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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!!

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!

Go Ahead, Hit Me

“I can’t teach someone how to take a punch.  That’s about internal fortitude, you have it or you don’t.”

Mike Tyson

 take a punch

Fortitude is the mental strength and courage that allows one to face pain, danger, adversity, difficulties, and even temptation, and not draw back.  Without the mental toughness to not draw back in the midst of harsh conditions, you have lost before you even start.

Growing up, I was the fat kid and a cry-baby, and therefore attracted the attention of bullies.  I was the king of drawing back.  I couldn’t take a punch, didn’t want to take a punch, and would cower at merely the thought of taking a punch.  Guess what? That mindset invited even more punches to be thrown my way, and not just physical punches, plenty of emotional ones as well, aimed directly at my core identity, “the guy who was easy prey.”

Everything changed once my mindset changed.  Once I learned how to “punch” back, and to do so in a strategic and skillful manner, taking punches equated to motivational stimulus, not pain.  The Warrior Culture of the Marine Corps, started out by teaching me how to physically punch back, but in the process, instilled a Mental Toughness mindset that took root and became internal fortitude.

Being able to take a punch might not be able to be taught, but the Mental Toughness mindset can be learned, and deliberately assuming that mindset, day in and day out, will eventually lead to an internal fortitude that is tougher than steel.

Mental Toughness is a process and a lifestyle.  Controlling your emotions and conquering your fears is a game changer, without it, I shudder to think how dreadful my life would have been.  I don’t go looking for adversity, I don’t go looking for a fight, and I don’t enjoy difficulties. On the other hand, difficulties don’t enjoy me either, adversity doesn’t much like me, and I actually like getting punched occasionally, it reminds me how much fun it is to win a fight.

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!!