It is not what he has, or even what he does which expresses the worth of a man, but what he is. Henri-Frederic Amiel

Who you are doesn’t change for a different audience.

Who you are isn’t dependent on documentation. You don’t need people watching or accountability to be great, good, disciplined, or a winner.

Your motivation to become better shouldn’t depend on an audience, either. Sure, we’ve become a culture that requires likes and shares for an event to be worth embarking upon. But that’s a fickle way to live. It’s the life of a dependent.

When the doors close and you’re alone in your office are you working or searching the internet? Are you reading, training, living, and lifting, or are you being a lazy bastard?

Who are you?

Who are you when nothing is going right?

Who are you when you have no energy, when you have no motivation?

Who are you when it’s easier to cheat than it is to stay the course?

I love John Wayne movies. I think we all do. They’re about men, and not just what men do but who men are.

Honor leads their actions. They may walk a tight rope between good and evil but honor wins in the end.

It’s who they are that dictates their actions. It’s the man they are that determines how they treat others.

They don’t stand for evil even if fighting it means trouble. They do what must be done not because it’s a rule, but because it’s what they do.

John Wayne always creates a fork in his movies, a moment where an easy path is met with the right path and the man does what’s right regardless on the impact to himself.

Today, who we are is dependent on where we are.

That’s not good. It’s not real. It isn’t consistent and when we’re thrust into a situation where right and wrong are foggy, we have no clue how to act so we act with convenience. Our honor, our goodness, our grit haven’t been clarified over years of acting with honor so when ‘the moment’ comes, we don’t act with it at all.

Spend time thinking not just about what you want to be or who you want to be or what you want to become, but who you are and who you want to be.



You have to be a man before you can be a gentleman. –John Wayne (McLintock!)

Being good at being a man, ‘tis a skill and a pursuit lost on males today. We want to be good men before we learn how to be men.

What is being good at being a man?

Well, forget goodness, and focus only on manliness.

Men are protectors and providers. You must have the aptitude to protect. That is, learn how to fight and learn how to use a gun.

Choose one discipline, then get really good at it. Box, kickbox, learn Brazilian Jiu-Jistu or Judo. A part of being a man is learning how to protect those who depend on you and learning how to kill those who threated you, your family, or your way of life.

Men have grit, they possess a toughness that mere males don’t have. They’re willing to do what must be done even if it comes at their detriment or downfall. Get in a fight for the sake of getting in a fight. Add habits to your daily routine that make you tougher and remove those that weaken you, like TV or porn or sleeping in.

The world isn’t a nice place if you get the guts to truly get out there in it. It’s ruthless. You realize this when you see wolves take down an elk or a bear take down a doe. I’ll leave you with far better advice than I could ever give… 

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”



Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor. ~ Norman Mailer

One of my favorite John Wayne movies is The Cowboys. In the film, John Wayne plays an old cowboy named Wil Anderson. He’s stuck in his ways, stubborn, and tough. He’s about to do a cattle run and he needs good, honest men to work for him, each earning a cut once the cattle are delivered. The problem is that there aren’t any good, honest men in his town. They’ve all left in search of the quick buck that the gold rush promises leaving Mr. Anderson with only one option, a group of boys out of the local schoolhouse, none of whom are above the age of 15.

While these boys start the film as kids, goofing around, living lives devoid of real responsibility, unaware of the consequences of their actions and not really concerned about it, they end the film as men. The movie amounts to what is essentially a rite of passage for the group. By movie’s end they’re in control of the herd, barking orders, controlling the cattle, bringing them to their final destination.

They haven’t aged much. No hair has grown on their chin or chest, but by the end of the movie they are without a doubt men.

In one scene from the movie there’s a boy who has a stutter. Because of his stutter and his inability to get his words out when the stress of a moment rises, another boy almost dies. Today had this happen we’d feel sorry for the kid with the stutter. We’d coddle him; tell him that the boy’s near death wasn’t his fault and that there was nothing to do about it.

Wayne’s character had another perspective – one I’m sure John Wayne himself shared. Rather than feeling pity for the stuttering kid he saw that his stutter almost cost a life and a life lost wasn’t something he could tolerate, and as a result, neither was this boy’s stutter.

Rather than patting the boy on the back in reassurance, he got the kid angry.

He poked and prodded the kid trying to get a rise out of him until the boy yelled at Wayne “you son of a bitch!” Wayne kept poking and getting a rise out of him until, heated as he’d ever been in a situation as intense as it gets, the boy was yelling at Wayne’s character, calling him a god-damned son-of-a-bitch without the slightest hint of a stutter.

At the end of that little exchange the young boy and his friends realized that, though the exchange was intense, the stutter was gone. The reality hit boy that his stutter was under his control, but this reality only became his when Mr. Anderson pushed him to realize it.

Right now I’m reading a book called, Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot, by Jim Stockdale. In one of the early chapters he talked about the positive aspect of stress. In today’s world anointing stress as something positive is heresy, something to be burned at the stick for saying. But stress can be good in that it’s in extreme stress that we gain a clarity and focus that isn’t present when we have options of what to think about.

Stockdale notes that in fighter pilot school students learned more in the stress of a cockpit in air than they did in the classroom. They required this stress to focus, when in our current society we’re doing all we can to alleviate it when what we should be focusing on is how to harness it.


We know what manliness is when we come face-to-face with it, and we know what it isn’t.

I love John Wayne’s movies because he deliberately plays characters that hold certain values purposefully. He didn’t choose his roles on a whim. He admittedly saw the sprouting of an ideology that wants to do away with manliness and the manly values that made our society free and great, and that made our society thrive. So he chose to play strong, good, gritty men.

Imagine a teacher today doing what Wayne did, treating a kid like that, asking more of them, even coming to the point where he may be breaking them only to make them tougher, stronger, and more self-reliant.

When you show a boy what he can be, the expectation he has for who he is elevates.

He becomes a new man. Today what we do is treat our young men as they are, as most of our society is, because “who we are” now has to be accepted.

It’s socially unacceptable to ask more of someone, to ask more of a group because to do so would be insensitive, it would mean that who they are isn’t good enough and that’s just not a politically correct view of people and of how we want our world to be.

So, we allow our boys to remain adolescents for most of their lives. They have no cattle drive where they’re forced to come face-to-face with the harsh ways of the world or with how men are supposed to act. They don’t have rites of passage where they have to rise to a difficult occasion. They’re special as they are and to not be okay with that isn’t okay in a society where acceptance trumps all.

Our boys need to be tested, held to a higher standard, and shown by other men how to act and what manhood actually looks like. If they don’t get this, life will at some point force them to sink or swim and what happens if you’ve never been taught to swim? You fail. You drown. You die.

In the case of life for our youth and young men, this “death” – if it isn’t literally death – is avoidance. It’s running from problems, fleeing situations like fatherhood, running back into the arms of the folks that raised you because parents no longer spank and they no longer say no.

What we need to do is draw clear lines. There isn’t much grey within these articles because a man can’t afford to have much grey in his life. Blurred lines leave room for excuses. They leave room for weakness, and where weakness becomes habit, men become pussies and the values that our society was built on whither and fade.

If you want to know what a real man is, watch a John Wayne movie.

Watch The Cowboys. He’s flawed. There’s always something, some part of him that can improve, but you know exactly where he stands. You don’t need to guess if he’ll deliver the cattle on time or at all. You don’t need to wonder if he’ll do the work, no matter the circumstances that surround the mission. You know he’ll be there when you need him most, and he won’t take the easy road. He won’t hire liars or men who aren’t honorable simply to make a quicker buck, he won’t befriend cheats because he knows that in time he’ll become who he associates with. Men don’t make excuses. They don’t quit. Their words aren’t many but when they speak people listen.

Yes, you should aspire to be this guy and to live these values, to be a strong man, an honorable man, a man who doesn’t whine or complain, bitch or moan, but a man who carries others rather than looking for someone to carry him.

It isn’t about self-improvement or happiness.

It actually isn’t even about you.

This is your duty, to be the man, the warrior, the leader that your pack, pride, and community need you to be. It’s your duty to live life to its fullest, to face your fear, to work, work, and work some more without relenting because life is a gift that must be lived daringly.

To live life as a timid soul when a warrior rages in your blood is to ignore those who’ve sacrificed to allow your life to exist.

This notion that manhood is something above the sex of the human has been known, talked about, and revered for millennia. Only recently have we ignored what manliness is apart from the plumbing, beyond the sex and years of a fella’s life. Men throughout history have seen the importance of this virtue and the necessity to not only teach it, but also praise it and earn it.

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 –

5 Things Men Can Learn About Being a Man From John Wayne

5 Things Men Can Learn About Being a Man From John Wayne

My Christmas, this year, was as many have been for the last decade. I awake early, work, read, eat, open a few things, watch family open a few things, then I flick on the boob tube and watch John Wayne movies. John Wayne wasn’t merely an actor playing many multiple roles like a chameleon going from one character to another. He was a teacher and an archetype, and he was so, purposefully. (Read This: 9 Lessons In Manhood from John Wayne)

There was a theme with all of his characters. There was congruency.

If you want to understand what a man’s role in society is, watch a John Wayne movie.

John Wayne’s “man” is always flawed in the minor details. He may have been an aloof father or a drinker or at one point an outlaw and a man that never truly reached his potential. However, he always knew right from wrong and he had the courage and the strength to right said wrongs.

He wasn’t the nicest fella, but he was the backbone of a community and of a family and his compass was always firmly set. His understanding of right and wrong wasn’t shaded in grey or marred by our present desire to understand and explain and give reasons for evil never actually calling it evil.

His idea of right and wrong were as they should be for a man and a leader, firmly set in black and white with little room for compromise or interpretation. Wayne wanted to give men an archetype for manliness. He saw that the manly virtues that bore a strong and democratic society when the world was run my kings and emperors was, and are, fleeting, and it’s by following the lead of an archetype that many men learn what a man truly is and how he should act.

He and the characters he plays are men. They aren’t victims. They aren’t deceitful or conniving. Their character and values are almost always in line no matter whom he plays or the story he tells. Thus, there are common themes within each film that can teach us how to be better men. In this article we’ll explore said themes.

What Being a Man Is According to John Wayne.

1. Know Your Values.

Few actually know what they stand for and so they stand for nothing. Standing for nothing seems popular today. No right, no wrong, what you do is what you do and that’s okay.

It’s important not just for a single man to know his values, but for a society to have some set of shared values or moral code. Where there isn’t a common culture led by the strongest of men and the strongest of women, there can be no singular pursuit. This doesn’t mean we all have to be conservative or liberal, but that our intent and our compass are fixed on similar points.

That’s why a melting pot is better than a cultural mosaic, or that those who want to immigrate to a free society should also want to adopt its customs and culture so as to maintain its sense of a common community with a common goal.

This common goal can be seen in the small town led by John Wayne who rise up against a growing evil and men who aim to hurt and take advantage of the defenseless.

On an individual level each man must know his values because it’s your values that will lead you through life. It’s your values that will allow you to thrive and create happiness and value but also wade through the tribulation that every single life on this planet inevitably faces.

You cannot, however, simply choose any list of values. They must be rooted in what being a man and being a masculine man entails, and John Wayne helps us identify these.

  • Discipline

A man who lacks discipline can not only not accomplish anything in life, but he cannot lead. A man, at his heart, is both warrior and leader. You’re the head of your household, its defender and protector. If you lack discipline, if you’re too liberal with the drink or if you prefer ease to work, you’re rendered useless to those who depend on you, no matter your role in society.

Don’t run from discipline, instead acquire more of it. This value makes all other values and virtues possible. Without discipline you cannot be strong, game, or gritty. ( Read This: 5 Ways to Become More Disciplined)

  • Grit

Not to disparage women at all, that’s not my intent, nor do I think of women when the word is said. That word being, pussy. A pussy clearly does not describe a man. Actually, it describes its antithesis. A man is strong and gritty, he’s afraid but he goes forward anyway. He doesn’t complain. That’s a huge part of manliness. Without grit, you can’t really call yourself a man, instead you’re somewhere in between the worst parts of both sexes.

  • Justice

We cover this in more detail in a bit, but a man’s understanding of right and wrong must be knowledge, not theory. Right and wrong is easy. We all have an innate understand of what it is. You see someone strong picking on someone weak, that’s wrong. Rape is wrong. Murder is wrong. Theft, lying, cheating, and even wishing wrong on others is wrong.

Justice takes this a step further because, as a strong, gritty man, you have the ability to stop wrong and to defeat evil. Justice doesn’t mean you’re a vigilante but that you don’t stand idly by when wrong is being done. You’re a defender of the weak rather than a spectator at the crimes being inflicted upon them. John Wayne always sought justice, his characters didn’t wait for someone else to enact it and bring it about.

  • Honesty

We’re in a society where honesty is optional. We portray lives on the social medias that are less than honest. We’re less than honest about who we are because we feel that a slightly better version of ourselves will be liked or loved or hired. We lie to improve our lives yet it’s the truth that’s founded in reality and a man not firmly set in how the world really is cannot rise and improve and grow.

  • Gameness

There are other values that a man needs, but I thought it important to highlight those that are fleeting above all others, and gameness is an innately masculine characteristic that is dwindling. (Read This: Grit & Gameness: How to Be Good at Being a Man)

We’re sheltered.

Not only are we sheltered from the rest of the world, a far more dangerous place than the attempt at a utopia that we live in, but masculinity, I mean real, raw, warrior masculinity is not only not encouraged, it’s frowned upon. Strong men are far from the norm, and men ready to fight for and defend what they’ve worked hard to earn and what men before them have fought and died for, are dangerous.

Yet, every one of Wayne’s characters have been ready to fight because that’s what men do. We don’t always need words and we know that sometimes evil men need to be killed. Gameness is jumping into the battle knowing that harm is likely but not shying away from it in the process.

2. Know Right from Wrong.

Political correctness, aka weakness, has removed the ability to have a firm notion of what is right and what is wrong, and it’s allowing evil to not only win, but thrive.

In a world where the truth can be offensive, the truth and the matter of facts must be altered and eschewed to accommodate everyone and every opinion. A man cannot get mired in the mess of the feelings of others. Feelings are arbitrary and subjective, rarely based on how things really are. Right and wrong is simpler. It’s been simple since the dawn of time because deep down we know and always have known what it is.

John Wayne’s characters are always on the side of good. But do you see what he’s constantly doing?


He’s constantly in a battle of some kind versus an evil, unjust foe. He isn’t sitting idly by, watching the events unfold or looking for someone else to take action. He’s in the arena, as Theodore Roosevelt would say, marred by blood and sweat, getting dirty, even hurt, feeling pain, doing what others are unwilling to do.

As a man, you cannot get caught up in political correctness and lose the truth. You also cannot be too nice or fearful, you have to be a man of action, a protector, someone who knows what’s right and what’s wrong and has the balls to defend the good and combat the evil.

Compassion is nice. But true compassion must coincide with action or else it’s rendered utterly useless and destructive.

3. Do What Others Are Unwilling to Do, What’s Difficult to Do.

Along with your firm sense of right and wrong and your values, a man must have courage, guts, balls, whatever you want to call it. He has to be willing to live by his code even if it means living a life devoid of ease and comfort.

We all understand what must be done, but so few of us actually do it. We see a woman being mistreated yet we don’t intervene. We rationalize our inaction by saying that their troubles are theirs and mine are mine. We see an elderly person being mistreated and we do the same.

We have an opportunity to earn more money or to gain a promotion if we go against our idea of right and wrong and our values and we jump on that opportunity without much thought about the consequences on our soul and the man we’re aiming to become.

John Wayne’s characters always defend the weak, even though it may mean their death (the Cowboys). They always work their hardest, even though there may be faster ways to wealth. It’s the honor in hard work that they crave and not merely the reward that we all want from it.

A John Wayne character wouldn’t skip training day. He wouldn’t cheat to get ahead. He wouldn’t lie to gain favor. It’s tough to stand up to his ideals but all it takes is a decision to act like a man and the steps to take are right before you.

4. A Man Is Self-Reliant.

One of my favorite books or essays is “Self Reliance”, by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It’s the antithesis of what we have and who we are today.

Wayne’s characters always took things into their own hands.

I recently had a discussion with a few pals of mine and we talked about guns. A lot of these guys are completely against violence. My question was simply, would you rather have the safety of your family in your hands or on the phone?

That is, what’s more effective, a gun in hand or a cop on the phone?

A man’s answer is simple. A politically correct coward’s answer is also simple. One wants to defend, the other wants to be defended.

We live in a world, and especially in a society, that craves safety above all else. Well, guess what, the world isn’t a completely safe place. And in this quest for safety we remove personal liberty and freedom, which is something that I think is far worse than a murder rate.

And it’s men – “men” – driving this movement to remove the freedom to bare arms or the freedom to protect one’s land.

5. Stoic.

John Wayne’s words seemed like commands. It was as if each sentence was fact and had to be heard and obeyed. He didn’t speak for the sake of speaking, not in real life nor on the silver screen.

This goes deeper than words, though, but into how we broadcast our lives.

Men don’t.

Men don’t buy things to impress people nor do we fall into the traps of society, constantly seeking things, status, aspiring to acquire rather than to be.

We don’t feel the need to publish every movement we make on facebook so the rest of the world can see what we’re doing. We don’t need that affirmation.

Our value in life isn’t dependent on the approval of others. We live our lives and we’re happy to live our lives free from rewards and awards and the approval of humans whose approve we know we don’t need.

We also don’t waste words. John Wayne was a great example of that. His opinions were stated as facts. His words had a purpose, not just to fill the void of silence.

This is something I need to work on in a big way. Listen rather than talking. Observe rather than stating. But when you do talk, make your words count.

Quietly become great.

Go about your work for the sake of the work and not for what your work will bring you when you succeed. Aim to perfect your craft, to become great at whatever it is that you’re doing and not just after the dollar bills, though the dollar bills are important.

Wayne’s characters were stoic. They were strong. Be the same.

A Man’s Gotta Have a Code

What we’ve laid out here is essentially a code, a creed to live by. It’s a set of values and principles that will be with you through hard decisions and hard times.

It’s the code that you live by that will help you stay true to who you are and who you want to be, no matter what the popular or easy decision is.

And that’s what makes men great, making the tough decisions that may not be popular or easy, they’re simply the right decision to make.

Read This: The Code of Manhood

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 –