Are You An Authentic Man? Part 1 of 3

Are You An Authentic Man? 1 of 3

Do you have these 16 qualities of an Authentic Man?

Test yourself against these questions to find out.

First, Self-Control. In the midst of chaos can you keep your sense of self-mastery? When everything is going badly around you, when everyone you see is losing his focus, losing his temper, can you remain calm? When your own situation is going downhill quickly, can you keep your self-control? The ultimate test is this: when men and women around lose their grip and blame you, can you keep from reacting?

Self-control is important in a man. When we lose our balance and self-mastery, we tend to turn violent. When we lose it, we frighten those around us. We hurt those we love and lead.

The man who cannot command himself has no right to command others.

Second, (Quiet) Self Confidence. Do you believe in yourself?  Do you know yourself well enough, as a man, to trust yourself to do what must be done? Painfully, sometimes the ones we love lose faith in us. When this happens do you still trust yourself? Do you have the rock-solid confidence to believe in yourself when those you love doubt you?

(Quiet) Self Confidence means we don’t boast. It means that in our darker moments we are strong. If weak, we know how to strengthen ourselves. We know how to find the resources we need to regain our footing. If you are a man striving to be better and who falls (as we all do), you know you must recover often. Doing so strengthens you. It strengthens your self-confidence.

Falling often tends to make us a little less boastful.

Third, Patience. Does waiting wear you down?  We live in a world of instant gratification. Social media, cellphones and the internet constantly push into our homes, our cars, our personal lives. They tell us we can have anything we want immediately. We can become envious because it seems everyone around us is getting everything they want. They achieve where we fail. Does waiting for your plans to reach fruition wear you down? Does waiting tire you? If so, it is a warning sign to strengthen our stamina, our ability to grind it out and not be weary. This requires a change in our thinking.

Patience differs from perseverance;  it requires enduring boredom.  It may seem nothing is happening while you wait, but think of the roots of a plant in winter. You may not see the growth because it’s happening below the surface.  Invisible growth precedes visible growth.  If you are impatient, you’re not alone, but recognize that as men we must learn to bear difficulties patiently (and without complaining, ever) and turn them to our advantage.

 Ultimately, waiting makes us stronger.

Fourth, Unwillingness to be petty (when others are being petty). Conviction not to belittle ourselves.  When you hear someone lying about you, when you hear someone criticizing you unjustly, are you tempted to respond in kind? It is easy to respond in kind when you are being lied about. We want to lash out and be vicious. This is a dangerous trap. Sooner or later it always traps us, not those we seek to harm because we think they have injured us.

Unwillingness to be petty changes all of this. Instead of lying in response to lies, or being cruel in response to cruelty, ignore the lies, ignore the criticism. Regain the initiative. Take positive action. Go about your business cheerfully. Decide to rise above criticism and lies. It is a waste of time to respond.  Forcing yourself not to respond strengthens you.  A man’s actions reveal his character. When others lie or engage in petty criticism it reveals their character, which you cannot change. Any hope of change lies in setting a better example.

Set a better example. You’ll be glad you did.

Fifth, Conviction not to hate. Are you big-hearted? Generous? Do you want to share the strength you have? Do you want to become strong so you can share that strength? We all have the ability to choose kindness over unkindness every moment of our lives. Kindness descends from strength. You have heard it said that hurt people hurt people.  Remember that when others are hateful, when others are hurtful, it comes from pain in their own lives that causes them to be small minded, small hearted, grasping, mean.

Decide today not to give in to any kind of hatred or anger.  Learn to be bigger than those around you.  Strengthen yourself to help others. Being in a position to help others is liberating.  Deciding not to be critical of others, not to find fault, frees us from small thinking and small living. You will always find what you look for in people. Look for the bad, you will certainly find it. Look for the good, and you will certainly find it. 

Be charitable when others are not.  But don’t let it go to your head.

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3 Responses to Are You An Authentic Man? Part 1 of 3

  1. Bret says:

    An inspiring article, Shannon. Thank you for sharing. It reminded me of this poem that I had on my wall as a young man:

    By Rudyard Kipling

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

  2. Jim Schnell says:

    I think a key phenomena in all this is how our actions speak so clearly, much louder than words, to those around us. Our approaches and reactions convey all sorts of lessons, good & bad, that–in turn–have ripple effects. We don’t have to look much further than our own memories, as children, regarding how those who parented us created such impressions that have impacted us.

  3. Cody says:

    I agree with most your sentiments, Shannon. I remember when you mentioned self-control and patience to me during a business trip last year. If I am paraphrasing correctly I believe you referred to self-control as the “most important quality for a man to have.” Like most things that bear the most truth, this seemed so simple and obvious that it’s a wonder we don’t all apply it effortlessly–but obviously it isn’t effortless and, at least for me, requires honing. They say something similar about writers with a natural gift. Even naturally gifted writers go through hundreds of drafts and years of refinement to become great writers. Many naturally gifted writers never reach greatness because they never hone their skills.

    You also mentioned that younger men have the most time but the least patience and older men have the least time but the most patience. I have to guess that self-control begets patience. Refinement requires patience. So self-control and patience make sense as critical skills in this sense; in others, I understand from your entry that they also instill stoicism at the right time.

    Lastly, I said “most” because I suspect you are still refining your list. The fourth and fifth items, while as important as the others, remind me that you also said more recently that you never criticize or complain. That strikes me as a particularly impactful way to say much of what you seem to be saying in those two items, but it may just be my way of reading it. I’ll look forward to the next entries.

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