The culmination of your life if it were written in a novel can read like an epic. It can be filled with adventure and daring, with close calls, with death and failure and danger. On a daily or weekly and monthly level, however, in the immediate, it must be simple.
The stories of great men are usually of the Cliff Notes variety. They highlight the great and, out of necessity, gloss over the monotonous. You get a glimpse of it in the great biographies. In The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt you read about his weakness and his obsessive work ethic and motion. You see the result in his book output and his travel output and a list of things he did in his life, and if you’re a thinking man you’ll understand that, in comparison to what you do on a daily basis and what you’ve accomplished at whatever age you are compared to Mr. Roosevelt at that same age that he had to be an incredible worker.
In The Rise and Fall of Napoleon Bonaparte you get a glimpse into his obsessive need for knowledge. You read about him avoiding drinking and partying, hating those who partook because, in his eyes, they were wasting opportunity and wasting opportunity was sinful, not necessarily in a religious sense from his point either, but evil nonetheless.
When you read about the Greatest Generation, or even think about what they did, the mass call to service both militarily and otherwise, you see the deed, what you don’t see – unless you talk to your grandfather or great grandfather, is the simplicity of their lives.
They were responsible for their fate, their current predicament, and oftentimes even anything bad that happened to them.
They sought ownership of everything in their lives and as a result they lived great lives.
I’m writing this with a BOSE speaker blaring Jamey Johnson to my front left on a lawn chair on my porch with a cigar on the ashtray to the right of it and a glass of scotch nestled next to my right hand. My phone is to my left. My internet is on and it shouldn’t be. I have a long list of things I wanted to do and haven’t yet done and it’s already 6pm. My life needs more simplicity.
Wake up. Work hard. Read. Pray. Play. Go to bed.
When you constantly look to blame others for anything and everything (others can be your folks, your competition, your government) and you fail to take responsibility for everything, your life cannot be simple. You’re always looking for a reason.
The clearest, most beneficial path to a productive life is self-responsibility, self-reliance, and as Jocko Willink and Leif Babin coined, extreme ownership.
There are a lot of bold statements in this book, there has to be. Life isn’t a series of grey. Grey isn’t clear, it’s murky, it’s open to interpretation. Life can’t be. There is right and there is wrong (read Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot to see the true, deep, and necessary aspects of a clearly defined moral code). The most bold and true statement I will make is that you cannot call yourself a man if you’re blaming others for anything.
Men take responsibility. Period.
They do not search for others to blame even if logic would dictate that blame justified. If they get robbed and beaten in their own home they accept responsibility for not better protecting their nest. If they get fired they take responsibility for not being un-firable. If their wives cheat on them they find the bastard they cheated on him with, beat him to a pulp, divorce the lady, and then accept responsibility for choosing the wrong lady or not being a good enough husband so as to make cheating unthinkable.
Men don’t think in terms of things being done to them. Things happen. Somewhere within the event they find fault in their own actions or thoughts or intentions.
They find fault in themselves. It’s only fault within one’s self that can be altered, controlled, or solved. (Read This: Own Your Emotions)
You cannot solve fault in another. You cannot solve fault in a system unless you’re willing to fix that system!
What’s crazy about men is that when they win, when they find that place on the top of the mountain, they do two things:
1. They tell everyone that it wasn’t them, that there were many others who helped them get there. They act with humility. They don’t take responsibility for their victory, only their defeat.
2. From the top, they reach their hand down and bring others up with them.
This goes completely against everything in our culture where we’re supposed to praise ourselves, where we’re special, the center of our own universe.
It isn’t easy to be a man. That’s why so few can call themselves such a thing.
I’m obviously a work in progress, a fella whose initial response, thought, or action isn’t always the best one. I’m a guy who needs to catch myself all-too-often thinking the wrong things and doing the wrong things, but I’m catching myself.
Manliness isn’t a birthright. It isn’t bestowed upon you. It’s a battle waged in the open and in the closed confines of your own mind and soul.
About The Author
Chad Howse: Chad’s mission is to get you in the arena, ‘marred by the dust and sweat and blood’, to help you set and achieve audacious goals in the face of fear, and not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.