05 Feb First, Make Yourself A Man
First, Make Yourself A Man
So the story goes that when James A. Garfield was a boy, he was asked what he intended to be. He replied: “First of all, I must make myself a man; if I do not succeed in that, I can succeed in nothing.”
Men want success. It’s part of the masculine nature. Success means freedom, which is the deepest desire of the masculine. But before success, the kind that creates real value in this world, however small or big, you must make yourself a man. A man possesses and exercises specific traits. A man has something to share. A man creates value. A man has something to say because he lives a life of adventure instead of telling exaggerated stories.
But a man must become a man by letting himself go through and seeking out specific trials and situations. He becomes a man by taking time to sit in the quiet and listen to his thoughts, where he decides what his values really are and what his authentic purpose is that will leave a footprint on this world.
Early in my professional career, I wanted to tell stories and share ideas on strength and performance but I didn’t have anything worth listening to yet because I had more to go through before I became a man. I was frustrated that I had nothing worth saying and thought I just needed to read, learn, and be mentored by more strength and fitness experts. But I found that this wasn’t enough. I needed growth in experience, in application, in adding real value, and most importantly growth as a man.
The respect that the most respected strength coaches and writers in my field who I wanted to be like came from what they had achieved, not just what they knew from theory. They were able to share ideas on physical strength because they had lived lives of personal strength and worked first to be men who added real value to people’s lives.
So I grinded away quietly in my little corner of the world and worked to make myself someone who could add value. Sure I would share my ideas and thoughts to anyone who asked, but I didn’t try to convince people to follow me before I had learned enough to be worth following. There are too many young fitness writers and entrepreneurs who speak publically too soon and try to gain a following before they have lived enough to add something to the conversation. Instead, I put my head down and worked. I worked to be a better strength coach, writer, student of strength, but most of all, a better man. I learned lessons for life by struggling to grow strong in the weightroom. Scratching for every bit of strength taught me also how to grow in my personal and professional life and it taught me about being a man. So today I want to share just a couple of those lessons and practices with you today.
Test The Will By Working Through Pain
Physical or personal pain, it makes no difference. You can’t run from the first sign of pain and discomfort. You need to Instead learn to sit and be ok with the uncomfortable, with the pain. It doesn’t mean you don’t work to improve the bad and make your life something incredible, but it also doesn’t mean you need to run from or ignore all hardship.
This is an obvious lesson when you train hard in the weightroom. If you challenge your physical limits in any way,you’re exercising your will. You may not discover this right away but there will always come a moment when a faint voice whispers in your head telling you to stop the pain, discomfort, and hard work. That’s the defining moment when you can listen and grow weaker or ignore it and create another voice. A voice of strength and will.
We’ve all been told that to succeed, we need to go through failure. We all know this. But yet when things get tough, we buckle instead of working harder. To follow your passion, whatever it is in this moment even though it may change and evolve, you need to war against the voice that keeps you small and weak without scars and pain. You need to fight this fight daily with more fervor today than you had yesterday. It will probably be just as hard to do it tomorrow as it is today but you’ll be better equipped at handling the fight if you don’t give up today. Some days you’ll lose the fight, but that’s ok because you can always stand back up.
If something isn’t going your way, don’t ever complain. You’re attitude toward struggle will stay the same if you do because you’re practicing the habit of feeling sorry for yourself.
Alter your perception of struggle and hardship.Why should we let any situation and any struggle steal our peace? Aren’t we stronger and more resolute than that? Aren’t we men?
Embrace A Period of Work for Work’s Sake
When I first started training hard, I’d go to the gym with my buddie and work like a bat out of hell without any clue as to what I was doing. I did some stupid things, things I’d advise young lifters and athletes not to do today. Looking back, I see that I was doing almost everything wrong causing more harm to my body than good. Fortunately, I was young enough to have a generous amount of testosterone eeking out of my pores to buffer these mistakes without too many lasting negative effects. But it wasn’t all bad. I did learn firsthand what worked and what didn’t, though. but it was ok because I learned what worked and what didn’t firsthand, not just from reading it in a book.
Things weren’t perfect but that was ok because I was simply building work capacity and training my mind and body to just embrace work. I put my head down and got pretty damn strong. I become more resilient. In many ways I miss the days when I knew less and just worked without thinking about every little detail. There was freedom in this.
When we start on a path, we don’t always know what to do or which way to go even if we have a specific end in mind. But this is ok at first. We can follow whatever makes us happy and excites us and just put all our efforts behind that. Just start working, working hard, and things will eventually hash themselves out. And even if they don’t, we’ll still learn something from it. We’ll have learned how to work, which is worth more than any personal, training, or business development product we could ever buy.
Words like values, integrity, and honor are often mentioned anytime manhood is discussed but they’re often twisted into whatever assumptions the person discussing them has.
A man should take time alone and in silence to think about integrity. He should think about what this means to him. He should write it down and review it from time to time, altering things slightly as he grows. How will he define it in his life? What actions are in line with this definition? How will this affect his daily reactions and how he deals with other people?
One of my points of integrity is to finish things I set out to do.The barbell is constant. There’s simplicity and honesty in it. If I have plan to lift a certain weight for a certain number of sets and reps and I don’t it, there’s no one to blame but myself. If a weight feels easy one day and the same weight feels heavy three weeks later, it’s my fault. The weight hasn’t changed, I have. Maybe I haven’t been eating enough. Maybe I haven’t been serious about my recovery and sleep. Maybe my attitude just sucks and I’m complasive when I go to lift instead of training with intent.
What Should Come First
Take a moment to think about yourself. If you’re trying to succeed at something or build a business make sure that you are someone that people want to listen to and take advice from. Do more work on making yourself a better person first. Make sure you’re a man.
What would you add to the list? Do it in the comments.
Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam.(Thanks toTim Ferriss and Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)