Why Men Must Push Beyond Freedom To Power

You long to be free:

Free of the never-ending debt.

Free of the soul-sucking job.

Free of the fat hanging over your belt.

Free of the raw, blaring NEEDS OF OTHERS clawing you from all directions.

But, common though it may be, this longing for freedom isn’t enough to move your needle… not NEARLY enough to usher in the higher life you crave.

For deep down, you know: freedom is not the endgame. It’s merely the pre-condition to what comes next.

It is the life AFTER freedom that matters… when freedom clears the path for whatever level of POWER you’re willing to shoulder.

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How Jack Failed

Photo by yellowskyphotography [cropped, altered]

Mack and Jack were remarkably alike: they went to the same college, had more or less the same IQ, the same level of drive.

Most remarkable of all, they married twin-sisters, making them brother-in-laws.

But that’s where the similarities stop.

For whereas Mack went on to create a life of abundance and freedom for himself and his family, with extended family vacations in India, Fiji, Australia… all while having spare time to play jazz violin and write poetry…

…Jack is still scrambling. His marriage seems always on the brink of collapse… his life always but one financial misstep from the abyss. His children, now in their early twenties and off to college, are polite yet distant… shivering with relief to finally be out of that house.

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Swim Every River

It happened just before midnight.

There was no moon, and the night sky was so clear you could see thick clots of stars in the Milky Way, as though earth’s atmosphere had been peeled back, exposing raw, unveiled space.

I stood on the high dive at some nameless lake near Blue River, British Columbia, the still water of the lake below so perfectly reflecting the stars above that it felt as though the leap I was about to make would be not into water, but outer space.

I took a moment to breathe in the cold air, to savor this exquisite moment, to marvel with gratitude that life was capable of creating these moments of utter magic… and leapt.

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The #1 Lie About Hustle And Grind (Or, Why Po Is The Dragon Warrior)

Yesterday I watched Kung Fu Panda 2 for the second time with my boys.

(If you haven’t seen it, it’s the ongoing story of Po, a fat, lovable panda who must fight the greatest villains in China, despite his glaring lack of training and talent)

As the credits rolled, my oldest son pointed out that Tigress was a better Kung Fu fighter than Po.

And he’s right: Tigress, Crane, Viper, Mantis, Monkey… they’re ALL better at Kung Fu than Po is. In fact, throughout the movie, they’re constantly saving Po’s ass… using their superior skills to fix his mistakes, clear a path, and save him from his own endearing idiocy.

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The Power Of Hell No

I was clipping my toenails on the porch when my 7-year-old son announced he couldn’t find his shoes.

“They’re there somewhere,” I said over my shoulder. “Keep looking.”

A few seconds later: “Dad, I can’t find them.”

“Keep looking!”

More scuffling. Then: “Dad, I checked my room and the shoe closet and the hallway! I don’t see them anywhere!”

“Son, if they aren’t where you think they’ll be, you have to look where you DON’T think they’ll be.”

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How To Give Your Soul An Italian Tune-Up

Woke up feeling like shit yesterday.

After drinking my morning coffee, I proceeded to stare at the wall for the next hour and a half in a slack-jawed, sponge-eyed fog.

Whatever the cause, whether business setbacks or something I ate or having stumbled upon Laird Hamilton’s Instagram account and suddenly wondering why the hell we moved to Texas instead of Hawaii… I was in a bad place.

Everything was wrong, everything was broken, everything was unfixable.

Finally, as the doves sang the sun up, I had the wherewithal to grasp at self-correction:

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Man’s Favorite (And Most Destructive) Waiting Game

I’ll never forget the phone call I thought was going to make me famous.

“Is this Bryan Ward?”

I was in high school. No adult ever called for me.

“Yes,” I said, my heart beating a little faster.

“Well, we’ve heard your guitar playing, Bryan, and I’m telling you, you’re good. VERY good. We’d like you to sign with our label. We’d like to offer you a record deal.”

My mind went to a place of instant, solemn acceptance.

Finally, my time had come. My great gift had been discovered. My life was about to change forever.

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The 7 Deadliest Forms Of Male Procrastination

I was 15 years old, blasting pig shit off a wall with a pressure washer.

Every inch of my body was covered in protective plastic, my goggles smeared and flecked with various shades of brown.

It was easily one of the nastiest jobs I’d ever had.

But I sprayed away happily anyway.

Why?

I was obsessed. Consumed with desire for what seemed then the ultimate purchase: a new stereo system.

I thought of nothing else.

To make the money, I worked any job I could find, including taking over a friend’s shifts at a pig farm while he was on vacation.

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The Man, The Roach, And The Fatal Flaw

Before moving to Texas, I’d rarely encountered cockroaches.

Here, they are common. And although I have no love for the creatures, I do have a grudging respect for their tenacity.

Any observer will tell you they are built to survive: lightning fast, adept hiders… their bodies protected by a thick exoskeleton.

A quick Google search tells me cockroaches can withstand ice burial, radiation, and even (for a time) decapitation.

They can go up to 45 minutes without air, can survive prolonged submersion in water, and are able to live on nothing more than hair, soap, glue.

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The Most Poisonous Story Men Tell Themselves

When I was a boy, I stumbled upon the body of a rabbit in the woods behind our farm.

Though dead, it looked peaceful, like it was only sleeping: its fur unblemished, eye glassy yet intact.

But when I flipped it over with a stick, as boys will invariably do, its underside was seething with maggots, wriggling and chewing in a mad pulse of decomposition.

I leapt back in repugnance, shocked at how infested the flesh was beneath the serene exterior.

On the surface, your life looks a series of events and milestones:

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