Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ken Solin - What does it mean to be an authentic man?

Nice post from Ken Solin . . . I am sharing the whole post because it's short enough that only seeing a part of it misses the whole point - go check out the rest of Ken's blog for other good material. We all need friends like the men he describes here.

What does it mean to be an authentic man?

There’s lots of talk going around about authentic men. I’ve read articles about what it means to be an authentic man, and some point in the right direction. I have my own sense of what it means to live authentically, and when I veer from what I consider my authentic path, I invariably suffer the consequences.

I try to surround myself with men who are also trying to live authentically. These are men who live openly and with integrity, and have little about their lives they feel they need to hide. Of course, this leaves lots of men out of my life, but experience has taught me that it isn’t the number of friends a man has that matters, but rather, the quality of his friends.

I refuse to be associated with men who live dishonestly with their wives and girlfriends. I’ve been asked to cover for men who cheat on their wives, and I’ve declined, because a friend would never ask another friend to lie, for any reason. I especially avoid men who don’t have a moral compass and who pretend not to know the difference between right and wrong when it suits their needs. A man who lies is untrustworthy. Where there’s no trust, there’s no love.

What’s left to choose from are the best of men who can always be depended upon for their straightforwardness and integrity. My friends are concerned about me and my well-being. I know if I need a favor or help of any kind, they will be quick to come to my aid. My authentic men friends work hard to be the best husbands and boyfriends possible. When their relationships hit a rough patch, the first thing that comes into their consciousness isn’t to have sex with other women to make themselves feel better, but rather, to do the work to figure out how to get their relationships back on track. Again, it’s all about integrity.

My friends understand the basic principles I taught my sons from the time they were young. Nothing worthwhile in life ever comes easy, and that hard work is nearly always necessary to achieve real life goals. There are no shortcuts for living authentically, and it’s nearly impossible not to alienate men who believe otherwise.

Sometimes a man has to admit he’s wrong and be okay with that. He may feel embarrassed by how other men view what he’s done, but he understands on a deeper level that everything about his manhood isn’t connected to his ego or dick. He also understands that no one is right all of the time and that apologizing isn’t a sign of weakness.

My friends never utter racial slurs or espouse any form of bigotry. They’re bigger men than that. Like me, they have no interest in or tolerance for racial or religious jokes either. While most of my friends have spiritual values and beliefs, none talk about them or try to convert anyone.

My friends don’t offer each other advice, because they realize that advice has little value. What we do offer each other is information drawn entirely from our own experiences in similar situations. We talk about what we did that worked, and what didn’t work, and we talk about how the experience felt, on an emotional level. We understand the need to help each other heal when we’ve been hurt.

My friends know that being a father means that instead of playing ball or golf on Saturday morning, a father spends that time teaching his children the lessons that will carry them throughout their lives. They know that being a father doesn’t end the moment their children go off to college or into the military after high school. They accept that as long as they’re alive, they will be involved in their children’s lives.

They didn’t browbeat their kids, they nurtured them instead. They don’t offer their grown children advice unless asked for it. That’s a part of building trust with adult children, because our sons and daughters know that they can trust us not to preach to them every time they come to us with their problems. My friends and I resist the urge to fix everyone’s problems, particularly since most people just want a sounding board, not a fix.

Most of my closest friends are men I’ve been in a men’s group with for decades. We have helped one another understand how to live authentically, and when we fail to stay on that path, we gently guide each other back onto it. Does all of this make my friends and me authentic men? It does in my book.

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