I was watching Tom Cruise in the last Mission Impossible the other day and I had a brief moment of defeat accompanied by a thought. I wish I was Tom Cruise.

I quickly shook it off and thought, “…am I really jealous of a fake caricature of what I used to do for a living?” That was odd. But it did actually have me wondering if I thought I should be Tom Cruise at this point in my life.

I suddenly remembered a younger version of me who thought I’d continue to do what I did, just get better at it, and as my skills improved, so too would my fulfillment and purpose grow. Maybe this version of myself would be unparalleled in unwavering determination, combat, and espionage like Ethan Hunt. Maybe I’d even take up tactical acrobatics. But I didn’t turn out like that. And I actually think that’s a great thing.

I grew up with ideas of what I “should be” guided by the values of my family, my town, my GI Joes and then I tried my best to become that man. I got pretty close to becoming that guy years ago, but overtime it seemed like all of those things just didn’t matter so much anymore. What I didn’t know was that Jeff v.1 was dying but there was no one else in his place.

I reached an absolute point. I was starting to enter into this long hallway between the me who I was conditioned to be and the me who I was meant to be.

I entered into that certain point in life when we feel that we’ve been unsuccessful in bending the universe to our will the way the younger versions of us imagined we could. We come to terms with our limitations, we can become disenchanted. We reckon with where we are in life compared to where we thought we’d be.

Being in that in-between place can feel terrifying and it can feel like forever.

But eventually, I came to look at those symptoms of distress differently. They were signaling something really meaningful and authentic that was stuck beneath the layers of “should’s” and beliefs I built up over the years. It was a call for rebirth.

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It’s a messy, necessary process – morphing from who we’ve been to become who we’re meant to be. There’s an ugly mid transformation phase that’s definitely hard to look at. And at the same time, it’s vital for unlocking our potential and earning the wisdom that we only get with age and/or experience.

This discomfort and agitation has an evolutionary function – it pushes us to transition from a life on autopilot to one of genuine self-hood.

I’ve also come to believe that this “second phase of life” full of wisdom and authenticity isn’t promised to everyone. Maybe only if you put in the effort. To prepare for this second phase of life with a renewed sense of purpose and clarity, I’d submit that every man would benefit from going through a real initiation or a series of initiations somewhere between 28-45 or whenever this calling really hits.

Initiations aren’t about secret rituals or esoteric ceremonies. They are deeply personal challenges and experiences that help strip away the layers of conditioning and uncover what’s raw and real underneath.

Initiations help you navigate the difficult terrain of becoming who you actually are by providing a framework for reflection and growth. They force you to face your fears, take you to the edge of your capacity and push you past that. They question your motivations and sometimes they can even pistol whip you into consciousness.

The case that I’ve made for undertaking a really intensive initiation over the years always comes back to this one thing. It’s as simple as needing something designed to break you down and build you up again, stronger, gentler, and more aligned with who you actually are.

Every year during The Process, I’m blown away by the mysterious way in which this initiation provides flashes of insight and answers to questions we didn’t even know we had. For both candidates and cadre.

The land, the elements, the people involved always know the assignment. They understand that to help one understand what truly matters to him and what kind of legacy he wants to leave behind – he must be willing to die.

A hypothetical death but something I imagine isn’t any less painful than the real thing.

So, if you’re reading this right now and you feel like you’re standing on the threshold of your own transformation, remember that this phase isn’t a punishment but a passageway to authentic wisdom.

To take on your own initiation to discover who you actually are is the greatest responsibility in life.

To intentionally facilitate your passage through a death-and-rebirth cycle promises meaning, wisdom and purpose – just don’t expect it to look like what you wanted. The Process gives you what you need, not what you want.

Who’s with me?


Jeff Depatie

CCA, The Special Forces Experience

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