Let me share with you a personal story of something I have been struggling with for some time now:
I have been struggling with the notion of "sales", "discounts", "promotions" and other such business terms for some time now. As a young business owner, I have been told that you must do and offer such things - especially on Black Friday.
"Alex, you gotta run sales, provide discounts, and offer special, limited-time promotions." This was the advice I received by many people in business. Men and women who to this very day, I respect to a large degree. When I was younger, I took their advice and did these things. But the longer I have been in business, the more I have started to ask one simple question, "Why?"
Why must I do these things? What does doing these things achieve? The obvious answer is that you must do them to make sales - to get people to give you money. Ok. So if my goal is to get money, is that the best way to go about doing it? The answer I have come to discover is, it depends on what your goal is.
Simon Sinek, in his iconic book, Start with Why, talks about this very thing. When I re-read his book recently, I thought he was speaking directly to me. He discussed how all these things - sales, promotions, discounts, etc. - are, at the end of the day, manipulations to get people to give you money. Tactics to separate someone from their green stuff. He described about how these tactics do work (i.e.: they get people to give you their green stuff) but they are short term goals that cannot provide sustainable results. So if your goal is short term sales, these tactics work great. If however, your goal is to achieve long lasting loyalty, these tactics stink. I used to do things like offer sales and discounts on my services - no more.
From now on, I am going to be doing business another way: believing in and sticking to setting a real price for a real and reasonably valued product or service. If I agree to do a seminar for you for $100.00 because we negotiated that price, then that is fine. I'm always open to negotiation. But I'm not going to "discount" something for you. I am no longer going to attempt to bribe you with deals, discounts, tokens, promotions etc. I am no longer going to insult your intelligence with such an obvious method of trying to separate you from your cold hard cash.
Why will I no longer be offering discounts, deals, promotions, sales, etc.? Many reasons. Let me explain:
1) I feel like shit when I do it. I feel it insults your intelligence and it makes me feel like shit. I feel like I am manipulating you for money, even though I don't even have a clue or a care as to whether or not you can benefit from, want or need what I have to offer or sell. Until I re-read Simon Sinek's Start with Why, I could never figure out why offering deals and discounts made me feel so badly. I do now.
I recently had this discussion with my friend, Ted, on his show, Social Selling TV. We talked about being authentic and sticking to your core values and then doing business with people who believe what you believe. Simon Sinek speaks of the same thing in Start with Why.
My friend whom I greatly respect, Dr. David Phelps, has created a tremendous business and community with his Freedom Founders Group. I asked him how he created such a large and consistent support group - they are actually friends at Freedom Founders, not just business associates. How did he do it? Dr. Phelps told me that it was by building the business slowly and by sticking to his core values. He told me, "You will be very tempted to take short cuts to make quick sales and to make money fast - avoid this at all costs." I had a great time talking with him about this on his show, the Freedom Blueprint Podcast.
Sinek captures why I had this feeling perfectly on page 34 of his book. I didn’t realize this consciously until reading his book: "With every price drop, promotion, fear-based or aspirational message and novelty we use to achieve our goals, we find our companies, our organizations and our systems getting and weaker." "With perfect irony, we, the manipulators, have been manipulated by our own system."
Wow. I now understand why all these things always made me feel like shit - none of it communicates true love or care for you nor myself. None of it breeds trust. When I offer you these manipulations, I don't even like or trust myself so how could you? When I use these manipulations against you, I feel non-authentic because I now that are just that, manipulations.
2) I hate being manipulated in this way.
I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out, but if I don’t enjoy when a business manipulates me in these ways, why would I perpetuate the very things I hate? Why would I assume that you won’t mind it when I hate it? Maybe you don’t care, but I shouldn’t assume that.
3) Manipulations or freebies do not cause you or I to value the work or product.
I used to complain when people would ask me for freebies. If you're a business owner, someone has asked you for free products or services. I know people have asked me. I used to get mad at people who did this - but now I realize they were only doing what I gave them permission to do. It is my fault. I would capitulate and give freebies, run promotions, etc. No more.
Let me be clear, if you want to negotiate something, I am all ears. A negotiation involves both parties trying to add value to each other and come to the most satisfactory conclusion for both sides. A negotiation is not, "I can't pay so give me free shit." Sorry, move along.
On the flip side, it is not a negotiation if I try to bribe you with "Black Friday Deals" to get you to buy my book or services. That is me trying to manipulate money out of your pocket. I am done doing that.
I want to tell you a story that a speaker mentor and friend told to me a long time ago. When this friend was a young speaker starting out in the business, he knew he wanted to write a book. He found out about a man named Dan Poynter who taught people how to self-publish a book. My friend wanted to take his course but, being a young man, didn't have the money. He told this to Dan Poynter when he saw him at a live event. He was about to ask Dan if he could join his course for free when Dan stopped him mid-sentence and said, "Well then I guess you don't want it badly enough." And he then turned and walked away.
I used to think this was cruel for Dan Poynter to have done to my friend - I no longer believe this. Dan denying him and cutting him off mid-sentence motivated my friend to save his money and invest in the course. He then had more reason to value the knowledge Dan gave him. My friend went on to self-publish many books using the knowledge he learned from Dan's course. Would my friend have valued the course as much if Dan had given it to him for free? No.
You have experienced this as a teen or as a parent of a teen very profoundly: How does a teenager treat a car they had to buy (or at least partially buy) compared to someone who was given the car for free? The treatment is not even close.
Similarly, if I use these fancy manipulations to get your money, I don't value my own work or product. You don't value it either. Tell me if you can relate - the customers or clients who have given you the biggest hassles are the ones who get freebies, deals, discounts, or took advantage of promotions? Is this your experience? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email at email@example.com. I know this has been my experience. Friends who I gave free or discounted items to were always the ones who gave me the hardest time.
In conclusion, I will no longer be engaging in these types of manipulations to get your money. They make me feel bad, they insult your intelligence, and they cause a devastating loss of value in your perception and in my perception. I don't respect myself when I offer these manipulations and if I do not respect myself, how can you respect me?
I am going to continue putting out free content and I will be doing exclusive content for paid members and patrons. Those who believe what I believe and wish to benefit from what I am doing will become paid members and contribute, even if just $1.00/month, to receive all the videos, blogs and interviews I do in the future. Those who wish to stick with the free blog posts, that’s ok too. People who don’t want to follow me at all, I wish you well.
My book, Anatomy of a Warrior, is $19.99 on Amazon. The eBook is $7.99. Those are fair prices for a book that involved 2.5 years of work, and required me to interview 120 people. I believe those prices to be fair and sufficient. I am not going to “discount” the book for Black Friday, nor am I going to tease you with “THIS IS THE CHEAPEST YOU CAN EVER GET MY BOOK!” I now respect myself too much for that and I respect you too much for that.
If you have the appropriate funds and believe that buying it and reading it would be a good thing for you, then by all means, get your copy. If you think a friend or group of friends would benefit from it and they can afford the price, by all means, I desire you to share it with those friends. If you lack the resources or do not believe it would be helpful, 3 choices remain: Do not buy it ever, save up the money and then buy it or, negotiate. Make ME an offer - don't ask for free stuff. Because the answer from now on, will be "You must not want it badly enough."
What will I be doing instead? How do I plan on surviving and making my business thrive without doing these manipulations? That will described in detail in Part II of this blog series which will be released soon! If you've read Simon Sinek's book, Start with Why, you know the answer lies within the Golden Circle...
Today on The Anatomy of a Warrior Show, I interview my good friend and home invasion survivor, Liz Lazarus.
Liz was interviewed for my latest book, Anatomy of a Warrior, and we have become friends since our first interview. I am delighted to have her on the show this week to tell her powerful story of survival.
Liz was just a 20 year old college student when her apartment was broken into by a home invader looking for a victim to rape. On this episode, Liz and I discuss:
You can find more about Liz and her books at:
If you enjoyed this episode, please:
The Anatomy of a Warrior Show - E006 - Interview with Kimberly Ostrowski, a Woman Who Escaped the Same Cult as I Did - We Share Her Personal Story and How She Helped Me to Escape
On today's episode of The Anatomy of a Warrior Show, I interview my good friend and fellow warrior, Kimberly Ostrowski.
Kimberly has an amazing story to share with you on this episode. She was a member of the same cult as I was and in fact, was even closer to the cult leader than I was - serving as a behind-the-scenes staff member. Her courage to stand for the truth in the face of pure evil is inspiring and is why I wanted to have her on the show.
Kim was instrumental to me seeing the truth about the cult leader and extricating myself from it. We discuss how and why in the interview.
In addition to Kim's story about being in the cult, we discuss some other great topics:
Kim is a homeschooling mom of four and the current owner and operator of Resolute Warrior Academy and the new director of the Washidokan Martial Science Dojo in Sandusky, MI. She also helps her husband run their construction business. She started training in martial sciences in the fall of 2011 and went through intense training for three years, earning her Shidoin and Jokyo license. Kim has started up a new program, Break Free, a women's personal protection course which will focus on awareness and prevention training that will also be applicable to daily life. Kim wants to help women Break Free from the mindsets and negative habits that keep them from fulfilling their purpose and from protecting themselves.
You can contact Kim at:
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Be sure to check out Alex's new book, currently #5 in the Hot New Releases section of the Violence in Society category on Amazon, Anatomy of a Warrior: The 7 Virtues All Warriors Must Live by to Successfully Protect and Serve. www.AlexLanshe.com/
The Anatomy of a Warrior Show - E005 - Interview with Information Warfare Expert and Professor at the National Defense College, Dr. Howard Gambrill Clark
Welcome to our HALLOWEEN SPECIAL!
This week's interview was with a very special guest who is committed to protecting and preserving life. Let me introduce you to Dr. Howard Gambrill Clark.
Dr. Howard Gambrill Clark has served in counterterrorism and countering violent extremism over the past two decades to include service in the White House, Marines (Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Philippines), Homeland Security, Special Operations Command, and now at the National Defense College and Stability Institute. His latest book is Information Warfare: The Lost Tradecraft.
In this episode of The Anatomy of a Warrior Show, we talk about A LOT of cool things such as:
- Dr. Clark's new book and how knowing about Information Warfare can help to keep you safe in your every day life
- Personal Protection lessons we can learn from films such as The Dark Knight, and Inception! (Plus a Clint Eastwood movie that neither of us could remember - bonus points for you if you email me and tell me the name of the Clint Eastwood movie!)
- How virtue and information warfare fit together
- The value of the 7 warrior virtues in regards to counterterrorism
- How studying Information Warfare can help you to become immune from fake news and media spin
Don't forget to check out the blooper that happened during filming! (Technology is nice when it cooperates).
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On today's show, please welcome special guest and the first person to be interviewed on The Anatomy of a Warrior Show, my good friend, Anni Keffer!
Bio: Anni Keffer is a nationally recognized Author, Youth Leadership Speaker, Entrepreneur and Founder of the Young Women of Influence Conference. She has been seen in CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX affiliates and in a number of publications, including the New York Business Journal, Pittsburgh Post- Gazette, Miami Herald, Chicago Business Journal, WHIRL, San Francisco Chronicle, MompreneurMedia and others. She is the Author of Leadership Built On Why and a Co-Author of Girls Lead. Anni was nominated for WHIRL Magazine’s Women In Business 2016.
In this episode we discuss:
If you are a millennial or you have a loved one who is a millennial or youth, please go see if Anni's book, Leadership Built on Why, is right for you and your loved one. You can order your copies by visiting:
The book will also be available on Amazon soon! Links will be added when it releases.
If you learned something new or were reminded of something you already knew, enter your name and email into the subscription box on this page so you never miss an episode of The Anatomy of a Warrior Show!
The Anatomy of a Warrior Show - Episode 003 - Blog - 3 Virtue Lessons You Can Learn from "The Last Samurai"
My newest book, Anatomy of a Warrior, launches on November 11th, Veterans Day!
As you can imagine, there are a great many details to attend to between now and then in preparation for the launch. Nearly 3 years of behind-the-scenes work is nearing completion.
Despite all this work, I am a firm believer in re-charging and re-energizing. Last night, I did that by watching one of my all-time favorite movies - The Last Samurai (TLS). I have always liked this movie but this was the first time I had watched it since I began researching the virtues of a warrior. I viewed the film for the first time through a much deeper lens of understanding what virtues a warrior must live by. Viewing it through this new lens, I love the movie even more now and let me tell you why.
1. The glue that holds all virtue together is temperance.
Watching TLS made me realize on a deeper level just how important self-control and temperance are for a warrior. All virtue and the pursuit thereof must be controlled. As I get older and experience more of life, I am discovering just how important self-control is. We may call this discipline. The samurai in TLS were polished, dedicated, and committed. Tom Cruise's character says at one part, "I have never seen such discipline." Commenting in other place, he says, "From the moment they rise each morning, they dedicate themselves to the perfection of the work they pursue."
This discipline is highly underrated in today's culture. In our world of instant gratification, discipline is becoming a forgotten word - who needs discipline when you can have everything right now?
Watching TLS made me think about the discipline that was required to write my book and how many times I failed to do what I should have due to lack of discipline. It is a sobering thought. Are you lacking discipline? Could you stand to improve in the area of self-control? Join the club.
The importance of self-control cannot be overstated. I challenge you to take intentional control of all aspects of your life: your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and habits. Remember, what you believe determines all else. If you believe you are not in control of yourself (by "self" I mean the full gamut of your experience as a human being - emotions, thoughts, desires, dreams, behaviors, actions, in-actions, decisions, etc.) then you will act like you are not in control of yourself.
Viewing TLS this time around I saw the stark contrast between such a warrior society and the society at large in our beloved USA. In TLS, the people were disciplined in their duty to their families, country and superiors. Not many excuses were given for poor behavior or breach of manners. I do not wish to imply that we in the USA should practice ritual suicide (as a Christian, I cannot support such a thing) however, there are many lessons we could learn from their staunch discipline. Watch TLS and look at the discipline of the samurai.
2. Humility needed a stronger emphasis.
In TLS, we see how samurai would commit ritual suicide when they could not bear the shame of defeat. This ultimately stems from a place of pride, i.e.: "MY shame is too great; I cannot bear it! Therefore, I will honor myself by committing ritual suicide!" (harakiri). This should teach you a lesson about guarding against pride - it can lead you to do self-destructive things, even ritual suicide.
If you take the discipline shown by the samurai and pair it with the appropriate dose of humility, you will become a truly powerful person. Discipline will ensure that you take the actions necessary to do your duty and humility will prevent you from self-destruction due to excessive pride and self-love. For me, this lesson is an important one.
No matter how successful or unsuccessful my new book becomes, I must be disciplined in living out its virtues and humble enough to keep an accurate view of reality before my eyes. Pride can also be said to be a refusal to appraise reality correctly. For what is pride if not excess? Excess does not equal reality. The reality of who you are, your importance, etc. must always be measured and seen through the lens of reality. Refusing to admit reality is pride - because you want to see reality YOUR way! A warrior cannot afford to live with this pride! Real human lives hang in the balance, and only by admitting reality is what it is can you effectively protect them from violence. This requires perpetual humility - to view reality as it is.
3. To control the mind, subdue the body.
I was struck while watching TLS how the men would condition and discipline themselves to train. They didn't exactly go light either. In one particular seen with Tom Cruise and Ujio, they are sparring with wooden swords in the rain. Cruise is injured from previous battles at this point so he is utterly unable to defend himself against the superiorly trained Ujio. Though Ujio does not kill Cruise, he deals him a serious of powerful blows to the face, back, legs and shoulders. All of those hits would warrant and immediate stoppage of training in modern day Dojo. I am not saying that you should hit this hard with wooden weapons at your Dojo, but the contrast between the conditioning of then to now is striking (no pun intended).
The samurai knew that in order to control the mind, you must subdue the body. One element that several interviewees mentioned was that the body was must forged and honed. Your body is the vehicle to deliver and achieve your purpose in. Health and conditioning matter. Watching TLS, I was confronted with my own lack of proper focus on health, conditioning, and fitness. All of these things matter in a fight and in the protection of others from violence. Everyone wants the magic technique or weapon that will do all the work for them, but you and I both know that this doesn't exist. I re-discovered that I needed to rededicate myself to mastering my mind by conquering my body. Do you need to improve your fitness and health? No one can do it for you. Do not lie to yourself and say that this doesn't matter - it does matter.
BONUS - #4:
In our modern culture, "love" has been made into a fleeting feeling. A mere whim that comes and goes which is purely outside our control. TLS reminded me that true love is disciplined. If you love others, you discipline yourself to master your body, to take control of your emotions, to take your thoughts captive to your will. Why? Because it matters in the quest to give life or take life. Everything you do has a net effect towards life preserving or life destroying. Don't believe me? Your inability to control your emotions adds stress to the lives of all those around you. Ironically, this usually means that those you "love" the most are the most affected. If you allow yourself to be unhealthy, lazy, and undisciplined, then those around you must cover for you and pick up your slack. This adds more stress to their already stressful life which is life destroying.
I had never really felt and understood the truth of this until rewatching TLS. Look at how their lives of discipline allowed others to thrive and do their duties. Contrast that with our current, American culture. I challenge you to create the samurai type discipline in your life and with your family. Remember, love is not a feeling. Conducting yourself with discipline is the evidence of true love. If this convicts you, join the club of the convicted. No use wallowing about it, time to get to work and get busy.
"Life in every breath." Katsumoto says this is the meaning of Bushido - the way of the warrior. It takes discipline to live this way. But oh what a life! I'm rededicating myself to the path of discipline today and I challenge you to do the same!
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Live with virtue!
Photo courtesy of: http://www.gaiahealthblog.com/dinner-and-a-movie-the-last-samurai/
The Anatomy of a Warrior Show - Episode 002 - The Meaning of the "Anatomy of a Warrior" Title and Logo
In Episode 2 of The Anatomy of a Warrior Show, you will discover:
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Live with virtue!
The Anatomy of a Warrior Show - Podcast - Episode 001 - How Focusing on Virtue will Change Your Life
In episode 1 of The Anatomy of a Warrior Show, you will discover:
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Live with virtue!
In lieu of writing a blog, I have the great honor of sharing my interview on the Dentist Freedom Blueprint Blueprint Podcast!
My good friend, Dr. David Phelps, brought me on his show to discuss my new book (why I wrote it, behind-the-scenes access to how I was able to interview so many people, and when the book will be released), my recent cult experience, what I've learned in my nearly 3 years in business and how I was able to share the stage with a vomiting Rudy Ruettiger (you definitely want to hear that story).
There are some great takeaways that can help you in your business and personal life; you won't believe how many life lessons are packed into the Rudy story.
Click this link to listen to the podcast now: CLICK HERE!
My Personal Story of Escaping a Cult - Part 4: Healing, Forgiveness & a Final Message for the People Still in the Cult
In the past 3 weeks, I have written a detailed account of the inner workings of the cult I belonged to, how & why I left, and questions for the cult leader. Today, I am writing on a topic that has been much requested - how I have healed from this experience.
It is a tough question to answer because healing from such a thing is not a one-time act. There is no one thing you do or quick 3 step process for healing after leaving a cult. Despite this, I will do my best in the following paragraphs to capture some ways I have healed from this experience. I hope they can help you as well.
1) Forgiveness is your friend. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a man named Capt. Charlie Plumb who was a POW in Vietnam for 6 years. I was asking him about what virtues are necessary for a good protector to possess. He named one thing that I hadn't given much thought to - forgiveness.
Capt. Plumb told me that only if you can forgive your enemies can you see things as they really are. He also said that if he could not find a way to forgive his torturers he would destroy himself by holding onto hatred. In this way, he could have survived being a POW but lost the battle of the aftermath due to holding a grudge of hatred. Wow. Part of how I have healed is in realizing that if this man can forgive the men who tortured him and killed his friends, then I certainly can forgive the cult leader and all its members. They have done far less evil to me than the torturers did to Capt. Plumb.
I do forgive the cult leader - I do not condone what he has done and continues to do, but I do forgive him. I harbor no hatred or animosity towards him or anyone in the cult. I must confess that I believe the only reason I am able to forgive them is because I have prayed for God to send me the grace to forgive them. My natural, human inclination is to be angry, bitter and resentful. But I know I am held to a higher standard.
It has been said that you don't forgive someone for their sake, you forgive them for your sake. As Capt. Plumb said, he knew the hatred he harbored would destroy him if he could not forgive his captors. Therefore, forgiving them was essential so he could survive the aftermath. Why does someone like Capt. Plumb who was captured and tortured for 6 years not have PTSD but some one else who face far less horror does get PTSD? I don’t know but I think forgiveness has a huge role in this regard. Forgiveness allows you to emotionally and spiritually survive the aftermath.
No one is saying forgiveness is easy. But it is essential to surviving the aftermath and not allowing the cult leader to win. If you continue to harbor hatred, the enemy has won. He is living in your head rent free and taking up the vast portion of your heart. Raise the rent and kick him out! I simply refuse to grant this victory to the cult leader.
Lastly, as a Christian, I believe that we are called to forgive our enemies because Christ forgave His enemies. "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Is the ultimate example for mankind. If I am going to claim that I am a Christian I must at least make an attempt to do what God says. He calls us to forgive our enemies and I am viewing this as a tremendous blessing and opportunity to practice obedience to God's commandment.
2) Focus on living your life not reliving the past. What happened to me is sad and disappointing but what good does focusing on that do for me now? As such, if you choose to make what lies ahead - your future - your focus, it is easier to move on. I am in the process of writing an amazing book based on 119 interviews about the virtues of the warrior heart - I should focus more on that instead of all this cult drama. The truth is, at this point, time spent worrying about the cult and its machinations is time not spent doing what I need to do and I what I feel I am called to do. Time to move on.
3) Play a game. The game is called "What good will arise from this and can I create any good by going through this experience?" Seriously, play this game and try to come up with as many ways this experience can lead to good things as possible. Write them down. Visualize them prominently in your mind.
For me, going through this struggle has made me even more relatable to others and has humbled me. A fellow speaker once told me that "people relate with your mess not your success." I now have a mess I can share with others in order to relate to them better and to help them.
Prior to going through this, I held my intellect in much higher regard than I do now. I now realize that very often, the reason people get victimized (by a cult or anything really) is often not an intellect problem but a heart problem.
This experience has taught me to be much more careful in guarding my heart and not to trust appearances. It has also taught me to focus more on the truth of someone's claims rather than the charisma or energy with which they make those claims. "Is what this person is saying actually true?"
It has also taught me to trust my own intuition much more because I had been suppressing bad feelings about this cult and its leader for 3 years before finally taking action. Had the situation been different, I could have been physically injured or killed if I chose to ignore my intuition like that.
This experience validated very powerfully for me Gavin de Becker's main point in his iconic work, The Gift of Fear: Your intuition exists to protect you and it always has your best interest at heart. That is something you can trust. You cannot necessarily trust that another person has your best interest at heart - they may not. But your conscience, your intuition, is always trying to protect you. To phrase it another way, your intuition doesn't lie to you so that it may hurt you. It may be wrong about something, but it doesn't lie to you so that it can rip you off or scam you. A person, however, may be doing just that.
4) Talking to others who have a shared experience. I am quite blessed to have been able to talk with several people who are "expats" of the same cult. We have had many good conversations and they have allowed me to vent my thoughts and get them out. I do not believe that keeping in this type of hurt and pain is good for your physical or spiritual health. Having a good outlet like people who know what you're going through has been invaluable.
Generally speaking, there will be at least one other person you can talk to who has gone through some similar pain you are facing or faced. Find them and talk. I do not recommend talking in a whining or bitching kind of way - but talk to just let your emotions and thoughts be released. Look for and discuss real solutions to your problems.
However, if you feel very hurt and upset, let that out too. Be honest about how you feel, don't try to live up to my standard or anyone else's standard of how they think you should feel. Likewise, be honest enough to admit if your feelings and emotions on this issue are reasonable or not. Having extreme feelings of anger is not justification for having them but if you do in fact have them, don't compound your problem by lying to yourself that you don't have them. Admit that is where you are at and immediately set up to remedying the situation. Always have the courage and honesty to face reality.
I am very grateful to several people who have spoken with me extensively - you know who you are. I can never repay you for your service to me and I hope I have been able to help you in some way deal with your pain as well.
WHY I WROTE THE BLOGS:
What happens now? Now, I move on and let go. Is it a one-time act? No. I will need to continually remind myself that I have moved on. But this is the final blog on this cult topic. I will continue to speak with anyone who wants to talk but I am no longer going to be writing blogs on the topic - I have said what needs to be said.
I wrote the blogs so that the cult members who wanted the truth would be able to see it. Many have reached out and expressed gratitude that I wrote the blogs and we have had private and personal conversations about their concerns and feelings. They are now forewarned and forearmed.
CLOSING MESSAGE TO CURRENT MEMBERS OF THE CULT:
I will close now with my parting words to the members still in the organization: I do not hate any of you nor do I have any ill will directed towards you. I understand fully the dilemma you are facing, to leave or not to leave? I cannot tell you what to do. I can only speak of my own experience.
Since leaving, I feel immeasurably better. I have decreased my stress, increased my freedom to train and seek knowledge from any source, made new friends with the expats (who have treated me better than the cult leader ever did in 12 years) and perhaps most importantly - I no longer have to lie to myself and pretend that everything is "ok". I knew in my heart and my gut that everything was not ok and now, I no longer have to live with fighting my conscience.
As I have written before, no amount of secret or specialized knowledge is worth your dignity, peace of mind, integrity or virtue. Loyalty to any man should not be based on what that man knows but on how virtuously they live. Knowledge without virtue will destroy you. Virtue is what sets up the appropriate limits around how to live and apply your knowledge. Only when virtue is mixed with knowledge do you get wisdom & only wisdom can help you to accurately employ and apply the knowledge you gain. The bottom line is this: if you are acquiring all kinds of knowledge with no virtue, what is the point? If you have to do something immoral in order to get the information, is it worth it?
This is what motivated me to seek the truth. My heart knew and whispered to me that I was compromising my integrity by continuing to ignore my intuition. Ironically, the cult leader has oft quoted a line from the Hagakure, "When your own heart asks, how will you respond?"
My question to you is this: "When your own heart asks about the cult and its leader, how does it respond?" Are you filled with peace, tranquility and assurance of what you are doing to be right, just and "defending the paths of truth"? Or do you have doubts, unanswered questions, & is your heart put ill-at-ease and would you prefer to simply avoid thinking about this question? Only you know the answer.
I know that when my own heart asked, it told me I must leave. It also told me that I had a moral obligation to warn the other members. I would not have been able to sleep well at night if I had stayed or if I had left but said nothing.
It has been brought to my attention that many of you still in the cult think I am calling you stupid for not being able to tell you are in a cult. Far from it. I was a loyal believer & follower for 12 years! I was one of the few who graduated Jokyo. If I was calling you stupid, I would be condemning myself out of my own mouth. No, I do not believe you are too stupid to know you are in one. I think you trust the leaders as I did. I think you have good intentions and project these intentions onto the leaders as I did. I think, that like me, you want to see reality the way you wish it was and not as it truly is. When I was still in the cult, the way I imagined things to be was simply better than things as they really were - so that's how I chose to see it. That does not make you stupid - it makes you human.
Some have expressed the desire to speak together as a group to discuss things - I have been a proponent of this from day one. I would encourage you to ask the leader to set this up so that all may be discussed. Do you not deserve to hear both sides of the story? Are you not adults, long-time students and paying members? I am all for meeting together to talk and hear everyone speak. I encourage you to ask leadership to set this up.
Personally, if you want to know more details of the situation & do not want to wait for a group meeting that may never happen, why have you not reached out to me? You have trained with me for many years, I will always take your call. Why do you plan and whisper behind the scenes when I am right here waiting to talk?
The other expats and I have nothing to hide. I do not bind you to keep secrets. In most of my conversations with current members I have had multiple people on our phone and video calls because I have nothing to hide. I have made these blogs public and spoken openly to anyone who would call. I will answer any questions you pose to me. But you must want the truth. You must take the risk to hear my side of the story knowing it may upset you and it may raise questions that you do not have answers to.
I care about all of you enough to have these conversations with you. If you want to talk, call me. If you believe that I am in the wrong and have made false claims, let's debate that too. I must tell you that to this day, over a month since my withdrawal from the cult, NOT ONE person has debated my claims with me nor have they offered proof to support the leader's claims. Why has no one done this?
If everything I am saying is wrong and the leader has immense proof to back up his claims that I have questioned, then this whole thing could be settled and over if the leader would just give you the proof to bury me. Why hasn't he done so? Why would he allow me to question him so openly in these blogs if he readily had the proof that could crush my position? Blog #3 on the cult asked some very specific questions - if those can all be answered with proof, why hasn't the leader done that?
(I'll add one more question that slipped my mind - The cult leader claims to have earned 2 PhD's from Japanese Universities. My questions are simple: What were the PhD's in, what universities, what years did he earn them, & what are the titles of his dissertations?)
Some of you have been or are angry at me, but if you are angry, why are you angry? Have I said anything that is incorrect? If so, prove it to me. I sincerely want to know. This is not an arrogant challenge but a genuine request for you to prove me wrong. The cult leader says we focus on reality, truth and purity right? Then use those principles to demonstrate where and why I am wrong. If you cannot do so, find someone who can. If you cannot find someone who can, why are you angry with me? Hasn't the cult leader said many times, "Don't shoot the messenger"? Why do you shoot the messenger if what I am saying is true?
No matter what happens moving forward, I forgive each and every one of you and I do not have any malice directed towards you at all. It is because I care for you that I wrote these blogs. I easily could have left the cult, said nothing and done nothing to rock the boat. I couldn't do that though because it wasn't the right thing to do. The cult leader is dangerous and continues to victimize people. If you knew what I know about what he has done to people it would make your hair stand on end. I cared about you enough to risk writing these blogs so that you could hear the truth. I have warned you that the field up ahead is a mine field. If you choose to walk that path with this knowledge, I cannot stop you. But I care about you enough to shout loudly and warn you: "Hey brother! Don't keep walking that way. You are entering a mine field!"
I wish you all the very best and I would still fight for you if you were being harmed.
Live with Virtue,
Welcome to the Anatomy of a Warrior Blog!
National Speaker, author, blogger, and life-long student of warrior arts and science.