Have you ever heard of the prophecy which says that one day, a chosen one will arise who will take the perfect selfie and thus absolve the rest of us from having to continue trying to take the perfect selfie? That chosen one is here - his name is ...
At this point, I hope you realize I'm just messing around - no such prophecy exists. How do I know? Because I made it up. However, there is an element worth exploring in my silly little example - the notion of having a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Have you ever said to someone something like, "Ok fine, I'll go to that place with you. But I know I won't have any fun." And then you proceeded to have zero fun. I have. It's called a self-fulfilling prophecy. You said you'd be miserable and you were. When it comes to personal protection and saving lives, you must have a positive self-fulfilling prophecy. Your prophecy must always have you vanquishing your enemies, overcoming the obstacles, and claiming victory by ensuring survival.
Don’t want to take my word for it? No worries - I got this from Lt. Col. David Grossman – former Army Ranger, Psychology Professor at West Point and author of On Killing and On Combat, required reading on the Marine Commandant’s list. He said that one must have a positive self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t shoot the messenger…
I can hear you already, "come on Alex, this can't be THAT necessary to surviving a violent encounter." I'm glad you are skeptical. Let me share a true story to illustrate the power of a self-fulfilling prophecy - please note that identities have been withheld to protect the people involved but recognize that the events of this story are true and accurate to the best of my knowledge:
There once was a man who was married and had 3 wonderful children. He lived in a great part of suburbia in the Northeast Ohio with his lovely wife and family and seemed to have it all - he was living the American dream. However, he had a demon in his past - alcohol. He had been on the wagon for years (his wife and children had helped to sober him up). He was proud of his achievement but would always tell people, "Yeah, but if I ever fall of the wagon, I don't think I'll make it."
He said this with a decent amount of frequency. Maybe it was an attempt at humility? "No really, I had nothing to do with beating alcohol, you can thank God and my family for that." Perhaps that is what he was getting at when he would say to people, "If I ever fall of the wagon, I don't think I'll make it." You'll never know what he meant by it, because he is dead.
The man unfortunately relapsed one day and proceeded to fight a terrible battle. He was distraught and overcome with the feeling of "How could I return to this?" In a truly terrible and tragic way, his self-fulfilling prophecy came true - he relapsed and he couldn't handle it. In validation of his own self-fulfilling prophecy, he killed himself and left his wife a widow and his young children without a father.
I want to make something perfectly clear - I do not say any of this to cast judgement on this man. I am simply pointing out what happened (defining reality) so that you and I may benefit from this story and terrible event.
The man chose to live up to his self-fulfilling prophecy. Why? He seemingly had much to live for. In a strange way, human beings would often rather remain consistent even at great personal pain and cost than to "change" their opinion even when we stand to gain much benefit and pleasure from the change.
I confess to not being entirely sure why some humans choose to do this - but I have done it myself. Can you relate? "I'd rather stay true to what I said and be wrong, than change my position and be right." Not only that, but there is a power in the programming this man was telling himself.
I firmly believe that our environment is programming us constantly - for good, ill or neutral purposes. The fact is that this man said to himself on many occasions, "If I ever relapse, I don't think I'll make it." That is how he programmed himself - he programmed himself as the victim, the loser, the defeated one. I implore you not to do this to yourself. If you currently are, recognize it now, and replace it with a new self-fulfilling prophecy, "I will be victorious. I will go home to my family. I will survive no matter what."
I have interviewed over 100 of the most elite professional protectors from all over the country (and even some internationally) who said that if you are going to survive a deadly encounter, you must believe you will. They also said you must prepare for violence ahead of time. Prepare your mind and body by creating your self-fulfilling prophecy NOW! Vividly picture your victory, the vanquishing of the enemy, and you standing victorious after your conflict.
If you feel you lack the physical skills to do this, come to me – I am your solution. Get training – bona fide, battle-tested, warrior born martial training. I can help you.
HINT: It will be far easier to create a positive self-fulfilling prophecy when you KNOW you have skills and proper training in personal protection - I can help you with that, or recommend you to many others who can. But I cannot take the action for you; you must act to save yourself.
"You will survive! You do not have my permission to die! Fight to Victory!" - Lanshe Sensei
How many times did you hear this question as a child: “What do you want to do when you grow up?” You probably got sick of having to hear and answer that question. I was homeschooled and I still heard my fair share of it too. How many times did you hear this question though: “What type of person do you want to become as you grow up?”
I believe that you and I have been lied to by the public schools, society, and our modern culture. This is not to implicate all the people who work in public schools or other departments of public life but the overall focus of our culture has been misplaced. What do I mean?
We have focused so much on what we want our children to do as a career (doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc.) that we have largely neglected to focus on what type of CHARACTER we want our children to have.
I just had a conversation with a young mother last week (after having trained her and her 8 year old daughter in personal protection) about how character has been neglected in our society and my new book, Anatomy of Warrior (which will be released at the end of this year), is bringing the focus back to the VIRTUES of a warrior and a protector.
What is character? A totality of your virtues or lack thereof. Rather than focusing solely on what you want to do (as in a career or life occupation) spend some time focusing on virtue and what type of character you want to have – what type of person do you want to be?
What is the modern struggle that most are facing in business (for an example)? Employers cannot find “good” people – and what is a major complaint of many employees? They cannot find “good” leaders of companies that they want to work for. We have known for a long time that people don’t leave companies they leave bad leaders. Is there any doubt that your character is not more important than your occupation, skill-sets, or talents?
Warriors know that character counts WAY more than your skill. The first principle that a classical martial school states is, “1. To Strive for the Perfection of Character.” What does that mean? It can only be in reference to striving for an increase in virtue – the virtues of a protector and a warrior. My new book will highlight exactly what those core virtues are and how to practice them.
The best thing is that my new book is not just my opinion, but the condensed research of having interviewed over 100 professional protectors from across the military, police and government protection agencies – men and women who have to protect real human lives with consequences on the line should they fail.
If you haven’t paused from your American “busy-ness” to focus on your character recently, I highly encourage you to do so. “Knowing thyself is wisdom” – Aristotle. Who are you? What type of character do you possess? Are you proud of your character or ashamed? Do you need some work in the virtue department? Welcome to being human. A warrior faces this need for improvement in themselves with courage and honesty. However, both courage and honesty are virtues which if you lack sufficiently, it will be very difficult to ever assess that your character needs work in the first place. Pray and seek for self-honesty first – without that, you cannot make an accurate, reality-based assessment of yourself.
"Oftentimes the greatest lies we hear are the lies we tell ourselves." - Alexander Lanshe Sensei
Lastly, when I instruct people on how to protect themselves, I instruct them to study the enemy; think like your attacker so you can better protect against your attacker. The same applies in this case in regards to your virtue. Think like the “attacker” (yourself) so you can better protect yourself from yourself. Pursue virtue and focus on your character!
Live in the battleground,
Photo credit: Amazon.com - Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
"Come and take them."
That is the legendary phrase that is supposed to have been uttered by King Leonidas of the Spartans when Xerxes, King of Persia, demanded the Spartans lay down their weapons.
What defiance. This phrase in the Greek is "Molon Labe" (pronounced Mo-lone Lah-veh) and it has been passed down through the centuries due to its simplicity, its defiant nature and its courage in the face of certain death.
How does this apply to you? Can you think of a situation in your own life that requires courageous defiance? Let me share an example from my own life to illustrate:
The attitude of "come and take" is something I needed to apply to my journey through the martial science instructor training program. I didn't think I could do it - the work load, the time commitment, the feelings of inadequacy; I wasn't sure how I was ever going to accomplish it. My instructor told me about Molon Labe and later on, I read the Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield which recounts the Spartans battle of Thermoplyae against the Persians. The attitude of "come and take" is, at its core, an attitude of defiance. My instructor told me to apply that to my journey through the instructor program. "I will make it through this program even if I don't think I can."
The biggest takeaway I gleaned and the biggest takeaway I hope you apply for yourself is that sometimes you must be courageously defiant against yourself. Your own fears, feelings, doubts, etc. will seek to crush you, pacify you, stifle your generative capabilities and in the face of these things, the attitude of Molon Labe is the antidote you require.
What challenges are you currently facing? Molon Labe. Dare that challenge to beat you. Your attitude truly is everything in this regard. Attitude informs action. If your attitude is lacking in any particular capacity or facet, your actions will reflect this. Also, actions inform attitude. If you don’t “feel” like having a good attitude, get busy taking action.
Upgrade your attitude by infusing Molon Labe into it. "Come and take". Defy your challenges, fears, & doubts. Replace it with the attitude of, "I dare you..." How should you acquire this attitude? Take defiant action.
This attitude upgrade has helped me to overcome many personal challenges but it is a tough lesson. It is tough because it requires you to take control of your attitude. Your attitude does not control you, you control your attitude. Tell it what to do. Be defiant.
Anyone who has ever stood up for the truth under adverse circumstances took this attitude. Staring death in the face they all said, "Come and take my life - for I shall not give it to you." You can start to program yourself right now by adopting this attitude of defiance.
Read Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. Research the phrase, Molon Labe. You will be grateful you did.
Live in the defiance-groud,
Welcome to the Anatomy of a Warrior Blog!
National Speaker, author, blogger, and life-long student of warrior arts and science.