A man must stand erect, not be kept erect by others. ~Marcus Aurelius
I remember being a kid no more than 4 years old watching my dad play hockey at a rink close to the townhouse I grew up in. I don’t remember a thing about the game, just images of a bent nose with blood spurting out of it. (Read This: 10 Lessons Every Father Should Teach His Son)
My old man had taken a puck in the face. His nose was busted up, bleeding everywhere, and I think I was sad because of it – worried about my pop at the very least. No one likes to see their parents in pain. But he didn’t show pain. The damage was grotesque, but there were no effects, not tears, no winces on his face and I know why: me.
Here was this little boy watching his old man play hockey but what he remembered wasn’t skill or talent, but how he dealt with pain. My dad didn’t not show pain because of bravado, but because his son was watching. Whether he knew it or not he wanted to show me that how we react to pain, hardship, even failure, is what matters, and not the thing that knocks us down or the event that derails us.
So, he came over behind the bench and talked to me while blood oozed out of his nose. Then he taped it up, stuck some toilet paper up his nostrils, and went back out on the ice.
Being a man is simple.
You know you’re a leader, so you lead by example. You know that complaining is useless, so you don’t do it. You know your values so you live by them always, it doesn’t matter if they make your life easier or more difficult.
You know that there are people watching you, emulating you, so you act accordingly. You don’t let fear stop you from living. You work hard ever day you’re alive because to do otherwise would be a waste.
No matter what our ever changing, even degrading culture will have you believe, being a man is not something you are, it’s something you earn.
And a male can’t become a man without honor.
I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have. ~Abraham Lincoln
We’ve become a culture that compromises. I suppose we’ve always compromised, but today it seems that we don’t have the moral backbone that once led men to see their duty as fathers as an obligation rather than an option.
Fatherhood is only a single example. Work is another. With 3 million jobs in the labor force that need to be filled in the US alone, men who simply want to work are no longer the norm. We now have men who want to find themselves, to live their passion, to find the perfect job when any job will be the means to put food in your family’s belly and security at their doors. (Read This: Follow Your Passion If You Want to Be Broke and Useless)
Honor dictates that you are your values no matter the outcome or the situation or the time in history in which you live. And our values have been consistent for centuries.
You may not be bound to win, but you’re bound to try to win and to do it with honor. You may not be bound to succeed, but you are bound to do your best each and every day you’re alive.
Males aren’t bound by honor, they’re victims to their desires.
Men know that their desires may not be in their best interest. They also have the strength to avoid the desires that bring them off their path. Males don’t have this compass nor this fortitude.
They work when they want to work. They sleep when they want to sleep. They cheat and lie when it serves them to, they whine and cry when things become too difficult. The way out of the struggle is their first option taken.
Be a man. Have honor in your daily dealings. Work hard and work true. Do the right thing, always, even if the right thing isn’t the easy thing.
No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is never permitted to prove himself. ~ Seneca
Males quit. Men endure and persevere.
These aren’t condemnations coming from a guy who embodies every virtue all the time. These are, however, things that the vast majority of level-headed humans in our society could agree upon that set boys from men or males from manhood, and yes, there is a separation.
Males quit. Or at least they have that option. Males aren’t tied to a code, not one of honor or courage or something beyond themselves, so they can do what’s easiest.
Grit entails that you do what must be done, which includes anything and everything, from budgeting, saving your money rather than spending it frivolously on things you do not need, to sucking it up and get a job that may hurt your pride or your ideal of what you’re worth in order to put food in mouths.
Grit is the stuff of men because it’s men who are asked to protect and defend. That is, it’s men who are asked to stand and fight if only to give those he protects enough time to flee. That’s a tenant of manhood, being able to both have the grit and courage to stand and take a beating, but also the gameness and the skill to inflict pain and even win.
The male doesn’t have this call to action or honor. The boy doesn’t have to make decisions that effect more than just him.
Grit is getting dirty. The generation that bore the selfie, that deems fame as one of their most important pursuits, that creates means of communicating merely through pictures taken of themselves to show the world what it is they do on a daily basis, is not abundantly gritty. They are consumed by vanity and entitlement, but getting down and dirty and doing what’s necessary isn’t something that they seem to be afflicted with.
As grit becomes optional, when we no longer need to work the land, harvest the crops, herd the animals or butcher those same critters, and as those things we once had to brave – the weather, the elements, nature, the hunt – become relics, grit and gameness and courage and toughness become things of men past, devoid in boys present.
Grit is toughness everyday. It’s found in hard men, not sissies. We each have the capacity to become gritty, but the more we endure the more we’re able to develop it if we don’t quit and wilt under the pressure that life thrusts upon us at what always seems to be the worst moment.
The path to grit is the path through adversity. Which makes things a little tougher because no one wants to incur adversity, yet that’s exactly what real men do and great men pursue. (Read This: It Would Be a Tragedy to Never Face Adversity)
Males rest on their laurels. They take it easy when things are good. Men, however, understand that growth cannot come in ease, so they push themselves even when they don’t have to. This is why the gritty are those you want on your side. They’re with you through thick and thin. Fighting. Hustling. Never complaining or whining or wishing things weren’t so.
Grit is a warrior quality. It’s a part of who men are supposed to be but it’s been lost in what we’ve become, or some of us have become.
When I was a kid we were taught to fight back against bullies. Our complaints usually fell on deaf ears. If I wanted something I had to start working, which is why I had a paper route before the legal age as my parents pretended it was their route then sent me out to deliver papers and collect paychecks so I could buy hockey gear.
Before my time, and it still happens all over the world, kids have to do their chores on the farm. They have to pull their weight – or what’s the point of having kids?
Grit was trained. Now entitlement is force-fed into willing mouths who’d rather receive than earn.
Don’t simply wait for grit to be developed, but make your life just a little bit harder by making your goals a lot bigger. When you stretch what you’re aiming to accomplish, you force yourself to become the man worthy of said rewards.
Be that man.
Jack Donovan talks about this in his book, The Way of Men, but grit and gameness is of little use without skill. That is, a man stands and fights, but he also wins.
Skill can be the difference between your family getting away or being captured. Skill gives you a leg up on your competition. This, of course, is only talking about fighting, but every man must have skill because it’s skill that enables you to be self-reliant and thus, not dependent.
Males can be dependent. They can because of their lack of pride, self-worth, courage, grit, persistence, and desire to achieve in life. A male can afford to feel as though there’s no point in trying. A man simply does what he must do, and acquiring the skills that enable him to thrive in life and in his role as a man are a part of that equation.
What holds people back from getting the work they want isn’t talent, but skill, and as someone who dropped out of college because I thought it was useless and then started my real education at the bottom of the business world, the skills you need to thrive in business don’t require an expensive education. The skills you need to be reliant only on thyself don’t cost money. To learn you have to serve, you have to apprentice. It’s the best way to acquire skills yet males just aren’t into that.
They want without merit. They want to get paid before they earn the right to do so.
Thus, men have skills, males don’t need them.
There’s more to the acquiring of skills, however, than being a man. We get lost in the end result as humans. Our eyes are always focused on the prize and we forget to acknowledge the dependence of acquiring the prize on our current actions.
Practice daily. Forget about the goal for a moment and practice perfecting your craft. If you’re a writer, get in the habit of writing 5,000 words a day and reading 37 pages a day.
If you’re an athlete, well, you know what you have to do. If you’re a business man, practice the art of selling and do all you can to learn from the best in your industry, then get better than them.
Focus on becoming great at whatever you do by taking a practiser’s attitude and forget about the rewards, focus on the skill.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. ~ C.S. Lewis
A man needs both pride and humility.
It’s humility that allows you to serve, to learn, and to carry those who needs your assistance. Pride helps you to live up to the standard of the man you’re trying to become.
False pride is everywhere. Vanity is woven into the fabric of a culture who actually takes pictures of themselves to show others what they’re doing (and I’m obviously guilty of this as well). It’s so weird. But too many of us care more about the opinions of others than who we are in our souls.
Humility is acknowledging that everyone you come in contact with has something to teach you. Arrogance is its enemy, as is entitlement as both make learning impossible, and where you’re unable to learn you’re unable to grow and evolve into the fella you should already be.
You meet boys and males who are vain. You don’t meet men with that same characteristic. It isn’t in their make up.
When was the last time you saw a real man or someone you’d consider old school standing in front of a mirror making sure each hair was in place?
It doesn’t happen. Yet, go to any gym where young fellas frequent and you’ll see more time spent in front of that mirror than actually lifting weights and getting stronger.
HOW TO BECOME A BETTER MAN
Being a man is simple. It’s even simpler in today’s society because you just have to look at what the masses are doing and do the opposite.
And yes, you should want to be a man for fuck’s sake!
Take pride in what that means fellas. Take pride in the fact that you’re a natural protector and warrior. Take pride in the fact that people will depend on you when they have nowhere else to turn. Take pride in the fact that you’re a leader, and lead!
But that’s the thing…
It ain’t easy. It ain’t easy becoming tougher, grittier, and better. But that’s life. Life is not easy. It is simple. But it is not easy. That’s why so many people suck. They depend. They whine and cry and never realize that it’s their reaction to the event that they have control over and it’s a control that they never use. So they remain victims to live rather than authors of their own story.
It’s your choice which you are, the victim or the author, the man or the male. Make the tough decision and man up.
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. He’s a former 9-5er turned entrepreneur, a former scrawny amateur boxer turned muscular published fitness author. He’ll give you the kick in the ass needed to help you live a big, ambitious life.
You can contact him at –