Being an electrician who works on residential and commercial real estate, I have had the continuous opportunity to brush shoulders with people who are generally beyond the social class that I grew up in, to say the least. This one man that I have done work for over the years has given me the time of day and every now and then we grab a drink together. So the following is what this millionaire taught me about masculinity.
On one of the occasions of us communing over a fermented drink, we were diving into my insecurities and reasons for not moving forward in areas of my life that I have dreamed and schemed to have movement in for years now. Like not to be just surviving but rather thriving at life.
You see, I come from what I perceive as a humble background. I am the youngest of four kids. My parents seemed always to be financially strained for most of my years living with them, and I never seemed to excel in formal education. I had my first "job" when I was around thirteen years old cleaning a neighbor's house for a few bucks. My childhood wasn't anywhere near traumatic, eventful, or horrible. It just was straightforward and quiet. I played video games and legos. Went to school and hung out with my friends. In the midst of all that, I never felt like I was living life to the fullest. I was merely existing, and that is how I feel today. I don't have anything to complain about, but there is this sense of just existing, just cruising by in life.
So there we are sitting at a bar in a typical mid-western franchised restaurant, talking about my life, and this man does exactly what I desired of him. He starts giving me advice and telling me stories from his life. The conversation took a turn towards the financial realm, which is what I had wanted. Nothing mind boggling, just solid information, and like any cynical borderline intelligent person I started to internally disagree and make up excuses for why I shouldn't agree with his advice. Mainly it was my pride getting in the way if I'm honest. We talked for a couple of hours and then we parted ways.
The next day I was replaying the conversation we had over in my head, and this is what I realized. As an electrician, if someone asks for my advice or input on why something is or is not working in an electrical system I hope they make the decision to listen to my expertise. If they do not it could end very badly. Whether the house would burn down or someone gets electrocuted. It is vital in my profession that people listen to the advice I give. So why was I ignoring this financial advice from someone who a professional in that realm? Someone who did not just happen upon more than a million dollars. Why was I rejecting the very same type of help that I give to people in hopes that I can make their world a safer place? That is all this man was doing. Giving advice that he was completely qualified to give. This realization shook me.
Now that you have a general sense of the context here is what I learned from that experience, this is what that millionaire taught me about masculinity.
1) I need to trust men who have experience. I seem to carry a chip on my shoulder that society is full of bad information. This translates over into areas where people who clearly have more expertise than I. Isolating myself from helpful input will only stop me from taking steps forward in life. So, if I want to grow as a man and just a human, in general, I need to trust others who have expertise in areas that I do not. I need to eat my pride as a man and learn from others.
You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don't trust enough. Frank Crane
2) I need to surround myself with experienced men who are where I want to be. If I want to develop into the man I have created in my head I need to find books, podcasts, and living beings who are at that place I desire to be. Talking to this guy is a step in that direction, but it made me realize that I do not have to navigate the storm of life without the help of other people who are further along on a similar journey.
You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway. John Steinbeck
3) I need to make sacrifices now for what type of man I want to be later. This one attribute about masculinity struck me hard. It is simple I know, but it hit a chord with me. The millionaire and I were talking about how I have the desire for my future unseen family to not know lack. I do not want them to worry about finances. We were conversing about this, and he made a passing statement that stuck with me, "I have never met a man who desired for his family to not have enough." The reason this shook me was the fact that even though we as men want to take care of the people whom we cherish, decisions are made that do not agree with that belief. I realized that I currently am weak at making choices now that are hard but will benefit my future. I struggle with making sacrifices now for the unseen future. This realization forced me to feel a bit selfish honestly. I hope to develop this muscle and make appropriate decisions that will bring happiness and security to my future.
Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
So what do you think? Are these three things that would help you become a better man? Did you have any other thoughts? I am on a journey and I would love to read what is going on in your head!