There is only one thing that makes us all equal in this life—we are all given the gift of time. This gift is the most important currency that you'll ever possess, and you will find out that how you spend your time is what ultimately defines you as a man or a woman. This gift isn't equally distributed, and it often leaves us questioning our meaning, purpose, and value. The beauty of it all is that we are all given a relatively brief time on this earth to figure out what really matters to each of us. Guess what? What matters is unique to each individual and what you care about is not what everybody else cares about. Ultimately, the goal should be to maximize your time here on earth in whatever way you determine to be best. My belief is that in order to maximize your time on earth, it comes down to the never-ending journey of building yourself into the person you want to become.

Know your goals and values

The first question you should ask yourself is, “What kind of person do I want to be?” This requires you to self-reflect and look at your values. Do your actions match your values? Are you the person that you say you are? What you want to do can change throughout your life, but the type of person you want to be should change very little. It’s OK to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes. If you don’t learn and you continue to compromise the things you claim to be your values, you're living a lie.

This is the reason I believe so few people take a real look in the mirror. You might see a very ugly person looking back at you. You might be the person you hate the most. You might have fallen into the trap of the easy way of living. You get to the place you don’t want to be by taking little steps every single day in the wrong direction. This is part of life. Every man has compromised his values at some point in his life, but what matters is your attempt to correct your mistakes. What matters is understanding that where you are isn't where you have to be. You are not stuck anywhere. The only thing that truly limits what you’re capable of doing is your mind. If you hate what you see, you should make the daily changes to get back on track. Your stumbles and mistakes aren't what matters in this life. What matters is the journey. What matters is the process.

You will be attacked throughout your life’s journey. You will be attacked and judged for the choices that you make. People will question you and try to belittle you. In today’s society, with the internet, it’s easier than ever to discover the mistakes people have made throughout their lives. People will bring up the past. People will point out inconsistencies. People will always be critics. Why will they do this? It’s easy to judge and it makes people feel better about their own inadequacies. It’s easy to sit behind your computer and point out flaws. It’s easy to break other people down. With the amount of information out there, you will always be able to find a source that contradicts what someone is doing. As Arnold said in his speech about the six keys to success, “Ignore the naysayers.” Recognize that you live for no man but yourself. You control your actions and you control your mind. Free your mind from whatever is restricting it and holding you back from what you want to be.

There have been countless people who said that it's important to write out your goals. I tend to agree and think that you should take it one step further. Write out your values. Do you even know your values? What are you never willing to compromise on? This includes what you aren't willing to compromise for a marriage, for your children, or for money. Do this first and then audit your actions. Recognize where you're weak and make changes accordingly. Determine your ideals. Recognize that you will fall short of them but never stop striving for them.

Know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. At the same time, just do something. We often get caught up in our daydreams and fantasies about what we want to become. Because of this, we stall and we look for the best method. We don’t recognize that the step-by-step book to success is an illusion. We mentally masturbate to the thought that there’s a perfect way. This is seen frequently on the internet with discussions over what cookie cutter method works best. The flaw is that no two people are the same, so no program will be optimal for every single person. There isn't one road to success.

The answer to the question, “What’s best for you?” hasn't been answered yet. The only way to determine your own best method is to experiment with yourself. If you haven’t done anything, you don’t know your weaknesses because you haven’t failed. This is why it’s important to just pick something and go with it. Look at something that you think is awesome, start imitating it, and then study it while you’re doing it. After you’ve reached this level, start to modify as you go along and learn. By starting before studying, you will already be on your way to success. You took the first step and the first step is also called progress. Create a creed or a motto and never compromise from it. Start living instead of just getting by.

For further reading on this topic, there are two phenomenal books that address your goals and values—Dan John’s Intervention and Martin Rooney’s Train to Win. Each one of these men has discussed these goal setting fundamentals in a simplistic and applicable manner. Many of the thoughts that were presented in this section were influenced by these two works.

What do you love?

The thing I believe most people have forgotten is that love is a sacrifice of self. Love is giving up yourself for something else. You are no longer the center of your universe. What you love can be a person, an object, an ideal, or a cause. Do you really love a person as much as you say you do? There can be a huge reward from love or there can be complete destruction. It’s a risk that you can choose to take. It will cost you a lot of your time. It has the potential to cost you who you are and what you want to be. In determining where to put your love, it’s important to examine the cost and whether something is even capable of returning value to your life.

When you love something perfectly, you accept its flaws and limitations. There is a difference between love and control. Don’t ever let yourself be consumed by what you love and never try to take over what you love. You will find that the only things that you can control are your own actions and your own thoughts. If you forget this, you could spend years of your life missing out on something more rewarding. Don’t forget the value of your time. People are not projects, and often times, we don't have any clue what’s best for someone else. Sometimes stepping back and letting things go is the best possible way to show your love.

Sometimes you need to step back and recognize why you fell in love with something in the first place. It’s easy to get caught up in love, and it’s easy to lose yourself in love. This is why it’s important to have your values. If something loves you back, it will never ask you to compromise your values for it. Sometimes it’s best to let what you love go and see where your life takes you. Are you better off without it? Do you realize that it made you a better person? Was the challenge worth it? Is it worth fighting for? Is it worth your time? Is it worth your life?

In order to love other things, you must first learn to love yourself. Recognize that you have infinite worth and value. The way you invest yourself is by giving your time. Never forget how valuable you are or how valuable your time is. Remember to surround yourself with people who help you grow and reach back to help others grow, too. Never forget that someone loved you enough to invest their time in you. Remember that it’s necessary to have balance in your life and don’t let yourself get consumed. When we are completely broken down, it becomes hard to invest in other people or other things. Take care of your body, mind, and soul so that you’re capable of loving other things.

There isn't any right answer

If you search hard enough, you will always find what you’re looking for. If you're looking for a flaw in a study, a product, an idea, or a person, you will always find it. If you're searching for justifications for your actions or inactions, you will find them. It’s easy to make a logical argument proving whatever you want when your initial piece of evidence is flawed. Once you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve found truth, it’s likely that you’ll go down the path of a closed mind. Always push yourself and always test your own thoughts and conclusions.

As I’ve gotten a little older, I’ve grown to see the world more and more as a gray place. People, the media, and the “experts” will always try to make things appear black and white. This is the simple approach, which allows each of us to understand and make sense of our time on this earth. We are pattern creatures who like to think logically. We think that there is an answer to every question. We think that if we fix one thing, we will completely fix the system as a whole. Because of this, we join causes or indoctrinate ourselves in dogma that forbids our ability to critique and keep an open mind. We criticize those who don’t completely agree with our perspective.

Instead, we should evaluate different perspectives and learn from them. The day we stop listening and learning is the day we stop growing. If you think you know it all, start over and pick up details that you missed the first time. A better idea is to ask new questions. If you haven’t noticed, the human race doesn't have everything together. There are very few people who have figured it out. It’s rare to find a person who is content and at peace. Never close your mind. The key to growing old is a closed mind.

Appreciate differences

Appreciation comes from the acceptance of differences. Appreciating the differences is what makes this life wonderful. Difference is what makes the world a beautiful, exciting, and interesting place. The Iron Game is a beautiful array of competitions—powerlifting, bodybuilding, crossfit, kettlebells, figure, fitness, strongman, and weight training to increase quality of life. Included in each of these are even more federations that include different standards, subjective judging, the use or non-use of drugs, and various colors of banana hammocks or singlets. Is any one of these strength sports greater than the other? No. Each one requires its own sacrifices. Each one requires its optimal method to reach greatness, and each one has a community and a place to impact people’s lives. Each one can give someone a sense of purpose. Most importantly, it gives the athletes a sense of purpose.

Strength sports will always be great as long as they are making people better people. That’s why it’s important to motivate and empower those who train alongside you. Push each other and push those who are pursing interests that aren't the same as your own. At the end of the day, those other people aren't you. You don’t own them and you don’t control them. Let them pursue their own version of greatness. Each person is uniquely made and has his or her individual purpose. If you're fortunate enough to meet another person, you’ve been given a gift. If you’ve been fortunate enough to learn from those who are different than yourself, you’ve been given the greatest gift that person could ever give you.

Difference is what pushes humanity. Difference is what allows us to think and determine new solutions. Difference is what gives value and meaning to each situation. Difference is what allows us to appreciate the piece of time we are given. Difference gives us the ability to choose whatever path we desire. Without difference, there would be no meaning in this life.

Do what’s right

There’s an old saying that if you never compromise on your values, you’ll never regret anything in your life. My buddy gave me a saying that his father made him repeat every morning—“Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Don’t whine, complain, or make excuses.” Just by following this, I believe all of our lives will increase in quality. I feel as though most people can agree with that statement but can expand on it with whatever you choose. Recognize that doing the right thing isn't the easy way. It will harden you and it will break you. Few are strong enough to follow their own code. Make doing what’s right a habit. Hold yourself to a higher standard mentally and physically. Live your code and find your own version of greatness.

Give back. Remember that in some way, shape, or form, you were helped in this life. Give back to those who are weak. Give to those who are willing to learn. Remember the times that you were searching for answers. Recognize that you can learn from every person. Feed off their excitement and passion. Don’t compromise your values. At the end of the day, the only person you have to answer to is yourself.

At the end of the day

At the end of the day, you will fail, you will get hurt, people will criticize you, and people will judge you for your choices good or bad. Welcome to this beautiful place called life. Do what you love. In the very least, do something. Determine what it is you want to be and chase it with all your heart. Recognize that there isn't any right answer. Recognize that no matter how far you’ve wandered, you can turn back toward where you want to go. Recognize that you're given the gift of time and that one day it will run out. This life will be as beautiful or as ugly as you wish to make it. There can be great reward or great consequence depending on where you invest your time. Go on the quest to find yourself and then give yourself to others. Turn into the person you want to be. Be your own hero. Live out your code. Recognize that you have an awesome gift and that you have an awesome power. God bless and eternal vigilance.

"People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

— Mother Teresa

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