What does it mean to be a better man? And how do you go about being one?
In this article, we asked various experts to discuss everything from how men can improve their career prospects to tips on becoming better partners.
Here are their insights:
TEDx speaker | Career Coach, Plotline Leadership
Resist the temptation to cloak yourself in false honors
Like many popularized terms, over time the meaning of Imposter Syndrome has been muddled. In the classic sense, it describes high-achieving individuals who despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, are plagued by an inability to recognize and internalize their accomplishments and thus have a persistent fear of being “found out” and exposed as a fraud.
A classic example is the CEO who feels unworthy of the title despite leading an organization to unparalleled success.
The feeling can also be event-triggered – after a layoff or career misstep when the person’s well-earned confidence is shaken. The good news is that Imposter Syndrome is a common and largely manageable condition. An experienced career coach can help you with short-term causes or refer you to a phycologist if appropriate.
Being an imposter
Of course, there is a big difference between having impostor syndrome and being an imposter – between learning on the job and pretending you have it all figured out. If you’re not a high-performer or worse, a bravado-filled novice, the sense of dread you feel is likely warranted.
People, Americans specifically, millennials even more so, have been taught that they can do and be anything. There’s nothing wrong with the optimistic sentiment. The trouble comes when people begin to believe that they can achieve this anything immediately, without the education and hard-won experience obtained by those who actually earned their stripes.
While it’s true that you can travel any road, there are no shortcuts.
It makes me cringe when I hear coaches, managers, or motivational speakers encourage people to “act as if” or “fake it till you make it”. The advice is rooted in the idea that if you can project a level of success, expertise, or understanding in the early stages of your career or experience with a new endeavor, you will convince others that you have this factor just long enough for you to actually obtain it. This practice is not only disingenuous; it’s harmful to all parties.
News flash one: If you are currently practicing a “fake it till you make it” strategy, you’re not experiencing imposter syndrome, you are by definition, an imposter.
News flash two: You’re not fooling anyone. Everyone knows you’re faking.
Why this matters
As a coach, people manager, and CHRO, I’m no stranger to the pep talk. People at all levels need the occasional shot in the arm to boost their self-confidence and give them the courage to chase stretch goals. But there’s a big difference between helping people see the value in themselves that’s readily apparent to everyone else and encouraging them to commit to develop the required skills in the first place.
The people you surround yourself with should believe in you, but that faith must be validated by your past behavior. Your mom may have unbridled confidence in your abilities, but the rest of us will temper our enthusiasm with a healthy dose of fact checking. So, don’t pad the proverbial resume.
The value of newness
Never run from your inexperience. Newness in any endeavor is not a weakness. It’s a seldom-leveraged superpower. Fresh minds ask interesting questions. Fresh eyes see new solutions. If you are new to a task, a role, or a company, openly embrace that fleeting status as the strength it is. Share your perspective, but also listen, seek advice, and latch on to a mentor who can show you the ropes.
Any time you start something new shift first into learning mode. Each day you’ll gain insights and make fresh contacts. Before long you’ll be the one dispensing advice.
The humble leader
So, what’s your move? Truly successful people don’t hide, lie, or fudge the facts. They fix flaws, own up to mistakes, and seek knowledge yet acquired. But more than that, successful professionals, who over time transform into successful leaders, are humble. They have a realistic view of their strengths and weaknesses and are willing to do three very specific things:
- openly learn on the job.
- develop workarounds for their limitations.
- be wise enough to leverage other’s expertise.
Resist the temptation to cloak yourself in false honors. A novice can easily strap on a black belt, but any match would prove it to be little more than a Halloween costume. Quality takes time.
Rev. Martin L. Dunne, III
Becoming better simply means you are always striving to do what you were meant to do at that moment. Sometimes, that requires great exertion. Sometimes, that requires deep rest.
Whether it’s one extreme, the other, or the limitless opportunities of the spectrum in-between, the more we are consciously asking ourselves, “Is this exactly what I’m supposed to be doing right now?”, the more we can rest in our conviction that we are constantly becoming a better person.
Below are just some specific ways we can also make big headway in ensuring that we are answering that question in the best way possible. Over time, you will be able to incorporate much of this within the few moments you have.
Make peace with the hurt you’re feeling
Because I encounter this topic frequently in my ministry, I felt compelled to write extensively about what true forgiveness is in my book “What Could a Priest Know about Marriage?”. This is a focused reflection on how to proceed when the other isn’t even speaking with you.
The fact that someone won’t even speak with you is a strong indication there is very deep hurt, whether or not that hurt was your intent or not. Before anything else can be attempted, you must first acknowledge the hurt you too are suffering deeply.
If you weren’t hurting why would there even be this longing to seek forgiveness from this individual who is no longer speaking with you? Often, we don’t even stop to think of exactly why we are hurting (or for that matter, why we feel most of the feelings that we feel).
The first lesson of my first of several graduate-level counseling courses is that as emotion escalates, intellect declines. It may sound silly, but the reality remains that we not only fail to consider every reason why we are hurting, but we are also often unaware of the deeper wounds which were are exasperated by the current hurt surrounding the matter.
The first thing you must do with that hurt is to make your peace with it. In a place with as few distractions as possible, you need to pray, reflect, and journal to organize all of your thoughts and determine what is likely the best way to proceed.
We can’t pursue true forgiveness with another unless we do this first. We must be at peace with ourselves, or any “forgiveness” which does result because tenuous, tepid, and temporary—all of which can make things worse. Too often, people rush to say “I’m sorry” without any reflection about much of anything.
They simply want to, “end the awkwardness,” “make peace,” “get on with our lives” or, “forget the whole thing ever happened.”
Forgiving yourself of any harmful decisions in the circumstances is one of the most neglected steps in the reconciliation process, which is tragic because it is a must. Nothing guarantees forgiveness from another person, even with the best efforts and intentions. However, you will at least be at peace with yourself, and that is more important than everything external in the world combined.
Our full awareness of our hurt and efforts to heal can be our springboard into a true empathy with the person with whom we are attempting reconciliation.
This could be seen by the other as an expression of not only your zeal for doing things right going forward but also your recognition of just how harmful your actions were. Everyone longs to be understood, and this is your great opportunity to not only convey your better understanding of their perspective, but also your deepest appreciation of it!
As much as we may long for it from the depths of our being, we cannot change the past. But the best thing is to channel that longing into showing that we are going to strive to make up for the past as much as possible now and forever.
Even if it may seem like you’re walking on the thinnest ice, you have to convey five factors towards the person that you know best. It’s easiest to remember it as GRACE:
- Gratitude for everything the other has meant for you up to this point.
- Request for the gift of even being considered for forgiveness.
- Acknowledgment of exactly how you realize you went wrong,
- Contrition, a deep regret of the wrong decision, and the harm caused (this is where the apology truly needs to be expressed!)
- Enthusiasm in your longing to show your appreciation of forgiveness.
If true forgiveness occurs, not only would the bleeding stop, but everyone would be overwhelmed with the desire to love in ways they never thought possible. The relationship can cycle progressively to a richer and more meaningful level that either person thought possible even before the event requiring forgiveness occurred.
Proper expression of honesty
The importance of incorporating honesty amidst the stresses of life has never been greater, as we have never had more frequent and intense provocations to stress. However, it is equally important that we are honest in the right way to the right people.
What often aggravates stress more than anything is being honest the wrong way. We need to respectfully express our concerns in the right manner. For example, it may not be the best idea, to be honest about your bosses’ bullying tendencies to your boss!
It’s likely better suited for a tenured, seasoned employee who has more completely mastered the ability to respond to the boss in the appropriate manner.
Honesty, like all good traits, tends to be developed habitually over time. Sometimes, we only have a few seconds in a given situation which skyrockets the stress, but whatever time we have, we must take stock of the situation to the best of our ability.
The most important element required for proper honesty is courage. Honesty has been often misinterpreted as a sign of weakness. Yet the opposite is true. We are taking that leap of faith in trusting the right people to help us respond the right way, instead of reacting the wrong way. The right person will recognize the privilege of your trust and show their gratitude to help you through things as best they can.
In being honest with our struggles in the right way, we can be reminded that we and our perspectives truly matter, and are truly appreciated. Nothing matters more than knowing you are loved, and these times of stress can be the most profound opportunities.
Addressing potential internal roadblocks
Go easy on yourself
Treating internal brokenness, like depression, like most things, involves a sort of triage. Sometimes more. Simply put, it involves putting, “everything on the table”. As a priest, I naturally argue for a spiritual element. Even all of the “anonymous” programs acknowledge dependency upon help on a higher power beyond oneself.
Recognizing that we cannot see things through on our own (and, more importantly, recognizing that is not a sign of weakness but of strength) is the single most important element which connects, and maximizes the benefits of, all of the other integrative approaches.
This includes, but is not limited to, prayer, exercise, medication, therapy, journaling, studying, meditation, counseling, good recreational activities, support groups, and good friends. It may seem overwhelming but it needs to be approached like eating an elephant: one bite at a time.
The combination of the approaches is going to be unique to each individual and a particular set of circumstances being faced at that moment in time. That is why I make a point to dedicate at least an hour to each person who comes to me for help with depression.
The best part is, the initial steps often reveal what next steps need to be taken. Again, all that is expected of anyone is what is expected for that moment. All we have is the present, and that is meant to be a source of peace when striving to do things the best way we know-how.
I recommend whatever exercise that person is best able to do. The important part is exercising because of the wealth of mental benefits, such as the release of endorphins. If in an appropriate area and possible in the first place, I also recommend outdoor exercise for the benefit of the sun and fresh air, etc.
The most immediate step I took to counter this entire overwhelming negative onslaught is that the only thing we ever had any control of was how to respond to all the things beyond our control. I also add frequently that the worst things that happen to you can be the best things that happen toyou.
For example, my immediate response (when suddenly facing a wiped-out schedule compounded by the instant inability to see anyone) was to write. And write. And write some more. But as great as that was, something far more important happened. I had a greater opportunity for prayer and reflection. What was the most immediate insight?
Go easy on myself. I can’t admit that I responded perfectly to every single situation in every single challenge.
But that’s my point. We’ve all been slammed with so many unprecedented challenges. The most anyone can be asked is to be the best they can be. The last year reinforced this, particularly regarding my recognition that we can’t go it alone. Thank goodness we have more technological means to connect than any before.
We all need to go easy on ourselves so we can see how to become the best version of ourselves. No matter what.
Write a journal
One of the most powerfully beneficial things you can do for your physical health, immune system, and mindfulness is journaling.
Sometimes, the most important things we need to see are hiding in plain sight. They are right in front of us but the circumstances, and often frenzied-challenges of life, are preventing us from recognizing it, never mind how to best incorporate it.
Journaling may feel like a chore, especially with all the other demands in your life. But it is precisely why we all need to journal in one way or another. It ensures we are handling everything else in the best way possible.
Simply put, because journaling helps ensure we are living our best, it can’t help but ensure the healthiest lifestyle possible, and the strongest immune system possible. These factors are critical in maintaining healthy, peaceful mindfulness which enhances the positive, perpetual cycle of persevering towards our best regardless of what the external circumstances of life may be throwing at us.
Journaling contributes to this at both macroscopic and microscopiclevels. For example, journaling may be a natural guide to resolving to take the steps we need towards ideal physical health. But, more importantly, journaling helps us to realize that physical well-being is at the service of our, greater, emotional well-being.
When we are feeling physically better, our ability to think and reflect and connect and resolve in delightful clarity enhances mainfold. This allows us to rest in the knowledge that, to the best of our ability, we are not wasting a second of our lives.
How to journal is going to look different for everyone. Writing anything down not only fortifies its internalization in the memory, it also allows us to slow down and process just exactly what these realizations mean: just how they connect to everything else in life. That’s why I try to always have a journal with me everywhere I go — in the car, the house, the office.
Try to write the more substantial thoughts before the lesser. It sounds obvious, but I’ve made the mistake to simply write down what pops up first, yet in the process I forget the bigger point as I’m writing down the smaller point.
As if the benefits of journaling were not enough during and after the journaling process, everything you write can become a fortification of your conviction, a priceless peace in knowing exactly what you need to do and why you need to do it, giving a priceless mindfulness that nothing external could ever give—or take away!
It’s easier than ever for people to journal because of the technology that’s in our pockets. Whether it’s your recorded voice, type, or handwritten, the important thing is to get those thoughts down! We have so much to distract our attention away, which is why reviewing what was recorded will not only remind us of the big picture, it will also invite newer and better interpretations and connectivity.
The best way to ascertain what is the best approach for you is just to begin journaling as you see fit at that moment. Just as the journaling will show how you need to adjust and readjust as you progress along your journey of life.
Most importantly, journaling must never stop. That’s been demonstrated in some of history’s most influential figures, and it is the way to rest in the belief that you are not closing yourself off to ever-changing new opportunities to have the best, richest, and healthiest life possible.
The hardest part of developing any good habit is starting. Whether you have only a few moments or substantially longer, please begin the habit of journaling.
Lead Legal Recruiter, Shelton & Steele
When it comes to becoming a better man, realize that you and every person are on a journey of self-progression. And this journey encompasses many facets of our everyday life, which includes three all-embracing principles: our environments, internal configurations, and projection to the world.
The habitat and cultural setting you live shape up how you live day and night. At a simple glance, take a look at your home. Is it cluttered everywhere or organized? How does the décor reflect your interests and character? Do you live with others/pets? Where is your home in the world?
All of these components add up in relation to you as a person. If you live in a constantly messy dwelling with obnoxious roommates in a bad neighborhood, all of these constituents will affect your growth, personality, and mindset.
Many men eventually find themselves ‘trapped in their environment, in that they begin to see no way out and continue going about their daily routine without any aim for change.
Sure, sometimes life does get difficult and you have to slowly work your way out of the bottom. I’ve been there before. However, never beginning to take an initiative approach to improve how you live will only be furthermore detrimental to your attitude, energy, and outlook on possibilities.
Our environment always plays a role in our decision-making, it’s up to you to optimize the ideal surrounding so that you may focus better, be more productive, and feel comfortable in your space.
Our mind is an omnipotent tool. It’s what makes you ‘You,’ minus your physical attributes. But what you do, say, think, believe, and act upon is what individually makes everyone unique and idiosyncratic.
All the little things we do every single day are an accumulation of how who we are up to that point in time.
If you wake up early, get a workout in, and begin your workday with a positive frame of mind, you’re likely a motivated and self-disciplined individual. If you tend to sleep in nonchalantly, put in the bare minimum effort at work, and yearn for the moment when you can go home to watch TV, you can probably self-evaluate yourself with some room for improvement.
Nonetheless, I’m not a judger of others’ lifestyles. We all have lazy days. But we all also make our own decisions to build routines and patterns in our lives. What is your pattern? Do you go to (online) school? Do you work from morning to evening? Do you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Examine your daily habits and begin to make right on your commitments before rewarding yourself or self-indulging to the point of no return for growth.
Related: 39 Habits of Successful People
Lastly, your projection to the world. A good question I like to ask myself is ‘how do I market myself?’ You don’t have to be a marketing major to answer this, because it rather beckons the questions ‘how do I see myself, and how do others see me?’ That alone carries tremendous weight and consideration.
We obviously want to be liked, as human nature welcomes geniality. But how do you come off to others, and how do you perceive yourself?
One important aspect to reflect upon is your body language and presentation. Standing straight, tall, chest out, head up, and shoulders back are some of the defined confidence awareness-body pointers. If you’re hunched over and eyes looking at the ground, you’re not going to be seen as someone of conviction, and you won’t convince yourself as such either.
Being perceived well matters, especially to oneself. Other mannerisms such as speaking audibly and clearly, making eye contact and smiling, thinking first before articulating, and having a firm handshake creates a clear-cut viewpoint of ‘You’ to others.
As far as your own mental image, you have to be able to do a fair and unbiased critique of yourself. Do you want to be more fit? More knowledgeable? More social and extroverted? Less angry? Less overshadowing of others? Find out what it is you want to improve in yourself, and whether you want to be more of something or less of it.
No one is perfect, we all have our shortcomings. Although that’s really the beauty of the journey—discovering room for improvement and creating the best version of yourself that you want to be.
Founder, BU Coaching
Build your emotional intelligence
Gone are the days when men were encouraged to not have emotions. The stoic, emotionless and emotionally unavailable man is the exact opposite of what it means to be a good man.
Improving your emotional awareness, having a better understanding of your emotions, and being able to manage your emotions healthily is a sure way to start being a better man.
Related: 23 Best Emotional Intelligence Books That Will Change Your Life
Learn and implement your character strengths
Each of us has core character traits that we are inherently good at. Research in the field of Positive Psychology has shown that when men know their character strengths, and they utilize them, they are often happier and more fulfilled.
For example; my character strengths are humor, hope, curiosity, perspective, and zest. When I apply these strengths to my career, my relationships, and my life as a whole I’ve noticed I tend to be the best version of myself.
Get clear on what being a good man means to you
I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all template to being a good man. Instead, I believe that being a good man will be a little different for each of us. Spend some time getting clear on what being a good man means to you as an individual.
Who do you look up to as a good man? Why? What traits and qualities do they exhibit? As you get clearer on what being a good man means to you it’ll be easier to take steps towards living a life as a good man.
Coach | Speaker | Author, “Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants”
When you’re with a woman, be a gentleman
It’s not out-of-date to be a gentlemen. Unfortunately, a lot of men today have heard that some of the things we associate with being a gentleman – such as opening a car door for a woman – may be seen as sexist.
The irony is that women often find men who act like gentlemen more attractive.
A while ago, a woman I was dating said to me, “You date well. What are you doing?”
I asked, “Are you making fun of me?”
She said, “No. You’re a good dater. What are you doing?”
I told her I was following ideas that some people are out of date.
When a man asks a woman out, he suggests a plan for the date
He takes the time to plan something he thinks they will both enjoy. He knows that if a man can’t even suggest a plan for a date, she may wonder how he would handle the challenges of marriage. He also knows that they don’t have to do what he suggests. If she has a better idea — they can’t do that instead.
When he picks her up, he opens the car door for her because it makes her feel special
It’s not saying she’s helpless or insulting her abilities. Opening the car door does not mean pressing the “Doors unlock” button on the driver’s door. It means walking to the passenger side and opening the door so she can get in the car.
He pays for the first date
He knows splitting the bill is not the way to show he believes in gender equality. He also knows that if she offers to pay the bill, she may be testing him to see if he will insist on paying.
A woman told me about the first date with a man who took her out for dinner. When the bill came, she offered to pay. He accepted. She told me that when he asked her out again he couldn’t understand why she said no. The unfortunate thing is that by letting her pay he probably thought he was showing he wasn’t sexist.
Being a gentlemen makes a woman feel he cares about her. In her eyes, it makes him a better man.
Damon “DaRil” Nailer
Speaker | Author | Educator | Consultant, Living Loving Leading
Some men are known for shirking or avoiding responsibility. To be a better man, we should step up to the plate and do what is expected, such as maintain employment, provide for our family, and care for our spouse/children.
Cause our words and actions to align
In improving ourselves as men, we should walk the talk or practice what we preach. The ultimate sign of a mature man is his ability to simply do what he says. This goes a long way in gaining respect and credibility in all areas of life. When people cannot trust what we say, it diminishes their confidence and trust in us.
Be present in our children’s lives
I always teach the concept of “presence” over ‘presents”, meaning we must ensure that we play an active role in our children’s lives by simply being there and not become too preoccupied with being a provider.
When our children experience their firsts (first walk, first word, first tooth, first birthday, the first day of school, etc.), we should be present. It is imperative to implement this concept because when children become adults, their childhood experiences will transition into memories.
They will seldom remember the material things we provided, but they will always cherish and remember those priceless experiences that they enjoyed with us.
Let’s be honest. Nobody is perfect. We are all flawed in some way. With that being said, we want to possess humility, which will enable us to admit our faults and apologize for our mistakes.
As men, one of the worst things we can do is fail to acknowledge our wrongs. So, to be a better man, we must be brave enough to ask for grace and forgiveness when we fall short.
Keep yourself surrounded with good people
The path towards becoming a better man isn’t a journey you should take alone. If you’re looking for self-improvement, take a look at the people you surround yourself with.
Are your friends supportive? Do they push you to grow into a better person? Can you rely on your friends to be vulnerable when you need them to be? If the answer is yes to all these questions, you have the support system necessary to change to be a better man.
Related: 20+ Signs of Fake Friends: How to Spot and Deal With Them
Identify your community
One way to identify which friendships are worth fostering, you can always think about British anthropologist Robin Dunbar’s Rule of 150. Basically, there are 150 people in our life we can keep track of in our social circle.
From that number, there’s a smaller number within that highlights acquaintances, the friends you can turn to for sympathy, and the smallest group, your close support group of five friends.
Start making that list right now. The best way to become a better man is to find that close support group of dudes that actively want to spend time with you, learn from you, and help you grow into the man you’ve always wanted to be.
These are the friends that will always have your back. These are the men you reach out to when you’re struggling. On your journey towards becoming a better man, these are the guys you want alongside you all the way.
The quality of your life is directly correlated to the quality of the people around you. When making your list of 150, and narrowing it down to your support group of five, then it’s time to think about deepening your male friendships through honest conversations and vulnerability loops.
According to Dan Coyle, vulnerability loops are “a shared exchange of openness, it’s the most basic building block of cooperation and trust.” One friend sends a signal of vulnerability in conversation to another. Once it’s detected and reciprocated, the loop continues building trust and closeness.
The reciprocal nature of these conversations benefits both you and your friends. And you can only build deeper friendships if both parties are willing to be vulnerable with each other.
Think about the dudes in your life who you’ve been able to open up to, who you’ve had deep conversations with, who want to spend time with you. Those are the men you want to try and build vulnerability loops with.
Be aware, not everyone is cut out for this, so there’s always the possibility of rejection. But think of it this way, now you know the friends in your life who are worth becoming a better man with.
All of this ties into the more significant theory of positive masculinity: the belief when men use their physical and emotional strength to champion healthy behaviors and communities. When others see those healthy behaviors in action, your community grows and becomes healthier for it.
So the first step towards becoming a better man is to keep yourself surrounded by a community of good people.
Speaker | Mentor | Coach
- Make taking care of yourself a priority. I always say, “You can’t take care of others if you’re broken. You have to make sure all of your pieces are accounted for before helping someone else.”
- Don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve failed or fallen short. Be willing to reflect on your mistakes and learn from those mistakes.
- Tell people how you feel about them. Let go of stereotypes about masculinity and be willing to have conversations about your feelings and emotions. I often tell my friends, both men, and women, that I love them.
- Be vulnerable. Cry at sad movies, laugh until you’re in tears, talk about how you’re feeling. When you’re willing to be vulnerable, you are being the best version of yourself.
- Call your mom. I talk to my mom every day. Talking to your mother reminds you where you came from, keeps you grounded, and motivates you to make her proud.
- Find your purpose. This may involve reading, studying, travel, and trying new things. When you find the thing that lights you up, pursue it passionately!
- Fall in love. When you love another person deeply, it makes you a better man.
- Get your yearly check-up. Too many men put off going to the doctor. It’s important to make your health a priority and take care of yourself.
- Step up your style. Take pride in your appearance and dress to impress!
- Give back. When you’ve reached a certain level of success, give back to others. I look for opportunities to give back to the community that I grew up in and the community I currently reside in.
Certified Addiction Recovery Coach, Mountainside Treatment Center
To me, being a better man means holding myself accountable and staying true to my core values. For example, if I make plans with my family weeks in advance, and when the time comes, I do not feel up to going out or being social, I still follow through with the original plans. I know how much it means to my family, especially my mom, that we spend time together.
Having made a commitment, I try my best to fulfill my obligations. So, the first step to becoming a better man involves being dependable and mindful of others’ feelings.
While it is important to be sensitive to the needs of others, men should also acknowledge their own needs. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive.
As someone in recovery from substance use disorder, I know the importance of maintaining balance and practicing self-care. I can support my own needs as a person in recovery while being there for my family, not having to compromise on either. If I need to go to a 12-step meeting or spend time alone, I set aside a few minutes while I compose myself. That way, I can be present for myself and others later.
Self-care, of course, is not just essential for men recovering from mental health and substance use disorders, but for everyone.
Men often feel like they need to do it all, but this mentality can cause them to burn out and sacrifice their mental well-being. They should set aside time each day for activities that help them destress, such as reading, going to the gym, or meditating.
Building and maintaining a support system also falls under the self-care umbrella. Extended periods of isolation can lead to loneliness and other negative emotions, so it’s crucial for men to form bonds with others. They should also have a trusted friend or loved one they can confide in if they need additional support.
Due to social pressures to preserve an image of “manliness,” men often face added stigma if they reach out for help when they are struggling. Being attuned to our emotions and practicing self-compassion are signs of maturity and cornerstones of being a better man.
Set realistic expectations
In my own recovery, I have learned that despite how I may feel or perceive things to be, I get to choose how I will show up today. Being a better man is not the same as being superhuman.
Men do not have to be flawless, nor should they be expected to “save” everyone around them.
They should, however, aim to be the best version of themselves. Because everyone has their ups and downs, how “best” is defined can vary from day to day. To me, some days, being a better man can simply involve finding the strength within myself to get out of bed, shower, and get dressed when I’m not feeling motivated to do anything.
Be assertive without agression
Being a better man means being a better person by harnessing the best of masculinity. For example, men express their compassion differently than women. When men are confronted with an interpersonal issue they often too quickly resort to the masculine “fix it” approach without expressing sufficient empathy towards the individual in distress.
Men who have increased their emotional intelligence (EQ) while still focusing on problem-solving will help them be better men. Men tend to be more physically aggressive than women and this can sometimes lead to violence.
To be a better man a man must harness his aggression and focus on being assertive without aggression. It is a more productive way of feeling in control than simply trying to overpower.
Dating Expert, Dating Scout
Be kind to yourself
Exercise compassion, kindness, respect and direct it to yourself. Don’t buy into the stereotype that society pushes on what a man should be like. If you feel the need to cry, cry. If you want to try some softer hobbies, do so. Men do not need to be hard or stoic.
Let yourself love yourself, too, and not beat yourself up whenever you feel that you have fallen short of the “standard.” Plant the idea that having a softer side does not make you any less of a man.
Once you are kind to yourself, you would discover that you have become kinder to everybody else by extension.
Learn to read the room and know when your company is not wanted
You’re having a few beers with your friends, everyone is getting tipsier by the minute – and you gain so much confidence in yourself you think you can do anything… You’ve been eyeing a girl on the other side of the room but she hasn’t looked at you once the whole night.
You walk up to her, insist on buying her a drink even if she said no thanks, and you begin to force your company on her. Not cool.
Be a better man and learn the signs of not having your company wanted. Respect women’s spaces and don’t think the world revolves around you (especially if you’re good-looking, not everyone will want your company around even if you think otherwise).
You do not have to put out extra effort in showing how “manly” you are, you should only learn how to respect the life around you by not being self-conceited and entitled as a “man.” Recognizing equal rights for women in the workplace, for one, is a great way to start.
Head of SEO & Content, ResumeLab
The question is as intriguing as it is difficult to answer.
Firstly, becoming a better man is a lifelong journey.
In the same way that Barack Obama would likely state that he could always further hone his eloquence and speech delivery; likewise the odyssey of ever becoming fully kind, compassionate, or assertive is never-ending.
In this vein, one should look at the endeavor as incremental baby steps in the right direction that over time grow into something worthy and impressive. Still, how to go about it. Well, if it’s not broken, then don’t fix it. Many civilizations have “battled” with this difficult but oh-so-worthy topic.
Aristotle came up with the “golden mean” virtues that would at least bring you closer to eudaimonia – or a life well-lived. Though it was not a guarantee, the mere pursuit of these aspirational traits would at least inspire you to focus in the right direction.
Ironically, enough Benjamin Franklin famously came up with a similar list which he aspired to apply in his daily life. Notice a partial overlap between the two.
- (Rightful) Indignation
So the pattern becomes clear. Wisdom as demonstrated by moderation and temperance will always be in high demand. The virtue of honesty is a cliche at this point. The benefits of being industrious are self-explanatory, while the idea of “doing the right thing” is nicely encapsulated by both via “justice” and “rightful indignation”.
Choose the top 5-10 that most resonate with you and every day strive to be those traits. So, if being perceived as loyal and trustworthy matters to you, then become that which you like to represent.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll never stumble and fall, but the pursuit itself is definitely well worth the effort because while achieving perfection is impossible, taking a shot at excellence is a matter of choice for us all.
SEO Content Specialist | Digital PR Tech Lead, Zety
Become a man of your word
You need to honor your promises and stick to them no matter what. If you cheat, lie, or exaggerate, others will turn back on you, and you will lose respect from your friends, colleagues, and family. So, here are a few strategies that should help you stick to your word and keep your promises:
Think before you agree to act. We often make promises to other people impulsively without making sure we have the capacity to complete the task. That’s why before you commit to something, go through your schedule (at least mentally) to see if you can fulfill your promise. If not, politely decline the request, or alternatively, negotiate a compromise.
If you promised to deliver on certain things, spend every once of your energy to do it. If you can’t deliver, always give the truth.
Online Marketing Director, Fleet Lending Solutions
The conveniences of modern life are awesome but can be harmful if they prevent us from being intentional in our day-to-day lives. Every area of a man’s life will benefit from some added intentionality.
Intentionality in time management
Whether watching a YouTube video or scrolling through social media, there are so many distractions that can cause men to use their time poorly. Some of the best ways to be intentional in your time management are some of the most old-fashioned.
Make a list, and then create a schedule that sets aside time to accomplish everything on your list. Be reasonable in making a schedule; it should be something you can actually complete with proper time management.
At the end of the day, you can ask yourself, Did I hold to my schedule? If not, ask yourself why.
If you weren’t able to hold to the schedule because of poor time management, keep that schedule and be more intentional in your time management the next day. If you did manage your time well but were still unable to hold to the schedule, consider revising the schedule.
Proper time management is ultimately about compartmentalizing your time and doing individual tasks more efficiently. Ironically, proper time management will leave you with more time to do the things you didn’t let distract you when you were supposed to be working.
Related: 42 Best Productivity and Time Management Books
Intentionality in health
Whether it’s your sleep schedule or your diet and workout routine, your physical health has a massive impact on your ability to function properly throughout the day. If you’re consistently sleeping less than 6 hours, not only will you burn out, but you’d likely be more productive with more sleep anyway.
In terms of diet and exercise, work hard to achieve your goals. This doesn’t mean you need to become a bodybuilder or marathon runner, but determine what healthy means to you and pursue that standard. When it comes to your diet, make sure it’s sustainable. This means not dieting as if you expect to have a six-pack at the age of 50 while also not eating fast food twice a day.
Ultimately, a man who takes care of his body will find it much easier to be intentional in other areas of his life and will be better off in the long run.
Intentionality in relationships
Whether the relationship is platonic or romantic, being intentional is bound to result in long-term relationships. The best part is that being intentional in relationships is easy. It’s about the little things. Check in on your friends, see how they’re doing! If they told you they had a job interview or big presentation coming up, ask them how it went.
These little things will show friends that you care about them and are thinking of them. Lastly, don’t ask what you can get out of a friendship. Ask what you can give to a friendship. In doing so, you’re bound to be pleasantly surprised when the friendship exceeds your expectations.
Try practicing some intentionality; you might be surprised at how beneficial it is.
Licensed Life Insurance Agent | Founder, Garden Mutual
Be a better man to yourself
You can’t be a better man to others without first trying to be a better man to yourself.
- Try to practice positive affirmations for 5-10 minutes each morning and first thing in the morning.
- Try to zealously inspect all things which enter my body, my mind, and my heart throughout the day each day.
- Try to prevent any negative energy by proactively and reactively engaging in practical optimism.
Having a morning routine is extremely important to be better. Greeting the day with love keeps you in a position to be efficient in everything for the rest of the day. So first thing in the morning, try to practice positive affirmations for 5-10 minutes so that you can get the ball rolling the right way.
Every song you listen to, every video you watch, and every food/beverage that you consume should be healthy and consumed in moderation. Try to schedule entertainment and briefly live in the moment while staying on schedule. Repetition is the engine of mother nature..
Anytime you receive something that isn’t positive, try to naturally react with practical optimism. Be proactively optimistic. For example, always smile when you greet someone to get a smile back. You’ll immediately disarm them and get their full attention. We are smarter when we are happier. Therefore, we can get more done in a good mood versus a bad mood.
Although we are nowhere near perfect and never will be, never stop striving to be a better man.
“Action is the foundational key to all success” – Pablo Picasso
Former FBI Special Agent and CIA Officer | Founder, President and CEO, Red Five | Author, “Raise Your Resiliency”
Self-awareness is key
Knowing what and who is around you – the status of your situation and “seeing” what is about to unfold before it happens to you is critical. Observation skills, situational awareness, attack recognition, and personal security are fundamental skills for resilient people in today’s world.
By exploring answers to the following questions about yourself and your reactions to challenging life events, you may discover how you can better respond to difficult situations in your life.
Use the following questions as a tool during hard times to improve how you survive and thrive.
- What kinds of events have been most difficult for me?
- How have those events typically affected me, my family, and my business?
- Who do I turn to as important people in my life when I am faced with a challenge?
- To whom have I reached out for support when faced with a traumatic or stressful experience?
- Over the years what have I learned about myself during times of adversity?
- Have I been able to help others in a similar experience?
- How has that interaction with others helped me grow?
- Have I been able to overcome obstacles, and if so, how?
- What actions make me more optimistic about the future?
Co-Founder, Twiz, LLC
Take accountability for your actions
Your maturity shines from the responsibility you can handle and how upfront you can be. If you are taking any responsibility, obligations will follow. Instead of making excuses, take the shot for what you have committed.
Avoid making quick judgments about others
Not everything or everyone will make sense every time. Some situations are from the wisdom of heart and logic will not count for it. In such times, you will have to avoid making any rash judgments about the person and understand what it feels like to be in their shoes.
Take lead without superiority
At times, you will have to step up and take the lead in challenging circumstances. People generally avoid it due to criticism but being in charge only portrays your inner strength and confidence which are both excellent personality traits.
HR Manager, Survey Sensum
We all want to be our best, but many of us just keep on wondering if it’s actually possible. And the answer is a resounding Yes. There are always ways to improve yourself. And to be a better man everyone needs to account for their own well-being as well as the interest of others.
Here are some of the most important ways to become a better man:
Let go of anger
We all experience uncontrolled anger in our life on a daily basis. However, this can create problems in our relationships and even in our health. And this leads to more stress, additional problems, and more complications in our lives.
So, it’s always important to learn to let go of grudges and residual anger from our daily life. Focus on forgiveness and stay in the present moment as much as possible.
Leverage your strength
When we feel too challenged, we get stressed. When things are too easy, we become bored. And finding the sweet spot between these two keeps us engaged in a very good way. And from here we start learning new skills or subjects.
We try to know what our best strengths are. And we try to find out how to use them for the benefit of others. From here the journey starts to be a better person, and a happier one as well.
Apply the “Stage of Change” model
There are several ways for an individual tofocus on change. But the stages of the change model can help every individual tolead their best self perhaps more easily to achieve their paths. And the stages are:
- Precontemplation: Ignoring the problem
- Contemplation: Aware of the problem
- Preparation: Getting ready to change
- Action: Taking direct action toward the goal
- Maintenance: Maintaining new behavior
Before implementing this change, the model should be ready to implement this. Instead of pushing yourself forcefully. And remember never to give up if you find yourself backsliding.
Freelance SEO | Content Strategist | Writer
Get out of your comfort zone
The best way to become a better man is to seek out other viewpoints from groups you don’t belong to, even if they make you uncomfortable. In fact, being uncomfortable is a key component of the process. It’s a cliche, but you really do need to get out of your comfort zone.
Actively seek out writing, videos, podcasts, etc. from people or groups that you are not a part of. I like to consume media that is made specifically by and/or for women or the LGBTQ+ community, or any minority group.
Another key component is to not get defensive about what you may see and hear when you’re consuming media from groups you do not identify with. Listening is always better than talking. Really try to hear what is being said and if it bothers you, ask yourself why it bothers you and if you may need to try and change as a person because of that.
Related: How to Not Let Things Bother You
Founder, Dad Progress
If you’re trying to be a better man, my top advice is to stay curious and learn as many different skills as you can. This doesn’t mean that you have to become an expert in each field. Try to get some basic knowledge about a lot of different things instead.
This will help you weigh problems from various angles and become a “go-to guy” for your friends and family.
For years, I’ve left one afternoon each week to enjoy different things on my bucket list. I may grab a book about chess or learn how to tie a fisherman’s knot. While it’s impossible to designate 10,000 hours for each of those things, and I’ll never become an expert, learning even a little about many different things enriches my life.
Writer | Activist | Life Coach, The Quintessential Man
Being a better man is not that hard. I may have a unique perspective on it. Having once been a woman, I know firsthand that women are affected by gender inequality and toxic masculinity. I’ve used this insight as a reference point, to determine how to move through the world as someone who is read as and benefits from being male.
Be a better ally to women
The first step to being a better man, as I see it, is acknowledging and accepting that male privilege is a reality. Once you’ve done that, it’s up to you to do the emotional labor to figure out how to be a better ally to women. This means trying to recognize in what ways you actively and passively participate and lend to the culture of toxic masculinity.
Once you figure it out, you stop.
One of the easiest things you can do to become a better man and ally to women is to sit down and listen when they speak to what affects them – without being on the defensive.
Women, quite simply, are often not believed. If a woman tells you her experience, then, don’t gaslight her.
Finally, being a better man isn’t just about how you connect with women. It is also how you behave around other men. Call out men who continue to propagate toxic masculinity, who are violent towards women, children and queer folk.
Essentially, be a good person. It makes you a better man, too.
Registered Nurse | Owner, Omaha Homes For Cash
Start taking offense to the actions of bad guys
I have always considered myself a “good guy”. I say “thank you”, I hold doors for strangers. I’ll randomly give money to homeless people on the street and I tell my family I love them. But that stuff is easy and I learned that really has nothing to do with being a “good guy”. That’s just being a decent human being.
Many years ago, I started noticing how terrible many of my female friends were being treated by guys.
What I once thought was just a “bad relationship” started becoming a trend. I watch guys treat good people like trash. Verbal abuse, inconsiderate actions, cheating, lying…the list goes on and on. One guy after another, rinse and repeat. I became embarrassed. That’s when it changed.
To be a “better man”, or to be a “great guy”, you need to let that stuff bother you. Become offended by the a-holes.
Be embarrassed by the way a random guy disrespects another total stranger. Have pride in being a guy! Stand up for the good guys out there. Being a “better man” all starts with trying to be good enough to make up for all the bad ones, and there’s a lot of them.
CEO, Robben Media
Avoid comforts and do hard things
Now, what’s difficult for you depends on the man. If you’re naturally sporty, then working out might be easy. For many men, it’s difficult to find the motivation to do it. However, a better man will do it even if it’s hard and they don’t feel like it.
This applies in all areas of life. Do what you don’t necessarily feel like doing, and you will become a strong man. If it’s difficult to express your feelings, take the risk and try speaking or writing your thoughts down. These baby steps compound until your weakness becomes a strength. It’s the difficult process that brings all the rewards.
In your comfort zone, you’ll learn, accomplish, and become nothing valuable.
Owner and CEO, Aquarium Store Depot
Take responsibility to heart
What sets men and better men apart is that better men know their responsibility and they put their 101% in filling them. You must hold yourself accountable for your responsibilities and make no excuses. You know you are not perfect, but you have to try to do your best at all times.
Invest in good, healthy habits
If you want to become a better man, you have to ditch the habits that bring you down. You should stop procrastinating. You should eat healthier. You need to work out more (if you already don’t). You must engage with people who bring out the best in you. You must say no when you have to.
There are some things that you have to let go of to become a better man, and then there are things that you must adopt and apply to make a positive change in your life.
Related: 7 Daily Good Habits To Improve Your Life Forever
Wake up earlier
It doesn’t matter if you don’t start working until mid-day or you have the entire morning to sleep in. Better men know that they have better use of their time than just lounging in bed, so they get up earlier than most people. Take this time to meditate, plan your day, work out or work on your hobby.
Being productive means being productive, and not waiting for things to happen. You make them happen.
Founder, Effortless Outdoors
Honor your word and commitments
There is a quote that says “Be a man of your word and not a man of many words.” We all strive to be dependable as men and have a natural tendency to be strong providers and want to be trusted. So how does one become a man of his word?
For many men, commitment to family is our top priority.
Ask yourself where are you falling short in your commitment to family and what are you committed to achieving in your life? Is it living a healthier lifestyle, is it a career goal you want to achieve?
Whatever it may be, these two questions will help you understand the value of commitment. Make fewer promises, learn to say no to the things you can’t do, quit making excuses, and follow through on the promises you made.
Therefore to be a man of your word is all about honoring your commitments. Whatever it is that you honor, you will commit to.
Founder, Real Estate Exam Ninja
Be inclusive in all your interactions
Being inclusive, not just in words but in deeds, is essential in becoming a better man. People expect men to be more discriminatory towards women and any other factors of race, gender, and location.
Be a better man by not showing any bias, extending common courtesy to all individuals regardless of orientation and background, and look at all people in the world as equals. Please expect to be treated as how you would want to be treated and say proudly and out loud that you are a welcoming human.
Founder & Managing Director, Optimale
Take your health seriously, get the help you need, and find a relevant support system
The truth is, men should feel empowered to advocate for their mental and physical health and seek help when something is wrong. It isn’t a sign of weakness, rather a sign of strength to ask for help and accept the help offered to you. If you aren’t comfortable reaching out to a friend or family member, there are other resources available to you.
Health professionals are required by law to keep your information confidential, meaning you can seek help for conditions you may find embarrassing without fear of being outed.
It is my hope that more men will feel like they can speak about their health openly to reduce the stigma around men’s health issues.
Once you have a diagnosis and a treatment plan from your healthcare provider, you can seek community support either anonymously or not through online support groups and forums. You will have the chance to connect with other men going through the same thing and feel empowered by that sense of community.
Many of our patients regret not seeking help sooner because of the stigmas surrounding men’s health, especially around fertility and impotence, but feel so much more confident and secure after advocating for their health.
You deserve to live your life to the fullest, and if your health is being pushed aside for reasons like embarrassment or shame you aren’t alone, and you have the potential to feel so much better. You deserve to feel your best!
Make peace with your past
Something that helped make a marked difference in my life, and my temperament, was making peace with my past. Prior to that, I felt a lot of resentment toward my parents, the way I was raised and how their inevitable shortcomings impacted me. Becoming a better man is about forgiving people and erasing those negative feelings.
A lot of my male friends growing up, especially those raised by single-parent families, seem to feel the exorbitant weight of having to prove themselves in obvious ways – money, status, etc. Although that can seem like an obvious way to gain self-love it does seem to mask the resentment issue and the ability to look within and make peace with things that happened during early development.
I harbored a lot of rage toward my divorced parents.
I rebelled, against my better nature, against everything they wanted for me. It was only decades later that I was able to catch sight of this destructive behavior and self-correct. A huge part of that process was meditation, introspection, and counseling. That taught me that I didn’t have to be defined by the narrative of my past. Especially the one I was telling myself.
The day you let go of all that is the day you become a better man.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I become more emotionally intelligent as a man?
Emotional intelligence is a crucial aspect of being a better man. It means being aware of your own emotions and being able to understand and empathize with the feelings of others.
Here are some tips for developing your emotional intelligence:
– Practice mindfulness and self-reflection to become more aware of your own emotions.
– Actively listen and try to understand others’ perspectives.
– Practice empathy by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.
– Avoid making assumptions or judging others before you get to know them.
= Be open to feedback and constructive criticism.
How can I be a better father?
Practice active listening and offer emotional support and encouragement.
Set boundaries and expectations, and model positive behaviors such as communication, problem-solving, and responsibility.
Spend quality time with your children and participate in activities they enjoy.
Be consistent and dependable and follow through on your commitments.
Create a safe and supportive environment where your children can grow and thrive.
Strive to be a positive role model and lead by example.
Get involved in your children’s education and extracurricular activities.
Communicate openly and respectfully with your co-parent, and work together to co-parent effectively.
Recognize and validate your children’s feelings and experiences.
Put your relationship with your children above all else.
How can I be more respectful to women?
Treating women respectfully starts with recognizing their value and treating them as equals. Here are some ways you can treat women with respect:
– Listen to their opinions and experiences without judging or interrupting.
– Refrain from making derogatory remarks or jokes about women.
– Stand up against sexism and gender-based violence when you witness it.
– Educate yourself about issues that affect women and support organizations that work for gender equality.
How can I break free from toxic masculinity?
Toxic masculinity refers to harmful behaviors and attitudes reinforcing traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Here are some ways to free yourself from toxic masculinity:
Educate yourself about the harmful effects of toxic masculinity and the benefits of breaking free from traditional gender roles.
Engage in open and honest conversations with other men and women about toxic masculinity and how to combat it.
Practice empathy and actively listen to other’s experiences and perspectives.
Reject harmful beliefs and behaviors such as misogyny, homophobia, and violence.
Challenge gender stereotypes and roles and embrace a more fluid and inclusive understanding of gender.
Practice emotional intelligence and learn to express one’s feelings in healthy and constructive ways.
Develop healthy relationships based on mutual respect and equality.
Be allies for marginalized communities and advocate for positive change.
How can I be a better role model for younger generations?
– Show respect to all people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or background.
– Practice self-care such as exercise, healthy eating, and stress management.
– Volunteer in your community to give back and inspire others to do the same.
– Speak out against harmful stereotypes or behaviors that perpetuate toxic masculinity.
– Promote a love of learning and encourage curiosity.
– Demonstrate the importance of responsibility and accountability.
– Display a positive attitude toward work and career aspirations.
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