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 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 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.


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.