Saturday, September 11, 2021

To Be or To Do

 Colonel John Boyd was famous for being a legendary fighter pilot and for popularizing his famous OODA loop theory of human cognition. Colonel Boyd was also famous for other things, like his questioning of authority and the fact he never made General.  He once challenged us to Be or to Do

Boyd said "To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That's when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?

What did he mean by this? Boyd was trying to say that we can be somebody, gain recognition and be a big shot or we can do something and make positive change. They are not mutually exclusive but they are not the same thing. Many of us, myself included, will fall into a trap of trying to chase that next promotion or the next best thing. we will worry about what others think of us and try to impress them. 

The famous Roman Emperor and Stoic Marcus Aurelius' said " It never ceases to amaze me: we love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinions than our own." We often agonize over what people think of us when really they are not thinking of us at all. We can continue to try and impress those that barely notice or we can do. 

We can do by effecting positive change. The US Army Special Forces call themselves "The Quiet Professionals." USASF conducts hundreds of missions globally in support of the National Command Authority objectives and they consider it mission success if no one even knows they were there. 

So are we to be about impressing others or are we to devote our life to leaving things better than we found them? Are we to spend our time accumulating wealth and accolades or strengthening our bodies, minds and families?

On this, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks choose to do, be a quiet professional.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Sharron McElmeel Great Grand-Grandmother, Grand-Mother, Mother, Wife, and Literary Warrior 13 Sep 1942- 26 July 2021

 Buried my Mother today. Here is the Eulogy I read. So many nice things were said. I can't even begin to encapsulate what she meant to me. 


“You will give yourself relief, if you do every act of your life 

as if it was your last-”Marcus Aurelius Meditations Book II

My Mother lived a life worth living. She touched so many lives 

you would be hard pressed to find them all. Through her many activities 

as an Educator, Literacy advocate, Champion of those that couldn’t  

champion for themselves,Wife, Mother, Grand-Mother and Great-Grandmother. 

She was always trying to gently nudge people to be a better 

version of themselves. 

I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old and she brought home 

discarded Dick and Jane Books and started teaching me to read.

I remember when I was in elementary school and  she took 

me to Pizza Hut to get my very own personal pan pizza for finishing 

the Book It Summer reading challenge. I was so excited!

I remember not being able to get away with anything in 

High School because she was the head Media Specialist 

at that High School.

I remember her showing me the albums in that same library. 

The music I listened to then has colored my musical tastes to this day. 

I remember how angry she was when I joined the Army. 

We argued. She wanted me to get an education and 

she thought I was making a mistake.

I also remember how proud she was of my career 

and all the questions she had about places I lived. 

I remember how proud she was of me when I finally got that education. 

When I received my Masters Degree she had my diplomas, 

all my diplomas matted in a huge display at what must have 

been a significant expense. 


I remember her constantly helping my children navigate through life’s issues. 

They would regularly call Grandma for help often before calling me. 

I remember her refusing to give any of those same children any 

Christmas or Birthday present other than a book. 

“Readers are leaders Michael..she would say”

I remember her turning every conversation back to children's literature.

 “Hey did you know XYZ author wrote a book about this? 

No Mother but why don't you tell me

I remember many political discussions. My mother and I were 

opposed to many things politically and sometimes it got heated 

but never disrespectful and she always listened to my side 

sometimes even changing her mind.

I remember her talking about her trip to Switzerland for years afterward.

For a small town girl from Iowa it must have been an exciting experience. 

I remember people asking her “ How can you have 6 only children” 

It was obvious she treated us all with her full attention every time. 

I remember her excitedly talking about her Grand-children and 

Great Grand-Child. It was another chance for her to personally 

influence young lives. It was her mission for them to not 

accept the boundaries they set for themselves. 

I remember talking to her 2 weeks ago. The last time I talked to her 

she was in the basement because of a tornado warning. I had called 

to see if she was ok. She assured me she was fine, 

I told her to stay safe and we hung up. It was a short conversation. 

I wish it would have been longer. 

I remember this past Wednesday. I was hiking with my dog and 

I thought of her every time I saw a butterfly or purple flowers.

Your Mother is always with you! ©

By: Deborah R Culver

She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street.

She’s the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick, 

the fragrance of life itself.

She’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not feeling well.

She’s your breath in the air on a cold winters’ day.

She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow.

She is Christmas morning.

Your mother lives inside your laughter.

She’s the place you come from, your first home.

She’s the map you follow with every step you take.

She’s your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy.

But nothing on Earth can separate you.

Not time.

Not space.

Not even death.

Sunday, June 13, 2021



A few weeks ago I was in a very dark place. I don't often let life get to me and outwardly people would say I appear to have my shit together. But  internally I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by the totality of my perceived failures. 

What are those failures? I felt like I wasn't progressing professionally, intellectually or athletically. I have attended some training classes in the last 6 months where I perceived I didn't met my own standards. I am doing a job I love but maybe there is no where to go from there? My workouts are no  less  intense, however the volume is waning, as recovery is not only essential but mandatory to maintain the status quo. I have essentially quit running, an activity I used to be obsessed with. Ultimately I felt that at 57 years old I have peaked and things will never progress farther. After a literal lifetime of setting and conquering goals I am struggling to keep from sliding back down the hill. This is very hard to accept. 

"The more we value things out of our control the less control we have-Marcus Aurelius"

I became acquainted with Stoic philosophy a few years ago and have read most of the famous texts. I try to apply the tenets to my life the best I can. As happens to all of us while seeking self improvement I tend to do this imperfectly. After moping about for a few days I realized my descent into depression was all due to EGO. I was feeling down because of what I perceived others thought of me and my failings. What I realized is that I cannot control others perceptions of me. Quite honestly the majority of people are too worried about their own life and problems to think about me at all. Those friends and family that reached out to me were kind and uplifting. My entire focus was wrong. 

"We suffer more in imagination than reality-Seneca"

Making a conscious effort to control the EGO has been liberating the last few weeks. Trying very hard to no longer care what others think about me but to continue down the path as best I can has lightened my mood and increased my enjoyment of the day to day. A small example, I have always had body image issues. I have not been gifted with the most natural physique or most athletic skills. I have worked hard over the years to maintain fitness and develop skills. But genetics being what they are age and time have blessed me with what most would call a "Dad Bod". Recently I mowed my yard with my shirt off because it was hot. No big deal right? To me that was huge. I can count on my fingers the times in my life when I have been in public without a shirt on after the age of 10. I decided to not care what others thought. I quit worrying about what I couldn't control ( their thoughts) and worried about what I could control ( my comfort). Its a small step further down the path. 

I will continue to fail going forward but as Ryan Holiday said in his book Ego is the Enemy, the work is enough. 


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Blog update

 In an attempt to contextualize and revitalize my literary output I will be stopping the mission creep here at the Former Action Guy Blog. Going forward this blog will only contain "War Stories and Random Thoughts"

To follow my instructional posts go to


 To see posts on my personal training go to