had three minutes left.

Mentally, I had already resigned myself to being done. But three minutes left meant time for more lengths, so I shrugged it off, got back up off the turf, and kept pushing. I eked out maybe three more lengths during that time. And when all was said and done, I’d racked up 2,520 yards during my hour.

But the point of this post isn’t to tout what I achieved yesterday. It’s to talk about the idea of intentional adversity.

I’ll quote from a great article over on SOFREP.com on this same topic: “Too often our culture “Poo-poo’s” anything that is self inflicted. “You’re crazy” is a regular comment when we do things extreme or out of the ordinary. Well I think they’re crazy for not doing things out of the ordinary. Intentional adversity should be as important as intentionally working out. You build the strength before you need it.”

Indeed. The question almost always comes up from people who don’t know me well: why on earth would you do such a thing? Whether it’s pushing a sled for an hour or practicing martial arts or making a living as a writer or trying to get a production company off the ground – when I do things that “normal” society doesn’t do, the questions start and the faces range from pity (“Poor guy must be compensating for something.”) to bewilderment (“OMG I could never even *think* about doing something like that!”) to anger (“Who does he think he is doing all that stuff?”)

The reason why I do things like this is simple: because I want to live everyday of my life being challenged in some form or fashion. Life, to me, wasn’t meant to spent being complacent or content with mere mediocrity.

Look, my father died when he was 48 years old. My 44th birthday is next Thursday. My father’s death weighs on me – some days more than others – and I don’t intend to follow the same path he walked. A lot of people would look at that last statement and urge caution rather than (what they perceive as reckless) constant challenge. My view is different: it’s through constant challenge that I will succeed – at whatever I set my mind to accomplish.

By subjecting myself to constant challenge, I get up-close-and-personal with failure. I get to snuggle with my demons and confront them. I get to see where my strength ebbs and where it surges. I understand how my mind functions when tasked under extreme duress. All of this makes me stronger. All of this tests my willpower and the idea of “how bad do I want it?”

The problem with much of society these days is that we have traded this notion of “risk and reward” with the ideal of “comfortable complacency.” Go to school, get a degree, get a job, get married, get a house, have kids, work, retire, die. Simplified, to be sure, but this is the path that most of us follow. The days of people going off and exploring are a thing of the past. Only a small percentage become entrepreneurs. Most people looking for a mate give up and settle for someone who is “okay,” even if they dream of a romance that only gets better over time.

We’ve lost a lot of our passion for life.

By subjecting yourself to intentional adversity, it’s possible to reclaim that passion. It is through the crucible of heartache and gut-wrenching fatigue that we discover what truly fans the flames of our hearts. You realize that after pushing a sled for an hour that laying on the turf is actually pretty comfortable. That sipping water is like suckling at the teat of life itself. That your body is indeed miraculous and that you have just achieved – no matter how many or how few yards you pushed for – something that not a lot of other people would subject themselves to.

You get stronger.

Each time you challenge yourself to do more, to go faster, harder, heavier, your body, mind, and spirit respond. They burst from previous limitations and grow beyond the confines that we place on ourselves. It’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be. It’s actually supposed to be as hard as it is because true growth is not possible without strife and difficulty.

But while the challenges may not get easier, your response to them does get better. It gets easier to subject yourself to the challenges placed before you because you’ve done it before. And every time you do it, you develop the strength to handle the next one that comes your way. You may not always succeed – but failure isn’t to be shied away from. Failure breeds more success than success itself does, because it teaches you to keep going.

There will be times when you want to quit: when you can’t see through the sweat and the tears and the heartache; when your body is falling apart and you can’t even walk straight; when your lungs are heaving and your guts want to empty themselves everywhere.

But it is within those darkest times that you find the purest form of strength, that little bit of light that illuminates the desire you have to finish and succeed.

And you keep going.

The 34th Grandmaster of Togakure-ryu Ninjutsu is fond of saying, “Keep going.” Indeed, the Japanese kanji character for “ninja” can be translated as “one who endures, perseveres, and ultimately succeeds under the greatest of pressures.” Special operators are also familiar with this concept: the grueling nature of selection for elite military units is designed to weed out those who are unable to push through the darkest times to emerge stronger than they thought they were capable of.

Through constant challenge, you get familiar with that pure strength. You know what it looks like, what it feels like, and how to call upon it when you need it most.

Without intentional adversity, that strength is just a concept – just an ideal that you read about on a blog or in a book – that you may never even recognize, or know you possess.

What would you do today if you knew you could do absolutely anything? If you knew that you could set your mind to accomplishing anything and be successful at it?

It’s possible. You could get lucky.

Or you can make success inevitable.

By subjecting yourself to the crucible of constant challenge – of intentional adversity – dreams and goals leave the realm of vague possibility.

And enter the realm of concrete inevitability.

The CrossFit Paranoia

I am, by no means, an expert on CrossFit. Let’s get that out of the way, first and foremost. I started training in CrossFit in January 2013 when Reebok CrossFit Medfield opened its doors in my neighborhood and my good friend Rich Borgatti (who runs the excellent Mountain Strength CrossFit in Winchester, MA) sent me an email letting me know about it. I’d been wanting to train for some time, but never really made the leap. With a box opening in my town, and with Spencer Hendel (Rich promptly informed me that he was ranked 13th in the world) at the helm, I jumped at the chance to start training.

So it’s been, what – nine months? Thereabouts. If I could only use one word to define what my CrossFit experience has been it would be this: amazing.

Spencer and Luis and Erin and Mike – the four coaches that teach classes at my box – are all gifted instructors. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to every class – delivered with an outstanding level of quiet confidence, humor, and sincerity. There’s not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for the extraordinary amount of learning I’ve been able to do this year. Put simply: they rock.

After 30 years in martial arts, I’ve seen my share of great teachers. I’m unbelievably fortunate to have spent the last 22 years training with Mark Davis of the Boston Martial Arts Center and continue to do so as often as I am able.

I’ve also seen mediocre teachers. And I’ve seen terrible teachers. I’ve seen teachers that I used to have respect for fall prey to their own egos and lose the ability to put the welfare of their students ahead of their own self-aggrandizement. I’ve seen people get hurt, sometimes badly.

Which brings me to the point of this post: CrossFit paranoia.

My newsfeed on Facebook today was filled with the same article over on Medium.com blasting CrossFit for the possibility of athletes developing Rhabdomyolysis in the course of training. “Crossfit’s Dirty Little Secret” is the title. The article itself goes on at some length detailing what Rhabdo is, how it seems to afflict a disproportionate number of CrossFitters, and generally adds a degree of paranoiac fervor to the notion that anyone stepping into a box is immediately going to develop this terrible condition.

Bullshit.

Rhabdo is indeed a nasty condition and should be avoided at all costs. The key to doing so is to always be responsible for your own training. If you’re in a box and the coaches are yelling at you to put on more weight, or to go harder-faster-heavier than you feel comfortable doing, stop. Just stop. Explain that you’re not going to do that. If they still seem to pressure you, then walk out of the box and don’t look back. The coaches clearly don’t know how make their athletes’ well being the single biggest priority. The same thing holds true in martial arts: if you go to a school and the teacher is barking orders like a drill instructor, preaching some sort of dogma or urging students not to disappoint him, or laughing off questions, then leave and don’t look back.

CrossFit is an incredible journey – just like martial arts – that anyone can enjoy. Each day I go to CrossFit, I walk in humbled and walk out accomplished. Those two extremes may not appeal to a lot of people – certainly there is a great percentage of people who prefer complacency to challenge; who would rather have routine and than unpredictability; and who would rather look for an excuse than for results.

The reality of the world we live in is that you can be injured doing anything. Walking down the stairs in your house, reaching for a bag of chips, crossing the street, swimming – hell, you could have a heart attack in the middle of getting your grand funk on, for crying out loud. But CrossFit no more equals an automatic case of Rhabdo than swimming equals an up-close-and-personal visit from a great white shark. Can it happen? Sure. Can you mitigate the chances of it happening? Absolutely.

And the two biggest ways to mitigate your chances of getting Rhabdo are as follows…

1. Find a great box with amazing coaches. Not all CrossFit boxes are created the same. Take your time to find the one that is right for you. Coaches should inspire and lead by example. They shouldn’t make you feel like less of a person simply because you don’t deadlift 600 pounds. Good coaches recognize that their clients are not necessarily going to win the CrossFit Games – that they want to be challenged in the right way, in an environment that is supportive and safe.

2. Use your brain. Get your ego under control. If the young bucks at the box are heaving up four hundred pounds and you try to do the same on your first day, then you’ve just dangled a bloody piece of seal in front of a great white shark. Don’t be stupid. Take your time and the heavier loads will come with experience. Give your body time to get used to the exercises.

I know what CrossFit has done for me and I know what it has done for my wife and my two boys. We love it. We love the community of people we train with; we love the challenge and the lack of routine. I’m in the best shape of my life as I turn 44 years old (although I still hate running with a passion). CrossFit is an outstanding way to get into shape.

So, don’t listen to the paranoids who moan about Rhabdo and use it as an excuse to steer clear of their nearest box. Go visit a CrossFit box and try a workout for yourself. Talk to the coaches. Meet the people that train there. And use your brain and common sense to decide for yourself if CrossFit is right for you.

Leave the fear mongers far behind. It’s where they belong.

Work on a Weakness

Yesterday at Reebok CrossFit Medfield, the warm-up for the day was “work on a weakness.” The idea behind this was to pick something that you weren’t good at and work on it to make it better. Luis, who taught the class, was careful to point out that you didn’t want to pick a whole bunch of things and try to get better at them all at once since that wouldn’t be productive. But one or two skills could be worked on within the space of fifteen minutes that would help with our progression. I worked on double-unders and rope climbs. Double-unders have been a nemesis for me, but they’re coming along gradually. I feel more comfortable with rope climbs, but Luis had some great insights there as well.

The idea of working on a weakness resonated with me because of my martial arts training. Mark Davis, my teacher at the Boston Martial Arts Center has long advocated that students – especially senior students and those who wish to teach – must actively work on their weak points – what we call “sutemi” – in order to improve ourselves and our skills. Many times, the physical skills that we aren’t necessarily good at are dwarfed by the mental and spiritual weak points that can hobble our progress. Working on a physical skill is relatively easy and only demands that the practitioner be willing to work on it over and over and be comfortable with the idea of being critiqued in order to improve.

Mental and spiritual weak points, however, are much harder to work on and are far more demanding. Ninjutsu has an inherent attrition rate to it; if you aren’t comfortable doing something, you can either adapt and evolve until you do become comfortable (prior to moving on to the next challenge) or you can simply give up, remain stagnant, and then eventually watch your skills deteriorate.

In order to work on mental and spiritual weak points, the practitioner must be willing to face their insecurities, their ego, and a host of other things that routinely sabotage our progress. When we are unable to do so, our minds and our perspectives become narrow; cynicism becomes rampant; and bitter divisive behavior is commonplace. In short, we start to devolve. No one is immune to this; even the brightest stars can fade unless they take corrective measures.

True confidence comes from the ability to face our insecurities and our ego; it stems from a willingness to admit that we aren’t perfect but are simultaneously committed to the ideal of seeking perfection in whatever we do. We know that the path before us won’t be an easy one, but our determination to walk it – fully embracing the challenges ahead and what they reveal about our innermost workings – is unswayed. This confident determination to meet challenges head-on leads to an all-encompassing perspective; a mindfulness of action/response; and a level of happiness unmatched by merely living at where we were yesterday. There is a simple and profound excitement embodied each morning when we rise and wonder what we will face on any given day. How will we be tested? How much will we learn about ourselves and others? How much more appreciative will we be of the life we have when we go to bed each night?

Back to CrossFit for a moment…one of my coaches Luis said something recently along the lines of “no one ever got better at double-unders by doing single-unders. If you want to get better at double-unders, you have to do them.” A simple, yet profound statement. And one I’ll paraphrase here: if you want to get better at living your life, you actually have to live your life. Don’t settle for what you did yesterday. Don’t grow complacent with where you were before today. Get out there and seek the challenge of actively embracing who you are as a human being. Set goals, find challenges, and seek the betterment of your mind, body, and spirit. Avoid the narrow confines of “why bother?”

If we fail to address our own weak points as a means of evolving, we are only isolating ourselves in a self-imposed prison with four little walls and a limited view. Break out and embrace the joy of living an unbridled existence full of challenge and reward.

Who Do You Learn From?

2013 has been an interesting year of exploration so far. It marks my 22nd year of training in Togakure-ryu Ninjutsu under Mark Davis at the Boston Martial Arts Center, and my roughly 30th year of training in martial arts in general. In January, I also embarked on a new adventure: CrossFit. To say I am enjoying myself would be a severe understatement. CrossFit – especially for someone like me who has never enjoyed working out in a gym – is a perfect vehicle for challenge. It manages to be both humbling and empowering at the same time. Humbling because the workouts can be intimidating and seriously challenging. Empowering because once you complete the workout, you realize that you’ve gone further than you thought you were capable of going. Fantastic stuff.

In the course of this new exploration, I realized that I really enjoy learning. (This might sound like one of those “Well, duh…” moments until you stop to realize that many people choose to shut off their learning.) And I also realized that I’ve set up my life in such a way that I learn from numerous sources every single day. The benefit, to me at least, is that I go to sleep each night full of new adventures, experiences, questions, answers, and many new things to ponder. As a writer, this is extremely beneficial as it keeps my mind filled with new avenues to explore in my work. But I also have come to more deeply appreciate the life I have and the moments that go into making each day worthwhile and fun.

I am truly fortunate that I have a wonderful role model in my martial arts training. My teacher Mark Davis has always led by example and routinely exposes himself to new ideas and new avenues in life that I think make him a better teacher and practitioner. Mark has never been content to rest on his laurels. His trains with his teachers frequently – having his experiences and skills challenged. He sits down with people from different walks of life – from auto mechanics to physicists – and learns from them over coffee or lunch. He isn’t afraid to go out of his comfort zone and be a beginner again. It’s pretty refreshing to find someone like that, and I’m thankful to have him as an example I can follow.

In CrossFit classes at Reebok CrossFit Medfield I am a beginner. My two coaches are both incredible athletes full of experience and wisdom about the exercises we all do. Each time I step into the “box,” I am back to the humblest of beginnings. Yes, I’ve had some success with certain exercises, but the road before me is a long one. And after 22 years in Ninjutsu, it’s a refreshing change to be able to put myself into an area I literally know very very little about. Spencer and Luis are both phenomenal coaches who work extremely hard to help the members in the box enjoy all sorts of success. Today, we worked on handstand walking. Toward the end of class, Spencer asked us, “If you weren’t here, would you have any reason to be practicing a handstand?” The answer for most was no. For me, I saw it as an opportunity to add another skill to my Ninjutsu tool box. But the point was a good one: by journeying outside of our comfort zone, the class learned something pretty unique, humbling, and awesome – all at the same time.

Each day, I also make sure that I read posts by my friend and fellow Ninjutsu practitioner, Christopher Penn. Chris is, frankly, a near genius in social media, marketing, and all sorts of tech. Each day he posts five key bits of news and information that I always make a point to read, even if I don’t think it will directly benefit me. I’ve been amazed at what he posts and the points he brings up often illuminate things for me in another area. I am very much a beginner in the field of social media and other areas Chris specializes in, but I’m also extremely fortunate to be able to learn from him.

I’ve also made a point lately of visiting my good friend Barry Meklir at Muscular Solutions. Barry has been teaching me a lot about how to take care of my various injuries (and after so many years in martial arts, you can bet I’ve got a slew of ‘em…) Barry is brilliant at his work as a healer and I’ve learned a ton from him so far. And he’s helped me extensively with a number of muscular issues – one of which had been plaguing me for about twenty years! Getting regular “tune-ups” is going to be a fixture in my life. At this point, I’m not getting any younger and I need to make sure the ol’ bod can keep up with all the crazy stuff I want to do.

Every Friday night, Mark Davis holds advanced black belt training at the Boston Martial Arts Center. I’ve been going to this class as much as possible for many years. And despite the 22 years I’ve been studying, each class I attend always presents something new – even if it is hidden in the guise of a technique we’ve worked on before. Because Mark is never content to settle for what he learned yesterday, he brings that same attitude into the classes he teaches and ensures that we learn something new every time we train. It’s weird how much more I’ve come to appreciate this after stepping outside of my comfort zone and getting involved with CrossFit. Sometimes you have to get away from something very close to your heart to better appreciate it.

In addition to classes with Mark, we spend a great deal of time talking on the telephone. Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from him have taken place over the phone as we discuss strategy, combat, mind sciences, and much more.

These days, I’m busy setting up my life to ensure that I always continue to learn. Martial arts, CrossFit, social media, body tune-ups, endurance racing, and many more things besides. Yes, life is busy, but I find myself truly valuing what I learn from others even more now. And I’ve found the best teachers set their lives up this way as well. Other don’t. Others are so keen to be seen as an authority figure that they box themselves into a corner and can never again embrace that “beginner’s mind” that the 34th Grandmaster of Ninjutsu says it so crucial to training.

Embracing the beginner’s mind isn’t easy. It requires the confidence to accept being a nobody again. It requires effort to keep the ego in check and not dismiss the prospect of learning from those who are younger than you or who you might be senior in rank to. But the payoff, for me anyway, is a life far richer than what I had yesterday. For that, I am grateful.

So…who do you learn from?

9 Tips for Would-Be Warriors

I write a lot of these posts for my sons – that’s the simple truth of this blog. Especially when it comes to martial arts and various other unorthodox subject matter. The thing I love about the Internet is that posts like these will – barring some catastrophic event – be around for years after I am worm food. And so I write these posts with them in mind. Here is another.

You’ll meet a lot of people who talk about being a warrior. It’s a term they’ll bandy about and use to describe themselves. In some cases, it will be appropriate. In others, not so much. Some people who use the term “warrior” are really nothing but bullies or wanna-be tough guys. The true warriors possess many similar characteristics and if you want to follow the path of a warrior, you’ll need to incorporate these into your life. Otherwise, you won’t be a warrior as much as a joke.

1. Never Stop Learning – This is critical to your personal evolution. The moment you think “I’ve got this,” is the exact moment you stop evolving. A true warrior never thinks they know it all, because they don’t. A true warrior understands that the lessons in life are constant and continuous, although they may not look like lessons at first. You are never beyond learning unless you put yourself on some pedestal and believe that you know it all. You don’t reach a point or an age or a number of years of experience and then get to say, “I’m a master.” True warriors aspire to mastery, but know they will never reach it in one lifetime. The aspiration and pursuit of mastery are more important than reaching it.

2. Always Train with Someone Better Than You – After a certain number of years, you will inevitably reach a point where you want to test yourself. That’s natural and healthy. In feudal Japan, these were called musha shugyo – or wandering quests. The idea was for the student to take the lessons they’d learned and put them to the test in the real world. So, too, will you aspire to challenge yourself and be tested in the crucible of real world scenarios. And you should. Because all the training in the world is no substitute for real world experience. However, take care that you don’t stray too long from a teacher. Stay away too long and your ego will begin to delude you with thoughts that you have all the knowledge you need; that you are a master now because you have a certain grade or certain experience; that it’s too difficult to get with your teacher for one reason or another. You should always find someone better than you to train with so you keep learning and evolving. If you can’t find anyone better than you, then you are either deluded about your own ability, or you aren’t trying hard enough to find someone better than you. The reality is there is always someone better than you. There is always someone who has trained longer or harder or better than you. Don’t ever believe your own invincibility because the universe will undoubtedly step in and show you just how vulnerable you actually are. That’s not a fun lesson.

3. Your Ego Is Your Best Friend & Your Worst Enemy – Everyone needs ego. It gives us confidence to try new things, to appreciate the skills we have, and to believe in ourselves when no one else does. But ego is also the enabler of delusion. It is the most skilled and subtle opponent you will ever face. It will lead you astray and off the path with insidious little thoughts that will put down the roots of a dandelion before you even see the danger. When you look into the mirror, you must see things as they truly are – not as you wish them to be. The ability of a warrior to discern truth – to know the reality, no matter how potentially unpleasant – from falsehood is one of your most potent weapons and skills. My teacher warned all of his senior students many years ago to guard against the traps that ego puts forth to waylay even the hardiest of souls. It is a tough thing to come to grips with, but comes to grip with it you must. There are too many who espouse lessons without ever following the principles themselves. If you talk the talk, make sure you also walk the walk.

4. Make Sure You Have People Who Are Truthful Around You – As you grow and become skillful, you will attract people of lower rank who idolize you or worship your ability in some way. You are more advanced than they are; you have some skill they wish to have. Because of this, they will become friendly with you. They will do their best to get on your good side or otherwise ingratiate themselves into your inner circle. Perhaps they will whisper gossip into your ear or play upon your suspicions or fears in order to make themselves seem trustworthy, loyal, or an ally. Their motivations may be innocuous or they may be suspect; they may come from friends or even the person closest to your heart. But just as you guard against inner ego, so too must you guard against exterior influences like these. Real friends will call you on your bullshit. They will tell you your crap stinks. Beware of those who only bolster your pride, only agree with your proclamations, and regurgitate the things you say to reinforce bad assumptions and mistaken ideas. You may love hearing them say these things; you may love the way it makes you feel, but they are surely leading you even further away from the path, rather than checking you and challenging you when you need it most. Those who truly love you will tell you when you are screwing up just as they will tell you when you are doing a great job. Life is a balance and if you are only seeking positive reinforcement then you are not walking the path of a warrior.

5. Never Stop Challenging Yourself – Real warriors always seek our challenge, no matter if it is in your realm of specialization or not. They are adventurers and pioneers, risk takers and explorers, those who dare and dare all the time. If they are truly committed to the ideal of Tatsujin – a complete human being – then they are always seeking new places to explore, new things to learn, new ways to get better. Beware those “warriors” who talk a good game, but never push their personal boundaries or leave the comfort of their fantasy world.

6. Discomfort is a Sure Sign That You Are Doing Something Right – To go along with #5, if you are uncomfortable in an environment or with a certain new skill, then you are daring to more, aspiring to greater heights, and risking something – even if it is your ego. By putting yourself into situations that don’t feel good, you are learning about your fears, confronting the personal demons that inhabit the furthest reaches of your mind, and exploring yourself. You will become a stronger warrior each time you do this.

7. Don’t Preach Dogma – As you gather skill and experience, you will also acquire a set of beliefs about how you have done things. This set of beliefs will color your perception of the world around you – especially if you choose to pass your teachings on to a new generation. Beware of an inflexible mind for it will put these beliefs in a rigid framework that is not open to discussion or evolution. Just because things worked one way for you does not mean they will work that way for everyone else. Each individual is just that – a individual. Life is as varied as each cell in our bodies and there will be no one path that is right for everyone. If you choose to teach, you must ensure that your own mind is not fixed on some ancient ideal or stubborn theory or romantic memory, but rather is always questing for new ways and methods that will help others, rather than simply reinforcing your egotistical assumptions of what is right.

8. Don’t Believe The Hype – You may be praised by others; you may be worshipped; you may gather about you a flock of followers who treasure everything you do and their time with you – all of this is incredibly dangerous. It’s subtle and addictive. And your ego will lap it up and greedily beg for more. Feed this beast and it will only become stronger and more demanding. Believe your own hype at grave peril, because it is surely not true. You may do great things; you may become heroic, but don’t ever fail to remember your own humble beginnings. Humility keeps you rooted in reality when ego wants to take you on a trip to the stars. Real warriors are mild-mannered and unassuming; they are quietly confident about what they are capable of and simultaneously not too proud to admit when they don’t have a clue. Beware those who seem to have an answer for everything, for surely they do not.

9. Help Others – Always. Warriors are protectors of the good and the just. They are keepers of the flow of positivity in the universe and challengers to the negative energy of evil. Warriors help those who are not yet strong enough to help themselves. They show the path that is possible and do so by leading by example. They serve as inspiration and through their actions show others what a human being is truly capable of. Generating positive energy is hard and demanding, which is why it is a precious resource. Generating negative energy is easy and takes little discipline or effort – negativity is the lazy person’s lifeline. Shun negativity and embrace positivity if you hope to help make the universe a better place. Let the way you lead your life be the example that will draw others to the path and lead them to the better place we are all capable of reaching if we try hard enough.