Monday, 29 March 2010

Want a Resilient Life? Start with Your Duty...

As you may remember from our last post, we had veteran Shakespearean actor Christopher Plummer reprising his role as Klingon General Chang, from Star Trek's 23rd century, and talking about the now famous symbol of the fictional Klingon Empire, the Heart of Virtue... 

As Chang says, the person who doesn't practice the virtue of duty "falls into vainglory and reckless self-interest. No true Warrior could ever tolerate these vices, neither in his comrades, nor in himself."  You can watch the short video here:

  That's all very nice, but just what is "duty"?  

Surely it's one of the most abused concepts in human history, used shamelessly by tyrants of all times to manipulate the masses and send millions to a useless death.  Yes, no doubt about it, duty's been so perverted as a concept that it's hard to find people who put much stock in the whole idea, if they even think about it at all.

However, none of that diminishes the essential truth of true duty.  If duty were not timeless and pure despite the best attempts of humans to pervert it, it would not be a virtue at all.  So what is your duty?

Simple... you're surrounded by your duty every minute of every day.  And because you've been failing to notice that, it's vital to ask yourself constantly, "what is my duty at this moment?"

Your first duty is to be true to yourself, to be who your really are and are meant to be.  You have a fundamental duty as a human being to be honest, truthful and forthright, to help whomever you can, to be kind and respectful to all, to be loving and supportive to your spouse and your children, to do your job in an excellent fashion, to love your country and your world, and, finally, to give thanks!

Anyone who cares about their duty will become a deeply thankful person.  Find me someone who's ungrateful and I'll show you someone who probably doesn't care about their duty.  

At the end of every day you can ask yourself, "Have I done my duty today in an excellent fashion?  How could I improve?"  If you do this every day for just 30 days, you'll experience a renewed sense of purpose, a renewed sense of gratitude and a deep inner happiness welling up inside you.  Why?  Because you're becoming resilient.  You're becoming a Warrior...

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Thursday, 25 March 2010

The Three Virtues of the Warrior

Last time, we heard from veteran shakespearean actor Christopher Plummer in his reprised role as General Chang, a key figure in one of fiction's greatest warrior cultures - Star Trek's Klingon Empire.

Today, General Chang outlines the three key virtues that can give you a rock solid and resilient life:

(By the way, you can ignore the second half, where he's talking about a simulated conflict with the Federation - Star Trek's "good guys").


You do, or you wouldn't even be here. Virtues are the foundation of character. What's character? It's the ability to do the right thing, even under the most adverse conditions.  So, if you haven't trained yourself in virtue, the vicissitudes of life will blow you about like a leaf on the wind.  You'll be constantly changing course, making poor decisions and focused mainly on protecting yourself.

The Warrior, on the other hand, has trained the three virtues General Chang speaks of, and that's why he or she is a much more effective, more resilient and happier person. You see,
the Warrior isn't focused on protecting his own reputation, position and EGO. No, the Warrior is a different species than the wind-blown mob of humanity. The Warrior cuts a straight course through life and is unaffected by the buffeting of circumstances.

Naturally, this allows her to focus on her inner life no matter what's going on externally. And that explains why others draw so much strength from her presence.

The first virtue you need is duty. As Chang says, the person who doesn't practice the virtue of duty "falls into vainglory and reckless self-interest. No true Warrior could ever tolerate these vices, neither in his comrades, nor in himself."

More on duty next time.  For now, all I'll say about it is this: find me any dysfunctional corporate culture and I'll show you a self-interested senior leadership who's utterly unconcerned with doing its duty.

Sound like any workplace near you?  Yeah, I kind of thought so!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Warrior Coaching International - transforming your mind, body and spirit into SOLID STEEL...
...wrapped in cotton ;-)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Warrior Wisdom from the Klingon Empire - Part 1

We engage in all kinds of practices to improve our resilience: we do Yoga, Qi Gong, running, Pilates, meditation, eat good food, and much more.

Yet, in the end, you can never be more resilient than your own personal foundation is. What is that foundation? It's your CHARACTER! And character is composed of the fundamental virtues
of courage, honor, self-discipline, self-sacrifice, loyalty, trustworthiness, duty, gratitude and much more.

You can pump iron all day long and become the strongest person on the planet, but if you don't have that solid foundation of character, you'll forever remain a pathetic weakling and an idiot.


Today's Resilience Tip comes from one of Hollywood's most highly developed fictional cultures - Star Trek's Klingon Empire. In the video below, veteran classical actor Christopher Plummer
reprises his role as Klingon General Chang, a role he originally played in the 1991 movie "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country".

As Chang welcomes young Klingon officers to the elite command academy, he says, "Past achievements mean nothing here. I don't care about the names of your fathers or your family's lineage."

Of course he doesn't - warriors have a very keen sense of reality. They won't abide the falsity and political correctness that all cowards readily hide behind. Chang cares only for what's real.
And only concrete RESULTS are real.

Without this dedication to reality, to the TRUTH of things, you can never become resilient.

Then he goes on to add, "What I do care about is your breaking point, how you conduct yourselves in battle..."

It's only when you are taken to your breaking point that you can discover your character. You can lie to yourself about it until then. But the breaking point always reveals the truth.

That's why all true athletic training, military training, and definitely all true SPIRITUAL training takes you to your breaking point. It's the only way to find out what you're really made of.

Don't take my word for it. Here's General Chang himself to talk to you:

If you want to become a resilient person, you need to take all this to heart!


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Warrior Coaching International - transforming

your mind, body and spirit into SOLID STEEL...

...wrapped in cotton ;-)

Friday, 19 March 2010

Time to Make Your COMMUNITY More Resilient?

So far, this blog has been heavily devoted to individual resilience, to helping you become mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually stronger, more flexible and more adaptable.  And all that's vital, of course.  However, resilience goes a long way beyond your own mind and body.

You see, resilience is also a team sport - if you want to make yourself more resilient, you also need to think about making those around you more resilient too.  And that doesn't just mean teaching them yoga or nutrition or EFT.  It means helping them to build genuine community.  

As the old adage says, "United we stand; divided we fall."  Ultimately, you're only as strong as your family, your community and your society.  


Over that last couple of week's I've been through an extraordinary adventure in building community.  In our neighborhood, most people know their neighbors by name, but they really don't know much about them.  They're barely acquaintances and don't have much to do with each other, with some exceptions, of course.

That all changed last night, and in just three hours.  In three hours, many new friendships were built, unfounded suspicions and petty dislikes overcome, and a lot of trust was built.  This was a defining moment that will continue to affect all the participants for a long while to come.  This was the catalyst for transforming a group of relative strangers into a community.  What was this amazing event?  It was....

...a very simple potluck supper!  Sometimes the humblest methods have the greatest effects.  

One of the great traps of modern civilization is what one expert called "living in parallel".  In other words, we can live beside each other, go to work on the same bus, train, subway or drive the same road, work in adjacent buildings, and yet never have any real contact with each other.

In reality, the practices of individual resilience will overcome most of your challenges in life.  For the other 30-40% of your challenges, though, the solutions will come through other people.  

So if you want to be resilient, build strong relationships with your neighbors.  That it turn will build a strong community, and strong communities are the bedrock of your country. 

Next time, I'll tell you a bit about how I pulled this off and the lessons in it for all of us.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Building Community Resilience: Some Lessons and Practical Tips

See the previous post to get the context of all this...


So how did this little adventure in building community resilience come about?  Well, the idea was mine, actually.  I had talked about it to a couple of people three months ago and they were going to get on it and handle the details.  "Great!" I thought.  I'm an idea guy... don't have the head for details.  

Well guess what?  Those two people dropped the ball, daily life took over and the whole thing was forgotten.  So finally I went back to them and reignited the concept of the neighborhood potluck, this time putting myself in charge of going door to door to assess interest and invite people.  One of the others agreed to coordinate the menu. 

Lesson: If you really want something done, take the initiative and do it!  If you wait for others to do it, you could be waiting a while!


When I started going door to door to find out if there was enough interest to pull this off, we didn't have a firm date for the event.  Heck, we didn't even have a place to hold it!  

Thankfully, of the three possible dates we were proposing, it became very clear within days that one of them had nearly unanimous support.  Even better, one couple graciously volunteered their place to hold the party.  "Wow," I thought, "this has been so easy!"  

Well, I guess I forgot to knock wood, because with the event scheduled for 4pm on Saturday, I got an email from our hosts at 9am on Friday morning saying one of their kids had been up all night with a fever and some kind of flu.  So they had to back out.  "Do you have a Plan B?" they asked.   

After a little thought, I realized that postponing was not a viable option - once you lose momentum in something like this, you're doomed.  And one of the joys of being an expert in emergency management and disaster planning is that I spend lots of time thinking about "Plan B" in a lot of different contexts ;-)

Fortunately, I was able to sell my better half on my version of Plan B for the venue - our place!  Thank-you so much, my dearest love!  Personally I was petrified of hosting the event because I knew we had a lot of cleaning up to do.  I was very pleasantly surprised, though, when it only took about 90 minutes to clean the place, about 75 minutes to prepare our part of the potluck's food and, miracle of miracles, just 10 minutes to clean up after everyone left.

Lesson: You remember Murphy, the guy who came up with Murphy's Law?  Well this guy's still on the loose, and as long as that's the case, you'll need a Plan B.


So by Friday at noon, I had this feeling of being on top of the situation again - Plan B was in effect and all would be well.  Damn, forgot to knock wood again...

Friday evening just before supper, I'm on the phone with the couple who could no longer host the event when one of the other neighbors comes to the door.  After I get off the phone, my wife says, "Did you know the party is canceled?"   "WHAT?!" I answered.  "Who said that?"

Turns out this well-meaning neighbor had misunderstood something he'd heard in the street from somebody else.  Then he decided, unencumbered by facts and information as he was, to spread the news.  S#*t.  More damage to undo... another fire to put out.  

All day Saturday I had this sinking feeling that the whole thing - three weeks of planning - could unravel really fast, despite my best efforts at damage control.  It's tough because you have to invest in your event emotionally so that others will too, and yet you have to detach yourself from the outcome.  Whether it flies or crashes ultimately depends on everyone else, not just you.

The emotional low point was 4:05 pm, five minutes past the start time, and no one had arrived!  "Well," I thought, "at least we'll have a really clean house."  Fortunately, they all piled in over the 15 minutes that followed.  It's a very diverse group of people, ranging in age from 9 months to 90 years and including various nationalities and spiritual viewpoints. 


Building community resilience is a fantastic investment of your time and energy!  It's really easy to get trapped in the day-to-day and forget other people exist.  Don't let that happen to you. 

Once you decide to take action, remember these three lessons:

1. Take the initiative, because if you don't, no one else is likely to

2. Expect adversity and keep moving forward anyway

3. Have a Plan B in your back pocket

Strong relationships give rise to strong communities, and strong communities are the bedrock of a strong society.  As the saying goes, "think globally, act locally".  

My personal thanks to all those who made this particular adventure in building community resilience a great success!

Oh, almost forgot.  The participants had the next event planned before the night was out!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Friday, 12 March 2010

Resilience Tip: Should You "Get Tough" or "Bliss Out"?

Have you ever noticed there are two kinds of people interested in personal development?  What two, you ask?  One that's obsessed with finding the bliss of inner peace and the other that wants to get stronger and tougher.

So you've got the meditators on one side and the macho folks on the other.  Strange, because in Authentic Ancient Traditions this split never happens.  They all knew you've got to keep the YIN and the YANG together. 

That's why monastics have tended to be really tough people.  The Shaolin monks of China are a really good example - trained to be hard as nails, but really a bunch of vegitarian meditators. 

What do they understand that we don't seem to get?  They know that if you want to maximize your potential, you have to cultivate body and mind equally.  If you want inner peace, you have to develop exceptional toughness to do it.  And that if you want to be really tough, you need to meditate, to dive into your inner world and face some really difficult battles. 

There are no short cuts in life.  You won't find unending bliss just because you decide to stop believing in conflict.  Real personal development requires resilience, and resilience is something you cultivate and build over the long term.  That's why it can't be taken away from you.  If physical toughness or spiritual enlightenment could be obtained in a day, a week or a month, they wouldn't be worth fighting for. 

So make every effort to hold these two aspects of personal development together in your own life.  Nurture your health and build up your fitness and physical resilience.  And at the same time, do everything you can to cultivate a harmonious emotional state, a state of gratitude and kindness towards everyone.

~Dr. Symeon Rodger

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Resilience Tip: The Lessons of AVATAR

Just saw the movie Avatar again on the weekend - every bit as good the second time around.  If you haven't seen it, you need to - it's a visual masterpiece. 

I can't get over people who complain that Avatar's plot "isn't very original".  No it's not, although it's still very engaging.  However, Avatar as a movie isn't about the plot.  The plot is just a vehicle to bring up some incredibly important themes and deliver some hard hitting messages.

The primary message is that how we perceive the world, including our own bodies and minds, and how we act is all taught to us by our culture.  We've all been brainwashed at the deepest possible level.  Compared to that brainwashing, all the political and religious differences we have here in the Western world are largely superficial. 

If you want to become a more resilient person, if you want to develop your full potential as a human being, then do what Jake does in Avatar - go native.  I don't mean you have to join a native American tribe or go into a sweat lodge.  "Going native" here just means using whatever avenues you can to reconnect first with your own body, then with the natural world around you and finally with others on a far deeper level.

To do this you absolutely must get help.  No one can enter into a different way of looking at the world without guidance.  And that's the great advantage of experiencing life within an "Authentic Ancient Tradition", as I've called them in The 5 Pillars of Life, whether that tradition is ancient Christianity, Taoism, Buddhism, a native American path or something else that offers genuine wisdom and experience. 

The world around you is wondrous and mysterious.  It's only your cultural brainwashing and the mindset you've developed to cope with daily life that prevent you from seeing the fulness of what's really around you.  How do you overcome this?  Here's your first clue...

Start with your body - learn to breathe properly, learn to stretch, learn to meditate...

Reintegrate your mind and body - refine your mind, eliminate your internal dialogue, learn to perceive the world around you through your body, without the "static" of linear thinking

And that's just the beginning of the adventure... :-)

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Resilience Tip: Drop Your Interpretations of Reality

We're evaluating constantly.  "This course is going to be SO boring."  "This meeting with my boss will be SO stressful."  "I hate doing the grocery shopping."  "How could she say something like that?"

And on and on it goes.  We see the world not as it really is but as we've been conditioned to see it.  Well, that's only partly true... We see the world as we have conditioned ourselves to see it.  Yes, we're the biggest conditioning influence on ourselves, no doubt about it.

One of the principle goals of all Authentic Ancient Traditions is to show you how to cleanse your mental continuum from all that temporal conditioning and finally break free - free from all those conventional perceptions you've been taught and free from all that fear, doubt, anxiety, self-limiting beliefs and other junk you've been busy repressing.

Strange thing, though... you don't break free by repressing all of this, but by allowing it to be there.  Many of your problems are the result of mentally running away from the discomfort of your emotions.  You only break free when you allow them to be, when you spend some time with them.  Of course, you first have to stop taking them so damn seriously.  

Once you do that, you make a miraculous discovery... those emotions and beliefs that so troubled you are important.  They contain vital information for you.  They're the manure that allows the beautiful flower to grow.  They're part of the richness, the earthiness of life.  This is the mystery of how you "surrender" to reality while no longer allowing your habitual interpretations to run your life.  

Of course, you may need some radical help to accomplish that.  Good thing help is on the way...

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Resilience Tip: Recognize and Eliminate "B" Thinking

There are two types of thinking, two approaches to life in the world.  Let's call them "A" and "B" thinking.  It's vital to recognize which predominates in yourself and when if you want to become resilient.

Resilience is characterized by A-thinking, whereas the masses of humanity are deeply invested in B-thinking.  Let's look at the characteristics of each:

A Thinking                                                                      B Thinking
- Seeks challenge                                                            - Seeks comfort
- Uses pain constructively                                               - Flees from pain at all cost
- Indulges in pleasure sparingly                                      - Lives for fleeting pleasures
- Committed to excellence                                              - Content with mediocrity
- The leader (conquers new "territory")                          - The manager (of existing territory)
- The rebel                                                                         - The conformist
- Goes beyond inherited culture                                      - Blindly accepts own culture
- Hates and exposes lies                                                 - Accepts society's lies
- The mystic                                                                       - The religious institutionalizer
- Reality at all cost                                                             - Content with pretending
- TRUTH                                                                             - Political correctness

Where do you see yourself in these lists?  More to the point, where do you see yourself in each area of your life?  Be honest.

If you start looking for these types of thinking in everyday life in the people and institutions around you, you'll make a startling discovery...

Our society is totally permeated, top to bottom, with B-thinking.  It controls our political processes, our religious and educational institutions and the vast majority subscribe to it uncritically.  You'll also notice that most of history's great leaders and role models were A-thinkers.  

If you're an A-thinker working in a B-thinking institution of any kind, that situation IS going to drive you nuts.  You'll need special tools to survive, the tools of a Warrior.  Because every true A-thinker is a Warrior at heart.  Check out the tools... survive and thrive in a mediocre world.  99% of people are B-thinkers and need not apply: 

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger