My journey through the depths of the internet and books to find ways to be a more authentic man have made me realize something...
There is a lack of decent material out there for men seeking to better themselves. Sure you can find information on how to throw a tomahawk or how to shake a hand, but there is little to no content on how to become an emotionally intelligent authentic man.
So! I decided to be the change I wish to see in the world... hence I am writing this article.
And yes I do think many of these tips are just, in general, a way for anyone to be a good human, but here is the thing, my target audience is men, so that is who I am writing too.
That being said I hope you enjoy reading(and hopefully applying) these tips I have compiled and put a significant amount of time into, to help equip you on your journey to becoming an authentic man.
1} Authentic men develop their emotional intelligence.
What is emotional intelligence you might be asking?
Well, Psychology Today puts it like this, "Emotional intelligence can superficially be defined as 'the ability to identify and manage one's own emotions and the emotions of others'."(Click here to read more.)
Or here is another definition, "Emotional intelligence is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one's goal(s)."(Click here to read more.)
After reading those simple definitions, you might be asking yourself what does emotional intelligence have to do with being an authentic man? EVERYTHING!!!!
How? Because a man who is not aware or able to quantify his emotions is a man choosing to disregard a part of his humanity. It would be like a tree ignoring or rejecting its root system. It just doesn't end well. Having emotions is part of being human and contrary to popular belief men are humans. Haha...
Seriously though, emotional intelligence is a necessary muscle that needs to be developed if you want to be a well rounded authentic man. It not only empowers you to interact with other human beings and recognize what and why they feel as they do, but it also enlightens one's self as to why and how they are experiencing life at that moment.
In some ways, I believe that learning to be emotionally intelligent will empower you to enjoy the present moments of life in an entirely different way.
So how do you go about developing emotional intelligence as a man? Here are a couple of tips to help you improve this skill.
Accept the fact that you have emotions. This may seem ridiculous, but I have interacted with many men who refuse to engage with their emotional selves. They are ashamed of having feelings outside of anger.(Click here for an article on men and anger.)
At its core, if you focus in on and work hard to improve and master these four attributes, it should set you well on your way to becoming an emotionally intelligent man. (Click here for more info.)
Embrace the journey and be willing to ask questions. If you let your pride get in the way, you will only hold yourself back from a full thriving life.
Now, I want to give you a couple of examples of what an emotionally intelligent man does and does not look like.
Scenario: A man is driving in heavy traffic during rush hour, he is late to work, and just left his home in the middle of a disagreement with his significant other. His mind is all over the place, stress from work, not sure how to make his partner happy, and then BAM! Some prick cuts him off almost causing an accident.
How a man without emotional intelligence would respond: This man enraged by being cut off and almost crashing. He allows his anger to take control, he swerves into the other lane pulls up parallel to the drive that just cut him off, gives him the bird, and then floors it pulling in front of the car and slams on his brakes. He has completely lost control of himself and road rage is the driver of his life at that moment.
How a man with emotional intelligence would respond: This man enraged by being cut off and almost crashing. He cusses, thinks about what he wants to do, but realizes how irrational it is. He then takes a moment to breathe and asks himself why this bugged him so profoundly. This reveals to him how much anger he has towards his partner and that he should probably do something about it. He is in control of himself and his emotions. They do not control him.
Do you see the difference? One man is not in control of himself or his emotions, and the other is. This self-control that the second man has benefited him profoundly and will continue to do so.
So I hope you see the benefit and start on the journey of becoming a more emotionally intelligent man. It is well worth your time.
2} Authentic men have an articulate vision.
To be a man of vision is an essential attribute of being an authentic man. I thoroughly enjoy how George Washington Carver says, "Where there is no vision, there is no hope."
To me, a man without hope is a life no man should live.
So what do I mean by having a clear vision?
Well, in my own quest to discovering what it means to become an authentic man, I realized and continued to find a commonality among the men I respect from history and this present day. They all have a vision that they are actively working towards and developing. I mean think about it the classic statement from Martin Luther King Jr. "I have a dream!"
Now I am not about to start trying to teach you methods similar to the book "The Secret." No, I want to help you realistically on your journey in a way that I wish someone had helped me.
When I sobered up to the reality that my vision for my life needed work and I started to do something about it my life as I knew it was heavily altered.
So... first, it is necessary for you to understand and recognize the significance of your vision. It is one of the largest driving factors in your life.
In the article "Why having a vision is the most important aspect of your life." The author Tony makes three simple points.
- Vision Chooses Our Friends
- Vision Decides How We Spend Our Time
- Vision Creates Our Habits
Now he goes into much more depth, but I like the simple clarity of these three points.
You see working hard to develop your vision is like filling the tank of your vehicle before going on a trip. It is the motivating factor that helps enable you to make the hard decisions in life.
Without a clear vision, you will just spend your time aimlessly, but for example, if you want to be an entrepreneur you may start reading some business books or take a class to help prepare you for what you are about to embark upon.
Or if you're going to be a professional athlete, this will dictate how often you train, what your diet is, and who you spend your time with. What you desire and envision for your life will influence 100% of your decisions.
Having a vision for your life that you are shooting for is in some respects the blueprint you need before starting construction.
So let's talk about a few methods on how to work and develop your vision for your life.
- Write it out. Take some time once a week for a couple of months and work on writing your vision out. This can be done digitally or with pen and paper, but take the time to answer these few questions. It is imperative to be articulate and detailed when you are writing.
- Where do I want to be in 1, 5, 10 years?
- What have I accomplished?
- What have I overcome?
- Keep it in front of you. It is important to remind yourself often why you are doing what you are doing. When you are having a bad day at work, read your vision for your life. When you sacrifice going out with your friends for a drink, so instead you can work on one of your ideas, just remind yourself of your vision. Keeping your vision for your life in your mind and tangibly in front of you helps you stay focused and justify the necessary sacrifices that are being made.
If you want some help asking yourself questions to develop your vision check out "Create a Personal Vision Statement That Can Guide Your Life" it is a simple article that can help you get started.
So take some time this today or this week and work on what your vision for your life is. For me, my life was transformed when I gave this aspect of my life attention.
Do not stop yourself from doing this with excuses, or letting fear of the unknown control you. Push through and stumble your way through it. Approach it as if you were learning to walk for the first time. Give yourself grace.
3} Authentic men keep their word.
The power of the spoken word is something that I think will endlessly fascinate me. Tone, structure, and intent are all things that significantly influence how others receive and interact with what is spoken to them. BUT...
What is of the utmost importance in my biased opinion is to be a "Man of your word." if you are not sure you are a man of your word, go to this article on being an "Invisible Bodybuilder" there is a section in it on auditing yourself to see if you keep your word or not.
Anyway, before we jump into ways on how to develop and grow in being a man of your word I want to communicate to you the importance of this attribute of authentic men.
You see in business, relationships, and just life in general, the value of your words profoundly influences and reflects how you much value yourself and how others trust you.
I mean come on even Huffington Post is writing about this topic, Margaret Paul, Ph.D. writes that,
"For me, doing what I say I will do is a matter of integrity. I wouldn’t feel good about myself if I didn’t keep my word. My word means something to me — I do not take it lightly. If you keeping your word doesn’t mean much to you, why is that?"
She then proceeds to that being a person of your word builds trust, reliability, respect, self-worth, and personal power. For the rest of her thoughts check out, "5 Reasons to Do What You Say You Will Do."
Also, in "Why Keeping Your Promise is Good for YOU" the author asks challenging questions like...
- What is my motivation behind the promise?
- Are my expectations realistic?
- Is it crucial for me to make this promise?
- When I break a promise, do I handle it well?
These are all necessary things to be asking one's self as you proceed down the path of being intentional with your words.
As a business owner, the amount of frustration I have experienced with other businesses and business associates saying one thing and doing another is unquantifiable. It is to the point that when I find someone who does what they say they will, I don't even care if I pay extra because I know the person is going to follow through on their word and I don't have to babysit them.
Lastly, if you want some more practical ways on "How to become a man of your word." Take some time to think about these areas of your life that the author highlights.
- Changing How You See Commitments and Promises
- Treat small promises with the same level of importance as big ones.
- Write your commitments down.
- Bridge the gap between abstract long-term commitments and short-term experiences.
- View your commitments as a privilege.
- Managing Your Conversations
- Don’t agree to do things you don’t want to do.
- Don’t use excuses.
- Don’t be vague about what you are committing to do.
- Do what you said you’d do, even if you don’t want to do it.
- Helping Yourself Keep Promises
- Get a commitment partner.
- Schedule reminders for yourself on your phone or in your calendar.
- Keep commitments you make to yourself.
- Make a habit of keeping your promises.
I hope all of this gets your gears turning in your head. Becoming an authentic man of your word takes hard work and pushing through even when what you promised sucks.
One last thing to note is that it takes years to build up one's reputation as being a man of your word, but all it takes is one moment for that to all fall apart. You need consistency and determination to attain this if it is something you desire.
4} Authentic men give back.
Now some of the most caring, loving, and respectful men I have read about and interacted with are men who deeply have a desire to make the world a better place.
It makes me think about what I heard Jordan Peterson say once it went roughly like this, "If you do not have any vision for your life, just find an area in society to lessen suffering in."
That is what authentic men do. They lessen suffering of any shape or fashion in society. It could be helping lead a men's group, giving time and money to a local food bank, being apart of local politics, or just mentoring youth. Authentic men have a deep desire to give back to society and lessen suffering in the world.
So first do a self-audit and ask yourself these questions.
- Do I lessen any form of suffering society?
- Do I give without the agenda to receive back?
- Do I genuinely want to help those in need?
If you are a man that already gives back, then you can skip this section! If the self-audit exposed that you have an opportunity for growth in the real of giving, then keep on reading!
If you didn't know it yet, generosity does not only positively influence those on the receiving end.
Time Health stated, 'Studies have shown that older people who are generous tend to have better health, says Tobler, and other research has indicated that spending money on others can be as effective at lowering blood pressure as medication or exercise. “Moreover, there is a positive association between helping others and life expectancy,” he adds, “perhaps because helping others reduces stress.” ' (For the rest of the article click here.)
Also, check out what Huffington Post says in, "The Benefits of Generosity."
"Being generous also makes us feel better about ourselves. Generosity is both a natural confidence builder and a natural repellant of self-hatred. By focusing on what we are giving rather than on what we are receiving, we create a more outward orientation toward the world, which shifts our focus away from ourselves."
Now men who are generous from my observation do not do it to benefit themselves merely. No, they do it because they see a need and take tangible action. They see a demand and do not stand by and wait for others to change it.
So in closing, I will give you some practical steps you can take to become a generous man. Also, make sure not to overextend yourself if you choose to increase in this area. I have watched men crash and burn because they took this to an extreme. Balance is needed.
Practical tips on being more generous.
- Start really small, buy someone a coffee in front of you or compliment a stranger.
- Once a week instead of buying a beer, coffee, or going out give that money to a charity or save it so you can find something or someone to give it too.
- Volunteer. Find a local charity or non-profit that compliments a passion you have and donate your time.
- Google some ways to be more generous.
I hope this segment was helpful and you desire to be more generous. If I can inspire just one man to be more generous, then this will all be worth it to me.
5} Authentic men have and stick to their virtues.
It is a grand mistake to think of being great without goodness and I pronounce it as certain that there was never a truly great man that was not at the same time truly virtuous.
If you want to find authentic men in this day and age, seek out and look for the men who are virtuous. Look for those who are not contemplating but actively making the world a better place. Look for the business owner supporting charities, or the father spending time every week with his kids.
The definition of virtuous is this, "conforming to moral and ethical principles; morally excellent; upright."
Are you a virtuous man? Do you have strong moral and ethical principles you live by? Do you even know what that would look like in your life?
To give you some examples lets go back to the perspective of Benjamin Franklin on this topic. Over at the Art of Manliness, they lay out his thoughts more in-depth but here is a short list of attributes. If you want to learn more about a specific attribute just click on the word you want to know more about.
So if you were able to emulate and embody that which Benjamin Franklin lays out in those thirteen attributes the world would be a better place.
The thing about being a man of virtue is this, you need to know what virtues you are going to live by. This is different for every man so it is important that you take time to write out and define that which you believe. There is nothing wrong with copying what others think and do initially but as the years unfold as a man it is important for you to have a solidified list of virtues you live by.
So take some time and write out the standards by which you are going to live by. Then look at this list every now and then, and when you are faced with a difficult situation you can review this list and it will help you be and become the man you want to be.
6} Authentic men are tenacious.
The amount of focus and determination to fulfill one's dreams, fight for the ones you love, and simply stay true to one's self, requires being tenacious.
You need to believe in yourself and what you do. Be tenacious and genuine.
It is hard to be a tenacious man if you lack vision and virtues. So, if you lack those two things go back and read point #2 & #5 if you want to establish those first.
If you want examples of tenacious humans, check out, "27 Incredibly Badass People In History Revealed." That should be enough to get your brain rolling!
One of my favorite example to use though is a guy named "Audie Murphy." This guy was a WWII war hero who is the epitome of tenacious.
I have read some letters that other soldiers wrote about him, and it is truly inspiring. For the sake of time, I will try to keep it short.
At the age of 19, he single-handedly held off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945 and then lead a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.
Another time he and some soldiers were pinned down by a machine gunner fortified well on top of a hill. As other soldiers stood by Murphy displayed his tenacity by single handily eliminating the threat.
Murphy is an excellent example of someone with extreme tenacity. He overcame his fears and served for the greater vision. He helped others to be courageous and has continued to inspire people to this day. That is the sign of an authentic man.
So how can you be more tenacious in life?
Develop a strong vision for what you want in life. I am not talking about saying you want one million in your bank account. NO! If your dreams and vision for your life do not drive you to push through fear and discomfort, then you have trophy dreams.
What does a trophy dream mean? It means that you have something that looks nice sitting on the shelf but you will never actually go for it. It is nice to talk and hypothesize about, but if it does not empower and drive you to new limits, it is worthless.
Get a vision for your life that makes you want it more than air when you are drowning. This will make you tenacious.
Another way to become more tenacious is to surround yourself with other humans who are. They will make you realize how lazy you are and that you can change your situation.
Lastly, when you can take full ownership of your life tenacity will ensue.
7} Authentic men take care of themselves.
Now I know this one may seem a bit unique out of all of the points already made, but here is the thing. When a man takes care of himself, the ramifications of this on his immediate surroundings is exponential.
Had we not loved ourselves at all, we could never have been obliged to love anything. So that self-love is the basis of all love.
So what does taking care of one's self practically look like?
The following are ways an authentic man takes care of himself.
- Diet. It is hard to do anything useful if you are malnourished. So taking care of your diet and eating healthy is essential. I like what Nerd Fitness says "You’re smart, and you know what real food is, so stop eating crap.”
- Self-awareness. Knowing your abilities and limitations is vital. This allows you to push hard but also to know when to say no. If you want some practical tips to increase in self-awareness check out what the HBR wrote on, "5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware."
- Boundaries. A man who takes care of himself has personal boundaries and does not allow others to cross them. He has a sense of self-respect and this translate into his everyday life by setting up and sticking to his boundaries. (Click here for more ways to build boundaries.)
- Responsibility. Being responsible for one's self may seem a bit obvious, but I just want to highlight it. Part of being authentically masculine is being able to take 100% responsibility for your own life. Whether that finances, career, or relationships, being able to accept ownership and responsibility is pivotal. In doing this, the man is in a merely practical way taking care of himself. (Click here for useful tips on becoming more responsible.)
So, what are some area's in your life that you can start taking better care of yourself? Are you going to take the steps to change it or just let everything stay the same?
It is important for men to take care of themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. If they cannot do this then they will not have the capacity to help those around them whom they wish to help.
Now this is a lfe-long practice and no one is perfect at this... BUT... it is beyond important and I hope that you give yourself grace as you embark upon this jounrey.
Well, that is all I got for you at this time. I hope you found these 7 practical ways to be an authentic man encouraging!
If you like what you read please take time to comment and share your thoughts!