#145 The Core and the Chili Champion

"There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." ~ Nelson Mandela

Whatever you think of my journey toward self-awareness, whether you think it has any real merit or not, it has always been circling around looking for something. Stumbling a little in the dark a lot of the time, but searching for something nonetheless. Something I could never quite put my finger on. Something I could feel much more than actually see. What it was, I wasn't really sure, but each week another little piece of the puzzle would show up, or another question would pop up, and I would catch another glimpse. Was it leadership and followership? Was it self-awareness and self-deceit? Was it OODA loops, Black Hearts, Kill Squad, or Toxic Leadership? Forgiveness and redemption? What was it each week that was flirting with me? Teasing me? Taunting me sometimes? Every post became a new variation on the same theme:

That you have to know who you are really are and be able to lead yourself before you can successfully lead others. You have to find the truth of yourself, and have the courage to live it without false pretense, or self-aggrandizement, every day. You have to live your life intentionally and with your full power and strength. You have to accept responsibility for yourself and your actions. You have to honor yourself and demand of yourself that you live in the fullest expression of your truth every single moment. And to do that honestly and fully, you a have to search for yourself. You have to find your core.

Two and a half years ago, I started writing this blog. Nine months ago it went in a whole new direction. Sixty-five hours ago, the game changed permanently and some important parts of the core became evident to me. Every day, every step, every moment leading to this time. Perseverance sits at my core

I have been trying to rediscover and uncover the core of me. That's what this journey is about. Me as a man. Me as a husband and father. Me as a Soldier. Me as a leader. A me that was hidden away, cloaked in false modesty. Covered up by fear and doubt. Not believing that I could show the full power of my intention every day. Accepting being a loyal Two because it was safe and secure. Being afraid to risk. Being afraid to speak my truth honestly and sincerely. Being afraid to step fully into my vision. Maybe all of that has been painfully obvious to you, but for a long while it wasn't really all that clear to me. You can believe your own bullshit and hold onto your old patterns for a long long time.

A lot has changed along the way....

There is a portion of the Ranger Creed that says: "....I accept the fact that my Country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other Soldier." Change the context a little and it is certainly true of my journey....I have moved further than I thought I would (or even knew I would have to). I have moved faster than most once I gained enough clarity to see where I needed to be. I have fought harder for my soul, my independence, my freedom and to take possession of myself than many will ever understand. I have a mental toughness and tenacity that serves me well. They are core things.

Dear Ranger Creed guy - I went to your school a long time ago and I earned your piece of cloth. Over the last 9 months, on a whole different battlefield, what those words really mean has come home to live in me. Trust me, brother, I have lived up to the tenants of your Creed quite well.

I saw a poster the other day that said "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great." It comes from the movie "A League of Their Own". The challenge is to never stop looking for the truth. To continue to strip away and find those core beliefs that truly speak your truth authentically. And it is hard work. Hard work worth doing. If people are going to place their trust, their respect, their lives in your hands, you'd better have spent hours doing the hard work to ensure that they are well-served by your leadership. I didn't do that once. I will not make the same mistake twice. That willingness to take a hard, honest look sits at my core.

Saw another poster that said: "Never regret anything because at one time it was exactly what you needed." Yup. Crucible moments matter. What you do in them says a ton about who you are. If it took Black Hearts to get me to this place, then I am grateful and thankful to that time and that place as painful as it was. In the end, it led me down this road and this is the road that I needed to walk down. I have not done it alone, but the journey has certainly been mine. The journey has had it's crucible moments as well and arguably they are more important than Black Hearts could ever be. The willingness to take a leap is at my core. The willingness to keep pushing until I find the answers I need.

Another poster said: "You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughta be." You cannot be a spectator in your own life. There is a time to stand up and state plainly what you want and what you need and what you desire. State it without fear, without worry, without guilt, and without shame. Sometimes the Universe just lets you know when it's time to move.

Two and a half years of writing and three years before that of drifting and losing my way....Nine months of some of the hardest work, the most challenging work, the most rewarding work anyone could ever do. All to find the core. It's time to move. It is time to no longer settle and to start living the life I am capable of. It's time to live with passion again. Sixty-Five hours ago, I became a former smoker after 27 years. Last Thursday afternoon I was voted the chili cook-off champion at work. There is a lot more of my journey wrapped up in the chili than there is in the quitting smoking folks. That part was easy. That strength is at my core. I had to take the journey to get to the chili....And every moment so far has been completely worth it.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.


  1. Recently I became across “Fen’s Thoughts” and have read some of your blogs . . . this one has made me think a lot. I can identify with many of the things you mentioned. From time to time I have been afraid, have had many doubts, and most importantly afraid to speak ones truth.

    I have been trying to discover my core as well. It has taken some deep thinking and time. As a man, husband, father, soldier, and leader what was the definite point in which you found yourself or as you say “your core.” How can you tell or realize what your real truth is and what is not? As you have walked your journey is your truth clear or do you continue to hold to your old patterns? Do you continue to be afraid, if so how do you fight this feeling?

  2. For me the core is and has always been there available to me, however over the years, like a table in the corner of the office (or at least my office) so much stuff gets stacked on top, that we don't think about the table, see it, or even dwell on it's beauty and the contribution and foundation that it provides to our lives. And some tables/offices have so much stuff laying around it takes a good long time to sort it out, and sorting through it is likely useful to view and think about items that one day you laid down not ready to let go of, but looking through the lens of the present, letting go is possible and even welcome. I myself have an entire corner area of a room upstairs. Somedays I do not like to even look at it. But bit by bit, I try to go through a small stack. Some stuff, is easy to let go, you don't know why it was important before. Other stuff, you move to another stack for another day's consideration. Sure as years accumulate, so do experiences and they cannot just be erased, but the important thing is not to let them completely cover the table.

    No matter your personal spiritual beliefs, perhaps revisit those. If you align yourself with a particular faith, how earnestly do you pursue that? If you do not believe in a spiritual life, then at least try going outside in the sunshine, wind, clouds, rain or snow, take a deep breathe and blow the stink off. Soak in the fresh air and allow yourself to be wrapped in the free elements all around and smile.

    The brave men and women (and their families) of the armed forces sacrifice so much to give freedom to those they serve.

    It is wonderful to be alive and free. And Each of us is loved.