173 – What I Should Have Known

Today we’re shaking things up a bit and talking about something different than we usually do on the podcast. So many things have been going on lately, with the elections, riots, COVID, and more. There is a lot of division right now, and regardless of the motivation behind it, we are definitely seeing and feeling it every day. 

In this podcast, I share a list of things I should have known as a younger man. Things that I now share with younger men, to help them live better lives, with an attitude of gratitude, kindness, and just being a good person. Toward the end, I share a project I’ve been working on for a few years. It’s something you can use to keep kindness and gratitude going forward.

Probably some of this will resonate with you. I hope you dig ’em.

Listen Now.


Host: Daniel Shaw

Introduction/Timeline: Stephanie Kimmell

Fifty Things I’ve Learned So Far

Our topic is self-defense related, life-related, and just being-a-good-human-related. Here’s the back story:

0:59 A few months ago I was asked to speak at a high school football practice. The coaches often have combat vets come out to speak to the team. When I was putting it together I tried to figure out what could I say to 16-, 17-, and 18-year olds want to hear that could help them. So I thought, if I wanted to know some of those things that I didn’t know at 18, what would they be?

1:43 I wrote down 46 things. And since then I’ve added a few more things, so now it’s 50. If I had known these things and practiced them at an early age, my life would be in a different place, I would be better at a lot of things, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten further.

Daniel Shaw - Founder of the Tango Yankee Project.

  1. Never hold back a laugh or a smile.
  2. Kindness and gratitude alone will get you further in life than anything else.
  3. That girl who isn’t cute right now is going to be crazy-hot in fifteen years, so be kind.
  4. There are people who look up to you.
  5. There are people you don’t even know exist who look up to you.
  6. Never look down on anyone.
  7. You are loved.
  8. Everyone knows more about, or is much better than you, at something. Just because it isn’t your thing doesn’t mean they aren’t a genius and incredibly talented at their thing.
  9. Treat everyone with respect regardless of their status or what they can or cannot do for you.
  10. Accept responsibility for your actions. There are no excuses, only the choices you make.
  11. Protect yourself and everyone else.
  12. It’s ok to cry.
  13. It’s never uncool to have fun. You have a finite number of times in your life to have fun. Embrace them all.
  14. Keep your word. Keep your promises.
  15. Never compromise your personal beliefs: what you know, how you feel, or your personal code of ethics because the group you want to belong to requires it.
  16. When you walk into the men’s bathroom and there are no urinals — you are not in the men’s bathroom.
  17. Respect women in words, actions, and even in private conversation with other men. We will never understand them, but we are meant to protect them — not because they are fragile, but because they are precious.
  18. Be yourself. The world has way too many fake people in it already.
  19. Question everything.
  20. High school and college are a lot easier if you just do the work.
  21. The best leaders are the best followers and intellectual notetakers.
  22. You matter.
  23. Learn first aid, bleeding control, and CPR. Someone will need you to have those skills one day. Be ready.
  24. Never let anyone else decide what you’re supposed to think.
  25. Your words and actions affect more people for far longer than you could ever imagine.
  26. You are loved by more people than you realize.
  27. Hug your mom and tell her that you love her every day. If you don’t have a mom, your best friend’s mom won’t mind if you hug her and tell her you love her.
  28. Rarely does personal physical, mental or spiritual growth occur without extreme discomfort. Embrace it.
  29. It’s ok to be afraid. It’s not ok to let fear stop you from doing what’s right, what needs to be done.
  30. Life is nothing but a sequence of decisions on how to interact with other lives. You either choose to be kind and enhance yours and others’ lives, or you choose to be an asshole and hurt yourself and everyone else.
  31. If it feels wrong, it’s wrong.
  32. What you do matters.
  33. Things don’t matter. Relationships, people, and experiences do. 
  34. Never say no to trying an unfamiliar food.
  35. Always listen to the voice in the back of your head. If it says, “You shouldn’t do this,” — you probably shouldn’t do it. Unless it’s the right thing. Or really epic, in which case, ignore the voice in the back of your head.
  36. “Never pass up an opportunity to kiss a pretty girl.” — That’s not mine. Ernest Hemingway said that.
  37. Not everyone can do anything. But everyone who is willing to suffer and put in the time and effort in a tireless pursuit of a seemingly unachievable goal can do anything.
  38. Be on time. I suck at this, but it’s a pretty big deal.
  39. Embrace and learn from your failures, because everything is practice until the finale.
  40. It’s the difficult things that matter. I have never done anything truly worth doing that was easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
  41. Everyone is fighting something. Don’t give them, or yourself, more to fight. Help and protect each other.
  42. What you say matters.
  43. I have known and fought alongside some of the toughest and finest men as part of the finest fighting force on the face of this planet. But the toughest person I’ve ever met was a woman.
  44. Train to fight, while training harder on how to avoid having to.
  45. In ten years, many of you likely won’t even remember the name of the person who matters so much to you who just broke, or is about to break, your heart. You’ll be too busy trying to remember the other 37 names.
  46. Whether you take a stand, or not, matters.
  47. Read books. Set a yearly goal, and increase it by five every year.
  48. Don’t procrastinate too much or you’ll end up with a crappy presentation for a high school football team on some Thursday night in Kansas.
  49. Every second of every day, you represent your family name and the great men and women in history who bore that name before you. They fought, survived, and died through immeasurable difficulties — far more severe than anything we encounter today. Wear your family name with pride. If another family member has tarnished your family name, clean it. If it’s untarnished, maintain it. Countless lives got you here to this opportunity at life. Do something great with yours, regardless of what great means to you. 
  50. Live a life full of gratitude. It isn’t submissive, nor does it make you less of a man. It’s the opposite. Set the example. Say thank you, and remember that the choice of positivity between stimulus and response will always be the right one. 

Hopefully, that was something you guys needed and wanted to hear. Something to think about, something to put you in check.

The Tango Yankee Project

7:49 If you want to find some way to live that life of gratitude, I have a thing that I started about four years ago. Someone did something really nice for me and I thought about making a little challenge coin. So when somebody does something nice for me, to say thank you, I give it to them. At first, I thought,  “Eh, that’s pretty arrogant to make my own challenge coin, I’m not that cool.”

Well, eventually it turned into a little poker chip I call the Tango Yankee chip. (The Tango Yankee Chip is a cross between a challenge coin and a thank you card). The idea behind these is to help to reduce the amount of assholes on the planet by rewarding people for good behavior.

Tango Yankee chips, front and back

8:20 So I have these little things called Tango Yankee chips that are a way to say thank you. The idea is that you walk around with a couple of them in your pocket. And because you have these in your pocket, you are constantly reminded that you should be acting in a way that deserves those chips, and you’re always looking for goodness and kindness in other people in your daily life. So you grab one of those chips and you hand it to the person who held the door for you even though their hands were full. Or whenever anybody does that you witnessed them doing something for somebody else — just being a good person.

8:41 Just say, “Hey I see what you did, and that was all right, man. I appreciate that. I just want to say thank you, and here’s a Tango Yankee chip. Now you go and find somebody else who’s doing something good and give that chip to them. Keep this going.” That’s what they’re all about. 

9:08 It’s called the Tango Yankee Project and you can find them and Tango Yankee patches at Tango Yankee Chip.

9:14 Let us know what you think. What would you add to this list. Leave a comment below.

Tango Yankee Patch - Shaw - life of gratitude

Gunmag Training's Chief Instructor Daniel Shaw is a retired US Marine Infantry Unit Leader with multiple combat tours and instructor titles.  Since retirement from the Marine Corps, Daniel teaches Armed Citizens and Law Enforcement Officers weapons, tactics and use of force. Daniel takes his life of training and combat experience and develops as well as presents curriculum to help Law Enforcement, US Military and Responsible Armed Citizens prepare for a deadly force encounter.  When he isn't directing marketing for Gunmag Warehouse, Daniel travels the US teaching and training under Gunmag Training, and discusses all things hoplological and self-defense related on The MagLife Podcast.

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