The Monk, the cow and the cliff – A story about change

Here’s an old fable someone told me recently:

 


Long ago, a Monk set out on his travels across a faraway land. Night was falling and he needed somewhere to shelter. Eventually, he found a humble shack, in the middle of nowhere. A poor family lived there and the mother, father and children were dressed in rags. The Monk asked if he could spend the night there. “You are most welcome to spend the night,” said the father. They prepared a simple meal consisting of fresh milk, cheese and cream and the Monk appreciated their simple generosity greatly.

When they finished eating, the Monk asked them how they managed to survive in such an isolated place, so far away from the nearest town. The wife told how they managed to survive. “We have one cow. We sell her milk to our neighbours who do not live too far away. We keep enough for our needs and to make some cheese and cream – that is what we eat.”

The next morning, the Monk said his goodbyes and set out to continue his journey. Not far from the family’s little hut, he came across the cow. The Monk pondered for a moment before leading the cow to the edge of a nearby cliff and pushing it over the edge.

Several years later the Monk again passed that way and found himself on the same road where he found lodging so many years ago. Driven by a sense of curiosity he decided to visit the family. He rounded the curve in the road and to his surprise, he saw a splendid mansion, surrounded by landscaped gardens, in the place where the little hut used to be. The Monk knocked on the door. The father of the poor family answered, now well-dressed and looking healthy. He recognised the Monk immediately and invited him in, inviting him to stay as a guest.

While they ate, the Monk asked what had changed in the years that had passed. The father explained how the family’s fortune changed. “You know, we used to have a cow. She kept us alive. We didn’t own anything else. One day she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to start doing other things, develop skills we didn’t know we had. We were forced to come up with new ways of doing things. It was the best thing that ever happened to us! We are now much better off than before.”

The old Monk smiled.


 

Change is coming, yo

I love that story. For me, it’s a reminder of the fact that someday – maybe soon – there is a life-changing event that is coming to shake things up for us all. Life might be going smoothly for you now and you have your routine that takes you from day to day. But change is coming.

It will just happen. It might be a small shake – maybe a friend lets you down or you miss out on a promotion. It could be something bigger; that shake might be seismic– maybe you get sick or lose your job. And it might even be something amazing like a lottery win.

Whatever it is, it will happen and it will change your life. And that’s the nature of life. It’s not fair, it’s not malicious, it’s not favourable. It just is.

To use another analogy I’ve used before – life is like one big poker game. You get dealt a hand and it might contain some good cards or it might be a pile of crap. But those are the only cards you’re going to be dealt so you play them.

Now – in this game, maybe you see a nice little straight developing and you bet big as a result. And when your opponent slaps down a flush at the showdown, it stings like a bitch.

Maybe you go all-in with pocket Aces and in the resulting play, you get beat by a guy that was holding a Two and a Seven. It happens and it hurts.

 

Change can be challenging

Change is new and uncertain. A lot of people prefer the routine and the mundane and you sometimes have to make a real effort to step into a new way. But remember – nothing lasts forever and change is always coming.

So when you get hit by these bombs, how will you react? When change enters your world, how will you handle it?

The thing is – as horrible and as shattering as these things are, we should never let them break us. And never give up. They can also be an opportunity; an opportunity for you to take your life in a new direction or maybe even realise some unfulfilled dreams you always had.

So ask yourself these questions: What are your dreams? What do you really want to do with your life? What’s been holding you back?

We spend too much time doing shit we don’t want to do – then we daydream about the things we actually DO want to do. Imagine if you did instead of dreamed.

Whether it’s through our passion, or because we have our backs against the wall with nowhere else to turn, we are capable of so much. And often, much more than we give ourselves credit for.

Change – it’s inevitable. It’s how we measure time. Ultimately, we have to embrace the change and if we can do that, we will thrive. My man Charles Darwin knew this. Here’s what he has to say on the matter:


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”


True that. So when someone pushes your cow off a cliff, will you embrace the change?

The Iron Qualities Part 5: The work of the Iron Qualities must always be done

“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.”

 

This is the final part of the series of posts looking at the quote by Teddy Roosevelt where he talks about ‘The Iron Qualities’.

Once this post is finished, the journey to explore what the Iron Qualities are will be over, right?

 

The journey doesn’t end here

No – the journey towards true manhood never stops. Everything we do every day of our lives should be done with the goal of making ourselves better men – and with the principles of the Iron Qualities always in the back of our minds.

The work of the Iron Qualities MUST ALWAYS BE DONE

The Iron Qualities Must Always Be Done

It is not enough to read about the principles and be familiar with them

It’s not enough to say “ok – I am going to live a life filled with Iron Qualities”

It’s not enough to say “it’s too hard to be that kind of man. I am just an average guy and there’s nothing I can do to change that”

Nobody is born the finished product. Nobody is born as “Man: defined”. You might talk about men you have come across who are ‘naturals’ – everything they do seems so effortless.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as a ‘natural’. The difference with these guys is the stories they tell themselves in their heads and the actions they undertake every day.

  • They are positive – The stories they tell themselves are filled with positivity and affirmative messages
  • They are authentic – They have defined a code of virtues and their actions are governed by this code
  • They have resolve – These men do. Or do not. There is no try
  • They have courage – Doing (or not doing) will often be difficult, dangerous or painful. These men accept this fact and continue
  • They have an undefeatable spirit – They will not be beaten or subdued

That’s right – these men have the Iron Qualities and they are not half-assed about it. This is the secret to success – to be a man of Iron Qualities, there are things that MUST ALWAYS BE DONE. Every day of your life. There are no compromises, no shortcuts and the journey never ends.

  • It’s not optional
  • It’s not part-time
  • It’s not only words

It’s all day, every day action.

So let’s explore these final words a little more – “must always be done”

MUST – Of course…there is always a choice. The choice here is between being a man of Iron Qualities and being an average Joe. By definition most men will chose to be average and just coast along. How about you? Are you ready to be a the extreme right hand side of that bell curve?? If you are, there is only one way to get there…you MUST follow the path of Iron Qualities

Map to the Iron Qualities

You’re at the edge of the map lad…here there be Men

ALWAYS – The Iron Qualities is not a part-time thing. It’s not a fad diet and it’s not a New Years resolution that was made in a moment of crazed drunkeness at the staff Christmas party that dies before January’s end. It’s an all-encompassing lifestyle that provides the fuel and the platform for us to reach and fulfil our potential and get the absolute maximum out of every second of every day. And the journey towards perfecting this lifestyle never stops. It goes on and on and on. Always

BE DONE – The Iron Qualities is about action. Getting shit done. Understanding what a man should do in life and how he should act and then doing those things and acting that way. There is no “I’ll do it tomorrow”, “I can’t do it” and “why should I do it?”. You should do it because you’re a man. Because you can do it. And you need to do it now. Action. Because there are too many hollow words in the world

 

In Conclusion….

So that’s it. The Iron Qualities in something a little larger than a nutshell.

When I first read this quote a while back, I thought it was interesting and it stuck with me. And the more and more I thought about it, the more I came to realise that it captures and highlights most of the core aspects of what a modern man should aim towards.

It’s theoretical and abstract, yes. But the message is clear:

The Iron Qualities mindset drives action and fuels decision-making

And the message is as clear today as it was when Roosevelt first uttered the words – we NEED the Iron Qualities. Men who embody these qualities are becoming fewer and further between as the definition of what it means to be a man gets lost and corrupted.

But all is not lost – the fightback goes on. And in highlighting lifestyle choices and mindsets and everyday observations that I come across, I hope this site plays a part in that fightback.

But Bo Ideal is just one cog in a much larger machine. We all need the Iron Qualities – and the rough work that goes with this lifestyle must always be done.

So this is the part of the story where the group of kids find a treasure map and set off looking for that precious material, knowing they are going to get their asses handed to them on a plate by their parents when they don’t make it back for dinner.

Let’s get doing