Bottom Line Up Front: All things being equal, each man should be the most qualified and prepared emergency first responder in the lives of his wife and children. Other qualified men—police officers, fire fighters, EMTs—should be second.
How many remarkable men do you know?
In The Purple Cow, 21st Century Marketing Leader Seth Godin teaches us that for a business to be remarkable it must do things that cause us to remark, to notice, to want to tell others.
Can it be so different for a man?
So here’s my question: What would a man have to do for you to remark in a positive way on him, as a man?
While you think that over I will tell you a quick story.
I first met Travis Nelson working for Northrop Grumman as a Defense Contractor. Defense Contractors work in a private capacity for the Department of Defense on contract. Contractors are good because you can fire them. Contractors can be bad because when taken to their logical extreme they become parasitic and ambitious and put profit before principle. I was a contractor for a long time and saw both.
When I left the Army in 2002 I launched my first business. It sputtered on the launch pad, so I took a job as a Defense Contractor to feed my family and pay my bills. Travis had served in the Marine Corps and worked for Northrop Grumman in their Security Office. Travis made sure everything and everyone was secure and safe. He is eminently well qualified to do that.
Recently I asked Travis a hypothetical question. I said, “When it comes to self-protection and protecting his family, what advice would you give a young man today who wanted to marry in five years?”
Travis and I spoke briefly about the many topics a prudent young man would study, skills a young man would acquire, if he wanted to protect his wife and children in an increasingly turbulent world in which the meaning of justice was changing on an almost daily basis.
We decided together that a good way to cover those topics would be to write a series of letters to such a young man. I first encountered this modified method of Socratic teaching (Socratic teaching means asking students questions to inspire a dialog and allowing the student to discover answers through dialogue) when I read the excellent “Uncle Eric Books” which I recommend to anyone who wants to understand the world we live in more clearly.
Travis is a man of remarkable focus and intensity. In a world in which we say we all have ADD or we joke about multi-tasking as if it was a virtue to do many things poorly instead of one thing well Travis is remarkable for his ability to focus on the task at hand. He can focus in spite of violent distractions and he can focus in spite of personal discomfort. Travis has what a mentor of mine called “grip.” He grabs hold of a problem or a situation and does not let go.
What really got my attention about Travis, though, was when I was talking to him at the office way back in the sunny days of long ago, 2002. He took a call from his bride. I think she called because their daughter was sick. The question of what to do in case of an emergency came up. Travis said, remarkably, “No, you call ME, then call 911.”
That got my attention because men have been conditioned to rely on others to get us out of a jam. We have been taught to let others—especially in an emergency—take care of us and our families We have been conditioned not to be self-reliant, not to be confident in the face of difficulty and danger. For Travis to say that let me know that he sees himself differently.
That sort of confidence can be dangerous. If you’re not capable and you are too confident you’ll get someone killed. If you don’t have the skill and capability to back your confidence up you’ll get in over your head. It’s foolish in the extreme to tell someone in crisis not to call someone who can help them.
But my question is: Why aren’t each of us qualified? Why don’t we make it our top priority to become qualified? What has happened to us, as men?
Skills can be learned.
Here’s the thing: skills can be learned. Talent tends to be innate, but skills can be learned. What skills should all men know? What skills should all men master? What skills must you master to stabilize any situation until First Responders arrive? What skills must you master to say to your wife and children, “No, call me, then call 911.”?
Where capability meets commitment.
Travis takes being a man very seriously. He takes his responsibility for others very seriously. In The Authentic Nation we speak of a man’s Four Privileges: Man as Prince, Priest, Provider and Protector. Travis takes all of those seriously, but where he excels is in the role of Protector.
There are very few men I’d rather turn to when the chips are down and when my life, or the lives of those I love and lead are in danger, than Travis Nelson. Travis believes in personal preparedness. He believes in service to others. He believes each man has a sacred responsibility to be strong, capable, prepared and committed to helping and serving all those around him.
Travis is selfless, kind and has a very good sense of humor. He takes his work, but not himself, seriously. He loves his wife and daughters with intensity and commitment. He is a good friend and loyal citizen of this great nation.
He doesn’t see what I am saying as remarkable. He belongs to that class of men I have been privileged to work with throughout my adult life. Those men—soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, police officers– who take it for granted that a man puts his life on the line for others and that since he has that sacred responsibility it is logical and axiomatic that he prepare himself for the day it may be necessary.
Travis is disciplined and knows our actions follow our dominant thoughts so we had better guard the thoughts we think very carefully. He also knows the value of incremental, consistent action taken over time. He knows the value of the slight edge.
To learn more about Travis, read his blog posts at Authentic Masculinity’s AM Stronghold.
Call to Action: Decide this day– become a more well prepared man. Write down all the skills you must master to be a temporary First Responder. Write out a plan to learn those skills. Do it today and then execute that plan.