Jump in. The fire is fine.
As a man, there’s no substitution for hard work if you want to have a better life, awesome relationships, feel great, and contribute to others. Some actions we can take to become better, happier men, are easy, and others require persistence and some gusto to overcome the bigger challenges.
We can start with a couple of basic assumptions to fire up our personal development journey:
- There isn’t something “wrong” with us when talking about becoming better; we just desire growth and expansion to have and achieve what we haven’t yet accomplished.
- All good personal development is about the process, that’s why we call it development. The end result (more money, health, relationships) is a product of becoming the kind of man who possesses these things because of the foundation he developed. A shoddy foundation will not support greatness, and the outcome to any effort without a solid foundation will be sub par.
There are intrinsic and extrinsic aspects to the process of becoming a better man.
That can include good style (extrinsic) which don’t require a lot of effort, and will yield less gains for our overall success and well-being, and intrinsic; such as the perseverance required during a learning process which will actually make us mentally stronger, more skilled, and more valuable to other people.
Both intrinsic and extrinsic factors are important because they will help us become the kind of men we want to be in the long run. Since extrinsic development is the easiest aspect of personal development to shape, we’ll start with style.
- Style – Good men’s fashion emphasizes our masculine characteristics and forms to our bodies. If you observe most men who don’t have very good style it’s usually because their clothing does not fit properly. If you’re insecure about your body then this will take us to #2.
- Fitness – Fitness, although technically an extrinsic quality (muscles, low body fat), requires commitment in order to achieve a decent standard, which in turn will develop mental toughness and a stick to it attitude. Becoming fit also will yield great results in terms of how you feel about yourself, and in turn how other people feel about you. If you’re insecure in this domain you’ll project those feelings onto other people, and your results will fall short of greatness, so it’s not just about looking good.
Intrinsic personal development will yield the greatest long term results because it’s the very essence of who you are. A man who is developing himself through rich personal experiences and a trial by fire process will become tougher, more well rounded, and potentially more at peace knowing he can adapt to any situation.
The man who faces a challenge and quits is conditioning himself to quit over and over again every time he faces resistance.
The man who follows through and accepts whatever outcome he may face, does the opposite, and conditions himself to be tougher and more resilient.
No matter what choice you make when you face a challenge, you’re conditioning yourself to respond in a certain way; the only question is whether or not you want this principle to work for you or against you.
Here are some examples from my own life which have made me a stronger man, and could work for you too.
- Boxing – In my early twenties I decided to get in the ring to challenge myself. What I experienced was a bit of shock; the reality was a combat sport which is very unforgiving, but it made me tougher and more confident having put myself through this trial by fire. The training was hard, and getting in the ring in front of hundreds of people tested my courage. It would have been easy to quit, but not quitting in the face of fear set a foundation that would be the standard in all of my future ventures.
- The art of the approach – Walking up to an attractive stranger in public is beyond the scope of most men, but learning how to do this has not only developed my social savvy, but has fortified my ability to handle rejection. Whether in business or in your personal life, learning how to meet strangers will make you a stronger man.
- Starting a business – Starting a business has it’s rock star aspects, like taking a coffee break whenever you damn well please, but it also has its dark side. After the initial thrill of starting my business, I had to face many times where I didn’t have a dime for rent or bills, let alone food. The pressure was always high when I hit these lows, but sticking to the business instead of running to the comfort of a job, developed nerves of steel. Eventually I could be at the end of a month, without money for rent, food, or bills, and simply shrug it off because I knew I would make it work. This has given me a sort of zen peace of mind which I would of never developed taking the easy route.
- Blogging – You wouldn’t think that writing articles could help in a personal development journey, but being an introvert and very private person, exposing my opinion to random people online can be very unnerving. I was scared about getting negative comments so most of the time I wouldn’t even look at the comments sections of my articles, but over time it no longer shook me up. Being able to fully express yourself is essential to your mental health, and learning to accept differing opinions instead of hiding what you really think will lower stress, and give you a thicker skin.
Experience is usually the determining factor between guys who feel extremely confident and do well in life, and guys who “don’t have it”, and give up in the face of adversity instead of persisting.
If you seek out things which create fear deep inside of you instead of avoiding them, you’ll develop into the kind of man who can have anything he wants in his life.
A version of this post originally appeared on Strongbody Apparel.