A Letter to a Hero

Wordsmith prompt #2: Write a letter to someone who has impacted your life.

Dear Joe Rogan,

Sometimes I get flack for being just another dude who talks about your podcast but I’m an enormous fan and you’ve changed my life. Roughly two years ago, I got kicked out of school and the woman I was prepared to marry left me. This was the darkest time of my life and I considered ending things. I had no job, didn’t exercise, didn’t eat well, had ideas and aspirations but wasn’t taking action on any of them, and simply had no direction, values, or principles.

Two things got me out of this mental prison: the practice of meditation, and listening to you rant about discipline and happiness. Both of these kicked my ass into gear by forcing me to realize that any outside forces which were blocking me were actually just in my own head. The world wasn’t out to get me…Shit just happens and you are either mentally and physically prepared for the storm when it comes, or you’re not. You taught me how to prepare for and conquer the storm.

It doesn’t work for everybody, but a lot of people (especially men) just need a jacked, bald, tatted comedian to shake them by the shoulders and say “Get your fucking shit together!” By following your basic formulas for developing meaning and satisfaction in life, mine turned from a pit of nothingness to being excited to live each and every day. The formulas include:

-Find something you love to do, do it all the time, get better at it.
-Write down the things you want in your life.
-Be a great person, even to the people who don’t deserve it.
-Have conversations with people, it’s okay if you’re not a genius who knows everything about everything.
-Realize that if other humans are doing it, you can do it too.
-When you’re feeling stressed, remember that you’re just one of 7 billion monkeys on a giant floating rock in space.

You’re an incredibly humble man, who has dedicated his life to solely doing what you want—bow-hunting, MMA commentating, podcasting, traveling, loving your family. You’ve worked your ass off and continue to work your ass off so that you may live the life you want to live. Thank you for showing me that all this was possible. Life will take the wheel if you allow it. I am working each day to ensure that life takes the back seat, so I can throw on my shades, turn up the music (or your podcast), and drive myself down the road I choose.

Thanks again brother,

Dill

Tell me about a person who has impacted your life.

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What is a Habit?

Here’s my definition of a habit:

Doing something—not liking it—over and over again, until you like it.

The two biggest problems everyone faces when trying to create strong habits in their lives are:

1) The “not liking it” part. This is resistance. Your brain and your body are uncomfortable doing this thing, and try to use this discomfort to make you believe it is impossible. The cure for this is taking action. Just do the fucking thing.

and

2) The fact that this doesn’t happen overnight. Building powerful habits to make you successful take time. The same goes with destroying shitty habits (though you may expedite this quicker by simply changing your environment). Going to the gym doesn’t put you in shape. But it does make it easier to go the next time. It plants it in your mind that you are a person who goes to the gym. Repeat, until in shape and enjoying the gym. Again, this will take a good bit of time, but it will happen.

I’ve found that writing down the habits you want in your life is a great way to maintain your willpower to build them. I made a video on that a while back. Make sure to not overload yourself with too many desired habits, because you’ll likely overwhelm yourself and burnout, give up, and feel like a garbage person.

Start with something simple. I really enjoyed creating the habit of getting up early because it ended up being a keystone habit: a habit you build which then breathes life to other awesome habits. It allowed me to read more, have more time to exercise, focus more brainpower on my content, and be more tired in the evening so I could fall asleep at an earlier time.

There’s a lot to say about the science of habits, but being mindful of what it actually is makes it easier to develop in your life. When you start out, you may feel good with all the motivation you feel, but soon, it’ll suck, and you’ll want to give up. That’s resistance. Don’t let it win. Keep going, and it’ll go away.

When You Fall

For many of us, our darkest moments—when we make the worst decisions and give in to the worst habits—are not when we make that first mistake, but the period of time following that mistake.

If you are trying to eat clean, and one night you and your friends are having dinner and you treat yourself and get some pie, there’s nothing wrong with that. Enjoy it. But what many of us do is shame ourselves, and then the next day or the next few days, we eat more garbage because we think, “Well, I’m already a piece of shit for breaking diet, so why stop now?” But you are perfectly capable of waking up the next day and declaring, “Well, that pie was delicious. But time to get back at it.”

I had a rough night this weekend. After a month of no drugs or alcohol, I went to a Halloween party and drank way too much and ate way too little. I had to be taken care of, a ton of my coworkers were there, and I threw up on my friend who was nursing me back to life. Not my finest hour. The following morning, I was a vegetable. I laid in bed all day, watched hours of shows and movies, and Door Dashed food to my house (I hate Door Dash).

Waking up this morning, all I feel like doing is continuing that train of laziness. But I know I don’t have to. So instead I trudged myself through my morning routine, sat down at my desk and began typing this blog post.

An event such as this would’ve embarrassed and paralyzed me in the past. But I apologized for my sloppiness, thanked my guardian angel, cleaned my room, and continued the process of getting my shit together.

When you fall, don’t dwell on the fact that you’re on the ground. Get the hell up and keep moving.

Leadership

Leadership isn’t something interesting until you’ve seen it done well first-hand. Leaders are not the same as managers or bosses. Leaders inspire action. Simon Sinek has written a multitude of amazing books on what it takes to be a leader in the real world.

The most effective leader I’ve ever known (and the sole reason great leadership is one of my life goals) is Mark Milecki. Mark was my General Manager at the Cheesecake Factory. And although we were just working with burgers and fries, he taught me how to take care of people, solve problems, and lead by creating leaders. We did an amazing podcast (#13 – Leadership, Done Right) on his climb of the ladder from busser to top-level GM. We also discuss his son’s battle against a rare form of leukemia.

In a nutshell, a leader must:

• listen to everyone, learn about everyone
• make everyone feel valued, but hold everyone accountable
• take responsibility for their own actions as well as their followers actions
• be willing to do the work that they request of their followers
• inspire others to be independent

This blog post is dedicated to the Mileckis.

Discomfort

Sometimes, a lot of the time, you’re going to be be uncomfortable. That’s just a fact. I used to despise the saying, “get comfortable being uncomfortable,” but it’s one of the most useful skills on can build.

Mind – It’s comfortable and easy to focus your mental efforts on entertainment and gossip. Take a second to think about how much time in a day you spend learning (on purpose). The world is constantly changing, and we must learn everyday…about the world, about ourselves, about the people and things around us.

Body – It’s comfortable to eat whatever the fuck we want and to lay on the couch instead of go to the gym. Those things are fantastic as a rare treat, or a celebration of your hard work, but you can’t live your life like that. And for those who respond to that saying, “I sure can! Watch me!” Okay, I’ll watch you live a garbage lifestyle through many years which you’ll probably pass on to your kids to create more garbage people. Suffer in the short term so that you and your genes will thrive in the long term.

Spirit – It’s comfortable to hate things about people. It’s fun to gossip and talk shit about people when they are not around. But this is like a slow-working poison. It’s bad for you, the people close to you, and the people you meet in the future. Kindness is easy when you’re in a great mood, but Jesus does it feel impossible when you feel like nothing. But difficult does not mean impossible. Be a kind person to your loved ones and enemies, without letting people walk all over you.

Don’t shy away from discomfort, welcome it into your home, and it will make you bulletproof.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

BJJ: The art of grappling and submissions. To the layman, it looks like two sweaty athletes violently hugging each other. But it’s one of the most captivating and exhilarating activities one can do with their bodies and their minds.

My BJJ journey began yesterday. I’m not even a white belt yet. I have no skills. My coach showed me a few chokes and then we went to war. The way we started our rolling (sparring) session…it’s something I’ll never forget so long as I live.

As he was in a defensive state, I approached him, confused and timid. I chuckled and said, “I don’t even know where to start.” He looked at me calmly and without hesitation said, “Just start.”

In that moment, all of my worries of doing the wrong thing, looking foolish, or getting my ass kicked, simply faded into nothing. And for the record, my coach (a fifth-degree black belt) did kick my ass.

The point is: In whatever you’re doing, when you’re terrified to start because you have no idea what to do or where to go, just start. You’ll make so many wrong moves, your ego will be battered, you’ll look like a doofus…But as time goes on, almost like a funnel, you’ll get sharper, you’ll get smoother, you’ll get quicker. And three months will go by and a newcomer will start their journey. Then you won’t be the new guy or gal anymore. You’ll teach them. You’ll kick their ass.

As an end note, I can’t recommend picking up a martial art enough. It’s one of the absolute best journeys one can embark to develop their discipline, confidence, physique, and mental toughness. It’s also a phenomenal community of the kindest and most helpful people you’ll ever meet. Learning Muay Thai (and now BJJ) at Level Up Gym saved my life and helped shape me into the man I am now. And I’ve only just begun my journey. If you have even a little bit of time and money to spare, Google local martial arts centers in your area. It will be terrifying and you’ll feel like a fish out of water, but I swear to you…it pays you back fifty-fold.

World Series

Last night, the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros in game one of the World Series, 5-4. It was a special night, as Ryan Zimmerman was finally rewarded with his first World Series home run in Nationals history.

I don’t give a shit about baseball. I didn’t watch the game. I looked this information up two minutes ago.

The point is, the internet has almost an unlimited amount of free information. Use it to make you know things you otherwise wouldn’t.

”An educated person is not necessarily one who has an abundance of general or specialized knowledge. Educated people have developed the faculties of their minds so that they may acquire anything they want, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others.”
Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

3 Things You Need

In whatever you do, especially in a skill you wish to improve upon, you need three things:

1) Someone better than you. A mentor or a coach who challenges and inspires you to learn efficiently and desire the most out of yourself. Watch what they do. Listen to what they say. Spend time with these people and you will slowly accumulate their skills.

2) Someone of equal ability. A friend, teammate, coworker, rival…who is on the same level as you. Don’t improve merely to become better than them, but learn to love and bond over the growth process as you see this person and yourself advancing. Push each other. Win win.

3) Someone less skilled than you. So you may be a mentor for someone else. This gives you an opportunity to take all the lessons and hardships you have endured and pay it forward. When you teach something that you’ve learned, you get to learn it twice. Articulating your knowledge in a clear and concise way is the true test of how well you know what you’re doing. Also (on a more cynical note), it’s nice to get a confidence boost by seeing you’re not the worst at something. By seeing people who aren’t as proficient as you, it reminds you that you have improved, as long as it’s balanced out by the humility of “But I still have so much to learn.”

Balance these three things. Be inspired by each. They will help you climb the mountain.