I follow Tom Bilyeu ( @tombilyeu) ) on social media, and for a good reason. If you don’t know who he is, you may want to read up on him. He is one of the founders of Quest Nutrition, and went from no financial assets to over $400 million in net worth. He broke the cycle his family had suffered from for quite a while; their fight was obesity. He was out of shape and overweight, and despite his best efforts, could not get himself and his family members to stick to a healthier lifestyle. So he set out to make foods that were healthy and would assist in meeting the goals he had. This is how Quest Nutrition was born. There is a lot more to his story, and you should check it out. It is inspiring to say the least.
I loved this simple little drawing, and thought I would borrow it for a blog post today. Funny how when you see these two very different words illustrated close to one another, you realize that just a tweak or two (changing two letters) can make such a difference. Like with most things in my life, I think my biggest struggle usually revolves around finding the right balance. I didn’t used to worry too much about anything, and that lent itself to a different set of problems. For a while, I worried too much about things like my job, my finances, etc. I think that most people struggle with finding a happy medium in this domain. Finally, at age 50, I think I am getting a handle on the balancing act that has eluded me for much of my life.
As with many things, fear of the unknown is typically worse than the actual thing you fear. For example, if you have never been in a fight, you may be highly concerned about this happening to you at some point. So how do you go from worrier to warrior in this example? Train. Get prepared. Increase your knowledge. And I don’t mean start watching UFC fights every day, I mean go to a dojo and learn how to defend yourself. Take up kick boxing or jiujitsu or some other form of self defense. As an extreme, you could carry a gun, but only AFTER TAKING A CCW COURSE. If you don’t know how to effectively handle a weapon, if and when to use it, and more importantly, how to diffuse a situation when drawing your weapon could be necessary, then you have no business carrying a gun. One of the best things I ever learned in my own pursuits of this kind was how to avoid confrontation in the first place. Not looking like a victim is a huge help in avoiding the need for self defense.
There was another area that causes a lot of anxiety for me, and I knew needed to be dealt with. I took control of my personal finances so that if I ever lost my job, I would have time to deal with solving this problem. I don’t have retirement money on hand just yet, but I do have a year’s salary in the bank in case of anything happening. I do my best not to use it as “EFF YOU” money to my day job, as my day job is a great set up for me and I don’t want to mess that up. So I don’t let every little thing that happens become fuel for leaving my job behind just because I can. With having this money on hand, I could help out a family member or friend in need if I chose to because I have this cash on hand. If the house needs a new roof, or my car blows up and I need to replace it, I can pay cash and not think twice about it. It has been one of the most freeing feelings I have ever experienced, and I HIGHLY recommend it. I am now a warrior in this category, leaving my days of being a worrier behind.
Another area in which I think I have finally started behaving like a warrior is in how I look at how others view me. When I was competing on the Pro Racquetball Tour, I spent far too much time trying to fit in, not lose to people I thought I shouldn’t lose to, and other shallow concerns about my social status. I spent far too much time worrying about my societal currency based on my on-court performances. When I retired from that life, it didn’t solve that problem, it made it worse. I used to do something that no one else in my social circle did, and therefore I was “special”. Once I left that life behind, I was just like everyone else. Or so I thought. It wasn’t until many years later that I finally got a handle on not feeling this way. I now am more concerned about I make myself feel, how I represent myself to the world. I try not to fall into the trap of being worried about what others think. It is a work in progress, but a crap-ton better than it was before.
As the old saying goes: “Depression is focused on the past, Anxiety is focused on the future”. I think worry flips back and forth between the two, amplifying the effect. You can always find things to worry and persevere over, life offers up many things to facilitate this if you let it. Developing a warriors’ mindset about certain things in life can be a huge help to putting some of the anxiety and worry to rest. I have a read a lot of philosophy, stoicism, and biographies of people who have overcome struggles. I firmly believe that if someone else has been in my shoes and changed their outlook (and outcome), that I can find a way to do it too. Mental fortitude is like a muscle; you have to exercise it to make it grow. Once you get it to grow, you still have to do things to at least maintain the gains you’ve gotten, otherwise you will slide backwards. If you skip a month at the gym, you’ll bounce back quickly, but you will still have backtracked to some degree. Because you built the base from the work before, you’ll recover more quickly than those who have not set foot in a gym in a year. But you still slid backwards; do your best to avoid that whenever possible.
You have to stay in the groove of being a warrior in the areas that you can, and use this as the model for the areas in which you are not. Knowledge and experience is not siloed; it can be applied to everything else you do. One of my favorite Asian philosophy sayings is:
“From the One Thing, Know ten thousand things.”
This is a quote from the Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. He was a famous samurai who won over 60 battles and then retired to a cave to dictate his training secrets to one student who wrote them down. Think about that…you only ever lose a sword fight once, cuz…you’re dead. He won more than sixty, and became so masterful at his craft that he would fight and kill people with is wooden practice sword even though his opponent was using a real blade. This is the ultimate warrior’s mentality. Sword fighting was his “One Thing”, but he applied those same principals to every other facet of his life. This is what is meant by “ten thousand things”. A worthy pursuit, to say the least. Might be a little high to aim at, but pursuit of excellence has the aforementioned and many other rewards, so it is worth considering for sure. Luckily, sword fighting is not the only way to master one thing and apply that knowledge elsewhere.
If you are struggling being a worrier, maybe you need to start living more like a warrior. It doesn’t take much to start bending things in your favor, you just have to train properly. It starts with your internal dialog, and in some ways it ends there as well. The words you address yourself with, and what you allow your mind to focus on will have a very large impact on your life. It has to start there. Every time you hear yourself beat yourself up, or say something negative or future-focused that is worrying about an unknown outcome, stop, and reset. Undo what you just said to yourself by saying out loud the reverse of what you just uttered. For example, if you said “I am scared about my meeting with boss”, short circuit that thought by saying out loud “I am curious what that meeting will hold”. This is much more neutral and less likely to spike your cortisol levels. You can start there, and build upon that. It will take constant monitoring, but you can do it. I did it, others have too. Think of the pay off this would have, even at a 25% improvement.
Your life is in your own hands, so live accordingly. If you can find ways to insulate yourself against things that cause worry, like the above examples of training in martial arts or saving money to avoid financial disasters, do it. It will help you sleep better at night i.e. reduce your worrying. In conjunction with that, start monitoring your internal dialog, as this will have the most impact on your mindset, and the fastest positive results. Once you build a little momentum, I think you will be well on your way to continuing this moving forward. Success begets success, like rolling a snowball over the edge of a hill. It’ll start small, but soon it will be gathering momentum and speed. You just need to pick up some snow, pack it into a ball, and set it on the edge of the hill. Now all you need is a little nudge…