What is an Authentic Man?

Bottom Line Up Front: An Authentic Man is committed to daily improvement and wants constantly to be a better version of himself. An Authentic Man knows his own worst enemy is himself—his appetites, his weaknesses, his pride.

An Authentic Man is not perfect. He’s better.

Better than he was a day before, an hour before, a minute before.

On the best days his improvement accelerates.

Better than his worst enemy: himself.

Good friends of mine, men I have known for over 30 years, parted company with me because I started Authentic Masculinity. The questions they asked me were variations of, “Who are YOU to say what’s authentic?”

I think it’s because of the word authentic.

They don’t like the clarity. They like the grey.

I have never liked the grey and I don’t like men who like the grey.

Now, as I look back, I see why. I see, too, that they are the kind of men who like to equivocate.

They want to be strong but are afraid.

A brighter flashlight.

A good friend of mine from my Army days used to say, “There’s no grey. You just needed a brighter flashlight.”

Some men don’t want a brighter flashlight.

When you suggest there is such a thing as authentic masculinity they leave.

Other men—stronger men or men who want to be strong– searching, younger and older men—lean in and say, “Hey, this is great. What a great question, ‘How can I be authentic?’ Thanks.”

They tell their sons.

They tell their wives.

Then they tell their friends.

The weaker men break contact and go dark.

Those men, the ones who leave, don’t even like the idea that there is such a thing as an authentic man.

Maybe it’s me.

Maybe it’s my past.

Maybe they know my mistakes.

Maybe they know my weaknesses.

Maybe it frosts them to see me asking the question.

They know my life has been a train wreck a couple of times.

I am suggesting in spite of my train wrecks that there is such a thing as authenticity.

Each man is on a journey only he can take.

He can choose to be better or he can choose to be worse. There is no sitting still.

I promote that men are called to be better.

We should respond to that call and become better.

The authenticity comes from within each man when he starts to become better.

It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey. It’s about becoming.

In January of 1990 I started studying Mandarin Chinese at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey California. The only Chinese I had ever been conscious of speaking (other than Gung Ho, Coolie, Chow, Tycoon) was from the movie “Night of The Iguana,” in which the Chinese cook tells others that Chinese for “no sweat” is “may-you guachee” or some pronunciation along those lines. The phrase as spelled in Mandarin pinyin is meiyou guanxi. It means “without connection” and could be loosely translated as “no sweat.” That works.

When I first started studying Mandarin I wanted to speak very good Chinese. I wanted to be a good student and be an attentive student and be the best speaker of Chinese I could possibly be.

That proved to be impossible for me at the time.

First, because I was not as diligent a student as I should have been. I worked hard but not hard enough to be really great.

Also because I had set up one of those train wrecks by marrying for the wrong reasons.

My first wife and I separated and destroyed the life of our child.

His life was only very carefully pieced together again by my current wife but that’s a whole other story.

Even her expert kindness could not save his life. I had done too much damage.

My point is that I learned at DLI that for the vast majority of people who study Chinese there will not ever be a point where they speak good Chinese, really, only better Chinese.

Better than the day before.

Better than the hour before.

Better than the minute before.

Life is a game of inches.

But similar to English it is very rare for someone to speak very good Chinese unless they have grown up speaking it. Even then it’s tough because, like English, it’s that beautiful.

Like being a man. That beautiful.

You can only be a better man.

The ideal authentic man is an impossible goal.

However, we are all the much better when a man tries every second of every single day to be better in his pursuit of that ideal.

The Authentic Man is a man of any age over 16 perhaps, though some may be as young as 13, who knows he must start immediately to be a better man and knows, too, that he will never be as good a man as he could, should and was born to be.

When someone asks me to point out an Authentic Man I point to a man who will level with you.

In the movie “Get The Gringo” the character played by Mel Gibson tells a young Mexican boy with whom he has started to form a healthy mentor-protégé relationship,

“The man who won’t level with you is the man you can’t trust.”

That’s the clearest easy definition I know of an Authentic Man: A man who levels with you.


Call to Action: Answer this question honestly—“When was the last time I really did an honest assessment of myself?” The key questions: Do I lose my temper? Do I keep my word? Do I make jokes I shouldn’t make? If I’m married do I look at other women? Can I level with any other men? Do I respect myself? Once that’s done, list three men to be your accountability partners and choose the toughest one on the list. Then tell him you have decided to improve. Ask him how you should improve and in what areas you need to improve.

Post Source Here: What is an Authentic Man?


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