The philosophy is based on 12 virtues of an awakened man and is designed to offer a framework of guiding principles for the modern man.
"Help your brother's boat across, and your own will reach the shore."
When you hear the word “brotherhood” what comes to mind? Many of us will think of unions, fraternity’s, and religious organizations. Each of these groups springs within us a plethora of thoughts and beliefs. Encased by our past experiences, what we have been taught about them and our judgements, some positive and others not. However, it is not until we are immersed in a group that we can truly understand and appreciate the benefits the brotherhood serves to its members.
What does this mean for Band of Brothers? First and foremost, each of us holds close the other nine precepts. Next, we believe in the value the group brings for ourselves and one another. We care deeply for the wellbeing of all men including those not yet in our brotherhood. Finally, it is a bond as strong as the ones we share with our flesh and blood. As a brother, everything we share and do is sacred to the group. We live in honour of all men!
The Brotherhood is the glue that binds the other precepts together and gives the group it’s strength. At its core, the brotherhood is surrounded by the four powers of spiritual wellbeing, success in all aspects of our lives, strength of character, and service to all. The more time you spend with us the clearer these powers will become!
"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are."
Brene Brown, Author “Gifts of Imperfection
What does it mean to be authentic? As Brene Brown states letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are. Interestingly we judge others as being authentic when they display passion and commitment for what they say and do. But authentic to what? To begin we must dive deeper than passion and commitment and look at what is behind the things being said? What does this reveal about their character?
In the brotherhood, it means being accepting of yourself and others. Our realistic perceptions give way to thoughtful conversations as we share our emotions freely and clearly in a healthy manner. Being authentic also means not taking our selves too seriously. As we learn from our mistakes, humour helps us with the learning and healing process as we gain clarity on our motivations
As we learn to express our authenticity we gain a deeper trust on our path towards becoming better men. As trust builds so too does our inner credibility. Because of this combination, we can look past our frail egos and begin the journey of an awakened man.
"Your gifts are not about You. Leadership is not about You. Your purpose is not about You. A life of significance is about Serving those who need your gifts, your leadership, your purpose."
Kevin Hall, Author “Aspire”
Servant leadership, when applied correctly, empowers both the leader and others. Take a moment a re-read Kevin’s quote. He’s talking about leaving something out in order to become a great leader. Have you figured it out? That’s right, servant leadership is without ego.
The more time spent in the brotherhood the more acclimated we are in using the 12 characteristics of servant leadership. We do this by actively practising one characteristic per week developing the skill until mastery is achieved.
We practice listening intently with purpose. We strive to understand and empathize with others. We learn to heal ourselves as we search for wholeness in all relationships. We commit to self-awareness regardless of what we might find as this strengthens us as men. We seek to persuade rather than using positional power when working with others and making decisions. While we dream great dreams we seek a balance between conceptualization and the daily grind. We have the foresight to learn from past mistakes and challenges be they ours or others. We are more than leaders we are stewards with a passion for preparing ourselves to contribute to the greater good of society. We believe in growing as individuals and fostering growth in others. We believe in developing a strong sense of community within our family and work. By sharing our gifts with others we activate our calling to serve. When this happens we make a difference in the lives we touch.
As a servant leader, we understand the deeply human need to contribute to personally fulfilling enterprises. We do that by nurturing the spirit through honest praise and supportive recognition. Only from the perspective of a servant leader can we truly lead others and become all that we wish to be.
"Knowledge without the spirit is like finding yourself on a cold night with all the wood in the world and no flame to ignite it."
Behind the noise and chatter that persists in our minds is a place where our spirit lives. Unfortunately for too many men, the voice in our head, the one that tells us what we should and shouldn’t do and wants us to believe that without him we are powerless. This is the voice of our ego.
In the brotherhood, we are committed to personal growth. True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection. This is done by constantly remembering that you are the one inside that notices the voice talking. That is the way out!
So, how do we do that? Ramana Maharshi, a great yogic teacher used to say that in order to attain inner freedom one must continuously and sincerely ask the question “Who am I?” Answering this question is more important than reading books, learning mantras, or going to holy places because the answers are not outside of ourselves as our ego would like us to believe. The answer resides behind the chatter of the ego.
As members of the brotherhood, we are committed to a daily practice of contemplative prayer and meditation. Through this practice, we ignite the flame of our spirit. Our spirit is but an ember of a greater spirit. As our connection to god grows so too does our spirit flame. It is our spirit, the one that gently nudges us to fulfil all of our dreams. Never extinguished always burning ever so lightly as it awaits our commitment to it. This is our path towards spirit.
"The ground of fearlessness is fear. To be fearless, you have to stand in the middle of your fear."
We come into this world without fear., without bias, without judgement, without separation. Along the way, things changed as we learned to not touch a hot stove because we will get burned. We learned to compare ourselves to others and make decisions about them and us. Through various institutions, we learned, we are not all the same and sometimes during our trials and tribulations, we failed to learn that its, better to stay on the thicker branch than to venture to the thinner parts even though that is where the fruit of our dreams lay.
As a brother, we learn to become fearless not by ignoring or no longer having fears. Our fears remain as they always have. What changes is the power we give to them!
It is the “fire in the belly.” where our warrior spirit resides that holds the key. Like a blacksmith in a forge, through hot and cold tempering, he moulds hot steel into the perfect weapons to overcome his fears.
Facing the fear head-on the warrior spirit calls it out by name thus removing the veiled disguise. As the fear becomes exposed the power it holds begins to weaken under the responses as to why it even exists. Soon the truth is revealed as the warrior cuts through the cost this fear has gained from him. With such a challenge the fear no longer holds the power it once had over you. Now, with the fear finally shrinking away the warrior spirit grows even more powerful remembering the strength to overcome fear has always been with him. Courageously the warrior spirit lives on.
"Vulnerability is the essence of connection and connection is the essence of existence."
As boys we were raised to be strong, not to cry and show no emotion. That's what it meant to be a man. And when we did share our vulnerability it was received with shame and criticism. Sometimes this would come from our parents or our a spouse or even a close friend. In the end, the feeling of shame burned a scar inside us that said being vulnerable meant we were weak!
Because we are not vulnerable we are actually ringing the death knell to emotional intimacy in our relationships. This inauthentic relating impairs us from forming loving connections with our partners, in our friendships, and especially with ourselves
We can learn to be vulnerable by sharing your deepest vulnerability with yourself. Journal something you are afraid to share. Write down in as much detail as you can exploring the full range of emotions. This exercise sets us on the path to opening our self to get a feeling of emotional intimacy with someone who truly understands our vulnerability. While this task is simple it is not easy as many men carry our very own self-critic and shaming. However, by leaning on the other precepts of courage and strength you will accomplish something very few men will have had the pleasure to experience. FREEDOM!
As members of the brotherhood, we create a sanctuary where men can feel safe to share their vulnerabilities without criticism and shame. We learn that confidence does not EXCLUDE vulnerability, in fact, the foundation of true confidence is our ability to be real and vulnerable. Through awakening the vulnerable warrior we allow ourselves to expand our courage, strength and gentleness in unison with each other as we learn and grow as men.
"True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done. No mortal man can have peace of mind if he leaves undone what he knows he should have done."
Grit is where resilience meets tenacity. Where resilience is the ability to get up after each setback, grit is the tenacity required to see the goal through fruition. When I think of grit images of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood come to mind. Tough, strong men who stumbled yet persevered over many obstacles until the goal was achieved.
In the brotherhood, we believe that all men carry within them the skills and attributes of all precepts. Some precepts are more developed than others while others are dormant. Building the skill of grit comes from applying several factors starting with self-belief and unlimited thinking.
Look back on the essence of destiny quote and you will find the first thing we need to be aware of is our thoughts. Building grit starts in the same place. As we observe our thoughts we practice another key skill of having open-mindedness or mindfulness. This practice alone reveals to us the answers hidden behind the chatter we spoke of in earlier precepts. Through daily reflection, we ensure our goals are aligned with our values as only then will resilience and tenacity come together.
The final ingredient that binds this precept into true grit is choosing your friends wisely. Jim Rohn is famously quoted as saying, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So, surround yourself with friends that inspire you to be your best. Read autobiographies, listen to podcasts of people who inspire you, and watch webinars that develop the skills you need to be successful. The Brotherhood can be a great starting place. As members share their experiences you will learn from them, be encouraged by them and be mentored through them.
"Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities.
Seize common occasions and make them great.
Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them."
Orison Swett Marden
Everything we have in our lives is a direct reflection of the mental strength we have developed. Does reading this make you cringe or smile? Either way, its an interesting question for us to ponder. Regardless of the response, the key is you have some insight into your intestinal fortitude.
Mental strength like physical strength requires maintenance to grow and build. As with other precepts developing a daily mindfulness practice enables you to be aware of bad habits that creep in when we least expect.
For clarity, being mentally strong isn’t an assurity of success. What you can be assured are your improved learning and rebound skills. The more mental muscle you build the easier life’s inevitable challenges become. Another point of clarity is mental toughness doesn’t equal being tough.
Acting tough is about surviving while being strong is about thriving. There’s a big difference. For example, as strong men, we address our weaknesses rather than masking our insecurities. We strive for self-control rather than making believe we are indestructible. We acknowledge our emotions instead of suppressing them. We understand that failure is part of success instead of pretending that failure is not an option.
As members of the brotherhood, our focus is on building character instead of growing our reputation. We do this by the choices we make every morning. We choose to be better than we were yesterday even when it’s uncomfortable or even painful.
"Knowledge is learning something every day.
Wisdom is letting go of something every day. "
Wisdom is the pursuit of consistent unlearning. It is the unending journey of becoming. Along the way, mentors come and go and beliefs change as we grow as men. So, what does the pursuit of wisdom look like?
Author Kurt Vonnegut wrote to a group of students, “practice any art, music, dancing, etc. not to get money and fame but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” As men of the brotherhood travel on our life’s journey, we are realistic of the challenge many things may bring. We, therefore, remain mindful to take in the moments of calm and beauty as these are the things that are truly important as we fully commit to the actions that yield meaningful progress in our pursuit of unlearning.
As truly wise men we are extremely reticent about telling people too frankly what we think. We are aware of the differences between people’s perspectives and look for things that connect people rather than separating them. The wise man knows that most hurt is unintentional as it is a by-product of blind competing egos. Therefore, we are slow to anger and judgment and quick to forgive.
Ultimately, the truly wise man is at peace with the gap between how he ideally wants to be and where he is. He has come to terms with the light and dark side of his ego and is unashamed of himself. He is fully alive to the greatness that resides within himself.
There is no difference between knowledge and temperance; for he who knows what is good and embraces it, who knows what is bad and avoids it, is learned and temperate.
When the term temperance is used it is usually about abstinence. It is choosing enough rather than relentlessly pursuing more. It is exercising our ability to master our desires. It is learning to cope with abundance.
This virtue is the practice of flattening the extreme ends of our personality, emotions and actions. It is not getting too high or too low. It is reflecting on the compulsive aspects of our personalities and keeping them in check. It is the ability to exercise choice.
As children, we became consumed by our desires. I want this, give me that, more candy, more soda, more-more-more. However, if we choose to exercise self-control we can become the master of our desires. It is understanding that just because we can doesn't mean we should. We can choose our pleasures rather than indulging mindlessly in limitless excess. We can choose to enjoy what we have rather than succumbing to an unending quest for all that we do not have.
Temperance is also a decision. A decision to savour pleasure and in so doing intensifying its sensation because we have said no to excess. It is a decision of quality over quantity. It is choosing the middle way.
As we gain mastery through temperance, other virtues increase. Virtues such as strength, grit, fearlessness, vulnerability and wisdom rise the most. It is because we know what is good for ourselves and our bodies that we can choose wisely by practising temperance.
"Life is too short to be little. Man is never so manly as when he feels deeply, acts boldly, and expresses himself with frankness and with fervor. "
As a man in western society, being in touch with our feelings is something that is not encouraged and in some instances even repressed. Yet, often times when we hear or think about love, we jump to sex. Well, as a man that’s only natural. As one of the four male archetypes, the Lover is filled with emotion, feeling, idealism and yes sensuality.
In the context of a precept, you are encouraged to think of love as a spiritual energy, the energy of purpose. For example, can you recall a time when you were energized and full of vigour while working at something? Sure you have, that is love in its deepest form. It gives rise to being connected and provides meaning to everything we do. It is a force that exists in everyday life.
When we fully develop this spiritual energy called love it reveals itself as hunches, insights and premonitions. It is moments like these the wise smile and press on completely aware they are about to unleash creative energy into whatever it is they are doing. As we become more in tune with our feelings we begin to “see” people, our environment, problems much more clearly.
The brotherhood teaches us that it is ok to have feelings and to “sit” with them instead of repressing them. We learn to enjoy everything life brings and to be fully present. Only then can we truly be connected to our lives.
Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment
Discipline is your key to power, effectiveness, and freedom. A disciplined man can accomplish anything within the scope of his talents and abilities. An undisciplined man accomplishes nothing. Once you decide to be a disciplined man the first step in the process is to be effective. While the process of becoming disciplined is simple, it’s simply not easy.
Discipline is a concept everyone is aware of, but few truly understand. The most successful people in life exert discipline daily. It is vital to every living being and without it, the world around us would be chaos.
The kind of discipline being described here is self-discipline. Self-discipline means self-control which is a sign of inner strength. By implementing a self-discipline or self-mastery practice that aligns with who you are as a man, you will be better able to accomplish what it is you set out to do.
The possession of this vital skill is what enables us to persevere when times are tough. Using our warrior energy to push through tough times and the lover energy to be gentle enough with ourselves when we inevitably slip up along the way.
Discipline brings stability and structure into a man’s life. It teaches us to be responsible and respectful. It is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. A man without the discipline to develop a self-mastery practice is susceptible to the whims of everyday life. This results in an experience of demotivation, negative self-talk and low self-esteem.
The good news is discipline is a muscle and like any muscle the more you exercise it the stronger it becomes. A simple way to start exercising your discipline muscle is to align your actions and behaviours with your thoughts. IE. Exercise; get your mind and body into shape. Resist the urge to give in to negative behaviours, instead focus on all the positive attributes of getting into shape.