The 8th session of the 100 Day Warrior was about courage. Courage is an essential characteristic of the warrior (duh) but not something everybody is necessary familiar with. The ego, or in our terminology, ‘the coward’ has a need for self-development and improvement too. On that level we want to improve ourselves to avoid the feeling of being inadequate. Self-development keeps us busy, it is interesting and it makes us feel good about ourselves.
So for a large part working on ourselves makes us feel more comfortable than less comfortable. In other words: we are confirming our comfort zones. This is the tricky side of the 100 Day Warrior and something that I am very cautious about: if you sign up for the program you are promised physical fitness, radiant health and energy, mental clarity and some inner peace. And who knows, maybe even a six-pack. This all is candy for the ego too. But the program is not designed to feed your ego but to take you beyond.
It is very hard to transmit the warrior paradigm to an audience who is new to the paradigm. If I try, for example, to explain what ‘unconditional’ means it its easily received or translated as ‘pretty unconditional’. But ‘pretty unconditional’ means something like ‘yes, I can be unconditional but under the right circumstances’. Which is not unconditional at all. In warrior language there is zero room for compromise, in the coward’s world it is all about negotiating a compromise that is safe, affordable, comfortable and appealing.
Courage is so important because living the warrior paradigm is a conscious decision that has far-fetching implications. Example? If you choose this path you will have a 100% guarantee you will fail every day. Every. Single. Day. There is no avoiding that. I don’t think I ever had a day were I was 100% open, honest, available and selfless. All these behaviors are 100% threatening to my ego and my ego will put up a hell of a fight to sabotage my intentions. Not a day goes by that my ego can celebrate smaller or bigger victories.
You can say that is disheartening, and it is, but it also the way to build character. Humility and modesty are warrior virtues too and ongoing defeat is a great way to develop those (especially if you have an ego that likes to inflate when it gets a chance, like mine). Take it from a truly humble and noble man:
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”
The point is not to be embarrassed about being a coward and trying to get rid of him but to acknowledge that you are more than a coward and that it is totally worth the inconvenience to bring the warrior out.
For aspiring warriors it is important to acknowledge how much under the influence of the coward they actually are. But it is painful too so here is where the battle begins. Awesome rule of thumb: if something doesn’t scare you it is within your comfort zone, if the idea of performing certain behaviors makes you feel resistant or uncomfortable and you catch yourself avoiding them although you know they will serve you, you are in the right place. Avoiding your daily meditation? Busted! Procrastinating? Busted! Can only show compassion to inner circle? Busted! Having difficulty expressing your feelings to your partner? Busted!
Being a warrior means identifying your learning edge, accepting it, taking a deep breath and boldly stepping into the unknown terrain with nothing else to hold onto than a vague sense that this is the right thing to do. Your inner coward will come up with excuses, justifications, reasons and alternatives to not have to go there. This way he functions as an excellent guide: he will tell you precisely where you should not go. This is exactly where you should go. Counter-intuitive? Only from the coward’s perspective.
Today I had each of my warriors give a Declaration of Courage. Everyone got to pick a field where they realized they had work to do and then formally declare to take care of business warrior-style meaning I had them speak from a place of courage. No holding back: not a conditional statement decorated with caution, not something like ‘I would like to try to become a bit more blablabla’ but firm, honest and.. courageous. It is humbling to find out how difficult that actually is.
During the following martial arts class Sensei Mike exposed us to something he called ‘The Walk Of Death’. We all had to walk through two rows of people who got to hit us as often as they could. First time we went without preparation, second time he had us connect fiercely with first the earth and second the breath. This exercise beautifully articulates how we can approach the unappealing unknown: take a deep breathe and have faith the earth is there for you. You might come out busted and bruised but you will feel reborn. Who said going through a birth canal is easy? But warriors are bred by making love with the unknown day in, day out. Now ain’t that sexy?
This is episode 50 in a series of 100 blog posts that will be published daily during the 100 Day Warrior, a unique program around physical strength, inner wisdom and meaning. All posts are written by Atalwin Pilon, founder of Basic Goodness and creator of the 100 Day Warrior. For requests for motivational speaking, in-company workshops, online coaching and mindfulness training click here. If you would like to join our international community of brave and inspiring human beings or just follow this blog and receive updates, please click here or sign up on the right side of the page. Atalwin specializes in coaching smart and creative people, both groups and individuals. If you are interested in a free coaching session click here.