“War stories” is what we used to call them at Aspen Achievement Academy. A “war story” is a story about your past, but not just any story; it is a story that you take pride in that does not have much value, a story where you are glori- fying negative destructive behavior. I have been through lots of different adventures in my life, some of my adventures have been dangerous, some have been detrimental, and some have been productive. The common thing has been my ability to constructively learn from my adventures, but having the ability to extract different teachable lessons takes time and practice. Learning how to analyze our pasts and extract teachable lessons is a skill all of us need to practice and strive to perfect. Whether we are using our new found lesson to teach our kids, peers, or even ourselves every ad- venture has its own particular lesson to be learned. “War sto- ries” are obviously different for each person, however i have lived many different lives, and been in hundreds of different social structures and the use of “war stories” to pass time is constant.
How do you know if you are in the middle of a “war story”?
Have you ever listened or told a story where the other person or you don’t know a single person in the story? A sto- ry where it is only funny to one person, but is always fol- lowed by “ I guess you had to be there”, or the best. This is really when you know you have become victim of a “war sto- ry”. When your patience has run out and you have to ask “what is the point of your story”. This gives a very broad ar- ray of examples, but we have all been in conversations just like these. As your mind transitions into having a FYMM mindset, you will begin to realize how painful it is to waste precious time with people who only are concerned with “war stories”. As we have discussed numerous times before, hav- ing a FYMM mindset is about being progressive not stagnant or regressive; being stuck in our “war stories” only keeps us in the past. A friend came to visit recently, as we were talking I asked about their plans. This is after about an hour or so of “catching up”, telling “war stories”. The answer I got was shocking and scary, my friend really did not have any plans at all for their future, it was more or less a “wing it” mentality. That is the problem today we can spend hours talking about what we did but only a few sentences about what we are about to do.
I don’t care about what you did
Everybody has a story and everybody wants their own particular 15 minutes of fame where they are the center of attention. This could be in an argument, trying to persuade your opponent to see things your way. For the most part we all want to win the “influence game” between people. “Influence game”? Yes, if I am listening to you then you are influencing my time with your perspective and mentality, the same is true if you are listening to me. For the brief time you are listening to me, I am in control of the “influence game”. Everything begins with a thought, so if the wrong person is in control of the “influence game” then it can and will have detrimental consequences for the listening party. When you become FYMM you need to pay careful attention to the conversations around, if they are conversations about what people have done, then an alarm should go off, to proceed with caution. If the conversation is a progressive one about one’s past, what they have learned, how to avoid certain pitfalls, common sense or wisdom. Then it is ok to allow that person to control the “influence game” for a while, as we might learn something to benefit ourselves. However if the conversations are about how great someone else is or what great achievements they have accomplished, or discussing a person you do not know and will never meet then run as fast as you can as that is not the type of person we want to be influenced by.
One of the most annoying things in my life is when people talk about my past for me, this has happened more times then I can count, I will be discussing one of my future plans and out of nowhere a friend will blurt out “you know he went to Harvard” or “you know he is a millionaire”. I guess people do this to validate everything that I say, like since I went to Harvard or I am a millionaire my words carry more value or weight.
As we are discussing the “influence game” at first thought the mention of Harvard or the fact of me being a millionaire, would bring value but in actuality what happens is the person’s attention is broken and now are more concerned with what I have done opposed to what I am about to do.
The new winner of the “influence game” is my friend who blurted out my past. The attention is still about me, but now I am no longer in control of how my life influences other people. Years ago in Pacolet, the first season so it was mostly like camping, while sitting by the fire, my cousin from my black family in California started to “war story” and he started talking about my “gangster life” past the people around the fire were listening in disbelief, they would look at me and say “Erik” my cousin started laughing and said “yall dont know shit about this nigga” when asked I just responded “telling those type of stories would not help you, so why would I tell you? I don’t need to impress you”.
I care about what you’re about to do
I tend to be alone more than I would like, not because I like being alone, but because most people refuse to talk about the future. Past this upcoming weekend, most people don’t have much of a plan, they just exist in this world without really living. The special few who actually have goals, if you ask them what happens after they accomplish their goals then they usually give a blank stare, like after the goal is accomplished the end credits are going to roll like in the movies.
Life is influenced by so many different variables it would be irresponsible not to plan different situations and outcomes. Again having a mentality of never settling and always striving for more is not a common trait, so it is understandable if in the beginning it would seem odd. As we all remember, I needed help to get me out of my worst case scenario lifestyle. If it was not for a select few people who never allowed me to settle then maybe I would have also been a victim of only being concerned with what I have done opposed to what I am about to do.
Dreams are huge in life, without dreams life can become grey and stagnant. Nelson Mandela lived 20 some years in a prison camp and then became president of South Africa, if he can stay focused on what he was about to do through all the pain and struggle he had to endure then I challenge us all to follow suit. To stop worrying about what we did and focus solely on what we are about to do.