Global Resilience Solutions > Category:personal growth

You Need a “Thick Face” and a “Black Heart”

Over the next two weeks I have something REALLY special for you on this blog and it will come in four installments. So, for your own sake, you’ll want to read all this VERY carefully and think it over deeply.  This is a series of unique posts I ran three years ago and they are so important that I’m updating them and posting them again because, well, I sure need to read them again and I know this subject matter can make a huge difference for anyone who takes it to heart!

You’ve no doubt read tons of stuff about self-help and personal development or you wouldn’t be reading this. So you’ve seen and heard lots of experts trying to answer questions like:

– Why do some people succeed and others fail to reach their goals?
– Why do some have total clarity about what they want, while most people don’t?
– Why do a very few find deep inner peace, while most remain tormented and conflicted?
– Why do 5% of the population make a difference while 95% don’t?

One of the most profound answers to questions like these came in a book first published just over 100 years ago. The book, called Thick Black Theory, was IMMEDIATELY BANNED by the government as far too dangerous for the population to read. Seriously!

That alone probably means it’s worth reading!

The catch is that reading the original might not help you much. First of all, the book was written in China, and is full of allusions to Chinese culture and literature that would make it next to incomprehensible, even in translation. After all, an expression like “how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?” means nothing unless you’re familiar with “Alice in Wonderland”.

The author of “Thick Black Theory” was Lee Zhong Wu, a sociologist of sorts who was dispassionately cataloguing the behaviors of the successful. Fortunately, a Chinese-American business woman named Chin-Ning Chu turned Lee’s somewhat obscure content into a superb book in the early 90′s, under the title, “Thick Face, Black Heart: The Warrior Philosophy for Conquering the Challenges of Business and Life”.

The catch is that a “Thick Face” and a “Black Heart” (hereafter TFBH) can serve the saint and the sinner equally well. The theory really describes powers or energies of the human spirit that could be used for great good or great evil. And that tends to put off the “bliss-out” New Age types who can’t get past that fact long enough to understand the incredibly profound content.

Over the next few days, here’s what I’m going to do for you:

1. Unpack the concepts of “thick face” and “black heart”
2. Show you how they apply to YOUR life
3. Demonstrate how they accord totally with the teachings of the world’s “Authentic Ancient Traditions” of spiritual life and self-refinement, forming the core of Warriorship, and…
4. Give you the basic principles of how to begin cultivating TFBH for yourself

CAUTION: The principles you’re about to see in the following posts should not be shared with unscrupulous people. Moreover, some of them may shock you a little. If that happens, just take a deep breath and say, “I guess I haven’t understood this just yet.”

TF and BH are concepts indispensable for success in any endeavour. Without mastering and applying them, either consciously or unknowingly, you’re always going to wonder what’s missing and why you can’t seem to make progress.

Moreover, when you look at where you’ve had successes in your life already, you’ll start to notice traces of these practices.

Are you ready for the ride? Okay, look for the next installment in a couple of days!

And if you know any other people of good character who need this knowledge, bring them along too.

Oh yes… don’t forget to leave your comments below!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

The Art of Deception: Why We Do It, and How to Stop

The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.
-George Bernard Shaw

Recently a friend of mine was at a clothing store, admiring some shirts but not really in need of anything. A saleslady approached her and asked her if there was anything she was looking for. Instead of the truth, which was that she wasn’t looking for anything  in particular, my friend blurted out, “a dress!” She and the clerk spent a quarter of an hour looking at dresses before she made an excuse to leave, and she was left wondering why in the world she would have told such a needless lie.

For many of us, lying is second-nature. But why do we spend so long avoiding the truth? Despite our best intentions, lying is often simply a way to avoid confrontation or rejection. It often serves as a way to make ourselves look better.

According to Dr. Brad Blanton, a psychologist, and founder of the radical honesty movement, “Lying is saying or withholding information in order to manipulate someone’s opinion of you. It captures your attention by bringing your focus to the story you’re telling, the image you’re preserving, and the secret that you’re hiding. You’re no longer able to focus your attention wherever you want to focus it; you’re only able to focus your attention on the lies you’re telling and the secret you’re keeping. This captured attention creates stress.” This stress is completely avoidable – in many situations, you’ll find lying only brings on the uncomfortable situations you are trying to avoid.

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Virginia, found that,“both men and women lie in about one fifth of their social exchanges lasting 10 or more minutes; over the course of a week they deceive about 30 percent of those with whom they interact one-on-one.” Another study found that 96% of Canadians lie regularly. Why must we deceive each other so often?

Some would argue that it is an attempt to preserve our reputations, or even to avoid intimacy. Have you ever lied about the reason you were upset, so you didn’t have to explain it? We pretend to be blameless, happy individuals, always.

In many ways, our attempts to appear perfect are not necessary. If 96% of people are regularly lying, it would seem that most of us have flaws, things we would rather keep hidden. It can be really freeing to admit the truth, especially when you find that you’re not alone. The interesting thing about complete honesty is that it often prompts reciprocation. You may find yourself really connecting with people once you show your true self.

We may brush off the little lies we tell, thinking they don’t really matter. The truth is, lying deeply affects your mind. The liar becomes entrenched in a reality which does not exist, and begins to detach from the situation at hand. Also, cortisol levels give a slight spike. Depending on the severity of the lie, heart rates may rise. There are even physical changes in your brain; “lying leaves telltale traces on brain scans”, says Feroze Mohamed, PhD. Compulsive liars also have more white matter in their prefrontal cortex.

Lying affects your body. This can be demonstrated by the phenomenon of muscle testing, which seems to indicate that telling lies can actually undermine your musculature.  Many of you may be familiar with muscle testing, a practice which uses knowledge of ancient Chinese medicine to read the body’s messages. It is often used to interpret the body’s response to allergens, nutritional deficiencies or energy blockages, but may also be used to detect a liar. First, the subject raises their arm out straight beside them. Then you ask them questions, while pressing down gently on the arm. If they’re saying anything that is not true, their muscle structure weakens instantly and you’ll be able to push their arm down effortlessly. I myself can vouch for the effectiveness of this technique. It may be preformed on any large muscle group. This goes to show the profound effect lying has throughout the body.

We spend a lot of time explaining the importance of integrity and honesty to our kids, and yet we don’t practice it ourselves. It may be in part because society often rewards liars – at a very young age, you have have gotten out of trouble scot-free. You probably still remember it – there’s nothing like the glorious feeling of getting away with something. And whether it’s as a salesperson, politician, lawyer or office-worker, this tantalizing idea of lying as an escape continues on well into adult life. But the truth is, while books like Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot and Dreamworks film Catch Me If You Can may glamorize deceit, when you’re caught in a lie, nothing is more damaging to your reputation. It can be mortifying to yourself and hurtful to others, but too often we think of short-term gain rather than long-term pain.

In the coming week, why not make a concerted effort to tell the truth? You may feel a rush of exhilaration that comes with really saying what’s on your mind. You may forge connections you never thought you could. Perhaps it’s time to step up and take responsibility for your actions, instead of shirking, evading and pretending. Though feel free to lie and say you did 🙂

In any case, here are some helpful tips to start fending off fibs:

1) You don’t have to volunteer everything. Too often people lie to fill silences or because of their own discomfort, when it isn’t really necessary. Also, help out your fellow man and avoid pressing people when they seem reticent: no need to prompt a lie.

2) Your stories are good on their own! You’d be surprised how rounding out stories with extra details takes enthusiasm and conviction from the telling.  Suddenly you’re trying to keep all these balls in the air instead of concentrating on conveying a memory.

3) Don’t corner people. If you catch someone in a misdeed, it’s tempting to start asking revealing questions. “Remember how you said you were sick today? I thought maybe I could drop by with some soup …” But this does nothing but force people to further deceive. It’s far better to calmly explain what has transpired, and they can acknowledge the error without further embarrassment.

4) Use humor. Humor has the combined benefits of admitting the problem while coming across as winning and friendly. Had Mr. Leacock simply laughed and said, “I’m sorry. Could I be any worse at banking?” the following story may have turned out very differently:

5) When you feel a lie coming on: take a deep breath, and think about how the person you are speaking to would feel if they knew you had lied to them. Think about the possible consequences of getting caught in the lie, and be honest. Almost immediately, you’ll feel a sense of relief of having told the truth.

Now, let’s end with a profound and amusing counterpoint about when it is NOT appropriate to tell the truth…

Some interesting ideas!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Time to UN-INSTALL Your Brain’s Software?


Awa Kenzo (d. 1939)
Zen Archery Master

You may be thinking, “Philosophy is for geeks. What’s this got to do with me or my life?”

What if “philosophy” here is a metaphor for your entire belief system, for that invisible “software” you use to run your life? Do you suppose if that software were wrong, your life could go off the rails?

The fact is, your results in life are largely governed by your beliefs, and most people’s belief systems are a conglomeration of unproven assumptions they’ve uncritically absorbed from their parents, teachers, the media and their society in general.

What the #@!*&# kind of a basis for personal success or happiness is that????

These hidden assumptions are all around you. They apply to politics, religion, health, money, moral values, what it means to be human and to the very nature of reality itself. For instance…

My parent’s generation believed that all the food at the grocery store was either good for you, or at least not dangerous. Millions of them paid with their lives for that false assumption. They also believed the medical doctor was next to God, could do no wrong and the drugs he recommended were miracle cures. Millions more paid with their lives for this one.

Many a soldier has paid the same price for assuming his political and military leadership is both intelligent and honest.

I’ve seen many a martial artist put on his ass because he assumed his martial art gave him an accurate paradigm about how real combat works. Bottom line…?

Real life has a way of trashing our assumptions. And if we survive the fallout, we owe it to ourselves to ask some hard questions.

RESILIENCE involves rooting out all the absurd assumptions you still run your life by, so that you can start rebuilding your life. The choice is yours: you can build your life on a web of a thousand unexamined assumptions about life (most of which are plain wrong), or they can DECIDE what “software” or “philosophy” serves you best.

Since the state of your health, the quality of your relationships, the size or your bank balance and your overall happiness are hemmed in by your belief system, do you suppose you should reexamine yours from time to time?

How many unexamined assumptions about every area of life can you spot today? In yourself? In the media? From people around you?

Master Kenzo had no room in his life for unexamined assumptions.

What about you?

~Dr. Symeon Rodger

A Christmas Tale…

If I knew who originated the following tale, I’d certainly give them credit!  It’s a bit like “Christmas Meets ‘Thick Face, Black Heart'”.  Enjoy, and send it around to every teacher you know 😉

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary.

Every word out of the bird’s’ mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to ‘clean up’ the bird’s vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed.

Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arms and said “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.”

John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude.

As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very softly, “May I ask what the turkey did?”

Merry Christmas…….

The moral of the story?  Some people just don’t understand anything but force.  Sad but true.  Gandhi could use non-violence on the British.  Good thing he didn’t have to try it out on the Nazis or the Soviets 😉

And you can’t avoid the simple fact that every once in a while, you’ll find yourself in an absurd situation where you have to make an example out of someone, like the turkey in the story.  You can think about that one over Christmas dinner 😉

Blessings to all,

Dr. Symeon Rodger

People WANT to Drag You Down!

Hi Everyone,

There’s a flip side to setting ambitious goals for your life. It’s one that the goal-setting and success gurus don’t spend nearly enough time on…

You know how they say that if you can imagine a goal, and it really excites you, and you go after that goal, then the whole universe starts lining up to make it possible?

It’s true… but…

Everyone who knows you and can’t identify with your goal or the new direction you’re trying to take your life in will rise up AGAINST YOU. Yes, there are exceptions but, generally speaking, when human beings – and expecially human beings living in “victim syndrome” – see you trying to rise above the pack, they’re going to do everything possible to drag you back down.

They will mock you. They will conspire against you, start intrigues and try to get you into trouble with your boss, your family, with anyone they can. And when you “fail” – and you will fail, because we usually fail before we succeed – they’ll be the first to say, “I told you so!”

This is pretty much a UNIVERSAL LAW.

It even happens in the most “spiritual” of places. One great Orthodox Christian holy man of the 20th century – a monk on Mount Athos in Greece – wrote something like, “Our spiritual struggles were difficult enough in themselves, but were made a hundred times worse by the mockery of other monks who didn’t understand our way of life. So the very people who should have supported us most were the very ones who turned against us.”

Yes, if you try to fly above the herd in ANY WAY, you WILL be attacked. Just remember the old saying that “just because you’re not paranoid, it doesn’t mean everyone isn’t out to get you” 😉

When I went into business and wrote The 5 Pillars of Life, I was viciously attacked by people in the Church. Only a few, of course, but the TREACHERY was unreal – going behind my back to try to turn Church authorities against me, trying to isolate and marginalize me. And then there were all the comments about the evils of business and money.

You should read Michael Jordan’s bio someday – he was determined to be a great professional basketball player yet nearly everyone he knew became an obstacle. They mocked him, they didn’t believe in him, they told him he was wasting his time. I wonder if any of those losers woke up in the end.

So the bottom line is this…

Before you dedicate yourself to those ambitious goals of yours, no matter what those goals are, you need to develop a VERY THICK SKIN. You actually need to PRACTICE not caring what other people think or say. And that’s especially true if you’re a sensitive person and have been conditioned to seek peer approval.

Yes, PRACTICE it. It doesn’t come naturally to most of us. You need to develop a special kind of RESILIENCE, and it only comes with practice.

The price of success is the willingness to persevere and to TOTALLY DISREGARD what everybody else thinks.

Now I know I’ll get people responding to this saying that if you don’t listen to other people’s advice, how can you expect to be successful. Or that it’s “arrogant” not to listen to others and think you know better. Of course, it should be obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that’s not what I’m talking about here.

Yes, you need to stay humble and listen to whatever qualified advice you can get. You also need to be SO SURE AND SO FOCUSED on your goal that you’ll be able to persevere when everyone around you is trying to stop you.

In other words, you need to train yourself to become mentally and emotionally TOUGH. I know it sounds indelicate, insensitive and not politically correct. However, it’s the plain truth for anyone willing to listen. And if you’ve tried to fly high in any area of your life before, you KNOW this to be true already.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

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