Every guy, at some point in his life, has been told to “be a man.” Now, there are some implications about what that actually means, but the point is that it inherently carried with it a command to grow into someone that we weren’t yet.
Now, maybe it wasn’t a change for the better. A lot of people have different ideas about what it means to “be a man.” But to me, it looks a lot like integrity, honesty, hard work, and some of those values that I think a lot of us want to strive for in our personal and professional lives.
We want to provide, we want to succeed, we want to be role models. We want to make our families proud.
So more than being merely men, I think we need to aim a little higher. It’s time to be better men. Gentlemen, supermen, role models, whatever you want to call it: it’s just time to be better.
These are ten things that I think will make any of us instantly better at this crazy thing we call life: whether it’s personally or professionally.
10 Things That Will Make You a Better Man, Starting Now
1) Read a Classic
Reading is something we do all the time, but rarely do we “busy professionals” actually sit down and read a book, let alone for entertainment or personal enrichment. How long has it been since you picked up a piece of truly classic literature? Pick up something that can enrich your mind, whether it’s a thoughtful work of fiction like To Kill a Mockingbird or something more philosophical like Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning or Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic.
2) Push Yourself Outside of Your Comfort Zone
If we’re content, we’re not growing as people. Find opportunities to challenge yourself personally, professionally, and intellectually: whether it’s spearheading a negotiation, taking a new risk, or embarking on a new project. Push yourself to do something that you may not have had the courage to do before.
3) Put Your Trust in Something
Yourself, your project, your goals, a higher power—you need to have trust in something. Trust gives you direction and confidence to move forward with clarity and purpose. And in life, we need that. Decide what you trust in, and trust it with conviction. Others will follow.
If you want to be a better man, identify your potential areas of growth. Where can you do better?
4) Do an Honest Self-Evaluation
Honest self-examination is something we all could use a little more of. If you want to be a better man, identify your potential areas of growth. Where can you do better? If your answer is nowhere, you’re kidding yourself! If you don’t know where to start, try taking a Myers-Briggs personality test. They can help you discover the strengths and weaknesses of your personality so you can better identify what you can work on, and how to play into your strengths.
5) Practice Listening & Empathy
We could all stand to stop and listen a little better. How many of us are guilty of tuning out on people? Or listening to form a rebuttal instead of listening to understand? Try listening empathetically—to really get where someone is coming from, to feel what they feel. You could gain a whole new perspective.
6) Get Up Earlier
Sorry, night owls. Getting up earlier is the way to go. Studies prove over and over again that getting up earlier leads to more energy, greater productivity, and, before 11 a.m., greater confidence. Take advantage of rising early and get your business done.
7) Escape Your Echo Chambers
Whether we know it or not, we live in echo chambers. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s the idea that we gravitate towards and listen to the people who think like we do. We look for people who reaffirm our biases and don’t enjoy reading or listening to people who challenge our biases (unless we enjoy getting mad!). Echo chambers are good for community, but they create huge blind spots in our reality and perceptions.
Whether that’s in regards to politics, professions, or public opinion: echo chambers are everywhere. If you find yourself only listening to people who agree with you, try stepping outside of that. Look for other opinions for other sources. Try listening to people with different perspectives without going to your knee-jerk reactions.
8) Invest in Personal Relationships
Family, friends, loved ones—personal relationships matter. You and I are both better men when we invest time and energy into making sure these relationships are healthy, even at the cost of work or convenience. It might mean reaching out to your father-in-law, or repairing a broken relationship. Or maybe you just need to spend more time at home, being a good husband or dad. There’s nothing more important than that.
9) Take Your Health Seriously
Men, listen: health matters. I’m not just talking about running and exercise and all that stuff I like to do (though that’s definitely a part of this). I’m talking about doing the things that make sure you’re going to be around to take care of the loved ones we just talked about. Quit smoking, cut down on the alcohol, and start watching your cholesterol. Get physicals. If something isn’t normal, get checked out.
Be responsible for your body and your health so that you’ll be around and healthy as long as you can.
10) Help Your Partner Around the House
Few things mean more to your wife or partner than just helping out. Forget this idea that these are your jobs and this is their job around the house. Just help. Do the dishes without being asked and fold some laundry and make sure your socks don’t end up all over the bedroom floor—all without expectation!
What steps are missing from this list? You tell me in the comments—things that you do that have made you a better man!