He’s the Real Deal

IMG_7458Have you heard this line?  What does it mean? What makes a man, the real deal?

It can be hard to pinpoint yet most men can immediately recognize it when they see it.  Think of the men in your life.  I bet you can very quickly make that determination.  It seems to describe a confident man.  He is good at what he does.  He works hard. He doesn’t compromise his values. You respect him. It’s difficult to articulate, almost mysterious.

As you can imagine, I’ve thought a great deal about this subject, given the name of my website.  When I share something with my readers, I’m actually telling myself, “I need to be more real.”  Although I have a very long way to go to be considered the real deal, I think the litmus test is really quite simple.

Are you Authentic?

Are you trying to be like someone else or are you being yourself?

When you’re not “The Real Deal,” people can tell.  This concept is so eloquently summed up in a word that I’ve heard since middle school.  Poser.  “Why are you wearing soccer shoes, you don’t play soccer, you’re such a poser!”  “Is that a Ramones T-shirt?” “Can you even name more than one of their songs?” “You’re such a poser!”  From a very young age, authenticity is core to even a boy. As boys become men, we become master pretenders.  Some are so good at pretending that they even fool themselves.  Ironically, the effort to be respected by pretending to be someone you’re not is the very thing that prevents a man from being authentic and therefore respected.

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Men are haunted by this question.  “Am I the Real Deal?” Most of the time, if they are honest with themselves, they don’t think they are.  They spend their whole lives trying to prove that they are or they just give up all together.  I’ve struggled with insecurity throughout my life.  Insecurity is the reason why I have tried to be like other people.  I don’t always believe that who I am is good enough.  I think a lot of men feel this way.

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What do we do? Here are 12 suggestions:

  1. Stop Trying to Be Someone Else: The quicker you can give this up the better.  Don’t waste anymore time, it’s not helping you, it’s hurting you.  You’re not fooling anyone.
  2. Be Grateful For Who You Are: Be thankful for how you were made.  You’re unique.  There is no one like you. Who you are is the only thing that will work for you, so embrace it!
  3. Stop Hating Yourself: Ok, so we all have things we don’t like about ourselves.  They are usually based on lies that we’ve heard from other people or lies that we’ve told ourselves through experiences we’ve had.  Let them go.  These lies usually start with: “You’ll never…” “You always…” “You’re so…” “You’re such a…”
  4. Forget Hollywood: They are not real.  The Marlboro Man, The guy in the suit from the vodka commercial, Tom Cruise, George Clooney, etc.  They are the ultimate posers.  They pose for a living!  They are not the standard.  On one day or another, they all have gone home with heartburn and insecurity.
  5. Invest in Yourself: What you were given is all you have to work with.  You wouldn’t let your only car or house slowly disintegrate.  Take care of you.  Eat right, exercise and take time to do things you love.  Train your mind.  Read, learn from others, connect with people who make you better.  Work with what you have.
  6. Write Down What You love: Make a list of the things that make you feel alive.  What did you love to do as a kid? What’s the best time you’ve ever had?  Do you like being around a lot of people? Do you like consistency or variety?  Build a list of things you like.  Use it as a guide to creating your future.
  7. Ask People What They Think: It’s humbling but helpful.  Ask some people who love you and support you to tell you what they think of you.  Do more of the things that you’re good at.  You will enjoy life more.
  8. Don’t Worry About What Negative People Think: No matter what, there will always be someone who disagrees with how you’re living.  People who don’t know how to be themselves, often feel threatened by someone who is living authentically.
  9.  Don’t Compromise Your Values: Be consistent with what you believe to be right and true.  Don’t ever give that up for the affection or acceptance of another. 
  10. Don’t Judge: Every man is fighting a great battle.  Have compassion on where people find themselves at this moment.
  11. Do Your Best: Strive for excellence in everything you do.  Have the pride to give it your best shot.  Taking this approach with the small details in life lead to you becoming the best version of yourself.
  12. Be Honest: Don’t try to make things seem as if they are better then they are, just tell the truth consistently.

 

When the Train Falls Off the Tracks

If you’re striving to improve your life, it’s inevitable, you’re train will fall off the tracks.  You will have a bad day, lose a customer, get fired from a job, get some bad news, make a mistake, get sick, have your feelings hurt, get in a bad argument, etc.  Something bad will happen to you.

This very thing happened to me yesterday.  What I wanted to accomplish, I didn’t get done.  Nothing seemed to go my way.  People were mad at me. Old insecurities and fears came back.  I wasn’t productive.  I felt defeated.  I wasted time. I worried.  I let my mind wander and entertain negative thoughts.  I was starting to feel depressed.

What Not to Do: Make yourself comfortable.  Often when I reach a self-defeating state of mind, at the end of the day, I think about what can make me feel better.  Before I think through the consequences; I’m stuffing my face with comfort food,  watching TV and drinking beer.  Maybe you deal with this in a different way.  Do you withdraw, get lost on the internet, get angry, seek sexual pleasure?  I find myself looking for anything that can make me feel better.  In my search for immediate comfort, I find it and then before I know it, it’s gone.  Instead of feeling better, I feel worse.  My belly is full, with garbage that makes me feel tired.  I was entertained but now my my mind is dull and slow.  My confidence was inflated but now my body feels lethargic and dehydrated.  I numbed my depression but now I feel even more depressed, tired and insecure.  I’m once again reminded, quick fixes are never the solution.  IMG_0217

What to Do: You had a bad day and you decide you’re not giving in to any quick fixes.  Why? Because you know they don’t work.  You want to feel better, not worse!

  1. The Battle is in Your Mind: Do you ever wonder how some people are able to bounce back quickly from disappointment? After all, everyone deals with bad circumstances in life.  These folks believe that no matter how things are going now, they will get better.  Earl Nightingale said that “a man becomes what he thinks about.”  This video will change your life.  Listen to it when you get a chance.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you think about how bad your life is, how broke you are, how you’re not good enough to make it and how nothing ever goes your way, guess what? You will live like you’re not good enough. You must turn your thoughts to what you want to become.  Think about what’s possible, what you’re grateful for, the opportunities you have, the great people you have in your life.  The fact that you live in an age where you can access free information about almost anything.  The battle is not against your circumstance, it’s in your mind.
  2. Get Up and Move:  Go outside, go for a run, go for a hike, take a bike ride or play some basketball.  Do something active!  It can help break the cycle and clear your head.IMG_8641
  3. Talk About It: Tell a friend, a mentor or your spouse about how you were derailed today.  Make sure this person is trustworthy and supportive.  When you share your struggles with someone else, what makes sense in your head, often sounds crazy out loud.  I told my wife about my bad day.  I told her about how I questioned everything I was doing and how the day felt like a huge waste of time.  She reminded me of everything I’ve accomplished recently and how everyone has bad days.  It was a vulnerable moment for me as the provider of our family. But, saying it out loud made me feel better.  It helped me dismiss some of the lies I was entertaining.  It helped me regroup and get back on the tracks.
  4. Ditch the Quest for Comfort:  It’s alright to feel uncomfortable.  It’s part of life and an essential part of growth.  A successful person understands that doing the right thing is more important than feeling comfortable.  Deep satisfaction will come when you don’t strive for a quick fix.  Success is a collection of several small decisions to do the right thing.  Ask yourself, what would be best for me and others around me in the long run?
  5. Get Inspired: Remember what I said about free information?  Instead of filling your head with junk. Go to YouTube and watch free video’s from any one of these legends.  One video could completely turn your day around: Jim Rohn, Les Brown, Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Og Mandino, Bob Goff, Tony Robbins.
  6. Start New:  God’s mercies are new every morning.  Maybe today was a wash.  Don’t let it carry over into tomorrow.  You have an opportunity for a fresh start.  Go to bed early, wake up early, start your day with a run and a healthy breakfast.  Drink a lot of water. Take time to pray or meditate.  Focus on being your best today and no matter what happens, choose to to the right thing.

What do you reach for when you have a bad day?  What helps you get back on track?

How to Plan an Epic Bachelor Party

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In my last post, I shared my opinion on the use of strippers at a bachelor party.  Check it out here if you haven’t read it. Ok, so you’re the best man for your buddies wedding and you’ve confirmed that he doesn’t want strippers at his bachelor party.  You want to throw him a party that he’ll remember for the rest of his life, in a good way.  Where do you start?

Ask Him – This sounds obvious but it is so often overlooked.  It’s all about what he wants, not about what you think would make an awesome party.  Don’t just ask him what he wants to do and leave it at that.  There are specific questions that you need to know the answers to.

  1. Who do you want to be there? Which friends have to be there, to the point where it would be worth changing the date to make sure they can make it.  It’s going to be challenging to find a date that works for everyone but you need to know who needs to be there for the party to happen.
  2. Are fathers, future father-in-laws, uncles, future brother-in-laws etc. invited?  If not, it is important to have another gathering that includes at least your father and future father-in-law.  It could be just a night out to dinner, but make sure you do something.  It is an important step in bringing everyone together before the wedding.
  3. When can you get away for a weekend? This can sometimes be a challenge depending on how possessive his fiance is or how taxing his schedule.  It’s important to commit to more than just one night out. Fight for it, it’s worth it.  Make sure you plan this far in advance.  As the wedding approaches, it will be more and more difficult to find a weekend that works.
  4. What do you want to eat and drink?  If he drinks alcohol, what is his drink of choice?  What is his favorite food? Plan ahead and make sure to have these things ready to go.  If you can’t bring anything, be sure to identify a restaurant that he would love.
  5. What else does he love?  Does he love a good cigar?  The occasional amateur fireworks display? ATV’s? Museums? A concert from a band he loves?  A sporting event?  A golf outing?  If you don’t already know this, make sure you come up with a list of potential options and get his feedback.  The trip should be planned around what he likes to do and who he is as a person.

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Consider the Budgets of all Involved – You don’t want to exclude anyone bases on cost alone.  Make sure that whatever you choose to do is affordable for those invited.  Everyone should be expected to pay their own way as well as contribute to the grooms portion.

Assure His Future Wife – Bachelor party plans can be very unsettling for a future bride.  Many marriages have suffered from poor decisions made at a bachelor party. It’s your job as best man to put her at ease.  Tell her how you respect her and you won’t let any women go near him.  Assure her that although you may have a few drinks, you want to remember this weekend so you’re going to keep things under control.

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Make T-shirts – This may be too cheesy for you but it can be an awesome keepsake for all involved.  This is the best place I’ve found for t-shirt printing.  It’s a quick, easy process and reasonably priced as well. T-shirts

Rent a House – In order to make this weekend epic and somewhat safe, all involved should stay in the same place, removed from their everyday lives. If alcohol is involved, no one should be driving.  As the best man, it is your job to make sure everyone involved survives the weekend.  You need a home base to launch your activities from.  When everyone wakes up in the same place, a proper debriefing of the previous days activities can be easily carried out.  This is also an essential part of the bonding process.  It will make the wedding that much more enjoyable if you spend the whole weekend together.  This is a good site to find a deal: House Rentals

IMG_6769Pack the Essentials – Be creative, again, think about what your friend likes.  A few suggestions: Fireworks, deck of cards, reciprocator saw, Aleve,  football, gauze, lawn darts, gasoline, cigars, guns, swords, nunchucks, firewood, snacks, burn cream, water, cross bow, lighter, a tiger, first aid kit, human catapult, etc. I kid, but you get the idea.

IMG_2166Honor the Groom – This is the most commonly overlooked piece of the American bachelor party.  Why?  Because it takes guts.  Let’s not forget why everyone is gathered.  You are there to honor your friend who is stepping into one of the most significant endeavors of his entire life.  DO NOT MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY!  This should be done the first night of your weekend.  Talk to his other friends in advance.  Have them prepare stories, acknowledgements of how he has affected their lives, how much he is appreciated as a friend and well wishes for the future.  This can be done while toasting his favorite drink or smoking cigars in a circle.  Remember, this is what it’s all about.  Show some maturity and courage and lead the discussion.  This was done at my bachelor party and it meant the world to me.  I still remember the kind and embarrassing words that were shared to this day.

149402_461858269783_1594107_nAdventure – This is one of the most crucial elements of an epic bachelor party.  In his book, Wild at Heart, John Eldredge talks about 3 core desires in the heart of every man.  A battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue.  The battle will be waiting for him when he returns home as will his beauty.  It’s time to set the stage for an epic adventure. After considering what your friend enjoys, it’s your job to raise the stakes.  Maybe by adding a little creativity, a little challenge, perhaps even some danger?  It’s what men were built for. Why do you think men love drinking so much?  It immediately adds an element of danger and adventure.  Don’t rely on drunkenness to provide the adventure.  Again, we want to remember this occasion and we want everyone to survive.  Be strategic.  Plan a challenge in advance.

IMG_6579Competition always makes things more interesting, especially when there is a potential reward for the winner.  On a boys weekend with some friends, we developed an obstacle course consisting of an ATV race, a bb-gun target, a piece of wood to split and the lighting of a firework.  It was an absolute blast!  Think about what you can add into the mix to make things more interesting.  Feats of strength, a wrestling tournament with weight classes, a shooting competition, a poker match.

A few other ideas might be:

  • Attend a boxing or UFC match
  • Rent a boat/charter a fishing trip
  • Rent a chalet at a ski resort
  • Paint Ball
  • Golfing
  • Rent a beach house and take surfing lessons
  • Rent dirt-bikes or 4-wheelers
  • Go to a rock concert
  • Camping
  • Hunting trip
  • Brewery or Distillery Tour
  • White water rafting
  • Get a hotel in a big city like New York or Chicago
  • Go to major sporting event
  • Skydiving
  • Go to a music festival
  • Rock climbing

The most important part of this celebration is to honor the groom with some good old fashioned male bonding time. Marriage is certainly a blessing, but opportunities to be with the guys will be less frequent, so make the most of it.

If you’re married, how was your bachelor party?  What epic bachelor party ideas do you have?  I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Bachelor Party Part I of II

Stripper stageLet’s pretend for a minute there are no moral implications that go along with taking part in the traditional American stripper sleaze-fest.  Are dirty bachelor parties even fun?  Think about it.

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve attended a few questionable bachelor parties in the distant past and I’ve never walked away thinking, “Wow, that was really worthwhile!”  So why did I go? Who’s idea was this?  Why is this the expected experience of so many soon to be grooms?  I have a few theories.

That One Friend: You know the guy I’m talking about.  His relationship with his wife/girlfriend is dicey at best if he even has one.  He’s the guy that consistently pushes things past the line.  If everyone is having a beer or two, he’s ordering shots and trying to convince everyone to drink faster.  If a pretty girl walks by, he’s making inappropriate comments.  While everyone else has left their wild years behind, this guy carries himself the same way he did at his college frat house.  He’s the guy that you wouldn’t become friends with now but because you’ve know him so long, it would be hurtful not to invite him.

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He is the one responsible for the strippers that showed up at your bachelor party.  Why? Because he’s been very strategically influencing your impressionable group of friends.  He’s convinced everyone that having strippers is the only way to have a real bachelor party.  You’re bachelor party is lame if you do something else. Without a better idea in mind, you and your best man, passively let it happen.  Why does he do it?  This is in no way a celebration of you. His sole purpose, is to selfishly feed his own twisted pleasure.  In the process he robs you of  the opportunity to have a great time with the friends you love and maybe even have the experience of a lifetime. Furthermore, the whole affair disrespects the woman you love, embarrasses you, leaves you with little or no memories and if it doesn’t destroy your life, it leaves you with an epic guilt ridden headache.  Sounds like a great time, doesn’t it?

 Where Did This Idea Come From?

IMG_2805Have you ever seen the movie Hangover? American Pie? Old School? Although many of these movies are hilarious, they all normalize the use of near naked women for the entertainment of men.  There are hundreds of movies available to the American public with the same consistent message. “It’s normal to objectify women.”  Movies have shaped the perceptions of American culture, especially for men.  While every person has the freedom to choose what they watch or don’t watch, it takes intentional effort to avoid societal influence.  From beer commercials to web-hosting adds, sexy women are used as a tool to lure men.  When your friend convinces you to have the so called ultimate bachelor party, it’s a hopeless attempt to  try to experience the unreachable elation promised by advertisers and movie producers.  It never delivers, ever.

What if Your Wife Was a New Car?

IMG_8437What man doesn’t like naked attractive women? Well, some don’t, but that’s another story.  You could make a case that the first few minutes of a heroin high is a great time too. I personally can’t confirm that.  Although this comparison alone is in poor taste, bare with me.  Imagine that getting married is like buying a new car.  You find the car you’ve always wanted and you you’ll have it for the rest of your life.  Would you then have your friends rent you a few old, broken down, mechanically unstable, vehicles with high miles and contaminated interiors that would only run if you continued to give them money? Without knowing it, you repeatedly smash into your brand new car and permanently compromise it’s value before you even received  it from the dealer.  By the time you get it, the joy of your new life with your new car is gone because it was sabotaged by the rented cars.  Your new car may not even last half as long if it starts at all.

Real men respect and honor women.  She is a daughter, a sister, a mother.  She feels, has dreams and has pain.  She longs to be loved and cherished.  Her body is not something to be used for pleasure or sport.   If you aren’t willing to love, protect, and honor every part of her, both physically and emotionally for the rest of your life, don’t look at her body.  It’s stealing.  Does this sound over the top?  You are not a real man if you think so.

For you unmarried men out there, when the topic of “bachelor party” comes up, don’t even consider letting your sexually frustrated sleazy friend call the shots.  An epic marriage deserves an epic celebration.  In my next post, I will share with you how to plan an epic bachelor party that won’t ruin your life.

 

 

Do You Spend Your Money on the Good Stuff?

sIMG_2389There is a lot of noise out there.  Marketers have pretty much conditioned us to assume that if someone is giving us something of value, it is offered at a cost.  They will eventually want you to buy something.  We have to recognize what we currently pay for and what value it really offers to our lives.  Cable offers a chance to waste time, be entertained, not miss out on the latest discussion points of society.  A new outfit promises a feeling of confidence and the potential to feel more attractive. A restaurant offers a great meal and the potential for a fun and engaging experience.  Insurance offers piece of mind and protection from disaster.  Think of what else you pay for, what value does it really provide?  Most of the time, we spend money on things that make us feel better.  We’ve put our comfort in the category of necessity.IMG_2432

We’ve come to expect that information, especially in the personal growth realm, should be free because it’s outside the realm of necessity.  Ironically, what makes us feel better is becoming better people.  Personal growth is at the top of the list of necessities in my opinion.  Because of the loud voices of marketers who over promise and under deliver, most people are hesitant to spend money on good quality personal growth tools and experiences.  When you spend time, energy and money on growing your mind; you can find purpose and meaning no matter what your circumstance may be.  It removes the necessity of things like TV, Beer, Cable, Facebook, work and whatever medication you turn to to feel better.  The rewards of these medications are fleeting. IMG_2170
It’s in those times of discomfort that we begin to tap into who we really are.  Why do we need comfort? We are unsure of what we have to offer.  When we feel inadequate, weak and insecure; we are on the doorstep of discovering what strengths lie within us.  Instead of running to those comfortable places, stay in your discomfort.  Ask yourself, “why do I feel this way?”  Why do I need to check Facebook or email?  Why am I relying on a few beers to get me through this evening? Why do I feel compelled to zone out and watch my favorite show?  To find the gold within you, you have to be willing to sit in your inadequacies.
Can you see why your mind is the best thing to invest in? Joy, peace, purpose, passion and life are not possible unless you are willing to feel.  Feeling is uncomfortable but the more you feel, the more you are in touch with who you really are. Too often people despise their weaknesses, but are unwilling to spend the time, energy and money to work on themselves.
My Challenge:  Next time you feel uncomfortable and feel compelled to reach for a device, have a drink or buy something; ask yourself what’s making you feel uncomfortable and why.  Then ask what you can do to invest in that area of your life. Do you get uncomfortable when you don’t know what to say? Buy a book on communication.  Do you feel inadequate at your job? Develop a new skill that will make you better.  Do you want to become a better leader?  Sign up for a leadership seminar.  Are you embarrassed to speak up in meetings?  Work on a your speaking skills by joining an organization like Toastmasters.  Do you struggle communicating with your spouse?  Counseling or a marriage seminar would be a good investment.
 IMG_2229 Investing in the important things in life should be a priority even if it’s not broken.  Don’t accept your insecurities as your identity, take action, invest in yourself.  The people that work on themselves are best suited to improve the lives of others.

Why Some Men Don’t Have Mentors

Me and DanMost people recognize the benefits of having a mentor. There is much to be learned from older, wiser and more experienced men.  Having a good mentor is proven to be one of the most effective ways to grow both personally and professionally.  So why is it such a struggle, especially for men?  It has been for me.  My goal in writing this post is to convince you to find a mentor if you don’t already have one.

The “Self Made Man” Syndrome – This is a myth that a lot of guys buy into.  The fact is, no one is self made.  Many men work very hard and overcome extreme adversity to find success in life but they don’t do it alone.  They stand on the shoulders of others before them.  Somewhere along the way they were challenged, inspired and poured into.

Something in me wants prove that I can be successful without anyone’s help.  Maybe I believe that it will earn me the highest level of respect.  What self-sabotage!  My mind knows that isolation is the path to stagnancy yet my heart longs to impress others with what I accomplish on my own.  If you’re like me, this could be a reason why you’re not asking for help.  Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. You have a great deal to offer and what you have to offer will be incrementally more significant if you seek the guidance of a more experienced man.

I Have Nothing to Give in Return – That is not entirely true.  If a younger, less experienced person reached out to you for guidance, how would that make you feel?  Would you ask them what they plan on giving you in return?  Of course not, you would be flattered and honored to help them if you were able to.  A mentor receives a less tangible but extremely valuable reward.  There is deep satisfaction in offering one of the greatest gifts a person could ever receive, wisdom.

Certainly be appreciative and thankful.  A gift, a lunch or a card are all great ways to give back for a mentor’s time.

No One Has Offered – If you want a mentor, you have to be willing to reach out.  A mentor might find you and decide to pursue you but it’s not likely.  There is an old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”  A ready student seeks out a mentor.  It may take some time, it’s a process.  You may find several different mentors that have varying degrees of involvement and time availability.  You might connect with one monthly and another weekly.

Where Do I Start? 

Who: Choose someone who has integrity and character.  Choose a man who possesses the qualities that you want to develop.  He is both successful and generous in his career and personal life.

How: Take every opportunity you can to spend time with the right people.  If you are flying through their city, buy them lunch.  Ask good questions and listen.  If it goes well, ask if they would be willing to get together again sometime.  In between meetings, be generous.  Thank them for their time and offer to help them in anyway you can. You may have to take several people out to lunch to find the right mentor.  It’s worth it.  You will gain something from each person you meet, especially if you are generous and thankful.

When: 

Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.

  -Napoleon Hill