Welcome to Warriors of the Written! (Part 2)
This is the second part of our introduction to Warriors of the Written. If you haven’t read Part 1, you should probably start there. It focuses on what you will find at WotW- stories, writing tips and techniques, and perspectives on a lifestyle that can help you find your “flow” more easily.
Why the focus on flow? Because, regardless of what you’re trying to accomplish, your greatest magic happens when you’re in a flow state:
- You are completely immersed in your project and in the moment.
- Your work flows through you almost effortlessly, without resistance.
- You will be happier with the work you produce.
- Your enjoyment of the process is magnified.
There are many more benefits that we’ll explore in later posts, but you will notice these four things the very first time you experience flow. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to keep chasing that feeling and, once you make flow a habit, your writing (or whatever skill you are working on) will improve.
So- working from your flow state produces better results and more enjoyment of the process. Sounds great, right? Let’s get started! But where? You can’t exactly buy a can of flow at the supermarket…
Which is why most people, even if they’re aware of flow, don’t experience it often. It’s not an easy place to find- but it can be found. There is a roadmap of sorts, a set of conditions you can create, that can make your flow easier to access.
In order for that map to be useful, however, you need to prepare yourself for the journey. Flow is a type of “peak experience”, like running a marathon so effortlessly that you barely break a sweat. But to reach that point, you need to have the right fundamentals. You have to learn balance before you can stand, so that you can walk, and eventually run.
To find our balance, let’s begin with:
The Warrior Mindset.
At first glance, that might not make any sense. Warriors are trained for battle and war, right? Their skill is in killing each other with weapons, or in the strategies of how to attack and defend and survive. How could you apply those things to your writing?
You probably wouldn’t, not when you’re talking about the physical abilities of a warrior. But we’re not. We’re talking about the mindset a warrior uses to achieve those physical abilities, and the perspectives and attitudes that determine how and when they use those abilities.
Here is an excerpt from SHIFT: Indigenous Principles for Corporate Change that explains the difference:
“The concept of the warrior is one that transcends many cultures and geographies and yet is predominant in older cultures far more than is embraced in our modern world. It is often misunderstood to imply a person that is employed in the vocation of physical violence, whether seeming justified or not. Indeed my Mac widget defines it as “A brave or experienced soldier or fighter”.
This definition could not be more inaccurate as the concept is understood in Indigenous cultures. The “warrior spirit” in the Indigenous sense, is largely regarded as a person, man or woman, who has vowed their life to the betterment of their family, community, nation, collectively “their people,” and that they will act and make decisions for that greater good regardless of how hard it may be or the consequences as they pertain to the warrior him or herself.”
Basically, the idealized warrior has always been about more than physical fighting. They are protectors and leaders that have earned their community’s trust by showing that they will act for the greater good, even if it means putting themselves in harm’s way.
Think of King Arthur in the west, or of samurai in the east. They represent completely different cultures, histories, and value systems. Yet their warriors operated by very similar codes- chivalry for King Arthur and his knights, bushido for Miyamoto Musashi and the samurai.
These “codes of conduct” were practiced long before they were written down- in fact there is no single “book of chivalry” and the Bushido Shoshinshu didn’t appear until just before the samurai were disbanded. But knights and samurai didn’t need a code to be warriors- they simply lived, intuitively, as they felt warriors should live. The codes came afterward, to help us understand what made these people so special.
Let’s take a look at four “warrior virtues” common to both codes:
- Honor – Acknowledging your moral responsibilities (and acting accordingly).
- Integrity – Living honestly and authentically (by saying what you will do and doing what you say).
- Courage – Possessing the strength to act on your honor and integrity (despite your fears and insecurities).
- Compassion – Manifesting love and sympathy through patience and understanding (by being able to feel for others).
Warriors who live by these values are respected by their communities because they usually act for the benefit of all. They are the living examples of what we all wish we could be, and they know something most of us have forgotten.
We are all warriors.
At least, when we need to be. You hear stories about it all the time. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The stranger who dives in after a drowning child, the parent who pulls their family from a burning house, the quiet bystander who tackles a shooter.
These are people who ignore threats to their own safety to help others. They are often hailed as heroes, but when asked they’ll say “I don’t feel like a hero” or “Anybody would’ve done the same” or “There was no time to think, I just reacted”.
“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” – General Norman Schwarzkopf
So how do we integrate these virtues into our own practice? By using them to hold ourselves accountable to our own growth. For example:
Honor is the bond you have with yourself and the people around you- your friends, family, and community. It’s an abstract idea but it has measurable effects- trust and respect.
It’s a simple exchange, really. If you live honestly and are considerate of others in your choices, people reward you with their trust and respect- two of the most powerful social bonds we have. To trust someone with your life is a big deal, yet we do it every time we get on a bus, or let someone else drive our car, or have surgery. And when someone else places their trust in us, most of the time we want to live up to that responsibility. We want others to see us as honorable and trustworthy, so we try a little harder. We make a commitment.
But when it comes to ourselves, most of us are comfortable breaking that bond. We will talk about our moral responsibilities, about our commitments to writing and eating healthy and exercising. But if we don’t actually do those things we won’t trust ourselves, and most of us don’t respect people we don’t trust.
To learn balance, you must trust yourself and honor your commitments by maintaining:
Most of us think of a person with integrity as someone who actually lives by the values and morals they say are important to them. It’s the opposite of hypocrisy, really. “I believe in recycling so I always put my plastic bottle in a recycling bin.”
Like with honor, the social rewards are trust and respect. And, just like with honor, most of us are comfortable breaking integrity with ourselves by saying we believe in one thing but acting differently. “I believe in recycling but I don’t see a bin and I’m in a hurry so I’ll just throw this bottle in the trash. Just this once, because there’s not another easy option.”
The problem is that integrity has another meaning: “The state of being whole or undivided”. When we say one thing but do another, we are divided. Our beliefs and morals are not in harmony with our actions, and when we don’t have harmony we can’t be our strongest selves.
To learn balance, you must be in harmony with yourself to have:
The willingness to act even when you’re afraid or when there are risks is how you develop honor and integrity. There is a reason that movies and myths and fairy tales so often tell stories of courage. Regardless of what culture you come from, people admire those who stand up for “what is right” because, honestly, it’s not easy to even understand our values and morals- let alone live by them.
And It’s no surprise that we find it hard to be courageous. There are many forces that prey on our fears because they are easy to tap into. We haven’t all had the opportunity to explore our courage, but we all know what it feels like to be afraid. When you’re told that the smartest way to live in this world is to live in fear, it’s hard to be brave.
The courage to stand up for yourself- to yourself- is even harder. You know that if you don’t go to the gym today, you won’t feel much worse tomorrow- but you also won’t feel any better.
It’s not easy to commit to a path that requires patience before you can see any results, especially if you live in a society built around immediate gratification. When you can lose weight by taking a pill, why waste time exercising and monitoring your diet? You’re too “busy” for that!
But growth takes effort, and effort takes courage. To develop courage, you’ll need:
Here’s the thing about growth and change- you will fail. Probably often. Think about any habit you’ve tried to change.
You swear that, starting tomorrow, there will be no more sugar in your diet! You don’t need caffeine because you want to live on a natural high! But then you wake up the next morning and maybe you didn’t sleep well, and the withdrawal symptoms kick in, and you really need to be “up” for the 9am meeting… so you give in and have that cup of coffee. For many of us it’ll be 6 months or a year before we try again, so we hate on ourselves for being so weak. That’s not only toxic, it’s wrong.
You must be compassionate with yourself. It’s okay to fail because “failure”, when viewed from the proper perspective, is a learning experience.
“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” – Thomas Edison
Compassion, by definition, is “the ability to feel for others and a motivation to relieve their suffering”. Our mental selves are separate from our emotional selves, and your emotional self can have compassion for your mental self. You can relieve your suffering for your “failures” by understanding that you’re human.
You can forgive yourself for failing because you understand that, at some point, if you don’t give up, you will find your path to success. You just need to honor your journey, pursue it with integrity and courage, and have compassion for your failures because they are not permanent.
You are a warrior- the minute you start living like one.
And Warriors of the Written is here to help you along that path. The next couple of posts will be a little different. Parts 1 and 2 of this introduction have been about the core concepts of the blog. The next two posts will focus on the philosophy that supports these concepts.
Can’t wait to see you there!
PS-PS- If you found value in this post, please comment or share to grow the community! You have our gratitude.