1 Thing To Never Say To Your Kids

Your preschooler proudly shows you his latest crayon drawing.

Your daughter eagerly asks you to rate her volleyball serve on a scale of 1 to 10.

Your son calls you to the computer to show you his latest stop-animation short film.

Every time your child presents their work for feedback, you face an essential crossroad: you must choose whether to praise the ABILITY or the EFFORT that produced the work.

It’s easy to praise ability. There’s something about it that feels fittingly grand, aspirational. read more

Guard Your Fire

As we drove through the green hills of Kenya’s Rift Valley, a taxi minivan or “matatu” roared around us and into the oncoming traffic lane.

Directly ahead was a blind curve: if that curve proved to hold an oncoming vehicle, the driver of that matatu and all the dozen or more passengers he carried would surely die, either by collision or by plunging thousands of feet to the valley floor below.

It was an appalling choice the driver had made, putting his own life and the lives of his passengers at needless risk just to shave a few seconds off his trip time. read more

Man’s 3 Energies

Long ago, when we slept in holes and peered egg-eyed into the night at every howl and crack, man had two primal energies: build, and burn.

For when it came to carving spears, hoisting logs, and fortifying the cave against wind, beasts, and marauders, man’s size and strength and piss and vinegar made him well suited to these tasks.

And when it came to killing the mammoth for meat, pulping the skull of the enemy, and casting the thieving member of the tribe into exile, man was well-suited to these purging acts as well. read more

Wild Your Life

You came into the world covered in blood, shit, and mucus.

For one glorious moment, you were elemental and wild.

Then the nurse hosed you down and diapered your ass in plastic, ushering you with all haste into the world of man-made conventions.

And you’ve been in that world ever since, living the tidy, right-angled life they’ve given you.

But you can’t help but feel that something essential has been washed away.

You are estranged from the wild. Estranged from the world of meat and mud and swamp and smoke we all come from. read more

How The Hammer Fails You

When I was 17, I destroyed a barn.

My father had deemed one of our farm’s crumbling outbuildings beyond repair, and set me and my brother loose.

We came to it gleeful and howling, armed with hammer and sledge, eager to smash it to pieces in a bacchanal of destruction.

Minutes later, chests heaving, faces glistening with sweat, we stared in dismay at the un-budged structure: all we had to show for our wild smashing was a few dented boards.

Decrepit as it was, that small barn did not come apart so easily, did not comply with our brute, exuberant force. read more

1 “Realistic” Belief That Keeps Creative Men In Chains

Every day you are beaten:

Beaten by the leaky sink you keep avoiding.

Beaten by the applesauce on the wall you keep not scrubbing off.

Beaten by the dent in the drywall you keep putting off fixing.

You long to conquer mountains, yet every day you are beaten by molehills.

All these little problems… they should be so easily solved. Yet they go on defeating you, day after day, until at last you conclude that you are not a capable man:

If you are this easily defeated, “surely” you do not have what it takes to win the bigger fights: to become your fittest self, to create a business empire, to create works of art that will outlast you. read more

The 5 Levels Of Financial Freedom And Slavery

You’ve been told you don’t need to be rich to be happy.

In this idea, there’s an essential truth that’s been lost, and an essential lie that’s replaced it.

I hope to disabuse you of that lie with a simple story.

There once was a man whose daily path came to an underwater cave. To reach the other side, he had to take a deep breath, plunge beneath the water, and swim through the underwater passage.

There was only enough time to swim straight for the other side. Any lingering within the cave, and he would drown. read more

Create The Queen

You stood at the altar, utterly convinced.

Your friends had warned you: told you that you were about to exchange your bachelor freedom for sleepless nights, dirty diapers, and the ceaseless braying of children.

You saw the burdens of family life before you, and you felt happy–even eager–to shoulder the harness.

For this woman in white before you… this beautiful, adoring bride… she fired you as no one ever had before.

With HER by your side… with her love, adoration and BELIEF shoring you up, what could you NOT do? What burdens could you NOT withstand? read more

Steady Eddie and Roller Coaster Rick

We all know Steady Eddie:

Cheerful, even-keeled, slow to anger, quick to smile, steady as the rising sun.

Eddie is the paragon. The gold-standard of married masculinity you constantly compare yourself to.

And you do not measure up.

In fact, your name could be Roller Coaster Rick.

For, whether visible or not, you flit from despair to elation and back again at blinding speed.

Unlike Eddy, you are restless: one moment playful and kind, the next distracted, impatient, roaring.

You are discontent.

And adding shame to misery is your mistaken assumption that all this makes you malformed, broken, abject… that you are, to everyone’s disappointment, so unlike Eddie. read more

Man’s Leprosy Of The Soul

I’ll never forget the sight of that leper begging in the slums of Nairobi.

The man had no feet or hands, and lay on his back like a dog, waving his runny red stumps in the air to draw the passerbys’ pity and open their purse-strings.

The twist with leprosy is that it’s not the disease itself but the secondary effects that wreak especial havoc.

First, the disease shuts down the pain messages that warn your brain of bodily damage. Then begins the body’s slow destruction: you stand on a hot coal unaware, or walk about, oblivious to the nail buried in your foot, until infection and rot take hold. read more