As a lot of you already know, I interviewed Navy SEAL and New York Times Bestselling author, Jocko Willink, earlier this week. One thing that he said that really stuck out to me was the difference between former military members who are able to maintain their discipline after their service and those who aren’t.
I have personally seen both. I’ve seen veterans who make a seamless transition into civilian life and I’ve see those who really flounder and I’ve often wondered what the difference was.
What Jocko said is that the difference between the two is whether or not they’ve found a new mission.
During my time in the military, the mission was always very clear to me. We were instructed on the objective, given our marching orders, then left to carry them out. But, when you transition out of the military, there’s no one to give you any marching orders and you’re left on your own to figure it all out.
What’s interesting to me is that one of my favorite authors, John Eldredge (who, by the way, just agreed to come on the podcast) happens to be the author of one of my favorite quotes.
He says, “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, and adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.” I want to focus the conversation today on the first component of that quote, a battle to fight.
Men are warriors. Not all warriors have to be battle-proven in war but I do believe it’s in our nature to look for problems, to be on the lookout for the enemy or, at a minimum, a threat to our livelihood and the people we have a responsibility for.
I look around in society today and I see men who have no real sense of direction or purpose. I know you do to – maybe it’s you. You look into their eyes and you can see that all the enthusiasm and excitement they may have once had is all but gone.
I would argue it’s because these men, as Jocko would say, have no mission or, as John Eldredge would say, they have no battle to fight.
So today, I’m going to encourage you to pick a fight – to pick a battle. I don’t mean a literal fight with someone or a group of people. I mean that I want you to take a look around at society and engage in a cause worth fighting for. This could be a career calling, a fitness journey, the family you’re working to provide, protect, and preside for. I really don’t care what it is but I do want to give you four steps to engaging in the fight of your life.
As I talk about these four steps, I’m going to give you a lot of questions as opposed to answers. I can’t decide what your battle is. You have to decide that for yourself and the best way for me to help you do that is to give you some questions to ponder and consider.
IDENTIFY THE ENEMY
The first step in picking a battle to fight is to talk a look around society and identify what you see as being wrong with the world. Write down everything that comes to mind. In a way, you’re identifying the enemy. Not a literal enemy but the thing you’re going to fight against.
For men, 3 years ago, I saw that there was a real problem with the state of affairs for men. Like I mentioned before, I’ve seen too many men who have lost the spark of life and don’t know where to turn. Couple that with the fact that society in general doesn’t like or approve of masculinity (until they need men to do something) and it became painfully obvious that there was a problem.
In many ways I set out to solve my own problems as I was one of the men to which I’m referring.
- What bothers you?
- What injustices do you see in the world?
- What problems do you have in your personal life?
- What could be better about this life?
The answers to those questions will help you identify the battle you may have been born to fight.
Remember, you’re not limiting yourself here. You’re just brainstorming.
Once, you’ve identified some problems with the world – the ones that are meaningful to you, you’re probably going to find a common theme between them. There are probably a few that overlap or stand out to you.
If that’s the case, I’d recommend you start doing some reconnaissance.
- Who is already addressing this problem?
- What solutions are already available?
- How has this problem been addressed in the past?
- What gaps are there in the solution to this problem?
When you start answering questions like these, you start giving yourself the power to do something about the problems you see with the world.
Once you’ve identified the enemy and you’ve done some recon regarding the battle already being wages and the gaps that need to be filled, you can start planning your battle.
- What solutions will you offer?
- How will you offer them?
- What assets do you need?
- What in your life do you need to improve in order to be the champion of this cause?
- Who do you need to know in order to bring the fight?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you should then ask yourself, what is the next first step?
You don’t have to have this all mapped out. You just need to know what the next step is because the next step in your battle is to engage.
Maybe it’s to create a website or a podcast. Maybe you need to ask for a promotion at work or propose a project to your employer. Maybe you just need to start talking about some of this stuff on social media.
I don’t know what this looks like for you but you’re going to feel if it’s right only when you start engaging in the fight.
It does no good to do all this planning without actually taking the fight to the enemy. I see too many men plan and strategize and think about what they want and then never do anything about it.
I want you to take the next first step. Once you’ve done that, I want you to take the next first step. Over and over again.
When you find yourself getting off track, adjust and keep driving. You’re going to feel it.
I know this isn’t easy, especially if you feel like your soul has been dead for some time now but I can promise you that when you follow these steps and choose your battle your soul will come alive for the first time in years. You’ll feel like you have a calling – a purpose again. You’ll walk around with your head held high knowing that you’re doing the work of a man. I know it’s certainly been true for me.