Be More, Do More: What is your journey? What are you willing to die for?

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Dear Brendan,

Let’s start this off by looking back in history and the takeaways from past lessons learned. 

I’m going to begin by quoting one of the greatest writers ever, G.K. Chesterton.  He once wrote the following that I believe helps to lay the ground work here.

“Take the case of courage. No quality has ever so much addled the brains and tangled the definitions of merely rational sages. Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. 'He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,' is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if we will risk it on the precipice.

He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine. No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle with adequate lucidity, and I certainly have not done so. But Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the sake of dying.”

These thoughts cross my mind daily.  Living.  Dying.  I ask myself from time to time what is it that I’m willing to die for.  Not because I’m a superhero seeking a glorious ending to my life.  I’m simply a man who has a deep desire to do more and be more in this life.  To continually learn from life, learn capabilities; and to look inside yourself.  At the end of the day I want to live with a purpose.  To fight the good fight. 

I’m a son, a husband, a father, a friend/brother to my fellow brothers in arms.  We have to ask ourselves what is brave?  Are the things I want to accomplish in this life worth doing?  What drives you and why?

Let’s take a look at some of the evil in our world.  Bottom-line killing is easy for many/many people.  Just take a look at members of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Al-Shabaab and sadly the list goes on.  Simply put killing is not hard to do at all.   Men who kill others, and have nothing much to lose, kill all the time and this violence reaches around the globe.  You can turn on the news or pick up the paper and see the evil men do from our own streets in America, to Mexico, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia and the list goes on…  You’ll notice that in many cases these countries are failed nation states or lawless societies.  From past history to present day we have many blood-thirsty men who do weak and dishonorable things. 

It’s important to note that dying also comes easy.  However, living a just and purpose driven life is hard to do.  My interest in living a life of purpose and value has only increased as I’ve gotten older.  I’d also suggest taking a look at the type of people that have been killed and what they died for.  Many/many journalists have been kidnapped, tortured and murdered all around the world.  The number of media reporters to include photojournalist is higher than we’d like to count.  Just look south of the border at the level of violence Mexico is experiencing with the drug cartels and organized crime.  Many reporters who dare report the truth have been kidnapped, tortured and murdered.  Again killing is easy.  Are the cartel members, torturers and murderers brave? 

Do you remember James Foley?  He was a photojournalist who was killed by ISIS.  Another real world example is the men of Extortion 17.  And perhaps one of the best examples is of the two U.S. Marine infantrymen that stood their ground in Ramadi, Iraq as a truck with 2,000 pounds of explosives came speeding towards their outpost.  On the other side of these two Marines there was a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines and another ramshackle building that was home to 100 Iraqi police.  I believe all of these men died serving others and for something bigger than anyone person. Were these men brave?  Yes!  Men who desired nothing more than to serve others.  I encourage you to read the speech General John Kelly gave about these two Marines that stood shoulder to shoulder in the path of a truck bomb and laid their lives down for their fellow Marines and brothers in arms. 

Everybody Should Read General John Kelly’s Speech About Two Marines In The Path Of A Truck Bomb

Extortion 17 

James Foley

Let me ask you something.  What is your life journey to be more and do more?  What are you willing to die for?          

Many people die at twenty-five and aren’t buried until they are seventy-five.

-Benjamin Franklin

What did Ben mean by the above statement? Count those days between twenty-five and seventy-five. If you do the math it comes out to 18,250 unfulfilling days.

Don’t be that guy with over 18,000 days of living an existence without a purpose.  Okay so here are five questions I ask myself from time to time.

1.)   What kind of man do I want to be?  (Son, Husband, Father, Friend, etc.)

2.)   Am I building lasting relationships or do I make everything about me?

3.)   Am I engaged in worthy things in my day to day life?

4.)   What kind of legacy do I want to leave?  (How will I be remembered…)

5.)   Am I making it happen?

My wife and I share past and current work experiences as they relate to teammates or co-workers, mangers vs leaders and compare them across the public and private sectors.  The differences between the civilian business environment vs the military culture.  It’s about core values, it’s about the team, it’s about accomplishing the mission and being part of something greater than any one person.  Whereas my wife at times has difficulty with her teammates taking advice and direction.  At other times people on her team are not dependable or reliable to show up on time and work shoulder to shoulder with others to accomplish tasks consistently and to standard.  In general terms I’ve been fortunate to work with small teams of like-minded men.  Guys that will say what they mean and mean what they say.  They will listen to sound advice and are willing to share hard lessons learned and pass along priceless pieces of wisdom.  They don’t think they know everything or have all the answers, nor do I.  Hey I’m married with daughters and they keep me grounded.  Just as my brothers in arms will also hold me to account and to a high standard.  I try to surround myself with people that make me think and push me to be better.  I also try to help others be better versions of themselves, to learn valuable skills and share knowledge.  I’m not perfect and far from it, but I make it a point to be better every day and hold myself accountable.  I suggest you read the poem by Petter Dale Wimbrow Sr., The Man In The Glass.    

I’m not saying all men need to be a warrior or on a journey to be some kind of superhero.  Not all men are called to be warriors or serve in the military combat arms.  However, all men and women can aspire to be the best man or woman they can be for their parents, spouse, children, friends, teammates, etc.  You can live a noble life with meaning.  This isn’t the movies or a game.  With that said there are no time outs or do overs in life.  So live with a purpose.  Do learn from your failures, but don’t live in the past.  Keep moving forward.  Each and every day you should check your moral compass.  All men can choose to live their life with positive intentions.  All of us can live our life making the tough decisions, the right decisions even when we feel weak.  Stay strong at heart.  Don’t ever quit or ring the bell.  We all have a choice and we should choose to act with integrity and honor even when we feel like taking a short cut or doing wrong.  We can all choose to serve others; that’s called brotherhood.  Success within our brotherhood is defined as taking care of your brothers in arms.  That’s the bottom line.  Everybody comes home.

I’m going to stay on the military and Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) front to help drive this home.  As we look at those few who choose a life of service in the military, law enforcement or intelligence community it’s entirely different from those who have never served in such a capacity.  Who are these people?  They are men and women who are willing to transform themselves, to be torn down in basic training academies, boot-camp, and pushed further and harder than they ever imagined in order to become something better than they were and to develop capabilities to do more with less.  They were willing to serve their country instead of serving their own self-interest.  Take a minute to look inside yourself and do some introspection.  Just be careful that you don’t fall into the trap of trusting yourself so deeply that you miss a higher calling to serve a greater purpose. 

Be the man with a strong belief in a higher calling.  Think of the reporters/photojournalists that died reporting the evils of our time, or law enforcement patrolling the streets across the US or the military man on patrol in a distant land far from home.  They are all willing to die to get the truth and to protect/defend freedom.  It’s about those few who have a strong belief in serving others, such as those men of Extortion 17, and many/many others who run towards the sound of gunfire to fight shoulder to shoulder because it needs to be done for the greater good.  What did these men have in common with others?  They were willing to do something for others even if it cost them their own life.  They were willing to lay down their life so that others may live a life in freedom.  The civilized world cannot function without the rule of law nor can it survive without such brave men.  We will only remain the land of the free, so long as we are the home of the brave. 

With Strength & Honor - Be Humble & Kind.

“Greater love hath no man than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  -John 15:13

In the service of others:

Serving others can teach us to respect others.  We develop leadership skills.  We learn to relate better to others.  We learn empathy and humility.  We learn to understand people who are different from us.  We learn to become more patient and most of all we become a better person.

It’s time to wrap this up.  We touched on being more - doing more, and your journey in life…  Now it’s time to ask…  What are you willing to die for right now, today?  The easy answer may be to say your family.  Everyone has their own answer.  All I want is for you to ask yourself what is it you are willing to stand up for, to fight for and if need be die for.  Whatever your answer is, do it with all your heart and with no hesitation or regrets.  What is your journey in life as a man?  What is your ultimate goal or quest in life?  What did you do to further your goal or quest in life today?

·       Are you training in the gym to stay healthy for your family, team and to be the best you can be

·       Are you taking steps to keep your family safe and secure

·       Are you reading, assessing, studying and learning everyday

·       Are you being challenged by your inner circle of family and friends to do the right thing

·       Are you rescuing others from defeat

·       Are you fighting the good fight

What do you think is worthwhile to do?

Look yourself in the mirror and deep inside your heart to find out what it is that truly drives you.  Never turn back to look at what you left behind.  Keep moving forward with a purpose and be willing to bleed for it every day.

Be a Man of Courage

Always Faithful & Always Forward

 Live Happy-Love Strongly-Die Well

-T

 The Man In The Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.