We are where we deserve to be. We have what we deserve to have. The work we’ve done, how we’ve persevered, and the discipline we’ve shown, has given us what we have. The breaks we’ve created for ourselves have resulted in our current degree of success. If we’re going to accomplish more and improve where we are right now, we have to improve who we are.
Who are the men we going to become?
I visit the iTunes store daily, looking for new songs in genre’s ranging from country, rock, to hip hop/rap. Today, I bought the Zac Brown Band’s “the Day That I Die“. Solid song with some great lines. One in particular caught my attention…
But I found peace with the path I took, As I lay down my head.
I’m far from the man I am going to or want to become. What we have to be conscious of is that the decisions we make in life, even the most minuscule, can impact whether we’re at peace with how we lived our lives as we lay our head’s down for the last time.
In past articles I’ve talked about what it means to be a real man. The characteristics of real men, how to become a legend, and things that real men wouldn’t do were very popular articles. Look to those articles for ideas of what real men are. Today, however, we’re focusing on action steps we can take that will help us become better men.
Becoming a Better Man
“In this day and age, some turn 18 and think they’re a man or a woman and that’s it, but that’s just not true. You have to establish your manhood or your womanhood with actions.” ~ Orlando McGuire
Manhood has taken dramatically different forms over the years. Once the leader of the house, the provider, the hunter/gatherer, the lines that dictate what manhood is are more blurry than ever before. But we’re going to fix that.
Below are steps that every man should take in becoming the best he possibly can be. Some may anger you. Some may seem unfair. Each of those are the far from my intentions. In one of the steps I use the word fuck. A word that I don’t use all that often when I speak with friends, and very seldom when I write (never, now that I think of it).
It is, however, a word that makes a sentence more powerful. The phrase I’m referring to is a call to action that needs the harshness of a word that has gone from being a crude word for a beautiful act, to one that could take the place of a thousand exclamation points with one, harsh, raw, syllable. Take the word as one that brings more command to the phrase. One that gives the sentence more anger, ferocity, and power. Please, do not think of the word as the crude description of sex.
And so, as I structure my days, and my life, to becoming a better man in spirit, mind, and body, let’s embark on our quest with tangible, doable steps that will help us create the man who is proud of the life he has lived as he lays his head down for his last breath.
Know Your Values (write them down!)
“If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values — that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.” ~ Martin Luther King jr.
Take a pen and pad, or open up a word document and write down a list of values you will never compromise on.
A man who has values will stand firm when all others are being knocked around by life and it’s harsh reality. We need to know our values now, so as life brings us through tribulation – which it will – we won’t compromise. We won’t bend to take the easier road. We won’t lose who we are when success comes our way. We’ll have the courage to be true to ourselves.
I’ll never cheat on my wife. I’ll always stand up for someone who needs standing up for. I’ll always do the right thing in business, not the easiest thing. I’ll never take advantage of people in my business or in line. I’ll work hard every day of my life. I’ll never be too proud to ask for help. I’ll never take my health for granted. I’ll laugh every day. I’ll treat my wife or girlfriend like an absolute princess. I’ll fight for what I believe in, even if standing up to fight will cost me in other areas of my life. I will never, never, never give up.
Those are a few examples. Write your own down and keep them close. But writing them down isn’t enough. Review is necessary. Don’t leave them after this exercise. Review them, add to them, and subtract from them daily, or at the very least, weekly.
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” ~ Martin Luther King jr.
Man the Fuck Up!
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ~ Martin Luther King jr.
Every man should worship the ground that his lady walks on – otherwise, why be with her? A man shouldn’t be satisfied with where he is in life, he should want more. A man should be smart in choosing his battles. He should NOT be a hot head that goes looking for fights (verbally or physically)…
…But holy shit, men still need to be men!
Be head over heels in love with your lady, that’s what life’s all about. But don’t be a lap dog. Don’t let her walk all over you if she’s the type that will. Don’t let your co-workers walk all over you, your boss, your friends, your parents. Stand up for yourself. Put your foot down when it’s called for. Have strength.
Live in a way that makes you proud of who you are, then be proud of who you are. Hold your head high. Be yourself uncompromisingly so. Be kind, loving, thoughtful, have an open mind to new experiences, but tread your own, unbeaten path.
Choose your battles, yes, but fight some damn battles. We just wrote down our values and what we stand for as men. To man up is to put those values into action. If you see a lady being mistreated, or an old person being pushed around, get over there and defend them! Don’t be one of those guys who puts his head down and ignores the truth around him because he wants to avoid trouble.
Easier said than done? Yes. Will we make mistakes? Of course. Will this be taken the wrong way in some cases? By all means. But it needs to be said.
Society on the whole is becoming weak. We let stuff fly that should. We let people get taken advantage of when we should be man enough to step in and end it.
A guy that comes to the rescue of someone is considered a hero in today’s world. He’s considered a hero because he’s the one out of 100 who saw what was going on but only he decided to take action. This should be the norm, not heroism.
I’m not writing this to encourage fighting. I think fighting is useless, unless it’s necessary. If a guy hits a woman, sometimes the only way to stop him is to knock him down so hard that he can’t get up. If a business partner or colleague is taking advantage of his customers and lying to them in an effort to get a sale, man up and talk to the guy. Put him in his place.
I’m in no position to tell people how to live their lives. But that doesn’t mean we have to stand idly by as weak men, when we could be doing good.
Take responsibility for where you are in life. Because where we are right now is where we deserve to be. If we deserved something better based on the work we’ve done, we’d have it. Realize this: if we want something more we have to do something more, or different. A man doesn’t complain.
The only way to do this is to write our values down like we just did, then be conscious of when we’re faced with moments where these values are tested. Read your values daily along with your perfect day, and your goals. Engrain them into your brain so the next time you’re faced with a challenge, manning up will be a reaction, not a conscious thought.
You’re stronger than you think. Show that strength by making the decision to work harder if you’re not happy with where you are in life. Show it by standing up for yourself and for others. Be the strength your lady needs. Be the man you need to be to become a Legend.
To man up is to do all of this, but also to be kind to those who need it. To support those who have no foundation. To be a servant, but also a leader. Man up!
Never complain again as long as we’re alive. If we want something, go get it. If we don’t have something, realize it’s because we haven’t done what’s necessary to get it.
“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” ~ Martin Luther King jr.
I’ve learned more about myself and about life in the past 6 months, than I did in 3 years of college, because now I’m actively pursuing knowledge. Back then I was doing what I was told. Actually, I wasn’t doing what I was being told to do, that was the problem.
If you want to know more about the world, experience it, but also read. Read other articles on this site, and pick up the books I mention in this article. Each of them help us become better, tougher, more courageous men.
Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl is a book that every human should read. We all suffer. We all go through tough times. None are in a fight that is unique to them. Our suffering may be unfair, unjust, and painful, but it is. There is meaning in it. There are lessons to learn.
Consciously be aware of these lessons. It’s in our tough times that we’re shaped. But we don’t need to wait to our struggles to become better men and learn about ourselves. Take action.
A line from one of my favorite movies explains it best. Calogero Anello, the main character in the film says about him being schooled by the gangster, and by his teachers, ” I was getting two educations, one for the street and one from school. That way, I’d be twice as smart as everybody.”
We need to actively take our education into our own hands. Reading and experiences will teach us more about being a man than anything else. Getting out of our comfort zone is learning. It will change how we view life and what you think is possible and realistic.
Reading has formed how I see the world and what I can accomplish in this world.
Task: read the following 5 books before year’s end.
Learn How to Be Positive
“You are the embodiment of the information you choose to accept and act upon. To change your circumstances you need to change your thinking and subsequent actions.” ~ Adlin Sinclair
A real man doesn’t complain, ever. Verbally or in how he carries himself. If this isn’t how you naturally are, then change. Positivity is contagious. People are drawn to it, so is success.
Get control of your internal thoughts. It’s something that I’ve had to – and still do – work hard on. Being conscious of your self-talk is step one. From there we have to learn how to change the negative thoughts into positive ones.
This doesn’t mean we have our head in the clouds, dancing aimlessly, hugging trees, bowing and saying “namaste” to every Tom, Dick, and Harry that walks by. What it does mean is ignoring failure as a possibility, then doing what’s necessary to make success reality.
Being positive makes us stronger, not weaker. We’re able to take more risks. We’re happier, better to hang around, and we’re much more likely to accomplish what we’re setting out to do. Strong, positive people win, negative people lose.
Tasks: At the beginning and end of every day read where you’re going to be in 1 year’s time. Read it as if it’s already occurred, and it’s waiting for you in a year’s time. Be audacious. And be specific.
“Those who believe they can do something and those who believe they can’t are both right.” ~ Henry Ford
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” ~ Epictetus
“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” ~ Mark Victor Hansen
In his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill talks about the difference between an unemployed man who’s down on his luck, and a man who’s successful. It’s night and day. You can not only hear it in how they talk and what they talk about, but their stature and demeanor.
The funny thing is that the route to success is often preceded by years of failure. So how does that work? Is the guy who’s grinding it every day but yet to find success less of a man than the guy who’s already found success? No. Often, oddly enough, it’s the opposite.
Success is a state of mind. Read Napoleon Hill’s book. It’s a classic, and it will transform the way you think. Don’t think about your success as something that’s in question. Even though you may not know your path to success (yet), work and act as if it’s already waiting for you.
Work your butt off in everything you do, and persevere when others would quit. Do this because you know deep in your soul that your success is a foregone conclusion. Never be a defeated man. Never think you’ve run out of “luck”. Never think of a hand you’ve been delt as a bad hand. There’s no such thing.
Whatever your career or path in life, set a goal and decide to achieve it. Life may not go your way, but if you live your life by the values of hard work, persistence, and maintaining character, you’ll be successful.
Gandhi was dirt poor, but he was successful. As was Jesus. Both men who we’ll read about for thousands of years to come. We all have different definitions of success, but know your definition, then make it so.
Task: Create your perfect day.
Write down every detail of your perfect day if you had to live one day, everyday for the rest of your life. What are your thoughts? Who are your customers? Who are you helping? Who do you wake up next to? What are your pet’s names, where do you live, what do you eat, what motivates and inspires you?
My perfect day is about 4 pages long. This is my definition of success. Even if I don’t have a clear path to get there yet, I know where I’m going to end up. It already is. It’s just waiting for me to do what’s necessary to make it my reality. My perfect day may change as I grow older, in which case I’ll change what I have written down. Define your vision of what success looks like.
And never relent.
Becoming the best person we can be is a lifelong journey. But in this article, I’ve given you things that can be done daily, starting today, that will take you closer to the guy you can be.
1. Write down your values and what you stand for.
2. Put them into action. Rehearse them daily and start living them.
3. Educate yourself by pushing what you do on a daily basis. Get out of your comfort zone and read as much as you can. Buy the books in the list as a starting point.
4. Change the way you think, or improve on how you think. Our thoughts are tangible. We see them in the life that we create. Learn how to be a positive guy by using the two books as guidelines that I give you in that section.
5. Have a goal and achieve it. We tend to downplay success as a requisite for manliness. But I think a real man is successful. Some are financially