By the age of 30, every man should be able to fly a helicopter.
Maybe I set the bar too high.
This got me thinking – what are the skill sets that every man should master?
The modern man (you) must be able to shift between diplomat and warrior fluidly – that’s not easy.
Never fear, I’ve done the heavy lifting for you.
In today’s article, I'm going through the nine manly skills that all men need to master to truly call themselves a man.
- Have a Defensive Mindset | Be Able to Defend Yourself
- REALLY Listen to Others
- Understand What’s Actually Important In Your Life
- Achieve Financial Maturity
- Have Self-Reliance
- Never Lose Your Curiosity
- Don’t Assess Your Worth From Your Career
- Accept Yourself For Who You Are
- Allow Yourself To Feel Empathy
1. Have a Defensive Mindset (Be Able to Defend Yourself)
The world can be a dangerous place. Regardless of where you live, what you do, or who you are, they're people who may want to harm you, your family, and your community. Hopefully, none of you have to experience this in life – but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Having a defensive mindset comes down to being able to defend yourself. I’m not just talking about weapons or martial arts. A defensive mindset starts with being always observant – ready for any challenge that you may face.
The first step is to minimize distractions. Don’t let texting, phone calls, or other activities shift your focus from what's happening around you. A 2010 study out of Harvard found that your visual processing ability drops by around 30% while talking. This results in cellphone users making a great target. Always be aware of your surroundings and focus on the details when you’re out and about.
The second step is being able to defend yourself and others. Take up martial arts.
If you’re trying to figure out what martial arts you want to learn, do your research there as well. Understand that each martial art focuses on different skill sets, and some may not help you as much with self-defense.
Let’s take Muay Thai as an example. From a self-defense standpoint, it’s good but not great. There aren’t too many defensive techniques in Muay Thai that will help someone. In Muay Thai, your offense IS your best defense.
Now let’s take Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) as an example. BJJ is focused on grappling. In BJJ, the central concept is that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves. Many defensive techniques are taught in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that are very useful for a real-life situation.
The most significant takeaway – whatever you choose to defend yourself – do your homework and become the best you can be at whatever you choose.
2. REALLY Listen to Others
Listening is one of the most critical skills you have – your ability to listen well has a significant impact on your career effectiveness and the quality of your relationships with others.
Today, too many people listen to respond rather than listen to understand.
A 2018 Princeton University study found a lag between what you hear and what you understand. This lag could be anywhere from a few seconds to a minute – depending upon the individual. During that lag-time, we start to listen to ourselves and not to the other person. As a result, our comprehension plummets.
This is where confirmation bias comes from. We tend to pick out facts or aspects of a conversation that support our pre-existing beliefs or perceptions.
You must learn to listen actively. Active listening is when you make a conscious effort to hear the words that another person is saying and interpret the complete message they are communicating.
To do this, you must do the following:
- Don’t Judge, Just Listen
- Don’t Jump to Conclusions or Interrupt
- Listen for the Overall Picture
- Note Non-Verbal Communications
All of these concepts are very important, especially the first two. In today’s culture, people are too quick to judge and paint with a broad brush. Just because someone holds a particular concept or ideology doesn’t make them a horrible person. While there are exceptions, such as racism or bigotry, don’t judge a person too quickly.
3. Understand What’s Actually Important In Your Life
Business coach, mentor, and fitness expert, Doug Holt states, “Show me your schedule, and I’ll show you your priorities.”
You have to understand what’s actually essential in your life. That’s an important distinction. Your life is different from others – what you value the most will be different as well.
The first step is to determine what things you value the most in your life. Take four or five examples as a starting point to model and structure the life you want. When you consciously make these choices, you remind yourself of what things in your life you cannot live without. These things represent the backbone of your life – so choose wisely.
The next step is to look at your calendar – assess the way you use your time. Imagine your day is cut in half – instead of 24 hours, you have 12. Evaluate which things in your day are absolutely necessary to you and can fit into that timeframe. Then, make sure they match the backbone you made in the first step.
Ask yourself, do you spend too much time online or on your phone? Decrease your consumption and, instead, receive necessary information from a reputable source or two ONCE a day. Don’t fall into the trap of being afraid that you will miss out on something if you aren’t always in touch.
From here, you need to get rid of the clutter in your life. These are physical items that you don’t need anymore, and someone else can get use out of them. Get rid of these things.
Lastly, spend time with the people that matter to you most. Are you spending too much time on your career? When’s the last time you went and spent time with your family just for fun? When’s the last time you made dinner as a surprise for your significant other? Take account of how much time you take for people in your life.
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4. Achieve Financial Maturity
Financial maturity means that you’ve taken the necessary steps that lead you into financial adulthood. This allows you to live a more financially secure and independent life and shouldn’t be confused with financial independence or security.
Financial independence is having enough assets and making enough money to support you and your family without working.
Financial security is the confidence that you’ll remain stable in your current financial situation, no matter what happens with the economy.
To achieve financial maturity, you need to educate yourself about personal finances. Start with basics – debt, savings, cash flow, budget, and expenses. Start to watch and learn about the changes in the job market, lending trends, cost of living, stock market health, and interest rates for savings, mortgages, and credit cards.
After you learn more about finances, you need to prepare yourself for anything. Set up an emergency fund, retirement savings, and insurance. All of these are ways of “paying it forward” to develop and build your overall wealth.
Lastly – you need to learn financial discipline. Setting up ways to build your wealth is great and all – but if you don’t follow through with your plan, they’re all worthless. You need to develop self-control to prevent yourself from irresponsible spending. This mindset will help you cement good financial behavior. Don’t buy anything until after you have paid into the funds and savings you have created.
5. Have Self-Reliance
I want you to ask yourself a question – could you survive alone? I mean completely alone. Isolate yourself from everyone else – would you be able to support yourself?
While this is a grim picture, it alludes to the fact that you need self-reliance. Merriam Webster defines self-reliance as “reliance on one’s own efforts and abilities.”
For example – can you change a tire, or do you need to call your insurance for roadside assistance? While this is a small way you can become self-reliant, it’s essential to take stock of the little everyday skills you can learn that you rely on others for. Learn how to make small repairs around the house – instead of calling someone to do them for you. This adds more manly skills to your toolbelt.
Self-reliance transcends physical acts as well. To become genuinely self-reliant, you need to dig deep inside of yourself and make some changes.
You need to think independently. Simply put if you believe in something and consider it holds merit after thinking it through, nothing should hold you back from voicing it with confidence.
You must also embrace your individuality – you’re different from everyone else, and that's okay. Don’t try to be someone else; be your best self.
6. Never Lose Your Curiosity
Do you remember when you were a child, and everything was interesting to you, and you questioned everything? Much to the chagrin of your parents, you would always ask why.
Over time, life wears down on you. Not only is it easy to become unhappy – but it’s easy to lose curiosity about everything.
Albert Einstein stated in a LIFE Magazine article in 1955 the following:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”
You have to hold onto your curiosity. Asking why is one of the most powerful manly skills that you have at your use. When you blindly follow without asking why – you get Germany in 1943 (study your history).
By asking why – you're seeking the real reasons behind something. This allows you to gain more knowledge and form new ideas. Change is necessary for evolution. By leveraging the power of why you’re able to think more analytically and forge a wiser path through life.
7. Don’t Assess Your Worth From Your Career
Simply put – your worth is not based on your accomplishments. The satisfaction you feel after an achievement will only last so long. While this hunger to be better is absolutely necessary to be successful, you need to divorce yourself from your career.
Think of you and your career as two symbiotic animals – a mutualist relationship in which both benefit from each other.
By separating yourself from your career, you’re able to redefine your idea of success. Look into yourself and find what personally makes you feel the most successful. For example, I find that a successful life is spent doing the things I love. It would also include having loving relationships that help me grow.
It’s different for everyone. Just remember – success doesn’t have to mean money or a recognizable accomplishment.
Once you define what success looks like to you, you may find that you’re already living that life. If you don’t – make the changes to obtain that life. Don’t waste your life chasing an unattainable dream of success.
8. Accept Yourself For Who You Are
You’re human. Away from being an abstract word distinguishing yourself from other animals – being human means you’re not perfect. Part of the human condition is growing and changing. Along the way, you will make mistakes; no one is perfect.
It’s easy to put yourself down – but you have to accept yourself for who you are.
While self-improvement is absolutely necessary, you must identify and focus on your positive qualities rather than concentrate on the qualities you feel negatively about.
Maintaining a positive focus will not only help you better accept yourself, but it’ll also make it easier for you to attain your goals by utilizing your talents to boost yourself forward.
You have to be careful with negative thinking as it can snowball, engulfing your time and energy. It’s okay to have negative thoughts about yourself every once in a while – don’t overly dwell on them.
Accept your imperfections instead of dwelling on them. For instance, if you have freckles – you can’t change that (unless you want to spend a lot of money on plastic surgery). Accept your freckles and embrace them. Focus on changing the things you can control, like your overall fitness and health.
9. Allow Yourself To Feel Empathy
With all of the negative experiences you go through in life, it’s easy to lose empathy for others. Empathy means the ability to understand and share the feelings and experiences of another. In other words, empathy is imagining yourself in someone else’s shoes.
By imagining yourself in someone else’s shoes, you can better understand the decisions they make and who they are. Not only is this critical personally – but it's essential in any business situation.
The more empathic you are, the better relationship you will have throughout your life. For example, let’s say your wife has had a bad day. She’s tired of her job, her commute. She complains to you about her career – even though you know your job is more demanding and your commute is longer – and barely asks about your day.
A non-empathetic response would be to snap at her and tell her how easy her job is compared to yours. Instead of supporting her, you’ve turned the conversation around to yourself – when all she wanted was some attention and understanding from you.
Instead, understand that her point of view is different from yours. Support her and listen to her complain – you’re her husband; she needs you. Just because something comes easier or harder to you doesn’t mean it’s precisely the same for everyone else. We all start from different positions – respect that and empathize with them.
Conclusion – Manly Skills You Need to Master
Knowing what manly skills you need in today's world can be challenging, to say the least.
It's essential to pinpoint the best skill sets you need to know and master those as quickly as possible to become the best man you can be.
Those manly skills are:
If you master all of these manly skills – I guarantee you will feel more accomplished as a person.
Now that you know what manly skills you need – you have to ask yourself – are you attractive?
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Why should a man always look to improve himself?
Even if you're a huge success, you're still not perfect. Every man has a chance to improve in some aspect of his life and THAT'S what being a man is all about - constantly evolving to become better and better as a husband, father, friend or professional.
What can I do today to start improving myself?
Go for a run. Drink more water. Spend time with your kids. There are hundreds of different things you can start doing right now to improve your life in the short and long term. The biggest challenge is starting, so pick an aspect of your life where you need to improve and start with small, manageable actions.
When will I see results?
Putting in the effort to improve isn't always going to achieve immediate results. If you start working out, don't expect to look like Dwayne Johnson after only a week in the gym. It's all about persistence and consistency.