The Road to Self-Mastery

I'm all about simplifying things. Because life is complex. People tend to either overthink things or they don't think about certain things at all. Either way, life shouldn't be so confusing. It shouldn't suck. It shouldn't be a gamble, there's no reason for you to settle for the hand you're dealt. I do a lot of thinking and constant simplifying, to maximize my ROI on life. I like to cut out the crap that's not worth stressing over and I'm especially keen on constant self-improvement. How can I be a better person? How can I be more wise? More reasonable?

The purpose of Ingenium is to give us the tools to handle all this in an easily digestible way. Why take something that's notoriously difficult to master and make it even more convoluted by confusing everybody? Essentially, we're talking about the 12 virtues, or character traits, that Ingenium attempts to help us improve in ourselves, which ultimately leads us to self-mastery, and subsequently, mastery of our own lives and destinies. This is why there are the Keys (they are considered the keys to mastery).  Each character trait is represented by one of the keys, which is intended as a way to help you understand the overarching concept of each trait.

This article will cover the basics of the keys.

*Note that Key 2 covers both Authority and Temperance, which is why there are 11 keys for 12 virtues.

11 Keys to Mastery

  1. The master of your life is within.
  2. You must seize authority of your life or someone else will.
  3. Fear is fiction.
  4. Take care of the master.
  5. Quitting is the only failure.
  6. Vanquish the saboteur (get out of your own way).
  7. Respect yourself and others will follow.
  8. Be vigilant, be diligent. Dispose of distraction and simplify stress.
  9. Focus within and stop blaming others.
  10. Be reasonable.
  11. Consider others.

The Master Within

You have the capability of taking control over your life, of owning it, of shaping it, of directing it wherever you want to go. You are not the hand you were dealt, life doesn't have to be a series of random events you have no say in. What do you want in life? You don't have to settle. You are the master of your life.

Seize Authority

If you don't take control of your life and the direction it goes, someone else will. Lots of people try to determine our choices for us. Maybe they think they know what's best for us. They try their best to convince you that they're right. Our parents, teachers, spouses, preachers, coaches, friends. Whoever it is, your life does not ultimately belong to them. It belongs to you.

Fear is Fiction

Fear is a response to a perceived threat. Some of the things we fear are more likely to happen than others, or maybe something has already happened and you fear it happening again. Every time we fear something that isn't happening right now in this moment, we are basically teaching ourselves to be anxious about something that may not even happen. We are causing stress before it is necessary.

A man who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Take Care of the Master

If you are the master of your life, you should treat yourself well. You must maintain yourself, your health, your well-being. Respect yourself enough to do so. This means doing the best you can with regards to your body, your mind, and your spirit (BMS). This entails paying attention and controlling what you put into your BMS (nutrition, information, and positivity), as well as what you do with your BMS (what physical activities are you doing, how are you exercising your mind, and are you doing things that make your spirit happy).

Quitting Is The Only Failure

Lots of people are afraid of failure. They are ashamed of it. They beat themselves up over it. Successful people (doesn't matter what your definition of success is) know the secret of failure, though: the only true failure is quitting. If you "fail" and it causes you to stop doing something you want to do, that's failure. But if you keep going until you succeed, was it really a failure? Persevere in your goals.

Vanquish the Saboteur

We often sabotage ourselves without even realizing it. We do this by coming up with excuses: I don't have the money. I don't have time. I'm not talented enough. Blah blah blah. None of these are legitimate. They're mechanisms by which humans attempt to avoid failure or rejection. When we make excuses, we are just getting in our own way. Get out of your way.

Respect Yourself

You must respect yourself first in order to set the tone for how others treat you. If you treat yourself poorly, others will assume you won't mind if they do the same. Respecting yourself means setting boundaries and enforcing them, standing up for yourself, being assertive, not being a doormat. It also means being honest with yourself (both positive and negative).

Be Vigilant, Be Diligent

This is about focus and discipline.

Focus: Most of the things we stress about don't even matter. Not really. It's because we tend to go through life on autopilot. We just react without thinking, and so we are easily frustrated, angered, annoyed, anxious, stressed. I use the 80/20 principle all the time for this. It's called Pareto Principle. To paraphrase it, only 20% of the things we stress about are actually worthy of our attention (and even that's debatable). That means that 80% of the stress in our lives doesn't matter. Did someone cut you off? Who cares. It doesn't matter. Are you annoyed when you see young kids with saggy pants? Doesn't matter. By stressing over innocuous stuff, we are allowing other people, events, or things to take up space in our minds. Don't rent them space. Clear out distractions so you can focus on the things that really matter.

Discipline: The most effective way to institute any kind of change is through habit. Think of everything as a habit, from the way you think to the way you react to the things you do. How are your habits helping you and how are they hindering you? Remove any habit that hinders (or improve it) by replacing it with a different habit. If you consider anything in life a habit, you can accomplish anything you want by changing it.

Focus Within

Most people shift blame onto other people whenever something doesn't go as planned. Most people can't admit when they were wrong or made a mistake. Most people look outside themselves for why something is or isn't happening and they never look at how they're contributing. Forget what everyone else is doing. Always ask yourself two questions and forget everything else: what am I doing to help the situation? What am I doing to hurt the situation? Work on yourself.

Be Reasonable

Use your reason in all things. Don't be dogmatic. Try to step outside your own biases. Remember the question, "What am I doing to hurt the situation?" When we are unreasonable, it always hurts the situation. Think things through. Listen to others, be understanding, be considerate. Be reasonable.

Consider Others

You must consider others. You can't expect others to respect you if you're not willing to offer it in return. You can't expect others to let you life your life and make your decisions if you're not willing to afford others the same opportunity. That is unreasonable. Don't try to control others. It's not your place. Focus on controlling your own life, thoughts, ideas, choices. You own your life, and you must let others own theirs. We don't like others trying to manage us, so we shouldn't do it to others.

This 12th Key, which covers Justice, is basically about treating other people with fairness and dignity. Be good to one another. Be helpful. Don't tear someone down when you can build them up.