The cave of the blue dragon is ominous.
Only the fearless dare to enter.
It is here that the forest of patterns is clearly revealed.
It is here that the one ripe pearl is hidden.
“What in the natural fugg?”, you may be asking. What can this possibly have to do with entrepreneurship? Much less, strength and conditioning?
Actually, everything. And I could write for the rest of my life on this subject alone. But here, I’ll just give enough of a take-away to keep you busy for a very long while.
So read on for just a bit. I promise you’ll find something useful here. Deal?
Cool. Okay, so first off let’s talk quickly about the story of Buddha inviting Mara (“fear”) to coffee. Okay, so it was actually tea as told in the original yarn… but fuck it, this is my rendition here. Coffee or whiskey works better for this kid.
That said, the link above will direct you to a great take on a very cool story. The short of it being that on the night prior to his enlightenment, the Buddha was continually assaulted by Mara (i.e., “fear”); essentially trying to get homie to crack and run for the hills. Buddha never wavered, but instead invited the biggest, baddest, and hairiest of those “fears” to “sit down with him for tea”. He cut the power of those fears off at the knees by sitting with them, unmoved, looking them in the eyes. He even felt compassion for those sumbitches. And one by one, those negative influences, robbed of power and sway, vanished.
It’s an intriguing story for sure, and if you’ve ever — how shall we say — been down a negative hallucinogenic rabbit hole, you “get it” immediately.
But let’s now expand the word “fear” to include the litany of things that conspire to deviate you off course. Things that keep a brutha down, so to speak; keep you from being “all you can be”. All religions have a take on this (imagine that), and they generally include such “afflictions” as:
Of course I lifted this particular list from the Judeo-Christian perspective, because that’s my background. Every culture, though, has a similar compilation. But the commonality to this (and any similar) list is that the wellspring behind all of these individual tributaries of fucktardness is fear. A great explanation of that viewpoint can be found here, in Fear and Fearlessness: What the Buddhists Teach.
In other words, learn to deal with fear, and all the rest (lust, sloth, gluttony, etc…) just fades away.
One of the major, life-changing takeaways from my numerous Ayahuasca experiences (you can explore some of that thought here and here) was/is learning to sit, unmoved, and as an “outside observer” (or “witness” if you will), with fear. And I don’t mean just “things that go bump in the night” fear, but soul-crushing, piss-your-pants, “I would do anything in my power to make this shit just stop” fear. And I can say this: sitting “still and unmoved” during those episodes is not easy. In fact, I’ve got a loooooooooong way to go before I can even say I’m decent at it.
BUT, I am getting better. And bettering our game day-to-day is the point here.
So, how do fears manifest in the real world? Especially so in those realms in which we’re most interested? Entrepreneurship and S&C are rife with fear in all of its manifestations. The most obvious of those being the worrying over — or attempting to control — that over which you have *no* control.
How does that play out in a practical sense? Well, here’s just one example that I see frequently in the entrepreneur/fitness Venn overlap: setting “results driven” goals.
Now think about this for just a minute: how many other factors are involved in a result — any result — that are completely out of your control?
I’ll give an example: you’re an entrepreneur, and your goal is increase company sales over 50% in the next 6 months.
Or you’re now fully dialed into a workout regime, and your goal is to put on 10 lbs of lean mass over the next 6 months.
And I get it: we all need that north star to navigate by. After all, we gotta point the ship in some direction. Yes, very true. However, you can’t be married to that north star. And those incremental steps have to hinge on those things you can control. Hitching your proverbial wagon to those things you cannot control (i.e., a particular “result”) is, quite simply, a fool’s errand. I know; I’ve been there.
One quick explanatory diversion and I’ll get back to fleshing out the above examples:
Throughout my high school and collegiate football career, I consistently graded out very high (usually at the top vs the team average). That means that when the game films were dissected on the Sunday following a Saturday game, I had very few blown assignments, missed tackles, bungled reads/coverages/calls, etc. There were many games I graded above the perfect 100 “threshold” by making few mistakes in addition to making plays that were deemed “beyond the ability of the position to make”. I don’t say this to pat my back 30 years after the fact. I bring this up because we lost some of those games in which I played, personally, off-the-charts well.
So friggin’ what, right? Hang in there; here’s my point:
As all athletes know, the best you can ever endeavor to do is be the best you can be on game day. No one player, though, can influence every aspect of the game (despite the bloviations of some ESPN analysts), not to mention every intangible involved (weather, crowd noise, the officials, the other team getting all the “lucky bounces”, etc…). One of the best lessons I learned as a young athlete under the tutelage of some of the best coaches in the nation was to take all focus off of winning, and put that focus directly and unwaveringly on making yourself the best position player you can be. Winning is simply a by-product — one possible result — of a game/match/etc. All you can do, as a player, is to help tilt the odds of winning in your team’s favor. Nothing more.
And here’s the kicker: no matter how good you are as an individual, you may still lose the game. Losing with dignity (the first step toward “unattachment with the outcome”) is a tough lesson for young athletes to learn. Hell, some professionals never get it.
And the same is true in the business environment. Instead of chasing results-driven goals, I have to concentrate on personal improvement that will help tilt, irrespective of the current climate, toward a favorable outcome. The simple fact of the matter is that I can’t control the market, the economy, the competition, the “flavor of the moment”, government regulations, etc. And thinking that I can do so (or worrying about it) only serves to divert time and energy from those things I can control.
Which is to say, my personal skillset.
Back to the examples above. In order to boost sales, have I:
- empowered my sales force with the best tools and training?
- refined my personal sales approach and interaction with clients?
- ensured that my product is the best that it can currently be?
- is my product solving a current need/problem in the marketplace? Is so, can my sales force express that to clients?
…and on the swole side:
- is my nutrition on par?
- sleep dialed in?
- is my drive and intensity on every rep of every set on point?
- am I being true to the required workout frequency/consistency?
I won’t belabor this; you get my point. I can control neither the overall economic climate of the country, nor my genetic hand. All I can do is be the best that I can be given the situation. That’s it. So my mission statement or “purpose” has to be expressed in terms of things I can control. Otherwise, those statements are meaningless. They’re simply “dreamboards” plastered to a refrigerator. Fuckin’ everybody wants the Leer, the yacht, the Ferrari and the fine-ass body. Everybody wants their definition of a win, whatever that might be.
But the scary shit (and here’s where Mara comes in, the bitch) is forcing yourself to come face-to-face with what it takes to get the win. Personal accountability, with no outs. And the even scarier thought is that you just might get everything. fucking. perfect…
…and still lose the game.
100% dialed-the-fuck-IN on your end…and you’re saddled with debt and standing in the rain at the bus stop when, if the world were even remotely fair, the Ferrari would be humming away out of your 12 car garage, waiting for you to nuzzle your sculpted ass into those fine leather seats (next to bea, who’s just walked out of a Vogue shoot) and pilot that whip out into the sunshiny new day.
And this is (but one) of the ways that “fear” (Mara) and her assembly of ass-hat minions can fuck with you. Because subconsciously you’re not about to put yourself out on a limb like that. Your subconscious/ego will see to it that you set expectations with an escape hatch. Because that escape hatch means never having to sit down, face-to-face, with Mara.
So you go on with your silly-ass dream boards and “results-driven” goals. Because when those don’t manifest, the landing is soft. No blood, no foul.
And it’s all total bullshit, if you truly want to be a world-changer. I’m saying you’ve got to invite that nasty Mara bitch right up next to you. So close you can smell her ass-for-breath wheezing. Sit there and calmly sip whiskey as she tries to make you piss your pants in her presence.
Or even worse, if those “goals” do manifest, it’s “yay, me! Vaccay time!” Without any acknowledgement whatsoever that the “win” had more to do with the luck of circumstance than anything else. You could have slept walked to that win. Meet Mara the poolshark. Payback is gonna really suck.
I’m telling you you have to put yourself, fearlessly, out on the limb of a very public, potential failure. You cannot let the fear of losing, even though you’ve done everything perfectly, rattle you in the slightest. You cannot let that fear back you down into making lame-ass goals that will get you nowhere. Comfortably numb is how Pink Floyd would label it, and it’s a perfect description.
In essence what I’m telling you is that you have to fucking own your own personal improvement,while remaining completely unattached to “winning the game”. Unless “comfortably numb” is what you choose. No judgements, here. It’s just that you can’t have it both ways. And Mara knows it. Believe me, she does.
That is just one of the many manifestations of inviting Mara to coffee. Or whiskey, if Mickey’s hands are reaching for high-noon.
And this all sounds very Five T’s-like, huh? Imagine that.
Somewhat of an aside…
This post had been rumbling around in my pea-brain for weeks, and I didn’t know exactly what to do with it. I knew it applied to the entrepreneur/swole-seeker, but I just couldn’t figure out the why, or the delivery. Then, a Facebook memory from 5 years ago popped-up in my feed, and it all made sense.
Consider long-haired dude to be Mara, and his opponent, “Mr Stoic” there, as a crude version of your “unattached witness”; your true being. This is the stage I’m at now; the stage I believe many of you might be as well. Which is *not* anywhere close to the end game, mind you (and certainly not the Buddhist way); only a step in the right direction. In other words, you’re at least *not* pissing your pants as Mara is putting the voodoo curse on you.
That I still have to lash out, aggressively, in an attempt to keep Mara at bay, indicates that I am just a journeyman here. I’m not nearly at the point of being Buddha-like; no way I can just simply “sit and chill” with Mara and her bullshit. Which is to say, she still has at least some form of control over me.
Maybe one day I’ll perfect the act of being the unmoved observer. I work hard on that, daily.
But in the meantime, nighty-night, bitch 😉
In health, fitness and ancestral wellness –