What Men Need to Know About Being Men Today – As Learned from My Male Coaching Clients

Father’s Day is a particularly appropriate time to talk about masculinity.

Between my most recent weekly “Impact Coaching” Call (ICC) with John (not his real name), and the more recent weekly “Accountability Coaching” Call (ACC) with Bob (not his real name), I realized I need to take a beat and speak directly to my fellow…fellows.

Guys (and gals, if you’re interested in understanding guys better and sharing this with men you care about) – do not let the shifting sands of these uncertain times in gender identity undermine your understanding of your worth and value as a man.

For the record: it is good to be a man.

Also for the record: it is good to be a woman.

Furthermore: it is good to be true to yourself – even if you honestly don’t identify as either of the above.

None of this is mutually exclusive!

Referring back to the Golden Rule, and complementing that with a dose of basic common sense and live-and-let-live decency, it’s apparent that we’re creating most of the problems we struggle to resolve.

Typical humans.

Time to break that cycle.

Why Can’t I Catch a Break?

We have reached a point where men sometimes feel they can’t win.

  1. Some men, absurdly, have been told that masculinity is toxic because the concept of “toxic masculinity” is so widely misunderstood. (Sneak peek: toxic masculinity is a real thing. It is not, however, the general nature of masculinity, any more than “toxic substances” means all substances are toxic.)
  2. Some men have been burned by negative reactions to chivalrous gestures. “I can open my own door, thank you!!” (Sneak peek: A great many women I’ve spoken with express that they want men who are chivalrous, and wish they could find a man who takes his lady out to dinner, holds the door for her, and treats her like she’s special.)
  3. Some men have been told that “manliness” is obsolete, a throwback to before technological advances made physical strength irrelevant in daily life. (Sneak peek: physical strength will always be important, even if it isn’t required as frequently now because of modern conveniences. Emergencies happen. 9/11 happened, and masses of wounded victims were saved from death only by self-sacrificing individuals who were strong enough to carry them out of a living hell.)
  4. And some men, sadly, have been convinced by swarms of idiot “influencers” that gender itself is a fiction. I call this one “Children Raising Children.” Through social media and the eagerness of some Web-enabled juveniles (some of whom are in their twenties or older) desperate for the attention of Web-enabled other kids on cell phones, we now have an epidemic of child celebrities with no life experience telling other children how life works. (Sneak peek: I have plenty of thoughts on this and it will take many more posts to tell that whole story. For now suffice it to say that when wisdom is absent, failure is assured.)

I’m going to focus first on the first of the four ills, and plan to revisit the others in future writings. (God knows, there will probably be additional dumbass gender problems before we eventually do get through these four.)

It Starts with Respect

Respecting the inherent worth and dignity of others is a principle that will never lose its value. I emphasize inherent, because that’s the foundational fact we have to agree upon to have a responsible discussion about these problems.

If you don’t respect the inherent worth of other people because of their skin tone, you’re a de facto racist.

If you don’t respect the inherent worth of others based on their gender, you’re a sexist.

And if you don’t respect the inherent worth of others in general, you’re just an asshole.

(…Or a sociopath. …But I repeat myself.)

Let’s Talk About Toxicity

I see a lot of folks on one side or the other on the topic of “toxic masculinity.”

Some prefer to believe it’s a myth, and that anything men do is “just basic male nature.” This is the boys-will-be-boys camp, who feel everyone is just too sensitive and needs to toughen up. There is something to that desire to reduce hyper-sensitivity these days, and it’s not good to be a delicate petal fluttering helplessly with every unpleasant, gentle breeze as “offensive.”

(Hyper-sensitivity is not good for an individual’s sense of self, confidence, and capability, and it’s not good for the community in general. See my point above – “emergencies happen.” Being unprepared for any discomfort can be a death sentence, when shit really goes sideways, and a person is called upon by ugly circumstance to aid themselves or another.)

Yet not everything any men ever do can be dismissed as basic nature. To degrade one’s physically weaker partner or children, or to intimidate and threaten her because the man is more dangerous, is pathetically toxic. We men were designed to protect others with this natural strength and aggression, not harm the vulnerable – especially within our own home.

That’s toxic as hell.

The other side (often of the fluttering petal variety), considers ordinary manly characteristics to be toxic. An example of this may be the rough humor and verbal abuse that serve as an expression of masculine affection for a buddy.

Listen, delicate petals, that’s about as normal as you’re ever going to see with men. It’s healthy. It’s a form of communication. And men need that as much as women. There are different patterns of communication among different groups, but it’s all fundamentally the same experience and necessary for healthy individuals and relationships.

Use Your Words…Correctly

As I mentioned above, there are substances and there are “toxic substances.” Arsenic is a toxic substance. Water is also a substance, but you can drink all you can comfortably hold without any ill effects.

Masculinity is a perfect, agnostic part of human society. Femininity is just as good and just as important. But being a “dick” (or a “bitch”) is plainly toxic and does not help move society forward.

That’s because it’s toxic. Toxic substances damage organisms, and toxic behaviors are destructive on a wider scale.

It Always Comes Back to Dignity

I’ll wrap this up back on the subject of dignity. At Impact Actual, we teach clients to manage their perspective and choices with simple concepts. We help them eliminate those pesky (often invisible) self-limiting beliefs and behaviors that make things worse for everyone. All of this is working toward the ideal of “Total Self-Mastery,” or being the master and commander of life so you can enjoy both your max fulfilment and your max contribution.

The simplest of these simple concepts is what I call the “H.A.R.D. Core” of an individual. If you can keep Humility, Accountability, Respect, and Dignity in the front of your mind while navigating the minutes and days of this life, I guarantee life will run (and feel) better for you.

Defend Dignity. Defend your own, and defend that of others. You don’t have to like a person or group to remember that it’s better – for you – to not be a dick. Degrading anyone is degrading to yourself. Disrespecting others reveals a lack of self-respect.

The world’s going a little bit crazy, it’s true. But be the example of how to keep it on track for those around you, and you’ll help stabilize one little corner…and inspire others to do the same.

Like this? Let us know.

Hate it? Let us know!

The only way we’re going to make things better is by being responsible adults and making our contributions to the conversation. Take the lead and say your piece.


Do you wish you could talk about this more directly, and more purposefully? You can, and at no cost! You can book a free, one-on-one call with me any time to find solid strategies for your struggles, or if you feel like you’re handling pretty well but want to tap the gas and really max out your potential.

Click here to go to my calendar and grab a slot. If it seems you’re ready for full-on Accountability or Impact Coaching I’ll tell you that, too, and we can explore it. But there’s no obligation, and no matter what, you will walk away with actionable strategies from our conversation.

Here’s to finding and living and giving in your perfect groove,

– Rob DuBois
Founder and CEO, Impact Actual

Rob DuBois