How to Create a Personal Ethos & Develop Killer Instinct

My intention with this article is to present you with an extremely powerful practice–a practice that I consider a CORE foundational element of my personal and professional development as a purpose driven man. 

In this article I break down what a Personal Ethos is and how to make one yourself.

My definition of a Personal Ethos

A Personal Ethos is a document that serves as a grounding force when it comes to the affirmation of your identity, values, standards, and goals.

The purpose of a Personal Ethos is to:

  • Engrain your purpose deeply into your nervous system.
  • Help you hold the line in the face of pressure.
  • Activate your killer-instinct when it comes to seizing opportunities that are in line with your purpose.
  • Provide a sense of stability and focus in a world of distraction, uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity.
  • Activate the power of intention: Your inner world (thoughts, emotions, and visions) are invisible waves that are constantly manifesting your reality.


Where does the concept of a “Personal Ethos” come from?

Many warrior cultures throughout history have created codes of being that serve as guiding forces for thought, word, and deed. These cultures have created an ethos that has been refined through generations and generations of trial and error.

The ethos provides a solid bedrock that the practitioners could trust.

An ethos is very similar to a software program that has been built and refined by the collective consciousness of a tribe. Therefore it provides a solid bedrock or operating system that the warrior could trust in.

Here is an example of the Navy SEAL ethos:

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day. My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own. I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations. I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me – my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete. We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend. Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.

Imagine engraining the above operating system into your nervous system. How would your life change?

However, in this article I want you to create a personal ethos that is tailored to your specific individual purpose.

My experience with the Personal Ethos so far

I’ve been reading my ethos on a daily basis for months and it has truly changed my life and given me a degree of purpose that is indescribable. Thanks to this practice I have embodied a sense of certainty and destiny when it comes to the manifestation of my vision. I will stop at nothing and continue to blast through all barriers in order to achieve my goals and become the man I was meant to be. 

Do nothing which is of no use – Miyamoto Musashi

Here is a testimonial from one of my coaching clients Matt in regards to his experience with The Personal Ethos practice:

“Maximillian had me develop a personal ethos that I now read every single morning when I wake up. This practice has truly revolutionized my life. My previous approach to achieving my goals was to just sporadically think about what I’d like in life but now I have a well defined and articulated vision of my future that I have already partly manifested thanks to this practice. I spend the day feeling like I’m on a mission. Life hasn’t been the same since.”

Develop Killer Instinct

One of the main benefits that having a personal ethos gives you is that it makes your entire nervous system primed and ready to kill. And I say that metaphorically to symbolize the effect that being so clear on your purpose does for you.

Your mind is a servo-mechanism similar to a heat-seeking missile system. Once you give your mind coordinates and discipline your focus, something in you changes. You start to recognize opportunity EVERYWHERE to move closer towards your targets. In a sense you truly do become primed to KILL in the direction of your goals. You’re less lackadaisical and more ruthless in the most positive meaning of the term. You need to live this to know what I’m talking about. 

Get ready to become a MACHINE instead of a tumble-weed aimlessly rolling around while YOUR precious time and energy disappears in the abyss of space.

Just a reminder:

In a world like ours, you can make your dreams come true. There is NO doubt about it. There is plenty of opportunity out there to get what you want. Want amazing health, financial freedom, fulfilling relationships, and enlightenment? Guess what, millions of people are living that life right now, why can’t you? And I guarantee that some of those people had it way worse than you and still made it. You just need to get really fucking clear and then pay the price. Simple. 

ADHD & Distraction

The other important benefit of having a personal ethos is FOCUS. In a world of massive distraction, constant stimulation, and marketers scientifically designing social media platforms to be addicting pavlovian hell-holes, you’re bound to get sidetracked unless you’re VERY careful. 

If you’re not vigilant, all it takes is a split second for your mind to fall back into it’s old patterns. – Osho

You MUST deeply ground yourself in your purpose in order to thrive in this world. Chances are your environment isn’t very conducive to your purpose unless you’ve designed it to be hence you are very vulnerable to being swayed by the winds of pain and pleasure.


Below are the exact steps for creating a truly BADASS and articulated Personal Ethos that will help you tremendously. Feel free to modify it by adding your own touch to it. This isn’t a rigid format but rather a template that you can use to help you create your own model. Each of the items below have been thought out and experimented with throughout hours and hours of deep thought. I feel that these steps truly provide the framework to help you have a truly holistic and integrated ethos. The result is that you will be a more high-performing and purpose driven person in a world of distracted zombies.

The Steps

Step 1. First start out with your identity, who are you fundamentally? 

Choose a few different roles to describe who you are. 


I am a superior man

I am divine consciousness

I am one with the source

I am a man on his path

I am a warrior

Again, choose more than one identity because you are a multi-faceted human being.

Step 2. Write down your standards in the present tense as though you already do them. 


I work out 3x per week.

I meditate 6 days a week for a minimum of 30 mins.

I eat clean 6 days a week and allow myself 1 junk day.

Step 3. Write down a brief (1-3 sentence) description of your goals based on the following categories:

  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Romantic relationships
  • Friends and family
  • Happiness and character development

Part 2 of step 3 is to write down a counter-vision AKA the opposite of achieving your goals. The purpose is to scare the shit out of you and remind you of the alternative–what will happen if you do NOT achieve your goals.


Goal: My goal is to have a thriving landscaping company, have financial abundance, and be self-sufficient.

Counter-vision: Work at a shitty job I do not like, live pay-check to pay-check, and consume more than I produce.

Step 4. Scatter empowering quotes from your best mentors in strategic locations throughout your ethos.

Ex: Put quotes in strategic locations to reinforce certain points. For instance, put a health quote from someone you follow for your workout routines underneath your heath goals. This helps drive the point home and remind you that amazing people agree with you (authority bias).

Step 5. Add images in strategic locations throughout the ethos to reinforce certain points even more. 

More than 50% of your brain is dedicated to process visuals so adding pictures will engage you even more..

Ex: Add a picture of the type of body that you want in terms of fitness. Also add images of the type of body that you do NOT want to once again serve as a counter-vision and remind you what you could potentially fall into if you’re not careful.

Step 6. Constantly be refining your ethos and making it as compelling as possible so that you get excited every time you read it. The goal is for you to read it and feel deeply connected to your mission. You want to feel ready to ATTACK.

Closing Thoughts

The above steps are a template. My own personal ethos is actually quite a bit more complex and takes me about 15 minutes to read. I have refined it over time. I have personally added in components based on my goals for contributing to society and leaving a legacy. I have also added a reminder of the amount of days left until I’m 30 years old and I update that number on a daily basis in order to light a fire under my ass. Feel free to add your own little touches once again.

Another thing is that you want your ethos to take 15 min MAXIMUM to read. Ideally, you’ll make it shorter so that you can in to the habit of reading it easier. I suggest reading it first thing in the morning before you do anything else like checking notifications, etc. Also, pop in some headphones and add in an inspirational track to boost the effect even more. Lastly, when you first wake up, you might feel sluggish and reading a document might make you want to fall asleep so move around a bit by doing 10 burpees or something so that the blood is flowing and you’re more focused when you read it.

Need help designing your persona ethos? Contact me for a one-on-one coaching session and I can help walk you through those steps and help you refine it a lot quicker. To do that, simply send an email over to

Also feel free to send over your ethos, I’d love to see how you guys do!


Maximillian Giamarco


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Maximillian Giamarco

Entrepreneur, coach, and author. Spartan Ownership is centered on providing groundbreaking content, products, and services tailored to improving men's lives. Main areas of focus include masculine lifestyle design, character development, self-discipline, MMA, women, mind and body optimization, and more!

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