Wisdom Day 1 October 2016: The Fool’s Vortex

Note to Reader: This post was due out two days ago but needed a bit more gestation.

Note to Self: Wait a minute! This warning is for you! That still small voice you’ve been ignoring for YEARS? Heed it today! Maybe there’s yet time to get to higher ground.

Note to Self and Others: Gravity, weather, and wisdom always apply. Belief gets no vote. The fool’s vortex is belief agnostic. Action counts!

20-21 Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts.
    At the town center she makes her speech.
In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand.
    At the busiest corner she calls out:

22-24 “Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance?
    Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism?
Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn?
    About face! I can revise your life.
Look, I’m ready to pour out my spirit on you;
    I’m ready to tell you all I know.
As it is, I’ve called, but you’ve turned a deaf ear;
    I’ve reached out to you, but you’ve ignored me.

25-28 “Since you laugh at my counsel
    and make a joke of my advice,
How can I take you seriously?
    I’ll turn the tables and joke about your troubles!
What if the roof falls in,
    and your whole life goes to pieces?
What if catastrophe strikes and there’s nothing
    to show for your life but rubble and ashes?
You’ll need me then. You’ll call for me, but don’t expect
        an answer.
    No matter how hard you look, you won’t find me.

29-33 “Because you hated Knowledge
    and had nothing to do with the Fear-of-God,
Because you wouldn’t take my advice
    and brushed aside all my offers to train you,
Well, you’ve made your bed—now lie in it;
    you wanted your own way—now, how do you like it?
Don’t you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots?
    Carelessness kills; complacency is murder.
First pay attention to me, and then relax.
    Now you can take it easy—you’re in good hands.”  (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 1, Verses 20-33, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Wisdom Day 29 September 2016: Discipline Just in Time

For people who hate discipline
    and only get more stubborn,
There’ll come a day when life tumbles in and they break,
    but by then it’ll be too late to help them. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 29, Verse 1, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Being a fool by nature, I need a daily dose of discipline, or maybe several, to stay out of tough tumbles into tiger pits. But I just can’t make it every day to the psychologist, psychiatrist, priest, pastor, rabbi, imam or group meeting. But every day online I have:

The Word is Wisdom. Wisdom is the Word. Extreme Ownership put me back on a wise path. The fellowship of all the Troopers at zero dark 45 every morning helps me remember that, as Jocko says, Discipline = Freedom.

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Paul’s Letter to the Church in Galatia, Chapter 1, Verse 1, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

I aim to own the freedom and connect for real with other humans in the pursuit of wisdom, short and long term.

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Wisdom Day 26 September 2016: Beware: Tigers!

Loafers say, “It’s dangerous out there!
    Tigers are prowling the streets!”
    and then pull the covers back over their heads. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 26, Verse 13, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

I can relate! I never considered myself a loafer, but there have been times when I woke up ready to get up, then thought of all the tigers, not in the street so much as in my life. The tigers were circling. Bed seemed a safe place to be.

That was before Extreme Ownership, before The Tim Ferriss Show podcast with Jocko Willink, before 40 + episodes of The Jocko Podcast, before joining the #0445club, and before the recent #fastingsavages sally.

Now, it’s no longer Beware: Tigers! It’s Tigers, beware! Now when I wake up, I feel the spirit of hundreds, maybe thousands of fellow Troopers around the world with me. And I think of the servant of  the prophet Elijah:

15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (The Second Book of the History of the Kings, Chapter 16, Verses 15 & 16, The New International Version, BibleGateway.com)

And today it is true. There are more and more of us. We are the tigers in the streets. Get it on, Troopers!

Oh, if you’re not a Trooper yet, you can fix that. Or maybe better just cover your head? Wait for the tigers to spring? No slack.

Some homework?

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Wisdom Day 19 September 2016: Live Well

 

    Take good counsel and accept correction—
that’s the way to live wisely and well. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 19, Verse 20, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Where do I find good counsel? Who will give me wise correction?

Tim Ferriss says we’re the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time.

So what do I do? My plan of action (first draft):

  • Identify the top five sources of wisdom I can access electronically. Jocko Willink is already at the top of this list.
  • Identify the top five sources of wisdom I can access in person. Hmm? That’s a tough one.
  • Invest my “disposable” time there, starting today. Not sure time is like income or modern diapers, but will give it a tumble.
  • Track the time invested and report it to an accountability partner. And that would be . . . ?
  • Track the results in the most difficult problem area of my life, finances at this point. Let’s see . . . What’s a good metric? Credit score? Total indebtedness? Increase in income? I’ll go for inceased income, at least for now.
  • Re-calibrate and repeat.

Can I do it? Will Tim prove right? Can I improve my average me? Stay tuned.

Wisdom Day 18 August 2016: Word Fast

Many words rush along like rivers in flood,
    but deep wisdom flows up from artesian springs. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 18, Verse 4, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

My son Anton and I went once to the Anza-Borrego desert. We camped. We did not eat. We did not speak. Have you ever stopped talking for 24 hours or more?

Some fast from food. Some fast from talk. Some never, from either.

The more talk, the less truth;
    the wise measure their words. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 10, Verse 19, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

 

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it. (Quatrain LXXI, The Rubaiyát, Omar Khayyam)

 

Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise;
    as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 17, Verse 28, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

 

3-5 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! (The Letter of James, Chapter 3, Verses 3-10, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

I’ll never forget the desert and fasting from words with my son. Just sayin’.

Wisdom Day 5 September 2016: Bonehead Way?

You don’t want to end your life full of regrets,
    nothing but sin and bones,
Saying, “Oh, why didn’t I do what they told me?
    Why did I reject a disciplined life?
Why didn’t I listen to my mentors,
    or take my teachers seriously?
My life is ruined!
    I haven’t one blessed thing to show for my life!” (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 5, Verses 11-14, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

I relate, but not done yet!
Still time for another step.
Discipline or folly?
Lots left to gain
or lose.
Wisdom!

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Wisdom Day 2 September 2016: Life Patrol

Jocko Podcast 38 is a great primer on how to get from A to B, at least it is for me. When Jocko began talking about going out on patrol with his two older children, memories came flooding back of land navigation times with my two sons. We called it hiking and camping. I like Jocko’s vocabulary better. It sets the whole outing in an operational context. And that is great for kids, I think. It lends a greter sense of uniqueness and purpose to the outing.

As I think back on my outings with my boys, I think of dead reckoning vs. contouring. I think of how we learned in our minds and bodies the real challenges of getting where we wanted to go and the true joy of achievement when we got there on our own two legs. Our own two legs?

What if lots more kids in our country could know the joy of getting somewhere tough on their own two legs? What if they could learn, like my sons and me, in their own minds and their own bodies the difference between dead reckoning and contouring? How beautiful and dangerous nature can be? The science of a good compass and true north? All the marvelous information in a U.S. Geological Survey topographical map? Magnetic declination? Night navigation when the stars are out? The constellations? How the Pleiades lead Orion across the night sky and arrive at the western horizon near day break in summer in our northern hemisphere just before full dawn chases all the stars away?

Of course, I was not out on patrol with Jocko and his kids. But I am sure they learned even more than I surmise. Not just the profound science of how to get where you want to go. Also things about themselves, their dad, sibling interactions under stress, the joy of reaching a tough goal when you’re out in nature, something never known when sitting at home. The strong but invisible link between lessons learned on nature’s trails and the wisdom needed to traverse the trails of life. Some pretty fine gifts from a father to his children:

So now you can pick out what’s true and fair,
    find all the good trails!
Lady Wisdom will be your close friend,
    and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion.
Good Sense will scout ahead for danger,
    Insight will keep an eye out for you.
They’ll keep you from making wrong turns,
    or following the bad directions
Of those who are lost themselves
    and can’t tell a trail from a tumbleweed,
These losers who make a game of evil
    and throw parties to celebrate perversity,
Traveling paths that go nowhere,
    wandering in a maze of detours and dead ends.(The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 2, Verses 10-14, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Further reading on life navigation:

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Wisdom Day 28, July 2016: Chaos Country Bear

When the country is in chaos,
    everybody has a plan to fix it—
But it takes a leader of real understanding
    to straighten things out. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 28, Verse 2, The Message, translation by Eugene Peterson, audio by Kelly Ryan Dolan, BibleGateway.com)

Does this get to the point? Is the country in chaos? Where is the leader of real understanding? Might he be found on the Jocko Podcast? God, grant us a miracle. And, Lord, if you can’t help us, please don’t help that bear: Russian bear, ISIS bear. The world is full of bears, at home and abroad it seems. It’s a tough job, baptizing bears!

Oh Lord, you delivered Daniel from the lions den,
Delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale, and then
The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace,
So the Good Book do declare!
Well, Lord, Lord, if you can’t help me,
For goodness sake don’t you help that bear.
(The Preacher and the Bear, The New Christy Minstrels, In Person, 1963)

 

Wisdom Day 27, July 2016: Honor the Boss

If you care for your orchard, you’ll enjoy its fruit;
if you honor your boss, you’ll be honored. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 27, Verse 18, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Jocko Willink really hammers away at this point on the Jocko Podcast and in Extreme Ownership: Serve your boss. Does your boss want to take the credit? Good. Do you find your boss difficult? Good! Show respect. You want to be a leader? Good: Learn to follow.

Had I understood the principles involved here and lived by this advice as a junior officer, I would probably be a general today. I had so much going for me, except the wisdom of humility. My early success had made me haughty, even arrogant, but I didn’t see it.

However, I’ve decided it is never too late to change. Are you young? Get humble! Not so young? Get humble. As Ryan Holiday writes in Ego is the Enemy, ego is the enemy. Holiday’s book is a great primer for practical humility. The Jocko Podcast is a great pulpit from which to hear the message of active, creative, productive humility.

One other thought on my own early pride: I was a Christian. I was arrogant without realizing it. Yes, I had learned some truth. Yes, I did have some important insight not shared by all. I was even a spiritual leader of sorts. All well and good. But like certain religious leaders, of much greater stature than I, my behavior eclipsed important guidance that doesn’t leave much wiggle room for pride:

1-3 I have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it’s like to be a leader, in on Christ’s sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way.

4-5 When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he’ll see that you’ve done it right and commend you lavishly. And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for—

God has had it with the proud,
But takes delight in just plain people.

6-7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. (Peter’s First Letter, Chapter 5, Verses 4-7, The Message, BibleGateway.com, underlining by the blog author)

Yes, pride and ego can surely do us in:

18 First pride, then the crash—
    the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 16, Verse 18, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

So I had a big ego and took a big fall. I’m back on my feet a bit wiser. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Meanwhile, the following books offer help in cultivating humility, controlling the ego, and weeding out pride:

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Wisdom Day 22.a, July 2016: 30 Precepts of the Sages

I’m giving you thirty sterling principles—
    tested guidelines to live by.
Believe me—these are truths that work,
    and will keep you accountable
    to those who sent you. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 22, Verses 20 & 21, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Thirty Precepts of the Sages, Thirty Sterling Principles! It just struck me this morning that I’ve sought for years to learn a myriad of principles, some by sevens, some by threes, and even 21 immutable laws. These are all great, so great, in fact, that they brought to mind the really immutable laws, the Big Ten, the ones that are so controversial they are more and more often banned from public display. When bureaucrats decide something is so dangerous it should not be available to the public, that becomes even more important to me, knee-jerk rebel that I am, or is that just Jerk Rebel? Rebel Jerk? Hmmm? Maybe all of the above.

Anyhow, such was the inspiration this morning, that I wanted to see what you think of this list of thirty that is much less in the bureaucratic cross hairs than the Big Ten are. These Thirty Sterling Principles, the Thirty Precepts of the Sages, begin in Chapter 22 of the Book of Proverbs.

One thing that really surprised me was the fact that the very first Precept of the Sages deals with the poor and the weak:

Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor,
    and don’t use your position to crush the weak,
Because God will come to their defense;
    the life you took, he’ll take from you and give back to them. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 22, Verses 22 & 23, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

In none of the many other lists of principles for success have I found the top item to be something about how to treat the poor and/or weak. This is a bit of a puzzler. By comparison to the tech leaders of Silicon Valley, among others, I am poor. But actually I can look all around and see people much worse off than I, both nearby and far away. Am I somehow walking on them, using my position to crush them, without realizing it? I don’t think so, but then maybe I deceive myself. I heard one time from a clergyman that “The terrible thing about self-deception is that it’s so deceptive.”

Taking Extreme Ownership may be one way of overcoming self-deception. Hearing The Message might also prove helpful, especially for grasping the Thirty Precepts of the Sages. The following are some resources to those ends:

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