The following sections appear in their entirety in the Curriculum section of our Forum, available to members.
About the Competencies
The Monument self-development curriculum is intended to act as a complement to our theory content and is organized along three broad categories of competencies, all of which are intended to produce distinct outcomes and designed to noticeably increase your quality of life.
The three categories of competencies are: Integrity, Relation to Yourself, and Relation to Others. Each competency has five levels. When you’ve mastered one level, you request to move up and a community leader reveals the next level, which you practice until you’re ready to proceed to the next, until you reach the fifth and final level. The curriculum is designed to have you reach its intended outcomes by completing and continually practicing all five levels of each competency.
Some people will struggle with some categories and excel in others - this is normal. Some of you will find that you already do what is required for a particular level of a category; for many of you, it will be a real challenge to integrate some of these practices into your lives. The categories or levels with which you struggle the most will end up being the ones that have the biggest impact on your life.
You should feel free to share your experiences with the curriculum or ask any questions you have about the categories on any of our platforms (Forum, Subreddit, Discord).
Most people relate to integrity as the quality of having strong principles. A more all-encompassing definition of integrity is: The state of being whole and undivided. Integrity is the practice of presenting a unified self in every context, including when no one is watching.
By nature of what it means to be human, no one can be perfectly integrous all the time. Humans are not unitary creatures - read our foundational posts to learn why inner conflict is an unavoidable part of being alive. Just like an object obeying the law of gravity, the natural tendency of integrity is to be in freefall, and we must choose to uphold it. So integrity is not only a state of being, it is also an active practice, and a commitment to perform that practice.
Integrity means having your thoughts and actions aligned with your principles in every context, but it also means more than that. Some of the things you would do as a person with integrity include:
Doing what you know you should be doing for yourself
Doing things the way you know they should be done
Keeping the promises you made, and not making ones you can’t keep
Obeying the rules in place, even when there are no consequences to breaking them
Doing all these things even when others around you aren't
Integrity comes before the other two competencies - it acts as a foundation for everything you do in your life. Any sacrifice of integrity produces an erosion at the level of the self, and undermines your overall capacity to perform in all aspects of your life.
By advancing in the Integrity category, you’ll learn to...
Be true to yourself
Present a consistent self in different contexts
Be known as a person of principle, and someone who can be trusted
Become someone whose word is his bond
Suppress and overcome the natural urges that aren't in line with your principles
Fulfill your commitments both to yourself and to others
Learn to be at peace with the parts of your life you can’t change
The first level of the Integrity category is…
Integrity I - Honor Your Commitments
One of the most fundamental aspects of integrity is to meet the basic expectations that people have of you.
1. Be on time for every engagement you have.
This one will be hard for many of you. Being consistently late is a form of internal and subconscious resistance against the responsibilities we resent, and is a natural habit of people who are unhappy with certain aspects of their lives. A person with integrity isn’t in constant resistance against aspects of their lives; they work on making the changes they need to make to have their will in harmony with their responsibilities and duties.
Show up on time to work every day, even a few minutes early. Make the changes you need to make in your routine to always be on time. If you find yourself in resistance against your job, take the short-term actions needed to make a change in your life.
Be on time for every meeting or interaction you schedule. This includes every social interaction you have, professional or otherwise. Practice making clear engagements and time commitments with others. Don’t use ambiguity as an excuse to be lenient with your punctuality.
2. Learn to value your own word; never give it freely or without reflection.
Part of preserving one’s integrity is not making commitments that we aren’t sure we can honor. Don’t make commitments you can’t keep, but don’t use the desire to be cautious as an excuse to not commit to things that you can safely and realistically commit to. Above all, be honest with yourself about your own capacity, and don’t misrepresent this capacity to others.
Some of us need to learn to say ‘no’ more often. If someone you know approaches you with an issue and you’re unsure about being able to help, you can say…
“I feel like I can't reliably commit to that right now but I do want to help”
"I can't commit to that right now"
"I don't feel like I can firmly commit to that right now"
It’s normal to feel a certain social pressure to give a quick and clear answer to requests; train yourself to pause and reflect on your responses to people rather than reacting instinctively.
Relation to Self
The Relation to Self category, as the name implies, is all about building a better relationship to yourself over time. People talk about self-care but they don’t often talk about the idea of seeing yourself as a person with whom you have a relationship.
The Relation to Self category is not just about self-care: it’s about the respect you display towards yourself; it’s about the things you tolerate for yourself; and it’s about the opinion you have of yourself as a person. You are the one and only person with whom you have to spend the entirety of your life - making the relationship you have to yourself the most important one of your life. Here are a few things to keep in mind about one’s relationship to oneself.
First, love of self is at the root of your performance in life - it is prior to everything else. Some men feel that they’ll finally love and respect themselves once they’ve made something of themselves; once they’ve accomplished something. In this view, love of self follows accomplishment - but the relation is actually the opposite: accomplishment is likely to follow from love of self, not the other way around.
Second, the way you perceive and treat yourself reverberates in all other aspects of your life. How you relate to yourself is how you teach others to relate to you. If you think of yourself as someone who has little to offer, others will think of you the same way. If you don’t have self-respect, others will not respect you.
Third, if you don’t value yourself as a person, you’ll fall for anyone who gives you the least bit of positive attention - your mind will conflate decency and kindness with an actual emotional connection because such things will make you feel great in comparison to how you usually relate to yourself. Men who compulsively seek romantic or sexual connection, or who are constantly at the mercy of their feelings of attraction, are really dealing with the lack of a stable and secure sense of self-worth.
Some men acquire a strong sense of self-worth from an early age and carry it with them their whole lives - but most men don’t. It’s exceedingly easy for a person to develop low self-esteem because, by nature, we attach strong meanings to our failures and shortcomings, and before long, these meanings start to structure our personal reality and sense of self. Self-esteem is also something that can easily be affected by childhood experiences and our relation to our parents. Through your involvement with Monument, and through your advancing in the Relation to Self part of the curriculum, you’ll learn to relate to these meanings as what they are: personal constructions - falsities - that operate below the level of our consciousness and run our lives in ways we don’t even notice.
The first level of the Relation to Self category is...
Self I - Clean Environment, Clear Mind
Self-respect has to do with the things you tolerate for yourself. Someone with strong self-respect would not tolerate living in a dirty or messy environment. In the Relation to Self aspect of the Curriculum, you’re going to learn to demand more for yourself. The first step you’ll take towards that goal is to keep your immediate environment clean and tidy at all times.
Make your bed every day as part of your morning routine
If you don’t already do this, take a few minutes every morning to make your bed - wake up a little earlier if you have to. Having your bed made makes your whole room feel cleaner and more welcoming, and coming home to a made bed actually has a noticeable impact on your mood and mental health.
Keep your desk and/or workspace clean and organized
Put away all unnecessary items crowding your desk. Don’t keep piles of books or papers that you don’t currently need.
Keep your room clean and organized
This means: no piles of dirty clothes; no junk, garbage, or clutter laying around; regular dusting of shelves and surfaces (at least twice a month); cleaning floors.
If you share common spaces with others, keep those clean as well regardless of whether it is your explicit responsibility to do so.
If need be, have conversations with the people you live with about the cleanliness of your shared spaces and the level of effort expected from everyone. Do this with composure, tact, and respect.
Relation to Others
Whether we like it or not, our relationships with others is one of the main sources of value in our lives. If the quality of your relationships is poor, then it doesn’t matter how many of them you have in your life: you can be surrounded by people and still feel fundamentally alone. If the relationships you have in your life are not fulfilling, then it doesn’t matter what else you have: you can have the more materially-advantaged lifestyle and still feel empty, unfulfilled, and unloved.
The Relation to Others section of the curriculum invites you to engage with questions such as...
What is the cost of having poor relations to others? What is the long-term cost of not maintaining good relationships?
What type of people do you surround yourself with, and what effect do they have on your mentality? Are you surrounded by people who elevate you or people who limit you?
How much of what goes on in your inner life are your closest friends aware of? How well do the people closest to you really know you?
What does it mean for someone to be a good friend, and what is the basis of an actually rewarding friendship?
Do you feel seen for who you are? Is the value you see in yourself validated by others? And if so, to what extent?
Do you feel like the people around you see you as someone with notable achievements, or as someone capable of achieving great things?
Do you feel understood and seen for who you really are?
Do your closest friends love you? Have they told you so? Does it matter to you?
How comfortable do the people around you feel coming to you with something that is truly bothering them, or that they’re struggling with?
Making connections with others is a skill. Sometimes it appears as something that some people are just naturally predisposed to, but that’s only because they’ve developed in such a way that they practiced the skill from a young age and they’ve internalized it to the point where it comes naturally to them. Connecting with others is a skill, and like any skill it can be practiced and developed until it comes naturally to you.
Some of us are well-integrated into a group of friends but still may not feel fulfilled by those relationships on a certain level; some of us lead more isolated lives and have little or no friends; some of us have to deal with social anxiety or just have a hard time connecting with others. We can have different reasons for wanting to make a change in our relations to others around us. Whatever yours are, the Relation to Others aspect of the curriculum will help you cultivate and maintain the type of connections you want.
The first level of the Relation to Others category is...
Others I - Practice Thinking About Others
The first level of the Relation to Others category doesn’t even involve changing the way you interact with other people - yet. For now, you’re just going to practice a different way of thinking and relating to others. Learning to think about others, even in small ways, is a simple skill that unequivocally makes people like you more.
1. Know what’s going on in the lives of people around you. Practice keeping in mind three (3) important details of people’s lives at all times.
Remembering aspects of people’s lives is the easiest way to indicate to them that they matter to you. By doing so, people will naturally see you in a positive light and relate to you as a thoughtful person.
The details you remember can have to do with anything. Some of the questions you should be asking are: What is happening in their life right now? What happened recently? What are they working on? What are they hoping for? What are they committed to? How are the people around them doing?
“John’s uncle was in the hospital recently”
“Cynthia just got a new dog”
“Mary is working on her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering”
2. Memorize the birthdays of everyone around you, starting with immediate family and friends, working your way to in-laws, relatives, and co-workers
Something as simple as remembering someone’s birthday can mean a lot to the people around you. Birthdays are forgotten all the time - remembering the birthdays of people around you is one of the easiest ways to make a strong positive impression on someone.
Keep a mental list of wishes you have for the people around you and communicate it to them on their birthday. This should be made easier if you’re already doing #1 above. Wishes can range from the personal to the more general, depending on how well you know the person.
“I wish you to find fulfillment in your new job”
“I wish good health to you and your family”
“I wish for you to feel at home in your new place”
If you’re going to buy someone a gift, don’t rely on others to give you ideas. Men often rely on others around them to come up with gift ideas: this type of habit should be curbed. Thinking about what others might like to receive forces you to put in the mental effort to know them as a person. (Optional) Keep a mental (or physical) list of gifts you might want to get for particular people.