Another Night Wasted Getting Wasted

I wake up still wearing my jeans,
I didn’t piss myself this time at least.
Room’s thrashed, emptied beer cans scattered throughout.
It’s 2 p.m. on a Tuesday.
Another night wasted getting wasted.

I have nowhere to be; I have no one to be with.
Eighteen, nineteen, twenty empty cans are stuffed into a garbage bag.
There is a comfort in escaping my frustrations with myself,
My frustrations with loneliness and reality,
Seeking refuge in vice.

Sweet serpent drink, whose poison kisses my lips.
Your cool embrace a reliable comfort in my life.
Women come and go, boozing remains.
Jobs come and go, boozing remains.
Cities come and go, boozing remains

Even when I muster the strength to resist your temptation,
Boredom, annoyances, celebration, life eventually strikes,
Causing me to seek your poison kisses once more,
Their gentle touch enhancing reality,
Distorting its undesirable aspects,
Allowing one to lose themselves in the abyss of the mind,
Wasting another night getting wasted.

~Raul Felix

Read: Maybe I Shouldn’t Have Taught A Psycho Bitch How To Shoot
Read: A Day In The Life Of A Debauched Traveler
Read: She Wouldn’t Make Me So Angry If She Didn’t Own My Heart

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30 Things I Learned By Age 30

IG: raulfelix275

IG: raulfelix275

This year I hit the big Three-O, which means I’m no longer an overeager twenty-something who is trying to figure it all out to prevent becoming a failure in life. I am now a thirty-something who realizes he doesn’t need to have it all figured out to get the most out of life. This year I followed my standard operating procedure: worked, wrote, read books, worked out, chased after women, traveled, partied hard, and attempted to become a better version of myself than I was last year. Consequently, a few life lessons worked their way into my twisted thought process.


Solitude is a powerful tool for gaining control of your life. It allows you to traverse down that rabbit hole that is your mind and reflect on the events that molded you. During that long process, you will slowly and painfully begin to gain insight. What you do with that insight is what will determine the course of your life.


Whenever you seek advice, be fully aware of whom you’re seeking it from. Does the person whose counsel you’re taking into account have any practical experience in the matter? Or are their opinions formed from theory and an unrealistic idea of how things should or might be, not how they are?


When a woman is truly into you, she will find out everything she can about you on social media. She’ll look through your old statuses and photo albums. She’ll check out your exes if they’re still tagged in your photos. She’ll stalk every single female who comments or likes your updates. She may never let on that she does that, but she does. You do it, too; don’t lie.


The world of art is quite daunting. The task of creating something out of nothing is so tough that many stop themselves before they truly begin. The thing is that you have your experiences, your skills, the events that created you, all the lessons that you learned, and the conversations you endlessly analyzed in your mind. You own everything that you have done and has happened to you; use and embrace them.


Most traditional artistic education that is offered at universities is overrated. Those who attend such institutions are seeking permission to pursue their artistic endeavor from an authority figure more than anything else. One question I get asked often about my craft is if I went to school for it and I respond with a disgusted, “Fuck no.” I’m still working my way upwards in this art form, but through self-education and discipline I’ve accomplished more than most creative writing majors I’ve met.


Charlatans appear in all forms in this world. Beware those with grandiose promises of riches for little hard work or those who demand an unreasonable amount of handiwork for little reward. Both are a form of exploitation—one by taking advantage of your laziness and gullibility, and the other by taking advantage of your work ethic and ideals.


Staying in shape is simple. Not easy, but simple. Don’t try to overcomplicate it. Pick an exercise routine, do it right, push yourself, don’t always eat like a pig, and keep showing up for an extended period of time and it will get you somewhere.


Women have it easier when it comes to getting laid, but not in terms of finding a quality mate. A lot of guys fail at the most basic fundamentals of being a man. If you’re able to achieve those fundamentals, then you’ll be the kind of man women want to fuck.


If you want to do something extraordinary, don’t worry too much about the opinions of the ordinary folk.


Yet remember to remain humble about your accomplishments and respectful of those who have accomplished less than you. You are, after all, just another human being among billions.


Extremists of any sort have a disproportionate amount of pull. That’s because most people are moderate by nature, so they can’t be bothered to care about a certain issue until it becomes critical. There are bills to be paid and life to be lived, after all.


One day you or those close to you will die. It could be after you finish reading this or sixty years from now. The best way keep honoring those who have fallen before you is to live your life to the best of your ability.


Haters are gonna hate. I’ve lost friends, jobs, and potential lovers because of the words I write. I’ve been told I have no talent, that I should quit, that I should kill myself, that I should shut the fuck up, and that I need to keep my ideas to myself. These comments are usually left by emotional cowards who don’t even use their real names. It takes an uncommon amount of mental toughness to endure these slings and arrows launched by the trollish hordes. Yet I’m still here writing and most of those fuckers are forgotten. No one builds monuments for critics; only those who dare greatly earn their place in history.


You can still learn from your critics. Let your ego take constructive advice and apply it where you’re able. One of the most valuable skills you can learn in life is the ability to distinguish between genuine criticism and blind hatred spilled out by malicious mouth-breathers with a skewed perspective on life.


What is more gratifying than waking up next to a beautiful woman you deeply love naked in your arms each morning? Nothing.


Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean they’re smarter, better, or even more interesting than you are. I’ll indulge in the reality-TV junk food on occasion. I often can’t believe how many punk-ass bitch excuses of human beings make it on these shows. They’ll make a significant emotional event out of something that most normal human beings will brush off with a laugh.


Writing never gets easier. If you’re writing something worth a damn, then it requires you to constantly dig deep, trudging in order to find that moment of raw humanity. When you do, you’ll forget how hard it was until you have to search for that next moment.


The person who talks the most usually has the least to say.


Running up the steep hills of Ithaca, New York gave me a lot of time to think. One of my best epiphanies came to me during a particular run. As I was running through the campus of Cornell, I analyzed the faces and movements of the students as I passed them. They lacked awareness of their environment, eyes glued to their phones, bits of gossipy chitchat in that nasally tone of voice only college kids seem to have, and slumped postures as they went about their day. I thought to myself, “You motherfuckers aren’t smarter than me.” That doesn’t imply that I know everything, because I don’t. It means that you don’t need an elite education to be educated like an elite person.


You know how you get people to like you at your workplace? Work hard, make their job easier, and be cool.


Some friendships aren’t made to last forever. You will drift apart from some of the people who knew you best at a certain point in life. Your priorities and interests will change; so will theirs. There is no need to be resentful about it; just be grateful you had those friendships when you did.


The ability to shut the fuck up is very underrated.


Narrow-mindedness comes in many forms. Some of the most unaccepting and condescending people I’ve met in my life have been open-minded free-thinkers who believe you must think as they do or you’re an *insert term that discredits your opinions in an educated manner*. Some of the most accepting and welcoming people I’ve met have been those with a more traditional belief set.


Not every single chick is going to be into you. I wasted so much time and energy obsessing over why X or Y girl wasn’t into me when I felt I had all the qualities she should find attractive in a man—so much that I overlooked the chicks who were into me. No matter how high a caliber of a man you become, the chick whose bikini pictures you’ve been jerking off to from Facebook may still not pay you any attention because you’re not her type. Fuck it; move on without throwing a temper tantrum. There are over 3.5 billion women in the world; I’m sure a few million will dig you.


It’s easy to overestimate what you can accomplish in a day or week but underestimate what you can accomplish in a few years. At the age of 25, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I knew it was going to be tough as fuck, but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t quit no matter what. There have been times that I have slacked, and it showed in my professional progress, but quitting never entered my mind. I have explored different styles of writing and have had successes and failures, but with each piece I struggled through I learned and gained more insight into this art form. I’m not a big name, but you can bet your ass that nearly everyone who knows me recognizes that I am a writer and a damned good one at that.


We humans have a tendency to glamorize our past. Veterans often look back on our military days as our glory years. We were a part of something bigger than ourselves and took part in history. We forget how overworked our bodies were, our nearly nonexistent social life, the lack of autonomy we had over our lives, the petty feuds we had with some cocksucker from our platoon, and how we couldn’t wait to get the fuck out. The past was tough; if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t take any pride in it.


They say time heals all emotional wounds, but some of them will leave scars as permanent reminders.


Common sense is not common.


Whether you love them or hate them, your family gave you the base foundation of who you are. I’ve been lucky to be blessed with such an amazing family that has supported me in whatever I decided to do, whether they understood my reasons or not. You may not see them for months or years, but the best gift you can give them is to make something productive out of yourself.


The artistic path is not linear. It requires a lot of suffering, loneliness, hopelessness, stagnation, and frustration. It requires others and yourself questioning your progress. It requires the constant feeling of failure. It requires you constantly doing the work. It’s a path that gives you countless opportunities to quit and no one will blame you for doing so. It’s one whose rewards are few and far apart. It’s a path without a destination, where scattered throughout will be the remnants of your heart and soul.

~Raul Felix

Read: 28 Things I’ve Learned By Age 28
Read: 29 Things I Learned By Age 29
Read: To My Future Wife: I Will Make You Proud To Have Me As Your Man

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The Love Of My Life From Age 25

A week ago, at the grizzled age of 30,
I reconnected with you, my love from the age of 25.
I wish you knew me as the man I am today,
Instead of the vulgar, drunken fool who was easily pissed
The one who chased away love at the age of 26.

I blame myself each and everyday,
For letting my ego chase away such an understanding lover,
One who understood my temperament and quirks,
Like no other.

I write this to you,
The former love of my life,
The one I met at 25.
Tears flowing down my cheek,
I apologize that my ego was so weak.

Two days with you was a tease of the life I could’ve had,
One I keep dreaming and longing for really bad,
But reality has kicked my ass,
And let me know the time of our romance has passed.

The realist in me says let go of all hope,
The romantic in me is willing to look like a dope,
But neither of those matter anymore,
Because I have lost the love my life,
The one I met at 25.

~Raul Felix

Read: Watching You Get Dressed Again
Read: She Had The Body Of A Greek Goddess
Read: The Lights of Los Angeles Loom

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Two Army Rangers Discuss Going Nomadic

IG: leo_jenkins

IG: leo_jenkins

In the formative years of his life, Leo Jenkins was an Army combat medic in 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Having completed deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, in 2007 Leo ended his enlistment after four years of service, exchanging the high-octane world of Army special operations for the uncertainty of civilian life.

He has published three memoirs. In the first, Lest We Forget, he details his war experiences and drunken shenanigans as a Ranger medic. In his second, On Assimilation, he tackles the emotional rollercoaster of adapting to civilian life. His journey takes him from the kick-in-the-gut realization that his intensive training as a special operations medic wouldn’t qualify him to be a basic EMT…to battling alcoholism and feeling of isolation caused by those moments spent in a wartorn land…to opening and operating a successful CrossFit gym.

In his latest book, First Train Out Of Denver, Leo decides to leave the hustle and bustle that had become his life to go nomadic instead. With the utmost sense of purpose and intensity that is a definitive characteristic of an Army Ranger, he seeks to find adventure, enlightenment, and to make sense of those formative years of his life.

Raul Felix: Leo, your life as an unemployed vagabond started when you got up to go to work one morning and thought to yourself, “I don’t want to go to work today.” You then sold your possessions, business, said goodbye to your friends, and got yourself a one-way ticket to Costa Rica. What was the toughest part emotionally for you of that process?

Leo Jenkins: That is a phenomenal question that no one has ever asked me. I was in a dark place when I purged my possessions and took to the world. I was seeking some sort of solace in the comforts of solitude. By disconnecting myself from the only people who share my mutual experiences, I was forced into intense introspection. It’s a perilous endeavor if one is not prepared. Seven years of stuffing down the tumultuous cognitive dissonance created by multiple combat deployments violently surfaced, and there wasn’t another veteran, let alone Ranger, for thousands of miles. I was forced to sit in my own stewing antipathy alone. I was forced to truly come to terms with my youthful decisions and transgressions against my fellow man. It nearly killed me, but I’m a better man for it.

Raul Felix: What do you mean by it almost killed you?

Leo Jenkins: With no set schedule and no real responsibilities, I began drinking heavily. I began writing the book On Assimilation during this time. I was pulling up all the tribulations of my return to society and writing them down. I was alone, reliving my worst moments in vivid detailed prose.

Raul Felix: Just like being in the Army, traveling has a learning curve that can only be learned by actually doing it. What are some stupid cherry traveler mistakes and assumptions you made in the early phases of your trip, and what solutions did you come up with?

Leo Jenkins: Not everyone values what we value as a society. Traveling to any foreign country is an opportunity to shut up and listen, not to impose your belief set. Be a sponge and retain as much as you can. Release as much of your preconceived ethnocentric tendencies before getting on the plane, and almost everything else will come with ease.

The world is not a dark and scary place. Sure, there are assholes abroad, just like there are assholes in your hometown. Chances are, they’re just having a bad day and do not represent the ideology of their entire country. However, when entering their nation you become an ambassador for ours. So if you act like an asshole, the assumption will be that everyone from your country is [also an asshole], due to their potentially limited exposure to your nationality.

On a more specific note, don’t ever exchange currency at the airport; they will rip you off worse than the new Ghostbusters movie. Research the exchange rate ahead of time then hit the ATM. A lot of countries will take US dollars, but every shop will pound you on the exchange rate.

Raul Felix: When Marty Skovlund and yourself began doing your trip Eastbound to raise money for the Gallant Few, you tapped into your social media network of veterans. This dramatically increased the pace of your trip and raised awareness for your cause. Who was the coolest or most unique veteran you met in this manner?

Leo Jenkins: I’ve had the distinct honor of interviewing veterans all across the world regarding their experiences in war and assimilation. While Marty and my fundraiser across the world to raise awareness and funds for the Gallant Few provided me the opportunity to get to know many amazing war fighters, I’d have to say our conversation with a particular Korean War veteran and former UDT diver (predecessor to the Navy SEALs) was a standout. His narrative of war was equal parts adolescent inquisitiveness for the world, tragedy, and the dark profane humor of a salty special-operations soldier. Shrouded by a leathered face, his eyes told the story with the razor-blade poignancy of a young warrior. And his words regarding the separation, the isolation, following combat rang like a church bell through the ardor of my being.

Raul Felix: Aren’t you pissed off you got assigned to 3rd Batt instead of 2nd Batt?

Leo Jenkins: 3rd Batt was actually my fourth choice. At the end of the special operations medical course, each of the six Ranger medics graduating with my class were asked to list, in order, where they wanted to go. My list went, 1st (cause the beach), then 2nd (because the mountains), Regiment (because I already had a bunch of medic friends working there) and finally 3rd. To be honest, I was pissed at first, but the journey connected me with some of the most inspiring and amazing men of our generation. I wouldn’t trade those relationships for anything.

Raul Felix: In the past, you made your name known for your military articles and books. What made you make the shift from military writer to travel adventure writer?

Leo Jenkins: I believe vehemently in the necessity of evolution throughout the course of life, to expand and contract and flow with the natural fluidity of a river. It’s taken a decade since leaving 3rd Ranger Battalion, and in many ways my experiences there will always influence my writings, but being who we are, not who we once were, is the acme of a free and jubilant soul.

Raul Felix: I agree with that. Human beings are human beings everywhere you go. It’s easy to think X or Y people are bad because the narrative the media portrays of them. If you weren’t an American, what nationality that you encountered could you see yourself growing up and fitting in with?

Leo Jenkins: I’m often asked if I’m a Canadian when traveling through foreign countries for various reasons. My fiancée is Canadian and I do associate with their culture in many ways. I’ve even been told to tell people I am so as to not provoke the negative connotations associated with being an American abroad. I don’t do that; I will never do that. I am proud of where I come from because I know firsthand how many truly amazing people come from the US. I’m as welcome to external cultural experience as any human on Earth, but I’m simultaneously unapologetically American.

~Raul Felix

Read: 3 Signs A Woman Is A Dependopotamus
Read: Army Rangers Talk About The Times Their Words Have Shocked Civilians
Read: Jumping Out of Airplanes: How It’s Really Like

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4 Things That Happen When You Start To Mature As A Man

IG: raulfelix275

IG: raulfelix275

I, like any self-respecting man, have done a lot of stupid shit that I am not proud of but not really ashamed about, either. There are some things in life you can’t learn by just reading a book. Some things you have to experience firsthand in order for the lessons to drive themselves into your skull. Some men mature relatively early; others opt to stay a man-child for life. While every individual is on his or her own maturity timeline, when you reach a certain threshold of growth, you begin to see the world a bit differently.

You Begin To Reject Chicks You Would Have Fucked Before

Being a young man sucks in many aspects. You have little to no money, you haven’t accomplished shit, and you’re not fully developed physically or mentally. Girls have it easier during those years when it comes to getting laid because they’re in their prime in appearance and are usually banging guys who are older and way more interesting than you are. Or because they’re in a band or an all-star athlete. Regardless, they have dick buffet and they get their pickings. For young men, these bleak years, pussy dry spells are more like dust bowls. So when some random skank who may be missing a chromosome is all over you because she’s in dire need of a dicking, you dive in with reckless abandon.

As you’ve slowly grown over the years, experienced more, and hooked up with varying qualities and kinds of women, you’ve become more frugal with the amount of effort you’re willing to put into a particular type of chick. You begin to think of not only about wetting your dick, but the possible consequences. Not just STIs and babies, but of social, time, and emotional cost.

Some homely chick is giving you clear signals she’s eager to let you test her gag reflex, yet you’re way more into her friend. Since you’re no longer in a poon deficit, you’re in a better position to gently yet firmly turn her down in order to continue flirting with the cutie. Even without a third,party factor, you know you’re going to hate yourself later for messing around with her because she’s going to want to be around you post-coitus. That’s precious time you could be using to work out, play video games, read a book, stare off into the ceiling of your room as you contemplate life, start a multi-million dollar business, or jack off.

Yet the most important thing you learn is to respect your emotional health as a man. You’ve become weary of girls who are flakes, liars, complainers, negative, lazy, and who create drama for drama’s sake. When a girl tries to play emotional games with you, you don’t play their game; you simply cut them out of your life. Being emotionally crippled, broken, and unstable may create character depth and interesting plot points in movies and novels, but a girl like that can ruin your life in the real world. Many a good man has been destroyed by a she-serpent’s charms.

You grow to appreciate the girls who aren’t girls, but women. Who do what they say they’re going to do. Who tell you the truth, even when it hurts. Who go out of their way to make you feel worthwhile, instead of when it’s convenient. Who try to help you accomplish your goals without being a nagging bitch. Who compliment your manhood, not belittle it. Who respect your time and emotions. Who are trustworthy. Who make you happy to be man.

You Realize Who Your True Brothers Are

Women come and go. Your ex-girlfriend whom you told all the little tidbits of your life one day becomes a total stranger whom you avoid all means of contact with because she has blocked you on social media and changed her number. That one fling you spent a whole summer with begins to fade from your memory. If you’ve been a solid dude who has been loyal and maintained some semblance of contact with your male friends, you know when shit gets real, you’ll have someone who has your back.

Whether it’s going on a mission to kill or capture a high-value target, riding motorcycles side-by-side, playing video games, or getting thrashed and attempting to pick up chicks, male friendships are forged by doing activities together. Through many nights, months, and years of consistent shit talk, laughs, and tempers being pushed, you’ll develop a good idea of the character your best male friends possess. You’ll learn who the fake thugs and who the real gangsters are.

These are men who will attempt to keep you from getting into a fight with that douchebag of the pop-collar variety. If that fails, they’ll assist you in bringing the hammer down. Men who will give you some realistic perspective on your flaws when your delusions of grandeur have gotten the best of you. Men who will help you, within their means and ability, when the world has beat the living shit out of you. Men who will mentor and give you some solid advice when you’re crossing the same path they’ve crossed a few years back. Men whom you can call brothers.

You Learn To Accept You Character Flaws and Take Responsibility For Them

We all have character flaws that hinder or set us back. Maybe it’s a short temper, a severe drinking problem, overwhelming shyness, womanizing, gluttony, sloth, or arrogance. Owning your character flaws and attempting to fix them is what separates you from the typical boy.

The boy blames others for his shortcomings; the man figures out how to eliminate or mitigate them. The boy does the bare minimum in order to get by; the man does more than his share of the task, one hundred percent and then some. The boy believes that the world owes him something; the man knows he must earn everything. The boy avoids the consequences of his actions; the man accepts them, no matter how painful.

We aren’t robots, we’re people. Each of us has our dark secrets and insecurities. Our moments of selfishness that hurt those we love. Those times where we let our outlandish emotions get the best of us. Where our vices caused us to make a mockery out of ourselves. Where our hubris and cockiness caused us to push beyond on our true competence and we were schooled by reality as a result. Where we stood by quietly when we should have spoken up. Where we lied or omitted details in order to get what we wanted.

Your flaws and mistakes and how you interpret them will mold you into a man, whether it’s the kind of man young boys look up to or one who will serve as an example of how not to be. The small actions you take each day in your effort to harness and control your flaws will determine which you shall become.

You Start To Realize How Not To Be An Idiot With Your Money

Being broke fucking sucks. Anybody who has been in that position for more than a moment knows it’s detrimental to the soul. Maybe you’re not so broke to the point where you’re out on the street sucking dicks for a tuna sandwich. But you’ve been in a position where you’re barely scraping by. Where after your rent is paid, driving further than ten miles becomes an economic decision. It could mean the difference between eating one meal or two that day.

When you’re young and stupid with your cash, payday becomes a spending frenzy. All those promises you made to yourself about setting aside ten percent or more go out the window. Because you’re fucking rich, bitch! #YOLO, carpe diem, and fuck the police! You go out on the town and treat yourself to a good, hearty dinner with a few fruity cocktails because you don’t give a fuck if they’re chick drinks. Then, fuck it, you’re out and about anyways; time to hit up the bars and chug some shots and beers. You then see some cute chick and want to impress her and show her how much of a baller you are. Even though your game is weak as shit, you convince yourself that buying her a Merlot from some vineyard whose name you can’t pronounce is a surefire way to pound that puss.

The next morning you wake up alone fully dehydrated and still wearing your piss-dampened jeans. You check your bank account and see a bunch of pending transactions that total $147. Fuck it, it was just one night though, no biggie. You’ll be a good boy with the rest of the money in your account. Oh yeah, your car payment is due, minus another $280. Toss in another couple of nights of drunken shenanigans with your buddies, minus $170. Oh yeah, you must pay your cell-phone bill because you definitely can’t miss out on texting them fine bitches, $47. Two credit-card payments from those cards you have maxed out, $100. Random little toys and trinkets you absolutely need, $150. Don’t forget that little trip to the strip where the woman of your dreams seductively tells you her life story while taking off her clothes. Damn it, you’re broke again. Payday is still seven days away. Looks like you’re eating Ramen noodles and Spam again.

Give or take a dozen years into adulthood, you begin to realize how stupid this cycle truly is. It’s great to treat yourself and buy those experiences to help you grow as a person, but it’s also great not to have to be constantly vigilant about the money in your account lest you get an overdraft fee. While being a penny-pincher makes you a mundane waste of existence, blowing all your money unscrupulously isn’t going to get you ahead in life, either. You learn both the skills needed to increase your earning potential and the discipline not to spend it all on snorting cocaine from an escort’s ass. You set aside cash for the hard times because the boom-bust cycle that is life comes hard and fast…an expensive car repair, a lost job, a medical emergency, or worse, getting some chick pregnant and thus ruining all your hopes and dreams. You have to hedge a bit for those unforeseen circumstances, or being broke ceases to become a cycle and instead a lifestyle—one that makes it really hard (not impossible) to reach your full potential as a man.

~Raul Felix

Read: 3 Life Lessons An Old Man Called “Wild Bill” Taught Me
Read: How To Find The Greatness Within You
Read: 29 Things I Learned By Age 29

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Ego Is The Enemy: An Interview With Ryan Holiday

IG: ryanholiday

IG: ryanholiday

Ryan Holiday hit the real world hard and fast. At 19, he decided to drop out of college because he was offered an opportunity any ambitious would-be writer would pounce on: a job as a research assistant to Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power. This would lead him to working with and advising several bestselling authors and multiplatinum musicians.

He kept the ball rolling from there and became the marketing director of American Apparel, where he put into place a very successful campaign that produced both big profits and heavy criticism. But he grew disgusted with the state of online media and released a book that put his name on the map, Trust Me, I’m Lying. The book detailed how easy it was to manipulate online media because of its lack of source verification and its traffic-driven outrage-porn business model.

After reading that book, I discovered and devoured all of his writings. I studied and applied a lot of his stoic principles about business, life, and writing into my own thought process and actions. He is one of the most unique, practical, and highly respected contemporary thinkers.

In his new book, Ego Is The Enemy, he seeks to advise the reader through the lives of notable and not-so-notable historical and current figures about what havoc an untamed ego can have on a person’s life and how one goes about controlling it.

Raul Felix: Ryan, in this book, you analyze how the ego can have destructive effects on people. You even mentioned seeing one of your mentors transform from someone you aspired to be like to never wanting to be like that person. Egos don’t only exist in people of high achievement or celebrity; it is also quite common in the general population. What common examples do you see today of people with high egos yet little substance to back it up?

Ryan Holiday: Yes, exactly. It is precisely because we see this type of behavior in a lot of prominent public figures that we try to reverse-engineer their success and manufacture the right pose. There are plenty of “wantrepreneurs” out there acting like mini-Steve Jobs and plenty of musicians who think that behaving like Kanye West is acceptable. We falsely assume that ego—manifested in their entitlement, arrogance, braggadocio, and swagger—is what drove success. In fact, it was the talent that compensated for the ridiculous, destructive ego. We don’t think about the survivorship bias that hides from view all the people who’ve failed and flamed out because of their own ego-driven sabotage. What is also hidden is the huge subset of successful people who are not clamoring for the limelight.

We also live in a culture that actively promotes constant self-promotion and grandiosity—all of it magnified by a thousand by social media. It is also hard not to think you’re the greatest if that is the message you’ve been hearing constantly from your parents since you were born. Combine these factors, and you see why we have a downright epidemic of ego.

Part of why I initially wanted to write this book is because I would get a lot of emails from really overconfident and brash young people who would send me all these ridiculous emails. And then at large, you see it for instance with people who are not willing to take entry-level positions—But I went to college! But it was the Ivy League! —or people who are not willing to listen or take any sort of feedback because they think they’ve already figured it all out. You see it with people bragging and boasting about what they’re going to do—their ego craving for validation and applause before the fact.

Raul Felix: A line that really stuck out to me was, “If you start believing in your own greatness it is the death of your creativity.” I’m sure any artist who has produced a piece or two of topnotch work has fallen into that trap—even gloating to themselves or others about their creative genius. I’ve done it a few times when I wrote some really good stuff. How does one avoid falling prey to that part of the ego while keeping the fortitude to drive on?

Ryan Holiday: I love that line, too; it’s actually from Marina Abramović, the performance artist. There is another quote from UFC champion Frank Shamrock that I try to think of on a regular basis: “False ideas about yourself destroy you.”

The second you start gloating and letting success get to your head—that you’ve figured it all out—that’s precisely when you make some critical mistake or miscalculation. In that moment of self-satisfaction, learning grinds to a halt. What I love about writing, actually, is that those feelings are constantly elusive. You can’t get a big head with a craft which requires decades and decades of work before you even begin to approach mastery. There is no “graduation.” If you think like a craftsman, become an eternal student, and adopt a beginner’s mindset, ego is suppressed and you can go on working and working.

The problem is when you start to listen to other people. My last book has started to sell very well, so I could let that puff me up. I’ve gotten some very kind and generous reviews. It would be a mistake to listen to those things too closely. For the next book, you have to continue to approach it with humility and self-awareness. Essentially you have to start from zero.

And in the book I talk about how ego separates us from reality—we start living in our heads. This sort of intoxication with positive feedback and success makes us forget that there are people in our field who are infinitely more successful than we are. Someone recently mentioned that one of the best things about attending TED is how humbling it is to be in a room with all these people. It doesn’t take away what you’ve accomplished, but it puts things into perspective—it grounds you back to reality.

Raul Felix: You also mention the incubation process, that period where you must trudge through a long period of obscurity as you wrestle with a topic or a paradox. What would the incubation process look like for the normal person, who can’t really drop everything and live in a cabin cut away from society as they hone their skills?

Ryan Holiday: I’ve mentioned the incubation process, which is what the strategist John Boyd called his ‘draw-down’ period. It is the time after we’ve had what we think is a brilliant idea and then take the time to process it and think it through before we embark on it.

I do not think it requires you to drop everything and go live in a cabin away from society—I certainly didn’t do that (although living on a ranch helps!). It’s simply the moment after you’ve had the idea, after you’ve put the first round of thinking into the project and then have to step back and say: “OK, what do I really have here?” “Do I actually have something?” “What is this really going to be?”

Otherwise, we have ego telling us that we have the best idea ever and blinds us to all the components that we need to work on. Ego Is the Enemy ended up being different from the initial book proposals precisely because there was time between conception and execution.

And wrestling with a topic or a paradox requires you to invest a serious amount of time in a state of what the author Cal Newport calls “deep work”—that place of intense concentration and cognitive focus where real progress is made. Two examples for me are walking and running, during which I wrestle with ideas. I also have an article on this site on how to accomplish more deep work in our lives where I give some other examples that can be helpful.

Raul Felix: You made an a sharp distinction of how the ego affected two Civil War generals: Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. Grant sought the high office of the presidency and chased after big money, causing him to have one of the most corrupt administrations in our nation’s history and going publicly bankrupt, while Sherman chose to be content and lead a private life afterwards. How can a person distinguish if what they’re chasing after is genuine or if it’s their ego yearning for more?

Ryan Holiday: It’s funny because I really admire both of them. This country we live in would not be possible without the personal heroism and bravery of both of them—probably Grant most of all. At the same time, I find the end of his life to be very sad. I wish he could have enjoyed the success he had.

In my view, the main reason doing that is so hard is because we try to have it. We want what we want and what other people have, too. We want to do our own thing but not be left out, either. We want a quiet life but also want to be the center of attention.

It’s our ego telling us to always say yes to more things, more projects, events, meetings. It will also always say yes to more money if given the opportunity. (Ego doesn’t care whether that’s the right decision for us.) Ego rejects trade-offs. It wants it all. It’s incredible how hard it is for us to say no to anything—again, especially money.

The solution? Really ask yourself: Why do I do what I do? What is important to me? What is the one goal or thing I want more than any other? That’s the question you need to answer. Stare at it until you can. It’s not easy by any stretch, and I am telling you that from my personal experience. I’ve had to do so in my own life and it’s why I have an entire chapter dedicated to that idea. Understand what’s important to you and know your priorities.

The goal is to make decisions with clarity and purpose—not ego. Only after spending time alone and asking ourselves these tough questions can we know which way we are swaying.

Raul Felix: Hitting rock bottom, whatever that may be for a person, is one of those humbling experiences that can make or break you depending on how your ego responds to it. I’ve been through a couple of hard times in my life where I needed to fight for every bit of progress while I got back on my feet. Along the way I learned some lessons. Yet I remember being warned that my actions would lead to that. What do you feel it is about our nature that makes it so we don’t always learn from others but have to fuck up big time in order to drive consequences of our actions through our skull?

Ryan Holiday: Nobody gets very far or lives very long without getting their ass kicked a few times. It’s not pleasant at the time when in retrospect we tend to appreciate those experiences—because we learned so much from them. The problem is that those lessons tend to fade over time, because we start to feel like we’ve moved past them—that we’ve got it. When I got Ego Is the Enemy tattooed on my forearm it is exactly this part of human nature that I wanted to warn myself against on a daily basis. It is this part of us that says that we know better, that makes us unwilling to listen to others, to remember to be objective and clear-headed and honest. I have made those mistakes myself, and having a daily reminder is one way to prevent it from happening again.

And it will always be the case that the hardest lessons are learned from direct experience. Plutarch says that we don’t “so much gain the knowledge of things by the words, as words by the experience [we have] of things.” That shouldn’t be an excuse to not study and learn to prevent those from occurring. Reading books—especially biographies—becomes helpful here. Whatever situation you are currently facing, others have gone through that and written about it.

There’s a quote from Bismarck that says, in effect, any fool can learn from experience. The trick is to learn from other people’s experience. It is why the book is full of cautionary tales—so that we see what ego-driven choices and decisions others made in history and how that led to their downfall. Still, though, I understand that we’re often going to need to experience some of that directly. I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.

~Raul Felix

Read: Teaching Men How To Mate: An Interview With Tucker Max
Read: Keep Moving, Young Man
Read: An Army Ranger Interviews A Navy SEAL On Resilience

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Two Bros Smoke Weed And Compare Notes About Women

When you spent enough time working alongside someone, you tend to develop a good understanding of them. Sometimes you like them, sometimes you hate them. Usually, it’s a healthy mix of both. Yet when that former coworker who became your friend comes to visit you for a couple of weeks, you can’t help but get back to the old shit-talking routine. When my crabby and grumpy security contractor buddy, “Grumps”, came to visit, that’s exactly what ensued.

Grumps: “That chick from last night won’t text me back, fucking cunt.”

Raul: “That’s because she’s getting a train run on her by a bunch of black dudes.”

Grumps: “No, she’s my little white angel. We had such a deep connection. I’m fucking serious, Raul; I would have married that bitch.”

Raul: “You only talked to her for thirty minutes.”

Grumps: “So? I felt it, man. We were made to be together. Why is she being such a bitch and ignoring my texts?”

Raul: “Because she’s currently getting triple-rodded by Tyron and his buddies.”

Grumps: “Fuck, you’re probably right.”

Raul: “It doesn’t matter. You probably would’ve taken her out on a nice, fancy date and only gotten a peck on the lips as you dropped her off. What was her name again?”

Grumps: “Sammy.”

Raul: “Then Tyron would’ve called her up and been like, ‘Yo Sammy, I’m comin’ over. I’m bringing my boys, too. You better have some good weed this time, not that weak bullshit of full seeds and stems like last time. ’”

Grumps: “That white boy feed you good? You gonna need dat energy.”

Raul: “Speaking of weed, roll us another fucking blunt.”

Grumps: “Goddamn it, hold on.”

Grumps rolls us a nice blunt.

Raul: “These are fucking good days we’re living, Grumps.”

Grumps blows smoke into the air.

Grumps: “Mmmmmhmmmm. Dude, I’m having so much fun. Listening to music, smoking green, drinking, and hanging with my boy Raul.”

Raul: “Yep. You see how many hot bitches there are out today?”

Grumps: “Yeah, man. It’s like as soon as I stop checking out the ass of one, another fine bitch passes by. Too bad they’re all a bunch of libtards.”

Raul: “Hey, man, liberals ain’t that bad. Sure, they’re annoying as fuck, but they’re pretty cool and nice if you avoid political conversation with them.”

Grumps: “Oh man, don’t fucking get me started on these fucking liberals, you know what the fuck I saw on Fox News…”

Raul: “No, no, no. We’re not getting into your simpleminded Midwest rhetoric. All you do is fucking get on Facebook and hate-read whatever the conservative propaganda machine wants you to be pissed off about that day.”

Grumps: “All right, fine. Oh man, did I tell you about that fight I saw earlier?”

Raul: “No, what happened?”

Grumps: “Oh, fuck, man. It was hilarious. These two fat bitches start yelling at each other in the middle of the street. One of them was pushing a baby stroller, too. Then one of them starts screaming some shit about the other being a gossipy, shit-talking slut. Then they start slapping one another until a few dudes broke them up.”

Raul: “Holy fuck. I wish I would’ve seen that. Did you get it on video?”

Grumps: “No, it happened way too fast for me to record it.”

Raul: “What time did it happen?”

Grumps: “About three or so.”

Raul: “Oh yeah, that’s when all that welfare trash starts walking around town after going to their appointments or picking up their kids or whatever the fuck people on welfare do.”

Grumps: “They did look ratchet as fuck.”

Smoke fills the room as Grumps swipes through his Tinder.

Grumps: “Oh Raul, so many bitches want my cock.”

Raul: “No, they don’t.”

Grumps: “Yes, they do. I got all these hoes I’m working all over the place. I take them on a date to get some good food, then I let in my fucking rags-to-riches life story and their mouth drops.”

Raul: “Bitches only want you for your money, Grumps.”

Grumps: “They ain’t going to get shit. Making them sign a prenup.”

Raul: “That’s good that you think you got some game. Remember, I ain’t no broke piece of shit either, motherfucker. Sure, I ain’t contractor-rich like you, but I do decent.”

Grumps: “Fine, you’re a mini-baller.”

Raul: “Damn straight. Plus, you need money to get bitches. You’re not a fucking artist like me, Grumps, where you can just work a low-paying gig while waiting for genius to surface.”

Grumps: “Raul, your writing sucks. I could write better shit than that without trying.”

Raul: “Like I really respect your opinion regarding literature. What the fuck is the last book you read?”

Grumps: “Hell if I know.”

Raul: “See Grumps, I play the long game. Using my words, stories, and shit to show chicks I’m a deep, thoughtful soul and not just a Latin stud.”

Grumps: “Well, I got a Mercedes SLR and my own house paid for. Bitches’ panties get drenched for that shit. Maybe one day you’ll be rich like me. I hope that for you.”

Raul: “Awwww…you’re sweet. Whatever happened with that one college chick you took out on a date the other night?’

Grumps: “I took her to the mall and bought her some lingerie. Had her little tight twenty-one-year-old ass model it for me. Then I tore that puss up and filled it full of freedom!”

Raul: “Smash that puss! You know she is going to be wearing that lingerie for one of her college boys, right?”

Grumps: “Pfff, I don’t give a fuck. She was just a random piece of pussy to me.”

Silence fills the room for a few minutes as we relax.

Raul: “These are good days we’re living, Grumps.”

Grumps: “Mmmmmhmmmm.”

~Raul Felix

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