Warrior Within: Accessing the Knight in the Male Psyche

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What do you think when the word Warrior appears to you?

For Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, it is men such as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King jr.

Not quite what you had in mind? Perhaps there is still something to learn about the mature male psyche.

Warrior is easily linked with aggressiveness and destructiveness. While those are important qualities of a warrior, real warrior is not purely set out to destroy. Real warrior is there to set out to destroy what doesn’t work and construct what is right in the world. Real warrior is both creator and a destroyer, a man with a mission to build and expand.

Warrior Within: Accessing the Knight in the Male Psyche is a book about the Warrior archetype of a masculine psyche, how to access it and why.

I cannot recommend this book as standalone, you should first read the outlining book: King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature. However, once you have read that I highly recommend this.

Warrior within resonates with Stoic philosophy and thinking: “The buck stops with you. Prepare yourself. Step forward. Accept your Warrior responsibilities. Fit your talents and responsibilities to the arena or theater that seems to need you the most.”

Warrior energy should be put to work to take responsibility, destroy that which doesn’t work and then to expand and construct that which is needed.

Be the Awesome Person Who You Would Like to Know

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Have you heard the adage that you are the average of five people you spend most time with?

Aren’t you with yourself first and foremost, so shouldn’t you include yourself there, what kind of person are you for those people?

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

First relationship that comes, is the relationship with ourselves. We have to start with ourselves: we have to define our what it means to be awesome for ourselves and for others.

There is the golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated. Keyword there is the treating, it’s a verb that requires action. We are defined by our actions, we become what we do.

Change then means taking more virtuous actions than before. Define what do you value and take action, make the values as verbs, as virtues.

Personally I’ve defined seven values from which I think the truth, love and courage are in the core. The other four: aspiration, responsibility, gratitude and humility are fine tuning for what kind of person I really want to be.

Value Virtue (value in action)
Love Kindness, compassion, metta, forgiveness, mercy
Aspiration Excellence, purpose, openness, curiosity, courage
Responsibility Sustainability, effort, courage
Courage Positive action despite of fear, growth, rightfulness, effort
Truth Seeing the world as it is, open mind and learning.
Gratitude Awareness, meditation, metta
Humility Service, gratitude

 

In the right column there are thoughts, what the value would look like as action. I’ve done this table two years ago. As an advice it could be helpful to write even specific examples such as:

  • Gratitude: give one written positive feedback a day.
  • Love: apologize if you notice yourself swearing and make yourself socially accountable so you could use kinder words in the future.
  • Truth: when you catch yourself exaggerating, stop, apologize and correct yourself immediately.
  • Responsibility & courage: when you see opportunity to take responsibility take action despite your fears and worries.
    • Example how I applied this on yesterday was in a rather small restaurant where there wasn’t any table for four. Waiter was young man whose solution to find the table was rather burdensome for the whole restaurant (to move the tables in tiny space). I quickly figured out a couple better solutions, from which the best in my judgement was to ask a other customer who had just before ordered to move to a smaller table. I did this this as kindly as I could and he did it gladly.

Fears and social behavior is contagious, therefore it is important to notice the that when do you need to rise above the surroundings and take the initiative.

Personal growth is all about initiative to do things differently.

Now take a moment to write down your values and write next to it how you could apply it as a virtue. Make at least one action for each virtue. You may add more actions to this list as you live on more days and weeks. By continuous practice of values and virtues, you will become the awesome person that you would like to know.

You are awesome!

Janne

What We Focus on, Grows Stronger

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Focus is magic, for that which we focus on grows stronger.

I.e. if you focus on value, you are more likely to create some value as well.

If you focus to the irrelevant, then you are likely to be a distracting force around others.

Conscious focus is powerful human ability. Ability to consciously learn to focus habitually and effortlessly makes us exponentially more powerful.

In his book Focus Daniel Goleman writes “our own inner voices are our biggest distraction.”

If our ability to focus determines what we can achieve in life, we seem to be our own worst enemies. It’s a bit similar thought to Ryan Holiday’s “ego is the enemy, every step of the way.”

Amplification of that which we focus is strange, wonderful and powerful. It’s our choice how that power will serve us and it’s our responsibility.

Personally I’ve found both great suffering and great joy from focus. It’s our habit of relating with our environment that directs our focus. Often I’ve found that I am in environment that does not support optimal focus.

In human constructed environments there are often other interests than my true long term wellbeing. Shopping malls or supermarkets for instance have a hidden agenda and great effort have been put there together for specific products to have my attention.

In home environment I’ll try to arrange it so that the powerful thoughts have a lot of my attention, thus I’ve arranged life board in a visible part of my room so that I’ll get back to it often. I believe it’s from these thoughts that better life will sprout from. Making these thoughts into actions, actions into habits and habits as my character. Eventually this will become my life.

It’s our decision to choose where we focus: is it that what is right with the world, or what is wrong with the world?

Pressure Reveals Ourselves and the Culture We Are Surrounded by.

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We can become that which we learn to be under pressure. By observing our thoughts, we can change our response, we can change our action and we can change our habits. We can change ourselves to take smarter action under pressure.

We can become smarter by taking smarter actions.

Top performers perform better under pressure, because they have more time to choose a better response. So can anyone become better at chosen action is the responses are better and you have more time to respond.

Pressure reveals how prepared we are, and how do we react to the pressure: do we have time to evaluate the best choices or do we mindlessly react like animals do?

More than ourselves, the way we react reflects the culture around us. For those who are in the culture, it is difficult to see. From outside its easier to observe that under pressure our behavior is often based or even copied from those who are close to us.

Pressure therefore not only reveals ourselves, it reveals the culture we are surrounded by.

Of course we do influence and get influenced by culture at the same time. What is in our own control is the respond to each situation and that’s it. Do you breathe for four seconds before reply or do you respond straight away? Do you have multiple choices or do you go with the first one that pop  into your heads.

Full Ownership

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Ownership.

Responsibility.

The more of these two we have in our lives, the better our life starts to get. Especially if the ownership is paired with action to improve the thing. If the thing cannot be improved, then there is nothing much to worry about.

Today I made interesting association with the ownership. Taking ownership of the time: not complaining about the time, accepting and prioritizing based on that. It feels powerful. The idea once again comes from The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, where he explains the idea of Einstein time. Belief that we are the creators of our time and if we focus to that we will have more time in our hands.

As Seneca put it, we never have time for everything, yet we have time for the important things. This seems to be the golden rule in thinking about the time: what is important and what is not.

Ownership of the thoughts and the words that we let out transforms everything. It’s not irrelevant what we say or how we say it: because that does not only reinforce our own thinking but affects others as well.

Full ownership means having all the control we can have and it is the key in mastering the one time where we can affect things: present.

Be Calm and Prepare

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Calm and preparation make life to seem to be under our control. Of course even at best we have illusion of control, because life is way too big to be controlled. We at (best) can control our own impulses and responses to what life throws at us.

The calm and the preparation both help us to choose even better responses. And what makes life wonderful are those best thought out responses to whatever happens!

If we are calm, we have all the time in the world to make the right decisions.

If we are prepared, we are never in a hurry because we already are prepared and ready to go.

The sense of calm comes ability to see the reality as it is, not to take it too personally. In fact, the very nature is change between huger and huger forces at play so it’s just easier to remain calm because that’s the only thing we can control: how do we respond when everything comes crashing down.

We have to ability to remain calm and prepare for tomorrow, until sadly the tomorrow one day doesn’t come. Yet if we are calm and in control of ourselves we should have a lot of fun while at it. While others depress or worry, we remain calm and enjoy the life as it is!

Choose Your Response Carefully!

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A bit of continuation to the mature response -blog from last week.

That topic was in retrospect a big hit for myself, because by writing that I had prepared myself for rejection what followed the next day. Now I was ready to deal with it in mature way, because I had just revisited the notes and what it means to respond maturely. Despite knowing and remembering some of this, I have to say that dealing with rejection in personal relationships is never easy.

Even in professional life: sales and marketing people face rejection several or even dozens of times per day it’s not easy even though there it’s not so personal. Rejection hurts.

Here we come to the part what we are actually able to control: our response to the outside impulse. Separation between an animal and a conscious being is the ability to delay the time in between impulse and response. We have the ability to choose our response. This so called last of human freedoms is what many philosophies including stoicism teaches us.

Today I realized that choosing means that there are usually several different options for us to consider. Several paths, from which we can always choose the best suited path for our purposes.

How long can you take in between impulse and response? Try taking a moment of your time.

Usually the powerful have the time to be quiet and think before reply. Do you recognize the feeling?

Be responsible, choose your response carefully!

Conscious Growth for the Benefit of Others

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Conscious growth means taking responsibility and meeting challenges head on. It means facing the challenges and recognizing that there Is “little that I know already.” With the growth, means that we can tackle greater challenges, which then in turn eventually lead to a position where you do not honestly know.

According to the Peter Principle “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.” I think this applies to our personal growth as well. Eventually we will run into things in which we are incompetent. So we grow and still are incompetent at the same time.

Becoming something more than we were before is rewarding. It’s even more rewarding to see results in our own growth to benefit other people. Perhaps something that I learned will benefit you as well.

Thus the efforts to become incompetent in something, do not go in vain. Instead it is something for others to step on.

Do not hurry to become incompetent. Take your time, nurture your own growth so that in time your turn will be to nurture the growth of others.

Return to the basics every day. Masters worship the basics.

Virtue is the Purpose of Life

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Doing good, doing the right thing in whatever position you are in life is the purpose of life according to the Stoics. Take responsibility of your soul, of what you can do, because that’s all you can do.

Do not judge, writes Marcus Aurelius.

Do not judge, always seek to praise were Abraham Lincolns words according to Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Virtue is doing the right thing when we have the freedom to choose otherwise. Marcus Aurelius is fascinating example of this, because he was the emperor of the known world, ruler with absolute power. Yet he was living in virtue.

Trying to put this to the scope of personal life: should I discard all my desires I ask myself again? Then I remember the difference between a desire, lust and a positive desire.

What causes us to be virtuous? What causes positive desires?

Sigmund Freud suggests that it may be sublimation. Something negative we have done earlier in life may cause to turn into something major positive later in life.

Reflecting on my own past, I certainly feel that the reason I contemplate so much on the virtues, what is right and best for everyone is because I feel that when I was younger I wasn’t very good example. Due to that earlier experience I certainly want to go to the opposite direction as fast as I can, which is a very positive.

We want to progress and above all we want to be something more than we were before. As stoics put it, at least we should try to be better than animals. And the way to do that is through civilizing ourselves and taking responsibility of our souls. By putting our values to work and working from where we are now.

 

Further info

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius on Wikipedia

Marcus Aurelius Lecture on Stoicism

Freud on: Sublimation

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Freedom From and Responsibility To

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With increased power, comes increased responsibility. The moment we forget this, our good deeds start to decay and growth halts.

Victor Frankl said it well that freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. Responsibility is a topic that is too little talked and pondered about.

Once we understand our responsibility and are willing to exert ourselves for it, we gain actual freedom. Freedom to organize the necessary resources to attain a particular goal in life.

There is no freedom, when there is no responsibility.

Leader is willing to accept responsibility of things that they are not directly responsible.

We are all leaders. If we want to be great leaders we need to strive for more responsibilities. Then at times, when everything is alright going as it should we may enjoy our freedom. Usually this does not last very long thought or if it does, then you’ve masterfully trained more leaders.