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What Men (really) Need.

A variation of the ‘back single biceps” pose … on the beach. I love the interface between land+sea+sky. Brings me closer to my ‘home’ in my childhood … in the Beautiful Paradise Islands of Fiji.
The managed combination of chaos + order => Better Life.

We have all heard about ‘that relationship’ that broke down because there was a ‘break-down in communication.” Usually, when you dig a little deeper, you find that there was communication but it wasn’t ‘effective’ communication.

And how does communication become effective?

Well, it simply comes down to the ‘feedback loop.’ Yep, the feedback loop. I like to refer to it as ‘being on the same page’ as the person(s) you’re communicating with. Effectively, having clarity on what the other person(s) are saying and ‘seeing’ things from their viewpoint.

Not an easy thing to do.

So, what is the secret? Well, as I see it when it comes to relationships and what a man needs, what it really comes down to is – a man really needs someone who simply cares. Yep, it is as simple and as complex as that. The care factor.

Not an easy thing to find, yes because it requires that person to love him and this involves a lot of work, a lot of effort, from the care-giver. Men search far and wide for this care, in all kinds of places and all kinds of things and never stop searching because it is wired in to the very life-blood of all true-blooded males.

Men will never stop searching and will do all sorts of crazy shit to experience and do almost anything … for this love … this care, because that is what they really need and they will keep searching from the beginning til the end of time.

Let me explain …

Even though it sounds simple, it masks a lot of complexity. You see, most reasonably educated persons know how to communicate. You know how to talk, send e-mails and texts but very few people know how to communicate well. What I mean is communicate effectively.

Most children learn from their parents (who learned from their parents who learned from their parents  … ) but the thing is that a lot of parents don’t communicate well or effectively, to begin with. So, you end up with people who learn from people in the foundation years of their lives who are not the best communicators and so this ineffective communication skill is perpetuated through generations.

Until someone decides to question such practices and put forward a brave new way of communicating, a way that encourages communication to be made in an effective manner, with that feedback loop.

Like most good things, it takes work and being good at it takes practice. Not just practise but lots and lots of deliberate practise (because people could become good at communicating ineffectively. What one needs to do is learn the right way and then deliberately practice the right practise.

That is how you become better at your communication skills. Perfect practise.

It is hard work, hard YAKA! (Australian term that means ‘hard work!”). There is no easy way of going about this because you need to stubbornly change or un-learn years of imprinting of bad communication learned in your early years and then …

Now this is the hard part – learning and adopting the new communication method & skills in all your daily communication. All the time, not some of the time – all the time!

Attitude is key at winning in the Game of Life.

You see, from what I have observed so far in my life, communication between a woman and a man is very different from what happens when two women talk.

It seems that when two women get together, they do a lot of explaining and restating until the other person understands what is being said. They understand one another from each other’s point-of-view.

They seem to communicate more effectively than men.

A man may say something vague, like “I don’t know, I guess, I’m just having a tough day.” After making that short statement, it is very likely, he would not add any more words. He may just drop it, so to speak. His wife or partner assumes it must not be a big problem since he didn’t say more than two sentences. However, this is where the mistake arises.

You see, she needs to pick up on the little phrase that he did say and if she really, really knows him, pick up on what he did not say as well.

It is very likely he is feeling a great loss, but he is not expressing it. Women, I feel, need to listen to the small phrases that their husbands or partners are saying and then find the right response. She needs to generate a response that is sufficient and appropriate. ]

A response that is sufficient and not appropriate is not complete. And a response that is appropriate and not sufficient is less than adequate. Her response needs to have both present – appropriateness and sufficiency.

This is a huge challenge for any person, let alone a woman.

The challenge here is developing the life skill of the power of discernment and applying the right amount of appropriateness and sufficiency in one’s response. What a challenge.

A wise man once told me that “elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do.’ This applies to many things in life and would apply in this instance when a woman tries to understand how a man communicates.

A man needs a wife or partner who cares enough to listen to the brief, sometimes weak, signals that he gives off. And then, she needs to respond, I believe, with gentle questions to draw him out, not by taking the opportunity to describe her own struggles.

But to listen, really listen.

Education through a perception of the truth.
Increasing your awareness, taking sufficient and appropriate actions and adapting accordingly is key towards self-improvement.
Funny thing is that the process also applies to relationships and response.
Vv

In my experience with dealing with and helping people in the gyms and my line of work over the last two decades, when one spouse is drawn away by someone outside the marriage, it’s usually not that he’s being drawn away by love.

More often than not, I believe, he is drawn away because someone else show they cared.

Ask yourself how you show your man you care? Is it sufficient and appropriate for the phase of life you’re in? My grandfather used to always say “actions speaks louder than words.’ What do you think? I think it holds more than an element of truth to it.

Someone could think and say that they love someone else but not actually show or demonstrate/do the act of love. Is this love? I don’t think so.

Thinking and doing can be two different things.

What is your definition of love anyway? We tend to see acts of love all around us but what is love?

Who is the best listener you know? What is that person doing that works?

My tip: After nineteen years of being with the woman of my childhood dreams and marriage as well as helping people (couples) help themselves, help themselves over the years of owning my own gym and my keen observation in general life, I would remind you to – show you care in everything you say and most importantly, do.

Men are simple creatures, keep things simple – simply show your man you care for and about him. Don’t complicate things, keeping it simple aids greatly in contributing to more effective communication. And is ultimately the saviour of all relationships.

We have heard that love is effortless, I disagree … to love some one other yourself requires effort, a lot of effort.

Love is EFFORT-FULL!

Keep loving … it is worth it in the whole scheme of life.

 

Until next time,

Members of my ‘extended family’ when I used to own and manage my gym for seven years. Some of the best and hardest years of my life so far. I loved leading the members (predominantly males – 70%) and they allowed me to take them to unchartered territories for us all.
The gym was (unlike today’s) a social place. An ‘inbetween home’ between your place of work and your home.
Relationships based on fairness, trust, care and compassion.
A place where men could share stories, their aspirations, their fears and hopes …and be listened to … without fear of retribution or ridicule.
It was these group of Mens ‘last refuge’.
I hope to bring it back one day … to the world.

Explaining the fine points of re-engineering the physique and increased self-awareness through enhanced ‘mind-muscle’ connection..

Side Triceps in the gym. … in between sets.
Building a physique that is balanced and symmetrical takes years of toil in the gym and outside the gym. There is countless assessment of all the variables that go into it … a constant assessment of appropriateness and sufficiency in relation to the key inputs that go in to mastering the iron … the art … of knowing oneself .. of knowing life.
Better. Builds. Beauty. A
Always.

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awards, caring, compassion, intimacy, intimacy awards, man, real man

Intimacy Awards please.

Photo op with a local resident and her dog. Lovely.

Photo op with a local resident and her dog. Lovely.

In my life so far, I have observed that there is an award for all the great traits society appears to hold above all others. Traits most of us aspire to. In today’s world, people are amazingly connected to their teams – you name it. They identify strongly with their sporting teams, their club teams, their individual sport (that is a team sport) etc.

Men (and women) battle it out on many sporting arenas, education, politics and business to win the cup/trophy/prize money. Demonstrating all these tangible, hard – winning skills.

There is an award for almost every trait related to hard work, determination and success – an outward expression of strength, power and discipline and determination. A beautiful thing that is celebrated and written about (from the winner’s perspective) throughout history. Whether we’re talking about successful people or successful nations (in wars).

History is biased towards awarding the victors. That’s just how it has always been.

But the world has changed a lot.

Not only just with technology but with regards to everything else. It is a flat world after all. Definitions of what it means to be a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ today is very different to what they were say, 50 years ago. Definitions of a family, sex, sexual preference and marriage is different today too.

Maybe, just maybe, we should start giving out awards for the more ‘softer’ skills of an individual. Things like – compassion, care, trust, intimacy and conflict resolution. Not just awards for being the strongest, fastest athlete or ‘talent’ in the business world which it has always been. Why do we think that these men are the best men to model yourself after? They may be great at ‘making money’ but may not have great skills at other important areas of life. It seems, the ‘halo effect’ is at play here for many ‘perceived leaders’ in the Corporate & Financial World of our society.

Not a very wise thing to do.

I think there should be awards for the men, who embrace change. Men who embrace the softer skills that is part of the modern-day definition of what it means to be a man. There should be awards for the courage taken for intimacy and compassion and show of affection. There should be an award for men who place family over career promotions. This is fear personified. A very tough choice.

Men are not just what society makes out the majority of the species to be – selfish, power-hungry, career-focused, sexually-obsessed being. No, a man has other parts to his being that often does not get a chance (as often as society allows) to ‘see the light of day’. A side that is ‘put under the carpet’ and rather neglected over many generations.

My children - Olivia and Zachary striking a 'front double-biceps' pose for the camera. Watch out, these Valentine Guns are loaded!

My children – Olivia and Zachary striking a ‘front double-biceps’ pose for the camera. Watch out, these Valentine Guns are loaded!

Whilst these parts of a full-man is walked on as a doormat, the more commonly emphasised parts such as – uncaring, careless, aggressive side is stressed. We hear, see, read about this every single day. On the sporting field, in the business world, it seems in every single crevice of this earth. No one is immune to this.

Maybe, just maybe, society should start recognising the courageous men out there who are:

  • Not afraid to demonstrate genuine affection to those he loves
  • Not afraid of genuine intimacy with others
  • Not afraid to accept equal responsibility in the raising of children (in every sense of the word – not just from a financial sense)
  • Courageous enough to perform all the tasks required of a ‘dad’ just as it is for what was a ‘once-upon-a-time’ womans’ domain
  • Courageous enough to be a role model for the young men (sons, nephews) of the changing perceptions of what it means to be a ‘man’
  • Brave enough to demonstrate his full display of affection and role model to his daughter/daughters
  • Not afraid to get in touch with his ‘feminine side’ – not just as a trend but as an obligation that goes along with what it means to be a man/father/dad.
  • Embrace the changing status of what a ‘real man’ is.

Society should start giving out awards of bravery not just to celebrate the historically implanted image of men who went to war, carrying a gun. Yes, these bravery awards are well deserved. But history is littered with wonderful examples of this and this image of bravery is forever etched in our psyche.

But, I believe there are also heroes that stay behind. Men that never get a chance to carry a gun. Men that never ever go off to war. Men that never ever get a chance to win that ‘bravery award’. No, but these men are still here. Men that are not afraid to get in touch with their ‘feminine side’ and this isn’t saying the ‘gay’ side (not that there’s anything wrong with that  … as Seinfeld would say). Just plain old simple men who have made different choices to their fathers and grandfathers and all the men that have come before them. Better choices. Choices that are relevant to the times we live in. These are Trailblazers. They are all around us. Could be talking of you. Maybe of some the male friends you know. I bet you have many.

They’re everywhere! But they’re afraid to come out.

I had a family gym that was predominantly male (70%) for about 7 years. I encouraged the men to speak freely and communicate all their feelings and we shared stories and helped one another through tough emotionally difficult phases of life. What a wonderful group of ‘post-feminite new age males’.

I believe a lot of these men still bottle up these genuine ‘softer – parts’ of themselves for fear. I believe it is mainly a deep-seated fear of ‘what other people would think of them’. It is not fear of being a failure of being a man, a father in today’s world, according to today’s definitions. No, it is a fear of criticism that goes along with your decision to fully accept all the responsibilities that go along with what it means to be a MAN.

Fear of what people would think of you if you gave up a promotion at work because you put your family first. This would be totally abnormal. “Are you insane!” … you would hear friends and family say. Because it goes against expectations. It goes against prevailing perceptions. It goes against the ‘status quo’. Something that will take time to change and fully accepted. Just like it has taken time for countries to pass laws to de-criminalize same-sex marriages.

A big part of this, I believe is acceptance of the ‘other side’, the feminine side to his character. There should be bravery awards given to men and dads who demonstrate great skills at the softer skills to his being. Softer skills that don’t necessarily make him soft. No, far from it. Soft skills that make him a complete, whole, real man. An authentic man.

This is the definition of bravery – doing something that you’re afraid to do but you do it anyway. Pessimists would call this stupidity.

A group of men of different ages chatting about challenges of life as we transition through the phases of life. Storytelling was a big part of my gym where all men of all ages took the opportunity to share their fears, their desires and mistakes and more . A wonderful informal male-bonding and vitality enhancing phase of my life.

These awards of public recognition for bravery in intimacy will encourage the current crop of men to embrace this neglected side and part of them (just like it has been for their fathers and grand-fathers and every male figure in their family line). But more importantly provide a re-wiring opportunity for the men of tomorrow (our sons) to embrace the changing definition of what it means to be a ‘real man’.

That the young men of today – my son, your son(s) may look upon traits such as tenderness and care, compassion and heart as acceptable and as important as work ethic, discipline and winning at all costs.

My hope is that recognising bravery awards for the men of today who make these choices would lift the lid on this stereotype and ‘free’ and liberate the ‘hidden, softer’ male that is in every man out there.

Not all heroes hold guns. Not all great men climb to great heights. Not all great men seek this definition of success. My grandfather, a very influential man in my life was a great example of this. To me, he was my hero. A true gentleman. I only fully realized the man he was when he died. I couldn’t believe the amount of people from all walks of life that paid respect for this man.

I only truly understood the man he was and what he meant for my life and view of life only after he died. I was very fortunate that I had him as a mentor in my early years of life. His definition of success was not skewed unhealthily towards material and financial gain at all costs. He had a much broader view of success. Success in all areas of life.

There is a hero in every man. Yes, there is a hero in you, too (and you don’t need to be awarded a Victoria Cross for this)!

With two good friends and gym family members. Two men who should win “intimacy awards’ for choosing to be the man that they dreamed to be.

In my books, all heroes believe in what is right. These heroes go to great length to stand by what they believe in. To STAND THEIR GROUND. Even if this means that they are in the minority at this present time. Even if they are going up against the status quo. Even if they are ‘rocking the boat’ about what it means to be a ‘real man’ in today’s world. Even if they are as proud to receive a ‘bravery award for intimacy/affection/compassion etc’, publicly.

And hope that one day, these awards for the ‘softer-side’ of a man is held in as high regard or close to that of a man who goes off and wields a gun in a war. Or to that of a man who climbs the corporate ladder to his imaginary snow-capped mountain top and feeling unsatisfied with life when he gets to the top and realises that there isn’t any snow at the top.

The war WITHIN is far greater and tougher battle than the war without. For ALL MEN. How you manage and choose to navigate this internal emotional mine-field as you pass through the different phases in life is very telling.

All the best to all the young dads/men out there trying to make sense of life and what it is to be a man and looking for answers to the question “Is this all there is to life?”

This question, my friend is one that only YOU can answer. There is one certainty: you will find YOUR ANSWER. How you go about finding that answer is the issue here. Aim to search for the answers in the right places. For those of you men that already get that public recognition of bravery, bravery award of intimacy on all levels. Think of yourselves as the lucky ones.

Congratulations. You deserve it! You are a trail-blazer, you are an example of courage in action. Come on, men, I know the “Real Man” lies dormant in some of you reading this … it is time to let him out so that you can be free of the chains that burden and hold you down, just for being a man. The chains of living a life based on expectations of others.

You have one life. Live it with total and utter intimacy and know that it is very ‘manly’ to do so. Reach out and for that Intimacy Award, I’m sure you’ll get it if more choose to do so.

There is hope, so, let’s all get together and request for Intimacy Awards please!

Choose well.

 

Until next time,

Life is about choices. Choose well.

Life is about choices.
Choose well.

~~Life COACH~~

~~Energy, VITALITY & Life COACHING Conversationalist~~

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