Men do not like to lose or fail. We are hardwired to be competitive even with ourselves. No matter the cost, some of us must win, finish or complete the task at hand. Now there are exceptions to this and some people will hopefully pass through this as just a phase. It can be incredibly difficult to deal with a loss. It is one of the reasons that the “every kid gets a trophy” nonsense is so damaging. You will fall short in various moments in your life and learning to deal with it is just part of reality.
I recently participated in a rather difficult event called a Spartan Hurricane Heat, because I believe in doing difficult things as a part of growth. I went to this event with a friend of mine; we have been doing OCR’s (obstacle course races/ more aptly Obstacle course events as we are not fast) for several years now. We do the events to challenge ourselves and keep us humble as we try to improve our fitness levels. We also enjoy them. This is now the 3rd event I have had to leave the event due to health concerns. I have done a lot of these events since 2015 and while I have only had to leave 3 of them it is still mentally difficult. I know without question that for safety it was the correct action, but my head screams about not finishing even knowing it was the best choice.
One of the things I believe comes with mature masculinity is a large dose of humility, because a man who is secure in his masculinity has nothing to prove. One of my favorite memes is a picture of a Lion, it is a majestic, powerful, and beautiful lion. It simply says, a lion does not have to tell anyone it is a lion. I believe there is a lot of wisdom to this thought. Over the years I have had the great privilege of knowing many fine men and women who have served this great country. I have known several members of the more elite units in the military and one thing I have noticed with most of them is that they don’t have to share their “skills” with everyone to feel confident. Some of the most dangerous men on the planet. Men who have battled in some of the worst and darkest corners of the world; through trials most could never imagine. They are not the ones you see walking around strutting trying to convey to anyone that they are a bad a$$. They are and they know, that is more than enough.
I often wonder who we are trying to impress. Are we trying to impress a girl, our buddies or are we just trying to convince ourselves that we are “manly?" I like to think that I am only trying to impress myself these days with the things I do, maybe my daughters as well. When I must make the smart decision that goes against my impulse to press through, I still struggle with it. So maybe I am trying to convince myself I am still tough. When it comes to being a man then the decision should become easier with perspective. For example, I had 2 options this weekend:
Press through the pain and put my overall spinal health at risk.
Walk away and know it was the right choice.
Which is more masculine?
Young me would have gone with number 1 no questions asked.
Older and a little bit wiser me has a different decision-making paradigm. I am the primary income in a household of 6, the secondary income is negligible. I have 5 people counting on me coming home and being able to go to work to provide for their needs. I also cannot be the father I should be if I am broken and recovering from injuries that will have long term effects instead of spending time being daddy.
Given the options I believe that being a little bit humbler in the situation was actually a more masculine choice. While difficult to square with in my head, when I married my wife and fathered my children, I made a choice to put their well-being in front of my ego. I am still confident in my masculinity without the need to demonstrate it to a bunch of strangers to which I have no commitment. I would like to believe that this is actual personal growth for me as my ego frequently gets the better of my judgment. When faced with a similar situation in the future, find what matters most to you (check out my podcast, The Fallible Man Podcast, episode 1 where we talk about 3x3 pillars for establishing a rock solid foundation! Click on picture for link) and decide what is more masculine, your ego or your responsibilities? If you have any question about that answer, then you may need a few years of growth to reach that clarity.
Have no doubt, if you are a lion, then you do not need to prove it to anyone, they already know.
What do you think? Have you had any struggles with your humility in a “manly” moment?
Be better tomorrow because of what you do today!