Photo taken from: YouTube.com
I love the 1972 film The Godfather. The picture that opens this blog post depicts one of my favorite scenes from the film, where Don Vito Corleone admonishes Johnny Fontaine for crying about not knowing what to do about not getting offered a movie role he desperately wanted by telling him he can “act like a man”.
This scene is not about my love of The Godfather or even about this scene, per se, but rather about what it means “to act like a man”.
How is a man supposed to act?
Being a “man” seems to mean different things to different people. In a generic sense, “man” is a neutral descriptor lacking neither a positive or a negative connotation. Many think being a man is simply a function of chronology, when a male child attains the age of 18, he legally becomes a man with most of the privileges, rights, responsibilities, and obligations that come with it.
In today’s post, I posit that “being” or “acting” “like a man” has absolutely nothing to do with age. As the Don Corleone admonition implies, being a man is defined by one’s behaviors and attitudes rather than by chronological age.
Below are ten traits that define what “acting like a man” looks like…
1. Men are self-reliant. This isn’t to suggest that men (or people in general) don’t collectively need other people, but it does mean that men should earn what they receive. To whom much is given, much is expected. Life is give and take and men should give as much or more value to others as they receive in return.
2. Men are masters of delaying self-gratification. There is a reason beer, junk food, and even pornography are marketed mostly to the male of our species, usually through the conduit of sports and “junk television”. There is nothing inherently wrong with indulging in these things, but it typically doesn’t stop with mere occasional indulgence. If you spend your Sunday afternoons and evenings wearing another man’s name on your back (sports jersey) knocking down 12 packs and eating junk food while living vicariously through your favorite sports team or athlete and then wonder why your wife is nagging you or wonder why you look like a pregnant yak at age 28, then you might be indulging yourself a little too much.
3. Men create value no matter the situation or circumstance. Men never look at other men and wish they could trade lives with them. Men look at their own lives and know that any other man could take their life circumstances and still win with it. As Bruce Lee said, “don’t pray for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a hard one”.
4. Men don’t chase women, they chase excellence. Living a life that has meaning is more important to men than having money. Money is a byproduct of success, not the reason for pursuing success.
5. Men strive to be knowledgeable and well-read, not liked and admired. Young men are particularly susceptible to seeking validation over seeking knowledge. The adage that the jocks ultimately wind up working for the nerds has an element of truth to it. Of course, men also strive to be both brainy and brawny.
6. Men still act like gentlemen. Being a gentleman doesn’t make a man a beta male chump any more than acting like a macho jerk makes a man an alpha male. Chivalry isn’t dead. Men practice it often and with genuine intent.
7. Men take ownership of their mistakes and foibles and constantly work to improve themselves.
8. Men live deliberately and are decisive in their actions.
9. Men are comfortable in their masculinity.
10. Men don’t compromise their principles to satisfy people trying to control them. This is why men like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi are still revered to this day despite being imperfect people (as all of us are).
-The Rational Ram