How to Become a Better Man
My mom’s Italian. She was born in Italy and came over to Canada when she was seven years old. Italian mothers tell their son’s to be ‘good’.
That’s the instruction they give at the beginning of the day. It isn’t to be smart, or to do well in school or to win the game, you’re simply told to be good.
Being good in the context of being a good man has to take into consideration your role as a man, and what it means to be a man. For thousands of years you’ve been provider and protector. The Roman view of manliness was virtus, or the pursuit of excellence in all things.
This definition is the foundation of this article. You’re a provider and protector, don’t let a confused society tell you otherwise. You’re also here to pursue excellence with courage, honor, and character, to be anything less, to aim for anything less, is a waste of the time you have here.
The speed at which you become better is entirely up to you. It’s a choice. It’s a change in perspective and an improvement of your view of yourself that will make you a better man.
1. Rest less; let others do it more.
Being a man shouldn’t be easy. Rest is something you can do without. It’s a simple decision to fill your time with work, chores, reading, or simply taking the chores that others have to do – your lady, for example – and doing them yourself.
Guys reading this, thinking that being the man, the breadwinner, entitles you to some much-deserved rest, are wrong. Being a man, the man, means that you’re the foundation, you’re whom others depend on. Ease isn’t in the equation, and it never enters it.
You’re the rock, the bearer of burdens. Start bearing more, taking on more, and giving more of yourself.
2. Learn one new skill every month.
In his book, the Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw tells stories about the generation that survived the Great Depression, volunteered to serve in the Second World War en masse, and then created a prosperity that we’re still feeling the effects of today.
Growing up in the Depression, things had to be done, that didn’t change, but you have to do them yourself. Skills were learned, and newer skills were learned in the military.
The ease that we’ve grown up with, where every solution to our problems can be but a phone call away or a Google search away has gotten between us and being of use in our own homes.
It isn’t convenient to do things on your own, to fix things by yourself. It takes patience, and patience isn’t abundant in a generation that wants everything now, including success, fame, value, and happiness. Go the opposite way. Be a guy who can fix things, who can solve his own problems, who’s self-reliant. It starts with a single skill. Learn a new one every month.
3. Adopt a frugal lifestyle.
Frugality is simply understanding what’s needed and what isn’t.
Too many of us today live our lives on credit. We spend money that isn’t ours to impress people we shouldn’t impress and to buy into an image that we really don’t need.
Marketing and advertising runs our lives. Our pursuits are image-based, not value-based. So we spend money on things that we really don’t need.
Frugality is control. It’s having the discipline and the control over your spending habits so that, in the long run, you’re going to have a hell of a lot more money to do things you do want to do and to have the freedom from the financial stress that now plagues so many. (Read This: 9 Wildly Rich Guys That Will Inspire You to Become More Frugal)
Being a good man is being fiscally responsible. Boys can spend their money on stupid things, men can’t.
4. Do what you need to do to pay the bills.
If you can’t pay the bills, get another job. If you still can’t pay the bills, get a third.
Life can be brutal, it can suck, but whatever our situation, we have to come through. For some, that may mean getting a number of jobs. My dad’s dad had 3 jobs when my old man was growing up. He also built his own home that he still lives in today with his lovely wife, my nana.
The bills have to be paid. They won’t go away and they can’t be wished away. Whatever has to be done to pay them, has to be done.
5. Wake up earlier.
Waking up earlier allows you to remove some of the stress that comes from a day where you have to get things done but the time just doesn’t seem to be there.
Part of being a good man is being happy and productive. If you’re stressed and depressed and always worried, you’re not going to be as helpful to those who depend on you most.
Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. ~ Benjamin Franklin
6. Identify what you stand for, your virtues.
Every man’s gotta have a code, a creed to live by. ~ John Wayne
Have a code. Create something that sums up who you are in times of plenty and in times of despair. You don’t change. Your values don’t alter.
You’re a worker even if you’re making more money than you’ve ever made. You’re frugal even if you’ve just brought in a big payday. You’re ambitious, strong, and honorable. You live with character, not with whimsical vanity. You’re grounded and others depend on you because of who you are, day in and day out, your values don’t change.
7. Adopt the Roman view of manliness.
The Romans saw manliness as virtus, the root word of our ‘virtue’. It was the idea that a man pursued excellence in all things while adhering to manly virtues like valor, courage, character, and worth.
Our society today is trying to change the definition of manliness, to make it softer, weaker, and more feminine. There is nothing remotely wrong with the view of manliness that existed a two thousand years ago, in fact, as an individual, you’re far more likely to help others, to be of value to others, to raise a good family and become a good man if you adhere to this ancient view of manliness rather than curbing who you are to become softer and more dependent on others.
Be a man before you think about becoming a ‘good man’. Our society’s idea of an evolved masculinity will leave generations feeling as though they’re not fulfilling their role. It will leave men feeling left out and useless. Don’t go down this foolish road. Stick to what worked for thousands of years, that built great and free nations and conquered evil ones.
8. Practice being good at being a man.
Being a man carries connotations of toughness, of grit and dependability. Being good is important. Being loving and caring are necessary attributes of being human, but to be a man you also have to be tough, gritty, and willing to do things that others don’t want to do.
You have a difficult role. Be up to it.
9. Become an essentialist.
Spend your time being where you are.
If you’re with your kids, put your phone away. If you’re working, work, if you’re playing, play. Make time for the truly important things in life.
When you’re dying you’re not going to look back and wish you’d made a couple more bucks, you’re almost exclusively going to wish you’d spent more time with your kids, or more time traveling or living.
Know what’s important. Write it down. Then block off time in your day, every day, for the important things.
Work is important, too, it’s a part of why you’re here, but if it’s all you do then it didn’t give you what you want. Let it fund the freedom you desire. (Read This: Why You Should Be an Essentialist)
10. Train your fingers for war.
At your core, as a man, you’re a protector. For you to be a thinker, a philosopher, a lover, you need to be able to defend the softer characteristics of masculinity, as well as the softer characteristics that others around you have.
You have to be that strength.
Join a boxing gym. Train your body in the gym. Learn to fight and to how to be proficient with a gun. You may never have to fight or to fire your gun, but the quiet confidence that comes from being dangerous will make those around you feel far more secure.
Being A Man, and A Good One at That
To be a good man you have to first be a man.
That definition is threatened by the weak among us, those who want a softer form of masculinity. They want something softer because it’s more easily controlled. That softer version of manliness isn’t, however, manliness.
Men are men because of our hormones. We’re typically bigger than women, stronger, more aggressive. That doesn’t mean better, clearly. But we have things that we’re expected to do. For thousands of years we were protectors. You can’t take that away from men within a few decades time and expect us to flip a switch and get the same value out of a new role. We are who we are.
So, be who you are.
Be a leader, a warrior, a lover, a fighter, a protector, and a defender. (Read This: A Man’s Role)
Forge the brutal virtues so the softer ones can exist without worry or confusion.