Credit: John Kennicutt, US Marine Corps

Welcome to the drill instructor

I’ve been considering getting into the self improvement space for a while, but if you’ve followed any of my writing, you know there is a hell of a lot that bothers me about it. More than anything, I dislike that so many people are clearly just trying to cash in or build a brand by telling people what to do. It comes across in their writing, because after a few sentences it’s very easy to tell that it’s insincere.

The second thing I hate about the current crop of self improvement is that most of it is repackaged garbage. People seem to be making the rounds of various websites, gathering listicles and advice, and then reframing it without any kind of unique insight. Apart from how intellectually lazy it is, it tells me immediately that this person has no fucking idea what they’re talking about. If you want to give people advice, advice that is going to impact their life, you’d damn well better have some kind of clue about the subject you’re speaking. 23 year old “life coaches”, I’m looking at you .Citing studies about this or that in lieu of experience is also a cop out — no one ever solved a problem because a study told them it was a good idea to do som.

I firmly believe that good advice comes from a simple equation:

Experience + knowledge + reflection = wisdom

I never give any kind of advice unless I’ve experienced what I’m talking about directly, and that’s the same standard I’m going to hold anyone that writes for this publication to.

So why “the drill instructor”? I’m a former soldier, and in addition to that I’ve also been in various spaces since then that are very no nonsense. So much of our language is about making excuses instead of being self aware. In the military when you go through recruit training, feedback is swift and often harsh, because it’s designed to define boundaries on what is and isn’t acceptable.

When I was competing in judo, staying in your weight class was a big deal. A coach didn’t sit you down and have a ten minute conversation about eating better, they told you that you’re looking fat. You were then expected to take responsibility and do something about it. After all, if you want to be a champion it’s your responsibility to make weight, not theirs.

Even in academia, some of my professors were absolutely brutal in their feedback. It was cold and harsh, telling me exactly what I had done wrong. They didn’t care about my feelings, they cared about my work, and if I wanted to get better grades it was my job to heed what they said instead of crying about the way it was delivered.

That’s not to say that this publication is about being an asshole for the sake of it. The purpose of this publication is to offer direct, no nonsense advice for self improvement. A recruit instructor doesn’t exist for the sake of being mean, they are there to teach and to weed out those not fit for duty in the most efficient manner possible, and they are very good at it.

Consider this publication your drill instructor for life. If you have a question, we’ll answer it — in the most direct, no nonsense way possible. It’s up to you to take action.

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