Kravology: The Science of Self Defense, is an online hub for the Krav Maga practitioner and the avid self defense community. We are a small community of self defense instructors and enthusiasts, and we are honored to be able to share something of value with you.
We often refer to MO/OP, or the “Motive for Operating”, as a means of connecting to the reasons why we effort towards a specific goal.
And, in this connection, we find strength and resilience. What we often overlook in our goal orientation is our MAX/OP – that is, the “Maximum Opportunity” we have if we achieve our goals. This concept is part daydreaming (or what some might call blue-sky thinking), but it’ also part visualization (what many call mental rehearsal).
While daydreaming about the possibilities of what might be as a result of achieving a goal, visualization is the mind work around sensing the goal is already achieved – living out the fruits of our labor (if only on our minds). The power of this process is in the mental rehearsal – as our minds cannot distinguish between visualization and living the actual event. The benefits are many, but perhaps the biggest benefit is the opportunity to experience the many results of achieving your goal through visualization – adding all the more Motive for Operating through a mental experience that I call MAX/OP.
For those struggling with their MO/OP, the visualization associated with MAX/OP might just be the key to discovering a more powerful and tangible MO/OP.
The next time you’re chasing a goal, make sure you thoroughly assess both your MO/OP and MAX/OP – each can enhance and strengthen the other! And then, go for it!
This Fourth of July, I’d like to invite you to join me in contemplating the tremendous sacrifices and astounding courage of the first men and women who settled the United States demonstrated in their commitment to freedom.
To shake off the bonds of tyranny, proclaim yourself free, and dig in for the fight of your life is a rare and powerful thing.
With the freedoms and privileges that come with being a U.S. citizen come a daunting responsibility to exercise those freedoms and privileges with decorum, common sense, and an aim at bettering the society around each of us. Sadly, this has become a rare thing. If you understand what I’m writing herein, join me in redoubling your efforts to live free, to live responsibly, and to make an effort to revive a nation that was created for the people and governed by the people.
When asked what kind of union had been created after the Declaration of Independence was signed and ratified, Ben Franklin remarked, “…a republic, if you can keep it.” I know now, more than ever, what Ben Franklin was alluding to all those years ago. And by my count, we (as a country) have strayed so far from our founding and the truths that our nation’s founding was created upon, that I fear we just might lose it. As for those that live to complain and find fault with our great country where there is none, I only wish they were required to live elsewhere to understand the immense privilege it is to live in these United States.
Ironically, I’ve found that the most patriotic American’s that I’ve had the honor to celebrate the fourth with are often immigrants who deeply and passionately love their new country and the many, many benefits of being an American. These people proudly fly the American flag, gladly learn our language, respect our laws, and most often flourish in our collective society. If you need a perspective shift, join the celebration of the fourth with immigrants, by the end of your experience, you’ll love and take pride in your country in new and powerful ways.
Happy Fourth of July – may God bless the Unites States of America.
When we, as people, use the phrase “carry your own water” several concepts come to mind: (1) water is arguably the most precious resource on the planet and a life-giving commodity, (2) carrying your own water creates awareness of the value of every drop you possess, (3) carrying your own water requires a powerful trade-off between the value of the water and the effort required to transport what is a fairly heavy liquid – approximately 8.5 pounds per gallon, (4) carrying your own water signifies your willingness to avoid being a burden to the community by taking the initiative to support yourself, and (5) carrying your own water exemplifies the exchange between the personal effort utilized as an input with the resulting outcome (i.e. the output).
But perhaps the best way to think of the concept of carrying your own water is to remember that each person not only chooses to carry his/her own water (or not), but each chooses (to a large degree) the size and shape of the vessel that captures the water. Each person determines the method of transport, and each person decides on how full the vessel will be filled (presumably at the water well). Finally, each person determines the route that will be utilized to navigate to the intended destination.
By making purposeful and thoughtful choices around the size and shape of the vessel, the amount of water allowed into the vessel, the mode of transportation, and the route to the intended destination, the difficulty and effort required in the planning, decision-making, and actual delivery of the water become powerful teachers. The lessons learned become foundations for other lessons and more complex thought, higher levels of awareness, and more powerful modes of personal management and community involvement.
By explicitly making all the choices required to carry water, and in service to others (or not), we all begin to express and give life to our own personal ETHOS. In short, how we carry our water, for whom we carry the water, and the many objectives we seek to achieve in the process points to our personal code. Our capacity to build on and live a powerful ETHOS is often determined by how we carry our own water, and the lessons and awareness we gain from that very effort.
As warrior servants, those that serve explicitly through powerful choices and a keen awareness of meaning often focus on innovating to support those around them. In this regard, I tell the story of a young man (to my own boys) that was tasked with bringing water from the well many miles from his home. The young man had a fairly large family, and he carried a large vessel to transport the water from the well to his home. While the trip to the well as fairly difficult, because the vessel was heavy – the trip home from the well with the vessel full of water was very difficult and strenuous. The young man often had bruises on his shoulder from the long rod he used to hook and carry the water – with his hands on the rod, laid across his shoulder, and the vessel on the other end carried and held behind him on the other end of the rod.
The young man was dismayed. He often spilled a substantial portion of the water, and his family would often need to choose to drink the water – without any left to bathe or clean. The young man often smelled poorly, because he lacked the water to bathe. He became bitter about his situation, and his attitude turned negative and sour.
At the same time, his neighbor (about his age) walked with a limp and though he tried, he could not carry much water from the well. In fact, he carried half as much in twice the time from the well to his home as compared to the young man. His trek was much more difficult.
One day, the young man was sitting outside his home as the neighbor boy dragged himself and his half-full water vessel into his home (hours after the young man had returned). The young man was so lost in his own pity, he simply did not notice. But, the young boy’s father did notice. He sat down beside his son and said, “You can relieve your burdens by relieving others. Often, an act if kindness can change your life forever.”
Weeks went by, and the same scene played out each day. The young man would sit outside his home dismayed. The neighbor boy would arrive home hours after the young man had returned home, and the young man’s father would sit with his son and repeat these words, “You can relieve your burdens by relieving others. Often, an act if kindness can change your life forever.”
One day, on a particularly hot afternoon, the young man started out later than usual to the well to fetch water. As he arrived and stood in line at the well, the neighbor boy, having half filled his vessel, limped by the young man as he started his trek home. And once the young man had filled his vessel, he too started back for his home. About an hour into the young man’s trip home, he came across the neighbor boy. He had placed his water vessel down carefully before collapsing in the heat of the sun.
The young man heard his father’s words as he approached, “You can relieve your burdens by relieving others. Often, an act if kindness can change your life forever.”
The young man stopped. “Are you OK?” he asked.
The neighbor boy responded, “I can’t do it. The burden is too great today. I don’t know what I will do. My family needs the water.”
The young man replied, “I would help you, but I’m not sure how.”
The neighbor boy thought for several minutes. “Perhaps you can put your vessel on one end of your rod with my vessel at the other end. Maybe you can carry the rod across your shoulders to even the load. Will you try please?”
The young man nodded that he would try. The two young men poured some water into the neighbor boy’s vessel to even out the weight of each container and situated the vessels at each end of the rod. The neighbor boy helped the young man as he squat down to lift the rod. It worked!
The young man had only travelled a short distance and laughed, “This is easier than carrying my own vessel, my shoulder feels much better, and I can walk evenly now!” The neighbor boy was overjoyed. The two young men talked and shared stories the entire walk back to the village, and once there, each remarked how short the trip had seemed.
That night the two families celebrated what the two boys had accomplished, and the two boys agreed to meet each morning and repeat the day’s events. The young man had lived out what his father had told him, “You can relieve your burdens by relieving others. Often, an act if kindness can change your life forever.”
In the end, the young man found he could balance and carry two full vessels of water on the ends of his rod without spilling. The families prospered with the additional water, and the boys became life-long friends and powerful advocates for one another.
In truth, the simple act of kindness, a willingness to help, and the advice of a loving father completely changed many lives for the better.
So carry your own water, seek out the lessons that life can teach, gain more awareness of the people and world around you, and develop/extend your own personal ETHOS.
You’ll be better for it…and so will those that need you. Carry your own water, and be ready to carry for someone else. You just might change your life.
Yesterday was yet another reminder of why I love working in the community of people that make up Krav Maga Houston.
It was approximately six thirty in the morning on June 11th when a huge booming sound caused my attention to turn to the window and the street behind me. I looked down from the second floor just in time to see a vehicle launch from the street into the parking lot below me. The silver car, mid-sized at best, had gone airborne for approximately 150 feet; with it’s engine on fire, it looked like a fireball had been launched from an ancient Roman catapult. The silver vehicle turned upside down in mid-air before crashing to the ground and skidding to halt.
The other Ram SUV (the one the silver vehicle had smashed), rolled onto it’s side several times from the street through the bushes and hedges and abruptly stopped as it came to rest in the parking lot beside a Mercedes that had been parked in the spaces closest to the street and furthest from the building – presumably to protect the vehicle from others parking to close. Ironically, that Mercedes became a kind of “back stop” for the Ram SUV, stopping its roll.
My heart sunk. I was sure there were fatalities. This crash looked like something out of a Fast & Furious movie. I ran for my cell phone to call 911 – as the entire class poured out of the Krav Maga Houston school into the parking lot. The class ran towards the silver vehicle that was still on fire to extricate whoever might be trapped inside.
While we were able to extricate the single driver from the silver vehicle who miraculously had a single, small laceration to his right elbow and left hand, we were not able to confirm that the vehicle was empty (as the driver was in shock and conscious but unresponsive) two of us scurried around the vehicle, finally arriving at the rear window (that was blown out). I crawled inside to check for other passengers. When I saw the baby seat still affixed to the rear passenger seat, my stomach raced to my throat. The seat was empty, as was the rest of the silver vehicle. Thank God.
The Ram SUV, it seemed, had several passengers. As we moved to check on them (they were all out of the SUV and walking around), I continued triage – no apparent injuries, no blood or lacerations, no protrusions, and no chief complaints. The team of Krav Maga Houston Kravists continued to circle the scene. We waived down the ambulance, briefed the EMT personnel with a triage report as they exited, and as the scene was overcome with medical and police personnel, we all quietly left and went back to training. No one stayed around to do interviews with the news crews that arrived. Nobody cared about that. We had done a good thing. We had done the right thing. That’s what we do in this community.
Lastly, thank you to the man who pulled into the parking lot out of nowhere, driving a ThyssenKrupp truck, who had a fire extinguisher and quickly put out the fire burning around the engine of the silver vehicle. He left as quickly as he arrived. Whoever, you are…thank you.
I’m so proud of this community, and so honored to be a part of it. Thank you Alf, Jeff, Marc, Mike, Cain, and Ernesto – who were there doing the right thing – running towards the fire to help others – from start to finish.
As always, walk in peace, have courage, and do the right and good thing…
There is an epidemic sweeping the landscape of our modern day culture and our evolving social fabric.
The damaging effects of these tectonic shifts on our collective future cannot be understated. Our very existence, driven by our capacity to lead and to steadfastly create solutions to problems – big and small – is at stake. The epidemic is showing up in our young people, and the effects are already showing staggering implications.
In short, it seems to me, as I survey the world around me (and the people in it), that life in the digitized world has become so very measured and managed that dominant social norms are creating a near risk-free – thus lesson-less – environment. In plain English, people aren’t fully living life and learning from vast, sometimes dangerous experiences – specifically, experiences that facilitate powerful and positive shifts in the way we operate in our lives and in our approach problem solving.
In many cultures, particularly cultures that have strong links to long-standing tribal traditions, young men and young women took their place in their respective tribe as they grew older by engaging in tribal sponsored rituals that were often dangerous and full of deep experiential lessons. These lessons were seen as giving birth to the skills that would allow young people to eventually lead their families and the tribe forward as capable leaders.
Ironically, in the overdone attempt to make everything we do (and say) today as sanitary and safe as possible, society has begun to wring out the life lessons that only experience fraught with elements of risk and danger (perceived or otherwise) can provide. In the process, I believe many in our society are losing the ability to effectively navigate uncertainty, risk, danger, and conflict.
I’m willing to bet that these tribal sponsored experiences – rituals, crucibles, and trials – create or activate dormant parts of the brain that can be utilized to deal powerfully with circumstances that are fought with risk. Tangible leadership skills (on a personal and collective level), mental toughness, emotional resilience, a fighting spirit, decisiveness, and unyielding determination are the lessons and skills that have been cast aside for the sake of an ever increasing effort to ensure no one is hurt – physically or emotionally. How absurd is that? Haven’t we gone too far in this direction? Are we inadvertently setting up others to flounder through life without the skills to manage difficulty, conflict, and risk? What a terrible thing to do. I can’t imagine trying to move through life without the essential skills that are taken from the traditions of the tribes of history.
It’s become glaringly obvious that many of us did not have the opportunity to share fully in the lessons of our respective tribes as we grew older. Sports no longer instills these lessons – over commercialization and a “get what I can for myself” attitude have stained (perhaps ruined) team sports and the most valuable lessons once gleaned from these activities. So what do we do now?
Want more anecdotal proof? Look no further than the monumental growth in adventure races and crucible style events to uncover an uncomfortable truth – people now seek to fill the “tribal ritual-sized hole” in their understanding of themselves and their capability to manage (and thrive in) life.
People actually pay others to run them through dangerous crucibles to capture some of what was lost (or was never provided). In doing so, these same people gain experience, life skills, confidence, decisiveness, and a host of other skills that propel them forward – past those cold and timid souls that have know neither victory nor defeat (or the risk associated with either outcome and the effort itself).
Young men, in particular, are at risk (in my opinion). The epidemic is spreading like a wild fire. It’s time we did something about it. Ask yourself…what have I missed in this context? What do my children need to flourish? How can I offer the lessons of the tribe? What must I do next to instill lessons that are quickly being lost?
Consider a Krav Maga program, an adventure race, or a change in how you live your life. Do something hard. Learn to manage yourself, manage risk, and be ready to capture the life lessons. Tap into your capability and your capacity to manage difficult and dangerous circumstances. You’ll be better for it.
I was recently teaching a Krav Maga class when the tone and tenor of the students caused a mild eruption in me.
I began asking a series of questions to bring to light the issue at hand. My questions made it abundantly clear that the students needed to shift perspective and embrace the opportunity before them.
In short, Krav Maga class is one of the few activities where each student is in complete control of how he/she will give effort. Each student is in complete control over his/her level of aggression, presence, and mindfulness. In other words, Krav Maga training is one of the few pursuits in life where we can, by definition, take complete control of the altercation / situation. That’s the point of Krav Maga.
The discussion led to a broader point, as questions filtered through the classroom. I seized upon the powerful irony of food.
I asked, “In what part of your life are you always totally in charge of what is happening – where your decision is final?”
I answered, “Are you in complete control over what you put in your mouth and consume as food?”
The answer came back with a resounding ”Yes!”
Do any of you leave here, and as you sit down to eat on a daily basis, find yourself at gunpoint being force fed food you didn’t choose?”
The answer came back with a resounding ”No!”
Then I said, “So, if you are in complete control over what goes into your mouth as nourishment, and you are eating foods that are patently unhealthy on a consistent basis, you are…?”
A single voice rang out, “…out of control.” Correct…
The reasons why we abuse ourselves with one of the few opportunities in life where we have complete control over the input (and much of the outcome) are many. Food is associated with a myriad of emotions and the “feeding” of those emotions (or as consolation for negative emotions). Food is a kind of temporary mediator between the emotions we are feeling – often deeply seated, shadow emotions that facilitate destructive behavior – and a perceived need to eat in response.
Ironically, it’s consistently poor food choices that cause powerful shifts in our health, quality of life, and longevity. And, as people sink into these health pitfalls, they often become more aware of the current and unfolding crisis. This creates more emotion, more shadows – and in a cruel irony, these people double down on the poor food choices that are creating the health (and in some cases social) crisis – as they seek more consolation in unhealthy food to offset the crisis being caused by unhealthy food. This cycle is insidious.
Doesn’t this sound like someone who is out of control? To me, it sounds similar to Stockholm Syndrome.
Stockholm Syndrome was first coined as a phrase after a botched 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. A standoff with police and SWAT followed. During the standoff, the hostages developed a psychological alliance with the hostage takers – connecting to the hostage takers mission. At one point, a hostage reported being more afraid of the responding police than the hostage takers. The rest, as oversimplified as this recounting might be, is history. Hence, the term Stockholm Syndrome was born.
In the food analogy above, I’m comparing terribly unhealthy, carbladen, processed foods with the hostage takers. The person eating the unhealthy food is the hostage. And, as time unfolds, the hostage begins to more and more powerfully identify with the hostage taker. In this case, the stakes are essentially identical. Both situations can end in a terrible shift in quality of life – even death.
It’s time we all begin to take stock of what we do and why. It’s time to build a stronger and healthier sense of awareness about our behaviors. And it’s time to do something about it. Your life and quality of life depend on it.
Editor’s note: For years we’ve been telling people during the Krav Maga Houston introductory class that self defense is a critical life skill.
Adults need to gain the clarity necessary to squarely understand this perspective. Unfortunately, far too many adults wait until a violent encounter erupts to take meaningful, long term action – but what about kids? How powerfully can we prepare our children for life’s many challenges by explicitly engaging in high quality self defense programming for a number of years. What impact can we have on our children’s lives by meaningfully instilling a sense of worth, confidence, and decisiveness? In the article, below Trea Drake, Krav Maga Houston’s lead kids instructor and multi-level black belt answers this question definitively. Do yourself and your child a favor…read the article below.
Nearly 30% of students are bullied each year, over 160,000 students skip school each day for fear of bullying, 20% of high school girls and 30% of high school boys have been in a fist fight in the last 12 months, and 25% of high schoolers carried a weapon to school in the last 30 days. These statistics don’t even address the likelihood of having to use non-violent de-escalation techniques or self-defense skills over the course of one’s entire life, which is high and trending higher.
I mention these statistics to present the argument that self-defense, and its composite skills of situational awareness, non-violent de-escalation techniques, discipline, cardiovascular fitness, balance, coordination, accuracy, agility, durability, power, speed, and coordination, is a life-skill. I posit that it is an essential life skill, on the level of learning to bathe or brush one’s teeth. However, self-defense is seldom prioritized as such by the general population.
Apathy and denial appear to be the primary drivers with most people holding the perspective that nothing will happen to them or to their child. Just today, I stopped one of our youth students from leaving our school with headphones on her ears and her cell phone in her hand. I informed her of the statistic that 50% of robberies are cell phone related, that such behavior makes her more of a target, and that part of her training is to learn to decrease the likelihood that she is identified as a potential victim by being more situationally aware. Her mother witnessed the conversation and responded with, “I have never thought of that.”
Consistent with this apathy and denial, self-defense training often takes a back seat to organized traditional sports such as baseball, basketball, football, etc. One may argue that many life lessons can be gleaned from participating in such sports, but I argue that the lessons are seldom explicitly taught. Contrast the lessons learned participating in a year of baseball to the character development program at Krav Maga Houston that explicitly teaches lessons on 24-character strengths, common cognitive biases, resilience strategies, mindfulness, and logical fallacies using a variety of pedagogical methods.
I’m not arguing that children shouldn’t participate in traditional sports. What I’m arguing is that self-defense be prioritized differently in relation to traditional sports. I’m arguing that as an essential life-skill that has implications over the course of one’s entire life, self-defense be elevated as the primary activity toward which time is allocated. Thus, traditional sports would not be prioritized to the exclusion of self-defense training, but instead be contingent upon a child’s performance in their self-defense program – similar to the way grades in school dictate whether an athlete is allowed to play.
I often hear parents say that the reason their child is doing other activities, to the exclusion of self-defense training, is because the child doesn’t “like” training in self-defense. My response to that is, “enjoyment” is not a pre-requisite for learning an essential life skill. To this day, I thoroughly dislike the activity of physical exercise. However, I do it anyway because I can appreciate the myriad benefits associated with being in shape. My hypothesis is that most children that protest training in self-defense simply find the physical demands of training to be aversive. However, that is exactly the reason these children need to train in self-defense – to gain fitness, discipline, and resilience.
If your child wakes up tomorrow and decides they are no longer going to take a bath, brush their teeth, or go to school, there is no way you are going to allow them to make that decision. You will object for many reasons, not the least of which is that you recognize your child literally doesn’t possess the gray matter to fully grasp the implications of such nonsense decision making. Yet, when a child says they don’t “like” self-defense training, an essential life skill that has the potential to preserve their life or quality of life, parents behave as if their kids (with their underdeveloped frontal lobe) are suddenly wise and powerful decision makers.
Meanwhile, most children will enter the most violent years of their education career, middle school, woefully unprepared, mentally and physically, for the violence they are likely to encounter, as a victim or witness. Shortly after, they will be exposed to more of the real world as they learn to drive and eventually embark on a college career or other pursuits. All those years in soccer, to the exclusion of self-defense training, will not have prepared them for their encounter with the belligerent drunk guy at the frat party, the driver with road rage that follows them home, or the desperate drug addict with a gun at the local gas station. The time to prioritize training is long before any of these things are likely to happen so that the skills have time to be fully integrated into a life skill your child can apply intuitively and in time of most need.
Bottom line – do the research to identify a high quality self defense program, and get your child enrolled ASAP. You’ll simply never regret arming your child with these life skills.
In the aftermath of the fight, those who witnessed it all told me that the punches landing on my gloves and arms sounded like bombs exploding.
At the time, I had no idea all the others in the room had stopped fighting and had moved to the walls of the room to watch us trade blows. Nor did I know that the staff of Krav Maga Worldwide had left their collective posts – banding together into a tight ball, as they peered through the glass doors of the Krav Maga Worldwide training center.
I was in a fight all right. The other man was an angry, powerful, Israeli that had (the day before) recounted stories of his time in the military engaging in close quarters combat on the streets of disputed and/or occupied territory. He was a multi-level Krav Maga black belt, and I was a green belt trying to make blue. Somehow, I had ended up fighting this square-jaw, muscular, near cartoon-like character – and I had found a way to inadvertently spark his anger. Maybe he didn’t like my face. Based on the way he was trying to pound it flat, that made the most sense. It wasn’t long before I realized he was genuinely trying to hurt me. Maybe I was meant to be his personal punching bag or a proxy for his last several months of anger management classes he’d clearly missed. I’m not sure why. And, this is your first lesson on the path to the flow state, If it’s not your “WHY” (your motivation for operating…your MO/OP), it doesn’t matter.
Why something is happening or someone is acting, in that dangerous moment, is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is WHAT. What are you going to do about it? This requires powerful focus and determined intention.
Don’t spend any time pausing or wasting resources on another persons “why” when you’re in a fight. Fix the problem – immediately. I recall the moment in time where something inside me, about me, changed.
The switch had been thrown, and I had entered the flow state. My blue belt was on the line, I was being battered around by a bully who clearly wanted to hurt me, my place and burgeoning stature was in jeopardy in my new-found Krav Maga tribe…and I wasn’t going to allow myself to fail. I was going to fight. And with that compete commitment, I entered the flow state.
In looking back on that fight, I vividly recall an integration of my physical capacity, mind, emotions, intuition, and spirit. The integration became a kind of singularity – like a laser concentrating on a single target. I wasn’t afraid in the slightest – just utterly resolved with sense of decisive clarity.
My concept of time was gone – there was no past or future – only the moment in which I was operating. I felt totally free, unencumbered, and filled with a powerful, immediate purpose. Thought and action became one. The Samurai called this “mu shin” (no mind). It seems as though this is both another place entirely and a powerful state of being. I was going to overcome and overwhelm this fighter – period.
In the moments after I entered the flow state (what I often call “dialed in”), I landed a powerful counter right straight punch to my adversary’s jaw. As my left hook followed, I caught only air. The man had crumpled to the ground as my first punch landed. He was already piled up on the floor – gone completely down for the count – as my left hook arrived.
That fight changed the course of my career as a Kravist and established my place in my new tribe. It was, as they say, a game changer.
How do you dial in the flow state?
Some cultures engage in “death practices” that bring out this kind of integrated focus. Fighting is one such practice utilized for this purpose. There are many others. As an example, the movie Fight Club was based upon this premise (and a host of other things).
Most importantly and in the context of this article, how much more effective could you be in life if you could dial in the flow state?
Can you turn the flow state on and off like a switch?
The answer is a resounding affirmative. But, to do so, you must be clear about your priorities, what you believe in, and the stand your taking in this life. This clarity will lead you to your MO/OP (motive for operating) and spark a fire in you that is the flow state when the time, place, context, and stakes demand it.
For many of us, success has become a matter of recalibrating our perspective around the subject of failure.
To make things much more complicated, failure as defined by our cultural has become attached to the idea of finality. In other words, failure is seen as a binary, transactional, and vacuous event – from which we simply cannot recover or redeem ourselves (rather than the father of success or the master teacher).
In truth, no one likes to fail. We’d all rather succeed the first time we make an effort at achieving any objective. But, the larger truth about failure and life is much more powerful. Failure teaches us exponentially more than “how not to do something” – which is a gift in and of itself. Failure offers the opportunity to develop new paradigms of thinking by moving our methods and strategies towards the solution (and away from failed concepts).
In short, failure is a naturally occurring mechanism that leads to success through the shifted perspective often achieved by developing and experiencing (living out) strategies that do not lead to success. Failure forces us to think differently, act differently, and (if we are up to the task), try again.
Failure is the pathway to success – the only one. Without failure, there can be no consistent success. Failure demands – if success is the goal – patience, persistence, and reveals passion in the pursuit of the objective by those willing to try again.
What other phenomenon offers so much to each of us? Nothing gives us more than failure.
Want your children to be successful?
Hope for failure.
Want to experience more in this life?
Pray for failure.
Want to grow in the service of others and make more meaning of your existence?
Seek out failure.
The Navy Seal’s have a motto that reflects the need for both the failure and persistence required in moving past failure to success:
Do today what others won’t (that is, risk today what other’s won’t), do tomorrow what others can’t (by risking, failing, and ultimately succeeding).
In other words, “fail forward” as Roosevelt once said. Navy Seals “fail forward fast” by intentionally seeking out the lessons failure offers and quickly applying those lessons in the next evolution/effort. The same can be said for successful Kravists. Think about that concept…
Winston Churchill, one of my favorite historical figures who showed unwavering courage and willingness to risk much for his country, once said: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” How could one have enthusiasm about failure? By recognizing that failure is the ONLY path to success.
Finally, I believe the most important element of failure is an understanding that (in many instances) the success achieved (at the direction of failure) far outweighs the combined cost that multiple failures extracted in getting to the goal.
Simply, all the effort and failure required in achieving success pales in comparison to the enormity of the payoff. This is a true to the extent that this ideal must be a natural law.
The next time you try and fail; remember that failure is the father of success. And, your success will tower over all your past failures. In the end, the concepts of failure and success can’t exist without the other in the continuum of seeking a result.
We try, fail, recalibrate, try, fail, recalibrate, and eventually succeed. Stay the course and follow the path; your failure is leading you to success.
I’m following up last week’s article about activating purpose with a slightly deeper look at the three P’s (and the role each plays in facilitating the discovery of purpose). As you read, be mindful of each word and consider each “P” carefully.
Passion is a powerful indicator about how you were made. The best way to think about passion is to consider what creates energy and renewal within you. In a very real way, passion energizes and renews your body, mind, emotions, intuition, and spirit. For me, being outdoors creates a sense of renewal. My batteries become fully charged after just a short time outdoors. For others, renewal might come from other pursuits – problem solving, being creative, working within a team, being on the water, or gardening, and so on. The list goes on and on…
However, passion is not obsession. Obsession is generally harmful, and if left unchecked, obsession can engulf you. Obsession drains, passion renews. Obsession is worship, and comes at great cost – eventually leading to slavery of the thing over which you obsess.
Passion is renewal. Passion reflects the way you were created. Passion is fuel. Passion is a clue about your purpose. In the end, however, it’s not your passion itself that holds the key to understanding an element of purpose. As with many things, it’s “the thing behind the thing” that matters most.
For instance, my passion for the outdoors might be connected more deeply to the concepts of (1) creation, (2) freedom, or (3) sustainable, renewable cycles (or a host of other, deeper concepts). If these deeper concepts show up in other formats or pursuits for which you have a powerful appreciation, you’re definitely onto something that should be assessed within your discovery process of purpose. Consider your passion in a deep and meaningful way to uncover the power behind your passion.
Think of your Potential as the combined and optimized capacity of the physical, mental, emotional, intuitive, and spiritual aspects of yourself in creating an impact in the world around you. Because I have a background in martial sciences, I often think of “The Book of Five Rings” better translated as “The Book of Five Spheres” written by renowned swordsman Miyamoto Musahsi in the year 1643. Mushasi was a master-less Samurai (Ronin), teacher, and undefeated dueler with many of his matches ending in death at the end of a terribly sharp 30-inch sword or from a powerful blow by a bokken (a wooden sword).
Musashi lived in a rather high stakes world, where success was paramount. Here and now, we also enter the high stakes realm, where we begin to honestly assess and consider the power each of us has to grow, hone and command with our potential (in the form of the Physical, Mental, Emotional, Intuitive, and Spiritual). High stakes indeed…
As I think about Potential, I imagine five spheres overlapping in shared space to symbolize the harnessing of the multiple spheres of my own Potential.
Consider the five-sphere diagram below. The blue center sphere is the Physical. The orange upper left sphere is the Emotional. The upper right sphere is the Mental. The lower left light blue sphere is the Intuitive. The lower right sphere is the Spiritual. Notice how each sphere occupies both individual and shared space with one exception: The body – the center sphere – houses the Emotional, Mental, Intuitive, and the Spirit. And although the body is vessel for these domains; each also exists outside the body – producing real, tangible effects in the world, in our lives, and in the lives of others. The diamond shape in the center marks the union of these domains and the area where we are integrated, optimized, and efforting at our highest and best use. It’s in the center space where we begin to understand how to optimally harness our Potential.
Simply put, the more you leverage your potential, the closer you are to your purpose, because purpose is grounded in service, leadership, and/or advocacy. Purpose is not egoic. In this, we know that purpose is often informed through the context and quality in which we operate (that quality is directed by your personal ETHOS – a huge topic for another time).
As a warrior, recall that you make meaning by connecting with and serving others. We now add to the former sentence by applying these words…by powerfully leveraging your Potential. The sentence should now read:
You make meaning by connecting with and serving others through powerfully leveraging your Potential.
So, your potential is your highest and best utilization of your 5 domains – producing energy and outcomes in the world around you.
Where can you best grow and leverage your potential?
The concept of ETHOS, expressed more simply here as our principles, is the final and most powerful step in discovering purpose. To summarize this complex process, simply understand that we must all develop and adhere to a set of principles that guides our every word, deed, and thought. In this we must first carefully consider and answer a series of powerful questions that inform our ETHOS.
Those questions entail the following:
Who am I, and where did I come from? This is not a “23&Me” question. Instead, each of us must consider if we are a created being from a powerful creator or a lucky recipient of a cosmic accident. Consider this question very carefully, and recognize that every answer is a faith statement.
Who is counted among my tribe, and should I grow my tribe (or shrink or maintain it)? The answer to question one will inform the answer to this question.
What singular characteristic will I build my life and “quality of being” around (words, deeds, thoughts and frequency)? Examples might include concepts such as – integrity, courage, or love.
What mitigating characteristic will I build my life around? This is a control mechanism to ensure you don’t lean so far into a concept that the movement corrupts your ETHOS. For me, the word is “excellence” – meaning not taking on so many projects and efforts that I jeopardize them all. I must only do what can be done with excellence.
Finally, how will you grow in your service? What will allow you to grow as the world around you changes and opportunities to serve emerge? For me, I use a simple word that has deep meaning to me – learning (as in, a commitment to lifelong learning, a beginner’s mind, and non-egoic quality that optimizes my ability to learn, and so on).
As you answer these questions and follow the clues, you will eventually arrive at the following declaration:
I make meaning by connecting with and serving others through my unique purpose (purpose = passion + potential + principles).
Purpose is often the centerpiece that can be introduced into almost any context. For instance, my purpose statement reads, “to teach, advocate, mentor, and lead where I can make a powerful and positive difference in the lives of those around me.” Today, the context is “how I teach” Krav Maga.
What is your purpose?
It’s worth the work to discover your purpose and lead an extraordinary life as a warrior in the service of something greater than yourself. Freedom, decisiveness, and deep satisfaction await you.