We are blessed to live in such interesting times. As we approach 2012, I don’t think I’m alone in my concern about the best courses of action to take to deal with our economic and moral challenges. My wife and I have stepped outside the Matrix with our partner and friend, Yaromil, to create a fitness business that is our response to the growing obesity epidemic and an increased lack of engagement and awareness among most segments of society.
In our fitness studio, we often find that putting together an exercise program is incidental to more pressing needs – and we’re finding ways of addressing those.
Our New Adventure
Despite the fear that comes with starting any business on a shoestring in a depressed economy, with little savings, and a lot of responsibilities (like children’s tuition, mortage, rebuilding retirement savings, etc.), the three of us are experiencing tremendous feeings of freedom, joy, and power. For me, part of the freedom comes with my ability to engage with people at a more honest level.
When I was experiencing my 20 minutes of fame as an educator and nonprofit leader, much of my nonprofit schtick involved kissing butt for dollars. I did it because I believed in the mission and the people I was serving and I was good at it. Still, I never felt that this was the highest and best use of my talents. Getting blacklisted by the powerful people I got “uppity” with has allowed me to recapture my integrity. Although my oldest daughter has expressed her contempt for an Ivy League-educated father who has become a life coach and “the world’s oldest personal trainer,” I pray that she will soon discover the power of simplicity and integrity.
Red Pill/Blue Pill
Those in power refuse to value the development of economic productivity over the creation of financial products. We are blind to the education bubble that our children sit on as they incur debt at places like Swarthmore College (why is Swartmore the example? Call me and I’ll tell you) with no real preparation for this new economy. Many of these high-priced institutions of higher learning do nothing to improve the thinking of students faced with increased complexity.
I played in the law and education spaces and I saw how sausage gets made. Now I have an interesting vantage point to look at the health challenges this country is facing. Our inability to effectively address our health problems may prove to be the most damaging factor in the decline of our society.
Wolves, Sheep, Shepherds & Sheepdogs
With all that’s going on – and if you’re not one of the now famous 1% – you can either prepare for the zombie apocalypse or find a new way of being. I have chosen to do both. Part of this way of being and preparing is finding a group of like-minded individuals. This is not easy because while the wolves and the sheep are many, the shepherds and the sheepdogs are few.
We could not have developed to our current level of “civilization” without a certain level of empathy, selflessnesss, cooperation, and sharing. These qualities have been replaced in many parts of our society by fear and greed. Community creation is a lost skill. We have given our power over to experts of all sorts who are leading a lemming-like rush to the brink. Those with enough money are able to buy some form of community but that leaves most of us outside the gate.
As I watched these developments and after taking account of the false friendships and the transactional camaraderie that had been part of my professional experience, I took a break from everyone except for my immediate family and a few close friends. This has been good and healing but I am now ready for my new way of being.
The Resurrection of Community
I want to take part in a discussion of what it really means to be a leader. I continue to turn my back on the cynics who are only certain of the things they don’t know – I reject that easy way out. I want to find fellow shepherds and sheepdogs so that I can pull my Quixotean lance from storage. I want to be part of a small group that will work for transformation as it seeks out problems that can be turned into possibilities. I think one of the things we will see in the next decade is an increased popularity of “intentional communities” – everything from ecovillages to ashrams to communes to survivalist retreats. Voluntary simplicity, self sufficiency, interpersonal growth, and skill development will all be part of the mix for the best of these communities. Maybe I’ll start my own version of this kind of thing but until then, baby steps.
To this end, I will be participating and presenting at the Total Warrior Skills and Mindset camp organized by Marc Joseph of Spartan Training Gear. It is taking place on February 24-26. All proceeds from the event will go to the National Law Enforcement Officers Fund. The weekend is for trainers, educators, law enforcement officers, and anyone who wants to do more than worry about the wolves. It will be about developing serenity, power, awareness, fitness, and reality-based self defense skills, There are a bunch of presenters who I am really excited about meeting. Send Marc an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more specifics.
Marc Joseph is a fellow entrepreneur and kindred spirit. This is his effort to begin a conversation among people who are capable of fighting ennui as well as zombies. This is my effort to begin the creation of a community I want to be a part of.
How are you preparing?
“If it is good to say or do something, then it is even better to be criticized for having said or done it.” – Marcus Aurelius
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