5 causes of approach anxiety and what you can do about it

 

Approach Anxiety vs skydiving

Approach anxiety is the fear of approaching and talking to women. It’s a common problem amongst men and something many suffer with.

In fact, Bo was talking to Vegas Pete recently and we got onto the topic of honeys – specifically, approaching a woman and talking to her.

Vegas Pete revealed that he would rather go skydiving than approach a woman with model looks in a bar. Now let’s think about that for a second. Let’s let it sink in…he would rather jump out of a moving plane at 10,000 ft than strike up a conversation with another human being.

Seems a little strange, right?

But I can understand where he’s coming from. This is approach anxiety. And fortunately, it’s something that can be fixed. Another fear….another development opportunity.

But let’s go back to what Vegas Pete said…

He would rather jump out of a plane at 10,000 ft than strike up a conversation with another human being

 

Approach Anxiety - The Iron Qualities

 

Why do men get this fear? There’s a number of reasons

1 – Being too nice: ‘Nice’ here means that you don’t want to bother a woman or intrude on her personal space. You don’t want to show sexual interest or attraction to her because it’s ‘wrong’ or too forward. And you see yourself as this ‘nice’ guy and compare yourself negatively to men you see in movies or read about in books who DO get women. They are nothing like you and therefore you think you will fail before you begin

2- The Halo Effect: You see a smoking hot honey. I mean, she is out of this world. Wow. She must have many other amazing qualities too – she’s probably intelligent, kind, funny, warm and witty. She’s perfect. You’ve only got one shot at this. If you approach her without being prepared, you’re going to screw it up and lose your only chance with the woman of your dreams. So why even bother?

3 – She is higher value than you: Following on from the previous point, because this woman is essentially perfect, she is better than you. I mean let’s face it – you are not attractive, not interesting, not confident and you have so many problems in your life. This woman is used to strong, successful and confident guys who have their shit together and this is not you

4 – What to say what to say….. : You’ve decided to take the plunge. You’re going to go up to this woman and talk to her. Oh wait….talk?! What are you going to say??? You need to have a repertoire of smooth lines ready to go in order to amaze this women with your wit and banter. Right now, you can’t think of one damn word to say to her. Maybe ‘hello’ …. but then what? You’ll be standing there like a dickhead, freeze and end up looking like a socially maladjusted freak. She’ll probably pepper spray you in the face just to get rid of you

5 – Pride: You’re approaching an attractive woman in a public place and potentially within earshot of numerous people. No doubt other guys in the place have been thinking the same and if you approach, all eyes are on you. Women don’t want to be annoyed. What if she rejects you and makes a big scene. She might slap you in the face or throw her drink all over you if you try to say hi. And in front of everyone. Horrible

 

These are the kind of stories many of us tell ourselves in our heads and some of the reasons for social paralysis when it comes to wooing the honeys

We have these delimiting beliefs that we are not worthy; women don’t want to be bothered; showing sexual attraction is wrong and so on. So what happens? We end up sitting on the sidelines and being passive observers. That old sickness spectatoritis popping up again.

And this can produce a vicious cycle of debilitating behaviour. If you want to approach a woman and don’t, you are denying your instinct. You have failed to act when you felt you should. That’s why it feels shit. You have not acted authentically and so the next time this happens, you remember the previous failure, feel even more inferior and fail to act again. And so the cycle continues.

 

The fear of getting punched is worse than the punch itself

Ok, enough of that crap. We’re telling ourselves all these negative stories in our heads BEFORE we’ve even said a word to her. It’s like my good friend  Mike Black always says:

“The fear of getting punched is worse than the punch itself. Getting punched isn’t actually that bad.”

 

And so it is with approaching women. And the good news is now that you’re versed in the principles of The Iron Qualities, you know that talking to a honey ain’t no thing.

 

Problem vs opportunity

Let’s have a look at those reasons for approach anxiety again:

1 – Being too nice: No. Nice is not where you want to be. Nice is passive. Nice is limiting. Nice is timid. Don’t be nice. If you want something, go get it. Women want men who know what they want and know how to get it. Approaching a woman in a non-creepy and confident way is infinitely more attractive to her than staring at her longingly from a distance and cry-wanking about how sexually frustrated you are when you get home all alone.

2- The Halo Effect: Ok. Here’s a truth – there is no woman on this earth who is perfect. Chances are, this woman has none of the traits you applied to her in your mind. The more you talk to women the more you realise that they are flawed humans just like you and I. But of course there’s only one way to find out….

3 – She is higher value than you: You are a man of Iron Qualities now. You are dedicated to becoming the best you can be. That negative mindset is gone – it’s in the past. You are a positive, confident and resourceful man who has his own shit going on. An attractive honey would be a welcome addition in this fantastic life you’ve got going on, but she needs to prove to you that she is worth it.

4 – What to say what to say….. : Over-thinking things can get you in all sorts of trouble. You don’t need any special chatup lines – just go up to her and say hi and have a normal conversation. Think back – how many times have you had a random conversation with a stranger. Was it weird? Did you freeze up? No. And just by walking up and saying hi, you’re already the exception rather than the rule – 90% of the guys in the place are too afraid to even get this far

5 – Pride: Being rejected in these situations is not something you should be concerned about. This woman doesn’t know you and there are countless reasons why she is not interested – most of them outside your sphere of influence. Most people are pretty well socially adjusted so don’t fear being called out and shot down in a blaze of glory. IF IF IF you do get rejected, it will probably be politely and with a smile. If it’s not and you get a slap or a pint over the head (assuming you’ve been respectful and non-creepy), this isn’t the kind of person you want to get to know anyway.

 

Steps to victory

Now I know that all the theory and logic in the word doesn’t mean a thing when the slimy tentacles of a phobia are wrapped tightly around your throat. So now that we’ve debunked all those nasty and horrible fears, here’s some practical and easy steps you can take today to start the journey towards silver-tongued goodness

1 – Become the best version of yourself: This is always priority #1. It trumps everything. Honeys should never be the primary focus of your life. Taking the right steps to becoming a better man will make you positive, cool, fun and driven. Yes, that’s right – HIGH VALUE.

2 – Talk to more people in everyday situations: Make it a goal to enhance any functional conversation you have during a typical day by asking a few more questions.

  • Buying lunch at the canteen? Ask the cooks which meal is the best option today
  • Getting a new pair of shoes? Get an opinion on whether black or brown looks better on you
  • Walk past that same person everyday at work but never say a word? Today is the day you ask them how they’re doing

Easiest thing in the world. One extra question and you’re having a proper conversation. Rather than focussing on meeting and talking to attractive women, focus on being a more sociable person in all aspects of your day-to-day life. Doing this makes you a more positive and sociable person and will ultimately help you talk to women you find attractive.

3 – Don’t over think. Just act: You have no idea what she’s going to say when you approach. Stop imagining all the horrible things that could go wrong and pull the trigger. And when you do pull the trigger and you can’t think of anything to say, or you get a lukewarm response, try this one:

You: Hi

Honey: Hi

You: How’s your evening going?

Honey: It’s going ok…

You: Ok cool. I just thought I’d come over and say hi. What’s your name?

Honey: Honey

You: Alright Honey. I’m Bo. You have a good night and if we bump into each other again later, we’re doing shots

And there you go. Honey wasn’t interested but:

a) you had a conversation with her

b) You’ve gained experience approaching an woman

c) You now have a legitimate reason to re-engage later in the evening for those shots

Things won’t happen if you wait for them – you have to make them happen. The more you put yourself out there, the more of a roller-coaster it will be. But remember: you’re just talking to another person. That’s all it is.

 

Talking the Iron Qualities

Taking all this into consideration, let’s do a good old fashioned compare and contrast. Picture the scene – you are in a coffee shop buying a…wait for it…coffee. The barista is an attractive lady:

Barista: Hi there, how can I help you?

You: Can I have a medium vanilla spiced soya latte please

Barista: Sure. One moment please

(one moment later)

Barista: Here you go. That’s £2.50 please

(you had over the money)

You: There you go. Have a nice day

Barista: Thanks, you too

 

Ok. Not bad. You spoke to an attractive lady, got your coffee and survived without any permanent damage. If we were ticking off a checklist, that’s a fairly successful operation.

But life isn’t about checklists. Let’s inject some Iron Qualities into the same scene and see what happens:

Barista: Hi there, how can I help you?

(looking at her name badge)

You: Hi Honey. Can I have a black coffee. No milk. No Sugar.

Barista: Sure. One moment please

You: How are you doing today?

Barista: I’m doing good thanks. How about you.

You: Yeah pretty good. I just read a really interesting article on my favourite blog –  theironqualities.com

Barista: Oh really? I haven’t heard of it. What’s it about?

You: It’s a self-improvement blog for men. It has lots of useful tips

Barista: Sounds interesting! What kind of tips?

You: Well today my goal was to flirt with a pretty lady. I guess I can tick that box now….

Barista: Tee hee!! Oh you!

(coffee arrives)

Barista: Here you go. That’s £2.50 please

(you had over the money)

You: There you go. You have a great day

Barista: Thanks, you too Mr Iron Qualities. Maybe see you again sometime

You: No doubt

 

I think that went ok, don’t you?

 

“Language was invented for one endeavour….to woo women”
Robin Williams – Dead Poet’s Society

 

Kurt Hahn: A Man of Iron Qualities

Men with the Iron Qualities are a little bit like a woman with both outstanding beauty and intelligence – they are out there and they exist, but coming across one is a rare and unexpected moment. It’s a little scary but also intriguing.

With that in mind, I want to highlight men – real or fictional – who have demonstrated some of the principles that define the Iron Qualities. Think of it like a slightly less sexy Playboy Playmate of the Month.

Kurt Hahn - The Iron Qualities

Kurt Hahn – An unexpected start

I had several men in mind to kick this off with – but there are lots of little coincidences in the world. I was thinking about this the other day, I read an excellent article about a man who ticked a lot of the Iron Qualities boxes – Kurt Hahn.

Hahn was born to Jewish parents in Germany in 1886 and suffered severe sunstroke as an 18 year old which resulted in the removal of the occipital bone at the back of his skull and required him to wear a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors for the rest of his life.

He worked several jobs before founding the Schule Schloss in Salem in 1920, a private boarding school where he also served as headmaster.

He became a fierce critic of the Nazi regime during Hitler’s rise to power – this was heightened by an incident where a young communist was killed by Nazi troops in front of his mother. Hahn spoke out against the murder, and then against Hitler and his regime itself.

This led to him spending several days in prison before an appeal by the British Prime Minister saw him released. He then moved to Scotland where he converted to Christianity and founded Gordonstoun – a boarding school in Scotland that shared similar principles to the school in Salem. Alumni include Prince Philip and Prince Charles.

He went on to found several other boarding schools around the world before returning to Germany, where he died in 1974.

 

Forming schools based on a philosophy

Ok, so what? A German school teacher who had an overdose of sunbathing as a child. Pretty bland. Where are the Iron Qualities??

Well much like our Autobot brothers from Cybertron, there is more than meets the eye here.

“There is more in you than you think” is an inscription found on Hahn’s family home – it became the motto of his life’s philosophy and also served as the motto for one of the educational institutions he went on to form. It sums the man up pretty well.

Hahn was all about “experiential learning” – putting kids in situations that were mentally and physically challenging. He believed children were inherently decent and had a strong moral sense but that these traits became corrupted by society as they got older.

His educational principles were designed to provide opportunities for personal leadership and for students to see the results of their own actions – the goal being to halt this corruption. And the principles were refined and crystalised into what became known as the ‘Seven Laws of Salem’ around 1930:

  1. Give the children opportunities for self-discovery
  2. Make the children meet with triumph and defeat
  3. Give the children the opportunity of self-effacement in the common cause
  4. Provide periods of silence
  5. Train the imagination
  6. Make games important but not predominant
  7. Free the sons of the wealthy and powerful from the enervating sense of privilege

I love it. I mean, an educational philosophy with these principles at its core is much better and more practical than the learning by numbers approach we enjoy today to enable schools to meet government exam pass targets.

Hahn expanded on this and offered some more explanation on his educational principles:

“I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self denial, and above all, compassion.”

Everything about this stinks of the Iron Qualities. These qualities should be central to a boy’s journey to becoming a man and with a huge chunk of a boy’s life spent educational institutions, weaving these principles into that routine is exactly what is needed.

 

Six Declines, four antidotes

Hahn also created a list of points that he felt summed up exactly how society fails and corrupts the young – the ‘Six Declines of Modern Youth’.

Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion (moving about)

Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis (a passive spectator rather than an active participant)

Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life

Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship

Decline of Self-discipline  due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers

Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted

 

Bingo. This guy absolutely nailed it. This is why men of the Iron Qualities are so few and far between. Too many of us think:

  • It’s easier to lie on the sofa all weekend for a big sporting marathon of football, boxing, rugby and tennis rather than going to the gym and pumping some iron
  • It’s easier to watch and read about other people trying and failing something challenging (and then passing judgment on them) rather than trying ourselves
  • It’s easy to fall into the routine of ‘eat, sleep, work, repeat’ rather than stopping to smell the roses now and then
  • It’s easier to buy disposable items and trash them rather than getting quality expensive pieces that last a lifetime
  • It’s easier to get wired on caffeine or something stronger to get you through the work week and then get wasted on a bottle of Buckfast at the weekend to forget how much you hate your job rather than having the discipline to take control of your life and take it where YOU want it to go
  • It’s easier to keep running to catch that train to get you to work rather than stopping to help that little old man who just tripped and fell over

 

Iron Qualities – old school style

It’s strange and sad that something written about boys almost 100 years ago still resonates today – and not just with boys but with men too. Hahn was industrious however and didn’t just stop with identifying these declines – he also proposed four remedies:

Fitness Training (e.g., to compete with one’s self in physical fitness; in so doing, train the discipline and determination of the mind through the body)

Expeditions (e.g., via sea or land, to engage in long, challenging endurance tasks)

Projects (e.g., involving crafts and manual skills)

Rescue Service (e.g., surf lifesaving, fire fighting, first aid)

These ‘remedies’ were built into the curriculum at Hahn’s schools and went on to form the basis of the Duke of Edinburgh Award –  designed to recognise young people’s achievements in a series of self-improvement exercises.

Old Bo here participated in the scheme when he was in high school. That particular adventure was short lived however – one of my teachers took a dislike to my expedition group and made our time in the scheme hell. On top of this, I was the only one of us who could even remotely read a map and knew what a compass a) was and b) looked like. All this meant that my Duke of Edinburgh adventure was like a fart in the wind – lingering briefly in my life before disappearing forever and becoming no more than a distant memory.

 

Start the day in the right way

At Gordonstoun, the boys rose at 06:30am for a cold shower and a run, the timetable for the day much like that in the German schools Hahn had earlier formed. At 21:15 there was a quarter of an hour of silence to enable the pupil to “glean the harvest from his manifold experiences” before lights out.

This is a tough way to start the day – but a fantastic way. There is plenty of material online and elsewhere about the many benefits of cold showers and a little 5km run in the morning does wonders. This is a routine I started trying to implement a several months ago. Waking up 45 minutes earlier than normal; do a little stretching; get some air in your lungs by banging out a 20-25 min run; then hop into a quick 2-3 minute cold shower to get the blood flowing.

It might sound crazy, but you feel like king of the world after this routine. Granted, it’s not always easy to motivate yourself to get up at 6am if it’s sub-zero temperatures pissing rain and darker than a black steer’s tookus. But creating a habit of positive action and doing it more often than not is a battle everyone can win.

And while you are up and about working to improve yourself and become the best you can be, 90% of the population are still in bed snoring.

 

Hahn was the man

While Hahn may not have physically resembled what we typically think an Alpha Male looks like, he dedicated his life to a philosophy that all men should pay serious attention to. The emphasis on practical physical activities rather than over-reliance on theoretical learning provided a fantastic foundation for children at his schools to go on and live a life of Iron Qualities.

The principles that he engrained in his schools showed that Hahn understood how men should live their lives and realise their potential – and he created and refined a curriculum and learning methods to facilitate this.

Ask yourself the question: Would you rather finish school with the skills to:

  • Prepare you for an exciting career in banking or
  • Become a self-reliant and driven man (who also has some quality numeracy skills as and when required)?

 

Self-reliance, compassion, discipline, drive/determination – these are the qualities Hahn wanted us to cultivate and these qualities are central to a life well-lived for men. For the majority of us, our schooldays are over, but it’s never too late to learn.

I’m glad I discovered Kurt Hahn and his philosophy on education. As I was reading about his life, a thought kept going through my head:

“It’s like this guy had an internal magnet that pointed him in the direction of the Iron Qualities”

And it’s for that reason he absolutely deserves his place as a Mon of the Month.

Remember the Hahn family motto – “There is more in you than you think”

This is true for all of us. Don’t settle for an easy auto-pilot life of mediocrity – take control and make yourself the best person your can be. You might surprise yourself.

Now…I’m off to dust off the De Lorean, travel back in time and give that Duke of Edinburgh Award another shot.

1.21 gigawatts!!

 

Rugby vs Football – what men can learn from these sports

A few weeks ago saw the conclusion of rugby’s 2016 6 Nations Championship and once again we were treated to five rounds of intense and physical confrontations over 6 weeks.

It’s one of the few times in the year when football has to take a back seat to another sport – at least this is the case in the UK. During the final weekend, I was in a bar watching the Ireland vs Scotland game with my old friend Arthur Guinness.

The bar has several screens and all of them were showing the rugby. All bar one – a smaller screen in a corner that was showing the Swansea vs Aston Villa game.

And watching these two sports side by side with the Guinness oiling the cogs in my head got me thinking. It wasn’t a question of which sport was better, but where the Iron Qualities were.

Growing up, football was a central part of my childhood. It was Magnetic North and I was a compass. I never had a choice, it would always attract me.

Football vs rugby

Little Bo used to play jumpers for goalposts late into the evening. In the summer when there was still some natural light well past 10pm, we would play first to 50 goals and go home covered in grass stains and mud.

Rugby was something that was always in my peripheral vision, never quite getting to the centre stage. A little like a recurring extra in a soap opera with a non-speaking part.

My school tried to force it on us for a period and I even made the school team. But we were beyond shit; we got smashed every time we played, I didn’t understand the rules and the whole experience was lost on me.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate the merits of rugby more and more. And watching these two sports side I got thinking about the old arguments rugby folk tend to bring up when comparing their chosen sport to football

Feigning injury

Footballers falling over at the slightest nudge; writhing dramatically in apparent agony when someone goes in hard on them with a good, solid tackle; or worse – going down when nobody touches them. There is a growing sickness in football.

Laurent Blanc – a former France international – knows all too well about this sickness. He earned a suspension and missed the 1998 World Cup final after Croatia’s Slavan Bilic appeared to overreact when Blanc made contact with him

Four years later at the 2002 World Cup, Turkey’s Hakan Ünsal was sent off for kicking the ball at Rivaldo, only to see the Brazilian go down like he’d taken a shot from Rocky Balboa.

It’s cheating – pure and simple. An attempt to con the referee into thinking you have been seriously fouled.

On the flip side of this coin in the rugby world, there is the famous story of former New Zealand captain Buck Shelford. He made his debut for the All Blacks in a test series against France. In his second game, the French decided to give him a hearty bienvenue to international rugby by:

  • Knocking him out with a flying headbutt
  • Performing some emergency dental work with a swift boot to the face, removing three teeth
  • Doing the Moonwalk on his groin area while he was grounded, ripping his ballsack which then had to be stitched up

No – I haven’t been drinking that Peruvian hallucination tea, this is all true. All these things happened to one man in one game, although I’m not sure about the Moonwalk part – it might have been MC Hammer dance.

Stop….Hammer time.

Records show that Shelford continued the game. But don’t ask the man himself – his memory of the event is a little hazy.

In the history of rugby, this isn’t an isolated incident. The game doesn’t generally stop for injuries and it’s common to see physios on the field of play patching guys up. So if you go down injured, you’re hurting your team’s chances too.

It’s a much more physical game than football and this spirit of putting your body on the line and pushing through the pain barrier is entrenched in players’ psyches.

 

Fighting and confrontations

I remember seeing clips of old football games from the 70s where players would go in hard on each other, square up and have the occasional boxing match. These things happen in the heat of the moment. Sometimes we lose our composure.

Today, we get players touching heads, one player moves his head towards the other player’s who then goes down in a heap.

The physicality from bygone days has been lost and we are now left with deception, exaggerated reactions to physical contact and some truly embarrassing attempts at self-defence.

The technical term for it in the game is ‘handbags’ and it’s literally ridiculous. Literally.

Rugby players on the other hand generally put up with a high level of physicality as part of the game but when things kick off, they really do KICK OFF. There is no overreactions or ‘handbags’, just good old fashioned fist-on-skull action.

The individual vs the team

Time and time again I’ve seen football players get substituted in a game and before they’ve even left the pitch, they are throwing a hissy fit. Shaking their head in disbelief and mumbling profanities to themselves, they trudge back to the bench, sit down and start throwing stuff around and looking grumpy.

I’ve seen behaviour like this before…from children at nursery school when they had a boo-boo or one of the other kids snatched their He-Man toy off them.

In rugby, players go off…and that’s it. In fact, because of the much higher number of subs allowed in the game, you barely notice players going off or coming on and players tend not to take it as a personal slight.

 

Abusing the officials

Picture the scene…Barcelona vs Real Madrid. Luis Suarez charges through on goal, gets into the penalty area, gets chopped down.

The ref blows his whistle, awards a penalty and gets surrounded by a bunch of hot and angry Madrid players getting right in his face telling him what a moron he is.

We say and do things in the heat of the moment that we later regret. But this kind of institutionalised abuse towards authority figures is bullying. Getting up close and personal and putting the ref under pressure to make decisions that are favourable towards your team.

And the ref – well he’s just a man, watching a game going at 100 miles per hour and having to make a decision in a split second.

Rugby has video replays to help officials with key decisions. The football powers that be have dragged their heels on video technology that would greatly help refs for years; and they will continue to do so for years to come.

In rugby – and indeed most other major sports, video technology promotes a level of trust and respect between players and officials. It’s accepted that the right decisions will be made and ref abuse is kept to a minimum.

Saying that, before video replays were introduced to rugby, any player who gave shit to a referee was either sent to the sin bin or sent off. No arguments. No hesitation. That level of ref respect is engrained in the sport and hasn’t been eroded…yet. It’s also not uncommon to hear “yes sir” when players speak to the ref. Respect, not bullying

 

Rugby & football on the Iron Qualities scale

Those are just a few of the things I was thinking about that day. And the question that kept coming back to my mind wasn’t “which sport is ‘better’?” – no, it was “where are the Iron Qualities in all this?”

And if we put the sports of rugby and football on the Iron Qualities scale, it looks like it would tip overwhelmingly in favour of the egg-chasers. If you took any of the behaviour so often seen on a football pitch these days and transferred it to real life, you would be in trouble.

 

  • Someone slaps you in the face and you go down claiming whiplash and suing. Will you be able to look at yourself in the mirror at night knowing you had acted authentically?
  • You’re in a crowded bar and making your way back from the toilets, you bump into someone who accuses you of spilling their beer. He gets right in your face and diplomacy isn’t going to work. If you fight like a footballer, guess what….you’re getting knocked out
  • You get passed over for a promotion or replaced on a piece of work. You can either a) cry about it; b) accept it; c) figure out WHY it happened to take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Which option demonstrates the Iron Qualities??????

But here’s the thing – I have grown up surrounded by football. It is sown into the fabric of our society. It’s the simplest thing: I kicked a £2 plastic ball against a wall when I was 9 years old and fell in love. Unconditionally. A ball and a wall – that’s all it takes.

 

Football at its best is art

The ability of teams to string quick accurate cutting passes together is a manifestation of sporting harmony – the combination of players on the same wavelength producing a pleasing effect.

Football and rugby both produce this effect but football tends to be more free-flowing.

Rugby is often dominated by team strategy and tactics. The coaching staff create blueprints for how they want their team to play and this is then drilled and practiced ad nauseum. Tackling in the sport brings momentum to a halt and allows both teams to get set for the next phase, which they will have drilled over and over again in training.

It is very much a team sport – with the strength of the pack being much more important than any one individual.

But football, more so than rugby, provides a canvas for the solo artist. One player can make – or break – a team. Or even the entire club.

One player has the potential at any time to completely turn a game on its head with a moment of genius or a massive cock-up.

One player playing at his peak and profoundly effecting a game is like an artist possessed and in the zone slashing his paintbrush across the canvas as he creates a masterpiece.

Growing up, I remember them all: Ronaldo, Scholes, Zidane, Laudrup, Pirlo, Bergkamp

I went to Milan once – a cathedral of football where you can still occasionally hear echoes of past greats like Meazza, Mazzola, Ronaldo, Maldini, Gullit and Van Basten.

Amongst its cobbled paths and alleyways it holds two marvels of human creation – The Duomo Cathedral and Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’.

If rugby is the team of men who built the Duomo, then football is The Last Supper.

The Duomo is a triumph of architectural design and construction teamwork – it has been rebuilt, reconstructed and enhanced many times over the years. Much like a rugby team on offence, progress is halted, attack is redirected in phases and as a team, there is eventual success.

The Last Supper is a fragile, multi-layered, fading symbol of one man transcending the limits of human imagination. On first appearance, it might appear underwhelming. The fact that is was painted on a thin wall and exposed to the elements of nature, it has deteriorated badly and very little of the original is left.

But the more you look, the more you see. This is one of the most beautiful creations in human history and shows what one man can do given the right motivation and conditions.

 

So…the Iron Qualities??

As a man, you keep trying to move forward and progress like a juggernaut. You will get tackled and taken down. Often, you will have to take a few steps back to make long-term gains. But when you get tackled, when you suffer an affront or when you get called out for doing something wrong, you take it – authentically and like a man. Move on. And keep moving forward.

And just like those footballing geniuses who shone for their teams, you nurture your ability to do something special, something different. You can be the difference-maker because you have the Iron Qualities.

And while you have the ability to shine yourself, you take responsibility for surrounding yourself with other men of the Iron Qualities and working together with them as a team to drive forward in that search for self-improvement and success as a man.

Neither football nor rugby are better than the other. They are both sports with their own individual merits. The secret in all this is to take the best qualities of both sports and apply them to your everyday life. Then you’re in Iron Qualities country.

 

 

 

Spectatoritis – Why men should do and not just watch

I have a friend who, let’s say, enjoys extravagance. He prefers style over substance. I’m not saying that in a negative way – that’s just how he does things.

He regularly goes to Vegas – probably averaging out 2-3 visits per year where he visits friends, goes to pool parties and indulges in a little gambling. Let’s call him Vegas Pete.

So Vegas Pete invites Bo Ideal to one of London’s finest casinos and Bo agrees to go. But…confession time: I am a terrible gambler. Recreational at best. I don’t have the time nor inclination to learn all the tricks and tactics and so for me, the old saying is true: The house always wins.

I am what they would call an ‘investor’ in Vegas.

spectatoritis

To offset this disability, Vegas Pete offers to play for both of us at the casino and we each pony up half the stake money for chips. He’s a little rash and impulsive, but generally knows the textbook decisions to make in most scenarios. So I agree and we head to the blackjack table.

To cut a long story short – after a roller-coaster start, Vegas Pete eventually starts bleeding chips steadily. I observe all this standing behind him while he is in his element.

And while I’m standing there drinking my beer, I look around me at all the people absorbed in their activities at each of the tables. And I have an epiphany:

Men don’t watch. Men do

It hit me suddenly. the words silently passed my lips and left a taste in my mouth. While Vegas Pete was in the throes of gambling death at the table, I was going through my own private hell, standing like a mannequin behind him – and this feeling of chosen passiveness hurt just as much as the new hole in my bank balance.

We soon lost all our money. Shit listen to me! “We…”. It wasn’t ‘we’ – it was Vegas Pete. He was the one who was playing. I just sat back like an anaesthetized patient waiting for the surgical removal of his balls to begin.

Yes, he lost. But at least he played. Ok, I had some financial skin in the game – but let’s put it another way – how is this situation any different to placing a bet on your favourite sports team?

Roosevelt quote on spectatoritis

 

WWMOTIQD?

Why did this feel wrong? When I instinctively feel something is not quite right, I think about what true men of Iron Qualities would do. Would they have given their friend money, depending on his skill and luck while they sat back and watched the scene unfold? Would they have actively chosen to put their fate in the hands of another when they were equally capable of taking action themselves?

No.

I mean think about it. Why go to a casino to just stand there watching someone else gamble??

So while Vegas Pete was mentally recovering from the hammering the house just gave him, I was sucking on my beer trying to put my feelings into words. I couldn’t quite do it just then but some time later I came across a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that summed it all up perfectly. And who better than the daddy of the Iron Qualities to distil this feeling. In 1910, during a speech in Paris, he said this:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;

“but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

The actions of Vegas Pete lost me my money, but could I be angry or upset with him? No way. He was man enough to step into the arena and take the hits. He failed this time, but I have seen him win before and I am sure I will see him win again.

 

Get out of the stands and into the arena

Those ‘cold and timid souls’ who choose not to compete in life’s big arena have a sickness – and it’s the same one that came over me that evening: SPECTATORITIS.

SPECTATORITIS (n):  “Excessive indulgence in forms of amusement in which one is a passive spectator rather than an active participant”

It is so easy to be a spectator of life in the modern world. To watch rather than do. To be passive. To live vicariously. To be dependent on others for results. The numbers of ‘men in the arena’ are becoming fewer and fewer.

Rather than being creative, active or productive, the modern man gorges on pre-packaged pieces of passive amusement – box sets; back-to-back football matches live on TV; gigs; social media; and the list goes on.

 

Online dating – a symptom of spectatoritis

Think about online dating. It has its benefits but essentially, it involves you lying on your sofa with your face glued to your smartphone screen while the world is happening outside. Browsing a library of honeys and maybe even typing “hey what’s up?” now and again isn’t the same as physically walking up to a girl, saying “hey girl” and taking a shot.

Ok – she might shoot you down…maybe even completely blank you or laugh in your face. Or she might smile and say ‘hi’ back. A man armed with the Iron Qualities should be fine either way.

Point is, you could waste your life endlessly browsing online dating profiles and getting nowhere. You might even read one of these “create the perfect online dating profile” or “10 opening messages guaranteed to get a response” articles and still get nowhere. There is still something to be said for face to face communication.

Spectatoritis - don't watch, just do

There is a cure….

In this pre-packaged world, most things have been made convenient for us. As a result, you might find yourself with free time that our ancestors might net necessarily have had. It’s easy to be lazy and passive and end up catching a bad dose of spectatoritis rather than spending this time to hone and explore the skills required for a life of the Iron Qualities.

Be active. Be assertive. Be self-reliant. Be multi-faceted. Just…be. And DO!

I chose to put my faith in Vegas Pete and live that casino experience vicariously through him maybe because I wasn’t confident in my blackjack skills. But you know what – we need to step out of our comfort zones TO GROW. It can be uncomfortable and scary to try something, but you have to try.

The world is the arena that Roosevelt talks about. So go out there and get your face covered in dust, sweat and blood rather than reading an article on your smartphone about someone else doing it or watching a documentary about it on Netflix.

Don’t be the pale skinny kid who wastes his childhood sitting indoors playing Mario Kart and watching anime. Be the kid who climbs trees, plays football with his mates and teases girls – the kid who comes home with grass stains on his jeans and dirt all over his face.

Now, I need to go outside and take my medicine for this horrible disease….

 

The Iron Qualities Part 4: Why it is important for a man to face challenges head on

This is part 4 of a look at the Iron Qualities. That means Apollo Creed has just died, we have a freaky looking robot doing the chores around the house and we’re packing our bags to go to Russia and take on Ivan Drago in his own back yard. Training montage at the ready.

So far, we have seen what Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Iron Qualities’ quote can teach us in terms of living like a true man through:

And this time, I want to focus on the next part of the quote – ‘…to do without shrinking the rough work…’

This isn’t ‘shrinking’ like your weiner might do on a cold sharp winter’s day. And to avoid any doubt, I’m going to utilise that tried, tested and tired method of going back to the dictionary definition.

Shrink (verb): To draw back, as in retreat or avoidance

Reading that, you can probably tell where I’m going with this. But I like nothing better than rambling and being predictable, so I’m just going to keep writing ad nauseam.

Face challenges head on

Let’s face it – life has its moments where things go tits up. Shit does indeed happen. At points in your life, you will have to do some things that would definitely not make the list of ‘perfect day activities’. Examples include:

  • Getting your dog put down when cure is not an option
  • Having to let someone go if you ever find yourself in a managerial position
  • Breaking up with someone when you know it isn’t going to work out
  • Going through a career change – quitting your job and starting again from scratch

 

 

We call these things ‘necessary evils’ – things that we normally wouldn’t do because they go against our principles or dent our pride. These are the things Teddy labels ‘the rough work’. And sometimes, it can’t be avoided.

And when the rough work can’t be avoided, we need to face it head on, kick it in the balls without hesitation and dominate it.

 

Rip the plaster, don’t caress it

Remember when you were a little boy and you cut your knee and you put a plaster on it while it healed?

You know it has to come off…and you know it’s going to hurt. Poking at it and making half-assed attempts to remove it just isn’t going to cut it. Time is precious and you don’t want to spend an hour trying to convince that plaster to come off by itself

Grab that brute nice and firm and pull back with all your might. Pain…less than a second and mild at most. Plaster, now in the bin where it belongs. The rest of the day….all yours to continue putting into practice a life of the Iron Qualities.

These things have to be done. You know they do. Trying to avoid the issue won’t work – there is no amount of magic in the world that will make these things go away by themselves.

 

The coffee can wait

It’s the same in a working environment. You’ve got a list of things you need to get done today and one of them is not going to be nice at all. Shit is probably going to hit the fan.

So what do you do?? ‘Meh…I’ll do it after lunch’.

And lunch comes….and goes. ’I’ll just grab my 3pm coffee and sort it out after that.’

Before you know it, they day is over and you haven’t done anything.

No – you need to grab the bull by the horns, prepare yourself for the shitstorm and face it head on.

There are a few ways to handle these situations and I’m sure you’ve seen them all

There’s the guy who weasels out of doing anything at all – these men ‘delegate’ or apportion blame, saying things like “hey…it’s not my problem. Jim needs to sort this out.” These guys love nothing better than passing the buck and avoiding responsibility. They have a magical quality of being able to wriggle out of the rough work like a fish.

Then there is a procrastinator. He will keep putting the thing off and putting it off and will eventually do a half-assed job just to get it off his radar for a while. But he hasn’t actually sorted anything out. And sure enough – the half-assed job he did comes back to bite him and he is then left with an even bigger problem to face.

Or there is the man who says “Right…this isn’t going to be nice and I’m not looking forward to it. But it needs to be done and I am the man to do it. So let’s go.”

Which of these men has the Iron Qualities?? Man #3 wins every time. This is the man who realises the rough work must be done and does not shrink from it.

The rough work must always be done

Sometimes, they have to stay as they lay

Taking action in these situations, sometimes we get accused of being cold and heartless or lacking in compassion. One scene in particular from Michael Mann’s ‘Last of the Mohicans’ sticks in my mind when I think of this.

While on the run from enemies, Hawkeye, his father and brother go to their friend’s cabin for aid along with Madeleine Stowe’s character and her sister. The find the cabin burnt however, and all their friends – including their children -murdered and charred. Despite this, they leave everything undisturbed, including the bodies, which they refuse to bury.

Madeleine is disgusted and when she protests at their indifference, we get that great line from Daniel Day Lewis:

“They were not strangers, Miss Monroe. And they stay as they lay.”

We later learn the exact reason why they did what they did (or didn’t do what they didn’t do) – if they had moved/touched/buried anything, their enemies would know they had been there and been able to track them much more easily

So Hawkeye and his family are prepared to to a horrible thing – and it had to be done. Something that pained them to do. Was it easy for them?? No. But this is the point – it’s rough work. And it’s necessary at times.

Maybe you will need to explain why you had to do what you did. And that’s fine. If you have the Iron Qualities, your actions will be driven from the proper virtues and principles. And you will not shrink from taking them.

The Difference between a man and a boy – A tale from France

Laurent Blanc has been slapped in the face by football more than once in his life.

When France won the World Cup in 1998, the man affectionately known as Larry White during his later playing days in England formed one half of an impressive centre-half partnership for the French alongside Marcel Desailly.

But he was missing from the final itself, having played an integral part in getting his team there during the tournament.

In the semi-final against Croatia, during the build-up to a French offensive free-kick, Blanc was in the opposing penalty area waiting for the delivery when he had a sudden realisation. He had invited his old Aunt Marie up to Paris to be his special guest of honour for the game.

She had travelled all the way from the south of France especially to watch her little nephew Larry play in the semi-final; which in itself was a miracle as she hated the capital with all its rude Parisians rushing around and cursing each other all the time.

So to sweeten the deal and make her day a little more special, Blanc had promised to wave to her during the game.

And he really had to deliver…Aunt Marie had told him that if he didn’t, she would give him a good clip around the back of the head. Sweet irony….

 

The difference between a man and a boy

 

Laurent Blanc has a brush with a rock god

With all this suddenly going through his mind and with the free-kick about to be delivered he turned around to find her in the crowd, arm outstretched in a pre-emptive wave. And just at that exact moment, opposing Croatian centre-half and part-time rock god Slaven Bilic wandered across the path of that arm and took a vicious looking (but totally accidental) thumb to the eye.

He went down apparently crying in a heap. The ref smelled foul play, whipping out the red card for poor Larry who was sent for an early bath before facing the wrath of Aunt Marie, who never did get that wave. Here’s footage of the incident along with some bland responses and reaction

Anyway, France went on to win that game and the World Cup itself a few days later. But Blanc learned a valuable lesson that day – the fates of the football world are cruel and fickle.

Fast forward to the present day where he recently got a reminder of the fact.

 

When your social media footprint comes back to haunt you

Now quite a successful manager with French giants Paris St Germain and gearing up for a big European Cup game against Chelsea, his team’s preparations went down the pan when footage from an internet Q&A emerged showing one of his players – Ivory Coast international Serge Aurier – apparently saying some pretty nasty stuff about his team-mates including Angel Di Maria and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

And even Blanc himself wasn’t immune from the abuse, with Aurier appearing to suggest that his manager preferred the company of men.

You can read all about the incident here

 

Larry takes it very badly – but like a man

Now these nasty little incidents happen from time to time – but just as important as what life throws at us is how we react. And how did Larry White react?

Very badly,” he said in a press conference. “Very badly because we can think whatever we think, this is a democracy and we are free to think, and thankfully we can have our own opinions in our country and that’s good.

“But I think that guy, that boy… really two years ago I committed myself to making him come to Paris and seeing what I saw yesterday that’s all the thanks I got and I think that’s really pitiful.”

Blanc generally handled himself pretty well in that press conference and spoke with eloquence and as a man of substance. But here he made the mistake of thinking that he is owed something by the world (personified in this case by Aurier).

It’s a dog-eat-dog world and Aurier is only important to Blanc and the team as long as he is performing and contributing positively. And that’s what they make him a multi-millionaire for.

“It is penalising for him but what I do not accept either is that it is also bad for the club – it is penalising the club.”

Sure, Aurier has now been suspended by the club and he’ll probably get a two-week fine. Worst-case scenario – possibly sacked. Who knows. Either way, he’ll be fine in the long-term.

If he gets sacked, he’ll be public enemy #1 for a while but once the dust settles, some other club will eventually pick him up and sign him to a multi-year contract and furnish his bank account with a few more million. So is it really penalising for him? Short term, slightly. Long term…probably not that much.

 

Never take sides against the family

Blanc’s grip here is that HE fought to get this player signed for the club. The club is his sporting family. The players are his adopted sons. Here is one he personally wanted to adopt who has now betrayed his father’s confidence by apparently talking trash about him on social media.

Why he said what he said or what his motivation was, I have no idea. But Blanc was still angry as he continued his press conference. And he hit on an important point:

“The player is a big boy, he can do what he wants and he will handle the consequences. There are many, many people in that generation that spend their time feeling sorry and excusing themselves but I think before excusing you need to think about what you do.”

When I first read this, I was impressed. It appears Blanc is familiar with The Iron Qualities and must be one of the dozens who regularly visit the site. Bienvenue Laurent.

His point here is that a man – and even ‘a big boy’ – should take responsibility for his actions and ownership of the consequences of those actions.

It’s the easiest thing to do something wrong and then apologise for it. The thing is…apologies are weak and should be avoided as much as possible. Aurier apparently thought it was a good idea to publicly insult his footballing brothers and father on social media and then had a change of heart when there was a backlash.

“He’s a boy that should be preparing today for a last-16 game of the Champions League. That would’ve been better instead of staying at home not knowing what to do.”

Well, one suggestion I can make to Aurier is that he checks out theironqualities.com where he can pick up a wealth of material on how to move from “boy” to man and avoid any of this unpleasantness in the future.

 

It’s strictly business – but let’s at least deal with things as men

Spending time thinking negatively about people and talking trash is really time wasted. But don’t get me wrong – the problem isn’t what he said. It’s that he’s saying this about his adopted family. If you want to talk trash about them, do it to their face or wait until another family adopts you.

It’s an overly romantic idea suggesting that a football club is one big surrogate family. Maybe once upon a time things were like that. But increasingly it’s become strictly business. Big business.

  • Do players care about team mates and see them as brothers?
  • Do managers see their players as sons?
  • Is there a tribal bond between club, players and supporters?

The answer to all those questions is increasingly ‘no’. But that’s a thought for another day.

For now, it’s enough to know that Larry White handled this situation like a man and if you ever feel the urge to talk trash about those close to you – do it to their face instead of plastering it all over social media.

I’ll leave the last word on this to Mr White himself:

“If he’s got a problem with me, I won’t use you journalists to handle the problem. That’s for sure.”

That’s how Aunt Marie brought him up

 

The Iron Qualities part 3: Never give up – Of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will

Resolution

A firm decision to do or not do something; the ability to decide firmly on a course of action

Courage

The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear

Indomitable Will

A will that is impossible to subdue or defeat

 

Ok – the third hit of the Iron Qualities. Part one looked at positivity while part two covered masculine virtues. This time it’s three for the price of one – a triple whammy of testosterone; a menage a trois of masculinity; a threeway of….you get the idea.

Here’s a reminder of the quote in full again:

“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.”

Let’s look at “…of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will…”

Resolution Courage and Indomitable Will

Life is hard – no two ways about it. It can be a tough place. Are you going to let it get to you?? Are you going to give up?? Are you going to hide in a corner somewhere and hope things will resolve themselves??

No – you are a man of Iron Qualities. You have an iron resolve. The courage of a lion and a machine-like spirit. You never give up.

You stay the course. You face all obstacles head on. You are never defeated.

You never give up.

Things get tough. You don’t succeed at first. What do you do? You keep going. You try again. And again. And again. And again. Until you succeed. Once you have a goal in mind, once you decide to do something, you do it.

You never give up.

That’s resolve.

 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…but you have to keep walking

Let’s use the tried and tested example of lifting weights, specifically benchpressing. You want to bench 150kg but right now you can barely lift a tub of ice cream. What do you do?

First thing you do is….THROW THAT TUB OF HAAGEN DAZS IN THE BIN AND NEVER BUY ANOTHER!!

Then you hit the gym, head to the bench, throw 40kg on the bar and chalk those hands. This is going to be heavy baby.

You lift the bar and it feels substantial. Your arms are shaking as you bring it down to your chest. You let it sit there for a moment as you gather your strength for the big push. You lift with all your might and the bar slowly edges up and back towards the stand.

Success.

You go for another rep….but the bar won’t budge. Two reps is a step too far for this bad boy. Well at lest you can tell people what your one-rep max is now, even if it’s not the 150kg you were dreaming of.

So you have a decision to make…are you going to give up and whine because it’s too hard??

Or are you going to remember that you are a man of Iron Quality who resolved to bench 150kg no matter how long, how painful and how hard it is?

Option 2 obviously.

Take a few plates off that bar and start at 20kg

Do your 3×10 sets

Drink your protein

Suffer DOMS the next day

Add 5kg to the bar next time you hit them gym

And the next time. And the next time. And the next time

Guess what?? Now you’re benching 3×10 sets of 40kg when you couldn’t even do 2 reps before. And you keep going. Months…maybe even years. One day someone might say to you:

“What the hell bro…have you been working out?”

Now you’re making visible and tangible progress

“Damn right I have. I’ve been pumping some quality iron.” Pun absolutely intended

150kg is a substantial weight to bench. It’s certainly not impossible, but it will take time, dedication, determination and discipline and with all these things you will get there.

You never give up.

 

It’s a marathon…not a sprint

I’ll tell you another little story…

A few years back, Bo signed up for a marathon to help raise some well-deserved funds for a good cause. I’ve always traditionally been a sprinter, very dangerous over short distances. So 26.2 miles was going to be a challenge, and one I couldn’t back out of.

So I bought a new pair of running shoes and a shitload of Vaseline to plaster all over my nipples and inner thighs and began pounding the roads in preparation.

I started on sessions of around 5 miles close to a 4hr marathon pace during the week. 2-3 of these per week. At the beginning, even this was not easy. I would come home breathing out of my ass and sweating like a pig.

But the real key to successful marathon training is the long runs at the weekend. Around 5 months before the event, I started my weekly long runs. The first one was 10 miles. It hurt like hell and wrecked me for most of the rest of the day.

But I kept going

The long runs gradually increased in length as the weeks progressed. And I began suffering a recurring issue every week – after about 12 miles my thighs would begin to cramp. I had never run these distances before in my life so this was a new experience – and not a nice one.

But I kept going

And I noticed something as the long runs got longer – I could go further and further before the cramp began kicking in. 15, 16, 17, 18 miles…weeks before this wouldn’t have been possible.

Progress. Happy days

And then an obstacle….the third act twist…

I developed some kind of injury in my heel – it was like a sharp pain in my heel and lower calf. Being a stubborn bastard I didn’t go get it checked out. Instead, I self-diagnosed plantar fasciitis – a common marathon training injury caused by drastic or sudden increases in mileage, poor foot structure, and inappropriate running shoes.

Sounds about right…rookie mistakes

So I started to panic a little. I had a training schedule I needed to keep to if I was going to have any chance of a) hitting my target race time of 4 hours and b) actually finishing the thing at all.

Negative thoughts started to creep in. Maybe I could just drop out. I didn’t want to do myself any long-term harm after all….and my preparations were now suffering

No Bo. Not even an option. I pushed those thoughts out of my mind, rested up for a few weeks and got back on the horse

I kept going – kept pushing further

The long runs were now 20+ miles and over 3 hours long. That meant I had to do them early on Saturday mornings – waking up at 6am, horsing some porridge into me before pounding the London roads while the tourists were taking pictures of Big Ben and stuffing their faces with waffles and crepes from street vendors.

Early starts and long runs meant no more partying on Friday nights – no romancing of the honeys; no pints or jaegerbomb chasers; no 3am kebabs…

In fact, I completely overhauled my lifestyle and diet

Discipline, dedication, resolve – I needed to do this

So cutting to the chase, I did it. Completed the race in 4hrs 16mins. On race day I quickly realised I did not train at a fast enough pace to make my 4hr target but hey – shit sometimes does happen.

You are never defeated

 

I must break away and get out into the mountains

This was a sporting goal, but the fundamental principles are the same for anything you put your mind to. Maybe you want to start your own business and make it a success. Or write a book. Or speak a new language. Or learn how to seduce a supermodel. Think of it like climbing a mountain:

You start at basecamp. With little or no ability, knowledge, skill or prowess.

You start to climb the mountain with your Sherpa guiding you and make solid progress. Going is good.

You run into some unexpected obstacles. Maybe you have to backtrack a little and take a new path.

Maybe you get injured or hurt along the way – or you’re forced to confront some old fear or phobia

Will you turn back and give up? No. You keep going. You’ve had this goal in mind all your life and now that you have it in sight – you can actually see the summit all the way up there – you are going to show that iron resolve and you are going to make it

And then there you are, dizzy from lack of oxygen at the peak of the mountain. Ready to plant your flag and claim victory.

It won’t happen if you lie on the sofa scratching yourself and watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond. Nothing is handed to you on a plate. You need to go out there and make it happen.

Set yourself the goal, resolve your will to do it, and make it happen

This post isn’t about dressing better or finding the perfect luxury watch to express your manliness because none of that shit matters if you don’t have the resolve, courage and spirit to kick the world’s ass

I’m not going to tell you about my specific goals because you are not me and we will want to do different things. But when you understand what the Iron Qualities are you understand there are several things you should be doing in order to become the man you were born to be:

  • Take care of yourself physically
  • Keep learning every day
  • Visualise the man you want to be and focus all your efforts to becoming that man

Every spare moment of your waking life should be spent in pursuit of your goals. That means:

  • No Facebook trolling
  • Cutting back on getting pissed with the boys and sending drunk texts to your ex telling her how much you miss her
  • Channel hopping and aimless web browsing. In fact, I’d say cut out TV almost altogether – it’s mostly mind-numbing shit and mainstream media propaganda anyway
  • Overtime at work…forget it. Work/life balance boys

 

Make it happen

Never give up

Seriously men – our time on planet earth is finite and we don’t get very much of it at all. So don’t waste it getting zombiefied into a productive drone for The Machine.

Have the resolution to live the life of Iron Qualities

Have the courage to take control and not buy into the hype

Have the indomitable will to stay the path and follow through until you become the man you were born to be.

 

 

The Iron Qualities Part 2: A Man must have a code – Virtues and the Man

Let’s continue the journey into that wonderful quote from Teddy Roosevelt and see if we can’t garnish any more masculine wisdom. I’m feeling pretty positive that there is a lot more gold in there. Here’s the quote in full again:

“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.”

Last time out, I looked at the word ‘positive’ and what that means for men. In this post, I’m going to cover ‘virtues’. And what does the need for virtue mean for men? A quick dictionary search provides a number of definitions:

  1. Moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.
  2. conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.
  3. chastity; virginity
  4. a particular moral excellence. Compare cardinal virtues, natural virtue, theological virtue.
  5. a good or admirable quality or property
  6. effective force; power or potency

I’m going to gloss over definition #3 because I know you’re all a bunch of slags at heart. But I would say that the definitions that are of interest to men are #2, #5 and #6.

Virtues: A Man Must Have a Code

 

Oh indeed – A man must have a code

Fans of ‘The Wire’ will be familiar with the characters of Omar Little and William ‘Bunk’ Moreland. They have several exchanges throughout the show and a recurring theme and phrase in these exchanges is that “a man must have a code.”

And I’m not talking about some Revelation 13:16 mark of the beast type of code. Hell fire and damnation…the Anti Christ is here!!!!

What Omar and The Bunk are talking about is a moral code – a set of values they live their lives by. This phrase is said several times in the show and sums up definition #2 perfectly. Omar does some nasty shit but he has a moral code, swears by this code and takes it to heart when anyone suggests he is not a virtuous man in this context.

This is probably one of the reasons he is such a popular character. We recognise and respect the fact that he is morally disciplined. He openly owns up to the crimes he commits against those he deems fair game because in his world, that is within the rules. Killing citizens is not.

And as for The Bunk…well shiiiiiiit. His moral principles make him strictly a suit and tie motherfucker

 

We define our principles

Omar’s principles don’t come from religion, family, government or media. And yours don’t have to either. YOU define how you want to live your life. YOU define what’s wrong and right and YOU life YOUR life virtuously.

Men with the Iron Qualities are men of action – and those actions come from your principles.

We all do it – we create playing arenas with rules. Maybe the rules change over time – maybe new rules get added and other rules get tossed. And if you do something that breaks one of your own rules – deep down in your gut, it doesn’t feel right.

This isn’t about the world judging you or what other people think because you should never worry about that anyway. Ultimately, it’s about YOU being able to look at yourself and be satisfied with what you find inside. Nothing more matters.

Now…I’m not condoning mass murder and flaying of puppies; scamming your friends and family of all their cash and doing kiss & tell stories when you bang a famous celebrity if that’s what you think is right. Which brings us to definition #5: a virtue is a ‘good or admirable quality.’

 

What is ‘good’ or ‘admirable’??

It can be a tricky question. These are principles that are normally formed by communities of people as being acceptable or what the group respects or approves of. So yes, these traits can be a consequence of your upbringing but before I start going into a sociology ramble, I still think there are universal virtues that transcend societies. Showing kindness and preserving life are two examples.

Essentially, what we are talking about here is a moral extension to the core fundamental principles of being a man. Definition #6 expands on this. Here, we are into the world of what Jack Donovan would call the ‘tactical virtues’ of strength, honour, courage and mastery.

 

Are you ready for the ZAS?

Virtues that are valuable for effective survival. Think King Leonidas and his 300 men in the old Greek legend. Spartan boys were raised to be soldiers and warriors and as such strength, honour, courage and mastery of essential fighting skills were drilled into them pretty much since birth.

And in the Frank Miller version of the legend, poor Ephialtes can’t be a true fighting Spartan as his physical deformity would compromise his fellow men in the Spartan phalanx. So when denied the opportunity to become part of the mighty 300, he decides to betray them for a taste of some freaky Persian bunga bunga parties and a nice uniform.

To illustrate this further, let’s consider the Zombie Apocalypse Scenario (ZAS). Mankind has been decimated. Survivors are scattered here and there -they and are few and far between. It’s bad times.

But we hear rumours now and again – whispers on the wind – of the legendary zombie hunter Bo Ideal… ‘Bane of the Undead’…. ‘Scourge of the Skineaters’ …. ‘Cure for the Infected’

  • In zombie confrontations, he has a zombie decapitation success rate of 90% +
  • He knows where to find the fattest squirrels and his squirrel and sawdust stew is a thing of legend
  • He can light a camp fire inside 10 seconds come rain, sleet or sunshine
  • His shelter is always waterproof and built high in the canopy because he knows Zombies are notoriously bad at climbing trees.
  • He has fathered at least 7 children in the last 12 months (3 in one night some say) – thus ensuring the future of mankind.

Of course, the Zombie Apocalypse is still a few years away and there are other ways the virtue of powerful and effective force can be shown by the modern man.

And it’s not limited to physical acts; a man should also havem oral courage and strength of will – standing up for his beliefs and sticking to his moral code in the face of adversity and having the balls to make difficult decisions when they are needed.

 

What can we do to cultivate a virtuous life?

  • Think about and develop a moral code. I mean take time to really think it through – what is important to you…what do you feel strongly about…and importantly…why
  • Live life with these principles engrained in your mind. Use them as a compass to guide actions
  • Identify skills and talents that will make you a man of effective force, power and potency and develop these too
  • Be prepared to defend your principled views against trolls and those who disagree with you
  • Take steps every day to develop and increase mastery of skills and virtues that have been chosen

So there we have it….virtues. Patience is one, and now we know there are many others that a man of Iron Qualities demonstrates and should always strive towards.

The purpose of this post was not to detail every single virtue a man should have but rather to highlight the fact that there are virtues that a man should have and time should be spent every day in developing moral, mental and physical virtues to make you the absolute best man you can be.

That’s enough for now…it’s squirrel hunting time

The Iron Qualities part 1: Why being positive is essential

How to be a positive man

This blog…this site…this house is built on the solid foundations of the Iron Qualities. They are unshakable, unmovable. Stronger than mountains, more powerful than bombs and more valuable than money.

But what exactly ARE the Iron Qualities? Let’s have a look and see if we can’t figure it all out.

The phrase comes from a quote from Teddy Roosevelt (1858 – 1919) – 26th President of America. Way back in the day, he said:

“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.”

Makes you want to go out and take on the world doesn’t it? But before all that, let’s put our jotters and pencil cases in our bags; make sure we have our ham sandwiches, Dairylea Dunkers and cartons of Ribena in our He Man lunch boxes and go back to school for Iron Qualities 101 and break this quote down.

According to Teddy, there are a few elements that make up the Iron Qualities. And the first word that springs out is POSITIVE.

 

Why positivity is essential for men

Yes because there is no space for negativity in the world of a man. We are animals of the positive. I am defined by what I am, not what I am not – and definitely not what others tell me I am…or am not.

  • Does a man bitch about how unfair life is?
  • Does a man moan about the weather being too hot; too cold; too windy?
  • Does a man tell his friend (or himself) a thing can’t be done?
  • Is a man jealous of others?
  • Does a man gossip about people behind their back?

No, no, no, no and hell no.

Let’s do a compare and contrast to illustrate the point

Mr Negative

You know the types, right? You ask these guys how they’re doing and they meet you with a pathetic, defeated sigh before unloading with all their problems or going off on a rant about whatever is annoying them on that particular day.

It feels like they are sucking the life right out of your soul. It’s a common trait of polite people to sympathise with these individuals, giving them attention and maybe offering a sob story of their own or a propose a solution to the “problem.”

Stop. Don’t do it. You are not a personal Agony Aunt for these people. They need to get their shit together and you have no need to feel a sense of obligation or guilt for their outlook. As a Man of positivity, you lead by your positive example. Whether Mr Negative follows or not is entirely up to him.

My friend Pete from the Old Country used to work in an office environment. His boss would breeze in close to 10am today and trudge up to his office dragging his heels behind him. Pete always used to say that the energy in the place dropped several degrees with each step.

And sure enough, he would come into the room where the plebs all sat open plan and say “(sigh)….morning” in a pathetic way.

Never “Good morning.” No…never good.

He would usually then regale the workforce with a witty anecdote about how he couldn’t watch the latest episode of Sherlock because the kids had taken over the TV.

Or how it wasn’t fair because his brother had just got the latest iphone and he had to wait another 4 months for his upgrade.

Or how he’d been up all night with the flu.

Someone would eventually offer some sympathetic words and he would trudge off to his office where he would munch through a family bag of Doritos and a 2 litre bottle of coke.

It’s not your job to tell these people to stop whining – that’s ultimately up to them.

Of course, there are times when you will have real issues and problems. And if the need is genuine, your boys will be there to listen to you and offer advice – just like you will when someone you know has a genuine need.

But next time you feel yourself about to complain about how you didn’t sleep well last night or how ‘it’s not fair’ that one of your undeserving colleagues got a promotion or your hay fever is playing up…stop. Rein it in.

If you feel negativity slipping into your thoughts and what you say, look at things from a different perspective. Separate the minor complaints from the things that really matter. Remember how it feels when someone starts moaning about this petty stuff to you. You don’t want to hear it and neither do they.

Malicious negativity

And negativity comes in different forms. We also have the malicious type too. The kind of person who loves pointing out weaknesses and character flaws and takes pleasure in hurting people.

In the sports arena, your team mates are your brothers. Together you are a tribe – an army. Of course when you’re a boy it’s never that serious, but at its height, sport can bring out the best in fraternity.

It’s first to 50 goals…jumpers for goalposts…play on until it’s dark – you know the drill.

My father – Papa Bo Senior – was a promising footballer in his youth. Even played for the school team. Pretty impressive right?

He told me once about his coach, who was one of those big bullying teachers who believed in tough love. Huge, colossus of a man barking and roaring at a bunch of 14 year olds. Here’s some of his highlights

“Bo you CLOWN!”

“You’re not good enough to play it out from the back…JUST BOOT IT!!!”

“My 4 year old son could do better than that”

(after getting smashed 6-1) “There are some boys here who will never play for me again. USELESS.”

As a general rule, you shouldn’t be hanging around with pessimists anyway as men always seek out their equals or betters in order to become the best they can be.

 

Mr Positive

When I say ‘Mr Positive’, I’m not talking about Richard ‘Party off the Pounds’ Simmons. But you know they type of man who has the right kind of positivity. He’s composed – his feathers don’t get ruffled. Where others lumber through their daily commute to and from work, he stands tall and breezes through the crowd.

Where others see a problem, he sees solutions.

When something needs to be done – he does it.

When a compliment is earned – he will pay it

If he is lacking in an ability, he learns that ability.

When he wakes up in the morning – he’s ready to kick the day’s ass

It’s almost like he swaggers through life. It’s self-confidence, not arrogance. And a positive nature radiates from that. He accepts the nature of life, the world around him and the tools he has at his disposal.

We all get dealt a hand in life and everyone’s hand is not the same. Life is not fair. Some people get better cards than others.

A man with Iron Qualities looks at WHAT HE HAS – not what he does not have – and how he can use this to his best advantage. Then he takes action and makes it happen.

If he is missing a tool or needs to work on a skill, he goes and gets the tool and learns the skill. No complaints, no whining. Just positive, affirmative action.

Through his actions AND words, a man of Iron Qualities creates an air of positivity for himself and those around him.

He’s the kind of man you want to work for

He’s the kind of man you want working for you

He’s the kind of man you want in your team

He’s the kind of man who says “we can do this”, “every problem has a solution”, “good job”, “I believe in you”, “thank
you”

 

It’s ok for a man to give compliments and be supportive. I don’t mean in a sycophantic kiss-ass brown nosing way; but when someone genuinely deserves it, absolutely let them know. A man is secure enough in himself and his own abilities not to get jealous at the success and achievements of others.

What positivity looks like in action

 

What can be done to cultivate positivity??

Here’s a few tried and tested tricks and techniques:

Affirmations – the messages we tell ourselves can affect our outlook massively

Grooming and taking pride in appearance – adopt the appearance of a positive man

Talk to more people – having a bit of banter with the sales staff or the bartender can go a long way

Help people out – if someone has a problem and can’t see a solution….be that solution

Time management – Use your time to do things that improve you as a person rather than getting sucked into a mindless, soul-sapping work/tv/web browsing routine

Alcohol in moderation – Bo likes the odd snifter as much as the next man. But he doesn’t like feeling groggy and low-energy while fighting a hangover

Avoid junk food – Processed meals with high sugar and fat content with little nutritional value are almost literally shit. And will make you feel like shit too if they are your staple diet

Exercise – Get the blood flowing…get your pump on. It will make you feel fantastic