Live to Train, Train to Live

In Articles by Patrick JamesLeave a Comment

Another hot day shaping up here in Texas, but the black coffee still flows and so does my perspective. Today’s topic is on training the mind. Many of us have heard about the Training Mindset. We listen to motivational speakers talk about how we can live to train, train to live and it’s all just mind over matter. Unlimited successes are right around the corner, just send six payments of $59.95 and… wah, wah, wah… it doesn’t work unless you have a motivated life coach who hounds you relentlessly. That’ll be $159/month for the rest of your miserable life. Oh… and try our food plan. Blah, blah, blah… click!

I posted about this very topic on Facebook a couple weeks ago… for those who don’t follow Cold Dead Hands or Black Coffee Perspectives you can find my abbreviated posts there. My articles on this site are a bit more comprehensive and detailed. The meme below was the topic of one of my more recent posts;

The law of averages claim’s that most people under the age of 35 haven’t, nor ever will be in a real fight (maybe some slapping, shoving or wrestling), but not a true fisticuffs encounter. A gun or knife is even more unlikely to never grace your presence with malice intent. That’s just the statistical facts regarding the rules of odds and probabilities.

For those who haven’t been forced to stand up to a bully or stared evil in the eye with the intent of infringing upon your natural-born rights, you may not understand the need for self-protection and preservation. Many have been systematically indoctrinated into calling a professional… then waiting upon their arrival. It could be a teacher, a principal or a law enforcement officer, but that is how they’ve encouraged us to deal with our problems.

I contend that our Founders intended for We the People to deal with our own problems, in the most efficient (least government invasive) means possible. Bullies exist and so do people with evil intentions, thus we have the right as well as the obligation to protect and defend our pursuits of happiness, ourselves. Being self-reliant isn’t hard… but it does take having the right mindset.

So what is the right mindset you might ask? I believe having a 1st Responder mentality can be the single most important aspect within the mindset. It is about having a defender/protector thought process combined with the desire to help others. This isn’t about being a doormat servant or slave, but a warrior willing to defend and assist those weaker than yourself.

As Americans, I believe it has always been the heritage of the honest, hardworking and moral citizens to be the guardians and defenders of those weaker than ourselves. When you have the 1st Responder mentality, you are willing to go against the grain. You are the one running into danger while others are fleeing it. You are defending and protecting… with whatever tools are required, but your mind is always reflective of the words of Sun Tzu;

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

So with this in mind, I believe there are three main components to the perfect mindset. They can be applied to any part of our life, but they should become fluid and natural within our mentality. If we combine the 1st Responder mentality with our mind upon OpSec (Operational Security) and situational awareness, we might find greatness at the end of the day, or we might just return home safe. Either way, it’s a win in most books.

Let’s talk a little more about OpSec? Taught in the military, it is ingrained within the minds of young recruits, starting in Basic Training. It is taught to professional 1st Responders such as Medics, Fireman and Law Enforcement officers, but it rapidly finding its way into the private sector as well. In its basic premise, it encourages you to look at life through the eyes of an adversary with a mind on your security. Here are the five steps of Operational Security:

  1. Identify your sensitive data: determine what needs protection.
  2. Identify possible threats: For each category, define the threats.
  3. Analyze security vulnerabilities: Assess exploitable weaknesses.
  4. Appraise the level of risk: Rank vulnerabilities. Manage and prioritize mitigating associated risks.
  5. Put countermeasures in place: create and implement plans to eliminate potential threats and risks.

Many will say; “this isn’t the military dude, this is everyday life.” I promise you, this strategy can be applied to any situation: On or off the battlefield, the playing field or court and everyday life… the structure stays the same, but the words change to the needs or desires at hand;

  1. Identify goals: better fitness.
  2. Identify possible threats: unhealthy food, too much TV.
  3. Analyze potential failure: What will it take to achieve goal.
  4. Risk to Reward: What is the risk and what is the reward.
  5. Put a plan in place: A plan to succeed dependent upon our goals.

You can use OpSec for any situation you encounter in life. From finances to extensive projects. Health and fitness to education. You just have to look at what you want to do, what has caused you failure in the past, what it will take to achieve your goals, and put a solid plan into action. If you can make this part of your mentality (ingrained into thought process) you will see greater successes in your life. It is the most effective way to determine if the “juice is worth the squeeze“.

Here is the last major aspect of the mindset; Situational Awareness is the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their future status.

It is all about managing your space. This can be about the three foot of personal space around our bodies (ALL of us have the right to allow or deny access to this space), or our entire home and property. It must become second nature to determine what that space must be, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

Managing your space can mean the two to three car lengths around your vehicle as you drive down the road. It also means keeping a keen eye upon the next half a mile up the road with an occasional eye to what’s behind while keeping your multi-tasking mentality to a minimum. This type of driving mentality can keep your travels safer for you and everyone around you.

This type of mentality is applied by great race car drivers as they manage their personal space and future status. Great basketball or football players do it every moment they’re in play. It can and must be applied to every facet of our life. It must become second nature to us or the entire task becomes time consuming and too overwhelming, that failure usually occurs.

We can see great feats of natural ability throughout history… from Michael Jordan floating through the air and slamming a basketball or Tiger Woods blasting a 498-yard drive at Kapalua. We have all watched with awe and admiration, thinking “now that is great genetics right there“. You wouldn’t be incorrect in that assessment, but these feats are also the results of applying the proper mindset to the task at hand. When it is applied effortlessly and naturally (ingrained in your mentality) combined with superior genetics, it allows for superior results. Great genetics coupled with a great mindset, breeds champions. Just as there are many instances where superior genetics have provided success, there are even more that failed greatness because of flawed mindsets.

We are all indeed created equal, but some of us are blessed more than others. If you aren’t genetically gifted (like me), then you must be willing to work harder at pursuing and finding your happiness. If these three aspects of a great mindset are the cornerstones within your life, then you are likely to find more successes in life.

I’m not just talking sports now either, I’m talking about what it takes to find the happiness of our pursuits. I could be referring to Mark Cuban just as easily as Cody Bellinger, Chris Sharma, Ted Lindsay or even Phil Hellmuth. It doesn’t take physical genetics to be superior. It takes the right mindset coupled with determination, perseverance and desire.

So what stops the average person from excelling at something? Most successful people will tell you that they tried hard and tried often to succeed. They set aside their fears and persevered through their failures, until they found success… and then they kept going.

Most people fail to launch up of the couch and leave the television behind. They laugh at the failures of others while living vicariously through those that succeed. They complain about their own lack of success, having every excuse in the book as to why. This very attitude has ushered us into the reality tv generation. It is here that we can watch others try… then laugh, cry or revel in their victories or failures.

So what can we do to change it? I’m glad we came to that question, but it is the scariest inquiry we can make of ourselves. It is the one question that requires honesty and integrity in the answer. It requires serious self-reflection and brutal truths. If you are unable to be honest with yourself and your own shortcomings, then you are likely the self-defeating impetus driving your loss.

We first must stop fearing the failures in life. We must be able to use those failures as learning experiences. If you using your failures constructively (not blaming others for them and not beating yourself up too bad for them), you can use them to make better choices in the future.

Many of our choices and failures prior to the age of accountability were made for us, although not all of them can be blamed on someone or something else, many of them may have been out of our control. Once we become an adult, we have to take responsibility for them regardless of who bears the largest portion of the blame. Adulting ain’t easy and the truth is often a bitter pill to swallow… but swallow we must or you become the Queen of Denial.

Failed relationships? If you are willing to self-reflect upon yourself with brutal honesty, you will likely find the “other” side of the story. Loss of a job or not paid enough? By putting yourself in the shoes of your employer, looking at your performance with honesty, you may see why you’re not making more money or have a better job.

Listen, all I am saying is; if you can apply the correct mindset to everyday life, saying to yourself; “I will defend what is mine. I will lend a hand when able. I will treat others as I would have them treat me. I know what needs protecting and improving in my life. I know what assets I have around me to make it happen and I can see the possible threats in my immediate future.” It will allow you to dream bigger. These are the key factors to success. Maybe you won’t ever find greatness, maybe you will… but if you don’t apply the right mindset and start planning for success, you are much less likely to find it.

So, if we apply this mindset to our personal responsibilities, what advantages could we see? When we train our minds and bodies, we begin to gain confidence in our abilities. When we gain confidence (not arrogance), we start to become more proficient in the tasks. When we can be self-reflective upon our shortcomings, we also gain ascension over them, allowing us to refine our training to areas in need, and that eventually leads to greater successes in the future.

Fight Club. A movie I would recommend watching at least once. It has some great lines and it really is an introspective into the minds of people. There is a lot truth in the line delivered by Brad Pitt (Tyler Durden); “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?

I’m not talking about creating your own Fight Club, although there is much merit in the pugilist sports, it is not a practical solution for most people. Many who have never been punched in the face or been engaged in some type of physical combat, may find some hard truths about themselves through legit pain. Pain that only comes from the stark reality delivered by a fist to the face. If you are ready to admit to yourself that you’ve never really been in a fight, but are willing to try it, there are more controlled solutions and atmospheres. The disciplines of martial arts or boxing, can give you a taste, but as with all force on force type training, nothing really substitutes for the Real Thing.

Now with all of this being discussed, let’s talk about physical confrontations. What can the average person do to gain the upper hand in a physical confrontation? That is where the mindset plays the most important part in the equation. In a life or death situation, which all physical confrontations “could” lead to, you must incorporate the; third monkey in line waiting to board the ark and it’s starting to rain mentality. It is the whatever it takes mindset. Whether you are defending the life of a loved one, an innocent bystander or yourself, it will almost always take that type of resolve to overcome the obstacle.

Many will say; “All of this sounds a little paranoid”. Truth be told, they would be kind of right. I mean, if most people will never encounter evil or someone with evil intent, why should we go through all the effort? Being a little paranoid isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means you have a mind on reality and a good healthy fear of something, and that is alright.

As long as that healthy fear doesn’t lead to unrestrained, paralyzing fear we can navigate the waters, retreat if need be and regroup for another run at it another day. If that fear becomes is paralyzing, then we freeze up, do nothing or succumb to the will of another it ultimately leads to procrastination or unrealistic subordination, which most often leads to failure, almost every time. By applying a good mindset, we can avoid certain situations that will force us to perform beyond our ability, lessening the chance of failure until you are ready to rise up to that specific challenge. You wouldn’t just jump in the ring with Stipe Miocic without knowing what the potential outcome would be, would you? That’s called using your mindset wisely.

What we all need to learn is to tackle things head on when they happen. Some you can be very prepared for, some you may not be as prepared, but with the right mindset, you can rapidly evaluate and make better decisions. Now often this is easier to say and much harder to do, trust me… I have been working on it for years and still fail on the first go round. We’re all gonna fail the first couple rounds, but you have to be able to stay in there long enough to give it an honest effort, if you want to see success.

Trust me, as you continue to try, you will gain confidence in the doing and more times than not, it leads to more rounds in the future. When you have more rounds, it leads to more possibilities of marking the overall event a win. Life is a journey. You can live it without forethought, and many times get lucky or be blessed enough to succeed and live a full, long and happy life. More often than not… you will die unfulfilled and unhappy. Stupid people seldom get what they want, and lazy people seldom succeed.

As I start to wrap this all up I want to talk about the fact that we all need more physical exercise in our lives. No matter what age, our bodies function better when we have applied the time under tension method of training. Muscles grow stronger and more flexible. The mind maintains clarity and our reflexes stay sharp and much more adept. Exercise is good for the body and the soul, but you’ll see more benefits from it, when you wrap your brain around the proper mindset.

Healthy eating habits take discipline and mindset. Physical goals take discipline and mindset. Financial success takes discipline and mindset. The right mindset can be applied to every aspect of our lives. If applied the same way, coupled with tenacity, desire, honesty and integrity, successful outcomes in many areas of our lives are often on the horizon. This is why the mindset is the most important aspect. If you train the brain, the body must follow.

If you apply a healthier, more structured mindset to your everyday life, you can often navigate daily travels more successfully. If you are constantly looking ahead, applying OpSec and Situational Awareness to what might happen in the immediate future, you avoid the pitfalls that prevent success.

I’m talking about simple things like avoiding the shadows when possible or walking with your heads down or buried in your phone, can prevent accidents or disadvantages in possible physical encounters. When you are so preoccupied with other tasks that the one at hand is minimized, it can often lead to disastrous consequences. Texting and driving comes to mind when I talk about this one, because knowing when multi-tasking is acceptable and when it’s not, is vital to successful outcomes.

There is often nothing more important than the task at hand. I know that many say; “I’m a multi-tasker“. Those are often the famous last words of the loser. The game of life is about living it to the very edge, but never falling off. It’s about being situationally aware and focused. It’s about planning for future successes, so you can have more successful moments of random spontaneity.

Living life is about winning. Let no one tell you that winning isn’t everything, because it is. We just have to decide what the definition of winning is, for ourselves. It could be financial success. It could be personal success. It can be a happy little family unit. You have to decide on what you want out of life and pursue it with everything you have.

As Americans, we have had that natural-born, Creator bestowed right secured for us through our Bill of Rights. We have had a Savior die upon a cross for it. It is irrelevant whether you believe in the divine or not. It is a choice, and the reality and truth of that choice will only play out in the end. What we know in the here and now, is that pursuing happiness is a right that was protected for all American citizens from infringement. Nobody has a right to take it away from you. Nobody has a right to prevent you from finding or seeking it. As long as we do not infringe upon the natural rights of another to find or get it, we’re free to pursue it on our terms.

Life after childhood has always been a high wire balancing act without a safety net. One small misstep can lead to an unrecoverable fall. This is what adulting is about. We are allowed to make our own choices, but we are also forced to face the consequence of those choices, good or bad. If you don’t teach your children about what lies ahead of them as an adult, you have done them a serious injustice and you shouldn’t be allowed to call yourself a real parent. Just sayin’. The truth is the truth, whether is tastes like candy or not.

We all are responsible for finding the proper balance in our lives. Most of us will never be rock stars to the masses, but when we apply a better mindset, coupled with a tenacious desire to succeed, we will often see more successes than failures. Success breeds confidence, in ourselves and those around us. This allows us to become rock stars to those who are most important in our lives, and maybe, just maybe upon the stage many of of aspire. There are many reasons and excuses for failure, but it is almost always our own fault in either execution or follow through.

We talked about a lot of things today, but I want you to understand that when I use the words self-defense, I’m not just talking about the physical sense of the words. I’m talking about the words being applied to every aspect of our lives. From mentality, spirituality and physicality, we must become defenders of all that is near and dear to our hearts. We must protect and guard with jealous attention, the liberty and freedoms that have been bestowed upon us. Suspect everyone who approaches those rights, because nothing will preserve it but downright force and desire to keep and maintain it.

We all should be looking at the words of our founders with more clarity and understanding. When Jefferson said: All men are created equal with certain unalienable right”, in his heart, he meant ALL people. Our founders may not have been perfect people, simply because people are not perfect, but their words were invariably some of the most righteous words written by man.

I believe many of their words, were as inspired as the words written within our Bible. I believe in my heart that many were true followers of Christ as He intended all of us to be. I will leave you with these words to ponder upon. I’ll conclude with; a solid mindset coupled with great work ethic and serious desire, can lead to so many successes in life… You only have to decide which successes are most important and pursue them with everything you got and say a little prayer for God’s will to prevail. When we desire God’s will for our lives, successes just seem inevitable.

It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed]. Galatians 5:1 amp

“On every occasion [of Constitutional interpretation] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying [to force] what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, [instead let us] conform to the probable one in which it was passed.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 12 June 1823

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined…. The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun.” – Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778

#blackcoffeeperspectives #patrioticselfreflections

Patrick James

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