Grit & Gameness: How to Be Good at Being a Man

It seems that our society is hell bent on teaching goodness and equality and fairness without putting much thought into the values and virtues that make greatness. Rewarding based on participation rather than merit does more damage than good. Creating an artificial, level playing field removes initiative and reward for going above and beyond. Trying to teach goodness without teaching the strength that makes goodness successful seems silly. Yet it’s what we do.

We love talking about being a “good man”, but spend little time going over what it means to be “good at being a man.” Intentions take the place of results. In our own lives we’re so intent on being nice that we lose the virtues that made us successful, and that have made men successful since the days when we had to hunt for our food with spears.

Goodness must be built on a strong foundation or it will be lost and of little use.

The world, our society, your family, and you, need a man who is good, but also gritty and game. It’s grit that will help you endure through life’s hardships while aspiring for something better than the mediocrity we’re guaranteed if we give up and fall in line. Grit is more about survival, it’s aspiring for more while having the courage to persist.

Gameness brings you to the battle.

We’re starting to open our eyes to the necessity of grit. Researchers are discovering that it’s not talent that wins, but grit. It isn’t an innate ability, or the capacity to learn with ease that brings victory to our youth, but the thirst for hard work and the acceptance of both failure and pain as necessities of life.

Gameness, however, is something we’re almost turning our backs on, throwing under the bus, seeing as barbaric and neanderthalic when it’s gameness that has brought men to victory since Moses wore short pants.

Fighting for Fighting’s Sake

The Israelite army wash shaking in their sandals. They’d waged a war against the Philistines who happened to show up with a giant on their side. If you’ve seen the film, Troy, with Bradley Pitt, the opening scene is similar. Rather on flat land, however, picture a valley. The Israelites on one side and the Philistines on the other. As was customary in those times – and by God I wish it were customary in our times – a single Philistine soldier issued a challenge to the Israelite army rather than the two slaughtering one another in a sea of humanity. Similar to the film, the fella issuing the challenge was a monster. He was far bigger than any man the Israelites had and while a man can have courage with an army at his side, no man from the Israelite forces had the courage to step out from the shadows alone and fight the giant. This went on for a few days. No man would stand and fight Goliath, the behemoth that opposed them on the other side of the valley, and no “man” ever would.

Finally, a boy, a shepherd and musician who’d play the harp for the Israelite king stepped forward with a gameness that has rarely been matched in the thousands of years that have occurred since. Initially his brothers, his king, and the men standing with him on the side of the Israelite army laughed at him and dismissed his desire to fight the monster that stood opposing them. This boy, however, is the only one who had the balls to fight the rather large warrior who was calling them out, making the lot of them look like pussies.

So what were they to do? Allow this boy to fight in their stead, or actually take the hundreds of steps down into the valley and face Goliath on their own.

Eventually they gave in to David’s plea to fight, and we all know what happened next. Rather than engaging the grown ass man standing in front of him, laughing at the puny shepherd, David put a rock in his sling, swung the thing in the air, launched it and hit Goliath smack-dab betwixt his eyes. The giant went down. David walked over, took the behemoth’s large sword, and chopped off his head.

David was being good at being a man. Chopping a guy’s head off isn’t seen as “being a good man”, but the gameness required to fight a man twice his size is seen as both courageous and manly, even foolish.

Where we’ve lost masculinity isn’t necessarily in what it means to be a good man. We all know goodness, to an extent. Where our greatest failures have come is in understanding what it means to be good at being a man, and gameness is a prerequisite to masculinity in a way that it’s definitely not a prerequisite to femininity, at least not in humans.

Gameness brings you to the battle. Grit helps you endure its tribulations.

The World is Tough. No Matter What Your Worldview Is.

And he said, “Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you’d have to get tough or die
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong”

He said, “Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do
But ya ought to thank me, before I die
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
‘Cause I’m the son-of-a-bitch that named you Sue”

Grit is doing what you must to, though you may not want to do it, to be who you want to become, to accomplish what you want to accomplish. Grit is doing the work, no matter how arduous it may be, every damn day no matter who’s watching. Gameness is what gets you up for the fight, it’s what enables you to put your foot in the arena. (Read This: How to Become a Man of True Grit)

Grit brings you to the battle. Grit is the act of fighting no matter how long the war wages on. It’s fighting through wins and losses without quitting or thinking about quitting. You need both gameness and grit.

The world is a tough place, no matter where you live or what your view of it may be. You can be ignorant to how tough a place it is, but at some point in your life, this reality will come crashing down upon you and it’s gameness and grit that will help you not only survive, but thrive.

For starters, fuck surviving.

If you were put here to survive you wouldn’t have ambition gnawing at your soul begging of you to become more. Survival may have once been a great accomplishment. When you’re a skinny human running around with saber-tooth tigers with nothing but a wooden spear in your hands, survival is actually out of the norm. Death was normal. Being eaten was likely. Dying from infection, a daily occurrence. Survival, that was an accomplishment.

It is, in some cases, still quite an accomplishment. Now, however, we have the capacity to shape our world like never before, and with this ability has come a loss of the grit and gameness that made each of our ancestors survivors while their pals died before they could plant their seed.

Gameness in the wild, in a tribal setting, even in sports, is a must. The timid soul fails, the guy who’s game and steps to the plate while the rest of his team quivers at the possibility of failure, wins, even if he doesn’t win. Grit enables the training and preparation to allow the gameness to result in victory.

Without gameness you’re stuck on the bench. Without grit you’ll quit. While goodness and niceness are good and nice to have, grit and gameness are a must if you’re going to win at the game of life.

As life will present you with challenges you may not think you can withstand, it’s important that you possess both the gameness to stand up and attack the challenges head on, and the grit to endure the often long and seemingly pointless battle you’re waging. So how is gameness created and grit practiced?

That’s the question…

It’s a question that few can answer, if anyone. The responsibility falls on a society, on parents, and on the individual. And since society has turned its back on toughness, grit, gameness, and all things manly, and since you’re likely a tad too old to be asking your parents to force you to become more game and grittier, that responsibility lands squarely on the shoulders of you, the individual most responsible for your own success and happiness in this lifetime.

Practicing Grit and Gameness

What we’re doing daily as we live our lives either on auto pilot or on purpose, is practicing. We’re either practicing improvement or mediocrity, softness or toughness, weakness or strength. The idea is to lay out a routine and the habits that will help you improve in life, and acquiring greater grit and gameness must be on the list of things you aim to practice or else they simply won’t happen.

Practicing grit can be a bit easier than practicing gameness because grit is often doing the things you may not want to do for the greater good. For your success.


To practice grit, take care of your home. Take pride in where you live, work, eat, sleep, mate. Have a routine where you give time to yard work and keeping things in order. Do the job until it’s done.


Practice persistence, daily. One of the best places to practice it is in the gym. Don’t take rest periods longer than those prescribed. Finish the workout. Don’t cut corners. Endure. Practice this also in your life. See things through that you’ve set out to finish. Always. Without question. Sure, shift and evolve, but don’t quit when things become difficult.

Gameness is another animal because it’s best practiced in the face of physical fears.

The practice gameness does not mean that you should walk up to a giant human and attempt to beat their brains out. It may mean that you sign up to a boxing gym. Practice gameness may mean that you practice jumping at the chance of adventure despite any danger that may accompany it.

Gameness isn’t being ready for action when all things are calm. Gameness is being as David was, ready to fight and to die when all others quiver in their sandals.

Both gameness and grit require self-awareness.

You need to hear the voice that is telling you to quit so you can stand up against it. Most hear the voice as their voice. Not as a voice that opposes who they are; their character. To hear a weak voice as something other than who you are sets you up to be able to fight against it and persist through its temptations over time. It allows you to have grit.

Self-awareness also enables gameness. It’s necessary to determine whether your fears of physical harm are intelligence or the wuss in you. It’s also important to understand that life cannot be forever, and that living life as a victim purely for survival is no way to live. I said fuck surviving earlier, and it applies again, here. To live is to enter life’s arena; which requires gameness. To live is to exist and work for something greater than your own survival, for a purpose; which requires grit. The two are not only vital virtues required for greatness, but happiness as well. They are the two primary virtues you need to man up and live the life you can be destined to live.

Practice both of them daily. Be aware of the internal battles you face because its these that shape the man you are to become and they’re happening every second.