Be a man! Stop piddling your birthright away on jeans that are too tight and hairstyles that make you look like a girl. Seriously, grow up and learn to be a man. This is sound advice that was given to me by several people, mostly my dad and has helped me greatly.
I want to start out by acknowledging that not everyone will agree with what I deem to be manly but as I said, this is advice I was given and it has served me well.
1. Learn everything you can. Become an expert at becoming an expert. Learn how to love learning. I don't know how many different ways I need to say it but this is probably the most important piece of advice I can give. I don't think that I am substantially smarter or more knowledgable than most of my peers but I do think that I am more capable but it isn't for any special reason. I think it's because I simply love to try new things and learn as much as I can in the process. I know this is kind of an overarching piece of advice, but it really is the starting point for anyone who wants to change for the better. Cultivating a passion for learning everything I can about everything I come across has made me a better and more capable man and I am certain it would do the same for anyone else.
2. Be chivalrous and a gentleman. Chivalry is dead. I think feminism probably killed it but who knows. That's an entirely different conversation. The point is, chivalry should not be dead, it should be alive and well and in the hearts of every man alive. Unfortunately, pop culture and most modern day influences and icons are demonstrative of a self-indulgent and dismissive man who cares for nothing but his own gratification. Now when I talk about being a chivalrous gentleman, I don't mean a sniveling wimp whose sole purpose is to cater to every whim of every woman and open every door and pull out every chair. No, that is not a gentleman and that is not chivalry. What I am talking about is much harder to convey than all of that. What I am talking about is developing a sense of pride and respect about your masculinity and learning to treat others, men and women, with that same pride and respect. I think I will write another post just about this topic in the future, but for now, learn to respect yourself as a man, and learn to respect others for the dignified individuals they are. And for heaven's sake, mind your tongue.
3. Work with your hands. Have you ever seen a real mans hands? Do they look like yours? Maybe, if yours are dented, scarred, and calloused. You need to learn how to work with your hands. Fix a leaky faucet. Change the oil in your car and learn small engine repair. Build something out of wood that is bigger than a bird house. If the resources are available, learn to weld and work with metal. Master simple electrical and plumbing work. Learn to grow a garden and look after animals if you have the space. All of these things will serve you well in the future. If you own your own house you already know what I am talking about. Stuff breaks and if you know how to fix it you'll avoid all sorts of headaches. Knowing how to do even the most basic of these things will save you a ton of money in the future and you might discover a passion or hobby that you never knew existed. The sense of pride, self-respect, and accomplishment that come from doing work with your hands cannot be attained by doing anything else. You can try to find it elsewhere, but you will fail.
4. Dress appropriately and be presentable. Clothing, perhaps more than anything, tells the world how to make its first impression about you. It doesn't matter if you think that is right or fair because that's just how it is. People are judgmental and make snap decisions about you the second they see you, so be aware of how you are seen. First, dress for the occasion. I have seen grown men wear jeans and a polo to a wedding. If you don't know why that's not appropriate, you are probably beyond help so skip to the next section. Buy a suit. And I don't mean a piece of junk from JC Penny. Find a good suit, made out of wool, that fits you correctly. If you don't know how a suit should fit, look it up. Shine your shoes and make sure they are made out of leather. The general rule is, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Obviously casual clothing is appropriate for casual occasions. Second, dress for the season. This is dependent upon the climate zone that you live in but if there was snow on the ground a month ago you probably shouldn't be breaking out the shorts yet. Finally, style is completely up to the individual, but there is good style and bad style, so do some research and find out what works for you. And when it comes to grooming, keep your self clean and kempt. This applies to hair, beards, mustaches, nails etc. Really this stuff shouldn't need to be mentioned but if you look around there are guys who seem unaware of it. Remember, class is for men, swag is for boys......and idiots.
5. Educate yourself. This is similar to point number one, but more specific. Education is incredibly important. While this obviously applies to getting a college degree, I am also referring to self education. Read books. Look things up when you have a question. Learn to research and find correct information. Learn to read critically and learn to write correctly (And now because I said that, someone will find a mistake in this post). Be smart and learn from those who are smart. Most often when I see others look down on those they consider to be nerdy, it is because they are jealous of the intelligence they admire. If you are wondering, Is College Worth It, click the link and you'll get a "nerdy" explanation from a smart guy I really admire.
6. Workout. Really? Come on guys how can you expect to call yourself a man when you look more like a walrus. I don't care what you do for exercise. Probably the manliest thing you could do is chop wood all day with a large axe but that's just not practical. Seriously though, do something physical that will develop some muscle strength and stamina. You don't have to be Mr. Olympia but you do need a chest that is larger than your gut.
7. Develop outdoor skills. This one may be less important but I think it goes a long way in helping you become a well rounded man. Again, read some books and learn some new skills. Man has been surviving outside for thousands of years so why shouldn't you at least know the basics. Fire making is of obvious importance. If you have ever spent the night outside you know that it gets cold, even in warm climates. You will want to know how to build a fire using various methods. The next important skill you should learn is shelter building. Shelter is important for the same reasons as fire. It keeps you warm and it keeps you dry and these two things will keep you alive if you ever get lost or stuck in a remote location. Really, learning outdoors and survival skills is a lifelong pursuit and there literally thousands of resources available from the internet to courses at your local outdoor retailer that can teach you what you'd like to know. Start with what interests you and then move into related areas. Again, you might just discover a skill that you excel at and you never thought you'd enjoy.
8. Cook good food. Learning to cook is much more important than you'd think and not just because it can impress a date. First, you really need to stop drinking soda and eating corn dogs and start eating vegetables. When you learn how to cook well you'll find that healthy food can taste amazing. It just takes some time and effort. Learn about proper nutrition and cooking techniques. There are hundreds of youtube videos that make it very easy to learn how to cook everything from ratatouille to the perfect steak. When you start eating properly you'll find that you are much more in control of yourself. At least that has been my experience. Proper nutrition leads to clarity of thought, lower stress levels, more energy, higher metabolism and a whole host of other benefits that will make your life more enjoyable. If you keep your body happy it will keep you happy. Stupid expression, I know, but it's true.
9. Travel. Not possible for everyone. At least not right away. The truth is, travel is expensive and requires a lot of planning and effort, kind of like most things worth doing. But, travel is also extremely rewarding and is one of life's greatest teachers. Learning about yourself and the world comes easiest when you are in a place the is demanding of all your faculties. What could be more demanding that plopping yourself on the other side of the world in a foreign country where no one speaks the same language as you? If you can't afford to travel to some exotic or fantastic location, I would suggest that at least once a year you go somewhere you've never been before. There's got to be some national park, or lake, or something that is within a few hours of where you live. So get in the car an go. Have an adventure and make a memory.
10. Love. Learn the difference between love and lust. If you don't know what this means than you don't know the difference. Be a gentle soul who is kind and loving to all. Callous and despicable men are those that are impatient and quick to anger. Be patient, be honest, and be grateful for those who loved you because you probably didn't deserve all the love you got. So return the favor and show more love to your family and friends, even if they don't deserve it.
11. Be courageous. Do hard things. I think the biggest obstacle that I see my peers running into today is fear. They lack capability simply because they are too afraid to try. You can't succeed if you fail to try, and even if you fail so what? You have taken the first step towards potentially becoming an expert. Find something that scares you and go out and do it. If nothing scares you (doubt it) do something that is difficult. Set goals and push yourself to achieve them. All of the successful men of history had the courage to make themselves great men. It wasn't easy and it was probably scary, but they went ahead and did it and now they are legends. That can't happen sitting on your butt eating canned soup. As Albert Einstein said, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” Be a great man. Strive for perfection and honor your gender by making it better because you were a part of it.
What this all adds up to is becoming a well rounded man. A jack of all trades type. If you can't be perfect at something, you might as well be good as you can at many things.
Never, under any circumstance violate your word, or your morals.
Any man who tells you he never betrayed his own moral code probably betrayed it with that lie alone.
Of course, we all do. But I mean set boundaries and follow them. There are reasonable boundaries and morals we can set for ourselves, and reasonably keep. And, if you are committed to a code of honor, then you will understand the true nature of contrition when you break that code of honor.
True. No one can really say that they've never broken they're code of honor, even the old testament -- easily one of the most morally absolutist books ever -- acknowledges that. At the same time, the less you break it, the more your code means to you and the harder it becomes to break.
I learned that primarily from my mother, who always handled all the book keeping at home. Once we got a phone bill with sketchy charges that couldn't have been right. She paid it first before calling the company to dispute it. I warned her that wasn't the smartest thing to do but she said "In thirty-five years I have never failed to pay a debt on time and the longer the streak, the more it's worth."
Morals are easily "overlooked" or invalidated by how pragmatic one tends to be. Now a code...a code is more flexible and allows for additions and subtractions...
This is a great quote, JB.
Great thoughts-something to ponder
I really like knowing how you learn best. It is perhaps the most important skill one can have. From that skill all others can be mastered.
I don’t think it takes having calloused hands to be a man. Being able to learn what you need to do to fix a sink or change the oil in the car is important, but hard work can be hard mental work. I do think that everyone should have a skill that requires the hands, be it cooking or wood working however.
I would expand number 2 to include socially networking and being a part of the community. A Gentlemen is far more than how you act with Ladies in the modern era, it is how you act and interact with everyone.
Number 7 outdoor skills are an interesting idea but many men grew up in highly urban centers. While I was uncomfortable when I visited New York, many many people find that environment where they wish to live.
Overall I like your list, it is close but a little different from my own internal list. Using your post as a point for reflection and pondering is helpful to me better understanding my own list. For this I thank you.
Have convictions, stand by and defend those convictions in the face of opposition.
Open mindedness. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy" (Hamlet 1.5.167-8). You don't know everything and not everything you believe is right or true. Seems to fly in the face of the above about convictions doesn't it? Not really, one's convictions can change in the face of facts (note I did not say 'debate'). Beyond convictions there are more ways to skin a cat than the one way you know and there are more ways to live a good life than the way you're living the one you're living.
Learn to play like a child (again).
Certainly cuts out all the crap; but still depressing as Mike is now a dead man.