Aim high in ’18: Happy New Year from The Iron Qualities

Hello friends,

Season’s greetings and a Happy New Year from The House of Iron Qualities.

2017 was a pretty crazy year – lots of changes, lots of upheavals. Some people liked it, others didn’t. But change – good and bad – is inevitable.

And that includes you and me. We’re not the same people we were 12 months ago. And at this time of year, we all tend to reflect on who and where we are in our lives; we identify what we don’t like and make promises to ourselves to fix these things. Most of the time these promises are quickly broken, but at least the intent is there.

 

Good intentions can lead to positive change

Ok, maybe you didn’t realise everything you planned or wanted to this year but if you set high targets for yourself and work towards them, you’ll be in a better place than you were yesterday. It’s like Vince Lombardi said:


“Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we catch excellence.”


 

 

The recipe for success here is to always stay aware of what you want to do with your life and where you want to take it. Don’t just wait until the end of the year to assess how much progress you’ve made – do this regularly and recalibrate if needed.

I was guilty of not doing this enough in 2017. For a large part of the year, I was drifting, letting life take control of me instead of taking control of where I wanted my life to go. I lost focus on the Iron Qualities project and other things took up more of my time than they should have.

It should be the other way around – take control. Make things happen in your life. Don’t be content to simply allow things to happen to you.

Despite all that, I’ve learned new things and gained new wisdom this year. Sure, there are things I need to work on in 2018, and I’ll do that. And so should you. Have high expectations for yourself.

 

Aim high – Make big plans

There’s a tendency these days for people to be quick to hate, be negative and take offense at anything. Don’t fall into those traps. Focus on what needs focusing on to make you the best person you can be. Focus on building yourself up, not tearing others down. Use the Iron Qualities to guide you in this.

Then go out and learn through living, not just reading about it. Put yourself into the arena. Make mistakes, learn through experience. Take the positive from those experiences and use it to become the best version of yourself you can be. The more time and effort you dedicate to realising the high expectations you set for yourself, the closer you’ll get to that ideal.

But remember – the ideal doesn’t exist. Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s ok to feel that you’ve fallen short or that there is still more work to be done, because the work that needs doing is living. By at least trying to improve yourself, you’ll be a better person than you were yesterday. And the good news is that the journey towards self-improvement never stops. There will always be something new to learn and do to make you better than you were yesterday.

Happy New Year. Aim high in 2018

 

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?

Time is money – don’t waste it

Hello friends,

You’ve probably noticed I’ve gone A.W.O.L from the blogging world for a few months. Yes, for one reason or another, I lost my way a little and didn’t / couldn’t dedicate enough time to the world of Iron Qualities.

No excuses – if you want to do something badly enough you’ll find the time and energy to do it. I allowed myself to get side-tracked and obviously didn’t want it enough. But that’s all been and gone now. I’m back, full of beans and ready to get this show on the road again.

But in getting back on track, I got to thinking about the seven months where I haven’t been creating, sharing and growing. That’s seven months I’ll never get back. I am now seven months older, seven months closer to dying and I can never go back to who and where I was seven months ago and do things differently. (not unless a flying DeLorean and some plutonium suddenly appear in my life. 1.21 Gigawatts!)

An old saying popped into my head while I was thinking about this: “Time is money.” I did a quick Google search and found out that the phrase is originally credited to Benjamin Franklin, who used it in an essay (Advice to a Young Tradesman, 1748). In that essay, he wrote:

 


“Remember that Time is Money. He that can earn Ten Shillings a Day by his Labour, and goes abroad, or sits idle one half of that Day, tho’ he spends but Sixpence during his Diversion or Idleness, ought not to reckon That the only Expence; he has really spent or rather thrown away Five Shillings besides.”

 

Time is a commodity we all get when we're born. But we only have a limited amount. How you use it can make a huge difference in what kind of person you become. Click through and spend a little of that time reading more

Makes sense. But I was thinking of this phrase a little differently

 

Look at it this way: We are all born and we all die. That’s a fact. So we have a limited number of days to live. A limited amount of time. How you choose to spend that time is up to you. And looking at time this way, it becomes a commodity that you SPEND.

Think about it – you can SPEND time learning about finance and how to save for your future. You can SPEND time in the gym making yourself healthy, strong and fit. You can SPEND time boozing with your mates and get wasted. Or you can SPEND time lying on your sofa scratching your ass and watching TV every weekend.

Some of those activities are a good way to spend time and you will see a return on your investment. The other activities…not so much

So for the past seven months, I wasn’t investing my time how I should have been. I let my job consume too much of my time and energy. Yes friends, Bo has a day-job. I need a means to pay the bills until The Iron Qualities becomes the global phenomenon we all know it is destined to be.

 

I’m not the only person in the world who has had this problem

 

It all started with industrialisation and now, economic and technological progress has led to higher wages and a generally higher standard of living in First World Countries. But we often work long hours and have less free time. Maybe you have a job that pays good overtime rates. So you work longer hours to make more money. But remember – you are working for someone else – producing things for the company’s benefit, not your own. At the same time, you are LOSING TIME to do the things you really want to do or should be doing.

And maybe you find yourself rising through the ranks in your company. As your progress in your career, you get more responsibility. And more stress. And you find yourself thinking about work, even when you’re not there. Your free-time investment and value have degenerated.

And it can be degenerated even further by the sheer amount of information that we have access to these days. Granted – technology has done a lot for us over the years to make life easier and more convenient. You can now control your finances; keep in touch with friends and family; go shopping using a fraction of the time and effort it would have taken before.

 

Time is money, yes. But time is also consumption. Time is change. And it’s measured by tracking the progress of change

Access to information is so abundant these days that there is a danger of spending our time getting drowned in it

 

How many times have you seen or heard about someone spending hours on Facebook stalking the lives of others; or watching one video clip after another of cute furry animals on Instagram? Or maybe you’ve found yourself getting lost in the rabbit hole of another Youtube marathon…watching a video of a random Japanese guy wearing a horse mask hunting for truffles to the sound of Kraftwerk…when all you wanted to do was find out the best way to slice onions.

It is so easy to get swept along by the all these things and let them run your life. You can easily end up on autopilot and before you know it…yes…seven months have passed and those ambitions you set out to achieve are as far away as ever.

The need to understand the most efficient way to spend your time and focus on your goals to improve yourself is greater than ever before. We have a great opportunity – we live in a time where we truly can do anything we put our mind to. And we can make technology work for us to help us realise these ambitions.

 

But remember the importance of time in all this

 

Time is money, yes. But time is also consumption. Time is change. And it’s measured by tracking the progress of change. The world turns and the sun moves across the sky. When the sun returns to the same place, a day has passed. Enough days pass, it becomes a month. Then a year. And so on.

It’s the same with you and me. Look at yourself and assess if and how you have changed over a period. If you’ve changed in a positive way, that’s a good time. If you haven’t changed at all or changed in a negative way…well, that’s bad time.

But don’t dwell on it – the time is spent and it’s gone. We always move forward. You’ve lost that part of your time allocation. Good news is – you’ve still got some time currency left to use as best you can.

Me? The last seven months haven’t been as productive as I would have liked. But I’ve still grown. I’ve still learned new things. And I will take all this forward with me and do my best with it to maximise my time investment.

And so it is with you – in terms of experience and skills (and money), you can be as rich as you want. It all comes down to how you chose to invest your time. The great thing is, you have a choice. Use it.

I am – therefore I don’t think: How to communicate with confidence

Decisiveness. And confidence that you’ve weighed up the options and made the right decision. That’s what a man has. No faffing about. No maybes. Just decisions and action.

Here’s a true story for you: A friend of mine once worked for a large multi-national airline and had access to the Executive level guys. The CEO of this company once offered my friend some advice on how to be a successful leader: “Never use the words ‘I think’ in a meeting. If you want to come across as someone with confidence, when you say something, state it as fact. Most of the time, people will just accept it.”

Leaders should inspire confidence. If you’re following your General into battle, you want to be sure they know what they’re doing and what they’re talking about.

If they start saying things like “I think we should do this…..” or “I’m not sure whether we should do A or B…let’s go for A”, guys are going to be like “dude – does this guy even know what he’s doing?”

Nobody knows all the answers all the time. Nobody. The skill here is going with your gut, accepting that as your truth and rolling with the consequences.

A man has self-confidence. Not arrogance. And this is not about bullshitting. Because when you get called out on your bullshit enough times, you quickly lose credibility.

No it’s more subtle than that. This is about communicating with confidence.  Taking the default position that you are right in what you’re saying until proven otherwise.

Perception is reality - so do what you can to communicate so others see you as the confident, self-assured man you know you can be. Don't think you can, KNOW you can.

 

Mr Miyagi – a legend of men – had it right:

 


“Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later…get squish just like grape. “Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,” (get squished) just like grape.”

 

There is no “guess so.” Using words like “I guess so” or “I think” make you look like a wet blanket. But we are men and we sleep on a bed of nails. We say things like “yes” and “no” and “I’m sure” and “definitely not”.

Similarly, when we do something, we do it. We’re all in. There are no half-measures and no token attempts. Yoda – another one of our male role models – nails this one:


“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

 

Side note and philosophical wondering:  Is Yoda still classed as a male if he’s a) a different species and b) a puppet?

 

Don’t say ‘I think’ – and don’t apologise

And for those times when someone does call you out and – importantly – can prove you’re wrong, admit you were mistaken and move on. But don’t apologise. We only apologise when we have made massive boo-boos like running over our neighbour’s dog; forgetting our mum’s birthday or coming home after a heavy night of tequila and barfing all over the bathroom.

 

So with all this in mind, I’m going to leave you with three tips that will definitely make you more decisive. For sure. For real.

  1. Remove the phrase “I Think…” from your vocabulary. It doesn’t exist for you any more. If you’re more than 60% sure about something, “it is”. Less than 60% sure? “I don’t know.” Don’t be afraid to put your balls on the line here.
  2. Answer questions definitively “yes” or “no”. Being tentative and using maybes means people don’t know where they stand with you. And you become less trustworthy and dependable. Don’t want to go out with your boys for beers and burgers? Just say so. Nothing worse than saying “maybe” and then flaking at the last minute. Don’t be that guy.
  3. And following on from point #2 – follow-through on what you say. If you definitely say “yes” to something (good for you, by the way), make sure you effing do it. Similarly, if you take a stand on something – make sure your actions back that stance up. Don’t be the guy who says Disney movies are for pussies and kids and then gets caught coming out of the cinema having just watched Beauty and the Beast.

 

It’s ok not to know something, it’s ok to ask questions and it’s ok to be wrong. Go with your gut. But GO. Take ownership of yourself

  • If you’re going to be a leader, then lead. That means inspiring confidence in those that follow you. It’s your way or the highway
  • If you’re not going to lead, then follow. And there will be a time for this – you can’t be a hero every time
  • And if you don’t feel strongly enough about something to lead OR follow – then get out of the fight

Perception is reality – so do what you can to be perceived as the confident, self-assured man you know you can be. Don’t think you can, KNOW you can.

 

Iron Qualities Essentials Chapter 1: Tools

 

We live in a disposable world. So much of what we use today is designed for short-term temporary use. Gadgets have become more and more specialised to do particular jobs and we end up hoarding a big steaming pile of useless shit.

Men who are interested in becoming the best they can be take a minimalist approach. Strip away what is useless and keep only what is useful. What is essential.

That’s right. Despite what that fox says in ‘The Little Prince’, what is essential is not always invisible to the eye. There are real, physical things that every man should have at his disposal in order to blaze a trail through this big old world.

A man of Iron Qualities is ready to face what life has to throw at him. And he does it with the help of these Iron Qualities Essentials – things that civilisation has invented and refined over the years that help us to do what needs to be done. Efficiently and without fuss.

A man of Iron Qualities is ready to face what life has to throw at him. And he does it with the help of these Iron Qualities Essentials - things that civilisation has invented and refined over the years that help us to do what needs to be done. Click through to read more about 5 essential tools every man should have

 

Here’s the thing: You don’t need every damn gadget under the sun

But there are definitely some select items that will help you conquer life. Go out and get what is useful, look after it, and get rid of the rest.

Be the man who says “Don’t worry – I got this.”

And Big Daddy Bo here has a real life example for you.

A while back, I bought a new sofa. A sweet three-seater sofa bed in charcoal grey that…..blah blah blah whatever.

Anyway, I live on the second floor of an apartment block. So my job that day was to get the new sofa into my flat and remove the old one. I got it done, but not without the help of some Iron Qualities essentials.

The first thing we had to do was measure to make sure this bad boy would fit within the dimensions of my building. So I pulled out essential item #1…

 

Three metres of measurement goodness that fits in your pocket?? Yes. This thing can be used for all kinds of measuring needs and helps distinguish between perception and reality

The Tape Measure

Five metres of measurement goodness that fits in your pocket?? Yes. This thing can be used for all kinds of measuring needs. The skill is matching those measurements with reality…

I took some measurements and jotted down the dimensions of my doorways and elevator and apartment.

The tape measure never lies. Unfortunately, my desire to get my new sofa into my flat blinded me from the cold, hard truth of numbers and geometry. I would find that out soon enough but for now, the challenge was set.

When the delivery guys arrived with the sofa, we soon realised it’s girth was too much for the elevator to receive. So we had to take the scenic route up two flights of stairs.

It took four men and a lot of sweat and grunting to get this thing up to the second floor. And when we got there, it wouldn’t fit through the doorway to my hall. Geometry had bested us again.

To progress further, we needed to remove the wooden-framed glass panel beside the door in order to create some pivot space. Thus began the side-quest.

We needed a couple of essentials to get this panel removed, the first one being a….

 

A putty knife is versatile as hell. You can use it to chisel wood; spot-fix chips and holes in a wall; reglaze a window or scrape off paint or wallpaper.

Putty Knife

Really Bo?? A putty knife is an essential tool for a man?? Yes my friend, and here’s why: It’s versatile as hell. You can use it to spot-fix chips and holes in a wall; re-glaze a window or scrape off paint or wallpaper. And on the day of the sofa, it became a wood chisel. I worked it into the joints of the wood panels and began separating them. But of course, a chisel is no good unless you have a…

 

A decent-sized claw hammer will have enough weight behind it to knock nails into walls and build furniture. And the claw is used to pry out stubborn nails and re-shape bent ones

Claw Hammer

Because beating things with a heavy object. A decent-sized claw hammer will have enough weight behind it to knock nails into walls and build furniture. And the claw is used to pry out stubborn nails and re-shape bent ones. I used my hammer that day to first take apart that panel and then build it back up again.

But things are never as simple as all that. And there were parts of that wooden frame that were proven a little stubborn and refusing to cooperate with the putty knife / claw hammer combo. Not even a problem to a man equipped with determination and a…

 

Less intimidating (and expensive) than a power saw and not as long and cumbersome as a traditional saw. A decent hacksaw will serve you well for almost all of your household sawing needs

Hacksaw

Less intimidating (and expensive) than a power saw and not as long and cumbersome as a traditional saw. A decent hacksaw will serve you well for almost all of your household sawing needs. It can cut through cable, steel, hard plastics…and wooden panels and frames. Yes, even those.

And that was pretty much it. We manoeuvred the sofa into place in my living room with a little effort and when it was all done and in place, all that was left was cutting the string that we used to hold the bed part of the sofa in place while we lifted it up the stairs. It felt like a ceremonial ribbon cutting – an way of saying bye to the old sofa and welcoming this new piece into my life. And for this job, only one tool would do…

 

The very definition of a refined multi-tasking gadget

Swiss Army Knife

This badboy is the very definition of a refined multi-tasking gadget. Seriously, I have used it for so many things over the years. It has screwdrivers, a corkscrew, scissors, tweezers and knives. Classic multi-tasking. And on sofa delivery day, I used it for two purposes:

1 – Cutting that string from the sofa

2 – To crack open a well-earned icy cold Bohemian-style beer

Job done. Sofa in living room and Bo lying on it, beer in hand. And all with the help of five essential items.

 

If you’re starting from scratch, it will take some time and money to build up your collection of essentials

But don’t be tempted into taking shortcuts and buying cheaper alternatives. Go for the best quality you can afford. Often, these things are often not as expensive as you think – the five items in this article probably cost less than £50 all in. And that’s for decent quality.

I’ve only talked about five such items in this article. There are more. Hopefully you have at least a couple of these things. If not, don’t worry. Have patience – build and refine your collection over time. The journey to becoming the best you can be never ends.

Samuel: An Inspirational Man of Iron Qualities

It’s been a while since we’ve highlighted a Man of Iron Qualities on here. The last one was Conor McGregor back in December 2016.

McGregor is unrelenting in his determination to succeed and consistently demonstrates a positive spirit and drive that has taken him to the very top of the UFC.

But the guy I want to talk about today takes these traits to a whole new level.

Samuel is a Year 8 student at the Manchester Creative and Media Academy and he suffers from Cerebral Palsy. He’s also a big football fan and his favourite team is Manchester United.

He recently got a chance to visit the club’s training ground thanks to the Manchester United Foundation – a charity that uses football to engage and inspire young people to build a better life for themselves and unite the communities in which they live. And it was through a promotional video of his visit that I came across Samuel and his inspirational outlook on life.

 

In the video, we see 11 year-old Samuel meeting several Man Utd players during the day – which he describes as “the best day of my life.”

And while it’s nice to see the Manchester United Foundation help make a young kid’s day and the players give something back to the community, what stands out when you watch this video is Samuel.

We see a boy who possesses an amazingly positive outlook on life. He has a passion for football and nothing is going to stop him from actively enjoying this passion. Not even Cerebral Palsy.

 


“Having Cerebral Palsy is very hard to get with, but I don’t really take that as a big issue. I just get on with it.”

 

 

Samuel is an 11 year-old with Cerebral Palsy. But he doesn't let that stop him from going out and achieving his dreams and ambitions. Read on to find out about this inspirational young man

In fact, he does more than get on with it

After receiving support from the Foundation’s coaches, he now turns out for his school team, playing as a goalkeeper:

 


“When we’re in a match or in training, I use my knees to move around and jump…Having a Manchester United Foundation coach is amazing. I thought I couldn’t enter the football team, then my coach gave me a chance…and from there I got better.”

 

A positive attitude and steely determination are great assets that every man should strive towards. But in order to become the best we can be, we need a strong network of like-minded people. And Samuel is no different.

He has been able to play football for his school team and become a better goalkeeper because his friend helps him with his frame and plays football with him, while his football coach helped him develop and improve his football skills.

Samuel has friends and mentors who help him become a better player. And you and I are no different. Find mentors. Be a mentor. Support your friends when they need you. Reach out for support from your friends when you need it.

This is how we help others become better men. And how we can become better men ourselves.

 

This story is not about sport, football or Manchester United

It’s about the power of positivity and the determination to do your best and keep going – no matter the circumstances. It’s about the lessons Samuel can teach us all about how to live our lives every day.

Samuel has made the choice to enjoy life – and football – as much as he can. And it’s not easy or always comfortable for Samuel to play football. But that doesn’t stop him:

 


“Playing football is a bit difficult to be honest. I can’t really get around because when it’s cold my body just gets stiff. But I still try.”

 

 

And here’s the thing. We will all struggle from time to time

Most of us don’t have the luxury of being dealt a pair of Aces at this big poker game called life.

But you’re still at the table. Playing. So play – and play the hand you’ve been dealt. Don’t waste time thinking about how you would have played another hand. That’s the secret to living a fulfilling life – doing your best with what you have.

And what are you going to do if you haven’t been given every skill or opportunity or circumstance that you want? Are you going to piss and moan about it and give up on your dreams and ambitions?

It’s the easiest thing in the world to make excuses and give up. It’s never going to be easy. There will always be obstacles in the way that roadblock your progress. But what separates true men from the rest is how we react to these circumstances.

So many men give up and resign themselves to a life of being miserable and talking about what they could have done. Don’t be that man.

 

Be the man who keeps going despite circumstances, not because of them

The life well-lived is one where you do something to improve yourself every day – whether that be by learning something new, practising a skill or learning a new one. You keep taking steps forward – no matter how small those steps are.

So you improvise, adapt and overcome. Just like Samuel. And when you’re feeling like giving up, take inspiration from him just as he took inspiration from his heroes who play for Manchester United:

 


“(the players) show good emotions to keep going no matter what…when they are doing it I am saying to myself ‘never, never, never give up’. I mean, I’m in a wheelchair and I never give up. I don’t even care about having a wheelchair. Just try. Try your hardest.

 

 

A true inspiration

I’m so glad I saw this video and got the chance to experience Samuel’s amazing attitude to life. He has inspired me to keep going with my efforts to be the best I can be. And judging by the general reaction to this video, he has also inspired many others around the world.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t – or aren’t – making as much progress as you would like. You keep going. There is no end of the journey.

Keep going. Keep trying. Keep moving forward. Never give up.

Just like Samuel.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to the Iron Qualities

It’s celebration time at the House of the Iron Qualities. No, this isn’t a delayed Christmas party – the Iron Qualities is celebrating its first birthday
so I’ll be popping open a little bottle of champagne to celebrate.

Wait…no. That doesn’t sound right. Lose the champagne. I’ll be cracking open a six pack of cold malt sodas, chugging the hell out of them and crushing the cans on my forehead.

That’s better.

The Iron Qualities is one year old. Click on to read about what we did in year one and to what there is to look forward to in Year Two and beyond

 

I started this blog as a way to document my thoughts on what it means to be a man in today’s world. To seek out and remember all the lessons our ancestors taught us about how to be men. And through this process I wanted to help myself and hopefully others to gain a little enlightenment and become better men.

I initially thought the ideas and life lessons that took us on the journey from boyhood to manhood had been lost and corrupted in a sea of modern-day apathy, information overload and political correctness.

But in the last year, I have learned that the concepts that make males ‘men’ are still alive and well. And by paying attention and actively looking for the life lessons that help us become the best we can be, we can find them.

There are others who feel the same way I do – I learned that too. My audience started small, and it still is thanks to my disgustingly bad marketing skills. But either through word of mouth or people stumbling across the site by pure fluke, it has gradually grown as men organically discover this site and find something that clicks with them.

In Year Two, I’m going to up the ante. I will keep pushing forward, spreading the word and sharing what I learn on my journey to become the best I can be. I had ambitions to write many more blog posts than I actually did in Year One, so there’s plenty more quality content to come. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

So thanks for checking out The Iron Qualities in Year One. If you read anything this year that made an impact, it would be great to hear from you. You can holler at me through Twitter or Facebook.

Ok. Retrospection done. I’m not going to get all gushy and sentimental. We reflect briefly, then keep moving forward. That’s the Iron Qualities way.

We keep doing and pursuing. All action, all day. Kicking ass and…..ok that’ enough. Where’s that six pack…..

What you can learn from losing

 

Losing sucks. It can sting like a bitch, kick like a mule and cut like a knife.

You’ll lose many times in your life. That’s the truth. Losing is part of living.

But is losing really all that bad? It depends.

You can wallow in your defeat, make excuses and feel sorry for yourself. Or you can analyse it, learn from it and come back stronger.

Guess which path a man chooses?

Losing is part of living. It can make you or break you. And if you take the time to reflect on defeat and disappointment, you can learn a lot about yourself. Click through to find out more about how losing can actually help

 

“You lost today kid. Doesn’t mean you have to like it”

Fedora (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

 

Despite what you’ve probably been told at school growing up, competition is a good thing. It IS the winning that counts – NOT just the taking part. Medals for participation…no.

I understand the concept – I get it. We don’t want to make anyone feel sad about not getting on the podium. Everyone deserves to share the spotlight. We are all special little sunbeams.

But here’s the thing – the real world doesn’t work like that. If you leave that warm fluffy comfort zone with the belief that everyone wins by default, you will be in for many rude awakenings my friend.

My history teacher always used to remind us of a quote used by Winston Churchill: “History is written by the victors.” And it’s true. When you win, you get to call the shots.

Winning feels good. It is the successful achievement of a pursuit and vindication of ability. A sign of dominance or an indicator of progress.

Losing usually means one of the following:

  • You are not doing something right
  • Someone else does it better
  • You are doing the wrong thing
  • You have not fully exploited the opportunity
  • You have not explored and mastered new ways of thinking and doing

And many men can’t get their head around this fact. How many times do you hear things like this:

“Why can’t I get a girlfriend? I’m a nice guy. It’s not fair”

“I’ve been in the same position at my company for 6 years but I can’t get a pay-rise. It’s not fair.”

Yes. It’s not fair. It’s never about fair. There are winners and – in order for there to be winners – there must be losers.

 

Conflict makes us men. It drives us and teaches us valuable lessons about ourselves. Hey - speaking of valuable lessons, why not click through and read more pearls of wisdom from your friend Bo

 

So when losing pulls down your pants and boots you in the ass, you have a choice:

  • Like it, give up and resign yourself to defeat
  • Don’t like it, and do something about it

Take Conor McGregor for example. He’s one of the biggest stars in the UFC right now and the first man in the sport to hold two belts simultaneously. But he has felt the sting of defeat when he faced Nate Diaz in their first fight.

Did it hurt him? Absolutely. Did it dent his confidence? No doubt. Did he roll over and accept it? Judge for yourself:


“I’ll handle this loss like a champion. I will not shy away from it. I will not make excuses for it. I lost in there. There was errors. But errors can be fixed if you face them head on. I will celebrate this – like you should. You should celebrate all adversity because it makes you grow. It makes you stronger.”

 

 

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

Charles Darwin

 

Mankind has got to where it is today through a long history of evolving ways of living, working and thinking. And throughout history, only what is useful and innovative remains. What is useless is thrown out.

Men who improvise, adapt and overcome – that’s who we want to be. Just like Dick Fosbury (hehe…Dick)

Fosbury was an above-average high jumper in his High School years in Portland, Oregon. He struggled with the jump technique and was failing to make a mark in the sport at any kind of level.

Dick could have given up. He could have decided that high jumping wasn’t for him. Instead, he experimented with different techniques. And after two years of trial and error, he had perfected a method that involved jumping over the bar backwards, head first.

He broke his school record and then finished second in the State Championships using his new approach – now known as the ‘Fosbury Flop’.

At College, some of his coaches tried to convince him to continue working on the old ‘straddle’ high jump method. They still weren’t convinced by the the Flop. But when he broke the College record in 1965, the Fosbury Flop gained popularity and became the technique of choice for many athletes.

He continued perfecting the Fosbury Flop and in 1968, he won the US Olympic Trails and earned the right to represent his country in the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

You know where this is going right….he smashed it at the Olympics – winning gold with an Olympic record of 2.24m. Happy days for Dick.

Fosbury was successful because he was first a loser. Lack of success at High School and a desire to succeed forced him to look at things a different way. He innovated for competitive advantage and to become a winner. The rest is history.

Don’t forget about your boy Dick.

 

When things don't work out and you think you've done everything right, taking time to understand WHY you failed can be time well spent. Click through and read on my friend

 

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work

Thomas Edison

 

Competition drives advances in civilisation. We’ve got to where we are today because those who came before us were prepared to try new ways of doing things to gain a competitive advantage.

And when you try new things or take a chance, sometimes it doesn’t work out. And you lose. Then you have a choice – give up, or try again. It’s only those who totally give up who actually lose.

Loads of great and successful men in history were losers at one time or another. Check it:

  • James Earl Jones had a stammer as a child and barely spoke. Today he’s probably best known as one of the most famous voices in cinematic history – Darth effing Vader.
  • Walt Disney got fired by a newspaper for having no imagination and had a number of businesses go bust before he went on to create all those lovable little animated characters and make a shitload of money.
  • Soichiro Honda. This guy got rejected for a job as an engineer by Toyota and made his own scooters in his spare time. He eventually grew this business into the Honda company that we all know today.

All these guys tried – and failed – at something at one time or or another. But they followed their passions, kept on trucking and success eventually found them.

And that’s the thing – it’s ok to lose. In fact, we need to lose sometimes.

 

Don't be afraid of losing. Don't be afraid of failure. Live in the moment and go for it. There is nothing worse than a live unlived

 

Many of us are so afraid to try….and lose. But to be the best man you can be, you need conflict. You need competition. You need to be fighting in the arena. And you need to lose.

Losing is a test of your resolution and an opportunity for you to discover weaknesses in yourself that you can work on. Don’t weep and moan about but, but take some time to think about what went wrong and how you can learn from it. It might be unpleasant and uncomfortable, but you will learn something new about yourself.

Winning is easy. It’s confirmation that you have done something right. Past tense. But don’t let it make you complacent. We continually improve to make ourselves better. That journey never ends.

 

Losing for the win

We are men. We are not afraid of losing. Losing does not break us. But it can make us better.

Losing builds character. Nobody is born a natural at anything. Skill and self-confidence in your abilities is built over lots and lots of trail and error. You will only know what really works by first understanding what doesn’t work.

Live in the moment. Trust your gut. Believe in your abilities. And test yourself against the world. Don’t think about the prospect of something not working out or that fact that you might not succeed.

Get out there. Try things. Fail. Fall over. Lose. And ultimately win.