You Are What You ATE, Part I – Erik Kondo

Most people are familiar with the expression “You are what you eat.” It makes sense. Eat lots of high fat content greasy foods and you get obese. Eat mainly lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and you stay nice and trim.

But you are also defined by your actions and by how you explain your actions to others. How you respond to occurrences and events in your life is a big part of who you are. What’s the difference between an accomplished expert and a bumbling novice? The expert both acts and communicates in an effective manner, whereas the novice does not.

Much of how a person responds to any given stimulus comes down to his or her individual ATE.


A = Attributes (innate abilities and hardwiring acquired from birth)

T = Training (what has been acquired from formalized training and education)

E = Experience (what has been acquired from life experience)

Think about it for a moment. Take different people, individually expose them to the exact same stimulus, next watch to see what happens. How the subjects respond is not random. They will respond in accordance with their ATE programming. People with a different ATE are likely to respond in correspondingly different manner in accordance with their ATE.

In terms of conflict management, let’s imagine for a moment that Person A is walking down the sidewalk and suddenly violently attacked from the rear. Person A is a 6’ 4” 220 lbs. physical specimen. He is an also a highly trained Navy Seal just back from his 3rd tour of duty in Afghanistan where he was involved in undercover operations.

One block over, Person B is also ambushed from behind. Person B is 5’ 2” and 110 lbs. Person B rarely exercises and works as an accountant for the IRS. Person B has had no training in any type of martial arts or physical self-defense. He has never been in involved in a violent incident in his life.

Person A and Person B are exposed to the same stimulus. But how they respond is determined by how they consciously and unconsciously perceive and assess the situation. While awake, people are in a state of continually assessing input from the environment. Most assessments are done automatically without conscious thought. We just do them as we go about our lives. Driving a car provides an example of a continuous stream of conscious/unconscious assessments, actions, and/or continuations of actions. These assessments come naturally from our awareness of the environment. For example, when driving, if you see a stop sign at an intersection, you decide to stop. If you don’t see a stop sign, you continue on your current course.

Awareness leads to assessments which leads to actions. Many times these actions need to be articulated. “I didn’t stop at the stop sign because I didn’t see it. It was obscured by a tree, Officer.”

But we all don’t have the same paradigm of awareness. Accomplished drivers know what to look for. Unaccomplished drivers will “see” a dangerous event unfold, yet not be aware of what is happening. A skilled driver has a different ATE than an unskilled one. The same goes people when it comes to conflict management. The ATE of skilled conflict managers differ greatly from unskilled ones.

In the earlier example, Person A and Person B will respond in vastly different manners due to their respective ATE. They will explain their actions also in accordance with their ATE. You are what you accomplish, and what you accomplish is linked directly to your ATE.

Someone who is “stuck” in life responds in accordance to a static script. This type of person’s ATE doesn’t change. Their knowledge says at the same level. Their experiences are viewed to be the same. They learn nothing new from them. This type of person has a fixed belief system. People with fixed belief systems and ATEs are living in an endlessly repeating loop. Like a pen circling on paper, the path becomes more and more entrenched into their mind and body. This static belief system is reinforced with stereotypes, bias, and closed-mindedness.

In contrast are those whose ATEs are under a constant state of evolvement. They seek out varied training and diverse experiences. Their belief system is fluid and subject to change. Their responses and scripts evolve with time. Since these people’s actions are constantly evolving, they are more defined by the sum of their accomplishments. Those with a static ATE are more identified by their belief system.

Unless you have somehow maximized your ATE at a very high level of accomplishment, you likely have much room for improvement. There is not so much you can do to change your inherited attributes. But you certainly can evolve your training and experience in order to reach a higher level of accomplishment.

An accomplished person effectively articulates what he or she does. What he does results from his assessment of the situation. His assessment is derived from his awareness of his the environment. His awareness, assessment, action(s), and articulation are all a function of his Attributes, Training, and Experience (ATE).

Part II

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