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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

The importance of keeping your composure and 6 ways to keep it

Composure. A fundamental Iron Quality and a key component of living like a boss.

But what exactly is it?

Composure is the feeling of being calm and in control of yourself and your emotions.

But here’s the thing – much like the G-Spot, composure can be elusive and slippery. Keeping your composure in a world that does its best to make you lose it can be the one of the hardest fights you face.

Getting emotional is ok – there’s a time and a place for emotion. Going through life acting like a robot isn’t healthy. But we are men – and we’re always striving to think clearly and objectively. We can’t let our behaviour and actions get hijacked by emotion.

Image: Bo Ideal

Everyone is judging you…

People read verbal and non-verbal cues from you and make judgements. That’s what we all do.

Personally, I don’t give a shit about how people judge me and neither should you. But if people know there are buttons they can press that will rile you up and force you to lose your composure, it becomes something they can leverage. A weakness they can exploit.

But if you can remain cool, calm and collected in all situations…that’s a powerful tool. Composure shows self-confidence. You are sure of yourself and your reality is dictated by YOU. External factors don’t shake that.

 

Never let emotions cloud your judgement

When you control your emotions, you communicate better and with more confidence. You lead a more productive and purposeful life and get more done.

To be a leader amongst men – that’s what we’re talking about here.

  • Can you take a verbal roasting without letting it rile you up or get you down?
  • Can you handle a rejection without getting discouraged?
  • Can you remain cool when things don’t go according to plan?
  • Can you speak in public without getting nervous and breaking down?
  • Can you laugh with others when the joke is on you?

 

We’ve all lost our composure at some point

Somewhere that’s rife with the pathetic stench of composure loss is the world of dating. We’ve all seen it and most of us have experienced it first hand.

It’s that feeling you get when you’re trying to seduce a honey and you’re way more into it than she is. You know this, but you keep calling her anyway. Texting her.

  • Sometimes she answers.
  • Sometimes she doesn’t.
  • Sometimes she replies with brief disinterested comments.
  • Sometimes you find yourself double or triple texting before you get a reply.

You try to arrange a few cocktails.

“It’ll be fun” you say.

“I’m busy” she says.

“Ah. Ok, no problem. Maybe next time.”

So instead of cocktails, you sit at home on Friday night watching some shit TV, trying to distract yourself from contacting her. But the temptation is too much.

“I’ll maybe just text a ‘hi’ “- no harm in that right?

Ugh.

I know what you’re thinking: “This guy needs to grow a pair, cut contact and more on”. But when emotion clouds our judgement, we make weak decisions and bad things usually follow.

 

When I was a child, I thought like a child…but when I became a man, I put away childish things

When we lose composure, we let that excess emotion affect our behaviour and actions. Just like a child does.

You’ve all seen the tiny tears when kids don’t get their way. Or maybe you had a childhood friend who used to huff and cry when he didn’t win at Super Mario Kart. Hell, maybe that was you.

When we’re young, we have an idea of ‘normality’ and we don’t know how to properly deal with things that upset our understanding of the world.

And that’s fine. We learn.

The skill then is becoming experienced in dealing with these things. Feeling the frustration, the anger, the joy – and learning how to react without letting it mess with the logical part of our brains.

The Iron Qualities | Composure and Emotion

It’s a little bit like getting drunk…

Remember when you stole that bottle of whisky from your dad’s special hiding place when you were 16?

  • Hiding out at the back of the local supermarket car park. Taking turns swigging from the bottle with your mates. And getting that warm fuzzy glow inside.
  • Telling all your boys how much you loved them and how awesome everything was.
  • Barfing in the bushes and trying to sneak back home without your parents busting you.

You lost your composure my friend. But the more experience you get in drinking alcohol and its effects, the more composure you can maintain while under the influence.

(until you reach the point of no return and then it’s almost literally ‘anything goes’)

 

So how the hell do you keep your composure?!

The good news is that there are ways and means to help you find and keep your composure. And here’s six tips to help you out.

1 – Think before you act

When you’re emotional, impulse isn’t always the best way. Take some time – even just a few seconds – to reflect on things before you make a decision. Which leads on to….

2 – Break the routine

If someone or something has riled you up, go for a walk. Go outside. Get some fresh air or just change the scenery. Try to look at things from a different perspective. A quiet moment to yourself gives you the chance to fully analyse things and make better decisions

3 – Reflect and learn

When you do lose your composure and act like an ass, learn from it. Identify what took your composure and ask yourself what you can do to stop it from happening again. Having a reaction plan can be very powerful and help you keep that precious commodity – composure

4 – Don’t take things personally

Everyone has a perspective. Everyone has a job to do. Most of the time, someone’s perspective will not align with yours. Sometimes, that job that someone is doing will piss you off. And that’s fine. Different opinions are what make the world so diverse. And that job is putting food on someone’s table. Look for solutions, not reasons to be pissed off

5 – You have choice

You are the centre of your world. You are the core. You are the anchor. External factors will wash against you and you will remain strong. Bad things will happen. Your composure will be tested many times. But you have the ability to choose how to react. You have the ability to define yourself on your own terms. And that’s a beautiful thing

6 – Breathe

When you get nervous or angry or excited, your breathing tends to become faster and more shallow. Recognise this and consciously try to breathe more slowly and from your belly. Get that heart rate down big boy

 

So the next time you feel yourself getting all hot and bothered, or your bottom lip starts quivering when things don’t go your way, think back on this. Composure is a beautiful but fragile thing. Keep it, cherish it – and you’ll be a man, my son.

The fear of getting punched and five things you can do about it

My good friend Mike Black once said something that stuck with me: “The fear of getting punched in the face is worse than the punch itself.”

I’ve thought about that from time to time since he said it. And you know what – he’s absolutely right.

 

The fear of getting punched | The Iron Qualities

 

And why are we afraid of getting punched?

It’s the thought of the physical pain. The thought of someone throwing their fist at you and busting your face wide open. And the pain that goes along with that.

But here’s the thing – in the heat of the moment, a punch doesn’t hurt half as much as all that. You’re high on adrenaline – it’s fight or flight, nothing else. You get tunnel vision and if you get hit, the pain doesn’t register. That comes later like a hangover after pounding several six-packs of Bronsons.

It’s natural to try to avoid a slap in the face. It’s unpleasant and annoying. But the pain – when it arrives – is temporary and will not totally put you out of commission most of the time.

And if it does, chances are you’ve been knocked the fuck out and you won’t remember a thing about it anyway.

So if you ever find yourself in a barroom brawl – go with it. Live in the moment. Take the punches and keep swinging. Here’s a textbook example – Clint Eastwood & Conan the Barbarian’s father in a 2 vs 45 man handicap match (cut to 00:35 if you’re not a fan of Country music and Spoiler Alert: Eastwood and Conan Senior kick ass and take names)

 

 

 

Be at peace with the truth: In a fight, you will get punched and bleed. And so will the other guy

Live in the moment. Like when you were a boy. Climbing trees, seeing how fast you could go on your bike, staging a mini Wrestlemania in your back yard.

There were no thoughts about how much it would hurt if we fell from that tree, crashed our bikes or couldn’t escape that figure-four leglock.

When you live in the moment, the fear disappears. We are single-minded. Trying to achieve only one thing. And doing it one millisecond at a time. There is no future beyond that.

 

Negative thinking leads to inaction

These negative thoughts stop us from taking action. And not just when we’re in a physical confrontation.

Far better to unleash that inner child and go for it. And if it doesn’t work out…so what? It’s not a failure – just an opportunity to learn. Take the learning from it and move on.

But I digress. Let’s get back to getting punched. And the fear.

So what can we do to get rid of that fear? Here’s five quick tips:

1 – Get punched in a controlled environment

Sounds a bit counter-intuitive…but join a boxing, kickboxing or MMA club. Not only will you get as fit as two fit things, you will also get used to physical conflict and getting punched. But in a safe and controlled space

2 – Always keep your eyes open

You need to observe what the hell is going on if things ever do get aggressive. Closing your eyes in anticipation of a punch is a bad idea. Keep those peepers open. Observe. And exploit any observed openings

3 – Never turn your back

If someone gets behind you, that means you can’t see them. That in turn means you don’t know what is going to happen. Just like the previous point, all observed information is knowledge. So keep facing forward. Keep moving forward

4 – Don’t flinch

A tough one to do. But if someone fakes a punch and you flinch you will probably have closed your eyes too. Which is bad (see point #2). So flinching is bad. But you can fix this by following the advice in point #1

5 – Keep moving

A moving target is harder to hit. You might not have the skill to float like a butterfly, but even dancing like a chicken is better than standing in one place waiting to get smacked.

 

When someone punches you in the face it causes pain, shock and surprise

It makes us feel belittled, controlled, bested and it has the intention of scaring, exploiting, hurting and dominating us. It causes both emotional and physical pain.

Most of us are risk averse. It’s a self-preservation thing. Getting punched causes damage and so it’s a risk of fighting.

But we need to take risks to become the best we can be and learn new things. We need to step into the arena and be prepared to take a hit.

Challenging ourselves will absolutely lead to some pain and discomfort. We might get punched in the face. It might bleed, bring tears to our eyes, cause brain fog and wind us. But we can’t win if we don’t fight.

That fool Balboa had it right: “It’s not about how hard you hit – it’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward.”

Back to the basics in nature

Big Daddy Bo took some time out recently for a road trip into nature with some of his boys. I shook up my regular routine and came back with some fresh perspective on shit.

Yes, I went up to the Scottish Highlands for a few glasses of top quality whisky and a browse at some of the scenery. I shut down the engines for a while and took a look at things from a different angle. And what it did was reaffirm for me the importance of breaking routine and smelling the roses – it’s something we should all do a lot more of.

Get in touch with nature

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” – Dale Carnegie

I have grown up living life to a series of deadlines. And I’m not alone in that. We rush from one panic to another; one project to another; one deadline to another.

It’s travelling from A to B via the quickest route. And we make big sacrifices to get there. We try to cut corners and we get tunnel vision – we don’t see the bigger picture.

How many times have you wished your life away so you can get through things? Saying things like:

“I wish this week was over”

“Roll on 5pm so I can get out of here”

“I can’t wait until next year”

In those few days in the Scottish wilderness it hit me: Nature doesn’t panic. Nature doesn’t rush. There are no projects or deadlines. Nature just is.

Nature is present just as I should be.

Everything in nature happens in its own time and while I was reflecting on this in Scotland, the importance of yesterday and tomorrow shrank. There was only now and I appreciated that fact a lot more than I normally do when I’m entrenched in my regular routine.

 

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life in the Highlands is very different to that in London or any other city. It’s a slower pace. More simple – and I don’t mean that negatively. The unnecessary complications of urban living are not there. And it feels more real – more authentic.

Everything in its own time – the natural world has composure and patience.

But it’s a way of life that has been lost or forgotten by most of us. Rediscovering what living like this feels like reawakens our instinctive masculine core and cuts away all the bullshit that’s shoved down our throats every day.

 

“The earth has music for those who listen.” – George Santayana

We have over-complicated things and the truly essential skills and knowledge that we need as men has been buried under this pile of bullshit.

Think of the Signal to Noise ratio (SNR). It’s a measure used to compare the level of desired signal to the level of unwanted background noise. Modern lifestyles are mostly noise – things that don’t REALLY matter. Not really.

Does it really matter that you used inconsistent fonts in your powerpoint presentation to the CEO?

Does it really matter that a potential honey flaked on you at the last minute?

Does it really matter that you missed out on tickets to the big Champions League game?

No.

All these things, essentially, are noise. And there is so much of it in our lives that we have to listen REALLY hard to hear the signal.

While there, we rented a place beside Loch Sunart that had a wooden balcony overlooking the water. I sat out there one night with a large glass of whisky. There was no traffic, no people and no noise. And as the stars wheeled in the sky the only sounds were from the occasional bird or fish splashing in the water. Everything felt like signal and it was much easier to hear.

There’s something to be said about a tall glass of whisky, time and silence.

 

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books. – John Lubbock

When I was 11 I received a great piece of advice that I never forgot – “Enjoy life, but don’t be afraid to smell the roses once in a while.”

The older I get, the more that advice rings true. But just like a river, the skill is to continually move forward. Smelling the roses is like when that river slows down in a large pool. It slows down…but it does not stop.

Reflect on the past, but don’t live there. Slow down…but don’t stop. Remember and learn…then move on. Don’t get sentimental or nostalgic. The river can only flow one way.

 

“We must constantly look at things in a different way.” John Keating – Dead Poets’ Society

Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society passed on some fierce wisdom to his students. He encourages the boys in his class to constantly look at things in a different way, demonstrating this by standing on his desk in order to see the classroom from a different angle.

That’s what I did – except that before I stood on my desk, I took it into the Scottish wilderness and set it in between some Highland cows and a shitload of nature.

 

“I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It’s so fuckin’ heroic.” – George Carlin

So that’s it. I went on a short break, broke my regular routine for a while and got a different perspective. And looking at things from a different angle helped me see and understand the importance of the Iron Qualities even more clearly.

You are alive. Smell the roses. Constantly question yourself, where you are and where you’re going.

Don’t just live to work. Don’t just serve. Don’t believe the hype. Don’t believe the empty promises. You are not a cog. You are not a machine. You are a person. You are alive. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Don’t just serve. Go out and live. Live deep and suck the marrow out of life.

Be like water

A man should be like water

No – I haven’t joined a hippy commune and gone all New Age on you. But…a man should be like water? Bear with me….

Once when I was in Milan, me and the boys went to a restaurant in the Navigli District. The Naviglio Grande canal runs through the area and there is also a large pool of stagnant water.

Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other nasties and without exaggeration, I was almost literally eaten alive. Literally. On the plus side, the food was great and I washed it down with several beers which numbed the pain. But when I woke in the morning, I looked like I was wearing the ‘King of the Mountains’ Tour de France jersey.

Because stagnant water doesn’t move anywhere, it can become an environmental hazard, harbouring malaria and harmful bacteria. It’s also often contaminated with animal and human faeces.

I live in London. The River Thames runs through it. And there are no mosquitoes. I can’t guarantee there’s no bacteria, dead bodies or pieces of shit in there, but cases of malaria in London are few and far between.

Be like water

Bear with my brothers, this is going somewhere…..

Humans are made up of about 60% water. That means we are predominantly H2O. So a good old water analogy on how to be a man seems like a good way to spend some time.

Bruce Lee once famously advised us to ‘be like water’, saying:

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

Water can do all these things. It fills any container – man-made or natural. Yes it can drip and it can crash. But it can also remain in one place and become stagnant.

For us men intent on becoming the best we can be what does this mean? It means we have to think of ourselves as rivers and carry out our lives with the same kind of purpose.

A river can cut through rock: Think of the Grand Canyon – it’s only there today because of the Colorado River. Over millions of years, it has sliced right through the American landscape and left us with one of the most amazing natural phenomenon in the world. Given enough time and persistence, a river can leave a huge impression on the world. And so can you – but you have to keep moving…and keep moving forward

A river always moves forward: By the laws of nature, a river can never run backwards. It flows downhill and never passes the same point twice. Water that flows in that river can never return to its source. So it should be with you – we can’t go back in time and change things. Dwelling on the past and wishing it back is not the way. We move forward. There are times when the flow of the river slows right down and we have the chance to reflect on things and smell the roses. We reflect, but we are still moving forward…with a purpose.

A river has purpose: A river begins life as a trickle of water high up in a mountain somewhere. Pure and fresh. It becomes a stream before becoming a full-on river. It goes through many twists and turns; flows violently and fast; flows gently and slow – and eventually makes its way to the ocean where it joins all other rivers. That is its purpose. Live your life with purpose too. Identify what’s important to you and always move towards it. There will be blockages and diversions on the way but just like a river, you keep going. And you WILL get to where you need to be. Stagnant water can’t do this because it doesn’t go anywhere. Water in canals can’t do this because it has been harnessed and told where to go and when

A canal is not a river: Because Milan has no natural rivers running through it, city officials have been building canals there for almost 1000 years to serve the purposes of the city – irrigation and transportation of goods. The water in those canals is controlled to serve the purposes of those in power. Don’t live your life like water in a canal being told which direction to flow and when to flow and why. Move towards your own purpose and always strive to move towards new experiences that serve your purposes.

Be like water my friend, but….

…don’t be a canal serving a purpose that is not yours

…don’t end up a stagnant pool of water going nowhere and filled full of shit, bacteria and sickness

Be a river – find your purpose and move your life towards that purpose. If there are any obstacles in the way you find a way through or around them

A man is a river

Be like water, live like a river

In nature, rivers inevitably flow to the sea and their purpose. Living a life of Iron Qualities isn’t as straightforward or inevitable. First you need to find your goal – what do YOU want to get out of life. And when you figure it out, live a life of intention with everything flowing towards that end goal.

It’s not easy – there are distractions and many things that will throw you off track. It’s a world of convenience, fast food, deadlines, long working hours, corporate mass media telling you what to think/feel/do. Using the water analogy – if you’re not careful you can end up becoming a stagnant pool (without purpose) or a canal (serving someone else’s purpose).

 

Procrastination and distraction are common traps to fall into. Take control.

Live with intention. Live with discipline. Live with purpose. Live with focus. Live with patience. Be like water, live like a river.

 

How about a kick-ass song about a river to end? Ok then, Bo will oblige.

Walk slower, talk slower

Composure – one of the key ingredients of a life well lived. What does a man of composure look like? He walks slower. What does a man of composure sound like? He talks slower. Walk slower, talk slower.

Modern life moves fast. You’ve got to take control of that bad boy with purpose. Like a river current, it will sweep you away if you let it and smash you against the rocks and it’s over and out.

Consciously taking steps to keep your composure in a world that finds ever more creative ways to steal it away is crucial in the journey to becoming a man of Iron Qualities.

And yes – two small little tiny wee things you can do to aid this process: walk slower, talk slower

 

Walk slower talk slower

 

Sounds simple doesn’t it? But let’s think about it – a man of Iron Qualities is cool, calm and collected in all circumstances. Never flustered, never awkward. He takes things in his stride, knowing what he can control and what he can’t. He understands the futility of hurrying through life and lives life at HIS pace.

You can hear a man of Iron Qualities coming; he has a deliberate, steady, confident step.

Think about history’s great men. Do you think they power-walked and rushed their way through life? Doubtful.

Taking the edge off your walking pace and slowing it down a little gives you extra reaction time and lets you adjust to external circumstance in a much more controlled way.

Don’t be that guy who is always walking with an impatient hurry – almost bumping into people and doing that awkward, silent dance we do with strangers we are about to walk into on the street. Dancing this way and that as we try to avoid each other.

When you’re late – how much faster will power-walking like a maniac get you there?? A minute…maybe two. And when you do arrive at your destination, you’ll be a hot sweaty mess.

 

A Confident step

 

You cannot conquer time

A man with Iron Qualities will take the steps necessary to make sure he is on time. And if the fates conspire against him, so be it. Walking a little faster won’t change that.

Here’s something to try: Take an inch of your step – slow it down a little. Make a conscious effort to go around 80% of your normal walking speed. It makes a difference.

It’s like my man Lao Tzu always used to say – “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

And I know this for a fact – when Lao Tzu said these words thousands of years ago, he said them in a slow and unhurried manner.

That’s right – Lao Lzu had the Iron Qualities.

Speaking too fast is a sign of nervousness and lack of confidence. It’s like you want to say what you need to say as quickly as possible because you don’t want to take up any more of the listeners’ time than is absolutely necessary.

Because you’re nice and harmless. Too nice

Speaking too fast and in a way that lacks confidence also has an effect on how you speak. A lack of pauses means that you are not taking in enough air and your speaking volume and clarity suffer as a result.

And when you rush through your words, your mouth can struggle to keep up with your mind and you end up dropping letters here and there and saying a lot of “umms” and “ahhs” to buy thinking time.

All of these issues become more highlighted if you are in a job that requires you to speak in front of a large audience or group of people

Speaking like this…it’s like a vicious cycle. You speak fast because you lack confidence. The people you are speaking to pick up on this and you can see and feel their lack of interest/boredom when you’re talking to them. So you become even less confident. And so the cycle continues.

But remember – you are a man of Iron Qualities. Everything you say is important and your time is just as valuable as that of your audience.

Just like walking, you should also aim to speak in a cool, calm and collected way

There IS no rush. Just like walking fast will get you to your destination maybe 30 seconds faster, so talking fast will deliver your message a few seconds quicker.

It’s only a matter of seconds. And taking those extra seconds to speak can make all the difference.

If this is something you’ve struggled with previously it can be tricky to fix, but there are some tips that can aid the process:

Consciously think about annunciating every part of every word when you speak. Doing this will slow down your rate of speech probably at least 10%

Check out some actors who are great speakers. Two great examples are Morgan Freeman and James Earl Jones.

Jones has one of the most recognisable voices in cinematic history and actually had a bad stutter as a child. And that stuttering chid went on to become Darth Vader.

I’m also a big fan of Daniel Day Lewis. And listening to him in interviews – indeed all these guys – they are not afraid of pauses and silence when they are telling their stories – and they very rarely use those filler words like “umm”.

So next time you feel an “umm” coming on when you speak, pause instead. And because you’ll be annunciating and consciously slowing down your speaking rate, you’ll have plenty more time to feel an “umm” coming on and so you’ll easily be able to swat it away.

Composure is the key.