Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this short exercise. It’s very easy to do and is powerful if you do it consistently and with humility. Think of yourself like a sword. Fine swords are layer upon layer of thin coats of different metals. Each one of us, as men, is the same. We are made of many layers of different qualities. Think of your own self-development as a series of layers over time. Here’s an exercise to do each week, if you like, as a kind of layering exercise.
You know we at Authentic Masculinity believe in the essential goodness of men. Simply put, we believe men are essentially good, but fatally flawed. The good news is that through our powers of reason and self-discipline we can master even our worst qualities and we can rise above our lower natures. That is what we are here to do: struggle to overcome our lower appetites which drive our lower nature. You can start at any time and it is not difficult to do. As we know from The Late Great Jim Rohn, “If I can do it, it’s easy.” And, like Mr. Rohn, we must simply discipline ourselves to do each day what we find easy to do, as men, and not neglect the small, daily disciplines that lead us slowly and ineluctably to self-dominion. Like my friend at the 7-11 at 2 a.m., every man is a king and every king should wear a crown. If you conquer yourself, you conquer your first kingdom. You see? There are good examples all around us, if we just look for them.
We also believe here at AM in the power of journaling and the power of disciplining ourselves to put in writing what is on our minds. Writing stops time. Writing is organized, structured thinking. It makes you powerful.
Here’s how to start: Master The T-Diagram
Get out a piece of paper. Draw a T on it. You’ve just made two columns. The column on the left is your “My good qualities” column. The column on the right is your, “My bad qualities” column. Label the columns. Go ahead, do it. This is simple. The hard part is disciplining yourself to do it.
Now, logically, predictably, on the left hand side, list in writing 3-5 of the best qualities you know you have. Perhaps you are kind hearted, enthusiastic, ambitious, and generous. Now, logically, on the right hand side, list in writing 3-5 of the worst qualities you know have. The trick? Be honest with yourself. If you are undisciplined, write that down. If you are a little lazy, write that down. Perhaps you are envious. Write that down. In my own case, I am disciplined in daily habits, but if I don’t write my goals down and look at them every day I can find myself pulled by daily concerns and worries to lose focus from what I am pursuing. Interestingly, it all comes back to discipline. Sometimes I hurry. Right now I am working hard to discipline my consumption of daily news. I enjoy Drudge, but it’s usually a time sump and as one of my early mentors told me, “If something’s really important, someone will tell me about it.”
So—back to The T Diagram. List your best and worst qualities. Be pleased at your good qualities. Use them to balance out your bad. Now, rinse and repeat. You’re on your way.
Be bold, be authentic, be masculine… and practice your daily disciplines. They will lead you—ineluctably—to victory over your first kingdom: Yourself.