We’ve always needed to know what it means to be a man. Teaching this is nothing new. The problem with our current society is that we don’t have teaching manhood programmed into how we teach everything else.
In Roman times, boys ran the streets wearing dirty clothes and had to fend for themselves. They would engage in battles, the classroom, too, was combative, they had to defend their point against a crowd, not merely in their own head or onto a piece of paper.
We’ve always taught young men what it means to be a man, but today, with fathers not sticking around, with a school system that increasingly looks down upon masculine qualities and virtues, our young men, our boys, even our middle-aged men, are now left to figure things out for themselves. Sad! (read: A Man’s Guide to Finding Freedom)
Who suffers? Everyone! The economy, women, kids, everyone. So, within this article we’ll discuss with it means to be a man, but also how to be a man. You won’t leave here with mere theory, but with steps by which you can take action.
Where We’ve Gone Wrong
Moral virtue doesn’t exist in you being harmless. The modern ideal being pushed for men is to be softer, to call yourself a feminist. You are not morally superior because you are more harmless, you are useless.
You are not perfect. You can be better than you are. This is an issue, telling kids and humans that they’re perfect just the way they are. We all have potential, but that potential is realized by improving and working hard.
What comes naturally isn’t what’s best. Easy things ‘come naturally’, the good things in life require effort.
Being a man is the ideal, it’s a pursuit. It’s not a bad thing, but a call that every male must heed. This idea of a patriarchy doesn’t exist. Men and women have worked together throughout history, never in opposition. Good men who do great things benefit everyone. Weak men who are soft, hurt those around them.
What It Means to Be a Man
Fundamentally, you cannot be useless. A useless man is weak, doesn’t earn and provide, is soft, complains, sees himself as a victim. How can you not be useless? Follow the following steps as if it were a checklist.
1. Be Dangerous.
That is, learn how to protect, to defend, to conquer. At our base, men are protectors. We’re defenders. Good men need to be more dangerous than bad men, or else we’re in trouble. You’re also responsible for others, and therefore useless if you cannot defend them. Learn to fight. Get good with guns. It’s not a choice, it’s a duty.
2. Earn, succeed, win.
Get good at something. That’s how you win. Winning isn’t a matter of getting something for nothing, but achievement. Achievement takes effort, persistence, and purposeful practice. To add to our fundamental need to be protectors, men must also be providers. If you want to know what it means to be a man, look no further than the head of a household.
Get good at something. Earn as much as you can for those who depend on you. (read: the Best a Man Can Be)
3. Improve, evolve.
Practice daily improvement. Have an actual routine set up to help you do this. Don’t leave it to chance. Every morning I’m up between 5am and 530am. I read for 45 minutes, head to the gym for 45 minutes, then sit down to work. At the end of the day I’m back reading/studying.
Without these habits in place, I don’t do what I set out to do. It’s a duty to end your life in a better position than where you started it. Be ambitious, be daring. Your ambitions are insights into why you’re here, listen to them, add fuel to them, and hunt them down. (read: 15 Signs You’re an Alpha Male)
4. Aim high.
Again, be ambitious. One aspect of manhood is competition. We need it. We actually see increases in our testosterone levels when we compete, and again when we win. It acts like a reward system, rewarding our participation in life.
Life is a competition. Too many men degrade what they aim at because they believe they are what they’ve done to this point. If you want to know what it means to be a man, it means pursuing something, moving forward in a focused direction.
Men cannot wander.
5. Finally, accept MORE responsibility, not less.
Bring more onto your shoulders, don’t avoid the work, the responsibility, the difficult aspects of life. That’s why you’re here, to bear burdens that others can’t bear. That’s your ‘cross’, and one that should be carried with pride and honor, not with complaint.
Men cannot complain, it’s not our nature, it’s not something we should have in our minds or within us. Define your job, and do it well.
What it Means to Be a Man
Women are born women. Men must become men. We need to be useful, and usefulness comes from developing skills.
You need skills like strength, being able to fight or developing a martial art, to be able to protect. You need to develop skills to be able to earn. Thus, if you want to know what it means to be a man, you can confine it to something so simple as being as useful as you possibly can be. The more dangerous, successful, ambitious, driven, disciplined you are, the more useful you are, and you will know what it means to be a man.
Life sucks. For no identifiable reason that we can come up with, life sometimes just absolutely sucks.
Maybe we’re working hard but not getting the results that we want, and maybe have never gotten the results we want.
Or, we just lack clarity. We don’t know what to do, and not knowing what to focus on is as bad as not getting the desired results.
Maybe we’re just down, we don’t know why, or we just can’t seem to create the life we want no matter how hard we try, and we’ve come to the realization that life sucks and all we can do is deal with it or end it.
While life does suck, as it’s filled with failure, disappointment, loss, tragedy, and evil, the ‘suckiness’, however, even of these horrible things, the failure, disappointment, loss, tragedy, and evil, is subjective nonetheless.
There is good, there is nice, and there is good for you.
Bad things often do you more good in the form of acquiring knowledge and toughness, resilience and grit, than those things we’d deem as good. (read: 15 Steps to Become a Better Man)
Life Sucks. How to Make it Suck Much, Much Less
When everything is going wrong. When you feel like a failure, like you’re doomed to fail for eternity, and you’re lost and discouraged and depressed, detach.
The other day I saw a video of an extremely large lady fist fighting with her ex-boyfriend. The video’s hilarious. I sent it to a buddy of mine, we laughed our asses off, and broke down the video’s contents, the hilarity of an extremely fat lady chasing a guy she was mad at for not wanting to be with her.
I made the comment, “Imagine how important these idiots think this moment is.”
Yes, they’re idiots. We’re all idiots in some ways, myself as much as anyone.
One of the worst things we do when everything is going wrong is we view the situation as vital, important, even the most important moment in our lives. It doesn’t matter if it truly is a moment, or if the ‘moment’ has gone on for a couple years now. At some point, if we continue to make incremental improvements, we’ll forget this feeling of despair running through us right now.
It will soon be insignificant. It will be forgotten by space and time because life goes on, because it doesn’t care about our feelings.
The best thing to do right when depression kicks in or if you just feel like crap, is to detach both from space and time.
View your problems from 100 feet above, then 1,000 feet above. You’re a speck. You’re one of 8 billion people, and you’re one of the most fortunate of those 8 billion people. At the least you’re not one of the most unfortunate. And, there are people going through worse than you are right now, that are happier than you are right now. Man up. Take your emotions out of the equation and situation and deal with it.
View your problems from 10 years in the future, then 20, then 30. This is the most helpful to me. I view myself as the man I want to become, will become, in the future. With everything I’ve achieved and accomplished and I am him looking back on the moment, barely remembering it, but attributing it to my eventual success because it, like all ‘bad things’, made me better.
About these bad times…
They are not actually bad, when you think about them. Within every moment there’s opportunity. In that light, the struggle is good. Within struggle is where you build character, where you’re forced to adopt better principles, become more disciplined, and even artificially stay positive.
Ray Dalio, in his book, Principles, wrote this:
“Most of life’s greatest opportunities come out of moments of struggle; it’s up to you to make the most of these tests of creativity and character.”
Dalio is a self-made billionaire, one of the world’s most financially successful humans. He’s worth listening to.
2. Act as that thing you want to become.
Winners act like winners before they become winners.
Just because life sucks in this moment, doesn’t mean that you too have to suck. In fact, you shouldn’t. You should act above your situation. Dress successful. Look successful. Act successful. Act happy. Act strong. Act calm and stoic. Act as if you are what you want to become.
Develop the habits that the winner would have. Develop the discipline. Develop the mood. Read, learn, study.
Most of all, don’t be lazy. If you think that you deserve a day off, time to sulk, you’re wrong. That will just dig a bigger hole that’ll be tougher to climb out of.
3. Win your morning.
When you win your morning you set yourself up for a great day.
You create a feeling of achievement when you have a successful morning that helps you succeed throughout the day.
For me, this requires a routine.
My routine is as follows:
Rise between 5 and 530 am.
Read for 1 hour.
Workout (5-6 days a week, sometimes 7. I need to sweat daily or I just feel useless).
Work for 2-3 hours straight without break, without answering emails or checking anything that doesn’t have to do with the one thing I’m working on.
That is a morning won. That happens every day. It’s habitual. It isn’t a decision that needs to be made, it’s just a normal morning. (Read: How to Be Successful in Life)
4. Train your body every day.
Do something physical every day. It doesn’t have to be a workout in the weight room. It can be a hike, a run, time on the bike, whatever. But you should be lifting weights at least 4 days a week. You’re a man, you need to be stronger.
Every man needs time in the day to think about the day, to reflect on what has happened and what will happen.
I don’t smoke every day, but a few times a week I sit and work or read or just think with a cigar and the rhythmic, meditative motion that’s involved in cigar smoking.
Always seen as an escape, a chance to unwind and put things into perspective, I never fully understood the power of smoking a cigar until the last couple of years. Of course, it’s powerful if you allow it to be.
Smoking a cigar, to me, is meditating. I’m not one to sit in my pajamas and hum with my legs crossed chanting some meaningless phrase. Cigars, however, provide the opportunity to think, as a man must, without feeling like a complete goof.
Ray Lewis talks about a life lesson he received from his grandfather about this very thing. Give it a watch.
Why this article on ‘how to know if you’re an alpha male’? Wouldn’t you just know? That’s kind of the point, most wouldn’t. Those that think they are rarely are, and those that don’t think about it at all, are.
This article is more for those who want to be at their best, which is what an alpha male is. Think of the alpha male as your potential in life. Potential cannot be attained if you’re weak, soft, and cowardly, just like it can’t be attained if you’re lazy, envious, and too proud.
Don’t call yourself an alpha male. Don’t try to cover up weakness with arrogance. Don’t think pushing others down is what an alpha male does. The very nature of being an alpha male is leadership. The greatest leaders led by example, they lifted others up and inspired…
…But the harsh reality is that no one is inspired by a loser.
So while you may want to be an alpha male, while you may think you’re an alpha male, while you may want to be at your best, it’s a lifelong pursuit of self-improvement. It’s not something that stops, ever, and arrogance will always lead to your downfall, no matter how many things on this list you can check off.
You can fight.
When a man can’t fight, when he doesn’t have the skill nor the courage nor the mental fortitude nor the strength, he’s useless. If you have the tools, you must use those tools. If you’re injured, or unable, then use a gun, get great at using a firearm.
Regardless, the original purpose of men is one of protector. You’re at the edge of the cities gates, you’re the one who runs downstairs when a bad guy breaks into your house. Be useful in this purpose, you have to know how to fight, and it’s great if you also know how to use a gun. Bad guys don’t care if you’re ‘against guns’.
You can earn.
The other original purpose of a man was to be a provider. In past times that meant hunting for food and being a good hunter. I still think that’s necessary. We need to hunt, as men, to get back to that original purpose, to be outdoors where we’re bred to be. But today we also have to earn.
It’s a man’s duty to earn enough to take care of his family. That’s a foundation of being an alpha male and a man. You don’t have to be rich, wealthy, or powerful, but you have to know how to earn enough to care for those dependent on you.
You’re not an emotional wreck.
People look to those who are stable. You cannot be an alpha male if you’re constantly whining and bitching and moaning about your situation in life. You cannot be an alpha male if you’re always sad and crying when you don’t get your way.
You cannot be an alpha male if people don’t know who they’re going to get. They need stability, especially your lady. You cannot be the one flying off at the handle in cloud of rage every time something imperfect happens.
Control your emotions. Be stoic. You cannot control everything in your life, but you can control how you react to it.
Act from a position of love, caring, and strength. If you care for people, you recognize that, it’s tough to be such an emotional wreck.
You’re not a pussy.
Yes, you have fears, but you don’t let them deter you from action. You have struggles but you face them. You get worried but you solve the problems you face.
You also don’t quit.
In short, you cannot be an alpha male and be a pussy.
You can’t be the guy who’s afraid to back his pals up in a fight. You can’t be the guy who’s afraid to work hard, to risk to try new things, to risk failure for success, and to risk his life for a little adventure.
You lift others up.
An alpha male is a leader. Simple. That means there’s sacrifice in your life. You do not sacrifice your health or mental wellbeing, that makes you useless and unfit to lead.
Rather, you inspire. You show others what’s possible. You support them emotionally or physically. You don’t put others down – that’s never a good idea for long term success – rather, you lift them up.
You’re a protector.
This goes beyond your family. Hopefully it’s just natural that you’re a protector of your family, but you should also aim to protect those who need your protection. You see a single guy getting beat up by a group, you step in. You see a lady being mistreated, you step in.
You’re a natural protector, you’re not the prick hitting the lady or one of the many beating up on a single fella – unless that fella was the guy hitting the lady, then have at it. No, you’re a protector, defender, giver of safety where safety seems impossible.
You work hard.
Nothing is won without hard work. If you’re going to lead, reach your potential, get strong, provide for your family, you’d better be a hard worker.
You’re not arrogant.
Arrogance is a lie. It’s something weak men use to cover up their insecurities. If you’re the kind of guy who has to strut around like a peacock, be loud, obnoxious, and have all the attention all of the time, rethink whether you’re arrogant of confident.
The greatest giver of confidence is overcoming obstacles.
Boxing, and getting good at fighting, gave me a ton of confidence. It quieted me. It made me sure of whether or not I could handle myself so I didn’t have to show that I could handle myself.
Overcoming obstacles in business did the same thing. Men win confidence not by thinking magically different, but by overcoming obstacles.
Modesty is the acknowledgment that you do not know it all, and that whatever you want to achieve will require discipline and hard work, you will not be able to coast to greatness because no one can.
Modesty is the foundation of both success and confidence.
Ambitions are truths, not lies. They’re not pipe dreams that shouldn’t be listened to. They’re your soul telling you what to pursue. They’re ideas into why you’re here, what will make you feel alive, and what you should sacrifice it all to achieve.
Everyone wants to follow someone who thinks bigger, on a more grand scale. Ambition, whether it’s to live an adventurous life or to build a legacy, is vital.
You take care of yourself first.
How can you serve others and take care of yourself first? For an alpha male, for a guy who others depend on, this is necessary.
If you don’t take care of your health you won’t be there for your family for long, and you also won’t have the energy to provide for them.
If you don’t take care of your finances, again, you fail them.
You have to take care of yourself first, so you’re at your best to take care of others.
This requires planning. Structure your day so that you get your work done, your workout in, and your study time in (reading). Also schedule things in during the week that give you energy. For me this is hiking, shooting, archery. I need those things. If I don’t have them I’m grumpier, lack enthusiasm and energy.
Those things that feed your soul need to be a part of your life BEFORE you schedule family time. That way you’re at your best for those that depend on you.
You can’t depend on someone who lacks discipline. Discipline, furthermore, is a choice that everyone has access to. If you’re not disciplined it’s your fault. If you’re not disciplined you will die with regret.
More than just not being a pussy, you show courage. You go where others are afraid of going. Guys like Captain James Cook come to mind in this regard. Courage is contagious. It’s also required to live a good, full, fulfilling life.
It is better to be tough than it is to be soft.
You cannot escape that fact. Toughness comes from training, from doing the hard work, and from facing fears.
You do your thing. You have vision, focus, a plan.
You follow. You have to follow at times in your life so you can learn how to lead. But you also do your own thing, ignoring what others say or think. You have clarity and the balls to act on those plans even when others may ridicule you for it.
This takes courage, but also clarity. Too often we don’t really know what we want. I find it necessary to get out into nature simply to hike, to struggle, to hunt, and to think to find clarity.
It’s harder to find clarity in a city, amidst the noise, and amidst the familiar.
The Magic of Thinking Big and Overcoming Fears. The magic of thinking big is that it’s something anyone and everyone should do. You can think however you want to think, on whatever scope you want to think on, in any manner, so what not thinking daring thoughts, aim higher, and think bigger? (Read: How to Set Massive Goals and Achieve Them)
The Aim Is Everything
We’re limited by our own perception of what we can achieve. We limit ourselves for a few reasons:
We don’t think we can actually do something, we lack confidence because we haven’t done it yet. But just because something hasn’t been done doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. And if we’re willing to do the work and persist, success becomes very likely, not unlikely.
I’ve faced this in my own business, by curbing my aims to suit what I know I can achieve. Or at least I found that in the past. When I think bigger and actually plan to achieve it, I get far more motivated and do a heck of a lot more work than I would if I set a goal that’s easy to achieve, even if, deep down, I didn’t think I could do it or that it would be as good as I wanted it to be.
Example: I really didn’t think I could write a good book that guys would like, apply, and would impact their lives. I have two such books, and wrote two books within a year.
We see the work that’s involved in the bigger goal, in the more daring dream, and we don’t think we’re up to it. That’s laziness. Of course if you’re not willing to do the work you won’t live the life. Bigger goals, however, have magic behind them. When you aim higher you get far more energy from thinking big than you do from thinking small.
If you’re a hard worker – and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be, everyone should be a hard worker because everyone can be a hard worker – why would you not put those efforts to something that excites you and something worth doing? (Read: Yes, Be Hard on Yourself)
Why Think Small?
If you can think big, why would you think small? If you can work hard, why would you be lazy? Thinking small will get you small things. It will not get you the life you want. If you can’t conceive it, you won’t achieve it. You have to, on some level, be able to conceive something great, grand, and daring, and you can. You dream, don’t you?
Those dreams aren’t lies. That’s your ambition. Listen to it. Give it sustenance, air to breathe, energy, focus. Write them down. Put them on paper. Make them directions that you point your life in, and then get working on doing the things that will make them a reality.
Aim High and Be Aggressive
When some aim high they get timid. They think they don’t belong so they act like they don’t belong. This is tragic because it’s a choice. When you set your mind on something, meet that goal with aggression. Aggression is the antidote to fear, it’s something that few use.
The hunter is aggressive. The prey is fearful. If you’re pursuing a goal, you’re a hunter. Act like a hunter!
Archetypes and ideals are important. They’re proof that it can be done. History is filled with them. Conor McGregor is a great example of a guy who was on welfare, put the time and effort in to become great, and became great. He first thought it, then did the work to create it.
He’s failed time and time again, but his life is pointed in a great, grand direction. He’s seen the magic of thinking big.
Why wouldn’t you do the same?
If you want other examples, look into Captain James Cook and Napoleon Bonaparte, two men born into nothing when success was something you were born into.