In battle, you must rout all attackers and build fortifications in one place before you can use it as a base to attack another. In other words, you must have a secured position.
In body and mind, if you are ill you must work to recover before you can begin to maintain health. Once you have a point of stability, you must keep the secured position through maintenance so that you do not have to once again work to reclaim it.
Inevitably, you may lose the position and have to work to reclaim it anyway – but this need arises much more frequently if you don’t perform your daily due diligence.
In business, you must stabilize your organization after every expansion of employee size or foray into new products or services. If you don’t do so, then the internal dynamic of your company becomes undefined and disorderly. With a lack of clear organization comes the potential of a loss of your new beachhead; you endanger your progress without taking the time to fortify the new inner processes of your business.
Finally, in life there are a great many ways in which we can improve ourselves and the world around us. As tempting as it is to begin a schedule where you attempt to progress on all fronts at once, you as a military force do not have the manpower to do so. You can ultimately make great strides in many areas, but you must do so through a process of fortifying a secured position before moving on.
Establishing a Secured Position
In any of these avenues of self-expression, the need to establish a secured position happens after growth. We expand ourselves by becoming more fit in mind or body. We expand our businesses by hiring new people, trying new marketing, or trying new products or services. We expand our lives by exploring new hobbies, meeting new people, and going to new places.
These explorations and trials, with their inevitable failures among the equally inevitable successes, define new boundaries of our consciousnesses and create different horizon lines. If we don’t take measures to secure these new points of view, though, we can quickly subside back to our previously established baselines.
That’s sort of abstract, of course, so here’s some explicit ways in which we must fortify our positions as we grow:
- In fitness, we don’t simply exercise and then quit. We need to maintain our fitness through regular exercise, which means a set schedule for working out.
- In diet, we don’t simply eat well one day and revert back to super-processed industrial food the next. We establish a diet we can live with for life, using self-experimentation to figure out what that means for our unique physicality.
- In mind and spirit, we don’t simply meditate once – or go to a group counseling, psychologist, or spiritual teacher once, if that’s what we need. We establish a schedule just as we do for fitness.
- In business, we don’t simply hire someone, throw them into the current company culture, and let them sink or swim. We introduce them to our processes, let them input and possibly modify those processes (unless we’re at the point to franchise), and establish a new set of internal processes wherein every employee plays up to their strength to the ultimate overall success of the business.
- In life, we don’t simply set a schedule for physical and mental fitness, work on stabilizing our businesses, and fulfill the same exact pattern with our loved ones each day. Those are the rituals we do in service of life, to maintain our current position on the mountain, only.
To secure a position, we must determine what habits will maintain our current level of achievement. Then, we adopt those habits. New habits should replace old habits. For example, new fitness schedules should overwrite previous fitness schedules. If you work out with weights every day of the week, when you take on cardio training you don’t need to increase the overall time you workout. Instead, because you’re more proficient, you stagger the days so that you work out with weights on some days and do cardio training on other days.
As we become more proficient at different things, we are able to accomplish more while doing less. The fortification of a position is exactly this: figuring out the least time-consuming way to maintain your current vantage point. In order to have time for new explorations, you have to automate and reduce your investment into the current camps as much as possible. That’s why I talk about stabilizing business processes; if you don’t have a set pattern of response and sequence of project execution that incorporates new hires or new products, then there will be a lot of idleness and inefficiency. All your energy will be spent maintaining the status quo. So, after you grow in any way, stop and see how you can reduce the time you spend to accomplish what you accomplish now – and that’ll give you time you need to start climbing upward again.
The Trap of a Secured Position
Having fortified our position, it’s easy to be content and stop further exploration. The problem with that contentment, though, is that you become purely defensive. All the time, you work to protect your camp on the side of the mountain where it lays – an entire lifetime can pass in reactivity and passivity of this type. Life will become a set routine, and in unconscious reactivity there can be no happiness, no fulfillment.
When we succeed in climbing further up the mountain or establishing a new fortified position deeper inland, we no longer need to defend our current positions with the same amount of effort. The enemies of positivity and happiness will attack our new positions, because they can’t get to the lower camps without first passing the upper. In other words, the choice at all times is one of offense or defense; if you do not seek to further grow, then you will spend all your energy in defense. If you do seek to further grow, then you will spend much of your energy in offense and just a little in defense. Either way, you will spend all of your energy or your energy will dwindle until you do.
It’s easy to stay where we are in the mistaken belief that our maintenance is enough or perhaps even progress. And it’s a very valid lure; if we were to spend all our time striving for growth we couldn’t enjoy the view from our camps. I don’t mean to encourage you to become an overachiever, certainly not, but instead I’m trying to encourage to you adopt cycles of defense and offense, cycles of fortification and expansion. Grow, stop and secure, and grow. All things must sleep in the winter.
Inspiration to Dig Deeper
Are you perfectly satisfied? I was, for a month or so. Blissful in my edging toward enlightenment. But I’ve just recently gotten inspired to fortify my position and progress further by my loved ones. I am now aware of anxieties and impacts my increasingly austere life choices are having on my friends and family. More specifically, in my stripping away of coping mechanisms I’ve gone too far, reducing the enjoyment of life of those around me. In the beginning, the work of reducing temptations is most easily done by reducing temptations around you – but that cannot be the endpoint unless you literally do live in a cave on a mountain.
That’s a tough pill, of course, but then I’m grateful for the awareness. I’ve become too inward, it seems. So, if you are perfectly satisfied with your life and risk going into a rut yourself, this is my suggestion to you: ask those around you how you can improve their lives. They’ll almost surely have some way you can help, and in that helping you can climb further up the mountain of selflessness and find new inroads toward enlightenment.
Keep on keeping on,
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