The Warrior Poet Way: A Guide to Living Free and Dying Well

The Warrior Poet Way: A Guide to Living Free and Dying Well

by John Lovell
The Warrior Poet Way: A Guide to Living Free and Dying Well

The Warrior Poet Way: A Guide to Living Free and Dying Well

by John Lovell


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An instant Wall Street Journal Bestseller!

From the founder of the Warrior Poet Society, a daring manual on how to become a dangerous—and good—man

There is a war on masculinity, and everywhere we look—on every front we hold sacred—we can see the painful reminders of this collapsing order. The chaos and crisis we are experiencing today should be a signal for men everywhere to rise up; to fight to preserve our way of life by once again walking the ancient paths. But this isn’t a journey that need be taken alone.

In The Warrior Poet Way, public speaker, former Army Ranger, and all-around patriot John Lovell offers a needed antidote to the lack of strong men in our modern world. This is a call to all men to be what they truly are. Both dangerous and good. Lovers and fighters. Lions and lambs.

Both philosophical and practical, this guide dispenses essential advice on how to be a whole man, from tyranny-proofing your home to wooing the right woman. Through anecdotes of his time in the military, interviews with other men, and practicums at the end of each chapter, Lovell teaches the virtue of balance—navigating the tension between violent warrior and romantic poet—and guides men through each mental and physical change they must make to embody the ancient spirit of a real man.

This is a manual for every man to use in the fight of their life—and what it takes to win. No good thing comes easy, and the life you want is just on the other end of what you don’t want to do. This is the Warrior Poet Way. Are you ready to walk it?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593541845
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/11/2023
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 20,654
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.98(d)

About the Author

John Lovell is the Founder and CEO of the Warrior Poet Society - a values-based community dedicated to physical protection, the pursuit of truth, and living for higher purpose. His message has garnered over 100 million views across social media and streaming platforms. John is a former war veteran and Special Operations soldier, having served in the 2nd Ranger Battalion. After his military service, he served as a Christian missionary in Central America full-time. Today he is a video content creator, public speaker, firearms trainer, and homesteader. John lives on a small farm in Georgia with his wife and two sons.

Read an Excerpt


A World in Need of Warriors

Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory.

-George S. Patton

he tension was unbearable. I tried to control my breathing as I looked out on where our battle would take place. This was the calm before the storm. My heart was already in my chest, my nerves on edge. Behind me was my compatriot, a brave artillery soldier serving as backup, a pile of hand grenades at the ready should things go south.

As my fellow soldier lurked behind the cover of our newly made fortification, before me a head peeked out from behind a tree. We were surrounded by the elements with only our wits and our courage to aid us. My eyes met those of my opponent. Though the outcome of the fight was uncertain, I knew that today was not my day to die. Other soldiers had seen such insuperable odds and had not been so fortunate. Nonetheless, battle called, and I had to answer.

It was time.

My enemy sauntered out with a bo staff-that is, a stick he found in the backyard. Not as good as mine, I thought with a sneer. We came together, meeting on the field of combat, immediately engaging each other, staff hitting staff. We stood there as fearless children-at-arms doing battle while mortars exploded around in all directions.

That day, we suffered significant losses while accomplishing great feats, surviving to live yet another day. Thank God.

When the battle concluded, we retreated to our separate barracks, and our commanding officers bestowed the coveted ice-cream sandwiches on us as worthy war trophies.

I was only eight years old, playing with my neighbors and siblings in the woods; but it was then that I knew the sweet taste of victory. It tasted like vanilla.

Born into Battle

Those little neighborhood battles are cherished memories from my childhood. My parents didn't teach us to play war in the woods, but without any instruction whatsoever, we managed to forge our own weapons and compete in combat every summer. It was instinct-and that is quite telling, isn't it?

At an early age, boys understand that there are bad guys in the world who must be stopped. In their minds, mostly everything is a competition, each and every moment translated into a who-would-win scenario. My own children used to endlessly pit animals and hero's against each other in hypothetical skirmishes and discuss the potential outcomes. Would a tiger beat a lion? They'd even read books on these subjects to figure out the answer.

As they've grown and are now learning more history, they're seeing the strength of both the hero and foe in real-life battles and what made the tides turn. The Warrior Within is awakening in them. They recognize that a battle is being waged, and that something is required of them. Every man does.

We have known it since we were young, imagining ourselves as knights and army men, fighting monsters. This is why every stick, toy, or vegetable became an instant weapon for many of us while growing up. Nobody told us to play this way. We came by it naturally.

Before they're out of diapers, boys are preparing for battle. This is a natural and normal impulse. If you give both a boy and a girl a Barbie doll, you would not be surprised to see the girl dressing the doll in pretty clothes and playing princess. The boy, on the other hand, will hold the legs in one hand, push the upper body back at a 90-degree angle and pretend the Barbie is a gun. Then, he'll point the gun at someone and shoot. An hour later, the doll will be missing a leg with the head turned around backward. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but I'm not talking about outliers. I'm talking about the rule of what's at the heart of true masculinity, which is to protect and defend.

Many parents might be tempted to stop this kind of play, to interfere with the boy's impulses, but that would be unwise. Of course, you can let the child know it's not good to pop the heads off his sister's toys, but be careful to not chastise the aggression out of a young male.

Instead, it must be controlled and channeled-but never eliminated. He and his future family and community may need his aggression someday. Any child who has done something like this is answering an ancient call to the ranks of previous generations who came before, every generation of men who made the next possible, each understanding the same intuitive truth: We are at war.

And wars require warriors.

Making Room for Men

Do you remember when you would see hero's on TV and in movies, and they stood for something? Remember John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery? Remember, even, the next-door neighbor who came over when they noticed that your power was out?

There was a time not too long ago when men were allowed to be strong. Of course, these men were far from perfect, but we understood what they were and what they could be. It was not uncommon to see them open a door for a lady or pull over to help someone change a tire. We knew the meaning of masculinity, and at the heart of it was sacrifice.

It seems today we've lost this understanding; the importance of having warriors in the world. Sure, we still see superhero's in comic books and movies, as well as occasional astronauts and cowboys as objects of respect and reverence. But this is far different from growing up with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. Where are the real men today who possess rugged strength and who commit to bold action? When did we start expecting so little?

Maybe this kind of man seems mythological at best, but I assure you that such men still exist. There are men who will still stand up for what is right and who aren't afraid to use their strength. We used to require this of them; now it surprises us. If we want to have any hope for the future, though, we must return to such an expectation.

We must summon the part of us that our society hasn't completely squashed with the hammer of political correctness. We've been lulled into pursuing our "sensitive" side so much that it has become, for many men, their only side. Men need to wake up to their true identities as warriors. This is the only way we win in any fight. Yes, a man needs to know when to be gentle, but gentleness alone will not keep tyranny and evil at bay. It's going to take warriors to defend what we've built and hold dear.

Consider this, then, your invitation to ignore the seething, postmodern feminist shrieking against the patriarchy. It's okay to want to be a warrior. Although mutilating dolls is not what we want our sons to do, the idea of being a warrior who can one day offer loving protection to the innocent is an instinct we should protect.

Some mothers may be shocked to see their boys playing war games at a very young age, but it is good. Whether encouraged or not, most will happen upon them, regardless; and when a boy starts playing war, he is learning something essential about his nature. To fight for the freedom of others is a noble act that should be encouraged. Even if the fight is pretend, the courage is real.

Boys love a fight. They inherently understand that one day they will be protectors of others, and at a certain age it becomes natural to answer such a call. You'll see them putting it together in their own haphazard way, seeking greater opportunities for responsibility, risk, and independence. Young men are always searching for ways to test their strength. My sons plan surprise attacks on me, pouncing as soon as I walk through the front door. They want to see if they have what it takes, continually testing themselves, using their dad as a measuring stick. Instinctively, they are preparing to become the bedrock of strength upon which society is built.

One day, my boys will be the strong arm that freedom rests on, and all these exercises will have hopefully prepared them.

Remembering What You Are

While a boy may know he should prepare for war, it is the adult who forgets. Remember what life was like as a child? It was serious and playful. There was always a war to wage, an enemy to overcome, something innocent to protect. As children, we battled. We made forts with barricades and reinforcements, issued passwords to ensure no one was able to enter our area unchallenged, especially the neighborhood dogs, and found a way to turn anything into a skirmish with high stakes. We looked for adventure every single day and found it. We defended what we held dear. The Warrior Within was always present.

As men, the impulse to wage war is still programmed into us. When we're kids, we explore trails and create castles in the sand naturally, subduing the wild around us. But as we get older, we don't quite know how this translates to real, adult life.

As a result, many men lose themselves in video games. These escapes offer an exploration of unknown worlds in their own way, involving the seeking of treasures and battling of foes in epic fights against evil. The warrior impulse is always there, showing up in surprising ways. We've only traded the real for the virtual, but the impulse remains.

Even in courting a girl, men are answering a sacred call to pursue. They do all kinds of audacious, stupid things for a beautiful woman. They chase her, give her gifts, sacrifice everything for one more shot at getting a chance to see her. Any guy who's been in love knows the fear and thrill of it-the electrifying first touch, the sheer horror of potential rejection, the sweat on his skin and fire in his veins. It's an adventure. Man lives to hunt, and she is his greatest pursuit. The problem occurs when many men forget the pursuit. They take for granted the beauty they've rescued-not because of her, but because they lost the will to hunt.

A man can never stop never stop hunting; it's in his DNA. Everything is a pursuit, a life-and-death scenario that requires his strength and courage. There is always a chase, either real or vicarious, and the stakes are always incredibly high. We were handcrafted for this adventure, and we will find it wherever we can.

Sadly, most men don't have an outlet for this. They watch football or soccer, instead, and roar at the TV screen as they see other men engaging in "battle." They cheer when the good guys destroy the Death Star or their political party trounces its opponent. It's exciting to watch, but none of it is the same as doing it yourself. At the deepest level, every man wants in on the action. Too often, though, he settles for a front-row seat to someone else's battle.

As long as a man trades his warrior instinct for entertainment, his soul will not be satisfied. He will be perpetually bored, searching for a way to kill time and quell his longings. A man who's consumed by his mission, however, who knows what life is about and his part to play, doesn't need a distraction. His life is the adventure.

Summon the Warrior Within

I teach gunfighting for a living. Literally. Like, that's my job. I travel the country and instruct others on tactical rifle and concealed carry pistol training, room clearing, small-unit tactics, low-light fighting, home defense, and other skills. "Firearms instructor" isn't the right title. I'm not just training marksmanship; I'm teaching people to use the right tools and skills to defeat the greatest apex predator the world has ever known: man.

This is no small feat. Being a strong man capable of hurting people is not enough to defeat this incredible adversary. We have to learn to work with ourselves and train our own warrior spirit, coaxing him back to life in a society where he has been lulled to sleep.

In the Warrior Poet Society Pistol 3 class, I run our students through an unnerving exercise. The point is to introduce them to the stress of a real gunfight. The first thing we do is have them put on protective gear, then convert their guns to shoot training munitions that won't kill but sure do sting. Next, we place two students across from each other and have them extend their arms so that only their fingertips are touching. Their guns are at their sides, ready for my command.

Then, I have them wait. And wait. I leave them in that moment for a while to just breathe through the stress of the scenario. I let them look into each other's eyes and allow the fear to wash over them. This is stress-inoculation training at its finest, and it is a riot to watch firsthand.

What I want them to do is sit in that horrible moment, the calm before the storm, and look at each other, waiting. In this moment is a lesson: all you have is right here and there's no telling what comes next. A man who learns to control his fears and impulses and focus on the moment is a man who has learned to love life.

Finally, I give them the command: "FIGHT!" Then all hell breaks loose. The soldiers break into battle. One may try to try to disarm the other, or they might both stand their ground and shoot it out like an old-fashioned Western. There is always shooting, moving, laughing, and some mild bleeding.

What you often see is guys coming up with something they think is a great idea and just get toasted as their best-laid plan completely crumbles before their eyes. Then, they walk away, laughing, realizing how stupid their idea was. After that, we get them back into another fight so they can try again. They are initiates now, and more training will soon follow.

These men have awakened their Warrior Within and are now flooded with ideas and instincts that only moments before were dormant. For the rest of the training, they'll test all kinds of theories to see what works and learn from their mistakes.

The point of the exercise is to teach our students who the real enemy is. It's not the man they're staring at; he's only the target. The biggest opponent in any situation is you. At this point, these guys have been trained to properly draw a gun, establish a grip, press a trigger, do emergency reloads, and so on. They know the skills and drills, but fear alone can cause them to clumsily paw at their guns, missing the opportunity to draw and fire. Stress shuts down an unpracticed warrior, causing him to lock up, rendering him immobile. This is true for anyone, and the way to overcome this resistance is only through practice. And as the day continues, these men get the training they need. They do the drill over and over again until they have quieted the voices of fear and summoned something stronger and more primal. It turns out that we don't have to find the Warrior Within. He's been there since childhood. What we have to do is train him.

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