Authentic Manhood – Have Your Own Standards

How often have you sought the approval of others rather than of yourself? How often have you tried to fit into other people’s rules, and found failure? It is time to dance to your own music and succeed.

Everyone has different definitions of success and masculinity. Do not compare yourself to others. You’ll either feel over confident or very disappointed. You are your own set of standards. Sometimes all you need to succeed is the determination to show others what you are capable of. All you need is to have confidence in yourself to fulfil your vision and be happy.

My father pulled himself out of the dockyards of Glasgow, Scotland, to become an accountant and the financial director of a major UK manufacturing company. He achieved it by working hard and knowing that he could do it.

He was determined to pass on that ability to his sons. He wanted them to see a great future for themselves and find a way to create it.

I felt pressured by this and did not know how to react to it other than by running away from it.

I was not successful at school and failed to get in to university. My father suggested I followed him into accountancy or insurance. I was determined not to do an office job. I went into overdrive and found myself a job, any job, in the theatre. That forged my future life.

Many years later my father told me that he envied me. I asked him why and he told me that it was because I followed my dream and did what I wanted to do. I was surprised but I realised that he had felt pressed into expectations that he fulfilled but did not enjoy.

I have always been grateful for that insight.

What, then, are the three elements that are important in having your own standards?

1. Vision

What is your vision for the future?

Wyclef Jean said at a Commencement Speech in 2010,

“If you have a vision for yourself, it won’t matter that others may be blind to what you can see. That vision will help you see past many factors that can discourage you. That vision will help you see past the setbacks — and setbacks will happen.

“It’s not enough to just be able to see. That’s only the beginning. The real question, the more important question is, what will you do with what you see? What are you going to do with that vision?”

The vision should start with who you are and what you have, but it should go further than that. It should be beyond expectations, beyond the expectations of others, beyond even your own. It should be outside your comfort zone.

Create your vision and your plan and base it on you and your talents, not on the expectations of others.

2. Success

How do you gauge success? Is it money, happiness or just being alive.

Tony Robbins tells the story of two men, one happy and the other not.

He coached a millionaire who was constantly unhappy because he never seemed to achieve his targets. If he set a target of three million dollars in his business and achieved two and a half he was unhappy. He thought he was challenging himself by pushing and stretching himself. All he was doing was creating unhappiness.

He met another man who was poor but always happy. Tony asked him why and he said that as long as he was able to put his feet on the ground in the morning he was happy. Being alive was what mattered.

Success can mean abundance but it can also mean misery, be sure you focus on what will work for you.

3. Personal Masculinity

What are the components of masculinity for you? Is it being a ‘manly man’ or is it being a compassionate man?

I spoke to a client this week who told me that he and his friends were happy being men in touch with their emotions. They were happy having wives who were strong in the corporate world. He almost apologised for it.

His problem was the apology, he did not think that I would approve.

As far as I am concerned it is OK for you to be a man who is in touch with his emotions but only if you have certainty in yourself that this is OK. He let himself down by seeking my approval. He does not need it, just the courage to be himself.

So create the masculinity that is appropriate for you and certain and comfortable in it.

Find your path and resist the temptation to follow others. To do that you need to know yourself and what you are capable of.

What are you passionate about? What is your vision? What do you see success as?


Other Posts in the series 'Authentic Manhood'


Journey to the Core of the Masculine
'Conversations about Men and Masculinity'
and 'A 40 Day Challenge for Men'

"Outstanding, insightful and thought-provoking" "Finally. Dialogue to comprehend!!!"

Two sections link together into a unique and powerful whole. First is a series of conversations with Chris Howard on masculinity, sex and relationships. Second is a challenge for men to spend 40 days reflecting on themselves and their life.

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