Be a man!
Ever heard that exhortation before?
Of course. We all have.
Anyone ever told you HOW?
Granted, there's more than one way to do it…
but in general –
The first step is to GROW UP!
A lot of people seem to think that being a man is just about being tough. But there's more to it than that. Much more. It's really about maturity, self-reliance, and being secure in who you are. In other words, being a man means no longer being a child.
If we're honest with ourselves, most of us struggle with some aspect of leaving childhood behind. But adulthood is a journey – and being willing to work at it shows that you're ready.
Are you? If so, read on.
#1. Define Yourself And Your Values
Commanding respect is rooted in understanding what you have to offer. If you assume you aren't going to contribute anything and act like it too, most people won't bother to look beyond that.
Your strengths may not be obvious to you. We tend to have a blind spot when it comes to our strengths AND weaknesses. If you want more clarity on what yours are, think about what accomplishments you're the most proud of and ask yourself what traits that helped you. Coming up blank?
Ask someone who knows you well and whom you trust. Don't dismiss any achievement as too small or insignificant. The values that helped you fix up your garage or prepare your kid brother for his SATs can be built on as you move on to bigger things.
When you know what you're about, you can build an identity that you communicate with your personal style and the first impressions you make. If you focus on what you uniquely bring to the table and what's most important to you, it will show.
A final note on this: define yourself by what you are, not what you aren't. The presence of a strong set of core values beats the absence of fear, weakness, or any other natural human experience that society may look down on. If you're living honestly, you'll still have these experiences. Just remember that the power is yours to decide to rise above them.
#2. Learn Life Skills
You're a grown man. Your dad's not here to fix things that you break and your mom's not here to clean up your messes. It's up to you to learn how.
Seriously, to be a man you need some basic skills. Being prepared for whatever life may throw at you is a key marker of maturity. Start by learning how to be prepared for emergencies – take a first aid or survival class, get CPR certified, help your family plan what to do in the event of a natural disaster. Even if you never use what you learn, you'll feel better about yourself knowing that you can take charge when all hell breaks loose.
Of course, every problem you encounter won't be an emergency. You'll want to learn independence and preparedness in your day to day life too. At the very least, know how to feed yourself from scratch if you have to, keep your home organized, and do your laundry without ruining your clothes. You should really work to develop some basic repair skills as well. Can you shut off an overflowing toilet? Deal with a blown fuse? Hang a shelf?
#3. Be A Man – Be Reliable
The above guidelines tie into one basic principle: a grown man should be able to take responsibility for problems that come up in his life. That means following through on what needs to be done and not making excuses. A few specifics follow.
Be on time – be smart about your own time and show others that you value theirs. If punctuality doesn't come naturally to you, commit to finding a system that works – you have plenty of options.
You have to be able to rely on yourself before others can rely on you – and you can't do that when you're overwhelmed. Simplify and organize your life. Think carefully about where you tend to drop the ball and focus on confronting, and fixing, those problems.
You don't have to be perfect, and you needn't expect an overnight transformation. Hold yourself accountable and stay focused on small but steady and continuous improvement. Those around you will notice.
#4. Be The Bigger Man
Conflict is a part of life. People will disagree with you. Some will disrespect you. A few may even hurt you. But no matter how gravely you're wronged, one thing is certain: how you handle it is up to you. An important part of learning to be a man is learning to pick your battles.
Some people may annoy you but are essentially minding their own business. Do the same. Some are just trying to get a cheap rise out of you. Ignore them. And some, you'll have to stand up to. When you meet them, you'll be glad you didn't waste your energy on smaller nuisances.
You can stand your ground and be strong without being angry and reactive. You can be understanding without being spineless. It's your responsibility (and within your power!) to decide what to fight and what to walk away from.
#5. Take Initiative, Take Action
When it comes to your goals and life aspirations, the only factor you can really control is yourself. When you're facing overwhelming odds or life throws tremendous suffering your way, that may not feel like too much power.
In reality, it's quite a lot. Your control over yourself is incredibly powerful. It is always YOUR decision to act like a man. You can always take a step, however small, towards what you're after. You can always choose NOT to be a victim!
Be honest with yourself about what you want out of life and what it'll take to achieve. If you've made choices you regret, understand that while you can't go back, you can go forward.
TAKE ACTION, gentlemen. Don't just wait for your goals to materialize on their own. Part of being a man is honestly evaluating what you want out of your life – and then going after it with everything you've got.
Huc venite pueri ut viri sitis.
Come hither, boys, and become men.
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