Home Stoic Manliness 23 LESSONS I LEARNED IN 2017





Setting goals without review is useless.

Earlier this year I stumbled upon an old journal. I’d spent most of the year a little down about where business was, and a few other things, things that I thought I’d be further ahead with (almost exclusively in some way tied to work).

The journal entry was written in December, a few years back, and it laid out what I wanted to have and the business I wanted to have within a couple years time.

For the lifestyle stuff, I wanted a house with a porch and a porch swing (I now live in such a house, bought it a few years ago), a dogo argentino dog (my pup, Teddy, is a dogo argentino), a nice truck (got it), and a lovely lady (accomplished that, too).

From a business standpoint I wanted to get the business to a certain revenue goal (there), have a book published (I’m on the final edit of one of two books coming out this year), and a business that allowed me to travel whenever I wanted (since this journal entry I’ve spent a few months in Italy and South America respectively, while earning more than I spent and coming back with enough money to buy the house I’m now in).

The point is that our expectations necessarily evolve. I’m insanely unsatisfied with where I’m at now from a business standpoint, and that’s good, it forces me to start a supplement company and publish a book within a 5-month span, if I was satisfied I may become complacent and neither of those things would be achieved.

However, we have to review the goals we’ve set so we can see how far we’ve come.

I may be unsatisfied with where I am, and that may help push me to do and try new things and to work harder, but I also appreciate where I am and what I have and who I’m with, and I can see that I can accomplish what I set out to do.

That last point is a big one. I’ve seen evidence that I can accomplish what I set out to do. So, I’ll aim higher and work harder with evidence as my foundation rather than dreams and wishes.

So, review. Write goals and dreams, but never throw away a journal. Never toss out a notebook. Keep them forever and review them monthly so as to see that you’re improving, but also to see how your thinking has evolved.

Now, the lessons I’ve learned in 2017, a practice in review.


What got you here won’t get you there.

I got to a certain point in business by doing things a certain way. Those things, however, won’t get me to the next level, or the company to where I want it to be. To improve you have to get uncomfortable, you have to try new things and test and try new things again.

It’s the same with life, to evolve you need to get uncomfortable, you need to have your reach exceed your grasp.

The dump and chase model works for me, but it doesn’t, in any way, reduce stress.

I did this early on in business, then got away from it, now I’m returning to it. That is, to commit to something, to actually do something before you’re ready to do it. The supplement company is an easy example. After doing research for a program called the Testosterone Routine, I found myself supplementing heavily. I was taking way too many pills, so I decided to solve my own problem of trying to fill gaps in my own nutrition, by making my own supplement.

About a month later I shipped my first bottle, and for a month all I did was research and test different companies and formulas to create what I wanted in a men’s multi. I bought the domain, paid the shipping company, signed contracts, got my graphics guy to do the bottle cover all before I was really ready to embark on such a thing.

It worked for my first Italy trip. I booked it because I said I’d book it. I couldn’t afford it, I had to go in debt to pay for the damn flight, but I gave myself a couple months to somehow hustle and earn enough to get there, pay off the card, and then figure out how to earn enough to last the entire 3 months. I ended up earning more in a month than I’d earned the previous year while there.

Dump (set a big goal, or commit to something big), then chase (make it happen).

You have to think bigger and beyond the industry you’re in.

It seems cliche, even blatantly obvious, but I stopped thinking bigger for a while. I slid into the rut of doing what I’d done for a few months. You have to snap out of this mode, where you routinely attempt to do mediocre things. I was deep in that mode. I had to both step back and disengage to see how I was behaving, but hiring a coach and joining a mastermind group also helped.

Cutting costs while also growing revenue.

I have a tendency to think purely about revenue. I want to grow the business and two ways to measure that growth is by how many guys sign up for something like the Tribe, and how much revenue increases, but in this chase for growth, you can’t lose sight of costs. I learned that lesson after reading TITAN, the biography of John D. Rockefeller. No matter how wealthy he becomes he never lost sight of costs and it’s a big reason why his company was able to reach such incredible heights.

Invest in a coach.

If for anything else than accountability. When you hire a coach or join a mastermind group you become accountable to someone you’re paying, but also someone who’s doing what you want to do, and a group of other people who are watching you, holding you to your word. I invested in two last year. Both made this year a creation year in a big way. Both pushed for the book and the Tribe newsletter. Both pushed me to do what I wasn’t yet ready or comfortable to do.


The guys who get the Average 2 Alpha Tribe Newsletter in the mail every month didn’t sign up for that newsletter. It’s a bonus. Something I started, wrote, and sent at no extra cost. Every time I’ve over-delivered I’ve won lifelong customers. Every time I’ve under-delivered I’ve lost people. Simple. No matter the business, always over-deliver on what you’re providing. Forget about the price tag and put everything you have into it.

You have to be ruthless with your time. Say NO.

Work time is work time. Play time, play time. Have your work time scheduled and planned and make distractions impossible. Put your phone at the other end of the room, or better yet, in a different room altogether. Start saying no way more often. If it doesn’t align with your plan, say no, or schedule the interview or whatever for your interview day. Don’t take calls when it’s work time, just work.

Set reward goals, sure, but focus more on the things you have to accomplish to achieve the numbers.

So have your annual revenue goal or your savings goal or your investment goal, that’s the direction you’re pointing yourself in, then focus more on the vehicles that will get you there (the work, the project you have to complete to create that reward goal).

Focus only on the projects you have to complete, and on nothing but accomplishing them by their deadline.

Surround yourself with people who are better than you at what you do.

See how guys who are better than you at what you do (for now)  schedule their time, what goals they set, what projects they pursue. Learn from them. They’ve tried and failed and tested and succeeded. You don’t have to go through the same failure, you can take what works for them and see if it works for you. You can act like the winner before the victory is yours.


More than half of the battle of building wealth is turning your back on how most people thing.

There’s wealth and there’s owning things. You can do both, but most wealthy people choose wealth over things. Our society chases things. They get weighed down and stressed out by what they own to the point that it ends up owning them. Buy what you need, even buy what may bring you long term joy, but don’t fall into the trap of buying things just for the sake of buying things.

If you get newsletters from online stores, or newsletters in the mail, cancel them. Unless they’re books, you do not need what they’re selling.

Automate everything.

Invest money without knowing that you’re investing money. Put money away without having to actually go to the bank or sign in online and move it. There will be months where you don’t move it. Automate it.

Set a budget.

My parents are incredible – namely my mom – at living beneath their means. It’s enabled them to pay off their house in 10 years and live a free life, when most people – even their friends – who earned a lot more than them are riddled with debt and stress.

When you read a book like Proverbs, or any book by any of the Stoics – Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, Cato – you end up wanting to be frugal, to not be held back by the wantings of the masses. Seneca was a wealthy businessman, yet he walked the streets in rags. To have wealth, and to be poor in possessions is akin to being strong and powerful, yet kind. Setting a budget draws lines like the 12 virtues course draws lines with your virtues. You can buy something or you can’t, simple, there is no decision-making process when you have a good budget laid out.

Aim higher, and then aim higher again.

Set your sights high they say. Set big goals, aim for the stars, and we do in our dreams but do we in our daily lives? More often than not, no. We set goals without any real dedication to achieving them. We limit ourselves by thinking like everyone else thinks. After years of setting safe goals, it becomes difficult to aim high, really high, as in, 10xing your aspirations, and then going beyond that.

But we have to. To realize what we can accomplish we have to aim higher than we can safely achieve. To realize why we’re here, we have to go beyond what we’ve aimed at achieving up to this point. This takes time and a lot of thinking. It takes study and trial and time away from work to understand the grand pursuit we should aspire to achieve.


Good relationships take work, and that’s a good thing. We obviously just want to do what we want to do, but that’s not life.

This idea that life should be easy comes up again and again when you talk to people about what they want in life. But here’s what’s good, and here’s what we want. A good, strong, passionate relationship takes work. If it didn’t take work, it wouldn’t be forcing you to grow and evolve. Ease is death, even in relationships. If something’s too easy, it isn’t asking enough of you.

Be decisive and assertive.

You can practice being decisive and assertive in your business, but also in your relationships. Your lady wants a leader, someone she can feel confident in and proud of. Being like so many, wandering aimlessly, not really knowing what you want will not only hurt you in life, but it’ll hurt the relationship. Know what you want and go get it.

Be transparent.

I’m not a fan of the term ‘vulnerable’, it’s not a masculine trait and when men try to be vulnerable it’s not true, it weakens them. Transparency, however, is honest, it’s true. Say what’s on your mind, give her the transparency she needs and you need to have a good, honest, true and open relationship.

The right lady pushes you to become better, to aim higher, and to live to a higher standard. The wrong lady brings you down, holds you back.

I didn’t realize this until I started going out with Jessy. The motivation not just for work, but becoming a better man, has never been higher. To top that, she’s there pushing me, asking more of me than I have asked of myself – even if she doesn’t know it. A bad relationship is one where the lady takes, she constantly focuses on insignificant things and wants you to cater to her, not to be the best damn version of yourself that you can be. There’s a huge difference. If you’re in a relationship where you’re regressing as a man, think about getting out of it or putting your foot down and changing its trajectory.


If we don’t have rules for life, we’ll inevitably fall into a rut.

The next issue of the Tribe Magazine is going to be dedicated to the 12 rules for life. This isn’t about virtues, but legit rules I follow, and I think other guys may benefit from following. Rules force ambition, grand thinking and daring action. They force us to become better men and live as great men every day. Without rules we wander, we go outside of the path we want to be on, we deviate. Rules sound restrictive, but they aren’t, they liberate us to live at a higher standard.

You are your habits, what you repeatedly do. Success is who you are every day, not how you act in a grand moment of triumph.

We think we’ll rise to the occasion, but it’s rarely the case. If we want to live a great life, forget about the moment, the big idea we’ll eventually have, the big action we’ll eventually take, and focus instead on our habits. How focused are you? How distracted are you? Every year I learn this lesson. As my habits improve, I improve, business improves, life improves, everything gets better.

Have models, guys who’ve accomplished what you want to accomplish, or beyond, and copy them.

Knowing what to do or even what to aim to do isn’t always easy. Thankfully, history is filled with men who’ve done great things, as is our current culture. Find someone who’s done something great, maybe even something that you want to do, and copy them. You’ll do it in your own way and you’ll make your own decisions, but having a blueprint is far more effective than trying to wing it.

Aim high, then simplify.

Again, set audacious goals, truly audacious goals, then simplify down to both the daily habits these goals demand you have, and the projects you need to complete to reach these goals. We love the grand dream, but it’s the smaller project, the less exciting work, that will make the dream a reality. Focus on the steps that you can control and not the reward.

There’s no reason to be busy, nor any reason to rush.

When you have a good plan there’s no reason to rush. None. Planning provides clarity about what you should be doing in a given moment. When you know what you should do in a moment, there’s no need to worry about what you need to do in the next, or what should have been done previously. There’s never a valid reason to rush, ever. Plan, and then execute. The more I do this, the more I win. The less I do this, the more busy my life gets and the less I accomplish.


I need a crutch.


I spent the majority of the year not working on my faith at all. Mistake.

Throughout my entire life I’ve been great at dealing with stress and pressure and ‘dumping and chasing’. I’ve set sights high, focused on the process and let God deal with what happens, allowing faith to enable me to forget about the unknown and not worry about the future.

As I’ve stopped working on my faith, that calmness has wavered. That confidence has wavered. So, this past month I re-opened my Bible and started reading. I won’t have to learn this lesson again. The more ambitious you are, the more you take on your shoulders, the stronger you are – or at least I am – with faith. And intending to tackle more and aim higher yet again, faith will not take a backseat.


The idea is to learn them once.

Hopefully this list won’t be the same next year. For now, I’ll sit and review and plan ahead.

What lessons did you learn in 2017?


  1. Great retrospective…especially loved the parts on cutting costs, as it was a HUGE part out of my getting completely out of debt last year so that I could really start to build wealth this year….saying no…..being specific with goals….finding mentors….automation/budgeting…..the RIGHT woman….faith….and having rules to live by…..great job, sir…..


  2. And on the section regarding turning your back on how other people think….I still remember the week this past year when I moved into a net worth of 7 figures, shortly after paying off my final debt….I got out of my 2006 F-150 (170,000 miles) with my raggedy work boots and the dude in the parking lot next to me in his 700 series BMW gave me an obvious look of disdain. As I walked around the back of his car, I could hear him arguing with his cable provider, trying to keep his service connected….I actually felt bad for him, despite his looking down his nose at me…..


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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.

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