There are certain things that every man should be able to do. They’re baseline skills and characteristics that form either what it is to be a good man or what it is to be good at being a man.

Here are 20 such things. Add more in the comments section. Let me know where you agree or disagree there as well. And by all means, like and share this article if you wish.

1. Find meaning in suffering

To be a man is to endure what others cannot. Every man should read Man’s Search for Meaning, for an explanation of what it is to find meaning in suffering, but also Unbroken, to understand that no matter what we’re going through, it could be both worse and others have endured worse and come out better for it. Whatever you’re embroiled in, seek the meaning of it, seek the challenge within it, and turn it into something that strengthens you.

2. Bear any burden

We’re asked to not only bear our own troubles but to take on those of others and aid them in their difficulty. Know this. It isn’t just about you, but about those who depend on you.

3. Identify what he wants vs what society tells him to want

A man knows what he wants and who he is. He isn’t on quests to find himself, instead, he creates himself based on the ideal he’s set forth and the goals he aspires to achieve. These goals are not society’s goals. They are not to consume or to be a peacock, a man of show and little worth. A man must set his own course and not be swayed by the trends that society, especially a consumer society, sets for him.

4. Fight

Learn to defend yourself and those under your care even if they don’t know that they’re under your care. Men, we have testosterone coursing through our bodies, this creates denser bones, greater musculature, and a greater ability to fight.

Use this ability. We are seeing women all over the world being raped and assaulted and punished by a warped ideology, stand up to it, defeat it. (Read This: Why You Need to Fight)

5. Save

Build wealth, not possessions. Valuables aren’t actually valuable unless they’re silver, wine, art, or gold – or stocks.

6. Invest

Invest in things that will increase your wealth, not your social status. Social status is a myth. It’s something founded on image and opinion, not on reality. The more you seem to be worth or have, or the more style or taste you have, the greater your status – perceived status, of course. Have the skill and the guts to ignore such idiotic pursuits and instead invest in things that grow.

7. Earn

Earning money isn’t the most important thing on the planet, but you should be able to earn enough to feed your family and so forth. Money doesn’t measure a man, but there are so many ways to make money today that every guy should have a grasp on how to do it to a degree. (Read This: How to Spend Your Money Like a Winner)

8. Use a gun

Bad guys have guns. Learn how to use them better than those bastards. To ignore the realities of the violence in this world is to be ignorant and unwilling to fulfill your role.

9. Change oil and other auto basics

Self-reliance of any kind, be it protecting your family or maintaining your own house and land, is necessary.

The more self-reliant you are, the better. Being able to, for example, fix your vehicle if it breaks down is a yuge advantage because, as we all know, those bastards break down at the worst time.

10. Not gossip

You should have the ability to completely avoid gossip. It’s a useless use of conversation. Don’t do it, ever.

11. Know his annual budget

Your finances should be planned. The mode of spending what you have leads to stress and dependence, but without a plan it’s incredibly difficult to save and invest enough to gain financial freedom.

12. Deadlift and squat 225 lbs

As a bare minimum, every able-bodied guy should be able to do this. If you’re young and in shape, you should be able to do a lot more for each exercise. Men have testosterone, it’s a hormone that gives us a greater capacity for strength than our wonderful female counterparts. This innate ability to get stronger shouldn’t be wasted. Get stronger, tougher, manlier.

13. Solve problems around the house

Self-reliance is ideal. The more you can do on your own without having to call someone else to help, the better off you are. The only way to learn is to try. Youtube is an insane invention for the ‘do-it-yourself’ type or the wannabe. There’s a video explaining nearly everything.

14. Read at least a book a month

Reading exposes us to new ways of thinking, and to history. It seems as though we’re ignoring history more and more these days, when everything is cyclical. To avoid making the same mistakes over and over again we need to study war and history. Don’t follow this trend to sweep history under the rug, the same things happen over and over but under different circumstances. No matter what’s going on, there’s usually a solution somewhere in our past.

15. Hunt

Big game is far healthier than anything you’ll find in a grocery store or butcher, it’s not even close.

Hunting is much more than an experience where you kill your own food, though, it’s getting out into nature in the best way possible. You’re tracking and pursuit and killing, gutting, and transporting. It’s what men have done for thousands of years.

16. Fish

Along the same logic, if you can find your own food you’re not only going to live a healthier life, but it’s an act that connects us to what men have done for as long as men have been men. There’s a peace that you find in nature that you just cannot find in cities, as well. Teach a man to fish…

17. Survive

Some men are born into harsher places than others. Some men have to learn how to survive as it’s an everyday struggle. Every man, though, should test himself in ways that questions whether or not he wants to continue. Every man should spend time in nature, get lost, put himself into dicey situations, travel to new parts of the world and experience different ways of life. Every man should expand his capabilities of all kinds, whether it be hunting, camping, fishing, or earning a buck when his back’s against the wall. A man doesn’t quit, he keeps pushing even if that struggle lasts a lifetime (Read: Man’s Search for Meaning).

18. Find the good in the impossibly horrible.

Man’s Search for Meaning, Unbroken, and Meditations – or any book by or about Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus – will provide a map for how to at least find the opportunity where others see crisis. The Obstacle is the Way is another great book that takes ancient wisdom and gives it to the reader in a way that he can apply daily, to any disaster. The point is that there’s always a choice to how we see things and how we react to them. Choose to see them from a place of power, control. See events as a challenge, never as a curse.

19. Be self-aware.

Few know their strengths and are genuinely aware of their weakness. Fewer still are awake to how they’re perceived or viewed by others. Most people live in their own world, in a bubble, that prevents growth and honesty. Like most good, necessary qualities, self-awareness is a necessity if you want to be at your best, both in your character and your accomplishment.

20. Make the difficult decision.

Most people want to make the popular decision. This is what politics in the west has primarily become. Men make the best decision as they see it, popularity or ease plays no role. This has to include choices you make in your own life and for yourself. Don’t make the easy decision. Don’t choose ease. Don’t choose the desire in the present, choose the decision that will bring you the most in your life’s entirety. The best decision, the one that makes you stronger, tougher, better, and more successful, is rarely the easiest one to make or the easiest path to follow

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 –


  1. I like how you concentrate on the value that any given task holds. And it’s true. Your lists are never like the ones from those horrible magazines for “men”. I put men in quotation marks because these magazines are not for real men. They do more harm than good. Probably because they are written by a guy who doesn’t know what it really means to be a man himself. Articles like yours are what real men must read and incorporate into their lives.

    • Appreciate it man. Those magazines are horrible. They lead guys to think that being a man is an image they have to spend money to create… which only leads to debt.

  2. You won me over by not including that I had to get in touch with my feelings or feminine side. Good article.

    • Chris McAllister

      I agree and disagree. It is definitely not getting in touch with your “feminine side.” There is no doubt there. That is why every man will have a woman in his life – for that proper balance.
      But I tend to think self-awareness is knowing you at all levels of who you are. Just my take though.

  3. Chad great article man! Most of those skills (not all) I learned while serving 22 years in the Army (82-2004) as a Military Policeman…retired in 2004 after a nice trip to Afghanistan (not). You have a great gift, so please continue to use it to influence other men. BTW my father used to tell me “…if it doesn’t effect your pay, don’t let it ruin your day.” 17 thru 20 are probably THE most difficult to learn/become accustomed to or embrace! Rock on brother…and thanks!

    • Appreciate it brother! And thanks for your service. Great advice from your old man too.

  4. 12 & 14 .. 225lbs eekk .. read 1 book a month .. I read 1 book in my life .. not including my childrens books.

  5. #5-7 & 11 are really the same—cf. ‘The Millionaire Next Door’; I’d modify the list a bit—

    #5 Economic Fluency—cf. Bastiat, Rothbard, von Mises, Hayek; solvency is vital to a full life. That means not being innumerate—yes, a little math goes a long way to understanding the world.

    #6 Self-Learning—as Louis L’Amour puts it in ‘The Education of a Wandering Man’, education is not something you get, it’s a lifetime process. BTW, the Greeks in their Golden Age, when they fought off the Persian hordes, &c taught two things in school (the Greek word for school is ‘leisure’): music and mathematics.

    #7 Dance—a man that has musical fluency can make a woman sway with musical emotion enthralled in a moment of magical delight. If a 66 year old can do it with any beautiful woman he sees, then so can you.

    #11 Fast—“I fast for greater physical and mental efficiency”, Plato. Wrestlers know the discipline and understand its benefits—additionally, it might be a life-extension and definitely a weight control measure.

    #12? If you’re whiny ass enough to gossip, you won’t do the other 19—so, I’d replace it with:

    #12 Music—the 1st instrument is your voice, learn to use it in speech and in song. Then, learn an instrument to accompany it with—banjo, violin, guitar, piano, drums, harmonica ….

  6. Ok, I especially like the comment you made – “It isn’t just about you, but about those who depend on you.” If men would realize this one thing, then the other items would be achievable. As for additions to the list, you already mentioned two of my favorites, but I would reword them as follows:
    Keep the following 3 things up to date and positive in your life. They are (in order):
    1) Your Bible reading – regardless of your religious beliefs, you need rules to live by, and those have been vetted for over 5000 years.
    2) Your Bank Book – you WILL have to pay your debts. And until you do, you will never be truly free.
    3) Your Diary or Journal – In school, you took notes, learned a lesson, then took a test. This is nothing like real life. In real life, the test comes first. It makes good sense to write down what you learn, because this test will come around again.

  7. Depending on where you live, (and how good you are at some of the others), nine of these serve very little purpose in todays world.

    • disagree – they’re even more important because they’re not necessary for survival. They’ve become things that we need for meaning, purpose, development, and being a man in a soft, weak, pussified society.

    • Chris McAllister

      I am going to disagree here too. You have to look beyond the surface for the depth of what is being said. The ability to think independently, problem solve, demonstrate creativity, adapt to ever changing circumstances – just to name a few – are quite necessary in today’s world.
      This list shows ways to do those things as well as – like Chad said in his comment – refocus on what it truly means to be a man. Something this society needs today.

      • My thoughts. Well, can I hunt? Yeah, never needed to. Fish? Sure, never needed to. Lift 225? No idea, never needed to. Shoot a gun, sure, never needed to. Work on my car? Yep, but I have never needed to. Fight? I outgrew that in middle school. Find meaning in suffering or good in the impossibly horrible? No. I’m 54, and I have never needed any of these. Sorry, that’s only eight, I miscounted.

        • No offence but that’s insane. Do you need to travel? No. Do you need to workout? No. Do you need to read? No….

          Who lives their life only doing the things they need to do? That’s not living, that’s existing.

          Do you need to save? No. Do you need to work hard? No. You don’t NEED to do anything, unless you want to live an adventurous, daring, ambitious life. Then, yes, you need to do the things that society no longer demands you do.

          If life, to you, is sitting in front of the TV, then you don’t need to do anything on this list. If you want to push yourself to become something better, to have great experiences, then everything on this list fits.

          • I think we are arguing two different points. I’m saying you don’t NEED the abilities you are pointing out to have an amazing life. (And I don’t want much tv)

          • Ya I just can’t wrap my head around a good life where those things aren’t included, that’s all.

          • Well, here’s the thing. Eleven year Navy veteran. Explored Antarctica. Skied down an active volcano. Skydiver. Scuba Diver. Rode bulls in the rodeo. Have a rack full of medals from running races. Surfed in Hawaii. Played guitar with Pete Townsend. Walked onto the field at the Rose Bowl. Diving with sharks. Saw Jimmy Buffett 16 times. Been in a couple movies. Taught line dancing in Mexico. Beat a couple famous poker players in hands of Texas Hold ‘em. Joined a Ukulele band. At 55 I am going to have my first child in December. So, without hunting, fishing, lifting 225, shooting a gun, working on my car, fighting, finding meaning in suffering, or good in the impossibly horrible, my life is not just good, it’s amazing.

            (I’m not saying I can’t do any of those things, I’m just saying I do not need them to give my life meaning.)

          • Ah I hear ya now. That’s awesome. We’re talking about the same thing just different details. Thanks for your service – great list of things there too.

          • Good to talk with you. Glad we reached an accord.

          • Being well versed in those attributes gives you a certain piece of mind others can’t fathom.

          • If I may throw my two cents in, it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.
            The world looks to be heading to shits, only a matter of time, and hope will definitely not be a strategy in those circumstances.

  8. Chris McAllister

    There are some of these that were thrust upon me in my childhood (#1 and 2) and sharpened my ability to persevere, to survive and helped me get to the point in my life I am today.
    Some of the others I never needed to do (#9) until now because my brother was the family expert.
    Others (#8, 15, 16, 17) I never thought about doing – even though I had plenty of opportunity – until now. Those do more than increases the senses, excitement, and the potential for danger, etc – they teach self-discipline, patience, the ability to problem solve, creativity, and so much more.
    I also think that most women do want financial security in relationships, marriages etc.; so I agree with those points (#5, 6, 7, 11) wholeheartedly.
    As for what I would add – it is to learn. Learning new things allows you to grow as a man with a better sense and understanding of what it takes to be a man. This is something that can taught to our sons, nephews, and to other “men” who are more caught up in the whims, trends, and fads of today’s society.

  9. “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
    — Robert Heinlein


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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.

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