The Search After Great Men: Man Up
The search after the great men is the dream of youth, and the most serious occupation of manhood. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
As boys, we idolize great men, be they fictional or real. They’re our heroes. (Read This: Every Young Man Needs a Model)
When I was a kid I was puzzled by Muhammad Ali’s dodging of the draft for the Vietnam War. He could kill everyone – or so the logic went in my small little brain. I obviously thought the same about John Wayne. Why wouldn’t they just send John Wayne in to fight the Nazis or whoever the bad guy was at the time?
When we get older – and I wouldn’t say ‘old’, in past generations this started at 17 years of age if not earlier – this becomes our pursuit, and it should be a serious pursuit.
You cannot dream about being a great man, you’re not a boy any longer, it’s time that you craft a plan and follow it every day.
The Dead Serious Quest to Man Up
We grow up later in our society than we did before. It is, in part, because our lives are longer, but we’re also lazier and far more entitled than we’ve ever been. We’re creating entitlement generations by awarding and rewarding them without merit, just for participation. (Read This: Nothing is Deserved Unless it’s Earned)
At some point the notion that you’re the center of the world or that you’re deserving of something you haven’t yet earned has to end, this is when you man up, when you become a man, when you take greatness more seriously.
There comes a time when life has to be taken more seriously, and this includes having fun, adventure, relationships, and your career path.
Life has to be taken more seriously because it’s fleeting. With every day you’re brought closer to your death. This is serious. What’s more is that most people exist in ignorance of this fact. They ignore death and doom and go through their days disregarding the significance of this countdown.
To be a man is to pursue not just a more serious life, but to pursue greatness in every moment of life.
That’s the difference between men and boys and mere males. Men are trying to extract every ounce of life out of life. They attack each day with their goal in mind, with their quest in the front of their mind.
Man up! Stop acting as if there are no consequences for your lack of clarity or for your laziness. Man up! Stop pushing greatness to tomorrow and stop idolizing others who’ve accomplished it already or are on their way to doing so.
You’re a man, dammit, man up and start acting like one by doing what you’ve been afraid to do up to this point.
There are choices, daily, that men make that boys don’t.
Choose to read instead of watching TV.
Choose to work on your house instead of ‘relaxing’.
Choose to work another hour instead of playing video games.
Choose to spend time with your family instead of surfing the net.
Manliness is a choice, and a dead serious one at that. Make the choice to man up every day. It’s a lifetime pursuit, and it’s your duty to pursue it as such.
Wake up every day as if greatness is your purpose.
I’m not a huge fan of the term, but when applied to every area of your life it provides clarity as to what your choices must be in every single moment.
A man’s role is protector and defender. ~Chad Howse
If we don’t learn from history we’re doomed to repeat it.
Last year I spent a month in Rome and three months in Italy. There are few places in the world that can connect you with history so closely as Rome.
The city is big, huge for an ancient city. It’s surrounded by great walls and within the confines of their gates a once great people ruled.
The Romans of the past are nothing like the Italians of the present. They were workers, hustling and toiling endlessly. It was their priority, to do, leave the philosophy to the Greeks, the Romans were here to build and conquer.
When they first came across the Israelites, the Jews, they were perplexed with a people that took an entire day off every week called the Sabbath. They saw them not as insightful or respectful of their God, but as lazy.
What’s interesting about Italy, and Rome, is why many of its other great cities were built.
I spent two weeks, for example, in a town called Sorano. It’s an ancient town once inhabited by the Etruscans who predated the Romans but essentially lived in caves that look like they were carved our by spoons and now used as perfect wine cellars.
Sorano later became a city the Romans used as an outpost, a warning against invaders. Towns like Sorano, heavily fortified and very well situated atop a canyon, nearly impossible to overtake, litter the countryside of Tuscany. The Romans, like the Brits or French or any other great nation knew that a great city can’t huddle up within its own gates and expect to protect itself from invaders.
Defense doesn’t start where the city lines begin, they start on the edges of the empire.
The culmination of your life if it were written in a novel can read like an epic. It can be filled with adventure and daring, with close calls, with death and failure and danger. On a daily or weekly and monthly level, however, in the immediate, it must be simple.
The stories of great men are usually of the Cliff Notes variety. They highlight the great and, out of necessity, gloss over the monotonous. You get a glimpse of it in the great biographies. In The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt you read about his weakness and his obsessive work ethic and motion. You see the result in his book output and his travel output and a list of things he did in his life, and if you’re a thinking man you’ll understand that, in comparison to what you do on a daily basis and what you’ve accomplished at whatever age you are compared to Mr. Roosevelt at that same age that he had to be an incredible worker.
In The Rise and Fall of Napoleon Bonaparte you get a glimpse into his obsessive need for knowledge. You read about him avoiding drinking and partying, hating those who partook because, in his eyes, they were wasting opportunity and wasting opportunity was sinful, not necessarily in a religious sense from his point either, but evil nonetheless.
When you read about the Greatest Generation, or even think about what they did, the mass call to service both militarily and otherwise, you see the deed, what you don’t see – unless you talk to your grandfather or great grandfather, is the simplicity of their lives.
They were responsible for their fate, their current predicament, and oftentimes even anything bad that happened to them.
They sought ownership of everything in their lives and as a result they lived great lives.
I’m writing this with a BOSE speaker blaring Jamey Johnson to my front left on a lawn chair on my porch with a cigar on the ashtray to the right of it and a glass of scotch nestled next to my right hand. My phone is to my left. My internet is on and it shouldn’t be. I have a long list of things I wanted to do and haven’t yet done and it’s already 6pm. My life needs more simplicity.
Wake up. Work hard. Read. Pray. Play. Go to bed.
When you constantly look to blame others for anything and everything (others can be your folks, your competition, your government) and you fail to take responsibility for everything, your life cannot be simple. You’re always looking for a reason.
The clearest, most beneficial path to a productive life is self-responsibility, self-reliance, and as Jocko Willink and Leif Babin coined, extreme ownership.
There are a lot of bold statements in this book, there has to be. Life isn’t a series of grey. Grey isn’t clear, it’s murky, it’s open to interpretation. Life can’t be. There is right and there is wrong (read Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot to see the true, deep, and necessary aspects of a clearly defined moral code). The most bold and true statement I will make is that you cannot call yourself a man if you’re blaming others for anything.
Men take responsibility. Period.
They do not search for others to blame even if logic would dictate that blame justified. If they get robbed and beaten in their own home they accept responsibility for not better protecting their nest. If they get fired they take responsibility for not being un-firable. If their wives cheat on them they find the bastard they cheated on him with, beat him to a pulp, divorce the lady, and then accept responsibility for choosing the wrong lady or not being a good enough husband so as to make cheating unthinkable.
Men don’t think in terms of things being done to them. Things happen. Somewhere within the event they find fault in their own actions or thoughts or intentions.
They find fault in themselves. It’s only fault within one’s self that can be altered, controlled, or solved. (Read This: Own Your Emotions)
You cannot solve fault in another. You cannot solve fault in a system unless you’re willing to fix that system!
What’s crazy about men is that when they win, when they find that place on the top of the mountain, they do two things:
1. They tell everyone that it wasn’t them, that there were many others who helped them get there. They act with humility. They don’t take responsibility for their victory, only their defeat.
2. From the top, they reach their hand down and bring others up with them.
This goes completely against everything in our culture where we’re supposed to praise ourselves, where we’re special, the center of our own universe.
It isn’t easy to be a man. That’s why so few can call themselves such a thing.
I’m obviously a work in progress, a fella whose initial response, thought, or action isn’t always the best one. I’m a guy who needs to catch myself all-too-often thinking the wrong things and doing the wrong things, but I’m catching myself.
Manliness isn’t a birthright. It isn’t bestowed upon you. It’s a battle waged in the open and in the closed confines of your own mind and soul.
Wage the battle, my friend. The world needs you to, our society and our country needs you to, and more importantly your family or your future family need you to.
About The Author
Chad Howse: Chad’s mission is to get you in the arena, ‘marred by the dust and sweat and blood’, to help you set and achieve audacious goals in the face of fear, and not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.
You can contact him at –
Success is merely doing the work that you don’t want to do every day for your entire life.
Within your line of work there are things you love to do, and other things you don’t like as much. (Read This: Find Happiness in Work. Not Work In Happiness)
Success, victory, winning is found in consistently doing the things you don’t want to do.
Think about it…
Everyone does what they love to do and want to do. Most people aren’t tough. They won’t do what they don’t like to do or what they don’t like to enjoy. It’s human nature not to do that stuff. Go against your nature.
For me it’s video. I hate doing video, but it brings a lot of people to the site so it has to be done.
People don’t like answering emails or writing long books or getting up early. They don’t like training hard or training every day. They don’t like staying late at work. They don’t like not buying stuff. They hate saving.
People don’t like to persist.
The act of simply outlasting everyone is a valid approach in any industry.
Unless you’re a complete goof, you can’t help but learning things along the way if you persist.
Please, think about this…
What in your line of work do you not like doing? (Read This: You Don’t Matter, Your Work Does)
Think about it. Give it some real thought. This doesn’t have to be something difficult, it’s just something that you don’t like doing.
Do it every day.
It may be bookkeeping. I hate bookkeeping, but if I’m to know what’s coming in, what’s working, what’s not working, and how the business is evolving, it has to be done.
No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself. ~ Seneca
You have no reason to try to prove yourself to others. They really don’t matter in your pursuit, one that should be yours and yours alone.
You have to, however, prove yourself to yourself. That’s how you gain confidence. That’s how you gain power, strength, and character. And a man who never faces adversity can never really know what he’s made of nor what he’s worth.
Seek adversity by aiming higher and persisting. The flaw in many of our pursuits in life is that we think we find meaning. No, meaning is something you create, not by jumping from project to project or job to job, but by sticking it out and creating meaning in the least likely of places.
The profession is irrelevant. The aim has to be high, but the persistence has to be infinite.
Don’t run from adversity, it will always be your best teacher.