instigate. inspire. lead.

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 “Myrmidons! My brothers of the sword! I would rather fight beside you than any army of thousands! Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions! Do you know what’s waiting beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! It’s yours!” [Troy]

Creators have a dilemma.

We want the freedom to create whatever, whenever we want…

But the market will only compensate us for what IT wants.

This leaves your average creator (whether entrepreneur, writer, artist, etc.) in a particularly uncomfortable position, with only two real options.

Option 1: Create what you want, ignore the market…

Many creators do just that.  They build for themselves and completely ignore the rest of the world.

There’s only one problem with this: it rarely pays off.

Yes, there are outliers.  But that’s exactly the point: they’re outliers.

If the market doesn’t like what you create, you bear the burden.

‘Do what you love’ sounds fun and sexy, until you realize you’ve been living on your mom’s couch for 3 years.

Option 2: Create for the market, ignore what you want…

Many other creators (probably the vast majority) choose this route.

They ignore their curiosities, inspirations, and passions, and build widgets instead.

There’s only one problem with this: it comes at a cost.

How long can we supply the demand for something we don’t care about?  How long can we commit to creating something personally valueless?  How long until the money’s not worth being a robot in the robot factory?

A False Dichotomy

Of course, this is a false dichotomy.

It doesn’t take a human geographer to realize there are other options besides ‘starving artist’ and ‘miserable cog’ when it comes to the life we choose for ourselves.

Just look at how many starving cogs and miserable artists there are in the world…

I kid (sort of…).

So why do we do it?

Simple:

We create this dichotomy, first and foremost, because it’s easier to process the world this way.  The brain can only process so many things at one time, so simplifying things makes the brain happy (we avoid sensory overload).

Second – and much more insidiously – we create this dichotomy to create an out

The Enemy wants to keep us stagnate.  An ‘either / or’ dichotomy with seemingly brutal consequences is the perfect weapon to make this happen.

If the world is a zero sum game, if it’s either win or lose, if it’s either me or him…well, better reason to just stay put, keep our heads down, and blend into the rest of the tribe

Now that we have a good, rational reason to sit still, we are off the hook for not taking action.  We have our out.

The Real Creator’s Dilemma

But of course this out isn’t really an out.

It’s submitting for comfort and safety (or so we think…).

The real dilemma isn’t: do I do what I love, or do I do what makes me money?

This dichotomy doesn’t exist – it never did.

The real dilemma is: do we acquiesce to a life and lifestyle undesired because it’s comfortable and safe?

Or…

Or do we take the uncomfortable, uncertain, and difficult path…the one we know won’t be easy, clear, or guranteed…the one fraught with hardship, setbacks and failure…

Because we know it will be worth it?

Take it. It’s yours.

You can do important work and make money from it.

It’s possible, I promise you this.

I meet new people doing it every day.

More importantly, they’re doing it their way:  they’re picking the route, choosing their packing list, and drawing the map as they go along.  No, it’s not easy – but it was never supposed to be.

The same reality can be yours.

It’s waiting for you, just beyond that beach…

The question is: will you take it?

Start, finished, and shipped in Cape Town, S. Africa (after hanging out with penguins!)

Total writing time: 5:30 hrs

p.s. interested in taking the beach, but rather do it with an army?  I’m putting together an elite group of people for a new project…one I’m not sure will work.  If you’re interested in finding out more about it, join The Resistance: COMMAND Group today.

Note: this is an exclusive group, different than The Resistance Broadcast.  Only passionate entrepreneurs and artists commited to collaboration and excellence need apply.

I wanted to take a moment today to offer some more free content to help out all the creative entrepreneurs and instigators out there…

But before I get to the free stuff (okay, you can just scroll down and grab the stuff if you really want…), I want to talk about why the articles you read, the people you hang out with, and the media you consume consistently, directly shapes your life…

For better or for worse.

In 5th Grade, I knew exactly what I wanted.

It was Fall of 1997, and my oldest brother was finishing up applications to a couple colleges.

I didn’t know much about them, except that they were military schools.  I knew even less what that meant, but I was curious (like a cat).

When my brother was invited to spend a couple days at West Point, NY, I knew I wanted to tag along.

So my oldest brother, my dad and I took a plane (my first plane ride ever) to New York.

I spent a couple days walking around the most bizarre place I’d ever been to in my life: everyone dressed up like they were in a perpetual state of groundhogs day from 1850; students were always in a hurry, running from barracks room to classroom to everywhere in between (and they’d get yelled at if they weren’t doing it fast enough); and after classes, they’d have to walk in formations with their rifles for hours, or play some kind of sport (intramural or core/club squad sports were mandatory for all cadets).

I was hooked.

I wanted in.

And so it happened that a rotund 11 year old set his sights on gaining acceptance into the United States Military Academy at West Point.

7 years later, I got accepted.

In the second semester of my freshmen year at college, I took boxing.

All freshmen had to – it was mandatory.

While most people took it as a haze, I loved it.

There was something about the adrenaline I got from entering the ring, the surge of excitement I got from standing toe to toe with a competitor with nothing but my fists to protect me, and the raw intensity of dishing out (and receiving) a beating…I couldn’t shake it.  I had to get better; I had to keep fighting; I had to make the team.

So a scrawny 21 year old set his sights on competing for a spot on a nationally ranked boxing team.

A year later, I made the team.

When I deployed to Iraq, I didn’t know what to expect.

As a logistics guy, I figured I’d do some “Fobbit” job (forward operating base + hobbit…get it?).

Maybe I’d coordinate some transportation movements.  I’d probably do a lot of paperwork.  I’m sure there would be some danger, but mostly I’d be safe.

At the end of the day, I figured it would be a really long, hot, boring experience.

When I got on ground, our Battalion was responsible for not only the logistics of the Brigade, but making sure those supplies got where they needed to go safely.  This meant securing the convoys that went out every night.

I immediately volunteered to stand up a convoy security platoon.

Over a hundred missions later, a couple close calls, and getting called a “cowboy” more than once, my gun truck platoon of cooks, drivers and warehouse workers returned home without a single combat related casualty (for the record, I think this had more to do with luck / Divine Providence / the Soldiers I worked with than my own skills).

The Reality behind the Stories…

I bring each of these stories up not to gloat, but to point out the reality that’s lost when we tell stories.

In each case, succeeding was never easy.

I spent years hustling academics, sports and extracurricular leadership activities to get into the Academy (not to mention another 4 years hustling to survive and graduate the Academy on time).  I got my ass kicked dozens of times preparing to compete for a spot on the boxing team (and hundreds more keeping that position).  Every single night we rode outside the wire, my brain was focused on what would happen if one (or many) of my vehicles got hit by IEDs, and how I would respond.  Sometimes, the anxiety got pretty bad.

This is the reality of victory.  It’s also the reality of failure.  And it’s most certainly the reality of life.

Life is hard.

We all experience our fair share of bruises, setbacks and failures.

The question isn’t: how do we avoid these trials and tribulations – how do we avoid the pain?  That’s foolish and naïve (not to mention impossible).

The question is: how do we overcome the struggles we will inevitably face?  How do we push through fear, pain and uncertainty?  How do we conquer our wolf?

But most importantly, how do we do all of these things in order to create and live the life we want to live.

2 Techniques for Goal Setting and Achieving

There are 2 techniques I personally used (and continue to use) that helped me get through the darkest, most painful parts of my life.

They may or may not apply to you, but for what it’s worth, here they are:

1) Unreasonable commitment.

When I set a goal, I etch it into my brain (a lot like Edmond Dantes etched words of encouragement into his cell wall).  There is no other option than achieving what I set out to achieve (or die trying).

No, this is not always pleasant.  Yes, sometimes I commit to the wrong things and regret the decision.

Inevitably, however, I make it to the end (bruised and battered, maybe, but still standing).

It’s not a technique for everyone, but if you must achieve something, I highly recommend it…

2) Immersion into the goal.

This is essentially an extension of the first technique, but it’s so important it deserves individual attention.

The person who sets a goal but doesn’t change his behavior is done before he starts.

Setting a goal, by its nature, REQUIRES change.  And it requires the right sort of change if we hope to find success.  But to create the right kind of change, we need to immerse ourselves into the subject/topic/activity we hope to achieve success in.

Just like the fastest way to learn a new language is through immersion into the environment and culture of the language you want to learn, the fastest way to achieve a goal is through immersing yourself into the goal itself.

I immersed myself in the application process for West Point by reading books, strategically creating my resume, and learning from cadets who had recently been accepted.  I immersed myself in the boxing world by jump-roping every morning, hitting the heavy-bag every night, and by watching “Gladiator” way too many times.  When I became the Battalion’s Convoy Security Platoon Leader, I immersed myself in small unit tactics, mobilized and dismounted infantry strategies, and enemy techniques.

At the end of the day, immersion, more than anything else, helped me achieve my goals by forcing me to live and act as the person I hoped to become.

Immersing Yourself in Success

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” [James Allen]

If you’re hoping to find success in any endeavor, the right mindset will be your greatest ally.

Conversely, the wrong mindset will be your greatest enemy.

Changing your mindset takes unreasonable commitment and immersion into the philosophy you want to live.

Which is why it’s essential you:

  1. Surround yourself with people that inspire you and make you better
  2. Constantly feed your brain the knowledge you want to become

For the former: this isn’t something I can help you with directly.  You decide the people you let into (and keep out of) your life.  If you’re not sure who to keep in your life and who to avoid, my best advice: examine their character.

As for the latter, well, that’s the point of this blog, my books and my podcast: to immerse you in a mindset that could change your life for the better.

A Tool to Help Immerse You

A few weeks ago someone expressed interest in having other ways to consume the material I create, in particular, by recording audio versions of my articles.  I

figured I’d give it a shot, so here it is.

Life Improving Audio for Your BrainBelow (or by clicking the image to the left) you’ll find my first ever Resistance Broadcast Audio Session’s CD.  I took 8 of my favorite articles and recorded them into high quality MP3’s you can listen to on your phone, MP3 player, computer, or burn to disk and listen to them in your car or on your boombox at the beach.


Grab Your Copy of The Resistance Broadcast Audio Session CD 1 Today By Clicking Here

 


What’s the point of it all?

Simple: to provide you an additional resource to immerse yourself into the right mindset to fight and win your inner creative battles and create your life’s work.

Will this single CD change your life?

I guess that’s always a possibility, but I doubt it – doing something once rarely changes everything…

But could listening to this CD (and others like it) more than once, reading this blog (and others like it) consistently, and earnestly putting into practice the philosophy you learn in this material change your life?

Without a doubt.

So I hope you enjoy today’s article and I sincerely hope The Resistance Broadcast Audio Session CD 1 inspires you to keep going, even when things get difficult.

And things will get difficult…

Good luck and keep fighting.

p.s. the CD is free, so you can’t lose :)


If you enjoyed today’s article, spread the word by sharing this article with someone you know.   Thanks so much in advance.

If you’re new here, join the growing army of the Resistance today and immerse yourself in content that could change your life:


*Photo credit: mconnors from morguefile.com

Qualifying

In the Army, soldiers have to zero and qualify with their weapon every six months.

This is a requirement for everyone, regardless of rank or position.

From cooks to pilots, Privates to Captains – everyone qualifies.

Qualifying with a weapon means hitting a certain number of targets from set distances with a certain number of rounds.

The point of qualifying is to validate that you know how to use your weapon and you can use it effectively.

To qualify with the M4, the Army’s standard issue rifle, soldiers are required to hit a minimum of 23 targets (with only 40 rounds of ammo), from 50 to 300 meters out.

To be honest, this isn’t a very difficult number to hit; even the weakest marksman can usually hit in the high 20’s…

If their weapon is zeroed…

Zeroing

Zeroing is the process of confirming your weapon will hit what you aim at.

The general practice for zeroing an M4 involves a process of shooting 3 rounds at a time to judge accuracy (rounds hit where you aim) and “shot group” (i.e. all the rounds hit close to the same area consistently).

A good zero means you’ve got an accurate site picture and a tight shot group.

Sometimes, zeroing a new rifle with a new shooter can take upwards of 50 or 60 rounds.  But once the weapon is zeroed to the shooter, it’s possible to zero in six rounds (two tight shot groups of three to confirm your site picture).

You’d think a weapon would come zeroed – that it would automatically hit what you aim at – but that’s not the case.  Every weapon is a bit different and you almost always have to adjust the sites if you want to hit your target (when you’re aiming at a target from 300 meters away, the room for error decreases significantly).

There are a multitude of reasons for this, but it ultimately comes down to your build, how you line up the shot, and how you’ve set your sites.

Since every person is slightly different, every person needs to zero their weapon before they qualify.

Qualifying an Idea

I’m guessing you can see where I’m going with this analogy…

Zeroing and qualifying applies to more than just rifles.

In the business world, if we hope to qualify an idea, we’d better have our sites adjusted and zeroed.  Just as it would be impossible to believe someone could qualify if they’ve never zeroed, it’s impossible to think someone could hit the bull’s-eye with their business plan in one attempt.

Yet people try to make this happen, over, and over, and over again.

Instead of taking the time to zero, people go for bull’s-eye on their first attempt.

Inevitably, they fail.

More often than not, they quit.

These aren’t talentless people.  They aren’t passionless or ignorant or unqualified.  On the contrary, many of them have years of experience in their sector, some have advanced degrees, and others have even started successful companies before.

But when they get a new idea, they skip the time consuming process of zeroing their idea – who is this product for, what will they pay for it, how do I know they want this, where has this worked before, what are my sales channels, can I do this without going bankrupt, etc. – and they jump right into qualifying – building the product, leasing the space, creating scalable channels, etc.

Their desire is the same desire we all have – we want the win, we want the bull’s-eye, and we want it now.

And therein lies the problem – without taking the time to get a good zero, you’ll never qualify – you’ll never hit the mark.

Missing the Mark

Even the best marksmen in the world zero their weapons before they qualify or compete.

And they do this each and every time.

If you want to be a great entrepreneur (or author, or anything else for that matter), you need to get used to zeroing before you qualify.

This means progressively getting a better site picture and tighter shot group – understanding who you’re writing to, understanding what they want to hear and how they want to hear it, knowing the best way to deliver the most powerful message, etc.

But of course – and here’s the catch – zeroing means failing.

Every round that doesn’t hit its mark is a small failure.  But it’s all for a purpose: with enough failures you can correct your shot group and qualify.

No one brings a single round to zero – that’s foolish.  Even if you hit your mark, you can’t validate your site picture or shot group with one round – it could have been pure luck.  And just because you miss the mark with one round doesn’t mean you’re completely lost or ruined – you could be a small adjustment away from hitting bulls-eye.

The point is this: you don’t know unless you shoot multiple rounds; you don’t know unless you’re willing to fail more than once.

Business and art are the same way.

You can’t expect to zero in one try.  Your ideas need to be progressively validated.  You need to take your time and adjust your sites.  And if something is off, you need to meticulously correct and adjust until it’s on target again.

Sometimes, this requires many, many rounds.

Hitting Your Target

In the conventional business world, your job is to take and execute orders.  Eventually, you’ll be responsible for disseminating orders from above, but at the end of the day, you’ll never have to do too much creative thinking, nor flex your creative brain too much.

Your job is to not fail at taking and executing orders.

On the other hand, if you want to live a life dictated by you and you alone, you need to get used to failing.

Entrepreneurship, art, writing…these things require the creator to fail before he succeeds.  It takes time to adjust a site picture and tighten a shot group.  It takes a lot of failure to finally find success.

Connecting the dots is never easy.  Putting something together from scratch is difficult.  Succeeding is, well, rare.

But if you’re the kind of person who gets restless building someone else’s empire, or living on someone else’s terms, then you’ve got to get comfortable missing the mark.

Remember, trying to hit bull’s-eye on your first try is insane without a good zero.

Focus on your shot group and site picture.  Focus on consistent, small improvement.  Focus on failing closer and closer to your mark.

Failure is inevitable during this process, but stick with it long enough and you’ll discover something incredible:

Winning is also inevitable.

 

Because at the end of the day, you’ll get your good zero.

And if you can get your good zero, you will hit your target.


Photo credit: earl53 from morguefile.com

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