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Every town in America has a karate school. The little town in Colorado I used to live in had three different “martial arts academies”.

I’m a sucker for a good secret society and Karate schools can be cultish, so they had me at “Hello”.  I love the feeling of exclusivity, knowing something other people don’t, and the feeling that someone has my back. Karate gave me that for a few years; uniforms, ranks, special language, and best of all, the feeling that I could someday become a deadly…who knows what?  I jumped in head-first and swam there for about 4 years. I read everything about karate I could get my hands on; devoured every website, scoured book stores, talked it up with complete strangers.

Total. Obsession.

Then I stumbled onto 24 Fighting Chickens and got my head re-arranged. Rob Redmond reminded me over and over again that I really needed to think for myself. No matter how hard I tried I would never become a “Beautiful Japanese death machine”.

A few years later I was living in Baltimore and once again (for like the hundredth time) trying to get back in shape. The Tour de France was on and for some reason I thought if I just worked out hard enough I could become like Lance Armstrong. I was grinding it out in the gym every day, hammering the cardio. After about three months I had gained half a pound.

I turned to my pal Neubauer (an endless font of wisdom and bad temper) who referred me to Crossfit.   Greg Glassman started by defining “fitness” under a different set of rules, then laid out the process of getting there differently from anything I had ever heard. I was staggered to have some core beliefs swept to the curb in five minutes. I  had to throw everything I thought I knew about fitness and training out the window.

The point of all this is, we brainwash ourselves to accept and embrace notions we  find convenient.  It’s easy to test your virtue from a position of safety and comfort, surrounded by like-minded supporters. Most people never find the impetus or the courage to challenge their own values and beliefs.  It’s easy to manage a life of ignorance, bias, and preconceived notions.  It’s easy to maintain the status quo. And the easiest thing in the world is to let others do your thinking for you.

Critical Thinking is an important leadership skill. When we make this skill a habit, and master the art of thinking for ourselves, then we make space for real learning to happen.

Disrupt yourself.

  1. PTS
    May 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I’ve never enjoyed going to a gym. Run, Cycle, Walk…that’s it for me.

    • May 20, 2012 at 9:18 am

      Dr. Paul, you come from superior stock. You will certainly outlive us all, in spite of your dissipative lifestyle.

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