Getting Started

/Getting Started

Version 2.0

Control/Alt/Delete.

I received the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill from my uncle when I was in college and I fell in love with the structure and formula of success. It was a revelation to me that there was a path to success which resulted in a life of substance and significance. That was the summer before my junior year. In his book, Napoleon Hill describes the Mastermind concept, and all these industry icons had one. Therefore, I had to have one. So I asked my two buddies, Dave and Rob, if they wanted to join me in starting a group. We agreed to meet every Monday at 6 am for two hours and set our goals for the week. We met for two years setting goals, dreaming about the future, and discussing all kinds of things. We goofed around a lot. I remember one week’s goal: “Clip fingernails, turn 21.”

In the course of things, we graduated and I moved away. The initial effort was great, but it obviously ended in undetermined success. It wasn’t until I started my second group that I established a pattern for success. Alan, Clark and I also met at 6 a.m. every Monday and covered pretty much the same stuff, goals and figuring out how to succeed in all aspects.  Why not have it all? We met for four years. It was this Ironmen 2.0 that made the most difference in my life. It got me motivated to get my MBA. It helped me in my career. The conversations we had made me look at myself and my hypocrisies and identified how I thought of myself as a victim to circumstances. My marriage benefited as we discussed the many perspectives of relationship. We were young and discovering. Subsequently, Ironmen 3.0, after I started my company, lasted a year or so. 4.0 was a few years. This last group I’ve been in with Brad and Rich has been over 10 years. The Ironmen concept defines me. Here’s my point, the idea is worthy of you. Take it on as your own and even though your life changes, always be on the lookout to reboot your thinking as your circumstances change.

I’ve received the question from a handful of you guys on how to find guys to meet with. You may have some friends that come to mind that you might feel comfortable with opening up to. But possibly those guys may be limiting. Your current set of friends think of you a certain way, maybe Version 1.0 that is in re-development. They might even have an interest in you staying the same. That way they can feel comfortable about themselves not growing to their capacity. These guys might have a mild competition with you and if you breakaway in success that’s not going to look so good on them. Therefore, if those guys put you in a box, you’ll need to find someone else to help you build your mental structure of success.

Where can you find them? Work. Church. Gym. Vendors. Customers. Neighbors. Husbands of your wife’s friends. Father’s of your kid’s friends.

Here’s the major point: If you desire a destination of success in business, health, marriage, parenting, and the heavier lifting of personal spiritually, the Ironmen concept is a vehicle that will take you there. However, the idea must be yours. You must own it. It can’t matter that the guys you’re going to meet with aren’t currently in your sphere, you must own the idea for yourself and the guys will appear in time. Whether it’s 1.0 for 2 months and 2.0 for 2 years doesn’t matter. It’s you and your path that matters. Each group builds, through success or even through failure, experience upon experience, a platform from which you will view the world. Stick with it.

Can you do it with one guy and not two? Of course, but it’s not optimal in my opinion. Can you do it in a group of 8 guys. Sure. But three is the best. Two guys aren’t a group when one guy doesn’t show, plus the mix of ideas can get stale. Four or more guys doesn’t allow for individuality and equal contribution. Some guy could dominate all the time or someone could hide and never contribute. That’s not for you if you’re looking for success. Each meeting needs to have equal contribution, accountability, vulnerability, transparency, follow up, follow through, and openness to feedback and growth. This format will be the foundation for your personal success in all aspects of your life. How could meeting for two hours every week with like minded motivated guys discussing goals and strategies for success result in anything less than a fantastic life?

Therefore, you must lead.

Begin your life’s leadership by deciding the level of success you’re looking for. Then agree with me that Ironmen will greatly enhance your ability to achieve that success. Then develop a strategy to find two guys to join you. If you do these things, you will absolutely be on the path to significant success in life.  Let me hear from you.  Tell me what’s going on.

To your life of continuous pursuit,

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | January 20th, 2017|Getting Started, Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Nothing Stands Alone

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” was last week’s opening aphorism by Benjamin Franklin. Why would that be? Why would going to bed early have any effect on wealth and wisdom? My experience is that there is a high correlation to this being true. I know many wealthy guys and they are early risers. I know many men whom I consider to be wise and they greet the dawn. It should be good enough to just accept this as true, change our ways accordingly, and reap the results. But somehow it’s not good enough. Probably because of confusion on the understanding – causality versus correlation. Are the men healthy, wealthy, and wise just because they get up early or are they in the process of becoming healthy, wealthy and wise and getting up early is a condition of that?

Are you in the process of becoming healthy, wealthy and wise? What character traits emerge from a wise man versus a fool? A fool spends his youth whereas a wise man invests his time. Spending consumes whereas investing builds. If you extrapolate your current trajectory, would you say you are investing your time or spending your time? Clearly, the mindset is different.

To that mindset: We are at year end. This month should be about reflecting on how you behaved this year with a discerning eye. It is commonplace for young men to think one thing about their behavior and misunderstand what’s really going on. Intentions and actions might not be aligned. So as you look back on your behavior did you set goals last year that had no chance of accomplishment like I did for so many years? Fooling yourself for a year or two can mean you’re naive to how life works. Continuing to fool yourself about your own behavior for many years can mean you are being foolish, i.e. a fool. Not a good thing. So look back on the year and evaluate how you performed relative to your expectations. Pull out your goal sheet and compare reality – did you spend your time or did you invest it?

This is not about condemnation, but evaluation. If you underperformed to your desires, is it because of a weak understanding on how new habits must overcome the momentum of old habits and also why the old habits formed in the first place? You are navigating you and are finding out that you and life are a bit more complex than what you previously thought. And yet, also not so complex. Early to bed and early to rise is a pretty straightforward formula. If you got up at 5 a.m. every day, what would you do with that extra hour+ of each and every day? You’d be trading an hour+ of nighttime for an hour+ of morning. What would you do 7 days a week with that time? How would you invest it? Health: Would you work out? Wealth: Would you plan your day? Wisdom: Would you read? But first you’d have to resolve the reason why you’re staying up the extra hour+ at night. You need a strategy to make the shift, because without a strategy the momentum of your old habits will not be overcome by the new effort.

Your life is emerging in front of your eyes. Your behavior of the past year is culminating into the future. Looking back and evaluating the good, the bad, and the ugly is wise. Adjusting from last year’s performance for the coming year is what men of substance do. They don’t just throw down new goals and promise to try harder next year. The idea of New Year’s resolutions is laughable. For example, the goal of working out in the new year when you didn’t do so consistently in the past doesn’t result in any change unless your approach resolves the reasons you didn’t work out. For me, I need to commit to another person or I just wouldn’t do it. Therefore, I pay my trainer, TJ, so I am more consistent with my health goals because I flounder otherwise. Now I get up at 4:30 7 days a week so I can get my workouts in and still have the day in front of me. In my early years, I figured this out about myself. Without a TJ in my life, I just don’t workout hard enough or consistently enough or with enough specificity to my goals.

Nothing stands alone. Every element of your life is function of your behavior pattern. Your behaviors manifest your life in front of your eyes. If you are a future man of wisdom, your behaviors invest in that lifestyle so that wisdom emerges. If you are in the early stages of being wealthy, you invest in the behaviors that manifest wealth. Neither wealth nor wisdom are by accident but a result of consistent wealthy and wise behaviors which is no different than health being a consequence of healthy behaviors.

Now is the time to catch yourself in the act. Look back on the year and discern those behaviors that show promise, invest in those behaviors, and enjoy watching health, wealth, and wisdom emerge.

To a wise goal setting process,

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | December 9th, 2016|Getting Started, Personal|0 Comments

The Most Powerful Aspect of Attitude

We are talking about factors of economic success. I said that Attitude is the greatest factor that you have control over that leads to you having more ching in your pocket than not. Another factor that overlaps here with Attitude is Intelligence. But not just the raw horsepower kind, because you have been given through nature and nurture what you have today by way of processing power. No, that kind of intelligence isn’t an attitude. Where Intelligence is an attitude, where it’s a choice, is through a powerful tool in shaping your future – curiosity.

Curiosity is a choice and a powerful one. It says, “Hey, that’s interesting!”. “I’m going to focus on some thing, some topic, some idea for a while and in doing so, I’m going to gain.I’m going to change. I’m going to be bigger.” What is it to lack curiosity? Is it to be certain? Maybe to be arrogant? To be dull? I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound like a place where you grow much. To have curiosity, then, is to be open to new information, new ideas, evolving your mind, to show initiative in your life. Curiosity on any topic – sports, science, business, human nature, God, women, parenting, gardening – is to ask how life works.
Let me stop and highlight the underlined “to show initiative in your life”. When you’re curious, you stop, you mentally pause into present mindedness which is the most powerful mindset to have. You summarize the context of your life and say that right here and right now you want to focus the most important elements of your life, your mind and your time, on this particular thing. At this immortal moment of now, you are curious, investigating, gaining, learning. What can possibly be the outcome of that? Compound this moment into the next and the next, and what can be the end result of thousands of now moments of curiosity? You become more knowledgeable, skilled, intelligent, and interesting. Yes, interesting. To be interested is to be interesting.
A major point of these Letters is to arrest your momentum, to stop you from ‘blah, blah, blhad, aslfa,qeahghv…” going through a multitude of emails, articles, and data streaming where you can’t remember anything in particular just like you can barely remember what you ate 2 nights ago. But to stop and become present minded and therefore strategic – Who am I? Where am I going? What’s important to me? What do I want to invest my ‘now’ moments in when I’m not otherwise occupied with life? Curiosity in meaningful topics (meaningful to you) invests your energy in life-giving pursuits.
I have made some major mistakes in life and this is one of them. In my youth, I arrogantly believed that I was something special. Yes, I’m special in the eyes of God, but you know what I mean. I’m telling you now, I wasted soooo much of my youth on arrogance. I regret it immensely. That feeling of ‘having the answers’ manifested itself in my behavior as being decidedly un-curious. It wasn’t till my 40’s that I turned up the heat on present minded curiosity, basically to just be interested in the stuff of life. Become curious and you’ll never be bored a day in your life.
Here’s the thing: If you want to be successful in life, if you want rich rewards of economics, relationships, spiritual depth, and personal density you must become curious. It’s a muscle. If you haven’t started an Ironmen group, start one. Find guys that are curious and willing to invest some consistent time and get going. Be curious about what makes them tick. This Ironmen forum will hold up a mirror to your own inner workings – How does motivation work? How does discipline work? How do you build success habits? How can you sustain behavioral energy over a long period of time? Where do I have blind spots?
Aren’t you just a bit curious to the answers to these questions?

To a curious life,

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | November 5th, 2016|Getting Started, Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Value of an Ironmen Group

For 21 of the last 30 years, I have been in Ironmen groups.  When I began my first effort, I had no idea what beneficial impact that decision would have on my life.  For some unknown reason I was drawn to it and stuck with it with because it was fun.  But as I gained traction in my life, I began to see the value of Ironmen.  For that reason, I started subsequent Ironmen groups with other guys when my life circumstances changed (I moved, one of my group members got married, etc.).  Like Robert Frost’s famous line “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”.  Now at 52, I can look back and understand the forces at play that ‘made all the difference’ which  provided the benefits I am currently experiencing.  Now it seems almost a foregone conclusion.  

I initiated the start of each of the 4 Ironmen groups I participated in over my adult life.  Doesn’t mean I led them, but I did lead my own life and coordinated the start up of the group.  In the first group, Rob, Dave and I met Mondays from 6 am to 8 am.  We picked that time because none of us had class, work, or any obligations whatsoever.  In fact, we didn’t foresee us ever having any time conflict at 6 am.  The real issue was having discipline enough to go to bed on Sundays at a reasonable time so we could overcome our natural inclination to sleep through our alarm.  Franklin’s “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” dictum was a guiding principle.  I didn’t know Dave very well, he was a fraternity brother to which I was new.  Rob was my old next door neighbor of 13 years.  Rob was already my best friend and Dave was to ultimately join that rank.

The first order of business was to discuss why we were meeting.  We wanted to be successful.  At the time, we didn’t know what that meant, but we knew we wanted the good life and that would mean having achievement, respect, position, and money.  We agreed early that we’d read Napoleon Hill’s success primer “Think and Grow Rich”.  Among the many other foundational thoughts, the book introduces 3 key takeaways: Goal Setting, Thoughts are Things, and The Mastermind.  We were starting a Mastermind (Ironmen) Group, put Thoughts are Things aside for a bit, and focused on Goal Setting.  It took a better part of a year for us to work some things out.

First of all, we didn’t set up group norms properly and had to work through those.  I’d show up late one week or Dave another. Rob was never late because it was in his room.  But another norm developed that we agreed upon – come prepared.  Rob couldn’t slide on that.  This group requirement was much tougher than showing up on time because it took greater forethought and commitment.  I’d have to set my semester goals, plan for achievement, and weekly effort by Monday; then report back on how I did.  Let’s just say that I hadn’t developed this skill during high school.  We were asking ourselves to be adult and disciplined and climbing up the mountain was challenging.  But a point of note: no one else was even attempting it.

So we had our Career goals (which was school), Financial goals (which was cash flow management), Health and Fitness goals, Social goals (we each had girlfriends which we each ended up marrying), and Spiritual goals.  We wrote them out, discussed them, and gauged our effort toward achieving them.  I can definitively say that I learned more in school due to this effort.  More importantly, I learned more about myself and life.

The group works best with three people.  Not two.  Not four.  Three.  With only two people and one is absent, no meeting.  If that happens a couple times in a row, the two-person group falls apart.  With three people, the energy is just higher, no question. The conversations are more balanced, the perspectives are more well-rounded with three people.   I suppose two works, but I just prefer three; can you tell?  Four people makes it tough to be heard.   Too many voices to cover each person’s experiences, feelings, interpretations, goals, and issues.  Ultimately the group is about transparency and accountability.  A group of four people creates either the environment for someone to hide or too much competition for time to speak.  It can be frustrating.  Flow, by the way, is that higher level of energy you experience when gathered with like-minded individuals.  It’s male bonding.  It’s “when two or three gather in my name.”  It is clearer thinking, more articulate verbalizing, and greater discernment when you come together with the purpose of growth.

Two hours is important because it will allow the conversation to get going.  20-30 minutes on each person’s life, goals, weekly accomplishments, etc, leaves only 30-60 minutes for discussion on some relevant topic.  There are SO many meaningful things to discuss when you’re young that 30 minutes is too short.  60 is better.  After 10 years of meeting pretty much every week with my latest group, we still find the flow and come upon some epiphany worth the effort.  Therefore, 2 hours is important.  Even if the family  complains a little, you have to lead on this point.  Ultimately, my wife and kids were the beneficiaries of a man who had his shit together.

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | April 26th, 2013|Getting Started|0 Comments

How to Start an Ironmen Group

If you’re buying in to the benefits of meeting with other like-minded men, how do you proceed from here.  At this point it’s become obvious you need a couple things to get going:

  • Two other men
  • A time to meet

Not much to the list, but tough to establish if you have neither.

Finding two guys who you currently aren’t friends with is a challenge, no question.  Ah grasshopper, this is your first internal challenge (said like old wise Asian guy).  Unless your life is completely surrounded by only women, you probably have some candidates to consider.  Things to think about:

  • Do you think this person is intelligent?
  • Can you determine if this person has integrity?
  • Do you see this person as being now, or at some time in the future, on a path toward success?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions, this guy is probably worth approaching.  No sense in approaching the guy that sells you ganja. (Ok, that was a joke in case you missed it.  Worse one’s to follow).

How to approach said candidate is worth discussing.

  • Straightforward approach: “I want to talk with you about this idea I’ve come across…”
  • Sales approach: “I’ve come across this idea which has benefits I think you’d be interested in…”
  • The Amway approach: “Hey, you look like you’d be interested in success…”
  • The Cowboy approach: “Hey Pard (shoot finger gun), wanna saddle up and discuss life…”

Use whichever approach you’re comfortable with, but it really boils down to getting out of your comfort zone.  Think about if you were approached by someone interested in a conversation about building personal success – would you be interested?  If you’re hesitant to approach someone because you don’t know them, get over it.  You’ll be fine. Another tool to snag interest is the Ironmen emails.  “Here’s something I get daily and I thought we could grab coffee and discuss what this is about.”

The second issue, a time to meet, can be a tough one.  People are busy, busy.  I have never had a conflict at 6 am.  When I was younger, Saturday am’s were tough, so I picked Mondays.  As I got older, Saturdays 6-8 am’s were better because the only competition I had was sleep.  If you can’t forego a couple hours of sleep one day a week to develop a successful life, maybe this program isn’t for you. Seriously.  You will have to make choices in life and long term success over short term pleasure is one of those critical choices.  Nonetheless, pick a time that you can commit to.  Luke, choose wisely.

Finally, once you’ve got the two guys and a time to meet, you’ll have to sync up on a few things:

  • Purpose for showing up.
  • What will the format be?  2 hours? (Yes).  How often? (Weekly, can’t establish momentum less frequently).
  • Format breakdown: Half the time on catching up on goals, efforts, expectations and half the time in discussion (Yes)
  • Group norms: Show up on time, prepared, and engaged.

This general outline, of course, can be modified to your own ideas, styles, and tastes.  In fact, regardless whether you adopt this recommendation or not, you’ll be changing things as your group evolves – which it will.

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | April 19th, 2013|Getting Started|0 Comments

Why start an Ironmen Group?

Spending two hours every week with your confidants discussing how to improve all the elements of your life cannot help but yield an actionable plan.  It’s possible that finding two other adventurers to share your hopes and dreams will result in small gains, but it’s more likely getting someone to hold you accountable to your own statements of action and integrity can only add up to one thing – success!

The perspectives that you will come to possess will make all the difference in your life.  A man needs only one idea, one good, clear, actionable idea that will transform his thinking, energize his efforts, focus his passions, and align the universe to his personal success.  One idea.  One idea is all it takes to find the path up the mountain and breath the fresh air surrounding the good life.  How are you going to get that one idea?

While you’re working on that one idea that will arrive like the teacher when the student is ready, you’ll grow in ways that are hard to describe, imagine, or appreciate – but let’s try anyway.

  • You’ll gain perspective on every topic you cover, primarily yourself.
  • That perspective compounds on itself as each growing awareness leads to new understandings which, in turn, leads to greater awareness and understanding.
  • Every aspect of maturity has a warming benefit to other parts of your life.  Growth with career improves relationships; sharper discipline in health enhances work; better interpersonal skills at home benefits all aspects of your life.  It’s organic, i.e. one part affects the whole.
  • Your Ironmen partners will be trustworthy, loyal, true friends.  You’ll come to understand the definition of true friendship that does not depart with the sun.
  • You’ll come to understand nuance and subtlety in language, concepts, and perspectives.  These will drive ever new awarenesses through epiphany after epiphany.  The mountain climbs up to the mists and there’s no telling how high it goes.
  • You will manifest (a big topic to be discussed at length as we climb) a life that is surprisingly revealing and beneficial.  Revealing in that you will discover things about yourself and life that are currently unavailable to you at this spot on the mountain.  Beneficial in that all problems, once well defined, will be half solved.
  • Maslow’s hierarchy is like this mountain where you’ll focus on concrete issues that improve your safety, security, and physiological requirements. In all likelihood, you’ll move rather quickly on to other issues that concern you.  Eventually, you’ll pursue (and find) the headwaters of this mountain where freedom springs in abundance.  Freedom from want, freedom to think, and importantly, freedom to love and be loved.

So that’s all. That’s why investing in the Ironmen idea makes sense.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

– Proverbs 27:17

New King James Version

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | April 12th, 2013|Getting Started|0 Comments