Critical: Mettle Maker #265

tree sweetgum

As a manager at my day job, I have a rule that I got from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, which is that 4-out-of-5 interactions should be positive. That way people are excited to hear from you, receptive to what you have to say, and primed to become friends, associates, customers, and team members.

Do the 4-out-of-5-thing with yourself. Make notes in your training journal to reflect your successes and PRs. Note your milestones, goals achieved, and all of that. But you had better be critical as well.

There’s real power in realizing that you really aren’t all that amazing.

In my work as Christian apologist, seminarian, and deacon — and just in everyday life — I’ve noticed that many people who are critical of Christianity are folks who want to create a safety bubble of like-minded people around themselves in which nobody is threatened or criticized. All criticism is directed outward at the “other.” And when they criticize Christianity, I hear them say that Christianity creates a false sense of sin and guilt and then provides a make-believe solution in the form of forgiveness, salvation, and redemption.

I know this because I said those things myself after I lost my faith. Thank God I got it back. But I quickly noticed that there are a lot of complacent Christians create their little safety bubbles too. In their bubbles, everyone is Christian (perhaps even of their own denomination) and everyone outside it is the evil “other.”

To hell with safety bubbles.

If you’re sufficiently self-critical — if you’re doing the work of being the best person you can possibly be — then you are staring into the darkness of yourself and seeing some ugly things. You should feel the need to repent, to be washed clean, absolved, forgiven, saved and redeemed. And from time to time, you should need a life-line to prevent descent into self-loathing. I pray for the peace of non-Christians doing the work, because I’m not sure how that’s done.

But if you’re okay with who you are, and if everyone in your circle is also okay as they are, then sin, repentance, absolution and all of that either looks really stupid (atheists) or already handled (complacent Christians). Not much is getting done on the self-improvement horizon.

Believe or don’t believe in the reality of Christ. I hope you will. But either way, be critical of yourself and see past bubbles.

Critical: Mettle Maker #265

  1. Warm-up before training.  To avoid injuries, warm-up thoroughly for at at least 8 minutes before you train. Do 2-3 minutes each of (a) jumping rope or footwork (b) light calisthenics and (c) shadowboxing, forms, light heavy bag work, or 8 minutes of MBF.  
  2. Can you manage your body weight or not? 4 sets of Chin-ups, Front Lunge (martial artists do them DDU-style), Bear Walks (5 yards), and Shoulder Rolls.  If this is your your MBF for today, do 4 reps/set slowly with perfect form.  If more intensity is needed or desired based on your training cycle and approach, increase the reps/set.  Don’t know what some these abbreviations?  Ask in the comments or schedule a call.
  3. Can you hit stuff or not?  Set timer for 3 x 3:00/1:00.  Round 1: Lead hand straight Palm Strike once, Reverse Punch; lead hand straight Palm Strike twice, Reverse Punch; lead hand straight Palm Strike three times, Reverse Punch.  Repeat. Whenever you gas, change stance.  Round 2:  Same as first round, except alternate straight and hooking lead hand Palm Strikes.  Round 3: all Palm strikes, alternating lead and reverse hand, in ascending count sets — 1 strike, skip a beat; 2 strikes, beat, 3 strikes, beat; then 4.  
  4. “Aggumplish” something you’ve been “slothilizing.”¹  You can’t run a marathon without practice or deadlift twice your bodyweight without ever having picked up something heavy.  But if you’ve been practicing a long time toward a goal that has been just out of reach, it might be time to push through and just get it done.  This week I ripped off the bandaid on two scores — I played my first guitar solo and finally got my rope climbed.  See video below for details.
  5. Look at yourself for 10 minutes. This month’s spiritual symbol is the Candle and the associated activity is meditation.  Last week we used sound as a meditative tool.  This week we’re using a visual technique instead of an auditory one.  Set a timer for 10 minutes.  Assume your meditative posture of choice, calm your breathing to a slow and steady rhythm, and do not fidget, wiggle or scratch (meditation is a mental exercise, but it’s also about developing control over your instincts and reflexes).  Keeping your eyes open, imagine a translucent screen in front of you, and on that screen is a movie of your life.  It’s playing backwards starting right now.  Watch that movie unfold.  Do not think in words — only images.  Just like a real movie at the theater, it will skip certain chunks of time, but that’s okay.  Keep going back, back, back.  You might get back to last week, last month, college or pre-school.  That’s okay, everybody’s different.  When the timer beeps, analyze what you saw.  What did you like?  What did you not like?  Write down what you want to change in your training journal.

¹ Remember sniglets, created by Rich Hall?  Hilarious stuff.  What’s a sniglet?  “A word that doesn’t appear in the dictionary but should.”  Aggumplish is a mix of gumption and accomplish.  If you can’t figure out slothilize I can’t help you.



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One response to “Critical: Mettle Maker #265

  1. Pingback: New Direction: Mettle Maker #266 | Robert Mitchell Jr.

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