The Q’s Daily Decision To Accelerate His Fitness Fellowship And Faith
A man needs help to Get Right
The boats of some men have been so long capsized that they have gradually surrendered to a life of being swept downstream by circumstance. Having lost the ability to make headway, they become fully focused on mere survival. We call these men Sad Clowns and their affliction Sad Clown Syndrome .
The symptoms of Sad Clown Syndrome are subtle, so the malady can be difficult to diagnose. The Sad Clown may not be chronically obese—but he is not physical fit, lacking in strength, speed, stamina and toughness. He may not be alone—but he is lonely, living bereft of meaningful male friendships. He may not be unemployed—but he lacks true purpose, having no clear vision or direction governing the things he does or fails to do. The Sad Clown may seem happy on the outside—but that is only what he seems to be, not what he is.
Focused on mere survival, the Sad Clown zombie-shuffles through the motions of his life governed by his perception of what is expected of him from the world rather than in the manner for which he was created. Having no sense of purpose other than existential continuity, he squanders his days and energy trying to seem like a man rather than be one. This makes him a Mascot , aspiring for little more than the clearance of his last check in the final fearful moments before greeting what awaits him in the Super Unknown .
Although uncomfortably numbed to his condition, a Mascot may be aware enough to make periodic attempts to invigorate himself. He (if he can fit into his shorts) goes to the gym for a week or so every January. He (if he can fit it into his work) tries to make that yearly golf trip with his college buddies. He (if he can fit it into his schedule) makes a few appearances at the family dinner table. But these tepid attempts to self-invigorate his life never seem to bear lasting fruit. They always lead him back by the end of every year to the exact place he started—only now, one year closer to death.
Going it alone, the Mascot is doomed to fail because no man can disengage the death grip he holds on his own status quo. Absent a Disrupter, a man willing and able to create a disturbance in his enervated life, he will remain just as he is, clinging to the capsized boat of his life and incapable of initiating the Movement required to Get Right.
A man must turn pro to Get Right
The first disturbance the Disrupter makes in the life of the Mascot is to elicit Commitment . To Get Right, the Mascot has to commit to actual Movement, not just its appearance. To obtain proper personal alignment, he must stop seeking to seem and determine to be. He must decide to turn Pro rather than continue life as an Amateur .
The superficially-committed Mascot is an Amateur. To him, what truly matters is only that he make periodic resolutions and look like he is trying to fulfill them. Then, when the circumstances of his life inevitably undo whatever small progress he might have made, he can repeat the process without being completely embarrassed. For that man it is all about the appearance of the process not the substance of the progress.
The fully-committed High Impact Man is a Pro. He views his proper personal alignment as a skill that requires daily practice to first obtain and then continually sharpen. Determined to be rather than merely to seem, a HIM focuses on Preparedness absent any concern of how that appears to the world.
Take golf as an illustration of the contrast between the Amateur and the Pro. A professional golfer goes to the driving range every day to get prepared for what he expects from his next match and to be prepared for what he doesn’t. He practices driving and putting because he plans on doing a lot of both—but he also practices his sand shots and getting out of the rough because he knows that his plan to stay in the fairway will not always succeed. What he’s wearing while he does all that is of very little concern to him.
An amateur golfer spends more time trying to look like a golfer than he does practicing his swing. He might go to the range if he can fit it in, but he usually comes in hot on Saturday morning five minutes before his tee time hoping for good things to happen and reacting emotionally when inevitably they don’t. How could they? He is prepared for neither the fairway nor the rough. He is not actually a golfer—he only seems like one because he’s wearing the right shoes.
A Mascot brings the same Amateur approach to his proper personal alignment. Instead of organizing his time around the daily grind required to work out his imperfections, he just shows up and reacts emotionally to his circumstances. For him Preparedness is something he never seems to be able to fit around his “real” life when in fact the Get Right is his real life.
The HIM is the complete opposite. He is a man who has turned Pro. He knows that proper personal alignment requires the constant honing that can only be done through daily practice. Unlike the Mascot, the HIM’s focus is on Preparedness—not just for the next Event in his life, but for his life in general as well as what awaits him in the Super Unknown.
Until the Mascot turns Pro he will be ruled by the emotional surges that result from his lack of Preparedness for the expected and unexpected Events of his life. He will make the same resolutions every December and break them in the same way every January. Because he is an Amateur he will start each day with the Blue Pill and live a life of seeming rather than being.
Fortunately, no man is too far wrong to Get Right. No matter how long his boat has been capsized he can begin returning it to the normal upright position with one very small Movement—the decision to take the Red Pill instead of the Blue one. He need only determine to begin doing those things necessary today to become a HIM tomorrow. This is the first step on the path to the EQV.
Discretion is a cage with velvet bars
Each morning, we all face the decision whether to take the Red Pill or the Blue Bill. The first is hard-true and the second easy-false. The Red forces a man to hike up the rocky path toward the EQV, while the Blue lets him mosey down the smooth trail to Mascot-life and chronic Sad Clown Syndrome. A man’s first Red Pill is tough to swallow because it causes Disruption to the status quo in the form of Movement. And it doesn’t get easier. The second, third or thousandth Red Pill is just as tough to swallow because that initial Movement gives birth to Acceleration which leads to Momentum and Momentum takes work to sustain.
Whether it’s his Fitness, Fellowship or Faith, the rocky path to the EQV keeps getting steeper the higher the HIM gets on it. As he becomes more fit, every Workout finds him pushing a little bit harder and faster to improve. As his relationships deepen, he grows into the increasing weight of people’s reliance upon his strength. As his understanding of the Super Unknown becomes clearer, he dives more deeply into his relationship with the SkyQ. The HIM knows that there are no plateaus in the pursuit of proper personal alignment. Every day he is either getting more Right or less.
The HIM depends upon his Guardrails to continue Accelerating. The faster his Movement, the stronger they need to be. To get ready for the expected and be ready for the unexpected, the HIM gradually improves his Guardrails by forming Routines that allow for increasing action with decreasing thought. Because it is comprised of habits, a Routine does not require an active choice to perform. Over time, it becomes ingrained into the HIM’s daily rhythm such that it would require his active choice not to perform.
The HIM forms his Routines through the process of Bricklaying. Each individual Brick is a single positive habit that is light enough for him to carry and lay into his Guardrail. Once set, it provides a place to lay the next Brick. Because it is set, the HIM has effectively deprived himself of the discretion to remove it. This enables him to focus his full energy on performing his Routine because he doesn’t have to waste energy thinking about it. Like a soldier, he is freed to action through deprivation of discretion.
While discretion may be the freedom to decide what to do in a given situation, for a man without Guardrails discretion is a cage with velvet bars—it will lead him to take the Blue Pill. Through military training, the soldier learns that there is nothing liberating in having to decide what to do in every situation. True freedom is the pre-determined what that allows full focus on the how.
The stronger the Guardrails, the faster you can drive.