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300 Spartans Archives - Andrew Wittman


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Shoulder to Shoulder

When I was a street cop, the way the good officers judged whether another officer was a good partner, was not based on the other officer’s personality, gender, race, looks, cologne, or any criteria other than, will this officer backing me up, leave me in a fight?

 spartans batte formation

Over the years, as a cop, federal agent, and security contractor, I have been privileged to partner with many good men and women, standing shoulder to shoulder with me, facing any threat that came our way, and never leaving me during the fight.  I have also experienced many, many more folks that bailed out, and ran at the first sign of trouble.  Some of them, wouldn’t even show up and answer the 9-1-1 call if it sounded dangerous.  (Those folks, oddly enough, got promoted.)

The only true way to find out who is who, is to actually be in a fight.  It doesn’t have to be a physical fight, it might be financial, or emotional; it could be sickness, or a debilitating injury; it might be an issue affecting your children, your spouse, your job or a dear friend.  After 27 years together, Kim, my wife, has never left me in a fight (and in that amount time, we’ve faced some pretty tough fights).  On the flip side, I’ve never left her flank open.  We stand shoulder to shoulder, no matter what.  We aren’t looking to partner up with folks that turn tail and run at the first sign of trouble, either.  It turns out badly for everyone involved.

The ancient Spartans utilized what they called a “phalanx”, as their standby battle formation, to face any threat.  The warriors would stand shoulder to shoulder, protecting each other with their shields.  As long as the line was held, they would prevail in the fight.  If someone in the line cut and run, the whole line would collapse, the integrity of the protective formation disintegrate, and the battle was lost.  Be very selective of who you let into your phalanx.  Your success depends on it.

Boo Yah!!

Facts Ain’t Always The Truth

Facts and Truth are two completely different entities.


Facts and Truth are two completely different entities. Facts are something that have actual existence. A fact is merely information, neutral, independent and objective. As a cop, investigating a crime, I was always in search of the facts. If, and when, a case went to court, witnesses would swear an oath to tell the truth. We know, for a fact, that eye witnesses are unreliable at best. Why? Because, people deal in truths, not in facts. The truth is our internal perception of the facts and circumstances that make up the experiences of life.

For example, the fact is, it is 68 degrees outside. The truth is, that after 3 years of living in Hawaii, 68 degrees was downright cold. However, it is also truth, after spending a winter in Serbia and Kosovo, 40 degrees felt balmy, and 68 degrees is heat stroke territory.

Facts cannot change, they are unalterable. Truth, on the other hand, is pliable. Knowing this, we can take the facts of any circumstance and perceive them from any angle we want, creating for ourselves, a truth or truths. (Heads up, you are already doing this and have been your entire life, usually to your detriment.) Truths are what beliefs are founded on, we take action on our truths. Almost everyone knows the medical facts that fast food isn’t good for you, but for most of us, the truth is that “it’s okay.” (Based on the fact that the fast food industry does billions of dollars in sales each and every year, and the fact that 1 out of 10 deaths are related to obesity. It’s killing us, but we’re bellied up to the fry-daddy feeding trough.)

I’m reminded of the story of the 300 Spartan Warriors of the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. The Persians were attacking Greece during a Spartan holiday and it was against Spartan law to go to war during the holiday. To work around the law, the Spartan king, Leonidas, selected 300 members to serve as his bodyguard and accompany him on a “stroll” to the battlefield.

Legend has it that he selected only warriors that had living sons to carry on their family’s bloodline, because the mission was a one-way ticket. The King, in his wisdom, went further and selected the warriors based on their wives’ and mothers’ ability to show courage and leadership under the grief of losing husbands and sons. Leonidas believed that if the wives and mothers were bitter and depressed, it would spread like a disease, cascading into the defeat of all free Greeks.

In essence, the warriors were chosen based on their wives’ and mothers’ abilities to take the facts of war, gore and the death of their dearest loved ones, and apply the higher truths of freedom, liberty and patriotism for the good of the nation.
We must collect as many unbiased, objective, and evidence-based facts as possible, in order to make logical, well-reasoned and clear decisions. We must also perceive the facts in way that elevates us and puts us on the path to success and fulfillment, in even the face of the deepest sorrows.

What truths are you using as “facts” in your decision making? (This is not good)
What truths are you manufacturing that puts you on the path of fear, depression or defeat? (Also, not good)
Can you create new truths by changing your attitude, perception and level of awareness that will put on a path to confidence, fulfillment and happiness? (Yes, you can and this is good)

Remember, Danger is a Fact – Fear is a manufactured Truth… but so is Love.

Boo Yah!

Crossing The Threshold

“Men who know themselves are no longer fools. They stand on the threshold of the door of Wisdom.”

Havelock Ellis

 boy and wolf

Wisdom is the skill and ability to make good decisions, especially when it’s all on the line.  Like the decision to never give up, never give in, and leave it all on the field of battle…and when you have been tested and tried, and you know that you have that ability in you, you have crossed the threshold.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of watching someone cross that threshold.  It was a prolific moment, both for me and the young man who stepped across it.  I was at a high school wrestling tournament that was stocked with the best teams in the state.  Teams filled with competitors that would be competing at the collegiate level within a few months.

I watched a rookie competitor go up against the opposing team’s captain.  The expectations were a quick pinning of the rookie. What had actually happened was a 16-year old high school athlete walked onto the mat, and 6-minutes later, he walked off a man and a warrior, having crossed the threshold.  He lost the match on points, was in the position of disadvantage the entire eternity of those 6-minutes, on his back.  But he made the decision to not give up, not give in, and he literally left every ounce of his strength and energy on the mat.  He refused to be pinned.

He dug deeply within himself, as deeply any professional warrior I have ever served with, displaying toughness beyond his years.  He could barely stand to his feet when the buzzer sounded.  He could scarcely breathe, his wind pipe had been flattened out, as he was in a head lock for the last 45-seconds of the match. (The same hold that had choked 3 others into unconsciousness, that day).  Being pinned would mean giving up 6 points instead of 3, and in the end, his team won the overall match by 2.

I would have never crossed the threshold without the Marine Corps’ help, and here this guy crossed over his first year in the arena.  I have enormous respect and admiration for him.  Success in any area of life is now his for the taking.

Have you crossed the threshold?

Do you know yourself?

Do you have the mental and physical toughness to leave all on the field of whatever battle you are facing?

Boo yah!

Don’t Mistake Meekness for Weakness

The Greek historian, Plutarch, was the first to put pen to paper, in the recording of the ancient Spartan warrior society.  He used the word “praotes” in his writings, from which we get the word “meekness”.

 Meek Inherit the Earth

The modern usage of “meekness” is very different from Plutarch’s original meaning.  Plutarch’s usage signifies the ability to control yourself, especially emotional and passionate reactions, and that this ability is a result of training.

Meekness is the ability to easily manage strength and force.  Weakness is the lack of strength and force.  Don’t confuse the two.   Meekness comes from being coachable and getting the right coaching/training.  It’s extremely difficult to train/coach yourself to manage your passions and natural emotional reactions, especially if you are just starting out.  Once you get a foundation, buckle up, it’s a life-long practice, one that needs constant attention, but the benefits are enormous.

Unrestrained and unmanaged forceful responses to what happens to you in life can be disastrous over the long term.  Unchecked emotional behavior will lead to you being in a position of weakness, passed over for promotions or even unemployed, fewer friends and family members willing to stand by and apologize for outbursts or even put up with them.  That seems extreme, yet this lack of control over oneself can be seen on any game day, board meeting, or competition in any field at any level.

We all have heard of celebrities or sports stars who have a pattern of throwing tantrums, and their subsequent inability to get another part or roster position on another team.  You may personally know folks who have that same pattern and have witnessed the consequences.  It’s something I struggle with daily, to be more controlled and measured in my responses to people and situations.

Once I stopped confusing meekness for weakness, it allowed me to become teachable and make the necessary course corrections given by my mentors and coaches.  Suddenly, I began to understand how it is that the meek could inherit the planet.

Boo Yah!

Hold The Line

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

Dale Carnegie

300 spartans patience

Patience is the quality that refuses to give up, it means that you are: unmovable, established, rooted, grounded, settled, and single-minded (focused).

Let’s check out the flip side of patience.  It’s opposite includes: to vacillate, to waver, be unstable, are insecure, easily unsettled, unnerved, confused, bewildered, flustered, and being of two-minds or doubled minded, (i.e. splitting your focus between what you are trying to accomplish and your “backup plan”.  Reference the “Burn the Boats” story here).

Patience is the quality that keeps your conviction’s feet to the fire in accomplishing your goals.  Remember your goals are realized through conviction and patience working together.  Your belief that you can accomplish what you set out to do will be tested, tried, and put through the fire.  When those days of adversity come, when obstacles raise their ugly heads in your path to victory, that’s when you break out your “PATIENCE”.  The quality in you that says, “I’ve burnt the ships, it’s win or die trying!”

For my own motivation, I use the image of the 300 Spartans at the Hot Gates in Thermopylae.  Even if you’ve already seen it, go rent the movie “300” and watch it.  If you can get past the graphic novel gore, focus on the message of patience.  These guys held the line against overwhelming odds.  “But Andrew, those guys all died,” you say.  They saved their families and their country, they accomplished their goal.  I’m not saying we should literally die in trying to accomplish our goals.  I am saying we should look to and adopt a similar level of PATIENCE, to be certain in what we are trying to accomplish, to be single-minded of what we really want and then dig in our heels.

Hold the line against adversity and hardship!!

Boo yah!

Spartan Warriors: The Ultimate Peak Performers

We are looking at the 6 conditions of the conscience, your co-perceiver (Ancient Olympian’s 6th Sense), and today we look at a STRONG Conscience.


Peak Performance through mental toughness warriors


I want to look at this attribute of Peak Performance from the Ancient Spec Ops Warrior’s point of view. My absolute favorite, the Spartan Warriors, of “300” fame; they are the model of all Peak Performers through Mental Toughness. The Greek word the Spartan Warrior used for “strong” was “KRATOS” meaning to dominate. Their inner Ancient Olympian/Warrior (their conscience), not only dominated their bodies, their mind, will, and emotions, but also their enemies. Those who would seek to destroy them, their families, and their futures.
Strong (Kratos) conscience means powerful, mighty, stalwart, vigorous, energetic, sturdy, stout, solid, durable, sound, resolute, determined, tenacious, firm, UNYIELDING, courageous, forceful, intense, fervent, effective, UNDILUTED, extraordinary, extreme, emphatic, severe, and even could be considered as HARSH.
Hey, these things might not make you popular with folks who don’t want to be Peak Performers. So what? Remember, the thoughts that come from the RED FLAG LIST are your personal enemies and anybody who constantly wants you to live on that list is also your enemy. I just heard someone say, “My goodness, Andrew that sounds HARSH.” (See above definition of STRONG, I warned you about this already.)
People who pull you into negativity or even mediocrity are threatening to destroy your future, and by default your family’s future. DO NOT SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRITY!! Be STRONG (KRATOS) and dominate your body, your mind, will and emotions. Then push out your airspace and dominate your surrounding environment and thereby dominate your future.

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Boo yah!!