You’re not a real man just because your balls have dropped, your voice has deepened, or you have some hair on your face. Just because you have a job, lot’s of money, or even a family – although the latter responsibility has turned many a boy into a man – doesn’t give you the title of being a real man either.
Being a man has nothing to do with age, status, or muscle. And everything to do with character.
Freud says we’re a product of our own desires. That these desires are out of our control. They’re innate. Our dreams, goals, and who we are, are a result of our nature and our nurture. They are out of our control.
Viktor Frankl has different theories. Frankl puts the blame, power, and onus on the individual to make his own decisions, create his own desires, and determine who they are, and who they are to become.
Frankl says we have choices. I agree with him. We can choose what influences us. We can rise above our surroundings. We can be a man. This ‘taking control’ and responsibility is at the heart of what it means to be a man. A boy accepts excuses. A man accepts blame.
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” ~ James D. Miles
A real man has characteristics. So does a boy, a woman, a saint, and a scumbag. In this article we’re going to go over a man’s character, and how it is developed.
Yes, I’m going to pull the 9th grade intro to an essay and state the definition:
Character: qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity.
Character: refers to the sum of the characteristics possessed by a person. Character refers especially to moral qualities, ethical standards, principles, and the like: a man of sterling character.
Our character is who we are everyday. Our character is how we react in the lowest of lows, the highest of highs, and everywhere in between. It’s who we are when no one’s around. No one to impress. No one to trick.
“Everyone tries to define this thing called Character. It’s not hard. Character is doing what’s right when nobody’s looking.”
In Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning“, he speaks about finding meaning in our suffering… and the man knows about suffering.
Taken from his home, his family, and everything dear to him – including his research – and tossed into a concentration camp during the Second World War, suffering was a daily occurrence. There was no joy, no bright moments, and even if there were they were soon squashed by the hate and darkness of the camp.
We’re not likely to go through such an ordeal, but we will all have suffering in our lives. Our loved one’s will die. We will fail. We will experience pain, and even hopelessness. It’s in this pain and hopelessness where we develop our character.
Think Cinderella Man. James J. Braddock, at the height of boxing, with everything going his way, falls, and falls hard. He breaks his hand and never fully allows it to heal, so he can’t fight like he used to. He can’t find work in the height of the Great Depression. He has 3 kids and a wife to take care of.
A family that seems more like a burden to more and more men, and they begin to leave their families because they just can’t handle it anymore. But Braddock stays. He not only stays, but refuses to give up. He doesn’t allow his shitty circumstances to change the man he is. Nor does he complain or cry about what life has thrown his way.
He even swallows his pride – and he had a lot of it – to save his family.
The pain, the uncertainty, and the hopelessness that was his life during these times, prepared him for what was to come: a shot at the heavyweight title. Having been through what would break most men, and send them to drink, made him stronger. A fight was nothing compared to what he endured daily. The stress of having a family to take care of and no source of income to take care of them with. Not having the means to feed your children, who are always looking to you for support and for strength.
It was the tough times that built his character. Character that remained in tact when some good fortune began to come his way.
How would you act?
Rather, how do we act when things don’t go our way? This is how we’re going to build character and become the men we can become, and those around us deserve to have in their lives.
We build character by:
– doing what we say we’re going
– following through on our promises
– acting in accordance to our principles
It’s great to THINK something nice, but it’s useless unless you act upon that thought.
We build character by:
– going through tough times and learning from them
– being the same person both when the shit hits the fan, and when we can’t lose
– working hard and never, never, never giving up
Do you talk bad about people behind their back, then act like their best friend to their face? If so, you are not a man.
Do you act like you love your wife to her face and in public, then cheat on her when your little head starts thinking for your big head? If so, you are not a man.
Do you say one thing, then do the opposite when no one’s looking?
Men are who they are. Of course we’re flawed, very much so actually. A man isn’t necessarily a saint, but he’s always better than he used to be. And he’s the same guy behind closed doors as he is in public. A man has courage, and he most definitely has character.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln