We live in a world where masculinity has many different definitions. It almost becomes overwhelming for a young man to subscribe to a life of being a man in any sense of the word. How does one be a man? We see today in the media men reaching levels of extreme muscle mass and becoming the gym rat man. In professional sports you have the ideal body of the athletic man. You scan a bit further and you have the Wall Street Warrior man who is iron clad in his tailored suit and riches beyond your wildest dreams.
Let’s pull back the layers of these three we have under the microscope and see how “manly” they truly are. The gym rat takes steroids to hide their insecurities and their lack of putting in the hard work. It appears every season you have a new NFL player (the athletic man) attacking women or taking performance enhancing drugs. The Wall Street Warrior uses his cunning to steal from people beneath him. Acting as the leader yet deceiving this people that look up to him.
All these archetypes bastardize the illustration of the ideal man. So when then is the ideal man? What should a boy and a young man strive to be in this day and age of conflicting messages? Below are the 10 pillars that define today’s ideal man.
1. He takes responsibility for his actions
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” -Theodore Roosevelt
The ideal man doesn’t blame others when he has made a mistake. The ideal man knows when he is wrong and has made an err in judgement. He doesn’t pawn off the responsibility to another. He absorbs the consequences no matter how dire and presses forward, looking to take on the next responsibility.
2. He is open and honest with his thoughts
“When someone comes along and expresses him or herself as freely as they think, people flock to it. They enjoy it.” -Joe Rogan
People are attracted to authenticity. When you are trying to be someone you’re not and trying to fit into a crowd that isn’t yours, people have a sense that something isn’t right. There are too many people on this planet to try and join a community that isn’t in line with your values and how you operate. Be true to yourself and people will gravitate towards that.
3. He has a north star he is following. He knows what he wants
“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” -Barack Obama
A man knows what he wants. Whether that is professionally, romantically, spiritually etc. Of course a man can change is course but he does so after a hard look internally and perhaps after he realizes he has scaled the top of the mountain- where at that point, the only place to go is down.
4. He is humble, always looking to learn more
“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” -William Shakespeare
If you claim to know everything, you’re a damn food. Made a similar claim before his death, “I know one thing; that I know nothing.” The ideal man keeps learning. He keeps questioning people and beliefs. He keeps the child curiosity alive throughout his life.
5. He is competition with himself; not others around him
“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” -Ayn Rand
It’s easy to fall victim to comparing yourself to others and joining the “rat race.” The ideal man doesn’t succumb to this pitfall. He grinds away, trying to be better than who he was the day before. Comparing yourself to the people around you will only make you feel inadequate.
6. He is a product of positive daily habits
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” -Benjamin Franklin
The ideal man cannot approach the day with haphazard impulse. He is meticulous in his decision making and creates a roadmap of the day that will draw a map of the years and an atlas of his life. He retains his energies to combat the present and achieve daily victories.
7. He practices and fosters his emotional intelligence; he is mindful
“I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.” -Booker T. Washington
The ideal man knows that his emotions are a product of his internal perceptions. He keeps these emotions at bay. If he has evil thrust upon him by another, he knows that seeking revenge only drops him to his wrong doer’s level. Keeping reason at the forefront of his mind is his only way of overcoming destructive emotion.
7. He turns away from comfort and thrives on the struggle
“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” -Seneca
When have you heard of a great man that lived an easy life? It doesn’t happen. Comfort breeds complacency, complacency finds solace in stagnation, stagnation breeds laziness, laziness is the antithesis of success. When life hands the ideal man an two opportunities: one difficult, with a higher risk and higher reward versus an easy one with a high floor and low ceiling, the ideal man takes the former. He knows, worst case scenario, should he fail, he can only learn from the failure.
8. He is committed to practicing his craft
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” -Bruce Lee
The ideal man knows that unrelenting practice in a craft is the surest way to becoming a professional. The overnight success is a myth to the ideal man. He knows what type of grueling work, day in and day out it takes to become a master.
9. He is compassionate and thinks of others
“The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.” -Albert Einstein
When you put yourself above others at all costs the world becomes lonely and cold. When you always expect to receive you find yourself with empty pockets. When you give to people you get back with ease. The ideal man knows this. He knows the true currency is with people. Giving to people is the way to grow that account.
10. Above all, He leads by example
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” -Marcus Aurelius
It is foolish to waste time complaining about how someone should be or how someone should act. These are external forces beyond your control. The ideal man knows he is in control of his actions and acts the way an ideal man should. These acts cause a chain reaction among the people he comes in contact with.