The 7 Initiatory Fires of Modern Manhood
Awaken Your Inner King, Own Your Power & Live a Legendary Life
Chapter Sample: Your Business, Career & Livelihood
By: Hendrix Black
© Copyright belongs to Hendrix Black. No portions of this chapter can be reproduced or shared without the written consent of the author.
Fire 5 - Your Business, Career and Livelihood
What makes this an initiatory fire?
The average man will spend more than half his waking life physically immersed in this container called “work”, and an even greater portion of his life engaged mentally, emotionally and energetically devoted to his craft or livelihood.
Physically, you’re likely to spend more time stewing in these flames than any other fire in this program. Half a century of forty-to-fifty-hour workweeks, your business or livelihood is the stadium where you get to put your evolutionary growth on full, brilliant display. It’s where you get to alchemize all the previous awakenings into a tangible gift that you get to serve the world with, all while attracting the synergistic co-creation and support of your brothers and sisters. Yet for such a pervasive fire, so few will ever awaken to the incredible opportunity before them.
They’ll continue to see work as a necessary and unavoidable evil in their lives. An oppressive force that robs them of their happiness, taps out their resources, and ultimately bleeds them dry. And at the crux of man’s failed relationship with work are the undertones of powerlessness and defeat that plague the words he uses every day. These constructs are ones that men opt into—knowingly or unknowingly—and reinforce every time they auction off their power for the limited pittance of reward they’re temporarily provided.
“I have to work” is the victim-laced tirade of the modern man. How many times have you uttered those words to a lover, friend, or child? How many moments of purpose, adventure and flow have you auctioned off in the name of “work”? How many friendships and relationships have been ruthlessly backburnered—not in the name of intense focus and devotion to craft or mission, but in a resigned whimper packaged into these four words:
“I have to work.”
The phrase itself has been laced with the cyanide of resentment and victimhood. It carries with it the bloodless stain of your crippled dreams. The ghastly echoes of a billion deathbed regrets.
“I have to work.”
I have to. I have to. I have to.
What about… “I get to”?
That’s what this fire calls us towards. It calls on us to awaken to the sheer privilege of getting to turn our greatest gifts and learnings into a business or livelihood that’s of the highest service to all those around us. It’s where we get to be the trusted stewards of our gifts, while taking part in the new, more favorable realities that spring from them.
This fire calls on us to shed the layers of negative conditioning that have plagued our relationship to work and business for decades and centuries. Within these flames, you’ll encounter the shadow of the “human resource,” a glorified, well-dressed workhorse who’s allowed himself to regress into an item on a balance sheet. A cog in the wheel. A raw material ready to be tapped out and left for dead.
We’ll then venture into the shadows of The Rank Riser and The Resigned. Well-played roles, and monumental forces that currently shape how the majority of men will go about their career and livelihood. Both man-made constructs that severely dampen the value you allow yourself to express into the world.
At the core of it all, we’ve forgotten to be bold and adventurous within the unfoldment of our offerings. When it comes to work and business, we’ve lost a pioneering spirit that lusts for creation itself—and revels in the post-orgasmic bliss with equal parts terror and awe. We’ve traded the transcendent for the well-trodden path. We settle for work/life balance as if homeostasis is the highest calling a man can aspire to.
But work life/balance isn’t the point. It never has been the point. How we approach work—how we engage it like a ravenous lover—and how we find deep alignment within this sacred tussle is. It’s one that three weeks off, dental insurance, and state-mandated holidays can never replace.
What you’re called to awaken to in these flames is The Steward. The one who claims ownership over his greatest gifts, and is relentless is finding the most fruitful and impactful channels for them to express through.
Indeed, you will be harshly challenged as you reclaim sovereignty over your gifts and how they get expressed into a business or livelihood. Fear will never be too far behind—snapping at your heels, trying to knock you back down, and drag your dejected self back to the world you left behind.
But The Steward you awaken will continuously propel you forward. For in this new paradigm of business and career, you are a trusted steward of your gifts. Not as a human resource, but as an appreciable asset that soars in value every time your work or mission inspires fruitful collaboration or positively impacts the life of a fellow human.
An empire built upon the broken backs and smoke-filled hearts of man is no empire at all. The Steward reminds us of this, and is steadfast in ushering a new paradigm of work and livelihood where all in his empire, be they employees, partners or collaborators, are empowered to grow in their gifts, and their opportunity to generously express them.
When you’re ready, the flames are calling.
Shadow #1: The Human Resource
Perhaps the most damaging man-made construct plaguing our work lives is hidden in plain sight. It’s our first and last point of contact in any job we take. And from beginning to end, its mandate is simple: Extract as much value and productivity from you as it reasonably can, while coating your fears with just enough psychological sorbets to keep you from recognizing the thick lies you’ve been choking down on.
It’s a cunning system that’s perfected the art and science of dangling the right carrot at the right time. Token rewards to satisfy your need for significance. Annual pay raises that barely match inflation. Lunch-and-learns that promote further indoctrination and system dependence under the guise of “continued education.”
If you’ve outsourced your personal growth and evolution to the department whose very namesake should give you any and all indications of its true intent, you have in turn, become complicit in your own imprisonment. For the sovereign, self-led man doesn’t see himself as a human resource. Something to be milked, mined, and drawn upon until his supposed limited resources run dry. He doesn’t see himself as a fixed and finite resource. Dehumanized. Expendable. Separated from machinery and raw materials only by a thin black line on a financial balance sheet.
He sees himself as an appreciating asset. One that expands in his capacity to serve, gift, and create every day. Through greater skill, experience, strength, power, resilience and peace, he betters himself each day with focused intent. Not because he’s unreasonably disciplined. Not because he’s a “high achiever.” It’s all far simpler than that. It’s a matter of self-respect and self-reverence. He appreciates what he is. An ever-evolving, ever-shifting manifestation of his highest intent. Stagnation is his death sentence. Continual growth and aligned service, his birthright.
By all means, contribute to a company with a “Human Resources” department if doing so feels aligned and purposeful. But fully recognize, and more importantly, begin investing in yourself as the ever-evolving, ever-appreciating asset you truly are. Be wary of any person, project, client or organization that would value you solely based on what they can extract. Gift yourself wholeheartedly to those who would honor your contribution, and actively gift you further opportunity to expand in your capacities to do so.
If you’re an employer, begin to recognize your employees and team members as ever-appreciating assets. Become intimately attuned with how and where they most aspire to grow—and work to find ways where that growth can be of the highest service to your company’s mission and stakeholders. The invitation then is to be a champion of the gifts, talents and aspirations of those you lead, not the slave driver they depend on out of sheer need or survival.
You don’t want to fight to “extract” value from your team any more than they want to feel ruthlessly drawn from. This heartless exchange has seen its day. As a leader or business owner, it’s your role to cultivate a culture of gifting. One where your team members are eager to share their ever-expanding gifts to the benefit of the company’s vision—and the company is equally excited to gift them the appreciation, opportunity and resources needed to let the upward cycle continue.
Much like what we encountered in our fire on intimate relationships, the arrangement between employee and employer should end when either party no longer desires gifting the other what they most need to grow in their respective mission.
There’s a vital lesson here that must be heeded. Under no circumstances should a man persist in a job or career that he’s unwilling to be generous with the gifting of his skill, genius, and power. When a man “denies” and bitterly withholds his gifts out of resentment (whether to a lover or career), he conditions himself to a life of lessened capacity. He may initially do so out of “punishment” to his boss or partner—a “cold war” in response to their perceived lack of appreciation, generosity, and reciprocity. Yet it is he who suffers most. It’s the ultimate self-betrayal, for nothing will “tap him out” or “bleed him dry” faster than his own refusal to continue cultivating and expressing the capacities he’s blessed with. Ironically, such a passive aggressive refusal impairs him further, making “escape” even more unlikely.
It’s important to note that the shadow of The Human Resource isn’t exclusive to an employee-employer relationship. Whether you’re the overworked CEO of a Fortune 500 or a startup founder, chances are you’ve seen this shadow show up in the subtle workings of The Hustler.
The increasingly pervasive, romanticized ideal of the man working 60-80 hour workweeks, inflating with self-importance, while ironically allowing his physical, mental and emotional faculties to come under unceasing duress.
The Hustler represents nothing more than well-disguised martyrdom. Having a stadium cheer you on as you slowly self-mutilate under the modern-day mantra of “hustle” is still the hallmark of reducing oneself to an expendable resource. The mission may be bigger than the average coal miner. The clothes may be sharper. The Instagram pics more glamorous. But if you’ve given yourself so completely to the role of The Hustler, you’ve become the fast-eroding resource—not the steward of the ever-appreciating asset.
Whether it’s the corporate workhorse being bled-dry without protest, or the self-employed hustler who puts his slow death on public display to a chorus of hearts and thumbs, both have unconsciously chosen to derive greater significance from their work than their innate value as humans. The Human Resource is more willing to die on his sword of overinflated significance than live without it.
Ultimately, he’ll get his wish.
1. How would you describe your current relationship to work and business?
2. Do you feel expansive, energized and purposeful? Or collapsed and “bled dry”?
3. In what ways do you “withhold” your skill and contributions at work? Who are you truly punishing in the process?
4. What are all the conditioned beliefs and expectations you have around work or business that you can identify at this time? (i.e., work is a struggle, work is exhausting, etc.)
5. On a scale of 1-10, what’s your current level of engagement in your craft/work/career (i.e., 1 being “just collecting a paycheck,” 10 being “giving yourself generously with love and power)
1. It is my highest will and intent to develop greater integrity, self-respect, and courage within the realms of my craft, livelihood and career.
2. I generously exert myself within my career or business; appreciating the display of power, service, and capacity I’ve developed.
3. I disallow and disentangle myself from anyone or anything, including my own outdated identities, who would see me solely as a resource to be extracted or drawn on.
4. I un-implicate myself from any disempowering and dehumanizing work or business relationships, reclaiming my full sovereignty and personal power.
5. Even within the realms of work and business, I know myself as a sovereign leader and ever-evolving human, worthy of expressing my genius in peaceful balance.
6. Every day, I take practical steps to become more valuable to self and others.
7. For as long as I choose to remain engaged on a project, business or career, I give myself generously to it.
1. Who is it that believes work has to be “hard” or a “struggle” Why?
2. What would it feel like to be energized and replenished by my craft and livelihood?
3. What would it feel like to be in the fullest expression of my skill, genius and power within my work and business?
4. What would it feel like to become stronger, more capable and more energized by my work or career every single day?
Shadow #2: The Resigned
We now meet a shadow that’s so pervasive in our culture that you’re sure to encounter resistance to even recognizing it for the limiting force it is. It’s the shadow of retirement.
Once again, the markings of this shadow are most obvious in the language we use every day.
“I can’t wait to retire.”
Why? What exactly are you retiring from?
What have you allowed yourself to stubbornly endure for so long that daytime television and guided tours of crumbling monuments feels so appealing? It’s an honest question that warrants an honest answer.
Curious to know why men seem to age ten years in the ten months after retirement? Why the proverbial Rolex ticks ten times faster than the clock hanging above his abode of creation and expression?
It’s because he’s literally turned his back to the mysterious, ethereal force that flows through him and animates him into existence.
So, if you haven’t already done so, ask yourself: what can’t you wait to retire from? Are you retiring from challenge? From adversity? From resilience? From the call to greater capacity? From the fear of expressing your art? From the self-contraction that limits your fullest expression. From the shame or regret of having sold your life short.
What are you retiring from?
At no other time in human history did man long for the day where he can put a dent on a La-Z-Boy and flip through 800 channels while complaining about the weather. Man wasn’t made to spend the day mulling between Scottsdale and Salt Lake for his next golf retreat. He wasn’t made to run a continuous circuit between flatlining leisure and existential liability to those around him. He wasn’t built for the indignity of refreshing his stock or crypto portfolio every five minutes, or the feigning of self-importance through his over-inflated accolades.
Retirement may look different than resignation on an HR or corporate by-law, but the energy is the same. It says, “I’ve had enough,” “I’m done,” “I’m too old for this,” and “I’m too tired for the sacrifice that nobody asked me to make in the first place.”
It’s an inevitable and tragically-impotent conclusion to a life and career of numbing discontent. One spent chained to self-imposed shackles while the key was hidden in a small crevice of your heart all along. A crevice coated in courage that could only be accessed with bravery in kind.
If you can’t wait to retire, you’re playing the wrong game. You’re selling your presence, and suppressing your spirit for a mere pittance. Instead of desperately longing for your final cycle through the company turnstile, find the courage right now to pivot into heightened purpose.
Financially free and done with traditional work and business life? Why not consciously devote yourself to being the best husband, lover, father or grandfather you can be? Shave your head and move to the Himalayas with a single-minded focus on self-realization if that’s more fitting. Or look around your community and find new, inspiring ways to be of service to the underserved. I promise you won’t have to look too hard to find someone to help. But to retire from the intentional expansion and purposeful expression of your gifts altogether is nothing but a bitter refusal of life herself. Instead, drum up the courage to choose renewal. Renewal of mission. Renewal of purpose. Renewal of career or livelihood. Renewal of spirit.
As we alluded to in the first shadow, it’s quite easy to know when it’s time to pivot your career or business. When you no longer have the will, desire or capacity to gift your business, career or occupation your fullest gifts, it’s time to lead yourself to a new place where you can. Only in the most extreme situations where financial destitution is on the other side of a resignation slip should one persist in his resigned trance. But even in such cases, he must absolutely reframe his current position as a means to a more favorable end, and be steadfast in his intention to realize it.
There is never a valid or life-affirming reason to persist in “going through the motions.” Such a stance only reinforces a sense of deep-rooted powerlessness and despair. Likewise, “checking out” is in stark contradiction to the courage that must be cultivated to find meaning and purpose in your next business or pursuit.
Simply put, no matter how much you dislike your job or career, spending your day in a self-induced coma severely inhibits creative flow and purposeful expression. Rather, it reinforces a zero-sum game of cold-hearted extraction—one where you feel justified and remorseless in extracting resources and value from your company, colleagues, and clients.
Much like relationships then, the call is to make the first move. As long as you remain in a situation, commit to cultivating your skill and power within it. Give your gifts and offer value even if they go unnoticed and unreciprocated. At the very least, you will have reclaimed your power and assumed an inner stance that makes you a worthy match to the business or opportunity you wish to pursue next.
As a leader or employer, place a high value on a team member who’s deeply attuned to his mission, and is equally excited to find constant realignment and expression within your company. Likewise, under no circumstances should you tolerate the continued presence of the resigned. Vacate the position for one who’ll be ready to fill it with focused power and purpose. For the gift he brings extend far beyond the role he fills.
The woefully resigned will always find a new circumstance or challenge to feel victimized by. The cold refusal of his gifts; and bitter stench within the “bare minimum” he provides, will sabotage the culture of empowerment and purposeful gifting you’re desiring to establish and cultivate within your team.
1. When I think about “retirement,” what specifically am I seeking to “retire” from?
2. In what ways do I “punish” my job / employer by withholding my abilities or efforts? Who’s truly suffering from that withdrawal and refusal?
1. It is my highest will and intent to continuously experience renewal of service and mission.
2. It is my highest will and intent to effortlessly find the areas or opportunities where my greatest gifts can be further developed and put on fullest display.
3. With courage and power, I offer the greatest skill, creativity, genius and power to any situation before me, knowing that in doing so, I make myself more available for a more aligned opportunity to arise.
1. What would it feel like to be totally and completely inspired and empowered in my work?
2. What would it feel like to experience constant renewal of purpose and passion within my career or livelihood?
Shadow #3: The Rank-Riser
The Rank Riser is a well-played archetype in modern western culture. Its influence is strongest in the man who’ll auction off the better part of his life, slowly ascending a metaphorical ladder of success. Each rung coated with a token reward to keep him motivated along his torturous climb. Everything is structured and predictably laid out for him with extremely little variance. Forty-hour workweeks. Monday to Friday. Nine-to-five. Two-weeks paid vacation. A raise or promotion every few years.
At first, the predictability and lack of variance provide a soothing balm to his reptilian brain that still equates the fear of unemployment and financial instability with death and abandonment. But over time, that same monotonous routine will lull him into a subtle coma. While he’ll claim to have some wild ambition that he’s on the verge of pursuing, he’ll rarely be able to cultivate the courage and capacity to do so.
Simply put, when a man doesn’t need to exercise his focus, willpower, intent, creativity and courage on a daily basis, these qualities quickly become dormant and inactive. This is the more insidious and oppressive side of The Rank Riser shadow. When a man plugs himself into the inner workings of a system based on predictability and control, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes swallowed by it.
Within this system, he takes what’s inherently exponential—and downregulates it to better match the “rules” of the system and its adherents. This is easy to observe in real time. We see it in the new employee who walks through the company turnstile on day one with an expansive sense of eagerness—ready to learn—ready to channel all his learnings, insights and creativity into something valuable. Only to find a few months later, that that same spirit has been bludgeoned to death by the very system he was eager to serve.
Yet even in this early stage, adherence is easier than escape. Maybe even in this short time, he’s oriented his entire life around this new job—moved to be closer, invested in a new car or condo, married, had a child. So he’ll persist and convince himself that there will be a “right time” to make a big move. But rarely does this happen, if ever. For the higher one climbs up the ladder, the scarier it is to look down. When faced with the choice between jumping back down into the grand abyss or continuing the climb, it’s always easier to grab the next rung—even if you have lingering doubts about where that ladder even leads. As we mentioned earlier, man will often fear the sunk costs more than his sinking spirit.
But the ladder is not real. Just like an actual ladder is basically just two support beams with wooden slabs nailed between them, the ladder that The Rank Riser climbs is supported by two unquestioned belief structures.
The first is the lie of linearity. The damaging belief that any meaningful career of contribution and service must be achieved through some so-called career path. The paying of one’s dues. The rising of the ranks. This is simply an arbitrary and adopted belief that we’ve been force-fed since birth. Ever since we were children, the lie of linearity has served as a superimposed organizing function for our entire experience of the world. Our competency, attainment, and qualification are all assessed based on where we land on a linear path of progression. We experience this in the schooling system with all its arbitrary signposts of intelligence and development—and then once again in our careers where our value is extrinsically linked to seniority, productivity, or the accumulation of certain agreed-upon milestones.
Its dysfunction may be apparent. It’s devastation, even more so. Yet its claim as “law,” for the most part, goes unquestioned. Unfortunately, when enough people in a closed and concentrated system abide by a false belief, it has the appearance of absolute law to all those within it. At its core, this is what a corporate environment or schooling system is.
But in truth, the market has never rewarded those who’ve “risen the ranks.” The market rewards those who’ve created a remarkable way of solving painful and persistent problems, or delivering immense value—often in ways that are exponentially faster, better, and more innovative than the alternatives. Ironically, it’s in blindly committing to a linear and predictable path, and the lack of variance within it, that prevents one from cultivating the capacity to create that value.
Very few success stories feature a linear, straightforward, and predictable path. You’re more likely to read about the tale of the man who won big and lost it all, only to reinvent himself and win again. More billion-dollar tech startups are founded by dropouts, big dreamers, and kids in hoodies than MIT grads who worked their way up the corporate ranks for decades before venturing out on their own. The common denominator here is a greater value judgment on entrepreneurial adventure and the virtues it gives rise to, than in the safe, anesthetized path of annual pay raises and a free parking pass.
Beyond the lie of linearity, The Rank Riser entraps us with one final belief: self-importance. Simply put, the man who derives the majority of his significance based on where he lands on an arbitrary scale of achievement will always be subject to it.
A title, a nameplate, a degree, a designation, a salary. All of them offer us a seemingly objective, observable and measurable way to stack our sense of importance in relation to others. Even if we don’t wholeheartedly align with our role and title, we at least feel oriented. We know where we stand. Sure, there may be some “above” us, but there are also many below. From this, we can derive a sense of safety and self-importance. A position within chaos. A hook to hang our existential hat.
Self-importance is also generated with every rung we climb. We may not feel fulfilled in what we’re doing, but the plaque handed out at the Christmas party for best “whatever” is enough to make us puff our chests with pride.
In his unbalanced need for self-importance, the rank-rising man is too prideful to have a gap in perceived significance and authority. He can’t bring himself from the slow-drip dopamine rush of having ten “lesser men” responding to his every whim, to being back in the wild, relying on his own drive, skill, and resourcefulness for the next catch.
When you’re ruled by self-importance, you have no courage to fall off the ladder and back down into the abyss—even if there’s a jetpack waiting for you down at the bottom. Yet this is what the path of exponential growth in business or career demands from us. It’s difficult to jump from one ladder to the next. Most times, you need to fall back into the abyss where unlimited possibility dwells. We’re absolutely horrified of “rock bottom,” when in truth, it’s exactly where the gifts of resilience, resourcefulness, and expanded possibility are most abundantly found. While the optics are culturally shamed, the recently laid-off twenty-six-year-old sitting in a coffee shop is far closer to building his dream business than his buddy who’s clinking shots of Jack over a new promotion.
Self-importance isn’t found in a job title or a list of accolades. It’s found in your ability and willingness to harness whatever skills, resources, creativity, power, drive, and focus you have at your disposal—and transform them into something that brings value to whichever market you choose to serve.
Most major business or career successes come as a result of a creative breakthrough, and the focused power to steward it into creation. Both forces, while available to be harnessed and directed by man, are not “his.” They are mysterious forces that man can’t claim. In inflating with self-importance, you implicitly deny, dismiss or fail to appreciate the mysterious undercurrent of power and inspiration that flows through you at all moments. In his self-importance, man will overestimate his role in his success—and in doing so, cut himself off from the more subtle undercurrent that would bring him exponentially further.
The alternative isn’t a false humility, but a recognition that any monumental or “abnormal” success you achieve in any career path or business will be mostly fueled by two things:
1. A unique, innovative and valuable “twist” on what’s currently being done.
2. An easeful confidence and fearlessness to share and express it.
Neither of these are accessible to the man who’s hitched a ride on the lie of linearity while stapling his sense of significance to the token rewards it yields. For example, if you claim a breakthrough idea to be “yours” and attach your significance to it, it becomes more vulnerable to attack. An attack on the idea becomes an attack on your character and personal identity. You become terrified of scrutiny—and hyper-guarded and rigid in any move you make to execute it.
But is a breakthrough idea truly yours to begin with? Or are you simply a trusted, and perhaps temporary steward of it? More importantly, which engenders greater courage and fearlessness? Ultimately, it’s not a matter of humility, but one of truth.
Self-importance will always precede self-restriction. And self-restriction is what prevents you from fully expressing the gifts that would contribute to exponential growth in any industry or position of your choosing.
A final rebuttal of The Rank-Riser and his lie of linearity may include a reference to the ten-thousand-hour rule popularized by Malcolm Gladwell. It essentially states that to achieve world-class expertise or mastery in any given field, you need to put in around ten thousand hours of practice.
While few would argue with the merit of such sustained dedication to your craft, we’re no longer living in a time that demands or even rewards general, overarching mastery. That worked back in 1705 when being named John Blacksmith earned you a lifetime in front of an industrial furnace.
But the ten-thousand-hour rule doesn’t work in a world that’s moving faster by the day. Playing by those same rules, by the time you’ve mastered your craft through such myopic focus, you’ll have failed to evolve, becoming complicit in your own obsolescence. Instead of the 10,000 hours that total mastery may require, we’d be better off striving for outcome-based mastery. Meaning, becoming masterful at generating a specific result or outcome for a specific market in a specific way.
As our roles as men evolve, and as our dignity and self-reverence expands beyond that of the martyred workhorse or “human resource” to be tapped dry, we must shed the illusion of slow, linear progress, and instead embrace a paradigm of exponential growth in any area of our choosing. With unprecedented access to information, technology, skill-enhancing resources, and mentors, linearity is a choice—a reckless one that runs counter to who you truly are, and who you must strive to become.
This is our will. This is our right. This is our rule.
Lead the way, king.
1. In what ways have you built a life off the “lie of linearity”?
2. What would happen if you let your grip fall off that rung? What would truly happen if you “started from scratch”?
3. Who is it that places so much value on any sunk costs of prior achievements and “slow, incremental growth”?
4. Do I trust myself to create (or contribute to) something amazing and epically aligned if given the time and space to do so?
5. Who is it that feels so dependent on the current career trajectory you’re on?
1. It is my highest will and intent to know and experience my exponential nature as a creator and leader.
2. With great courage, I withdraw all excessive importance given to past achievements or accomplishments, and redirect that energy to my innate power to create new, exponentially successful outcomes.
3. I tap into my fullest potential and express the insight and actions that arise from it.
1. What would it feel like to achieve success in my business or career in the fastest, most magical way possible?
2. What would it feel like to be in complete awe and astonishment over how quickly a new reality of better design could be created?
Awakening The Steward
As we allow these shadows and their respective constructs to gently wash away, we create space for The Steward to awaken.
The Steward is what awakens regardless of your current outer circumstances. Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company or an entry-level hire of some faceless corporation, awakening The Steward is fundamental to stepping into your fullest expression across your business or career.
At his core, he recognizes that he’s the leader and steward of his resources—not the resource itself. In this knowingness, he sees himself as an appreciating asset, gaining in value with every intentionally made upgrade to his skill, capacity, vitality, creative insight, focus and willpower.
If he’s an employee of a company with limited mobility, he takes it upon himself to dedicate some time each day to become the self-led man capable of breaking out on his own. Even if on the surface-level he’s being led by others and being delegated soul-numbing tasks, he doesn’t allow himself to check-out and become completely anesthetized to his situation. He recognizes that if he’s to ever regain sovereignty in his career, he must make the first move. If he wants to one day earn $200,000 per year while being his own “boss,” he takes it upon himself to show up in his current role, ready to gift the exact same value as he would if he were earning 10x his salary.
He goes above and beyond what his “superior” asks. Not as an act of limp-wristed submission, but one of bold-hearted rebellion. He goes “against” his boss by rising even higher, taking his own orders in doing so. For The Steward, the surface-level optics are of lesser concern than the man he’s embodying. For he knows that this awakening is a non-negotiable precursor to whatever he wants to achieve on a more observable scale.
The Steward is also sovereign in thought. He doesn’t down regulate to match the monotonous tone of the system and its other adherents. While others regress and collapse into the lie of linearity, he digs his heels deeper into his own truth and holds the question: “Who must I become to achieve the things I want to achieve?”
In holding this question he activates the latent exponential forces of creativity, resourcefulness, ever-expanding skill, and personal power to achieve it. He doesn’t dilute his power by cursing his situation or joining his colleagues in their humdrum tune of victimhood and despair. While he’s undoubtedly affected by the same things—the economy, the company rules, the rush-hour traffic, the surge in housing prices—he’s not subject to them. He’s his own man. Unbound. Untarnished by the stain-filled tears of the lesser men around him. He’s the steward of his own will.
And when it’s time to finally embark on his own and pursue the business or career of his dreams, he does so swiftly and unapologetically. He doesn’t hang his existential hat on the rusted hook of significance, and therefore feels no delay in sawing it off the wall. While the notion of jumping off the ladder and starting at the “bottom” may still bring up some fear and hesitation, The Steward ultimately trusts his ability to rise back up with a new vehicle of his choosing.
To him, there’s no such thing as “rock bottom” or “starting from scratch.” There’s only a blank canvas and a wider opportunity to invite his genius and resourcefulness to return. The overplayed and culturally ingrained “rags to riches” story may make for a good Hollywood movie, but is far from the actual truth. For the leader deeply acknowledges that nothing starts from nothing. Alchemy is the transformation of one substance into another of higher value and more life-affirming properties. That’s what the steward does.
Even at rock bottom, alone in his flat with five dollars to his name, he has access to his current skill set, the capacity to expand it, the mentorship of those who’ve walked a similar path before him as well as the more subtle, yet no less powerful qualities of drive, focus, self-belief, will, creativity, and resourcefulness. He relishes in the opportunity to harness and direct all these exponential forces to a rapid and more fruitful end.
Likewise, he is the trusted steward, not the prideful owner of the ideas sparking his next venture or project. So he marshals it forward, free of attachment, with the fluidity, speed, and confidence that few others would possess.
He doesn’t bog himself down in achieving a global, overarching mastery in his field of choice before feeling ready to express his greatest gifts. Instead, he seeks to serve his market or field through outcome-based mastery. Meaning, the ability to solve a specific problem for a specific market in a unique, innovative, and more effective way. In this, he radically collapses timelines, and accelerates his speed towards success.
As a leader of other men, he grants them the same hard-won sovereignty that he once battled through, viewing his employees as ever-appreciating assets, and being a rare champion of their greatest gifts. He doesn’t seek to extract, but to inspire, elevate, and encourage a mutual gifting. For The Steward, business is not a zero-sum game, but a sacred opportunity to harness complimentary gifts into even greater outcomes for the company, its team, and the customers it serves. Seeing all three come into harmony is his highest excitement, and one that solidifies his stance as The Steward.
Finally, once he finds alignment in his career path or business, and has become the trusted champion of the inner and outer resources of both himself and his company, The Steward will seek to re-introduce elements of predictability and control. However, these are not meant to stifle, but rather to stabilize his foundation as he prepares for even greater growth, impact, and entrepreneurial adventure. They are the safeguards to an accelerated ascent, not the almighty rule from which all else flows.
On a final note, The Steward chooses to embody these qualities before the rest of the world catches up. Operating with courage, transparency, and with the total welfare of employees, customers and the world at large is not always going to be celebrated. It’s still mostly a silent victory. The Steward doesn’t delude himself of this, nor insist on outer recognition to continue leading with integrity. As we addressed in the first fire, we must achieve escape velocity from the gravitational pull of the status quo. Whereas those around him regress to the norm, The Steward rises above.
Finally, there’s a popular and fluffy myth that your income is always going to be proportional to the value you create in the world. While this belief is soothing to those whose benevolence outweighs his desire to exploit others for his own benefit, we must still refrain from cushy, psychologically satisfying half-truths.
Though we’re spiraling quickly into a world of greater transparency and accountability, we still live in a world where the dishonest man can make a king’s ransom—and a noble king can struggle for a beggar’s pittance. In reality, people who produce far less value than you while exploiting, deceiving, and oppressing others, can generate more money than you. Not by rule. But by virtue that the world, as it presently operates, still hasn’t fully oriented itself around the higher qualities of honesty, integrity and value exchange.
But for The Steward, the call still becomes to create a business or career that delivers more value, while gifting customers and employees on the highest level possible. It’s an upward race that he’s honored to be at the leading edge of. For that’s who he is. That’s the essence of his claim. And it’s who you’ll soon become.
It’s time to awaken The Steward.
Evolutionary Accelerator #1: Asset Appreciation
Practice Frequency: Ongoing
This practice simply invites you to explore (and act on) the following question: how are you bettering yourself every day?
When you accept the idea that you’re no longer a “resource” to be bled dry, but an asset that gets to appreciate in value every day, your entire approach to “work and career” shifts as a result.
In this first exercise, you’re invited to simply take the first steps in adopting this new mindset and sense of self-leadership and stewardship.
The “regression towards the norm” we encountered in the first fire is likely to sneak up on us again at this juncture. For it won’t be “normal” to not tax your capacities in a “work culture” designed to exhaust and extract.
Yet this is your opportunity to become your own agent. Your own advocate. Your own trusted steward of your own resources. For there is not a single person in the world more qualified and trusted to do so. And when you abdicate such responsibility to someone else, you inevitably submit to their agenda and influence.
If you’re self-employed and have autonomy over the projects you take on, practice setting boundaries. A firm boundary set with a client is a compassionate boundary set for oneself. If you’re not self-employed (and still subject to a host of responsibilities and tasks beyond your direct control), simply begin with the mental shift of being your own “appreciable asset” and find the windows availability to you for the skillful expression of this new mindset.
Evolutionary Accelerator #2: Make the First Move
Practice Duration: 1 Day
Practice Frequency: As often as you feel called
Many employees will try to “break out” from their current positions of stagnancy and stuckness without first changing themselves.
Essentially, they’ll claim to be “stuck” while unconsciously perpetuating the situation by feeling victimized and/or in refusal of truly participating in any meaningful upward ascent.
As discussed earlier, the greatest inhibitor of your growth is simply refusing to gift your gifts. It’s in the conscious withdrawal—and your refusal to show up powerfully within the context you still find yourself in. A disgruntled lover doesn’t make themselves more “available” to meet their true soulmate by cooling his heart and withdrawing his gifts in the one he’s currently in. He does so by first re-sparking his desire to practice being in the fullest expression of his gifts, primarily for his own benefit, knowing that in doing so, he becomes a greater pairing partner for a better, more aligned situation.
You can act on this wisdom however you wish. For a more practical protocol, I invite you to consider this: If you got paid $10,000 this week (or choose a number more closely tied to your goal) in your role or job, how would you show up differently? What initiatives would you take? What conversations would you have with your co-workers or team members? What would your energy be? How would you carry yourself? What would you contribute?
One of the greatest tenets of being a man and manifesting in the world, is simply making the first move. When we conform to title and reward, we in turn, solidify the bars of the cage and lock ourselves in it even longer. But when we show up, acting as if our situation has already transformed into the one we desire, we become a more willing partner for that new reality. We meet it halfway. It dissolves a sense of entitlement; and opens us up to a greater sense of personal power and trust.
Evolutionary Accelerator 3: Exponential Activity
Practice Duration: A full day
Practice Frequency: As often as you feel called
Many of the activities we perform in work and business have predictable outputs. They are linear—with low value results to show. Whereas exponential thinking, and their corresponding activities are quite the opposite—yet are often discouraged and dismissed as unproductive or a “waste of energy.”
Within our work, we tend to fall into predictable patterns and “task lists.” There is certainly nothing wrong with routine—providing it yields the results we’re aiming for. However, in being a servant to a task list versus a steward of creative input (and our highest potential), we put a hard cap on what’s possible for us.
Predictable output has its place. But if your goal is to be fully expressed (and know your potential), it’s going to require a growing capacity and comfort level with “exponential tasks” that can yield breakthrough or road-opening outputs. The invitation then, is to endeavor to create greater balance between your linear and exponential activities. Get in the habit of “taking swings” and initiating actions that could bring disproportionately large and exciting returns.
In doing so, be aware of (and have a threshold) for an acceptable “miss rate.” Meaning, actions that yield no practical results, other than the courage, confidence, and capacity you cultivated in being able to perform them—which is arguably the greatest result of all.
Much like how a venture capitalist will place a hundred bets, knowing that the two or three that “hit” will make up for the rest, be the steward of your exponential actions, knowing that with practice and consistency, one will yield a life-changing return.
In short, linear activities produce linear and predictable results.
Exponential activities produce non-linear and less-predictable results.
Exponential tasks will usually involve:
1. Initiating, strengthening or evolving a relationship.
2. Learning something new / evolving your understanding and practical wisdom
3. A pitch or proposal, which, if accepted, can yield a life-changing result
4. Conceiving something new (a new strategy, solution to a problem, product, offer, etc.)
In practice, these may play out as:
1. Pitching an investor
2. Reaching out so someone you admire for mentorship, coaching or advice
3. Reaching out to someone to express appreciation for their work
4. Taking a course / program / seminar on a special topic in your field
5. Crafting a new business plan or marketing strategy
6. Ideating a new solution to a problem your industry is facing
7. Creating art (writing a book, a song, a screenplay)
8. Attending a conference with speakers / attendees you admire (and wish to meet)
9. Making big “asks” that most would cower from.
If you walked into a coffee shop, performing the action of buying a coffee would yield a predictable and linear outcome. However, let’s say that instead of ordering a coffee, and burying your head in your laptop for the next two hours, you asked the guy next to you “what he does.”
It may fizzle and yield a slightly negative return. But the reward, if it “hits,” could be extraordinary and even life changing.
Take note of what “exponential activities” are available to you in your day-to-day life.
And without disrupting your current activities, simply seek to rebalance the ratio a little bit.
Renew a pioneering spirit within your craft or career. Open up to new sources of inspiration—and the innovation that can be borne from it.