One day, my (now ex) wife actually got on my case for being firm but respectful to her ex about something he’d done that crossed the line. I said, “Would you rather I got into a fist fight with him?” What she said absolutely blew me away, “YES! PLEASE!” She said that she wanted to see me “be a man.” I told her that a real man uses words to resolve disputes whenever possible and doesn’t go around swinging his fist where it doesn’t need to be.

She can think what she wants, but the experience, and everything that’s happened since have taught me one thing… I was right! She may have a screwed up view of what a “man” should be, but I know better, and I also know that a real man stands by what he knows to be right, even if it means he has to sleep on the couch that night.

Don’t get me wrong here… there’s a time and a place to knock someone’s lights out – when it’s needed, when there’s no other way, when you can’t let it go because letting it go would mean allowing something terrible to happen (this usually means that the law will be on your side too and if the law isn’t on your side, you need to be damn sure that what you’re about to do will be worth the punishment you’ll receive for it – e.g., saving someone’s life, stopping someone from harming someone else, refusing to allow unethical behavior to continue even though you may have to take the fall for stopping it, etc.)

There is indeed a time and place to use your fist, but most people will go their entire life without finding themselves in a position where it’s truly necessary and unavoidable; and while a man should always be ready with an iron fist should he have to use it, he should also have the wisdom, maturity, and self-control to keep from using it in situations where it isn’t truly necessary. A man holds onto himself and applies force wisely and sparingly, preferring talking or walking away over violence wherever possible; a spoiled bratty little boy swings his fist without thinking about the potential consequences. Be a Man.

I may have lost face with my wife that night, but if I’d given in and done what she thought I should do, it would have been my butt sitting in a jail cell. I was responsible for my own actions and so are you. Fortunately for me, I decided to be a man and control myself. I hope you’ll have the strength to do the same.

In “The Mask of Zorro,” Anthony Hopkins tells Antonio Banderas, “Zorro was a servant of the people. He was not a seeker of fame like you. Zorro did what was needed.”

A real man does what’s needed, whatever that might be. Whether the need of the moment is to kick the ass of someone who’s trying to hurt your family, or to change a light bulb… or a diaper. To provide money for your family or to satisfy your wife in bed. Or maybe the greatest need of the moment is to have a drink with your buds. But beware. It could also be having “the talk” with your son or admitting that you were wrong. A real man is the one who makes things happen.

Yesterday, the greatest need of the moment was for me to confront an uncomfortable situation and repair a friendship that was damaged by the crazy behavior of my soon-to-be-ex. I was not looking forward to swallowing my pride and saying what needed to be said. In fact, it kinda scared the crap out of me. Real men feel fear on a regular basis, but they do what’s right in spite of their fear. And I’m glad to say, that’s exactly what I did.

It turned out well. My friendship is repaired and it feels good to have said the things that needed to be said and to have listened to the things that needed to be listened to. And, as usual, it turns out that the situation wasn’t quite as bad as I had imagined it to be. And, yes, it felt good to get some things off my chest, which brings me to another point – real men have courage. This includes the courage to bare your soul once in a while. Sure, men may not be talkers to the degree that most women are (that’s just how we’re made), but bottling up your feelings all the time is not a sign of manliness… or intelligence. It is, in my opinion, one of the reasons that women tend to live longer than us. According to the National Institutes of Health, at least 70% of ALL ILLNESS is caused, either wholly or partially, by stress. Sometimes the greatest need of the moment is to open up and let out what’s stressing you (in a positive way). Only a wussy little boy would give in to his fear and be more concerned about what his buddies might think than about his manly duty to do what needs to be done. And you’re not a wussy little boy, you’re a mature secure man, so act like it. If anyone looks at you funny for opening up like this, look him straight in the eye and dare him to have the guts to spill his!

Here’s an interesting tidbit from master hypnotist Igor Ledochowski (though he’s certainly not the only one saying it) – people who are relaxed and confident and unconcerned with what others are thinking of them in the moment are perceived as more dominant in social settings. Those who are worried about what others might think of them (and therefore appear timid or hesitant) are subconsciously perceived as having lower social status, regardless of what they look like physically.

So if anyone gets on your case for being a girly man because you’re helping with the dishes, just realize that you’re more of a man than they are because you have the courage to get your hands dirty and do what’s needed (and you’ll probably be “gettin’ some” more often than the guy who doesn’t help out around the house). Being a man is not about fitting a social stereotype (those change more often than presidents anyway – who could possibly keep up?) It’s about being who you are without apology. Wusses follow what everyone else thinks they should be, because they don’t have the guts to stand out from the rest of the sheep. Men do what they know is right/best/needed and don’t even look to see if anyone’s watching. Want to be perceived as a “badass?” Here’s what it comes down to – be different from the crowd and proud of it, and always willing to share (in a friendly way) a sentence or two about why you chose to be that particular thing. A lot of teenage guys overdo this (and, if you look, they’re usually “different” in the same way that their friends are “different.” Hmmmmmm… Just find out who you are and be it without apology or timidity. Just realize that there’s a difference between “being” different and throwing your differences in others faces. ‘Nuff said.

Here’s your homework. Find what NEEDS doing in your life right now and follow Nike’s advice, Just Do It, then post a comment about it below to let us all see how you’re expressing your manly ability to get things done. Disclaimer: Please make sure it’s legal 🙂

Need some inspiration, go watch a movie where someone (preferably a male, though I do admire can-do women) does something difficult that needs to be done. You shouldn’t have much difficulty finding one since this is the theme of almost every great story out there. And remember what John Wayne said at the beginning of the movie “The Cowboys,” “It’s time to separate the men from the boys… I’m a man, and you’re boys!” In fact, don’t just remember it, make it your theme song.

Update, March 5: Nothing in this post should in any way be taken to mean that a man must do everything himself. On the contrary, I highly endorse the manly arts of delegation and outsourcing. If you’re new to these, read The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.

Just keep in mind that, even when you’re getting someone else to do something for you, you’re still the man, it’s still your responsibility to make sure it gets done. Don’t waste time babysitting your outsourcers, but do ask for progress reports and make sure they alert you if they can’t do something. This applies whether you are outsourcing order fulfillment to a dropshipping service or outsourcing cleaning the garage to your 10 year old.

Good luck!

I just got out of a very stressful relationship with a woman who thought she knew more about being a man than I did! Now that I’m free, I’ve started thinking about how I see the fine art of being a man, and most of my ideas are just too good to not share, so I decided to start a blog on the subject of manliness as I see it.

Once upon a time, no one had to tell a man how to be a man because he was constantly surrounded by men who knew how to be men. Now everyone is trying to tell us how to be men and most of them are wrong! Their advice ranges from the cliche’ to the asinine to the deadly.

First off, a real man doesn’t let anyone tell him he doesn’t know how to be a real man, not even this blog! If you were born with a  “y” chromosome, you have everything you need to be a man. This blog is meant to give you ideas for expressing the manliness you have, not to give you something you’re lacking.

I hope this blog will stimulate some lively discussions in the comments. Just keep in mind that while a real man doesn’t shrink from confrontation, he also doesn’t act like an ass for no reason, so keep your comments basically respectful and we’ll all get along great. If, on the other hand, you’re just being a jerk, I’ll delete your stuff. Fair enough?

Some of my posts will be controversial, this means that they should challenge you in the way you think. I don’t go out of my way to offend people, but a real man is honest about what he thinks so there will inevitably be some folks who are offended by what I say. Some of the best advice I’ve ever received is this, “If you’re not pissing anyone off, you’re not doing a good enough job of communicating your message.” So if you’re offended by something I say, I want to thank you in advance for confirming that I’m doing a good job communicating my message.