Society is becoming softer. Society is becoming weaker. This idea of softness is perpetuated by much of society, the school system, media, and entertainment and Hollywood. We do ourselves a huge disservice when we overlook the importance of being strong, tough, gritty, resilient, and all the things that we would traditionally think of when we think of how a man shows up in life.
I’m not suggesting by any means that a man can’t be loving, supportive, open, and vulnerable. Of course, he can be those things. There is a time and a place to be that way but to say that that’s always the case, to say that we need to be softer at the expense of these other masculine virtues, is hurting society in general. There will come a point in time where those traditional masculine virtues are to be used in order to produce productive outcomes for ourselves, our loved ones, and the people we care about.
Typically, this manifests itself in a negative situation, whether that’s something in the family like a divorce, loss of a loved one, or being laid off from a job, but it also applies to natural disasters and emergencies. For example, Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the fires in California last year. During these times, we saw countless men, step up and do what it is that men do best. We also see why strength is important in the global arena as well when it comes to military conflict, for example. It’s critical we never overlook the importance of harnessing the power of being tough, resilient, gritty, et cetera.
Today, I want to talk with you about some of the consequences and symptoms of the softening of society. And, I also want to talk about why softness is spreading. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but I do think there are some factors at work here that are promoting this idea of clinging to these softer virtues at the expense of the harder virtues. We’re going to talk about how we can become tougher, more resilient, and stronger because the last thing I want to do is complain, whine, or nag about a topic without providing any solutions.
Let’s talk about the symptoms first:
Unfortunately, we’ve entered an era in which when our children simply show up, we reward them. We pat them on their heads. We tell them they did a good job for simply showing up as if that’s become the new standard of excellence. Every time we reward a child, an employee, or a family member for simply showing up we undermine the standard. We need to be elevating the standard. It’s not enough to show up. It’s not enough to do the bare minimum. It’s not enough just to get by. We need to raise the bar.
I don’t congratulate people when they show up on time. That would be absurd. “Congratulations! You did your job.” That is absolutely ridiculous. I’m not saying we can’t acknowledge the behavior but we certainly don’t want to celebrate the behavior because, again, that becomes the new standard.
Let’s stop giving away participation trophies. Let’s stop giving our children gold stars, little pizza parties, and all the stuff that they want when they do something that they should be doing by default. Let’s instead celebrate real victory. Let’s instead celebrate real effort so that other people can look at that and say, “I want to be recognized. I want to be noticed. Therefore I’m going to work harder to achieve that.”
Unfortunately, right now you can get the recognition, the praise, the accolades, and the positive benefits that come from excelling by doing nothing. That’s a huge problem.
Along the same lines as participation trophies are that there are no consequences for our decisions anymore. We have absolutely stripped away any consequence of any behavior and, therefore, there is no problem with just showing up. There is no problem with just being mediocre. There is no problem with just being average. I don’t want to be average! I know that I’m meant for something more. But there are millions of people out there who are just getting by because they can – simply because they can.
Unfortunately, when they are presented with a real challenge, they don’t have the fortitude to address it. They don’t have the physical and mental resilience to be able to handle the problem. This is a real disservice that we’re doing for people. There has to be consequences for our decisions.
We see this in children when we recognize parents who implement no structure, guidance, and discipline with their kids. We see it when colleges don’t want to hand out grades and, instead, hand out passes. We see it when it comes to someone being laid off from work. Instead of allowing them to find new employment quickly, we give them unemployment benefits.
Now, I realize there is a place and a time for a hand up but if there are no consequences for what people do, or don’t do, how sad is that? How sad that we have robbed people of the instant and immediate feedback that is required in order to succeed next time? If there is no consequence for your poor decisions, can you really say that you’ll ever learn the lesson? No. Of course you’ll never learn that lesson. You’ll keep repeating the same mistakes, over and over and over again, simply because you can.
DISMISSAL AND ATTACK OF MASCULINITY
It is becoming apparent that masculinity is under attack. And if not, at a minimum, it’s being dismissed. It’s looked down upon. It’s frowned upon. It’s mocked. It’s belittled. And, it’s ridiculed.
Interestingly enough nobody seems to mind masculinity when men are needed. It’s only when times are good that men are dismissed.
In order to recognize the attack and dismissal of men and masculinity, one need not look further than the court system. It is absolutely stacked against fathers in situations of divorce and separation. Sure there might be some reasons for that. And there might be some men who aren’t adequately prepared to raise their own children. But if you look at how stacked the system is against otherwise good, honorable fathers, you begin to see part of the problem.
And then there’s the notion of “toxic masculinity.” It’s as if somehow masculinity or men, in general, are inherently bad, wrong, or evil. I realize that there have been some horrendous atrocities in our history. And, without having the specific data in front of me, I would be willing to bet that the majority of these atrocities are perpetrated by men. I understand that. I am not dismissing that. But what I am saying is that, just because a man is a man, it does not mean he’s inherently bad, evil, or wrong.
There is an attack, a dismissal, a belittling, and a putting down of masculinity. My job is to raise myself up and to raise good strong, noble, virtuous boys so they can step into what it means to be a man.
Now, let’s talk about the reasons this is the case:
Again, I’m not a conspiracy theorist but very simply, we are being led to live a life of mediocrity. Unfortunately, it’s because we are so weak and pathetic that we refuse to allow anybody to feel bad. That is a problem. We can’t let anybody fail. And, in order to keep people from failing, we cannot let anybody succeed. We have to make sure that everybody is at the same level because if everybody is at the same level then there will be no losers. But guess what? If there are no losers, there are no winners, and if there are no winners then we’re living life significantly less than we are capable of as a society.
It’s a shame. I hate to see people fall behind. I hate to see people in poverty. I hate to see people who live with horrible medical conditions. I hate to see people have bad things happen to them. The truth, however, is that a lot of that is because of their own choices. A lot of that happens because we have robbed them of the consequences of their decisions. So they keep making the dumb mistakes over, and over, and over again.
And, rather than let them learn the lesson, what have we as a society tried to do? Save them. We’ve tried to play the superhero. We’ve tried to come in and rescue people. The problem is, you can’t rescue anybody who doesn’t want to be rescued. And when you do rescue people, you rob them of the experience that they need in order to develop the skills to be stronger, tougher, and more resilient next time.
I’ll give you an example:
I was at the pool this weekend with my children. I took my seven-year-old son who is learning to swim and threw him into the deep end. Now, most people will hear that and think, “Oh my gosh! How can you as a parent do that?” Well, number one: I’m not going to let the kid drown. Number two: He already knows how to swim.
I watched him doggy paddling, kicking, fighting, and paddling his little legs and his little arms as hard as he could. He went under the water. He came back up and he took a breath. He was really fighting hard. I almost went over to help him. But I thought, “You know what? He’s okay. He can do this.” And he was. He swam over to the side. He struggled and it was hard for him. But guess what? Now he’s stronger. He’s more equipped. He’s more capable of doing it next time.
I know it’s a very small example but it illustrates perfectly what we’ve done in society today when we rob the people of their consequences and we allow them to be weak, mediocre, and continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.
WEAK PEOPLE ARE EASY TO CONTROL
Weak people are easier to control. Why? Because they’re dependent. They’re more dependent on their employers. They’re more dependent on their family. They’re more dependent on government subsidies and handouts. Weak people are more easily controlled. They’re the cog in the wheel.
Men represent the last line of defense against any possible threat to ourselves, our families, our businesses, our communities, and our nations. If we are weak, we are more easily controlled, more easily manipulated, and we are more easily put into a position that allows the higher-ups, or the powers that be to do what it is they want to do.
Again, I’m not suggesting there is some grand conspiracy here, but what I am suggesting is that there are some powerful people who wish to remain so powerful that they will do and say whatever they can in order to keep everything the same, to maintain the status quo. And part of that is ensuring that the people who are serving them are weak. Again, men represent (or they should at least represent) the last line of defense. This requires us to be independent. It requires us to think for ourselves. It requires us to be physically and mentally tough, and capable and strong, and it requires us to break away from the dependence that so many of us have been living on for so long.
All right, we’ve talked about the symptoms. We’ve talked about why I believe this is the case. Now, let’s talk about the solutions:
SOLUTION #1: BECOME PHYSICALLY FIT
I believe it is a man’s responsibility to become physically fit. Strength is great in and of itself but all of what’s required in order to become physically stronger (discipline, commitment, sacrifice, etc.) are the same traits required to build mental fortitude. You cannot make decisions in a vacuum. If you improve in one area of your life, you will naturally and inevitably improve in other areas of your life. If you are physically strong, you will also be mentally stronger. That will play out in other areas of your life such as relationships and business.
If you are weak, out of shape, and overweight, you are more dependent on factors that you cannot control: medication, the doctors you visit, and whether your insurance pays for medication and procedures. But guess what? If you’re healthy and you’re strong, you don’t have to worry about that stuff as much and you can focus your time and your resources and your attention on things that should be more pressing.
SOLUTION #2: DO THE THINGS THAT SCARE YOU
Every single day you should be doing something that pushes you outside of your comfort zone, that makes you feel uncomfortable and out of place, that pushes you, and that tests you. The more that you can do that, the stronger that you’re going to be. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
About four weeks ago, I started taking Jiu-Jitsu. I’ve never done it before. I walked into the gym and felt completely out of place, awkward, uncomfortable. But I dove right in. Why? Because I know that if I try these new experiences and I do the things that scare me mentally, emotionally, physically, then I will be stronger than I was before, and that’s important to me.
Also, just last week I committed to doing a marathon. I hate running. I despise running. I’ve never run more than five or six miles at any given time in my entire life but I committed to running 26 miles. Why? Because I don’t want to, because it scares me, and because it’s going to push me outside of my current comfort zone. It’s going to be painful. It’s going to be uncomfortable. I probably won’t enjoy a lot of it, but I know that I’m going to come out of it a stronger man than I was before.
SOLUTION #3: SPEND TIME AROUND MASCULINE MEN
If you’re hanging out with women, and you’re hanging out with boys, and you’re hanging out with immature men, you are never going to build up your strength. If on the other hand, you spend time around guys who are physically strong and mentally tough – the guys that are doing the things that we traditionally think of when we think of manly – you will inevitably have a desire to be more like that. It’s been said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
So, if the people you spend time with are weak, cowardly, soft, and pathetic, it’s likely that you’ll start to exhibit more of those characteristics.
If on the other hand, the men that you spend time with are tough, gritty, resolute, and strong, you are more likely to exhibit those traits. You’ll see how they’re behaving. You’ll see the way that they interact. And that will be appealing to you. You will want to be more like that. You will do the things that they do in order to achieve those type of results.
SOLUTION #4: BECOME INDEPENDENT
In February of this year, I released my book, Sovereignty: The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Men. Becoming independent is what the book is all about. It’s becoming sovereign. It’s about living by your own rules. It’s about being fully capable of taking care of yourself. It’s about not being subject to anything or anyone and becoming completely independent. It’s about wrestling back the control that you’ve been giving to your spouse, your boss, your friends, your parents, and the government.
You do that when you make excuses, craft little lies, and fabricate stories in your own head to justify your softness and your mediocrity. We’ve got to strip away those lies. We’ve got to reclaim our sovereignty. We’ve got to be physically strong so we are not beholden to an insurance company, or a doctor’s office, or a medication in order to live the lives that we want to live. We’ve got to get our financial house in order. If you’re in debt up to your eyeballs, you have subjected yourself to the financial institutions that would love to keep you enslaved.
Get your financial house in order, develop a new skill, make some more money, pay off your debt, stash a little money under your mattress, put it in a savings account, invest your money, be wise, and be financially free.
Sovereignty also comes into play at your work, whether you’re an employee, a boss, an entrepreneur, or a business owner. You need to maintain your sovereignty. How do you do this? By making yourself indispensable, learning new skills, making your boss look good, spending more time at work, getting there early, leaving late, skipping the lunch break, excelling, doing the things that nobody else wants to do, signing up for new projects, and getting new degrees and designations so that you can learn to make more money. Learn to be more valuable to your co-workers and your boss. That way you put yourself in a position of authority rather than giving the authority you should maintain for yourself to somebody else. Do not live beholden to anyone.
These are the ways that we develop our strength. This is the way we wrestle back the strength, fortitude, grit, resiliency and the resolve we need to display. It’s easy for people to mock, ridicule, belittle, and put down these masculine virtues in times of relative peace. Currently, we are pretty secure, which is why people can complain about masculinity.
But I’ll tell you what. There’s going to come a point in our lives, whether it’s through a divorce, bankruptcy, job loss, disability, a death of a loved one, lawsuit, natural disaster, emergency, car wreck, or a military conflict where we as men will be called upon again. Those people who are complaining about masculinity are the ones who will call on you to do what you were born to do. The question is, will you be ready to do it?
We live in an era where being soft, and weak, and pathetic is accepted. And, not only accepted, it’s encouraged. This is acceptable because we live in a time of relative prosperity, but there will come a time where you will be called to be the man you’re capable of being, and that’s going to require you to be strong, tough, and resilient. I hope that I am adequately prepared for that day. I hope you’re adequately prepared for that day.