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Arnold Schwarzenegger exterior, Tom Hanks interior.

With my trophy – doing the “Abdominal/Thigh” pose.
Top 5 Natural BodyBuilder in the world.

I love observing life and society and everything around me. I am a student of life. In recent years (last ten to fifteen years or so), I have noticed that men are forgetting or maybe do not know or are unsure of what it means to be a Man anymore.

A Real Man.

I have a few theories about how this has reached a growing and worrying societal problem now and for the future, but I won’t go in to that in this blog. No, I’m going to dance with the idea of what a Real Man is or should be.

What should the mark of a Real Man be?

Status in society? Richness in money? Accumulated financial wealth? Power? A tattoo, maybe? I’m sure you’ll have your opinion and definitions.

One word: GRIT.

I believe this is one characteristic of a Real Man. And a sub-set of this word Grit (along with resilience, unrelenting, solution-oriented etc), is simply “toughness”.

But it does not end there.

What is more important than toughness? It is exercising the RIGHT KIND of toughness. Anyone can be tough and we all are at various points in our lives but not many people can call on the right kind of toughness at the right time.

Now this takes skill, this takes effort and work and deliberate thinking and practise to get it right. Now, this characteristic is the foundation of a Real Man . It is the building blocks of what it means to be a Real Man.

It feeds in to his strength of character.

But that is only half of what a real man is.

The other fifty percent should be intimacy, gentleness. Don’t you think so?

Put together, you have what I refer to as a possible definition of a real man. He has an Arnold Schwarzenegger exterior (toughness) and a Tom Hanks (gentleness) interior.

How should we go about attaining these two qualities of a Real Man?

Well, I believe each man should strive for ‘balance’. Everything comes down to balance – internally and externally. So, every man should consciously strive for balance with both qualities.

Knowing when to be tough is as important as knowing when to be tender.

The wise man has the power of discernment and knows when to exercise either. The art in the dance through life is in developing this power of discernment towards balance.

Balance is achieved when a man stops trying to be someone else but the man that is truly reflected through the eyes he sees look back at him in the mirror. A man needs to just be himself and believe in the Holy Spirit or his inner-self, his Real Self and not be afraid to let him out. To let him be vulnerable.

The more vulnerable you become as a man through increased positive self-awareness, the more ‘Real’ you become. The closer you get to becoming more authentic, more of a Real Man.

A man cannot just choose Toughness and no tenderness or only choose to be gentle (and a gentleman) all the time and not be tough. No, this leads to confusion with his self and also with his woman and every person around him. Simply, because he is not clear on his role as a man and what it means to be a Real Man.

A Real Man is partly defined by having both these traits continuously intertwined in his daily life. At home and at work and play. It is a never-ending, dynamic complex fusion of chaos and order to produce something unique: the Real Man.

Being just tough results in a man being cold, distant, intolerant, unbearable and impatient. What we’ve all been brought up hearing society (mainly angry women) refer to “All Men are As#holes! “. Very unfair because not all men are like that.

But, being tough and tender brings about something different, something elusive. It makes a man appear closer to what I refer to as beauty.

And why do I say that?

Well, being tough AND tender … results in gentleness, thoughtfulness and being considerate. The man is more attuned to the principles of nature which is harmony.

Being tough and tender brings you closer to the elusive balance and symmetry of life. Brings you closer to what I refer to as ‘beauty’. I love formulas and mathematics so here is a little formula for you, based on my hypothesis of what a Real Man is:

Tough + Tender => Balance + Symmetry ==> Beauty!

So, all you men reading this, ask yourself if you can be beautiful. If you strive towards balance and symmetry in these two strengths of character – toughness and tenderness, you run the risk of being referred to as a ‘beautiful man’.

And why not, the word beautiful should not only be reserved for women, cars, sculptures and paintings and flowers. No, men too can be beautiful.

Being referred to as beautiful is worth the risk because I believe a beautiful man is a Real Man.

Work on your beauty and not be just a “Gentle-man” or “Tough-man”, no, work towards being a Beautiful-Man.

A Beautiful Man is A Real Man!

Until next time,

Explaining the principles of training within my programs.

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Adam needed Eve.

My son and I. Time with your children will be one of the most important investments you will ever make in your life. Choose to make it.

My son and I.
Time with your children will be one of the most important investments you will ever make in your life.
Choose to make it.

Not sure what you remember about the start of the greatest stories that were ever told but I do remember the story of the creation. Matter of fact my kids pick a story each night before bed from the bible and inevitably, they choose the story of the garden of eden at least once a month.

Adam and Eve was part of this creation story.

Most of you will know that.

One version of the beginning of life as we know it involved a man and a woman, created by God. Adam, on his own, I believe would not have worked. It may have lasted short-term at best. You and I may not have come in to existence.

It is evident Adam needed Eve!

Operating alone in life is a little unnatural. What do you think? Wasn’t there a philosopher that stated once that –

“no man is an island”. There is some truth in this.

Okay, your definition of what is natural and unnatural may be different to mine and that is fine.

I think that is how most of life should be operated – a collaboration between a man and woman, between men and women, whether it be in the corporate world on in every-day life. However, it appears that most of life has been structured in such a way that it is biased to the comfort and convenience of men.

Made for men. By men.

But I believe that the system that has worked for centuries – a system that was and has been dictated by men, for the convenience of men, may become extinct in the near future. The industrial age, the one that established our schooling, our work day, our economy and our expectations and dreams is dying.

I believe it is dying but it dying faster than you and I think but there is evidence all around us of this funeral. Look around at the various industries – the music industry, the media outlets, newspapers and journalism to name a few.

And I think that is a good thing for man-kind.

The system and protocols set up for society, for the convenience and comfort of men, whilst excellent for the Industrial Era is not appropriate for now and the future.

My son made me aware of this not too long ago.

You see, we tried to get him to go to early music lessons taught by one of the Sydney (and Australia’s) best early child-hood music teachers when he was about 3. Turned out, he was a very different child in those classes. I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t reason with him.

From the moment he entered that room, he took on a different personality – a very difficult personality. I felt that the room somehow triggered this abnormal behaviour. You see, Zachary is a little bit of a ‘stirrer’ by nature but this half hour of music was very difficult for either Cathy, my wife or me. We tried many things to manage his behaviour but nothing seemed to work.

I thought deeply about why this was happening because it only seemed to happen in that class.

Then it dawned on me that he felt reminded too much that he was a ‘kid’ when he was in those classes. The games and some of the activities were too ‘kid-like’ if you know what I mean and Zachary didn’t like to be treated like a ‘kid’. Even I felt like a kid when I was in those classes!

Because we refer to and treat Zachary like an individual and not like a ‘kid’, he expected to be treated like an individual. You see, from what he has observed in his short life so far, he loves everything about being an adult – doing work with me around the house like an adult, wearing my adult shoes, going shopping like an adult and being spoken to like an adult or at least an older child.

The Result: he behaves like an adult! Zachary likes being treated like a man or a grown-up boy. And I have to say that Olivia, my daughter loves to be treated like an older girl too. And those music classes did exactly the opposite.

My kids and I with Ruby the Dog. They just adore each other. Choose to spend time with your kids, not 'quality time'.

My kids and I with Ruby the Dog. They just adore each other.
Choose to spend time with your kids, not ‘quality time’.

So, it got me thinking about life and society in general.

Everything seems to be geared to the adults, isn’t it? Actually – most of life, matter of fact almost everything you can think of, for a very long time now has been organized for the convenience of adults, in particular – the comfort and suitability to men!

Give it some thought and let it sink in …

Work hours is structured that way and has been like that for centuries. The hours set is very suitable for men, isn’t it? The system of the industrial era allows one to have a ‘work-home-from-home’ that conveniently makes men unavailable at home for forty to eighty hours.

And when are these hours structured? During those moments at home where help is needed most. Those waking hours, where men are needed for cleaning, cooking and caring for children. Your children! So, the system still predominantly excludes one person from the ‘work-home’ and who do you think that is?

There are no prizes for guessing who that person is!

Yes, it is the woman. The mum. The female that is representing “EVE”. This is still the majority of cases in today’s world.

The question I ask is ‘why?!’ It is a choice after all, a choice every man, every woman, every family has to make. No one is going to ask you to make that choice for you. Be brave and make it yourself! Its not about whether you have what it takes; it’s about whether you choose to pursue it. Of course it is difficult to overcome a lifetime of education (and brainwashing). New habits will have to be created, and new dreams/expectations to go with them.

I believe with the exponential growth of technology and the embracing of more balanced philosophies, it is not necessary that individuals (particularly men) should be locked away in office places at the same time for hours a day.

What do you think?

I don’t think it is healthy for one thing. It is not necessary to be in the same vicinity as all your office colleagues every day of the week. You can be just as productive if not more, if you focused on what you were paid to do in the convenience of your own home. When will society realize that a lot of that ‘office time’, whilst relevant for the previous industrial era, is not necessary now and was put in place mainly for the convenience and needs of men.

It would be highly likely that ‘hours at work’ would have been very different today if it was us, men, who had to also run a home, clean, cook and take and pick up kids from school. It is not easy, believe me, it isn’t. But I believe it is a necessary and arguably the most important investment a man can make in his life: Time (not ‘quality time’) with his kids and home-life.

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!

More of society, more of life should be geared toward the ‘Eve’ of the relationship.

More should be given to the woman. More should be given for the woman’s comfort, for her convenience.

More of society should be organized from a woman’s point-of-view, with more love, more care, more compassion, more flexibility. More importantly, more control over where and when one does one’s work.

There should be more personal responsibility and less ‘looking-over-your-shoulder’ work environments that still exists in many industries and in particular, the corporate world, where grown-ups are still made to feel like children in an ‘adult-like’ environment. How suffocating is that?!

How can grown adults be expected to work productively and do what is expected of an responsible adult if they are meant to feel like a ‘kid’ when at work because of the old-fashioned culture still in existence?

Over a hundred years of indoctrination of industrialism has changed the way we dream. The industrialist needs you to dream of security and the benefits of compliance. The industrialist works to sell you on a cycle of consumption (which requires more compliance) and the industrialist benefits of moving up the corporate ladder – his ladder!

But the society now is very different to what it was a millennia ago. Times have changed dramatically.

I believe that this is what society wants more of – a more balanced, more equal approach to life in all areas for both real men and women. And I also believe that this is what most men reading this and out there wants too. The winds of change has already been happening. Men and women are moving towards more of a “Adam and Eve” relationship and I believe it is very healthy and is necessary for this period in history.

If you are already in such a relationship, you are blessed.

Organizations need women more and more and should start changing archaic systems that are no longer relevant in today’s world. Women provide the balance to men, the balance that men need. This should be reflected in all areas of life – a genuine Adam and Eve approach. An approach that respects the importance and power of connection – between human beings, in particular the equal time-sharing both parents have in raising their children.

It began that way many, many years ago in beautiful story-telling about a garden of Eden – with Adam and Eve. We, society, need to return to this but this time with the understanding that Adam needed Eve. 

I am blessed I have my Eve – my wife, with equal Captaincy on our ship in the journey through our sea of life. I know I need my wife like Adam needed Eve.

Here’s hope to a better future … by turning back to the future.

All the best for 2016!

 

Until next time,

Me and my children - carriers of my genes. A taste of immortality for me.

Me and my children – carriers of my genes. A taste of immortality for me.

Find what you love to do. Then, go do it!

Find what you love to do.
Then, go do it!

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Mr Vulnerable.

My son and I. One of my responsibilities as a man and dad is to make my son aware that being vulnerable is ok. vv

My son and I.
One of my responsibilities as a man and dad is to make my son aware that being vulnerable is ok.
Vv.

Father’s Day came and went only last weekend. I had a great day with my wife and my two children. I received two beautifully hand-made cards from each of my children and loads of hugs and kisses. Oh, and some of my favourite chocolates. It was lovely.

I trust all the dads reading this and dads all around the world had a wonderful time with the people they love the most too.

The special calendar day (just like Mother’s Day) got me thinking about being a man but especially in today’s world. Not all men are fathers and not all men are dads but all men are men. So, I got thinking about being a man. Yep, let’s attempt to re-evaluate the question, “What is a real man?”

The thing is that most of us would have been raised with a definition of what society (modern-day societies) defines it as. This definition is dare I say, unrealistic and quite a burden for the modern male to wear. So much so that I believe the modern day man is finding it quite difficult to be a man.

Now, we could look in many places for possible definitions of what a real man is and justifiably so. Some men look for these in sports stars, movie stars, politicians and so forth. I believe it is important for the modern male (whether you’re a dad or not) to truly understand what it is to be a man. A real man.

 

Olivia and Zachary enjoying their time with Ruby. Being a role model for my children is one of the most important responsibilities I will ever have in my life. For the rest of my life. Just like it is for every other dad out there.

Olivia and Zachary enjoying their time with Ruby.
Being a role model for my children is one of the most important responsibilities I will ever have in my life.
For the rest of my life.
Just like it is for every other dad out there.

I thought that one place many people wouldn’t be brave enough to seek an answer is the bible (unless you’re a Christian). We don’t have to look any further than the disciple – John. John, I believe displayed 6 characteristics of what it means to be a real man. In no particular order they were: sincerity, simplicity, conviction, courage, vision and vulnerability.

There you have it! Six Key traits of a real man.

From my experience with people in predominantly male-dominant gyms over the last 23 years, I have found that one thing that men struggle with is accepting that being vulnerable is ok. It seems that the modern man is told since birth that being vulnerable is a no-no, that it is a sign of weakness. Today’s ‘macho’ man of western society must not show vulnerability, he never admits a mistake.

What a load of you know what! Generation after generation of men still believe in this cr#p. Very unrealistic burden for men to carry partially dictated by societal definition of a modern man.

I recall reading research done in America a little while back that stated that five of the most difficult statements for today’s modern man to make are:

  1. I don’t know
  2. I was wrong
  3. I need help
  4. I’m afraid
  5. I’m sorry

This certainly supports what I have deduced from my observations of the last two decades. It seems that modern day men have a problem with admitting vulnerability. That for some reason, if they do their masculinity is brought in to question.

For you Christians reading this – wasn’t this a test for the disciple John which he passed with flying colours?

I think John’s vulnerability was so great beyond belief in his extreme demonstration of humility when he said in reference to Jesus “He must become greater; I must become less”. You cannot get much better than that with someone being so humble.

A trait that is truly missing in the world today.

So, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, to be authentic to no one else but you first. It is good for the soul and makes you a real man. A humble man is not afraid to admit it. A humble man is not afraid to admit he is or was wrong.

There is a real man in all men reading this and all the men in the world. However, to reach deep down inside and get him, you need to become more aware of who you are now and take actions (sufficient and appropriate) to change certain habits that may not be aligned with the definitions of a real man I have given.

The important step then is to be flexible enough and ‘man-enough’ to adapt to the ‘man you imagine yourself to be’, ideally a man closer to the kind John was. It’s not easy, matter of fact it is darn hard work but the end result is a thing of beauty. And this is one of the things the world needs more of right now.

This, however, may clash with the current modern day definition of what it means to be a real man.

Me and my two children - Olivia and Zachary. I love them with all my heart.

Me and my two children – Olivia and Zachary. I love them with all my heart.

Be the real man you know you are. Be inspirational to you first, so that you can be inspirational to the young males that are searching for examples of what it means to be a Real Man. Don’t let them get lost to men of lesser character. So, all you dads out there or men playing a surrogate role, be the role model, be the Real Man that the legions of young boys  and future men of our society need to aspire to.

This is not a want. This is a need that our modern day society needs now more than ever. More Real Men to help provide a template to the youth of tomorrow, especially with so many possible definitions are being filtered in to their young minds. Give them a template, like that which the disciple John gave us to build on and stand the test of time.

If every man reading this and every man in this world took this responsibility seriously, what a beautiful world I can imagine for us all in two or three decades. When young men of today, modelling their characters off you – the modern day Real Man will be leaders of tomorrow.

It is a great hope of mine.

It’s not too late. Make the change because you know it is the right thing to do and you’re humble enough and courageous enough to do it.

Why?

Because you’re Mr Vulnerable. You’re the man! (and if you’re a woman and you’re reading this, get your man to read it too).

All the best in your journey towards being a Real Man. It lies within every man, so go ahead and bring Mr Vulnerable out and share him with the world.

It’s time ….

Until next time,

With the next generation of Valentine males - Zachary.

With the next generation of Valentine males – Zachary.

 

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