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”
Your choice in life is simple; you’re either disciplined or you’re unsuccessful.
Discipline equals freedom. Jocko Willink says that over and over again as a way to explain discipline and its true benefits. Without it you cannot save, nor can you earn. You can’t live life on your own terms without discipline, instead you’ll be a victim to every wish and desire that comes into your wee little brain.
Discipline is the route to freedom, and freedom is necessary for happiness, yet discipline is avoided, it’s chided, looked down upon by those who aim to live life on whim, without direction or purpose or meaning, claiming to be in the present, yet for no good reason.
You have a choice in life, and that choice is discipline or failure. Failure is dependency, it’s never creating something of value, it’s being a slave to your desires and never fully understanding that desires are often the distraction, not the true source of happiness that we all crave.
What do you really want in life?
Are you fine with accomplishing nothing, with choosing ease over meaning?
What you want is what you give your time to. Most people give their time to dreaming or TV. Winners give their time to activities worthy of their time, understanding that time is limited, fleeting, and disappearing.
Choose discipline, and not just in your work, choose it in how you use your time, to give your time to things that you deem important, beneficial, things you may even call living.
Don’t get lost in the lie that is doing whatever you want in a given moment. That’s not how happiness is earned nor created, it’s how it’s avoided, it’s how life is avoided. Have the discipline to decipher what is good and the balls to act upon only what is right.
The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
An untroubled spirit is one that lacks guilt. That doesn’t come from being a sociopath, but from being a man who does good, honorable things with his time and lends his mind to learning and improving, not tearing others down in a quest to get to the top.
An untroubled spirit comes from simplicity. To be a simpleton is frowned upon. Blowhards who know many things look down on those who knew but a few things, even if that specialized knowledge aides other humans in a greater fashion than the blowhard’s diversified knowledge. Simplicity, however, is the key to productivity and happiness. It’s the path to a life devoid of stress and worry.
When you know what’s good and what’s bad, and that should be something very simple, black and white even, life becomes easy. All you then need are the balls to live life according to those decisions that are right.
It’s when you sell your soul, when you compromise your values for momentary pleasure or brief reward, you cannot possibly have an untroubled spirit.
Seeing things for what they are is simple, but difficult. We latent motivations, underlying aspirations, weaknesses, that lead us to see things not for what they are, but how we’d like them to be, whether that’s good or bad. We attach emotions to things that don’t need them, that are clouded by them.
We’re swayed by media that presents a story to fit their narrative. We’re influence by friends and foes and family that all want something for us or from us and what they show us, who they present themselves as is the cause of what they want.
We’re gullible, even to ourselves, our own faults and follies. Seeing things as they are takes calm where rage wants to win. It takes stoicism where emotion wants to dominate.
Both may be simple, but they’re far from easy. Yet, to live a flourishing life, a good life, a happy and successful life, we need both as our foundation.
No man is free who is not master of himself. ~ Epictetus
Most men are victims, and their victimhood isn’t at the hands of a more powerful oppressor, but in their hands. They don’t have mastery over the Self. Every desire that comes into their minds is followed to its fruition.
No man can be free if he isn’t free from himself and to master himself.
Are you free?
Can you control a desire and determine if its genuinely in your best interests to follow in a given moment, in this moment?
Do you let your weaker tendencies to prevail? Those like lust and envy, sloth and laziness, or do you have a fundamental understanding that your time and energy and imagination are best given to other things, like adventure, or work, or training of the body to become tougher, stronger, mightier?
Mastery over the Self is difficult. To not be a master of the Self is easy, you simply do whatever you feel like doing in a moment, and avoid the things you must do to get what you want from life and become who you must become.
What are your weaknesses?
In what areas of your life do you lack control?
Come to grips with where you’re weak. Write it down. Proclaim it. Those who seek to hide their weaknesses will always be weak. Finding clarity is simply being self-aware enough and courageous enough to admit where you’re weak. People like to be ignorant of their weaknesses, and I’m not talking about the blatant ones.
Do you have control over your spending? I mean real control. Or are their motivations that you don’t own, that are the result of clever advertising? Apply that question to every area of your life. Cover the things you’re not proud of, but also that don’t help you improve.
Are you in control of your TV watching? Even more importantly, are you in control of your thoughts?
Can you stop the depressive thinking that plagues us all or do you follow that rabbit hole until you’re off your game and you give up on a day.
Remember that each day is your life. You cannot separate the two nor can you give one more importance than the other.
You ruin one day, it could be your last. You ruin one day and you have an excuse to ruin another, and before you know if you’ve ruined them all.
Be real with yourself. Where do you lack control? Then figure out how to take control back.
Freedom is what every man needs and it’s what we all want. We just have ignorant ideas of what freedom is. We think freedom is the freedom to do stupid, selfish, lazy things. That isn’t freedom. Freedom is control and focus. Gain control over yourself and you’ll have real freedom.
Happiness does not consist of pastimes and amusements but in virtuous activities. ~ Aristotle
The Greek “eudaimonia” is what we translate as happiness; however, it more precisely means “living well” or “excellence”.
To the Greeks, happiness was more than laughter or pleasure. It consisted of something deeper. It was good and virtuous. It was our proper function as humans, more significant than self-gratification, more meaningful than vacations or beers with the pals.
Our proper function as humans.
Your proper function has to be your potential; it cannot be anything less. It’s not merely doing or being but being you at your best. Part of that is goodness, how you are to others, how you serve, how you make them feel, how you teach them, but another part of that is how much of yourself you give.
We leave so much in the tank every day. We should be crawling into bed as a refuge from the battles faced and enemies defeated during the day. We don’t do that. We don’t give our all. We don’t even give our focus to a single thing, we chop it up and hand it to multiple things at a given time, but never that which best deserves our attention.
Your highest purpose as a human cannot be split, it must be a singular focus, an arduous pursuit, only one thing at a time and while that thing is your only focus, there should be no other.
We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life.” –Theodore Roosevelt
The stern strife of actual life is only made more difficult by increasingly audacious ambitions. The man who aims to achieve little won’t face many obstacles in his quest for mediocrity. The man who aims to conquer the stars will face forces he may not believe he can conquer.
That’s the stern strife of actual life. Life, on its own, is difficult, but instead of asking less of yourself to acquire an easier road, ask more. Ask that you become something you’re not already. Let go of the path you’re on and step into an entirely different realm.
While the focus of TR’s quote is who we admire, it speaks to who we must become. Admiration isn’t the goal. The goal is to be, as TR was, a man of action and victorious effort.
The pat on the pack doesn’t come after a day’s work well done. This is who you are. You are a man who never quits, of course, but also a man who attacks life day in and day out. It isn’t the end game that matters to you, it’s the pushing of Sisyphus’ stone, the act of the work, the process, the being, that drives you. Applauds and acclaim are of little value.
Too many of us live timid lives. We fear death or harm or failure, and we let that fear stand in the way of life. We let setbacks set us back. We let failures get us down. We allow monotony and safety to creep into our lives forgetting the young lions we once were, replacing tenacity with timidity, vigor with vanity. We allow a system of expectations to shape who we attempt to become, a man devoid of imagination and passion, one simply going through the motions until motions cease.
I get lost in this sedated reality. I allow it to become who I am and how I live until I read a word, a quote, a book that snaps me out of it and sets me back on the right path, but that right path has yet to be daring enough to extract who I can be from who I currently am.
This has to consistently be on our mind. We cannot slide into the easy life when the daring life is a much more attractive option.
We may die. We may fail. To aim higher than any man and to have the courage to live a higher ideal, however, will guarantee a life lived rather than one that’s merely existed.
Most visit this planet for 80 or so years. Rarely do we come across a man that is truly giving his all, who is living in its purest form. He’s the man of vigorous effort. He’s pursuing goals, he’s working harder, he’s thinking bigger, but he’s also venturing into corners of the world where most wouldn’t dare to go, chasing adventures that few ever pursue.
This has to be you.
To let another minute go by living as a fraction of who you can be further reinforces the fact that you’ll live forever as a shell of the man you could have been if, after reading an article, a quote, a book, you made a firm decision rather than only nodding in agreement then carrying on with a life without meaning, lacking action and deficient of adventure. You and I cannot go on being such a way.
Within life there are moments that define us. Sure, we are our habits. Habits change in moments of decision, where you turn your back on who you were and become who you aspire to be as night time comes and, for a few hours, your dreams become your reality.
Over the past week or so we’ve talked about what you need to do(discipline) and who you need to become(the code) to accomplish them.
… but what about the actual goals?
Too often we write down the first goals that come to mind. They’re the goals we think we want to accomplish but we don’t give ourselves enough time to really determine whether or not they align with our idea of our ideal life.
You may, for example, write down that you want to gross $1,000,000 this year, or $300k or $500k, but does your idea of your ideal life actually require you to earn that much?
There’s a lot you can put, but what are the best things to put as your goals?
In the 12 Virtues we talk about finding clarity a lot.
Clarity comes when you know who you are, who you want to become, and what your values are.
It’s also something we’re almost completely missing in a society where true originals are few, and options are seemingly endless. We’re pulled in so many directions, told many narratives, that we end up following something, someone, or an idea without giving much thought about whether we really want it or not.
I run into this a lot.
When you read a lot, when you work a lot, it can be difficult to decipher which desires and ambitions are yours, and which are someone else’s.
So how do we find clarity on what we really want to accomplish?
1. You have to spend a week and form your ideal life.
Spend time every morning or night crafting your ideal life. Where will you live? What will your house look like, feel like? Who will you live with? How many horses and dogs will you have? What will your routine be?
Craft the story that you want to write. Determine what your life will be like on a daily basis, your routine, then add in a completely different narrative of what you do for fun, your adventures, your hobbies and other pursuits.
Form the life and the persona that will make you happy, give you purpose, and most importantly make you excited to get to work.
Take a week. Don’t try and do this in one sitting.
2. Do the math.
Figure out how much money you’ll need to earn and save to create this life.
Keep in mind that stuff is useless. I don’t need a new truck. My truck is just fine. So a new truck doesn’t make it into my dream life because I simply don’t care that much about getting a new one. A ranch, however, is something I definitely do want, and I’ve looked at the areas where I’d like to buy, the land I want to have, and I’ve found the prices of ranches and ranch land, along with how much I would have to put down, upkeep costs, mortgage payments, and so forth.
What you’ll find is, when you’re focusing on the most important things in life, you actually need to make a little less than you may think. (Read This:How to Spend Your Money Like a Winner)
Of course, you want to make millions, but you can create your genuinely perfect life with much less. Money is a measuring stick for how good you are at what you do, it can give you freedom, but as soon as you make it your be all end all and you attach meaning to things, money becomes a burden, it’s becomes a trap.
3. Times it by ten.
Multiply both the amount and the goal by ten. Just because this is what you need to create what you want, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t aim for more.
More is better. More, as in, asking more of yourself. The greater the goal, the more excited you’re going to be about setting out to accomplish it.
A year is too long. Five years is way too long. Aiming to achieve a MASSIVE goal in 6 months is scary, but it can often get accomplished if enough work is done. Actually, I’d say it’s more likely to get accomplished than an annual goal because 6 months enables greater clarity.
When you have a six month goal it becomes pretty clear as to what you need to do within six months to achieve it. Bringing it to 3 months doubles that clarity as you know precisely what you need to do and who you need to be to make this audacious life your reality.
I don’t have 2017 goals. I have goals that I will accomplish within six months, and others I’ll accomplish within three months.
When I set annual goals they never get accomplished, so I’m done with them. You should be too.
5. Figure out your ideal day with what you have and who you are right now.
With all of this daring ambition sprinkled into a goal-setting scenario, you also need to figure out what your ideal day is with what you have right now.
The ‘stuff’ you’re aiming to acquire really doesn’t matter. You should be able to live a great life with where you are right now. Greatness shouldn’t have to be something that you push into the future, that you have contingencies for.
When I get a million dollars, then I’ll live the life I want.
When I make a million bucks I’ll travel, write, live as ‘the man’.
That’s what we usually tell ourselves. Then a million bucks comes and we push it to two million, or 100 million, or a billion, and we spend our lives chasing a dollar amount when our ideal life, and our ideal self could have been realized on day one.
What’s your ideal day?
These steps should help you find clarity both in what you want to accomplish this year, who you want to become, eventually, and what your end game is.
Be daring. Be ambitious. But don’t wait to become the guy that these goals need you to become. Act like the billionaire now. Be the adventurer today.
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.
Difficulty shows what men are. Therefore when a difficulty falls upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of wrestlers, has matched you with a rough young man. Why? So that you may become an Olympic conqueror; but it is not accomplished without sweat.” ~ Epictetus
We tend to get down when difficulty enters our lives. It’s the natural way of thinking. When something unplanned and negative happens, we pity ourselves rather than seeing such an event as Epictetus describes above. (Read This:Life is Hard. Deal with It.)
Don’t just accept difficulty, revel in it. See it as opportunity rather than disaster. Our history of humans is written by men who’ve overcome difficulty, who’ve found the good in it while others chose to pity their plight.
A decade ago I developed horrible spending habits. I spent as my pals spent – which was a lot. I bought because I wanted. I wasn’t in control of where my money went and thus, it went. Combine my ignorance with some bad business breaks and I found myself in seemingly insurmountable debt.
It sucked. Gone was my financial freedom. Gone was my ability to do what I wanted, when I wanted to do it. In front of me, however, was a great opportunity that has served me well ever since.
I needed to learn to budget. I needed this lesson to come into my life to buck the trends of a consumer society where people place value not on work done, accomplished, or character, but on stuff. It’s idiotic, but I needed a painful lesson to teach me how dumb that focus on life is so when I did make money, I wouldn’t fall into the same trap again.
Crisis is a gift. It’s a teacher. Use it, don’t let it use you, break you, crush you. There are lessons in every moment of our lives, and we either choose to see them or choose to ignore them.
Take the path of the warrior, not the coward. Don’t pity where you are, learn from where you are and do what you must to climb out of the despair you find yourself in.
You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. ~ Marcus Aurelius
So much of our time is spent worrying about things we cannot control. We fret over our birth place, the money we were or weren’t born into, the ‘breaks’ we’ve gotten in life, the weather, and so forth, that we ignore what we can control.
You have complete control over your mind. Realizing this and using this control is power, it’s strength, it sets you apart from almost every human on the planet who’s stuck blaming someone or something for how their lives are going.
You have power to choose to see opportunity where others only see crisis. This is the greatest gift we can posses, and all it takes is awareness.
Take a notepad and a pen and spend a day writing about your thoughts. How do you think when someone cuts you off? What’s your reaction when you get an email from an unhappy customer? How do you think about your prospects in life?
Are you a slave to your desires? Do they determine how you act and who you are? Do they shape your mood and worldview? Do you let emotions prevent the opportunity for clarity?
You cannot control the weather, so why fret over it?
You cannot control where you were born, but you can control where you end up.
Spend time thinking about the things you can control, like your thoughts, your reactions to emotions and desires and be a man of strength rather than a victim to every whim that enters your brain.