Ryan Michler (@orderofman) is a husband, father, Iraq combat veteran, founder of Order of Man, and author of Sovereignty: The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Men.

What We Discuss with Ryan Michler:

  • How the dismissal of masculinity as a positive force in popular society has led to an alarming shortage of strong, ambitious, and self-sufficient men.
  • The 13 virtues crucial for men to reclaim their own sovereignty — and what this means.
  • How men can create a battle plan to level up skill sets within these virtues.
  • Why acknowledging the enemy inside as the source of all troubles rather than blaming external enemies is ultimately empowering.
  • How to formulate an after action review to analyze the effectiveness of every encounter, project, or conversation and grow from the experience.
  • And much more…

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For Order of Man‘s Ryan Michler, being a man these days ain’t what it used to be. A society that once looked toward its men to protect, provide, and preside over themselves, their families, their businesses, and their communities has been dismissive of the whole concept of masculinity in the past few decades. As a result, generations of aimless men have learned to blame that same society for every problem that befalls them rather than taking the punishments and rewards that come with being in charge of their own lives. They’ve given up what Ryan calls their sovereignty.

Ryan explores this phenomenon in his new book, Sovereignty: The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Men. He joins us to discuss his own early lifetime of blaming everyone and everything else for the hardships and missteps he endured, how he began steps toward making a change for the better, and what we can do to regain our own sovereignty that so many of us have unknowingly given away. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

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More About This Show

Sovereignty: The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Men author Ryan Michler grew up without a permanent father figure and has seen first-hand how a lack of strong, ambitious, self-sufficient men has affected society today. He believes many of the world’s most complicated problems could be solved if men everywhere learned how to be better husbands, fathers, businessmen, and community leaders.

It has now become his life’s mission to help men across the planet step more fully into their roles as protectors, providers, and presiders over themselves, their families, their businesses, and their communities. You can find him blogging and podcasting at Order of Man where he is working to help men become all they were meant to be.

While it’s true that this particular episode is geared toward men from a man’s perspective, women shouldn’t shy away from giving it a listen; there’s value here for everyone.

The Only Reward for Playing the Blame Game

“Every time I’ve had a failure or setback or less than what I wanted as far as the result,” says Ryan, “it was always because I was blaming it on somebody else or something else. I spent three decades doing that until I recognized and woke up about six years ago to the truth that I’ve got a lot more to say and do when it comes to my life than I give myself credit for.”

By blaming every external factor available for every time his expectations fell short, what Ryan was really doing was giving away his own sovereignty — the power over his own autonomy as a human being. Even though many of the excuses he made had a grain of validity (such as his business failing when the overall economy was tanking), absolving himself of any responsibility was admitting complete powerlessness over the situation at hand. It made him a victim at the beck and call of fate rather than an autonomous decision maker and problem solver.

Furthermore, when things went right, did he really have a right to claim them as a win if he wasn’t ultimately the one pulling the strings in his own life?

In the end, the only reward for playing the blame game is loss of sovereignty.

Ryan’s wife has an excellent saying to pull him back from participating in this lose/lose game: “Is there anything that you can do about it right now?”

“The answer when she says that is ‘No, usually not.’ Because she wouldn’t be asking that if it were the case!” says Ryan. “But I think it’s a really good question. If we take the information and the inputs and all of the information at our hand and we ask ourselves, ‘Is there anything that I can do with this information?’ If the answer’s ‘no,’ then we have to find a way to learn to let it go…if the answer’s ‘yes,’ good. Then we can start focusing on what we can actually do to move the needle. But I think asking yourself powerful questions is the very first step in any growth in your life.”

The After Action Review

From Ryan’s eight years served in the military, he learned the importance of reflecting on every engagement with an after action review — and found it translates well into civilian life as a tool for learning.

“Any avenue of life — after every conversation, after every podcast, after every relationship, after every project — whatever it may be, I’m asking myself five very simple questions that will allow me to continue to move the needle the next time — the next time I do a podcast or the next time I write an article or the next time I write a book.”:

  1. What did I accomplish?
  2. What did I not accomplish?
  3. What did I do well?
  4. What did I not do well?
  5. What will I do differently moving forward?

“Some people hear that and they think, ‘That’s a ton of questions! You do that after every conversation? After every podcast? Everything that you do?’ The answer’s ‘Yes.’ It’s not as scripted as it used to be, but I would recommend, at a minimum, you’re doing that on a daily basis at the end of your day,” Ryan says.

You can’t guide yourself in a new direction tomorrow if you don’t take stock of where you were today.

The 13 Virtues

Ryan mentions that you can Google “virtues” and come up with hundreds if not thousands from which to choose. So how did he come to focus on 13 by which to live his own life and share with others?

“What I did is I went through all of the things that I value and I got out a piece of paper,” says Ryan. “What do I value when I look at other individuals — men and women who I admire and respect — what characteristics do they possess that I respect? So I started to break this down; I had a list of probably 50 to 100 virtues.

Then I started looking at these things and recognizing that some of them directly tie into regaining and recapturing sovereignty in our lives…and others don’t. I look at love, for example, or empathy, or compassion. I don’t think anybody out there would say that’s something we shouldn’t strive for — we certainly should. But I think, indirectly, those things don’t necessarily lead to our sovereignty the quickest…”

His virtues were eventually whittled down to these 13 when he filtered them through the question: “Will this help me regain my sovereignty?”

  1. Self-Reliance
  2. Intentionality
  3. Discernment
  4. Wisdom
  5. Ownership
  6. Strength
  7. Humility
  8. Integrity
  9. Conviction
  10. Self-Awareness
  11. Discipline
  12. Mastery
  13. Courage

Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about how these 13 virtues help us regain our sovereignty, what Ryan means by the natural man, what we should do as individuals to address society’s dismissal of masculinity, the four categories of life (calibration, connection, condition, and contribution) enhanced by formulating a battle plan to keep our instinctive fear of discomfort and uncertainty from capsizing our desire — and ability — to progress, how Ryan has been working to recover from early negative influences and missteps, what got him started on the initial pivot, the miraculous healing power of serving others, the life-affirming lessons we can learn from writing our own eulogy, and lots more.


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