“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
What hardships from your past have shaped and forged your character? Do you need to look at your current hardships through a different lens?
Gates of fire, a novel about the Spartans and the battle at Thermopylae. The author, Steven Pressfield wrote about how the Spartans trained:
” The hardship of the exercises is intended less to strengthen the back than to toughen the mind. The Spartans say that any army may win while it still has its legs under it; the real test comes when all strength is fled and the men must produce victory on will alone.”
Having the will to fight on and not quit is more of a trait than it is something you can “learn” through conditioning. A warrior never leaves a fallen comrade behind and only needs to look to his left and right to find a reason not to quit and to keep the will to drive on until the war is won.
Once you learn to subdue you fear and vanquish panic, you will be on your way to achieving the warrior mindset.
It’s also important to remember that techniques sometimes need to change when situations change; it is up to you to learn or relearn what you need to know in order to maintain mastery of your chosen discipline. For instance, a Green Beret of the Army Special Forces must be highly proficient at transitioning from their rifles to their pistols as rapidly as possible in case their rifle ran out of bullets or malfunctioned.
A Warrior is flexible and knows how to improvise, adapt and overcome.
A retired service member proficiency in this skill is no longer necessary because they don’t carry a rifle all the time. However, they might carry a pistol. The physical act of drawing a pistol from a concealed holster is much different than drawing from a leg holster, so you have to train and adapt to this new technique. And by doing so will make you proficient and lethal as had before while in the military.
Remember: You can’t just rest easy and expect skills to stay with you for life because you knew how to do them a long time ago. You should continue to practice, modifying your technique if necessary, no matter how good you are in any given discipline.
Any time you look at people who are successful, you’ll learn that it usually happened because they were able to get really good at a few things by repeating them until they excelled at them. A couple of the other traits of successful people are that they are able to learn from other people’s mistakes and can look at other successful people and understand why they succeeded. They then apply those learnings to their own life.
I try to do that as much as possible. When there’s something I don’t know about, I find someone who is good at it. I observe how they do it, and then, I just try to, basically, mimic what they are doing.
We’ve all heard the term, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” One thing I have always tried to do is stay good at a few skills. The way to do that is to pick out the skills that you believe are most important to maintain and then make practicing those skills an integral part of your day.
The way to master a skill is to learn how to do it the right way, establish the proper technique and practice it regularly. If you’re practicing bad technique, you’ll just get really good at doing something wrong. In addition, it’s important to remember that all skills are perishable: Just because you are the master of a skill today does not guarantee you will be a master five years – without practice – from now. Dedication to daily practice is the best way to maintain your skills.
A warrior mindset means having the discipline to become extremely good doing just a few things.
Being a warrior is about showing up to the fight when every bone in your body tells you to run in the opposite direction. It’s about striving for greatness so that you know either the elation of high achievement and victory or the pain of defeat; but in any case, you can hold up your head proudly, knowing you showed up at the fight as opposed to running.
In his 1910 “Citizenship in Republic” speech, Theodore Roosevelt said,
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the area, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
What defines you as a true warrior is your ability to face danger. That doesn’t mean you want to be a hero or that you’re some kind of a superman because I can tell you from personal experience that one of the most difficult things to do is to override the basic human instinct to protect yourself. You must have the discipline to counter your innate instinct for survival to then run toward the gunfire. It’s having that mentality that you’re going to put yourself into the fight, particularly if you are connected to those who are in the fight, to get in there and to help them, no matter what.
The root of fear, anxiety, panic, and self-doubt is the lack of experience. Having a warrior mindset means being able to set aside or subdue your fear and anxiety so as not to panic in the face of danger and to diminish self-doubt and project self-confidence toward the eyes of any opponent. Confucius once said, “He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.”
Once you learn to subdue your fear and vanquish panic, you will be on your way to achieving the warrior mindset. The biggest contributor to fear and panic is the unknown. The best way to conquer the unknown is to not only face it but to dive, head first, into it. By immersing yourself in your fear, you will achieve “stress inoculations,” as a result of which you will be able to function and think with clarity, even under conditions for which your previous response would have been panic.
The path to becoming a warrior is not an easy one, because at its core is discipline. A warrior is a master of spherical awareness, ever vigilant with their head on a swivel. They know their operational environment, can improve, adapt and overcome all adversities, and while they’re able to accept that they aren’t invincible, they never run from adversity; instead, they face it head-on. The warrior fights with their mind, body, and soul, and while they have emotions, they must master keeping them at bay to fight without letting them interfere with their clarity and lucidity. None of these things will come easily, so do not be discouraged. The only path to master anything, particularly the warrior arts, is via hard work and diligence. It is particularly difficult to master anything in the physical world until you conquer the demons in your head that foster such impediments as fear, anxiety, panic, and self-doubt. Once you can eliminate these counterproductive and debilitating thoughts, you can move forward in mastering the warrior mindset.