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The post where I nerd out on productivity

One thing you all may or may not know about me is I’m a hardcore productivity nerd. This is stereotypical of the INTJ personality type.

Even as young as 10 years old, I was jotting down thoughts in my notebook, trying to figure out the best practice routine to become good enough to become an NBA basketball player. (That goal didn’t quite materialize obviously, but the process was valuable.)

I’ve experimented with dozens of productivity systems over the years and all of them have proven to be ineffective at dealing with the demands of the 21st century man. It’s been an intriguing, yet frustrating journey.

But a few months ago, I finally found someone who’s really figuring it out. How to actually produce value in an age of endless distractions and “information overload” without closing yourself off to opportunities.

His name is Tiago Forte.

His writing is rather detailed, so if you’re not a productivity nerd like myself, you may find it difficult to get into. But his solutions are simple and effective.

I’d like to share two key lessons and thoughts I’ve taken away as result of studying his stuff. (I’m blending some of my red pill perspective to his concepts here, so don’t take this as an accurate summary of his work.)

Lesson #1: Define your projects, or someone else will define them for you

Defining your own mission is Masculinity 101. But after studying Tiago’s work, I’ve decided it’s more useful to say define your projects.

Projects are more tangible than a mission. Projects are what we actually spend a good portion of our lives on. So if someone else is defining your projects, it means someone else is controlling your life.

An eye-opening exercise is to write down all the projects your working on now and then see if you can map your projects to a goal that you’ve defined.

Many times, we work on projects that have no goal attached to them… or at least, no goal of our own.

A few common examples:

Are you doing yard work because your wife wanted you to… or because you set the goal of upgrading your yard?

Do you complete all the assigned projects from your boss because you’re afraid of getting fired… or because it’s helping you move towards a career goal that you set for yourself?

Are you changing your diet because someone shamed you for your bad health habits… or because you set a goal that requires you to be healthy?

Tragically, most men spend their lives working on projects that advance the goals of other men, but not their own.

Awareness is the first step to changing that.

Lesson #2: There is no value in “getting things done”

Tiago opened my eyes to the fact that their are 3 common “schools” of productivity:

The Energy School – keep your energy level high so you can complete your tasks. Eat healthy, work out, etc.

The Focus School – get yourself into a state of flow and stay there as long as you can. Cut out distractions. Block out large chunks of time.

The Efficiency School – cut out all unnecessary activities to save time and money. Automate and eliminate.

All of these schools of thought have their merits. But the underlying flaw is that they all focus on completing tasks without taking into account the value that is created from completing the tasks.

In the 21st century, it’s becoming increasingly risky to undertake large projects. The flow of information is so rapid, that by time you complete a project, it might no longer be relevant. Or you discover that no one cared in the first place.

Furthermore, a “task” is nothing but an abstract unit with no inherent value. If someone came and deleted your task list, would your work be destroyed? No.

The value of your work is what you deliver to someone else. Not the tasks you completed or your task list.

This is why Tiago advocates a 4th “school” of productivity:

The Value School – deliver value in smaller chunks. Create the smallest unit of value you can and show it to someone.

This is one reason I started using Twitter. I have lots of ideas in my head that are never “released” simply because of the time and effort it takes to write a post. Some of those ideas might add value to someone’s life, but I’d never know if I never released it.

Or some of my ideas might be bad ideas, but I’d never know until I release it and get feedback.

Even with my sloppy quick-hit style posts, I still need to have a minimum of 10-15 minutes focus to release my ideas into the wild. That takes too much energy to do for every notable idea. But with Twitter, I can release a complete idea in less than 1 minute and get feedback on it.

Bottom line:

Don’t measure your productivity by tasks complete. Measure it by value delivered.

Alright. Enough nerding out. Go follow me on Twitter if you want to extract as much value from my brain as your heart desires.

 

On wife beating

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, I thought this “No Reason to Hit a Woman” bit from comedian Bill Burr would be appropriate:

The clip contains profanity so keep the children out of the room (unless swearing is a family pastime.)

Bottom line:

Criminals only respond to law and punishment.

Non-criminals do not need to be reprimanded.

If someone is trying to “persuade” you to avoid evil, something fishy is going down.

And why don’t you just kick him in the balls while he’s down?

This last Sunday I attended a friend’s church. It was a contemporary-style church.

I’ve been attending a more traditional church for the past five or six years, so I’ve been a bit out of touch with that world.

I will say that they’ve certainly upped their game. The worship service is essentially a rock concert.

They brought in a guest speaker who, I am quite confident, was a trained hypnotist.

Nothing wrong with hypnosis per se. It’s simply a conversational form of persuasion. Being hypnotized is actually an enjoyable part of life (e.g. listening to stories, watching a fire, etc.)

The problem I have is when the speaker’s persuasion skills are represented as the “spirit of God” that is moving people to the altar call.

It was not the Spirit of God that moved those people to go up to the “altar.” It was a carefully structured sequence of hypnotic stories.

If you’re unfamiliar with how persuasion and hypnosis work, it’s difficult to explain in a short post. I’ll just say I was surprised at how many of the elements were used. And they were so skillfully executed that there is no way he hadn’t undergone extensive training.

Anyhow, after the altar call, the pastor’s wife went up to the stage, grabbed the mic, and started speaking a “word.”

She started saying how “God was going to move in this congregation.” She shared how He was already doing mighty things. She shared her story about how the doctor said they couldn’t have any kids.

And, I kid you not, she paused her story to emphatically say,

“The reason we could not have kids is because my husband is sterile.”

Apparently, that was an important detail to disclose.

Talk about kicking a man where it hurts.

This is roughly equivalent to a man announcing to the congregation:

“As you may know, my wife has unusually small breasts. Even after pregnancy, her breasts simply could not produce an adequate milk supply to nourish our children. That’s why it was necessary to find a better endowed woman to nurse our children. And praise God, he provided!”

It may be a legitimate issue. But there’s such a thing as a showing basic respect for another’s sexual dignity by not calling public attention to their biological shortcomings.

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned that way.

All in all, it was an entertaining experience. Though honestly, a stand-up comedian would be more enjoyable. No point in trying to mix in all those bible passages. It kind of disrupts the flow.

Learning to kill

I recently read about a fascinating study on the psychology of killing.

Brig. Gen. S. L. A Marshall was a United States combat historian in the Pacific during World War II. And he observed a fascinating phenomena that occurred many times in his studies:

Almost all soldiers would obey and fire their weapons while their leaders were present to command them, but when the leaders left, the firing rate immediately dropped to between 15-20%.

Not only would the firing rate drop, the accuracy would plummet as well. The soldiers would essentially “cheat” on they duty to kill by deliberately missing.

Marshall believed the great relief displayed by the soldiers was not so much because they realized they were safer, but because they were no longer under the compulsion to kill.

Killing another human being is unnatural. Normal men with a conscience cannot do it without extensive training (or perhaps a compelling self-defense context).

Sure, we can fantasize about killing. Yet when it comes to actually pulling the trigger, we are unable to do the deed…

Unless we are compelled to do so by a present authority.

It is this “nearness of authority” that drives much of our behavior and even overrides our conscience. Most of us will obey someone who looks like an authority and is telling us what to do right now.

War gives a graphic microcosm of human nature. It’s the ultimate contest between conscience and authority. Authority wins when it is present. Conscience wins when authority is absent.

This is why those who wish to manipulate depend on a constant present authority.

We may not be asked to fire a gun to kill, but men are asked to violate their conscience in a variety of other ways in the nearness of authority:

  • You know the Scriptures say one thing, but the preacher says another thing from the pulpit… so you doubt your conscience.
  • You know the right thing to do, but your wife is so upset by it… so you hold off (since you’ve been conditioned to view a woman’s approval as authoritative.)
  • You decided in your conscience that something was “pure” and “undefiled” but then you read a strongly opinionated article online by a persuasive writer… so you doubt.
  • You decide the life path that’s best for you, but your father disproves, so you “put your dreams on hold” for something more “sensible.”
  • You want to live a certain lifestyle, but no one else in your religious circle is living like that… so maybe it’s not appropriate.

Real masculine power comes from the ability to follow your conscience in the face of present authority.

It’s easy to follow your conscience when the authority is distant. It’s when perceived authority is near that our true character is tested.

This is why it’s not uncommon to see men with a masculine exterior (a “man’s man”) who are privately fearful of their wives’ wrath on a daily basis.

A woman’s disapproval is the nearest “authority” that a man encounters on a daily basis.

It’s easy to talk about your bold politics. Not so easy to face an angry woman in the home.

The home is where the real test of manhood takes place. And there is no one there to witness your struggles and victories. It’s a private battle.

If you can face your angry woman without compromising your conscience, the more distant “authorities” will seem less threatening.

Further reading on conscience vs. authority:

 

Toxic femininity

Femininity is good. But “the dose makes the poison.”

This is why maintaining frame control and passing shit tests is so difficult for most men. We’ve been trained from our youth to seek female approval.

This is made doubly difficult because men naturally pity women. This pity is good, but it can be easily manipulated.

Be mindful of your reaction time between feeling pity and responding.

The “nice” approach isn’t always advantageous.

Pity is a choice.

And your woman has no authority over your life.

I’m tweeting with the big birds now

I’ve finally decided to give this newfangled Twitter a try. Here’s why:

The second wave of the red pill is growing fast. There is a huge audience of young men hungry for masculine mentorship. And they’re mostly hanging out on Twitter and YouTube.

Gotta fish where the fishes are.

I’m already getting some traction. This tweet of mine was picked up by Rollo Tomassi and went semi-viral:

I’ve almost got as many followers in less than 1 week on Twitter than I do readers from almost a year of blogging.

Granted, a blog reader is more engaged than a Twitter follower. But Twitter is a great first contact medium.

Btw, “Unbound Men” is a “re-branding” experiment I’m doing.

I originally wanted to help Christian men mold better women and have a better sex life.

Now I’m realizing the problem is more fundamental:

We need to heal the inner man.

We cannot “save Eve” when we can’t even stand up straight as men.

“Put your own oxygen mask on first” as the saying goes.

Anyhow, I expect I’ll be updating my blog soon to better align with this mission.

In the meantime, if you’re into Twitter, you can follow my latest musings and brain farts.

 

A strong disagreement

OKRickety “strongly disagrees” with my claim that the line “God hates divorce” is unbiblical:

I, along with many others, do not agree with your statement that “the scriptures do not say that God hates divorce”. In fact, the BibleHub link you provide to Malachi 2:16 transliterates the text as “Yahweh says divorce that He hates”. And, if you follow the link it has to Strongs Hebrew 7971 shalach, its reference to Malachi 2:16 states that the sending away, shalach, in that instance is equal to divorce.

As to the concept that divorce was “for wives”, I find that impossible to reconcile with the fact that the Mosaic Law only allowed men to divorce their wives, not the other way around. Nor do I see any suggestion that Deut. 24:1-4 is primarily to prevent women from being abused.

Just for good measure, I will point out that it is very common for Christian  women to maintain that they are shamed into remaining in abusive marriages by “modern religion” when they would much rather divorce.

While I am generally in agreement with the rest of your post, I disagree strongly with your footnote (asterisk).

Let’s unpack this a little further:

The belief that God hates divorce depends upon the definition of a Hebrew term shalach. This word is translated as “divorce” in many modern English translations in Malachi 2:16. Older translations use “putting away.”

Usage determines the meaning of a word, not a single translators choice. A dictionary is only as good as it accurately summarizes the uses of the term.

So how is the term shalach used in the Bible? We can find out with a concordance. I’ve bolded the English phrases translated from shalach:

God sent him forth from the garden (Gen 3:23)

Send me away unto my master. (Gen 24:54)

The Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand (Ex 4:4)

These are just a few of 847 examples. There is no doubt about the biblical usage of the term. It simply meant “to send” or “put forth.”

The Hebrews had a separate concept for divorce: kerithuthIt’s only used 4 times in the Old Testament. Twice in Deuteronomy 24.

The context reveals God’s heart for divorce:

When a man takes a wife and possesses her, and it comes to be that she should not find favor in his eyes, because he has found in her the nakedness of anything, then he would write for her a scroll of divorce, give it into her hand and send her away from his house. When she goes forth from his house, goes and becomes another man’s, and the man (the latter one) dislikes her, then he would write for her a scroll of divorce, give it into her hand and send her away from his house. Or when the man should die (the latter one who took her to himself as a wife), then her possessor (the former one who had sent her away) shall not be able to reverse himself to take her back to become his wife after she had had herself defiled, for that is an abhorrence before Yahweh.

Clearly, the point of the divorce law was to prevent the woman from having to remain bound to or return to her first husband. The woman had been “defiled” (through abuse) and so it would be abhorrent before God to have her go back to an abusive husband.

A lot of red pilled men seem to forget that abuse of women at the hands of men really does occur. We are living in unusual times today in that the man is always assumed to be guilty.

Painting men as rapists by default is harmful to both men and to the women who truly are being abused. How can we tell if a woman’s testimony is legit or if she’s just an attention whore?

Regardless, many Christians believe hatred of divorce is the righteous attitude regardless of circumstances.

But like many of the so-called “tenants of the faith”, this belief comes from ego-investment in man-made religion rather than from the Scriptures.

I suspect there is a certain objection to this argument. I will delve into this in more detail if someone brings it up.

The manipulated man

A long time ago, there were clear rites of passage for a boy to become a man.

Today, we have no such rituals. Perhaps the closest common experience we have is graduating high school or college.

What does it take to graduate school?

Do your assignments.

Pass the tests.

Tolerate boredom.

It takes no feat of courage to graduate school. To the contrary, boys are trained to seek the approval of the teacher (usually a female). In negative terms: don’t be rejected and you will succeed. This is the opposite of courage. It’s the opposite of what real life requires of a man.

It is rare that a teacher will encourage boys to experiment… to try a new idea… an idea that could be wrong.

Instead, we’re trained to ask, “will this be on the test?”

If a boy passes enough of these tests, he supposedly becomes a man and is ceremoniously released into the “real world.”

But inwardly, he does not feel like a man. He lacks direction. The burden of performance is great. And he feels unable to cope.

Assuming he does not immediately give up, he is forced to initiate his own rite of passage. He must find his own “Hero’s Journey.”

Yet the inner boy is not prepared for this journey.

He soon discovers that there are no adequate role models of mature, successful men in his life.

It’s “every man for himself.”

In desperation, he attempts a move. He takes a stab at what he was perhaps created to do.

His first attempt is unsuccessful.

His efforts are met with hostility. He is ignored and belittled.

He failed the “test.” He got the “wrong” answer.

So what is he supposed to do?

The “correct” answer is given to him:

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Be grateful for what you have. Work hard and try to keep your job. It’s a tough economy out there. Remember that family comes first. And you better treat your woman well. You’re a lucky guy. Don’t blow it.

OK. Now he knows how to pass the test:

  1. Keep the boss happy
  2. Keep the parents happy
  3. Keep the wife happy

Oh, and what about God? Doesn’t he have the highest authority?

Well, turns out He wants the same things:

  1. “One who does not provide for his own is worse than a heathen”
  2. “Honor your father and mother”
  3. “Love your wife as Christ loved the church”

So the young man sets out to pass these tests.

Yet as time goes on, he finds himself losing energy. Perhaps he needs to do something for himself?

He goes back and attempts his rite of passage again. That difficult but important project that’s been buried in his heart for all these years.

But soon enough, his “selfish” pursuits interferes with his ability to pass “the test.”

His boss demands more time. His parents disapprove. He has less time to help his wife.

He faces resistance. Clearly this is not what God wanted him to do.

So he compromises.

It’s a balancing act. How can he keep all his key relationships afloat and still sneak in some time for his passion project?

In the end, he ends up being just another guy who “doesn’t have it together.”

He’s the bad employee. The bad manager. The bad husband. The bad father. The disappointing son. The weak Christian.

And, on top of that, he never became the king that his heart yearned to become.

So it is that the manipulated man never completes his journey into mature manhood.

The test was rigged from the start.

 

 

Now we’re stressed out

Yesterday, my bank account balance hit a new low:

$14.51

A few weeks ago, I burned through the family’s emergency cash to repair our Subaru Forester. Blew out the radiator. Temperature gauge was broken. My own fault for not checking the coolant frequently enough.

The week after that, I sent my wife to a health clinic to get some necessary blood tests. It was one of those “sliding scale” clinics for poor people. They told her to get some ultrasounds done at the local hospital.

My wife went into the hospital with the expectation that it would cost around $50 – $100. Nope. They sent us a surprise bill for almost $800. Plus the $200 she already spent at the previous clinic.

And guess what the hospital said after all the expensive work?

“You’re fine.”

(Which is good I suppose. But still…)

Then immediately after that our bank card got hacked and drained out what little cash we had remaining in the account.

So once again, I am broke.

Furthermore, when I’m preoccupied with closing the next deal and paying the next round of bills, my libido plummets. Failure to produce in one area produces failure in another.

It’s a vicious downward cycle.

I say this not to solicit pity. I’ll be fine. I have a couple clients I’ll be invoicing next week. I’ve got several prospective clients “in the pipeline.” I’m all too familiar with how to survive this game.

Add my wife’s part-time income from music teaching and the food stamps and we can just manage to pay our bills, feed our child, and put a mild dent in my student loans (plus my credit card debts from all my naive post-graduation screw up attempts to make money.)

The question always running through the back of my mind is “Why don’t I have my shit together yet?”

Supposedly, I’m a member of one of the most privileged classes in the world: a young educated white male from a middle class background.

Yet I can’t help but feel my first decade of adulthood has been more like the refrain from the 21 Pilots song:

We used to play pretend, give each other different names
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face
Saying, “Wake up, you need to make money”
Yeah

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

If I’m honest, it was my long string of screw ups that led me to the red pill and masculine development. I had to learn how to recover my dignity as a man, and handle a woman who witnessed a long string of objective “non-successes.”

I had to get her to believe in me again. To believe in my purpose. To believe that I could not settle for being a cog in a machine or living someone else’s life script.

Or at least, if she wouldn’t believe it, I had to believe it myself and become indifferent to her response.

A woman cannot perceive or appreciate the growth that happens in a man beneath the surface. She cares not for the inner boy struggling to become a man. She is not designed to empathize with a man.

Honestly, I can understand why many men give up on life. The burden of performance is unrelenting.

And it’s not just about money. Every man I’ve known feels he doesn’t “have his shit together” in some way.

Bad father. Bad husband. Bad in bed. Bad manager. Bad student. Bad health habits. Bad Christian. Bad at getting dates. etc.

Men are quick to condemn themselves for their shortcomings. And wives, preachers, teachers, and the media are all-too-happy to quickly reinforce this condemnation.

There is no neutral ground for a man. The pressures of life will either make or break a man.

Men today don’t necessarily need more advice.

We need healing.

Heal the boy and the king will emerge.

 

Spot the sociopath

Have you ever felt like your life was ran by a bunch of sociopaths?

If not, you should.

Courtesy of a commentor on the Heartiste:

According to Martha Stout, the author of “The Sociopath Next Door”, the most reliable sign of a sociopath is their appeal to a normal’s person sympathy, despite their abusive, destructive, manipulative, and mendacious behavior.

“If, instead, you find yourself often pitying someone who consistently hurts you or other people, and who actively campaigns for your sympathy, the chances are close to 100 percent that you are dealing with a sociopath.”

Hmm… this sounds strangely familiar. Can you think of any institution that constantly appeal’s to men’s sympathy while continuing to abuse and manipulate them into submission?

Now the spirit is saying explicitly, that in subsequent eras some will be withdrawing from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and the teachings of demons, in the hypocrisy of false expressions, their own conscience having been cauterized… (1 Tim 4:1-2)

As best I can tell, the manipulation and abuse of men at the hands of these religious sociopaths can be summed up by these 4 lines of rhetoric

  1. “Servant leader”
  2. “Every man’s battle”
  3. “God hates divorce” *
  4. “One woman man”

Each of these lines to appeal to a man’s noble sympathies. But the real message is this:

  1. Put away your “selfish” dreams. A servant leader compromises his priorities for the real master, the wife.
  2. Your wife is your only sanctified source for releasing your semen… so don’t you dare offend her
  3. You can never walk away from this woman for any reason. You are trapped. Best to learn to cope with her drama. Lower your standard of happiness if necessary.
  4. This is the only woman you will ever have. Don’t bother improving yourself as a man in order to be attractive to women. Making her jealous is evil. Instead, shower her with confessions of your unyielding love for her. Then come to us for marriage counseling when you’re having “bedroom problems.”

Choose for yourself whom you will follow: the word of God, or the religion of man.

* The scriptures do not say that God hates divorce. Malachi 2:16 says God hates when wives are “sent away” treacherously. This was a common practice in ancient Israel where a man would decide he no longer liked his wife, marry another woman, kick his first wife out while still claiming her as his own (i.e. no other man could legally touch her.) It was treacherous because the man was deliberately abusing the woman by cutting off her food and sexual rights but not allowing her to be free to marry another man.

Apparently, the modern abusive man is much less subtle than the ancient Jew… preferring to just bash her head in the wall or slap her around instead of devising such an elaborate passive scheme of abuse.

Needless to say, this is not the same concept that we call “divorce.”  Check the terms. Divorce was God’s gracious allowance for wives who needed to be released from abusive husbands (Deut 24:1-4). But modern religion has twisted the concept to shame ordinary men into believing he has no escape plan from a rebellious woman.

God himself sent Israel away many times without treachery. He even divorced her in the end. An exit is rarely needed, but it gives a man power to know he has the option.