M (Q1.5)

The Transformative Relationship Between A Man And A Woman

Accelerating Fellowship Requires Dynamic Equilibrium

A HIM who has gotten his relationship with himself Right naturally begins to Accelerate his Fellowship, his healthy relationships with those in Proximity.

While Fitness is largely an inward-seeking endeavor, Fellowship is primarily outward-seeking. It is the sum total of a man’s relationships with his family, friends and Community, the people he will most directly IMPACT during his life. Keeping those relationships Accelerating throughout his lifetime takes as much daily discipline and attention as it does to maintain his weight and waistline. In fact, Accelerating Fellowship requires even more skillful effort from the Q because it necessitates collaboration with other people. Other people with minds, attitudes and objectives of their own.

The Q treats this skillful effort as a deliberate practice that he applies and seeks to improve upon each day of his life. To do so, he must first reject the Oprah Bomb of “work-life balance” as the cultural bromide that it is. While the Q must work to provide for his family, his work is not wholly counter-balanced by the sum total of his other relationships—it is far less important than that. Moreover, the Q knows that no man can put into a state of balance that which is largely outside of his control. Unlike static matter, relationships are dynamic and ever-changing. Only inert things, things that never change, can be measured through the use of a scale.

The M is the HIM’s most important relationship

The HIM rejects the imagery of weight and balance in favor of a vision of his his Fellowship as an array of concentric rings—like an archery target—which we call the Concentrica .

On his back the HIM carries a quiver of arrows that represent the finite time and energy he has been given in his life by the higher power that is outside of his control. Just as with the days of his life, he has no idea how many arrows he has been provided, so he shoots each as if it were his last, aiming at the center of his Concentrica in order to have the most IMPACT and avoid committing relationship malpractice.

At the bullseye of the Q’s Concentrica is his M, his relationship with his wife, the one upon which all of his other relationships are founded. The M is the Q’s transformative relationship because through it he becomes something new—legally, practically and spiritually. Before marriage, a man is an “I”, but afterwards he is an “Us”. The Q aims most of his arrows at the M because if that fails, the rest of his relationships will fail as well.

King Solomon had the means and opportunity to test every single thing in his known world to discover the meaning of life. After a lifetime of experimentation, this was his conclusion: enjoy life with you wife, whom you love. The works of Solomon were mighty, unprecedented in their time. Yet by the end, he saw his accomplishments as nothing but meaningless toil under the sun. But a man’s wife, the one he loves, that is where Solomon believed a man should focus his energy. It is there that a man finds meaning.

Accelerating the M requires both skill and love

Marriage is not easy—it is not supposed to be. But because he never quits practicing, the HIM ultimately develop the skills he needs to enjoy life with his wife. To avoid committing
relationship malpractice with his wife, the HIM focuses on five points of marital Preparedness:

1.  Maintenance = Deceleration

The M will not prosper if the Q thinks in terms of maintaining its vitality rather than Accelerating it. For the Q:

  • Movement is the action taken in furtherance of purpose
  • Momentum is the sustained Movement that results from Acceleration
  • To Decelerate is to decrease the pace of Movement

With this in mind, the Q knows that he is either Accelerating or Decelerating in all of his endeavors and relationships, particularly with his wife. There is no other in-between state of nature as such as “maintenance”. If you think you are maintaining, you are actually Decelerating because there is no Status Quo . That is the myth of the plateau. Thus, the Q never thinks of maintaining his marriage. He always focuses on Accelerating it.

2.  The Culture is a Jester

The culture purports to embrace marriage, but in truth it is a hinderance to Acceleration. It breaths truthy-sounding lies like my wife is my best friend, and we try every day to meet each other halfway, and we’re pregnant! Why does our culture resort to Oprah Bombs like these when it comes to marriage? Probably because it doesn’t believe that anything so difficult can possibly be so good. The Q knows the inverse to be true. Virtue takes work—it is the un-virtuous act that comes easily and “naturally”.

3.  There is no Fifty Yard Line

Halfway is not good enough when it comes to the M. It is not a football game where husband and wife meet at the fifty yard line for the coin flip. The Q must drive the ball the full length of the field and stay in his wife’s red zone, regardless of whether she even breaks the huddle. To the Sad Clown focused on balance and fairness, this seems unfair and out-of-balance. Perhaps, but that’s what Acceleration requires when it comes to the M.

4.  Your Wife is not Your Best Friend.

She is made for a much higher purpose. There is a pedestal in the life of the Q that is set out for his wife and there is no room on it for his best buddy (that relationship is actually two more rings out on the Q’s Concentrica). Nor is a marriage a joint-venture within which man and wife have equal and identical roles.

Husband and wife become parents, but it is only the mother who is pregnant. The lives of both husband and wife are changed by parenthood, but it is only the mother whose body is rearranged from the inside out, and only she who spends nine months in a state of complete vulnerability—during which the Q is to be her stalwart and constant protector. The Q does not let the culture confuse him. He knows his role, and it is nowhere nearly as important as hers.

5.  Joy Trumps Happiness

The culture often uses Joy and Happiness interchangeably, but they are actually very different things. Happiness is a mere transitory positive feeling governed by fleeting external circumstance. Happiness is a full belly—it goes away when you get hungry again.

In contrast, Joy is not ephemeral. It is a permanent state of deep contentment that is unaffected by quotidian happenstance. Joy cares not whether a man’s belly is full or empty. It requires a long view, well past the toils and triumphs of any given day. The Q is a Joyful man under any and all circumstances because his vision is cast at a point well beyond the day before him. His focus is on the end and beyond.

What do Joy and Happiness have to do with marriage? Simple, a healthy and vital M is a lifetime pursuit. Anything designed to last a lifetime needs the pure fuel of Joy to grow and prosper. The short term warm and fuzzies of Happiness won’t do the trick. Happy-focused men give up on their marriages when the going is rocky, while the Joy-focused Q views those same rough spots as the precise time to double-down on his Commitment.

Anybody can stay married on a full belly. But it is within the crucible of hunger where the true bond between man and wife is formed.

Marriage is a Team, not a Community. It requires Proximity and purpose to succeed. It transforms a man from a selfish Happiness-junkie into a selfless Joy-seeker. The Q knows if he fails at his M, nothing else he does will matter.

JESTER (Q1.4)

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The Temptation Of The Flesh That Hinders Acceleration

Every man has his own personal Jester

The Jester is the temptation of the flesh that hinders Acceleration. It is that one stumbling block (amongst the many available) that a man finds himself tripping over repeatedly before he turns Pro. No matter how strong his Routines are that support his King and Queen, if he fails to Prepare for his Jester he will not be able to Get Right. Unimpeded, the Jester will undo his hard work and destroy his proper personal alignment.

In fact, not only will an Accelerating King not protect a man from his Jester, his very satisfaction with his physical fitness might be his Jester—in the form of pride. Instead of using his King as a Guardrail that allows him to Accelerate, he sees it as something that makes him better than other less-fit men; a marker of his superiority. In this way, pride is king of all Jesters because it surreptitiously perverts something positive and necessary into something destructive. It is insidious.

Although pride is the insidious king of the Jesters, the other are ultimately just as destructive. Whether it be gambling, alcohol abuse, pornography, laziness, anxiety, schadenfreude or (fill in your Jester here), the result is the same for the Amateur. Lacking Preparedness, he is kept out of proper personal alignment by his own personal Jester.

The Jester is a master liar

When he turns Pro, the HIM’s first Brick in his Guardrail of Jester-resistance is to recognize that his Jester is a master liar. This is a matter of logic. Given the wreckage he has wrought in our lives, how else could the Jester draw near and stay close but for his skill in weaving a web of lives.

Luckily for us, while the Jester is a devious liar, he is not that creative. Regardless of the type of temptation, his lies fall into a discernible pattern (and always have) for nothing changes under the sun. Here are the five biggest lies the Jester has told since time began:

1. You Are The Boss Of Me. The Jester is a parasite whose ultimate objective is sovereignty over his host. Because no man will knowingly and willingly cede his freedom, the Jester tells us not to believe our lying eyes as we gradually lose control. “You” the Jester promises “can stop me anytime you want. You just say the word, and I’ll be gone.” The Jester keeps whispering this lie until the day the he need speak it no more.

2. You Are What You Do. We were created for far better things than the dirty life our Jester would have us lead. Those better things are what man calls Virtue , and they are baked into our hearts from inception. When our Jester causes us to stumble, the result won’t square with our hard-wired need for Virtue. We rightly feel that what we have wrongly done is not who we are and seek to avoid doing it again. That is the precise moment that our Jester tells us the second lie: “no, it is not the Virtuous-self that is truly you, it is the stumbling-self. If you are Virtue, then why does stumbling come so easily to you? Why does it feel so natural? Isn’t it more likely that these things you do reflect who you really are? Who you were intended to be?” LIE!! That is a lie! We were not born to stumble, we are led to do so. We are not what we do but what we were intended to be.

3. You Are (relatively) Not That Bad A Guy. The Jester is slick. If we recognize that he is becoming the boss (and seek to resist him), and that what he would have us do is not who we are supposed to be, the Jester turns to one of the oldest tricks in his filthy book: moral relativism. “Sure” he concedes “this thing that you are may not be what was intended, I’ll give you that. But, is it really all that bad . . . on relative terms?” What the Jester intends is for us to turn our heads away from the mirror and look (down) upon the lives of our brothers, who (unlike us) are TRULY screwed up. Sure, I may be addicted to pornography, but at least I don’t smoke crack, like Bob! The Jester even gives us a ready-made Oprah Bomb for the occasion: “there, but for the grace of God walk I”. That is not in the Bible. It is only found in the Jester’s book of lies.

4. The Jester And Virtue Can Coexist. Have you ever heard your Jester ask you something like this: “aren’t the big good things you do more important than these tiny little bad things you and I occasionally do together?” By this lie, the Jester seeks to train us to say “yeah/but”, as in: YEAH I smoke some crack, BUT I do pay my child support on time. I guess I can do both as long as the good I do outweighs the bad. To help the Jester maintain this lie, we erect complex scoreboards for our lives in which our Jester seems to lose out to our Virtue by a respectable margin every time. It’s more than a little like Al Gore hiring a man to plant trees in Sri Lanka to offset the miles he flies back and forth to Vail in his private jet. F3 calls these Virtue Credits . They are worthless because they are unredeemable.

5. You Can’t Live, If Living Is Without Me. A man who breathes dirty air long enough forgets how sweet the pure stuff is. The Jester depends on our tendency to forget to convince us that we never knew a life without him. But we did know, we were born knowing and we can get back to it, but only if we see through this fifth lie which, at its heart, is that there is no hope. That is a lie. There is hope, there always is. The Q is to be a purveyor of hope.

Preparedness keeps the Jester at bay

The Sad Clown approaches the battle with his Jester like an Amateur, un-Prepared and reacting emotionally every time he is confronted by a temptation that he fails to resist—and it is in his despair of having succumbed that the Amateur is most willing to accept his Jester’s lies. If he does that long enough, he can become permanently captive, no longer to able to discern the truth. Instead of fighting his Jester, the Sad Clown will then focus his energy only on looking like he is fighting. He will have become a Mascot who dances with his Jester in the dark because he lacks the strength to fight him in the light.

Through the DRP, the HIM accepts the truth that the fight against his Jester is a daily battle that is his responsibility to fight. He knows that it is up to him (as the Tom Wait song goes) to keep his Jester “down in the hole”. This is not to say that he shouldn’t seek help—the Jester is best fought as part of a Shield Lock—but only that if the Jester does capsize his boat, a man has nobody but himself to blame. The Q is a Leader who takes responsibility for the Outcome, and there is nowhere that this is more true than here.

The HIM approaches his Jester in the same way he does the rest of his Royalty Race—like a Pro. He gets ready for the expected and stays ready for the unexpected. How he does this depends on the man and his unique Jester. Just as a golfer knows whether competitive stress will generally cause him to hit a slice or a hook, the HIM knows the circumstances that will cause him to leave the fairway of his life and in what direction. These are the things expected for which a man can get ready.

My Jester is anger. From experience, I know the means by which my Jester has sought to to overcome me in the past. They are predictable because I have failed to resist them, a lot. Resistance does not mean I don’t “feel” angry when one of these predictable circumstances arises. That approach would be just as futile as trying not to “feel” pain if someone placed a lit match on my back. While the feeling of anger is not within my control, my reaction to the feeling is. Controlling my reaction to the feeling of anger that I have learned to expect from certain circumstances is the first aspect of Preparedness.

The second aspect of Preparation is being ready for unexpected circumstances. Because my Jester is relentless in his determination to sack my Fitness kingdom, I will not be able to Get Right without being ready for the unexpected like a Pro. That begins with a mindset of never allowing myself to believe that I have defeated my Jester for good. That’s not possible. If he’s quiet, it’s only because he is waiting for a more opportune moment to come after me.

Knowing that, I work to keep Accelerating in the other aspects of my Fitness, the Right relationship with myself. If my King is flagging and my Queen is running amok, anger sneaks up on me in new and unexpected ways. Likewise, if my relationship with those in Proximity and my Creator are not Right and Accelerating, then I am more vulnerable to anger from new and unexpected circumstances.

While I can never out-paddle my Jester, the faster my boat is moving through the water the harder it is for him to capsize it.

 

Queen (Q1.3)

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The Q’s Daily Discipline Over What He Puts Into His Body

Man does not stay Fit through exercise alone

The Queen is an integral Guardrail in the Q’s pursuit of proper personal alignment. As with chess, if the Queen is taken off the board, it is not long before the King finds himself checkmated. No matter how hard and consistently a man may exercise, if his diet is haphazard his Fitness kingdom will not long stand. The Queen cannot be ignored, even by the strongest of Kings.

I have dreamt my entire adult life of that wonderful place where I could out-King my Queen. Surely, I’ve always thought, there is a magical number of miles I could run in a week that would enable me to eat whatever I want without gaining weight. Forty, fifty, sixty—whatever it is, once I had attained that mileage count, then I could abandon the grating discipline over what I put in my mouth. Repeatedly, I have had to relearn the same hard lesson that this wonderful place does not really exist, and that my belief that I could find it is a cruel self-generated hoax. It is a fool’s quest based upon a lie.

The truth is that to Get Right I have to exert daily discipline over what I put in mouth no matter how fast I am Accelerating my King. In fact, it is in those periods of Acceleration that I have to be more disciplined in my service to the Queen. The reason is simple: more exercise means more calorie burn and more calorie burn means more hunger. The harder I exercise, the hungrier I get—the hungrier I get, the more I eat. That is the reason I can’t out-King my Queen. The faster I go on the Fitness road the higher my Guardrail needs to be to keep out of the ditch.

The first step to serving the Queen is accepting that truth. The next step is doing something about it.

Portion control is the key to weight control 

It is tempting to believe that some foods are bad for us, that If it tastes good we should spit it out . But the Q is not an ascetic living in a monastery. He knows that while what he eats may often be outside of his control, how much he eats is always his responsibility. Besides, it takes too much time to learn the nutritional science required to properly demonize some foods for the glory of others. It’s far more realistic (and thus Effective) to simply accept that if the SkyQ saw fit to put something edible within our reach, he must have intended for us to eat it—just not so much of it. In other words, all food is good—the problem is one of portion and balance.

The Neolithic Revolution began about ten-thousand years ago. That was when man discovered agriculture, which led to the wheel and then the ability to write. Since then, recorded human history has been driven primarily by man’s effort to reliably feed himself. Even today, there are parts the world that suffer from periodic famine.

But not in America in the 21st Century. Here and now we have solved the age-old dilemma of hunger and replaced it with a wholly new problem: obesity.

Think about what a time traveler from 1870 would have to say about the drive-thru window at McDonalds. In his day, 80% of the American population farmed. That means that only two out of every ten people did not spend their day in pursuit of putting food on the table. Today, that effort only requires 2% of the American population. Now the overwhelming majority of us can feed ourselves by walking ten steps to the car, driving to a window in the side of a colorful building and exchanging six bucks for 1500 calories.

The time traveler would likely think this to be wonderful, incredible. To him, McDonalds would appear to be the answer to a dream, the solution to everything that has bedeviled man since the dawn of time. But that would only be his first thought. His second should be that there seems to be a lot of fat people rolling through that drive-thru lane, more fat people than he had ever seen back in 1870. Ultimately, he might just ask himself if there wasn’t something of value in having to struggle a bit to feed oneself.

Maybe, but let’s face it, the genie is out of that particular bottle. We are really good at producing food in abundance with less human effort than anyone ever thought possible. The reestablishment of an agrarian society full of skinny people is not a viable solution to the obesity problem. Nor is there much utility in enforcing utopian restrictions over the size of the Mountain Dew cup or forcing McDonalds to stamp every Big Mac with a useless warning that “eating this will make you fat!” When it comes to the Queen, rules don’t work. People find a workaround to get what their heart desires. What has to change is the heart. And this is done through Bricklaying.

Bricklaying is the formation of positive habits—here the habit of portion control and balance. To lay that Brick, the Q engages in trial and error to learn how much he can and must eat to maintain his ideal weight given the amount of calories he can burn through exercise. In my experience, this took some time by was not difficult. I started with the internet which told me I could ingest net-2100 calories per day to keep my weight at 170 pounds. So, for example, if I ate 3000 calories that was okay if I burned 900.

By counting and tracking my calories consumed against calories burned over time I found net-2100 to be accurate enough. If I went under 2100, I lost weight over time. If I exceeded it, I gained weight over time. But if I stayed consistently close to net-2100 my weight fluctuated around the mean a bit every day but remained steady over time.

The daily fluctuations I attributed first to the fact my body is dynamic, complicated and not subject to exact measurement. Secondly, the data isn’t exact, particularly calories burned, which I calculated with my Garmin. I found that it seemed to undercount calories burned during a bootcamp type workout, which is what I do half the time. But the bottom line is that I found net-2100 to be an accurate enough foundation to set my Brick on. At net-2100 I can maintain my ideal weight of 170 pounds.

Obtaining the knowledge I needed to practice portion control was something I did internally, by myself, like a science experiment I conducted with my own body. That I found to be the easy part of serving my Queen. The hard part is what came next, and that is Daily discipline of doing it. For that, I need help.

Weight Control Requires Accountability 

First, let me acknowledge that not every man needs Accountability to maintain his ideal weight. Some men are ectomorphs who can’t gain weight even if they want to. Others are mesomorphs whose high metabolism turns extra calories into lean muscle. If you have either of those body types you can skip ahead to the next QPoint. Or, better yet, read this next section so you can help people in your Groups who fall into the third category: endomorphs.

Endomorphs are men (like your truly) whose bellies make great body-fat storage units. Because I am an endomorph my body reacts quickly and predictably when I lose portion control. When I eat too much, I get fat regardless of how much I am exercising. While I yearn to be a mesomorph who can out-King his Queen I have come to accept that I never can—and recognize that the yearning itself is a gilded ticket for a free ride on the ferry boat of self-delusion. Trying to out-King my Queen leads me to abandon the daily discipline over what I put in my body, which leads me to get fat. Every time I try it. The ferry boat only has one destination, and that is fat-guy island.

The truth is that I need help to resist accepting the golden ticket. I need the external enforcement mechanism of Accountability to maintain the Queen. And, ectomorphs and mesomorphs notwithstanding, so do the majority of other men.

The first step in Queen/Accountability is to set a Standard. While that can be difficult in other areas of a man’s life, with the Queen it’s simple, it is his ideal weight and his ideal FUPA . These two measures are both objective and truthful. They don’t lie or coddle, they just deliver data. I know they work because whenever I take the golden ticket and try to out-King my Queen my first step is to abandon them in favor of the subjective untruthful “standards” of how I look and how I feel. The mirror and my feelings lie to me—they are dock workers on the ferry boat of self-delusion. Their job is to get me on the boat. Listening to them is a mistake.

The second step is Enforcement, the external force that applies the Standard. That too is simple with Queen/Accountability, it starts with a daily weigh-in and FUPA-taping, what we call the LBZ . To be Effective, the LBZ has to be done at the same time every day (it doesn’t matter when, but first thing in the morning is best) with the same measurement devices. This takes out the fluctuations as much as possible.

For a highly disciplined man, the single Brick of the LBZ might be enough. For me, it’s not. I also need the second Brick of conveying the results of my LBZ to men to whom I have delegated the authority of Enforcement. They know (because I told them) that if I don’t convey my LBZ (or a legitimate reason why I couldn’t do so that day) then it is probable that I have accepted the golden ticket and am en-route to fat-guy island. If so, their job is simple. They are to grab me by the collar and yank me back to the dry ground of reality. The harder the yank and the closer I still am to the dock the better.

The final step is Consequence, which is the result of Enforcement. If my LBZ pushes up above my ideal weight/FUPA I reduce my daily calories from net-2100 to net-1500 until I get back below it. Experience has shown me that net-1500 is where I lose weight. Your results may vary. Net-1500 is a hungry and miserable place for me. I don’t like it and don’t want to stay there any longer than necessary. Which is great a great motivator to keep laying that Brick of the LBZ every single day. It reduces the length of the misery of the Consequence.

Now would be a good time to anticipate some pushback my views on Queen/Accountability that I frequently encounter by saying this: the Bricklaying system I just described is what works for me. If you have a different system, particularly one in which is not reliant up net-calories and the LBZ, I am not arguing with you. If your system works, use your system. My only contention is that for most men weight control requires a systematic approach because we have too much food that is too easy to get at too cheap a price to rely on exercise alone to stay Fit.

To Get Right, we have to serve the Queen.

KING (Q1.2)

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The Q’s Daily Discipline Of Physically Training His Body

A man’s Right relationship with himself—his Fitness—begins with his body

Because it is his most fundamental piece of physical equipment, a man must get it and keep it in the normal upright position at all times if he wants to be Effective. In fact, because Preparedness requires him to be ready for the unexpected (not just to get ready for the expected), the HIM (having turned Pro) is focused on gradually but consistently Accelerating his fitness level rather than merely staying in shape. Staying in shape is what Amateurs try to do.

These fragile bodies of ours are what we are given to house our souls. Life, the thing so precious to each person that he will fight tooth and nail to preserve it, is contained within this bag of flesh, muscle and bone we call the body. How can the soul prosper if the body withers? And wither it will, if we don’t put it into motion against continually steeper hills and heavier rocks. The body is made to be used. Let it lie fallow, and it will not produce a good crop. But if it is well plowed and carefully tended, the result will be a bounty of Preparedness.

The King is the first component of the daily Royalty Race the HIM runs with himself for proper personal alignment. The inspiration for the Royalty Race comes from Jack LaLanne, who said that exercise is king and nutrition is queen—put them together and you’ve got a kingdom. F3 added the Jester because we realized that the wrong temptation will topple even the strongest man’s fitness kingdom if not held at bay through disciplined application of the DRP. After all, what will it matter if a man is in great physical condition if he is continually tripped up by festering distraction?

A man maintains Fitness for reasons outside of himself

A man who has turned Pro doesn’t exercise to get good at exercising. His goal is Preparedness, a far broader and deeper objective than just feeling strong and looking good on the beach (although there is nothing wrong with either of those two things). The Q stays in strict physical training to get a crown that will last forever. Thus, there is an eternal purpose in what he does. He is building a kingdom of Preparedness within which he intends other people to safely dwell. He knows that fatigue makes cowards of us all.

The goal of the Q’s King is to constantly increase his 3S2T: Speed, Strength, Stamina, Toughness (physical) and Toughness (mental). These are the aspects of a HIM’s physical kingdom that enable him to do the things he must do to be a Q. It’s not really very complicated, how can a man be much of a Leader if he gets smoked pulling his family’s luggage off the baggage carousel and carrying it to the minivan? What will a son learn from a father who can’t play catch with him in the backyard for more than five minutes without having to sit down?

Fitness is best Accelerated by running with faster men

There is no best or only way to Accelerate 3S2T. What works best for the individual man will be dependent on the man himself and the circumstances of time, place and age that are beyond his control. What may work for a 32 year old single man in Miami on a given day in February is unlikely to work for a 52 year old guy with four kids on that same day in Buffalo. They both have to find their own best way.

But what is true for both men, and all men seeking to Accelerate, is that it works much better as a Group than flying solo. Together, we pool our collective knowledge for the benefit of each individual and spur one another on to places we would never reach alone. This is the power of the Shield Lock, which is the horizontal relationship between men. Together, we sharpen each other—as iron sharpens iron.

It’s simple really. If you want to learn how to run faster, just find a faster man. And chase him until you catch him.

 

 

DRP (Q1.1)

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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.