That’s How Boys Play

I want to be a little oblique about this.  Back in my 20’s I was in a martial arts school that produced many champions. And none of them were more impressive to me than someone I’ll call “Ted.”  Ted had distance, timing, and precision down to a level where he slid in and out of critical distance range like a magician. Man, he was beyond good.


I wasn’t even vaguely in his league.  We re-connected years later, when our mutual instructor was being honored, and got together a few times. The man was still magic, but like most of us, had moved on to other priorities in life, although martial arts was still close to his heart.  Still…I wasn’t even close.


About a week ago I got a call from him.   “I want to be you in my next life, Steve” he said.  I was a little puzzled by what he meant, then he mentioned that he’d seen a Youtube video of one of Cliff Stewart’s “Camp of the Masters” weekend workshops (there’s one coming up in three weeks–I HIGHLY recommend them) and apparently had seen some images of me working out and having fun.  I still didn’t quite understand…


Then he told me that he’d had a stroke early this year.  I was stunned.   It was a little hard to imagine this dervish with any kind of diminished capacity, but he was learning to walk again, as if for the first time.   He spoke of his friends, many of whom boxed, and how they couldn’t recognize him any more.


I felt something beyond sadness.  This is one of the things you learn to deal with in life: everything rises and falls.  He had been a great champion, that focus dictated by his environmental pressures: learning to fight was simply what every young man did in our neighborhood. If you didn’t, you were dead meat, victimized and disrespected by both the men AND women.  Did he stress his body too much? Take too many shots?   I don’t know. It’s possible.


Achilles’ Choice: a long dull life, or a short glorious one.  Or…just the circle of life.  Everyone loses everything in time.  And now, this paragon (who is about six years younger than me) envies me.   It is tough to think about.




When I was a kid, I wanted to be strong.  Had been bullied by guys and ignored and mocked by the girls.  I understood where “Ted” was coming from, but didn’t have the athleticism to master the skills as he did. Lacked the self-confidence, and hadn’t had a father or brother or uncles to “push against” to discover my strength and learn what this aspect of “being a man” was about.  I remember when Jason was about eight years old.  Every night when I tried to put him to bed, he attacked me.  Every night. Heck, Nicki hadn’t been like that!  And one day I asked him point blank why in the world he did that.


He looked at me with surprise and simply answered: “That’s how boys play.”  That’s how boys play.   The simplicity of that answer was gobsmacking. I suddenly realized I had misinterpreted countless antagonistic interactions with guys over the years. They hadn’t disliked me. It was nothing personal. They just pushed to make themselves strong, using other guys like living gymnastic equipment (wrestling and boxing are among the most extremely taxing physical exercises. Believe it.  Nothing is more extreme than a resistant human body), or trying to learn where they were on the hierarchy.  Without that knowledge, it is impossible for a tribe to respond swiftly to external threat.

That’s how, and more importantly WHY boys play.


I couldn’t compete with those guys on their terms. They terrified me.  The energy was just amazing.  And even years later, speaking to Cliff about them, I was still a little nervous about the very idea.  “I was so intimidated by those young warriors” I said.


And he laughed in my face.  “They weren’t warriors, Steve.”  They weren’t???


“No. They were athletes, playing warrior games.”   Then….what WAS a warrior?


” Those guys would have been good at Hula Hoop, or basketball, or break-dancing. A warrior is someone whose word is good. A warrior protects his community. Raises his own children.”

And in that instant, the light went on in my head.   No, I hadn’t been the best.  Or anything close to it.  But my fear of being weak had kept me in the game.


I remember forty years ago, driving down La Brea avenue in Los Angeles, tears streaming down my face, wondering why I had so much fear and agony around practicing, but being unable to stop.  “Please, God,” I prayed.  “Either take away my urge to practice this stuff…or just let me do it.”


Why couldn’t I quit?  Because I knew on some level that if I did, I would never know who I was.  That I would have let fear stop me from becoming a complete human being. A complete MALE human being in some very specific ways.  Remember I said that a core perspective in my life was that I wanted to be respected by the men I respected, and desired by the women I desired?

Well, you can believe it or not.  I’m not controlled by gender politics, I’m interested in what is true, actual experience,  especially when it is aligned with history, anthropology and animal behavior. The reality is that once I saw it, it was obvious: if you couldn’t hold your ground, you were not respected, and I couldn’t marry a big guy to hold that ground for me.  Both men and women made it very clear.  VERY.


And anyone who thinks that the physical threat isn’t subtextual in emotional and intellectual arguments isn’t paying attention.  The animal and savage underlies the civilized shell. What is explicit  in the barroom is implicit in the board room and even the bedroom.

Fortunately, the answer is NOT a matter of physical size. It is a matter of the following statement:  “I’m ready to die, and I’m ready to take you with me.”

That forces you to connect with your core survival drive, the emotional Third Rail of your psyche.  It is beyond culture, beyond social rules.   And all the techniques of the martial arts are secondary to “plugging in” to this high-tension line.  Really, in a lot of ways they are just toys to keep your monkey-mind busy while the real work, the deep work, re-wires your hand brain.

Everyone has it.  You could be depressed, and suicidal, and if I stuck your head in a bucket of water you would fight like a tiger.    Ego has nothing to do with this, and once you find it, it is almost like magic. And…the martial arts are about approaching it in a safe fashion, and plugging in in a way that doesn’t shred your psyche.  Real survival situations often do this, drastically, but without the care and balance, producing genuinely dangerous human beings who often struggle to function in the “normal ” world.


I was forced by fear and guilt and pain and hope to find that place. And once I found it…and connected it with what Harlan Ellison called the “Burning Core” that artists must find…and connected THAT to the kind of heightened orgasm experienced in sexual magic work…


Wow.   I began to be able to channel that energy, to put it where I wanted, and learned how to keep it in a healthy way in my mind and body so that it wouldn’t burn me out.    In other words…I turned my bullies into blessings.  I never would have found myself without them.  Thanks, Rudy.




If I had been stopped by comparing myself to the Teds of the world rather than letting myself be inspired by them, I wouldn’t be who I am.  If I hadn’t kept 80% of my attention on improving who I was yesterday rather than beating or comparing myself to others, I would have quit, and lost my childhood dreams, and paid for it with a loss of aliveness.


You have to admire the Teds of the world. But not be intimidated by them. To use them to drive you on, without beating yourself up for not being them. Ted walked his own path.  He hit heights I never did, never could have


And now…he wishes he was me.    How humbling.  How terribly sad, and wonderful.  Life is an unknown adventure, and you must always, always, work your own diamond mine and not pay so much attention to what the other guy is pulling out of his.


Sigh.   I need to work out today, to celebrate my life and aliveness, and give thanks for all I’ve been given, and the wonderful men and women I’ve met along the way, so many of them fallen now.  Every one made my life better.


I think…I think I’ll make time to go and see Ted.  Thank him for being one of my heroes…


As I am now one of his.  You never know, you know?






On one thread, the discussion swung around to those who feel that most human beings are stupid and venal.  The following conversation ensued:


I said:  “Just on general principle, I automatically assume that people who look down on the mass of humanity are really telling us their negative feelings about themselves.”


“Z”, the lady hosting the thread, replied:  “I was trying to avoid that. I have an awful lot of negative feelings about myself, and yet on the whole I look on humanity as mostly on a level with me, and I look up to quite a lot of it.”


S:  “I hope that you heal that wound in your heart and learn to love yourself completely. You deserve it, and the world looks much different from that place.”


Another reader, “P”, added:  “A World”, living in chaos, fear and subterfuge… Steve… It’s DIFFICULT… To: “Engage in… the ‘healing practice’… of: THE SELF! (Or, “others”)… At: The Moment”!!!

Let me unpack this, please.


The world is always chaotic, and it always has order.   Our emotions are controlled by the way we use our bodies, the language we use, and what we focus on.    We have problems, and what solves problems is effective thought and action.  Negative emotions lead to negative or ineffective action. So…the first step is to generate the positive emotions which break tunnel vision, leading to the ability to brainstorm solutions, and take actions.  Taking actions gives you the feedback to understand the situation better, and therefore take more effective actions, like a bat sending out squeaks in the dark.


WHAT you want is the outcome, the goal.

WHY you want it is the path to generating the emotions that can drive the HOW to achieve it.


First WHAT. Then WHY.  Then and only then HOW.


See problems in the world?  Want to make a difference?  Great! Understand how much human misery is created by fear. How much violence and pain.  Want to make a difference THERE?  Then show by example that problems are compulsory, but misery is optional.  LEAD BY EXAMPLE.


The WHAT might be to make a better world for all our children, and ourselves.

WHY?  Because the meaning of life is to seek joy.  Avoiding pain is just the first and most animal part of the equation.  Joy, peace, contribution, creativity, service, self-expression, passion freedom…whatever words you use, they are all on the road moving away from the negative emotions and actions.  All moving toward happiness.


HOW?  Know that when you are stressed, you cannot see answers that are right in front of you, and can’t take action even if you DO see an answer.  “Why bother?  Nothing works. The world is falling apart” said a segment of the population as far back as conscious thought has existed. And yet we continue.  YOU are not so important that the world has been waiting to fall apart until you got here.


WHAT can you do?  Seriously, the “Morning Ritual” covers it beautifully.   Move.  Think. Feel.


The more important the issues in your life, the more critical this is, to reverse the negative spiral.  If you are lying to yourself and saying “I don’t have time” then consider that you had the time to read this.   YOU ARE LYING TO YOURSELF.


Ask why.  DIG DEEP. Don’t stop with the surface answers. I promise it will come down to fear. Fear of caring. Fear of engaging with the world. Fear of failing…again.  Fear of the other members of your tribe calling you a dreamer or delusional.




There are two core emotions that drive us every day: fear and love.  Pain and pleasure.  At any moment you can decide to take the path of love and joy.  In a single breath you can change your destiny.


Five minutes. Got five minutes? Then five times a day, every three hours, stop and do deep, slow, diaphragmatic belly breaths for sixty seconds.  Set your watch.


If you don’t..?  Then why should anyone listen to you if you complain about being stressed?  If you spend time on social media, but won’t take the time to take control of your mind and heart, what are you doing except spreading misery when you could have been spreading joy? Do you know how much PAIN there is in the world?


Who are you?   Who are you going to be today?  The answer is in every thought, every action, every breath, every shift of attention.


This could be the best week of your life.  This could be the week when YOU decide to live from joy rather than fear.


How?  Move.  Think.  Focus. Speak the truth of your soul, aloud.  Yeah, there will be a voice in your head telling you it is useless.


That voice has lied to you before.


It is lying now.





Success and “Fuzzy” Thinking

I recently had a conversation with someone who has struggled with an issue (which I am deliberately obscuring).  She (call her “Tammy”) considers herself an exceptionally smart person (and brags about this frequently) which made the following exchange odd.   (Note: Tammy makes an extremely low income)


S: “Making more money is an important step in healing your finances.”

T: “Making more money doesn’t work.  Look at this article proving that making more money doesn’t decrease the amount of debt.  Decreasing expenditures is the ONLY path.  Making more money doesn’t work.

S:  “The article says that what happens is that as we make more money, we tend to SPEND more money as well. So the relation of making money to getting out of debt requires we go deeper: “IF your expenditures don’t rise, THEN if you raise your income it will help heal your finance.”  this isn’t unfair: your chosen path, “Reducing expenditures”, doesn’t work either, unless you make another IF/THEN:  “If your income does not decrease, THEN reducing your expenditures will help heal your finances.”

Or as Mr. Macawber said: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

If you don’t see the hidden “IF/Then” then NEITHER approach: decreasing expenditures OR increasing income, makes a bit of difference.


In other words, healing your finances isn’t a matter of lowing expenditures OR increasing income, it is a matter of the RELATIONSHIP between income and expenditures.   Anyone who focuses on one without acknowledging the power of the other is headed for disaster.


And if you have negative beliefs: “I CAN’T make more money.” then you will discard all evidence that suggests making more money will help.


“I don’t WANT to limit my expenditures!” means you will try to earn your way out of that hole.


“90% of people would die broke  without pensions, social security, or other social aid. Saving and working obviously doesn’t work.”


Now wait a minute: Tammy has told me countless times how superior her intellect is.  She clearly believes herself   smarter than 99% of people…and now her reason for not trying is that she are average?  What the hell stops her from focusing on  the 10% of successful people, rather than the 90% who fail?

I’d say fear.  That IF you focused there, Tammy would see that  these people do NOT see the world the way she does.   They have different beliefs, values, and emotional anchors.  They are willing to take different paths and do different things.


To decide: “I don’t want to do those things” is reasonable.  To let your own personal aversions warp your view of reality such that you default to black and white (it is one or the other) as opposed to fuzzy thinking that actually works in the real world (it is the relation between the two factors) is dangerous.


Dangerous because there is no way to have a psychological flaw or rigidity in just one area of your life. They will pop up everywhere you don’t have the vision to see them.


This kind of thinking can sabotage all four basic arenas of life: Career, finances, physicality, relationships.


How can  Tammy break this pattern?


There are probably countless ways, but it won’t be just “figuring it out.” Tammy lives in her head, and by not connecting to her body, she is robbed of a core feedback mechanism. She can hallucinate anything she wants, and rationalize it with that terrific mind of hers.

The Morning Ritual is my personal “Go-To” great, because Tammy’s pattern feeds on unprocessed fear.  By placing yourself in a positive state EVERY morning, you are creating just a little clear space where your ordinary fear-driven patterns loosen their hold, and you can see new possibilities.


And it takes a brief enough period of time, and costs NOTHING to do, such that if you declare it is important, perhaps critical, and don’t do it you have clearly defined a locus of damage in your life, and can focus there.


WHY might Tammy be afraid of making more money?  Here are some common destructive beliefs:


  1. It takes money to make money
  2. Money is the root of all evil.
  3. If I make more money, I won’t know who is a sincere friend.
  4. If I make more money, I’ll just have more problems.
  5. If I make more money, I will intimidate my reference group and lose intimacy
  6. I mustn’t earn more than my parents
  7. Marketing/sales is whoring/lying.
  8. I am just not the kind of person who can make money
  9. Money doesn’t matter to me: the best things in life are free


And so on.    There are equivalent poisonous beliefs in every arena.    If you have them, ask where they come from and if you believe them with your adult mind. If you don’t, and they do not serve you, then you need to research the means of CHANGING negative and limiting beliefs.


This is part of “being the hero in the Adventure of your lifetime.”  The hero believes she has X ability, and the solution requires X+Y ability. The entire story is then about gaining that “Y” (“Rocky”) or learning that “Y” was always within them (“The Wizard of Oz”) , or partnering with a “Y” to accomplish, together, what cannot be done alone ( “The Magnificent Seven”)


But it requires the ability to shift from one logic system to another, one form of reasoning to another, paying attention to the real world while simultaneously holding onto your dreams…and committing to doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to reach them with integrity.


She is not to blame for her programming–it probably happened in childhood. But she IS responsible for healing it. There is no one else who can.





The Power Is In The Process

A fine writer was recently complaining about a book he’d finished that was heavily criticized by an editor. Major revisions were requested, and he didn’t know whether to make them, or self-publish, or even give up his career.


There was real despair and discouragement there, and this is someone who has published over a dozen pieces of work, not a “Newbie.”   My suggestion was to remember that all writers, all experts in any field have failures, and also that a single editor’s opinion is NOT an absolute statement on the worth of a work…let alone the potential of a career.


So…stay on the path.  Keep writing.   There were specific issues that could be addressed, but the most important had nothing to do with the specific book. They had to do with the process followed to build a career.


There was no difference between this situation and a horrible sales cycle, or a bad print review. Both trigger discouragement and doubt.


Remember the Hero’s Journey? It says, CLEARLY, that if you are moving from one stage of your life to the next, you will fail, and enter the “Dark Night of the Soul”.  That the way through this is “The Leap of Faith”…faith in yourself, or a higher power, or your companions.  If you don’t take this leap, you fall back and repeat the cycle, only this time you might well have even less energy: your failure to go forward creates even more doubt, which syphons off the very energy you need to make the leap.


A descending spiral which leads many of us to abandon our dreams.

What is worse is that we have little demons that WANT us to fail.  Want to fail at the gym?  Constantly put more weight on the bar than you can lift.  Lift more often than you can recover from. You could have the potential to be the best in the world, and if you make this single mistake, you will screw yourself totally.


The answer?  Keep going.  Focus on your outcome. Model the behaviors of others who have made the journey (faith in your companions). Remember past accomplishments, and the fact that you felt doubt there as well (faith in yourself).  Notice your results without being attached to them, and maintain behavioral and conceptual flexibility.


Use “small cycle” thinking. Rather than spending years on a massive quarter-million word work that took years to complete, write short stories, where the investment of emotion, time, and energy is so small that if you fail you can laugh at it. This is exactly like a boxer who gets knocked out in the championship fight having a few “small fights” in the hinterlands to build confidence back up and try out new approaches.  Take the pressure off.


But the core of it is: keep your eyes on your outcome, tap into your most positive emotions, and work your butt off, doing TODAY what needs to be done TODAY and trusting (Faith) that one step at a time will take you up the mountain.


This is why a “Morning Ritual” of physical, mental, and emotional power is so essential. That triple braid creates a lifeline.  For just ten to twenty minutes a day you are totally connected.  And slowly, you will begin to notice how you have to move, think, speak, focus and behave to have the positive emotions that lead to the consistent actions along a defined path.

And…you’ll start getting different result. Better results.  And your faith will deepen. You’ll take more actions, leading to better results. An ascending spiral.


The failures, disappointments, betrayals and setbacks WILL happen.  There is ZERO question about this. Deal with that reality, or lose your dreams.


Better still…deal with it in advance.  Every morning. Every day.  Connect with your vision, your passion, your faith in your path.


Then…reap the results.



Write with Passion!


Why and how I have faith in Equality

One of my core beliefs is that the question of human equality between groups is ultimately faith-based: that you cannot perform the necessary experiments to really test the hypothesis. So that what is happening is people FEEL a reality then accept or reject information in alignment with what they wanted to believe in the first place.   It might be unconscious, but it is there.


One evidence: unless they are deeply depressive, almost no one believes their own group is the inferior one.  It is the most natural thing in the world to believe “we rule, you drool.”   By the time people have their intellectual and political positions formed (adulthood) it requires MASSIVE pattern interrupts to shift them.  Usually, what will happen is that some event or conversation will change their minds temporarily, but they’ll snap right back to the prior belief.  It takes something close to an ego-shattering epiphany to really change them.


With that assumption, I choose equality for a variety of reasons:


  1. It matches my personal experience of the world.
  2. It matches my research into the nature of history and humanity
  3. It requires the minimum epicycling to explain current events: there is no aspect of human life as I know it that is not explained within that position.
  4. It isn’t self-congratulatory, or self-denigrating.  It is just “human beings are like this…”
  5. It explains all human behavior more clearly than any other theory.
  6. The people who believe in inequality, without exception, strike me as ignorant of some basic social facts. In terms of racism, they rarely know many people of the Other group, and therefore have little data to extrapolate from.  They are mostly depending upon head-down intellectual models, usually provided by members of their own groups to explain why they are superior.   Often with crocodile tears, of course.
  7. Beliefs in inequality often are buttressed by advantage. If you would lose privilege, resources, self-concept, a sense of an heroic history, self-justification for failure, lose political alliances, be force to acknowledge that your group has inflicted horror on others beyond your current belief patterns…you are looking at something which would bring more pain than pleasure into their lives.   Animals don’t voluntarily increase the net amount of pain in their lives.
  8. It explains the past and present, and offers clear paths to the future.  I have zero fear that “we’ll never work this out.”   People who believe in inequality often strike me as despairing, seeing no answers.
  9. If I DIDN’T believe in equality, my conclusion wouldn’t be blacks are inferior. It would be that whites were evil and weak.  I don’t like that guy. I won’t be him.
  10. If I’m wrong…then the consequences might well be unpleasant.  Resources might be allotted that might otherwise be used better elsewhere. But if the racist is wrong…if he has supported a doctrine of differential worth when it wasn’t true?  He has been a handmaiden to horror.  At the LEAST an ally to monsters responsible directly and indirectly for death and pain and fear on an almost unimaginable level.  If I had to make a mistake…I know which mistake I’d rather make.


So…if you can think of something in anything I say that is inconsistent with a belief in human equality of capacity and worth across racial and ethnic groups, I’d love to hear it.  That would actually be doing me a favor.


If you think you know of facts in society that cannot be explained by that model, I’d be interested in one I hadn’t heard. The chance you have one of any major significance are almost nil. I’ve been chewing at this a LONG time.  On this subject, unless you have more information than I have (and yeah, I’ll look at your FB photos and laugh if you don’t actually know many black folks), or can convince me you’re smarter than me (which you’d have to be to draw better conclusions from less data) I wouldn’t even bother trying.


Remember my first comment: all you’re doing is telling me what your faith is.  I remember reading The Bell Curve, where a reductionist theory was promoted that criminal behavior (untrustworthiness) was deeply influenced by I.Q., which was deeply influenced by genetics with a trivial environmental component.  How was this known?  Because of the I.Q. tests given to members of different groups.

So…let me understand this. I am supposed to believe black people are less trustworthy, because of tests conceptualized, created, largely administered, and then interpreted by white people.  I am also to believe that these white people correctly interpreted the genetic components as opposed to the environmental ones. Correct?

So…I am supposed to believe that at every step in this process their intents and perceptions were clean and without significant bias?   When when simply distributing human imprecision, prejudice, self-justification, lack of wisdom, fear and simple lack of global knowledge spread evenly across both groups would imply errors and deletions of information even if the intent was totally positive?  I am, in other words, to trust white people that I cannot trust black people?  When these same people will, if they hold that belief, ALWAYS tell me I should also doubt my own direct experiences in favor of their theoretical projections and self-serving interpretations?

Really?  Can you say “gaslighting”?  Really.  Please.  If you don’t see why I laugh at that, you don’t understand me at all.  And if you don’t see how you are traveling in the company of snakes and monsters…you are truly Asleep.  That is why if you have those beliefs, I won’t let you comment on threads about what we need to do next to bring social justice to the world.

And if you use that mealy-mouthed bullshit about “It’s not race, it’s culture!” which is the last step, the last desperate attempt to believe you aren’t promoting a racist position…?


Well, unless you follow that with “And 250 years of slavery Jim Crow and Segregation stripped away culture, language, religion, philosophy, mythology, names and social ties while imprinting a bastardized and brainwashed horror-show that people are still recovering from 50 years after the Voting Rights Act”, you are just kicking the conceptual can down the road.  You are, from the side of your mouth and without taking responsibility for what you’re saying, implying that white people would have done better and suffered less.

In other words, you are a racist who isn’t honest enough, perhaps even to yourself, to admit that’s what you are.

You have an odd faith. And kneeling in the pew right next to you?  David Duke.

If that’s your view of the ethical structure of the universe, if that’s how you think God or the powers of nature work…good luck with that.  Let me see that you are healthier, happier, and more successful than I am and I might believe you have a better mind.

Otherwise…I’m gonna laugh in your face.




What are you offering the world?

I’ve mentioned that my friend Otis was homeless at one time, and living in an abandoned apartment behind my house.  He was lonely, and I remember one day he rather miserably said:

“I don’t understand why I can’t get a girlfriend.”

Such grief in his voice.  I said, “well, tell me what it is you feel you have to offer a woman.”

“I’m loyal, and honest, and warm. I listen, I’m supportive, and kind.”

I didn’t want to hurt him, but the words just tumbled out:  “she can get all of that from one of her girlfriends. What is the specifically MASCULINE quality that will motivate her to project her specifically FEMININE qualities? What is you demonstrable power?  Your ability to build a nest?”

He looked at me as if I was speaking Martian.

Otis knew something about everything, a wide-ranging, fine mind. But he had never, ever focused that mind and those emotions to produce any result a kid in high school couldn’t have done.  No power.

Nothing to trade for beauty.  And because he was physically unbeautiful himself, he had nothing to trade to find and hold a woman he would want, and it was painful to watch unfold, year after year, decade after decade, until in time his health collapsed, and he died.

Those are the only options: either trade power for beauty, or make an even-steven trade across the board.  What I very rarely see is HER power for HIS beauty. And what I’ve never ever seen is a total mis-match, where one has both and the other has neither.  Not even once, although people have told me of such unicorn relationships.


I use his name because I don’t want my friend to have died for nothing.  I see aspects of Otis’ story in so many otherwise intelligent and good people.   They never develop their power, and then wonder why they can’t get the results from life they crave.


Let me put this in the adult-child framework:   they never grew up. Never fully developed their adult selves.  Because if you do ANYTHING long enough, with emotion behind it, you will gain experience. And if you pay attention, you will travel. And if you ever had a specific outcome in mind, you’ll notice if you are getting closer or further away. If you learn to control your fear, you will overcome obstacle after obstacle, and eventually reach at least the short and medium-range versions of your goal. And then, all you have to do to earn a living is guide people along the path you’ve walked, so long as you have been heading somewhere someone wants to go.




If there is a single thing I’m trying to nail for Jason in our five-minute morning sessions, it is the concept of “Atomic” “Fractal” goal setting.  It is:


  1. Knowing your outcome clearly (“What”)
  2. Knowing your “Why”–the emotionalized reasons why you want this thing.
  3. Knowing the “How”, the specific steps to accomplish it, and what the most important thing you must do TODAY to accomplish it.


Today fits into your plan for this week, which fits into your plan for the month, which fits into the plan for the year, the decade, and your life.


If you can see the clear connection between the long-term overall life plan and the actions you take on a daily basis…you have it whipped.


Ultimate Outcome: Joy

Long Term Outcome: A life spent in blissful “Flow State” as much as possible


To do this, I must avoid pain as much as possible. That means fullfilling my obligations to family and society. This means I must make money doing something that brings me joy and puts me in flow state. Writing is a great example of this.


Long Term Outcome (clarified): To be a successful professional writer.

Ten year goal: Ten novels

Five year goal: Five novels

One year goal: One novel

Quarterly goal: First Draft of novel.


If I were unpublished, my one year goal might be:


One year goal: Selling a story.

Quarterly goal: 1-4 stories a month.  4-12 stories

Monthly goal: 1-4 stories finished and submitted

Weekly goal: 1 story.


The more important your goal is to you, the more critical it is to operate at the higher level of output and performance.  The question would be to clearly define the WHAT and the WHY.   Increase the WHY until you are burning with motivation. How?  By connecting your goal to every chakra. I can tell you why my writing relates to survival, sex, power, emotion, communication, intellect, and spirit.


If YOUR goals do this…nothing will stop you from kicking ass to get it done.




Get that? There is NO excuse not to do one sentence, every day, if it is something important. If you go to bed at night thinking about it, your dreaming mind will kick out at LEAST one sentence. Write it down.  You have just made the connection between the “atomic” level (smallest possible action) and the global lifetime ultimate intent (happiness, ultimate success)


WHAT: Write a sentence every day

WHY: The life you desire, on every level.

HOW: Think about your story last thing before you go to sleep.  First thing when you wake up.   Write or dictate and transcribe one sentence.



If you do that, then you will advance. Learn. Grow.  You will accomplish goals. The INSTANT you have sold a story, you have a skill you could turn around and sell. Hell, there are people teaching writing who have never published a thing.  You’ll be ahead of the curve.


Being the master means being the student. Others will call you the Master if you are far enough ahead that you are beyond a horizon. They cannot see where you are.


IF YOU CANNOT SEE WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER, you probably have an unrealistic expectation of yourself. Be where you are. The person you were last year could really, really, use your advice.  There’s your market.





The Power of the Enneagram

Some twenty-five years ago, studying Transcultural Shamanism with Mushtaq Ali Al Ansari, I was introduced to the mystic symbol called the “Enneagram”.   I was fascinated by its endless uses and the power to diagram complex and sometimes invisible processes, and puzzled that of all the myriad uses, no one outside our little study group seemed to understand anything about it other than its applications to personality.


For instance, when I diagrammed the Hero’s Journey on it, a fascinating thing happened: the EXTERNAL journey (plot) traveled around the outside edge, but if you looked at the internal connecting lines a completely different approach to story was revealed.


Just one example.    At position #1 (1:00)  is “the hero is confronted with the challenge.”  That’s pretty straight-forward: unless your lead character wants something he doesn’t currently possess (an external goal, relief from an external threat, an internal state of being, relief from a painful internal state) your character will take no actions.    Living systems crave homeostasis.


So…you have to design your character and ask what they want and need, deny them that thing, and force them to take actions to change or regain their status.  Simple, right?


But the Enneagram goes much further.  #1 connects with #4:  It also connects to #7.


Let’s focus in on just #4, the Road of Trials.   If we know that the next step after #1 is “Rejection of the challenge” then the question is: WHY does he reject it?   Why not take the action that will relieve pain or gain pleasure, once they see what must be done?


Because of the pain they must endure to get there.  Oh, yes. The greater the potential reward, the greater the obstacle or journey must be. Why? Because we are programmed to move away from pain and toward pleasure.


If it is a straight road, we are NEUROLOGICALLY programmed to move in that direction.  You can teach tapeworms to tap-dance if you get this Skinnerian aspect right.  But if you look into your own life, you might say “well, if this is true, why do I X? (smoke, overeat, procrastinate, etc).  Why? Simple.  You see more pain than pleasure associated with the actions.


  1. You might not have a clear idea of what must be done.
  2. You might see a path, but lack belief that you, personally, can and should do it.
  3. You might have a reference group (tribe) that tries to dissuade you from taking those positive actions (damaged sub-cultures often have this issue)
  4. You might have past experiences that create beliefs contrary to the actions you’d have to take.


It took me SEVENTEEN YEARS to earn my first black belt, because I was still carrying an image of myself as being small and weak from a bullied childhood.  I trashed my own college education for fear that I would absorb the negative habits of my writing instructors, and sabotaged my career because my mother had been terrified that I would be killed if I was too intelligent and aggressive.


My road of trials was one of finding clarity, courage, healing my self-image, and having the confidence to speak my truth and be who I was.  Finding a tribe that would support my dreams, developing flexible plans to go over, under, around and through my obstacles.


Anyone who knows me will see that the martial arts gave me confidence and strategy for my career and relationships, my relationship with my first wife Toni gave me the self-confidence and support to make my career moves, and my writing career gave me the connection with my child self that powered my “adult” through years of martial misery (protecting your child educes the maximal defensive/survival response). They were all intertwined. Which meant that progress in any of them fed into the others, in an ascending spiral.

People who are blocked by their own pain, fear and confusion, and have struggled with it, often say “well, I guess that’s just me.”  They then make the mistake of looking at others who are struggling, including entire social groups, and instead of seeing the knots they’ve been tied into, or the corrupted ground on which their seeds were sewn, just say “well, I guess that’s THEIR nature.”  You see it?  They can’t get out of THEIR box, so they define their box as “them” and then do the same to others. Worse is when they had advantage and privilege, don’t give thanks for it or even see it, and become one of those “born on third base and thought he hit a triple” types who look down their noses at “lesser” beings and “breeds.” If it weren’t so sad, it would be infuriating.  So much human damage has arisen from people who simply never understood themselves.  Who mistook confusion and damage for wisdom.  Ugh.


Whew.  That’s the power of the Enneagram.  The “Hero’s Journey” tells you what is coming…in advance. The Chakras tells you the path of balance and human maturation.  But the Enneagram is kinda like an internal map showing you how all these parts and processes RELATE to each other.  It is as if you have a secret way to pretend to be smarter and wiser than you really are.  Amazing, really, and with infinite uses once you understand it.


It’s been my secret weapon for decades. Why didn’t I share it?  I COULDN’T. I didn’t understand it well enough.   My mind just didn’t want to grasp its power, because if I did…I would integrate my life at higher and higher levels, smash my ego again and again, build sky-castles and move into them.


I so dearly wanted to understand it enough to share it.    But I needed Mushtaq to do that, and he wasn’t at all sure it could be done, outside the “small group” format.  It took me almost twenty years to convince him to give it a shot.


The result is the ULTIMATE ENNEAGRAM program, which is…well, it just rocks. There are hundreds of classes dealing with the “personality” stuff, which is like eating one bite from a banquet and hallucinating that you’ve had the entire meal.

Hell, that wasn’t even a balanced SNACK.

There is just so much more.


And what we’ve done is make this amazing secret available in a webinar format FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME. Much of this information has NEVER been revealed publicly.  From time to time  I’ll be plucking apples from the grove and sharing them with you. But…this is amazing. I’m so proud of it.  This is so powerful that the Fiverr lady who transcribed the sessions said her life had been changed JUST TRANSCRIBING THE SESSIONS.


That is power. That is THE ULTIMATE ENNEAGRAM.  We’re still building the class, taking feedback and adding features, which is why I’m happy to be offering such a  uniquely high value at such an absurdly low price.


More on this later. My head is still spinning. Can’t wait to share my secret weapon with you.





Just Do It

I’ve seen some great spoofs of the Nike campaign recently.  Some really are funny, but I suspect  that the people posting them fit into one of two categories:


  1. Don’t believe there is a mortal issue at stake.  Don’t believe there is disproportionate unjustified police violence toward black people. Or:
  2. Approve of the oppression and violence.


I don’t see a third major category, other than perhaps people with a sick sense of humor (some of my favorite people, in general) but most of it seems to sort into those first two..   Racists (those who believe in differential capacity or worth between racial groups)  if of good character (no, not a contradiction in terms. A perspective of differential worth is pretty common among human beings. Doesn’t make a direct statement about how you treat people)  tend not to believe there is a real issue.  Most fall into the first category (however, you do NOT have to be a racist to fit into this category. You do seem to need to be Conservative however, believing in a “level playing field.”   I know good and decent people who fit this category, so don’t hallucinate that they don’t exist, please.)


If they believe there is a problem, they will blame the black community itself.   If they are racists they will hem and haw around the subject, and have real problems speaking their real belief directly: blacks are targeted disproportionately because they are just innately less capable and more criminal.  Blame God.


Or, they blame “culture”.  It’s black “culture” you see.  Next stage: “Oh. So you’re saying that slavery and Jim Crow and Segregation were so violent and destructive that they damaged the ability of blacks to create a successful society? ”  Blame Slavery and its aftermath.


They will stutter here, because the   Current Southern Apologia is specifically designed to absolve the South for any responsibility for what they did.  If they DON’T blame slavery or its aftermath…precisely what do they blame for the dysfunctional “culture” they blame for black issues?


Next question: “Given the same history, would white people have been damaged as much or suffered as long?”


If they say “yes” then it is environment, not genetics, and you can move on to the next question: what do we do now?


Well, don’t expect a wound to heal until the knife is removed. That would mean the differential treatment, and the lies about history and current conditions.   Change both of those, and the healing is much more rapid.


But anyone who won’t say “yes, white people would have suffered as much and been damaged as long” is IMO hiding a racist agenda.  Disengage.  This is a Faith Based position, and arguing does nothing.


There are of course others.  Racists of venomous intent and low character. They actually approve of the violence: “Got to keep the monkeys in their cages.”  They would also approve of torturing suspected terrorists, of course. They are frightened, angry, petty people, and they hide behind the mask of “oh, it’s just culture” without explaining where the damage came from.  Kicking the can down the road for others to intuit that, yeah, it’s innate capacity.  Or maybe they don’t WANT to live, or be free, or make money, or for their children to survive. Because if they do…maybe they just…ahem…don’t have the capacity, poor devils…


Yeah, it really is that simple.  Logically let’s MODUS PONENS (If/Then proposition) this:


IF black people are equal in capacity to white people, THEN the playing field is unlevel.


IF the playing field is level, THEN black people are not equal to white people.


Take your pick, but I don’t believe there is a serious third choice.


Now there are dishonest people: “the playing field is unequal.  But government attempts to make things better will only make them worse. Therefore, I will deny they are unequal.”  This is cowardly. Much better to say:


“Yes, they are unequal, but I see no way to make them better without greater net damage.”


Or even: “Yes, they are unequal, but I’ve got mine and screw you.   I LIKE having an advantage.”


Hey, I may not think that second one is evolved, but I have to admit that it is common human thinking. And it leads to dishonesty:


“Yes, its unequal, but I’ve got mine and don’t want to give it up. But I don’t want to look like a selfish ass, so I will PRETEND to believe that things are equal, to protect my image.”


Here’s a worse one:  “Yes, its unequal, but I’ve got mine…and I want some of yours, too. So `tragedy of the commons’  be damned, I will pretend to believe in fair play because I want YOU to treat me fairly even if I don’t give a shit about you.  YOUR children can suffer, but I want you to keep a caring, watchful eye on mine.”


That is both dishonest and cowardly IMO.  These are snakes.


Interesting things happen when you simply start with the presumption of equality despite the (IMO) fact that you cannot ultimately “prove” equality or inequality, that everyone is ultimately making a faith-based assertion.  You then have to live with the results.  Equality means that I can’t assume whites are innately evil, either.  However much self-serving evidence I might amass, and however satisfying that might be.


No. I actually have to live in that space, or the whole thing falls apart.


Another time, we’ll discuss what happens when you apply this notion to gender.  THAT’S a doozy.





Sunday is weekly planning day!

So Sunday is the one day a week I don’t workout or really work. But I do joint mobility, and I plan, and I play.  Planning is the most important thing: to connect to my driving emotions, and connect those to my long-term outcomes and dreams. To see what I need do in the next week.


Most important things this week:

  1. Successful  Graphic Novel (“Eightfold Path” with Charles Johnson) intensive work in Seattle.
  2. Launch “Ultimate Enneagram” course with Mushtaq
  3. 35 pages on script.
  4. “Lifewriting Live” talk on Wednesday.
  5. Fly to Seattle, check into Air b’n’b.


I think that’s what’s needed. To do these things, I’ll need to take certain daily actions (break down current 8-Fold manuscript into Google Docs and/or Word Online.   Send emails to my lists, discuss on Facebook Live.  Five pages on script every day. Pack for Seattle.)  So that every day I know what I have to do:


  1. Wake up, meditate.
  2. Scan what needs to be done.
  3. Set daily RPM outcomes
  4. Morning MAGIC
  5. Five minutes with Jason
  6. Yoga or Workout (I have a new protocol I’m experimenting with.  I’ll tell you about it in six weeks)
  7. Mastery Plus business.
  8. Marketing study
  9. Five pages on Script
  10. Free work on other projects
  11. Evening OFF!  What movie do I watch..?



That’s the approximate day.  Using the Warrior Diet eating approach (food only between 4-8pm) to save time.  Looking forward to seeing friends and business folks up in Seattle!




Winning A Debate With A Racist

I was asked about a group I formed about “winning a debate with a racist”.


“as I recall one of the concepts was that while you may not win over the actual racist, you could win over the people observing the discussion or debate or argument, or am I misremembering?”


Slightly. The trick is that internet arguments are not “debates”. There are no formal rules, no neutral judges, and just engaging is usually wasting your time. You “win” if you remember that there are some battles not worth winning, or Sun Tzu’s admonition that “There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare”

Or, you could look at the Strategic Intervention Technology concept that you don’t engage unless there is a defined and achievable standard for success.  Don’t play a game unless it is possible to win. Remember that trolls win if they can get you to waste your time, because every moment you are wasting it with them, you are NOT moving toward your objectives.

And no, I’m not automatically equating racists with trolls. Racists are people who believe that human worth and capacity is distributed unequally between racial groups. It is just a belief, a perception, a faith. It doesn’t automatically determine character.

However….it is my observation that people who hold those beliefs have to delete far more reality than those who believe in basic equality. They struggle more to make the world fit into their box, and the need to fit reality to their maps can lead to actual emotional illness, anger, fear and retreat into their heads, the only place where the world makes sense any more. It is sad to watch, as they are often quite intelligent. This triggers Troll-behavior.

But back to the point.  I answered:

“Ah, yes! I did have a group that experimented with that. Once I learned what I needed I formulated a simple set of rules for “Social Justice Warriors”, a standard I proudly bear.

1) Love yourself. Self-care is critical.  Respect your time and energy.

2) Love One other person. The primary unit of human life is that mated pair. Deep and multiple reasons why this is so valuable

3) Understand history without guilt, blame or shame. Understanding humanity without blinking gives you the perspective to let today’s news roll off your shoulders.

4) Don’t argue with trolls. Instead, support the people who are already aligned with you. Love them, and let them support you.

5) Win with integrity. Remember that most people, even when wrong, are not snakes or monsters. They are just asleep. Also remember that you might be wrong, and act with integrity and compassion…but also with strength.”


I’ll stand by those five principles, which have served me well.  In fact, the only time they have failed is when my Troll-detection filters have failed me, often because I’m trying to be nice, or dealing with someone with whom I have a long-standing relationship, and I care about them enough to drop my guard a bit.


Its all right. We learn as we go.