The Simple Difference Between Boys And Men

Manhood is the defeat of childhood narcissism.
David Gilmore
As a boy, I wanted to become an artist when I grew up, so I started looking into it. Every professional artist I spoke with gave me the same advice, “Learn to draw when you don’t want to.” At the time, this made no sense to me, yet as I grew older, I began to understand what it meant. The reasoning behind this tidbit of wisdom was simple. Anyone can draw when they’re inspired, when they’re in the mood, or when they have time to kill. Not everyone can draw when they’re tired, when they’re feed up with drawing, when racing a deadline, and when they have twenty other things on their mind. One is a hobby, the other a profession. “Do what you have to, not what you want to.” This was my first glimpse of true self-discipline.
As a kid, our parents told us when to go to bed, or what to eat, or how to dress, or what kind of friends we should or shouldn’t have. They forced upon us the obligation of homework and curfews. It was their role to keep us in check as they become the physical embodiment of the old roman goddess Disciplina. And as a child, we couldn’t wait till we grew up to do whatever the hell we wanted.
I would love to speak of how mistaken we should have been, but unfortunately society has become a hive of adults who lived on with that childhood delusion. We should have learned why responsible bedtimes exist, yet all night TV binge watching has proven otherwise. We should have learned why healthy eating habits exist, yet the epidemic of obesity has proven otherwise. We should have learned about the importance of responsibility, and obligations, and sharing, and charity, and kindness, and manners. The current states of affairs of this world have proven otherwise.
We live in a society that frowns upon self-control and self-restraint, so these lessons are rarely followed. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at how we react towards any comment promoting any kind self-discipline or even restraint. Greed becomes commendable when we measure success. Pride and vanity is celebrated though social media popularity. Wrath is little more than the alpha personality so prized by most motivational groups and a commendable emotion of every social justice warrior out there. Sloth and gluttony are embraced in a Binge watching society that embraces “accept me as I am” body types, were the Dad Bod becomes the norm. And lust? Just look at how easy sex sells anything.
There was a reason why the epitome of Roman “manliness” was based around the cult to the goddess Disciplina. Roman manhood, or “Virtus”, wasn’t defined by how many men you could defeat or how many women you could satisfy, but rather by how you could hold yourself back and how much control you had over yourself. It was about conquering your ego and the slavery that comes from self-gratification, as you conquered vanity, fear, pain, and self pity. The difference between a boy and a man was simple. A man had self-discipline.
Before we can even begin with lessons of character or even integrity, we need to develop our self discipline. It’s having enough self discipline to not act like an unsupervised child. We need to be our own enforcers, or own guardians. We need to learn to tell ourselves ‘No’ and keep ourselves in check.
As a grown man, you shouldn’t need to have your mother tell you what’s the right thing to do. You should already have learned that lesson. We need to learn that helping others shouldn’t be born from your mother’s request, but rather from your consciences. We need to learn that bills need to be paid before throwing away money on fanciful whims. We need to learn that has to be given respect freely but can only be received when earned. We need to leash our “basic” self through discipline and control.
Only then can you call yourself a man.


More Than Just Words

The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.
Thomas Babington Macaulay
As of late, there has been a rise in the amount of Men’s Empowerment and Gentlemen Motivational groups and workshops. And this is a wonderful thing as it helps spread out the word that character and morals are important within a man’s life. With our casual access to social media, pages similar to this one help guide men who’ve lost their way back in the right path. They serve as a North Star off which men can cast their own route to becoming better men.  Unfortunately, the same popularity that has brought together men searching for ways to become better men has also attracted plenty of lesser men with ulterior motives.
You would think that a message of “Men of Character” or “True Gentleman” would scare off the daring of plagiarists and hypocrites feeding their vanity through the modern social media currency of likes, shares, and followers.  Personal experience has proven the contrary as I already mentioned once before.  The problem is how as of late, this movement has also started to attract the vultures, those unethical sites and motivators looking to profit by exploiting the weak.
Let me make it perfectly clear, there is nothing wrong with someone charging for sharing their knowledge. There is nothing wrong for profiting from your own efforts. If you work for it, you might as well get paid for it. And that’s OK. We all have bills to pay and mouths to feed. “Monetizing” isn’t a bad word.
My problem is when I find “Gentlemen” Coaches plagiarizing the work of other gentlemen pages and selling it as their own. Even more amazing is the laziness of their actions, as they will take content and graphics straight from the original site and simply crop out the logo. You would think that selling lessons in character and integrity would have rubbed off on the teacher.
And Gentlemen sites aren’t the only ones affected with this practice.
You might have noticed that as soon as you get a cool quote popping up on your social media feed, about 10 minutes later you will see the same quote pasted on about 5 different memes from like minded sites. Again, you would think that sites promoting integrity would be above acts of moral turpitude, or would at the very least understand the concept of “clean hands.”
You see, when your moral integrity is questionable ANY words you state have no value, as you have already been proven to be untrustworthy. Stealing someone’s intellectual property and then sell it forward as your own pretty much invalidates any claim you might have towards words like Character and Integrity.

Confronting My Own Bias

Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.
Tryon Edwards
As someone who constantly writes about men owning up to their own preconceptions and bias, I felt it rather appropriate to own up to one of my own; one that was blown clear out of the water a few months ago and didn’t realize it till recently. So, instead of trying to justify my own bias, it’s time to stop making excuses and offer an open apology to every fitness buff, gym rat, health nut, and nutritionist out there.
You guys know what you’re talking about.
Keep in mind that I’ve never been a full blown couch potatoes.
Let me start by admitting where my own bias was born. I was never part of the jock clique, as I found my passion and inspiration in the artistic and intellectual endeavors as a kid. Sports? I was never really into them. That doesn’t mean I was out of shape, as I practiced martial arts for most of my life, did some track back in high school, and was an avid BMX/Freestyler for the longest time when I was a kid. But the social faction mindset of school led me to embrace the dumb jock bias from my youth without realizing it.
Sure, I (sort of) worked out and tried to eat (sort of) healthy but, if I’m completely honest, it was never really a priority (to the dismay of every doctor I went to). Life? Way too complicated to take the time to worry about eating right all the time and to worry about taking care of myself. If anything, my lack of health was my testimony and proof to my dedication to what really mattered within my life. An hour in the gym was an hour I wasn’t hustling for a project or an hour I wasn’t doing something for the family.
How easy do we end up telling ourselves that taking care of your body is selfish? Or even vain? Right?
So, when last Movember rolled around, I started to participate in their Move campaign. With one simple exception this time… As I’ve written about men’s health and the importance of taking care of yourself, this time I took it a bit more serious. So I started to look into doing it right.
First step? I sat down with Ms. B  who, besides being our resident copyright enforcer, is a long time nutrition and workout enthusiast. She could point me in the right direction, offering me an extensive selection of tools and advice. And then something amazing started to happen. I actually followed through on her recommendations. I started researching on every fitness site, sat down with a nutritionist and a fitness coach. And the more I learned and the more I discussed strategies and plans with them, the more I realized that those “dumb jocks” weren’t dumb at all. If anything, they are made to feel dumb by society stereotyping them.
You’re average gym rat often has an amazing understanding of nutrition, body mechanics, and general health. And it made perfect sense (when I took of my own blinders). If the serious surfer has an excellent understanding of meteorology and oceanography, why wouldn’t the serious fitness enthusiast have an excellent understanding of everything involving making your body better?
It’s funny. We have no problem believing a doctor when they give you a prescription for 20 different pills, but should they tell you to take care of your body, work out, or eat healthier to avoid taking medication, we want a second opinion and pretty much insult the doctor’s intelligence. Long story short…I started doing things the right way, instead of “my” way. And, to quote every single click bait article online, “you’ll never guess what happened next!” It worked.
There is a down side to this realization though. I had own up to every excuse, to every time I bullshitted myself, to every dismissive comment and attitude I might have had. I stopped making up “logical” justifications as to why they could do it and I couldn’t, most of which involved putting them down and making me look good. I’ve realized I’ve been somewhat of an asshole dismissing their advice all this time. Today? I’m all out of excuses. Because the best testimony of self sacrifice I can have towards myself and those around me is to be healthy enough to last a long time and fit enough to make it worthwhile.



Every kid needs a mentor. Everybody needs a mentor.
Donovan Bailey
We’ve probably all heard the comments, of how boys have few male role models thanks to the absentee fathers. This is the main reason why we have today men who don’t know how to be good men, men of character and integrity. Personally? I don’t buy it.
That would mean any man raised by a single mom, by a dad who has to work double shifts just to make ends meet, the sister raising her little brother, or any other combination of alternate family would predestine the boy to grow up into a less than worthwhile man.  It also means that any boy raised with an ever present father will automatically become a good man. And both cases, as we’ve seen in life, are bullshit.
Do boys need a good male role model? Absolutely! Does it HAVE to be the father? It would be nice, but not necessarily. You see, male role models come in every single shape and size, ever profession and every social class. Just look back at your own life. What man showed you what it meant to be a good man? It’s might have been the sports coach, the school teacher, the martial arts instructor, your first manager, your counselor, your drill sergeant, or simply your next door neighbor.
Male role model and mentors are nothing more than the man who shows you by example how to be a good man. It’s about giving boys hope, that they can be more than they are now. It’s about minimizing the gap between the boy they are now and the man they could be in the future. It’s not about pointing out everything that kids today do wrong, but about showing them what they could be if they tried to do things right.
And on the flip side, being an example to these boys keep us in check, something we desperately need as well. They remind us that our actions have meaning, to reconsider every time we want to quit, to do the right thing every time we’re given options, and to walk the path of the righteous man. Nothing keeps someone walking the straight and narrow as knowing they make a difference in someone’s life.
You might think that you’re not role model material, or that it’s unfair to place that kind of responsibility and burden upon your shoulders. Guess what. You don’t really have a choice in the matter. You’re actions will either be an example or a justification to the actions of those who come up behind you. Realizing this means you own up to every single action, attitude, and decision you make in your life. No longer are you living for yourself, but rather you start living for everyone else within society.
You want a world full of great men? You want men to walk within a positive life? You want boys who can make a difference? Start by being a great man, walking a positive life, and make a difference. If you’re lucky, someone will be watching and taking notes.

Slave To The Masculine Pendulum

My men have turned into women and my women into men!
Herodotus (484 BC –   425 BC)
Masculinity is going through a social redefinition, as the old “Boys don’t cry” has been finally called out and we’ve opened up our eyes to the damage we’ve caused our boys. Phrases like toxic masculinity have become common place within our everyday language, we’ve realized that maybe we’ve been doing future generations a disservice by placing unhealthy expectation of the world’s men. And so have been born the foundations of a more sensitive masculinity.
And for an instant I’m full of hope for the next generation of men; men sensitive enough to appreciate the world we live in, men with compassion and empathy. Unfortunately, this isn’t what’s happening. The end result has less to do with empathy, sensitivity, and compassion and more to do with conformity, entitlement, and selfishness.
Masculinity, like so many other aspects within our world, has become a pendulum. To stray away from the moral and emotional damage created by the “tough it out” mentality, we’ve embraced the full swing of the now emotionally open “modern masculinity.” The problem being that the pendulum has swung so far that we now have men to soft to deal with a simple reality.
The world isn’t a nice place and will break you if you let it.
Yes, emotional openness is crucial for a healthy life. If you’re unable to appreciate the beauty within our world and understand the emotional intelligence we all posses, there isn’t much left to live for. The problem lies in the fact that we’ve moved from the desensitized extreme to the overly sensitive extreme. We’ve taught men that it’s ok to cry, that it’s ok to ask for help, and that the world should show men more understanding. The problem happens when we, in fear of bringing back the old toxic aspects of masculinity, we won’t teach them to “Man Up,” as we teach them that their emotions matter more than dealing with life. And this wouldn’t be an issue if we didn’t forgot to teach them that life doesn’t stop while you cry your heart out.
Before you get all offended, take a moment to consider the following examples:
A boy puts out his heart for all to see, but the girl’s not interested. 

A young man about to head off to college just found out that he’s going to be a father. 

A business man who’s given his life to his company gets fired due to financial issues out of his control. 

A husband just found out his wife has terminal disease. 

A father is told that his child has a permanent condition that will make the rest of their life more challenging. 

A man dealing with a divorce, with a death, with an illness, with failure, with life in general… 

These are just some of the simple realities of life, the ones that teach you just how unfair it all can be. You can choose to curl up in a ball and break down as you feel sorry for yourself, or you can stand up tough, look at life straight in its eyes, smile, and utter the most empowering words you’ll ever learn.
“Bring it on.”

That girl who’s not interested in you doesn’t owe you her affection, no matter how much that might hurt. That child to be born isn’t going to stop while you decide to grow up emotionally enough to be a dad, no matter how unprepared you might be for that new role. That job you prioritized over your family, the one that defined who you were, showed you that putting your faith on your job will lead to emptiness when it’s gone no matter how much effort you put into it. And most importantly, when life goes into a whirlwind of chaos and those around you need your strength and support, do you really think breaking down emotionally helps in any way? Does self pity? There will be enough time for that afterwards, when you finish dealing with it.
It’s not that we should go back to the emotionally castrated manhood of the past. Nor is the solution what we’ve taught now as we’ve moved into the overly emotional drama full manhood of today. If we want a respectable manhood, we have to create men worth respecting. We need men who are soft enough to embrace their emotions while at the same time strong enough to not become victims of his own heart. Strength and sensitivity aren’t exclusionary. We need to teach boys to be tough enough to deal with life’s challenges, and soft enough to understand that life is worth the effort.


Of Modern Warriors

I do what I do because it is the right thing to do. I am a warrior, and it is the way of the warrior to fight superior odds.
Paul Watson

If you've been reading my posts for a while, you have noticed my constant references to having a warrior's mindset towards life. You might think this is a rather romantic way of looking at life, considering that professional soldiers have replaced the warrior class of the past generations. You might even think this mentality in some way glorifies a violent tradition and celebrates wars. Because there are people who think this way is precisely why we must never lose the warrior culture.
There is a distinct difference between a soldier and a warrior. Soldiers, with all the respect that they deserve, are employees. Their actions are determined by the chain of command and their direction is defined by their orders.  Warriors are "self developed." Their actions are determined by their dedication to a greater good and their direction is defined by their ideals. There are certainly plenty soldiers who are warriors, but not all are. There are also certainly plenty warriors who aren't soldiers, but not enough.
But what defines a warrior? His ability to fight? No...Anyone can be taught to fight if they're willing to learn. Warrior is something you become, not something you learn. It comes from accepting that you must become comfortable with being uncomfortable to make a difference. It's knowing that how you make a difference matters as much as the goal. And it all starts with 3 simple concepts so ingrained into their heart that they might just be fire branded on to their soul. It's about having a purpose, having honor, and having courage.
A warrior has a purpose, as he serves with determination because it's the right thing to do. It could be to a moral, ideological, or even a personal cause, but whatever it is, it serves as a source of strength to them when they have to push past their own limits. And limits are what make warriors so powerful. Limits define how far someone can go. To a warrior, limits are nothing more than the starting gate to test his determination. Anything that happened before is simply a warm up.
Honor, so often dismissed by those who don't understand it's importance or are unwilling to be honorable, is the understanding that how you do something is as important as what you are doing. It's about being honest to a fault, about being decent and straight forward. It's a willingness to admit your intentions, something rare in a world where we justify trickery and misdirection as acceptable actions when done to our convenience. It's about openly drawing a sword when others will hide a dagger. It's about being accountable for your actions when others look for excuses.
And lastly, he is courageous, not because he's fearless, but because of his acceptance to a life of self-sacrifice. In a world that constantly promotes the ideals of selfishness and self-preservation, the warrior is defined by his willingness to help others, regardless of personal risk or loss. He's comfortable with the fact that a life worth living requires self sacrifice, even if that sacrifice is his own life. It's not that he cares little for his own safety, but rather that he cares more for the safety of those around him.
In a world of scavengers trying to feed of the weak and sheep unable to defend themselves, warriors aren't just needed...they are crucial to our existence. They hold at bay the threats that others don't see or refuse to acknowledge. They are the ones who, not only see how precious life is, but are also willing to fight for it.
So, to my fellow warriors, my brothers, keep your swords sharp, your sword arm strong, and your head high. For we might be few but, when it really matters, we are more than enough.

Role Models, Sexting, and Child Pornography

Shout out to all of the women, across the world, using their brains, their strength, their work ethic, their talent, their ‘magic’ that they were born with, that only they possess. It may not ever bring you as much ‘attention’ or bank notes as using your body, your sex, your tits and asses, but women like you don’t need that kind of ‘attention.’

In the quiet moments, you will feel something deeper than the fleeting excitement resulting from attention; you will feel something called pride and self respect. Keep resisting the urge to cave. You’ll never have to make silly excuses for yourself.
Some time ago, the internet went into a short lived “frenzy,” as internet frenzies go, as a social media celebrity posted yet another nude picture of herself. Some people criticized her for exploiting her looks and objectifying herself while other’s applauded her bravery for embracing her body and being empowered by her sexuality. If I’m completely honest, I couldn’t have care less about the entire affair. It’s her life, her body, and her choices. Besides, I have better things to do with my time and if I’m even more honest, the modern definition of “bravery” still seems to elude me. That’s till I heard the phrase “role model for young girls” being thrown around, and I was appalled.
You may notice how I try to steer away from discussions that in any way tell women how to act or behave. I leave that kind of discussions about women and their issues to those who know more about them than I do, specifically women. But when we use terms like role models to young girls, there are plenty of fathers who need to realize the very real danger of this kind of debate. Those who have daughters need to see what society defines as applaudable behavior to women. Those who have sons need to see how society defines as worth while women.
And just as the modern definition of “bravery” seems to elude me, the definition of “role model” seems to elude so many within our society. At its simplest form, a role model is someone you try to emulate, as they represent the standard you want to achieve. They are the example of what you can become. So when we say that this woman is a role model for young girls, you are saying that young girls should emulate (read as copy) her actions. And I might here you saying that nobody can tell girls what to do with their body, as doing so would be body shaming or just plain sexist.
That’s great and all if you also took the time to tell girls (and boys) the legal consequences of taking half naked pictures of themselves! A naked pic of anyone under 18 is basically child pornography. That means anyone taking the pic, even if it’s of themselves is manufacturing child pornography from a criminal perspective. And yes…Child, under the definition of the law is anyone under 18 years of age. So that 16 year old girl taking a topless pic of herself or that 17 year old boy taking a dick pic is in fact producing Child pornography. And to those unaware of the legal consequences, this is a first degree crime; you know.. with a penalty comparable to premeditated murder.
And it gets even more interesting from there.
Having a questionable picture of a minor (even if it’s of yourself) in your phone constitutes possession of Child pornography (5 years in prison) while forwarding it (or posting it online) constitutes distribution (10 years in prison). Sending a nude pic to a minor (again, younger than 18) is exposing them to pornography and “corrupting influences,” each location having their own selection of criminal penalties. FB and Instagram banning nipple shots has nothing to do with slut shaming and everything to do with legal regulations.
The problem here is that parents want to believe that our teens are old enough to handle themselves, something our teens try to convince us about constantly. It’s that or parents don’t want to assume their obligation as parents. Pick which ever you want, the criminal system doesn’t really care. The legal system defines a child in the simplest way possible. Under 18? You’re problem, mom and dad. Oh, by the way, Social Services wants to sit down with you and chat about the kind of household you have.
Its funny how during the entire debate of whether a person can be empowered by posting their body all over the internet and how we should respect her as a role model, not once did anyone explain to young girls and boys what would happen if they did the same. Any picture with any kind of questionable content that gets posted, forwarded, or unwittingly uploaded to a cloud will last for eternity and will resurface when they can cause the most damage to a person. Ironically, this was something the celebrity mentioned she deals with every time her sex tape resurfaces, yet not once did she tell her younger followers to not do.
You don’t want something to resurface? Start by not posting it.
You might think that I’m exaggerating the repercussions, as this kind of behavior is so common place nowadays. The reality is that the laws haven’t yet caught up with social media and phone trends. Sure, courts might be lenient if they understand that this was a dumb kid making a dumb mistake. Other times they might not and make an example of the youth.
That doesn’t get us, as parents, off the hook for not teaching our kids the consequences of their actions, online and offline. We need to understand that even if it’s their phone, it’s our legal responsibility how they use it. We need to be more selective on who we assign the label of role model. Most importantly, it’s our job to teach our kids that if they ever want respect, they first have to respect themselves.

The Deadliest Place On Earth

Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.
Michael Corleone (Al Paccino)
We’ve all dealt with challenges and difficulties. We’ve grown and become better men for it. We start down the path of transforming into better men, proud of what we’ve overcome and who we’ve become. Yet, more often than not, we find ourselves falling into old habits and old attitudes, into the same places that caused us, and those around us, so much damage. So, if we know full well why we moved beyond this mentality once already, why do we return to it again? The answer is rather simple. It’s because that’s our QUERENCIA.
Querencia is that place where you feel safe, were you can lower your guard as you feel at home. It’s were we draw our strength and return to refocus, as it’s were we learned to grow strong. This might sound like a good place, but consider the following.
In a bullfight, querencia is where the bull will naturally go to in the ring. As the fight goes on, he will define a space within the arena as his home turf, returning to it with every pass, as he feels it’s his safe zone. The problem arises when the matador is able to identify the bull’s querencia, turning the bull’s actions into predicable. And at the end, the bull’s downfall happens because the bull always returns to what’s familiar to him instead of trying something new. He’s killed because he fell prey to his own comfort zone.
In life, more often than not, we’re not the bullfighter but rather the bull. We might be strong and imposing, but all too predictable. We charge full tilt into the cape, not realizing that the real danger comes from the one holding the cape. He get blinded by our own experiences, as we assume that any problem can be handled with a head on charge, as we’ve become confident in our own strength and toughness.
Sure, we’ll try something new every once in a while. And we’ll see the positive results from it. The true threat happens when, if we’re not careful, we’ll return to our old habits as we stop trying to fight, as we simple react. We hand over control of our lives to old habit as soon as we stop thinking and fighting. That’s going to get you killed.
So, how do you get past it?
You can start by getting rid of all the enablers you have around you. That couch where you would waste your days, that bar where you would head over every time you felt helpless, that friend who kept you from moving forward, or old relationship you seem to never get past. All those things were never safe harbor but rather an anchor in your life. Learn to break free from their chains.
After you free yourself from the old you, create and evolve a new querencia to go along with your new life. I’m not saying you should forget where you came from, but understand that you are no longer that person. Let go of old habits and reactions. Be aware of them and be able to recognize them when they creep up on you. Repeating old mistakes rarely teach you new lessons.


The Craftsman And His Apprentice (Guest Post)

Again, the wordsmith Luke Davis graces us with another of his posts. I leave you now with “The Craftsman and His Apprentice.”

As an apprentice Jim was given the job of making bread boards, knife blocks and other simple household knickknacks. The complicated work of course was done by Simon who did the chairs and cabinets and other ornate work. Every Saturday on market day, Jim’s work would be put outside for sale while the ornate work was reserved for inside. Every week nearly all of Jim’s goods would sell while only very rarely did Simon’s, but when they did they sold for quite a large sum of money. This bothered Jim a little.
Firstly, he always worried about his work, he was only a new apprentice and his products lacked the finesse that Simon could have done. Every Saturday he fretted over every flaw that people might see in his goods and resolved to do a better job next week. Secondly, he wondered why Simon put the worst goods, Jim’s, out on display where everyone could see while he hid his finest quality work inside the shop. Surely Simon would make a greater profit with his best material forward.

So one day Jim asked Simon about his worries, why did Simon do things this way? Of course Simon answered. “I have my finest work on display, every week my customers walk by and they can see what sort of man I am crafting. If I couldn’t craft a man I would merely be a carpenter and of no use in this town. Furniture they can buy in yonder city, but only men like me can take a boy like you and turn him into a man. So when I judge you ready, a craftsman you shall be, and together we will craft more men. Parents will seek us out hoping to place their sons at our door because every week for longest of times they have seen my finest work.”