You Learned How to be Afraid

What’s the worst bar bet ever? Betting your buddies that can’t name the top 3 most common fears. The answer is:

  • Arachnophobia- fear of spiders
  • Ophidiophobia- fear of snakes
  • Acrophobia- fear of heights

But here’s a bar bet you can win, name the two fears people are born with? The answer is falling and loud noises.

Nobody is born afraid of spiders, snakes, or heights. If you’re scared of any of these, you learned at some point in your life.

Fear is a touchy subject with men. Most men don’t even want to talk it, and men dang sure don’t like to admit they have fears. But men do have fears. Their fears aren’t so much about spiders or snakes, instead here’s what men are afraid of.

Top 10 Fears of Men

  1. Someone will leave me
  2. Someone is criticizing me
  3. I am disappointing someone
  4. Failure
  5. Someone won’t like what I have to say
  6. Someone will reveal I’m an imposter
  7. The haters are right
  8. Going broke
  9. Asking for help
  10. Losing respect

I won’t say how many but I will admit to having more than one of these fears at different times in my life.

The sad part is these fears having being holding back generations of men from being the best version of themselves for no good reason. Remember, other than falling or loud noises, any fear you have was learned. You didn’t come into the world with the fear someone would reveal you’re an imposter (even though you’re not). Going broke is a fear you learned at some point along the way.

These fears have feed wrong thinking. And wrong thinking have sent you and me to the bench instead of getting in the game. All because we were afraid of something we didn’t have to be. We don’t have to be afraid to ask for help or disappointing someone. We don’t HAVE to be afraid of anything.

Life is too short to live in fear.  All fears are defeatable. Don’t let fear hold you back and prevent you from being the best version of yourself.

The Guy’s Guide to a Good Life tip is to look at every fear as defeatable. Don’t allow yourself to fall into fear trap. Stand up to fear.

Try this, the next time you’re afraid to ask for help, ask anyway. You’ll discover they’ll respect you more not less. And you will have taken a giant step to overcoming fear.

 

You Learned How to be Afraid

Why Do Guys Spend So Much Time Playing Video Games?

Women believe men are mysterious beings. The things men do in the course of a normal day cause women all kinds of concerns. Not only do they have concerns, they have questions:

  • Why did you eat that ghost pepper if you knew it would make you throw up? (answer: a guy never backs down from a dare.)
  • What smells? (answer: you don’t want to know.)
  • Did you really think the Super Bowl ads were funny? (answer:of course. I thought the talking baby with the hidden cell phone so he could trade stock was hilarious)

And the number one question these days: Why do guys play video games?

It’s a fair question when you consider all of the time and money guys spend on video games. Did you know the gaming industry made $23.5 billion in 2015? $16.5 billion was spent on games alone.

This has been going on for a while. The only thing that has changed is the location.

When I was a teenager, I had to go to an arcade when I wanted to play video games. In the little town I grew up in that meant The Orbiter or The Fun House. By the way, I’d be much closer to having my first million if I had back all of the quarters I fed into those machines. Now I know I was making the guy in our town who owned the machines a millionaire.

This was the early 80’s and home game consoles still pretty much sucked. Then came xbox, playstation and nintendo. Now game consoles are super computers. That’s one of the reasons the number of hours guys spend playing video games every week has gone up so drastically: 6.5 hours online and 5 hours with face to face.

But I still haven’t answered the Why question.

I think there are several reasons

One is this generation of men, unlike their grandfathers and great-grandfathers, has no great war to fight. No World War II. No Desert Storm. Which means they don’t have an outlet for the warrior they have inside them. Football, basketball, baseball even Mixed Martial Arts are fun and combative but they aren’t a substitute for the adrenaline rush that comes with warfare.

But first person shooter games are so realistic they provide a setting where a guy can experience that which he is wired to engage in, combat, without suffering any of the consequences (pain).

Another reason is guys develop relationships by doing things together. When a guy hangs out with his buddies playing video games, he’s getting much needed relationship time with other guys.

Finally, video games may be how he deals with stress. It’s how he relaxes.

Rewiring Your Brain

There is a very dark side to video games. Playing too much can actually rewire a guy’s brain by supplying an endless amount of variety. It’s easy because anything is possible for a video game developers. They can make a computer or xbox game do whatever will keep a guy engaged and reaching for his wallet.

All of this means guy’s brains are being rewired to demand change, novelty, and the biggie, constant stimulation. How many of us pick up our phone when a commercial comes on or when we have a free nanosecond? Constant stimulation is rotting our brains.

Here’s the danger.  Ask any compulsive gambler, alcoholic or drug addict and he will tell you they need more and more of whatever their thing is to get the same buzz. That’s why a gamer plays more, moves on to more violent and intense games. Game developers know this and are happy to keep feeding the beast.

The problem is life doesn’t work that way. Success takes time. Delayed gratification is the key to contentment. A guy in his mid-twenties needs to be setting long-term goals but his brain is being rewired to only think about the next 20 seconds, not the next 20 years.

Why is this a big deal? Here’s what one guy said “The excessive use of video games is creating a generation of risk-averse guys who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school and employment.”

And that is why there are so many guys in their twenties and early thirties living in their mom’s basement who don’t think it’s weird. They aren’t ashamed of the fact they have become boys who can shave. There’s even a label for it “prolonged adolescence”.

What I do now?

Guys, like a lot of things in your life, video games aren’t always bad. Play them, hang out with your friends, whatever. But remember this phrase from the Roman comic dramatist Plautus (c.250–184 bc),

‘moderation in all things is the best policy.’

Why Do Guys Spend So Much Time Playing Video Games?

Who’s Messing With Me?

Sometimes I get the feeling the whole world is out to get me. Not in a creepy, conspiracy, more like a big brother torturing his little brother. It’s like the world has his hand on my forehead holding me back and I’m swinging my fists hitting nothing but air.

I just finished writing the latest edition of the email newsletter I send out every week. I started the newsletter a couple of months ago and really enjoy the process. The normal format is an intro featuring whatever is on my mind, then a map, globe and sometimes a PS.

Articles under Maps are practical content, stuff you can use as soon as you finish reading. Globes are the high level stuff you need to succeed in life. Core values, moral guardrails, that kind of thing.

Today’s Globe is what’s got me checking to see who’s messing with me. I started a series on the three skills every man needs to live a successful life, Wisdom, Discipline and Good Judgement. I’ve written and spoken on the magic three countless times. This time I was talking about Discipline. Specifically a quote from my friend Andy Andrews.

“Am I willing to do something I don’t want to do now, to get a result I’d like to have in the future?”

Are you kidding me? I don’t want to write today, South Carolina plays Florida then Kentucky plans North Carolina to see who goes to the final four. Plus I just finished writing 1500 words for the newsletter, so the last thing I want to do is come up with 500 new words there’s a good chance nobody but me will ever see.

Common sense says I should take the day off. I’ve written 500 words every day for 26 straight days. That kind of dedication should qualify me to watch the game.

But here I am, writing 500 words. Why? Simple, I’m willing to write today so that a year from now my writing will be better and therefore I’ll be able to inspire, educate and entertain more men which means there will more good men and that means our world will be better. That’s why I’m writing.

Having big goals help. Discipline for small goals is tough. If my only goal was to become a good writer, I’d be watching the game. Being good for the sake of being good is not enough. At anything. Being good at something is meant to make others lives better. To make your world better. Who cares if you can sit in a chair and say “I’m the best”? That’s wasted effort and time.

I want to be a good writer because reading is not going anywhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dead tree book or an e-book, a blog post or a tweet, people will read. Writing has the ability to move people to action, to achieve things they never thought possible.

There’s also a sense of personal satisfaction when you keep a promise to yourself. I promised myself I was going to put in the work and part of that was writing 500 words a day. That’s day 27.

Do you have a big goal? What are you willing to do now so that you can have that goal in the future?

Who’s Messing With Me?

Common Sense is Not So Common Anymore

Starting a company is a pain in the butt. What structure will you use? Sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp? Accrual or Cash based accounting system? What will you call your company? Is that name available?

What about your web presence? What .com domain name is available? Don’t forget about Facebook, Twitter, and instagram.

It all matters. And all of this is before you have a single dollar of revenue.

What you figure out is while the paperwork is semi-expensive and a major league pain, it’s for your protection. You reduces the chance you’ll lose your stuff. For instance, an LLC is a limited liability corporation. The reason you need one is right there in the name, it limits your liability in the event something horrible happens.  Your personal assets like your house and retirement accounts are shielded from any judgements declared against you.

Because our society has become so litigious Protection has become the number goal of any business instead of making a positive impact on the world and making money.

I’m writing this because we’ve starting down this path with Modern Southern Gentleman and A Guy’s Guide to a Good Life. Both entities are going to be owned by the same company called 72 East which My wife and I will own.

Modern Southern Gentleman is a lifestyle company focused on great products that celebrate the South. T-shirts, caps, coffee mugs, croakies, koozies and of course stickers. In addition we’ll continue to produce The Modern Southern Gentleman podcast where we talk to successful southern men and any man with a great story. My wife Susan is going to head up the merchandising for MSG. She has a great eye of products that people will want to purchase.

A Guy’s Guide to a Good Life is all about exactly what you’d expect when you hear the name. I’ll be sharing strategies, processes, and tips to help motivated men win at life. We’ve got some great products coming to help you leverage your time and resources in ways you’ve never thought of. We’ll also gather a few times a year as a group to get to know each other and learn from each other. I’m working on the book, A Guy’s Guide to a Good Life And finally, there will be an opportunity for all of us to gather in a private place online to vent and support one another.

But before we can do any of this cool stuff, we have to do boring crap like setup bank accounts, file for Federal ID numbers and other adult stuff. I’m banking on the advice I’ve been given that the better job we do on the front end setting up the infrastructure and systems, the smoother life will be in the future. Undoing a mess is way more expensive in terms of time and money than taking the extra day to get it right the first time.

All that being said, it still ticks me off that I live in a world so devoid of common sense that I have worry about this kind of crap. <sigh>

Common Sense is Not So Common Anymore

Hemingway Had to Learn How to Write

Today is a good test to see if writing is a skill or some sort of mystical ability. This is important because every writer asks the same question, “how do I write when I’m not inspired?”.

The short answer from every professional writer I’ve seen is: amateurs wait for inspiration, professionals show up and go to work.

Here’s a few quotes on the topic:

“Do your bit, even when you’re not inspired. Especially when you’re not inspired. Strangely it’s the quickest route to becoming inspired

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

– Ernest Hemingway

“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.”

– Harlan Ellison

 

Well today I’m going to put the writing is work theory to the test. I’m as far from inspired as you can be. There’s not a creative idea percolating in my body. The reason is my job today is supervising movers. Not quite but close to as an unglamorous, uninspiring way to spend day as you can find.

Most of my conversations today went something like this:

“That desk goes. That table goes. Those filing cabinets go. Etc.”

When we got to the new place the conversations went like this:

“That goes in the third office on the left. No, that’s not where that goes” but all the movers heard was “blah, blah, blah”

Can’t you just feel the energy and inspiration swirling around me? Now I know why Hemingway drank so much.

Let’s talk about Brother Hemingway. It’s my opinion he, Mark Twain, Harper Lee, and John Steinbeck are the Mount Rushmore of American writers. (Sure John Grishman may have sold more books than all of them combined, but great writers are seldom given their due while they’re still breathing fresh air). And even Hemingway says, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” Ernest Freaking Hemingway admits he wasn’t born with the ability to write. Instead of descending into a fit of false modesty, I’m going to boldly declare if Papa Hemingway learned how to write, I can too.

Let me be clear that’s a declaration I could not and would not have made before I began the 500 words a day discipline. Writing 500 words a day has opened my eyes to the fact that writing is just about work. No different than hauling hay, picking peaches or any of the other manual labor I’ve done through the years. The only real benefit to being a writer is you can choose to do it in the air conditioning. But that’s it. Hauling hay was all about putting one foot in front of the other to get through a 12 hour day in the middle of July in Alabama, while writing is putting one letter in front of another. It’s all about the grind.

So that’s 529 words I wrote when I was the opposite of inspired, that means the writing muscle continues to develop.

 

Hemingway Had to Learn How to Write

The Best Block of His Life

The skinny high school junior jogged to the line of scrimmage by himself like always. The center always went first to show the rest of the team where to line up. When the defense got into formation, he checked to see where the nose tackle was like he had done every snap of the game. It was mid-way through the third quarter, but the coach had drilled the habit into him over and over again during practice. Sure enough, the Central High School football team had finally lined up in the ON formation.

The skinny center looked left and right as he bent over to snap the ball and shouted “ON, ON” to both sides. He was so excited he shouted loud enough for the 500 or so fans sitting in the home team bleachers to hear him.

This was the moment the whole team had been waiting for. They had a special play designed for this formation. The head coach had seen a mismatch as he was watching Central on film he hoped his team could exploit.

That advantage was the home team had a better than average running back. The problem was the rest of the team had to work hard to reach the level of average. Including the skinny center. The coach knew this but thought if he could keep his team of average kids who didn’t know they were average in the game, they could bust a long run on the special play.

But could they hold on until then? When the visiting team finally showed the “ON” defensive formation would they be too far ahead for it to matter? The answer to turned out to be nope. Somehow, the home team was only behind 10-7.

The average guys on defense were hitting anything that moved wearing a white jersey. Especially the little 5’ 9” fire hydrant of a nose guard. Besides being fearless, he was also the dirtiest player on the team. He taped small metal plates to the top of his hands and then covered them with pads. All night long he would fire off the ball at the opposing offensive lineman by swinging his arm up as hard as possible. From time to time the lineman would get lazy and the metal plate covered hand would connect with a chin protected only by a plastic and cloth chinstrap. It wasn’t hard to tell when it happened because the lineman would be too busy rubbing his chin to block and the little pit bull would make the tackle in the backfield.

Now they had their chance. While the center was shouting “ON” to the lineman, the QB was yelling the same to the backfield. “Set-go” shouted the QB and the center snapped the ball then pivoted to his left. The left guard and tackle both took one step forward then stepped to their right. The center tracked down the line in the spaces where those two used to be. The defensive tackle, a great player who had been wreaking havoc all night, never saw the center coming. He thought the offensive tackle was tired of blocking and decided to take a play off, which in all likelihood, meant the play was going the other way. So he took a step to his left, which put him right in the path of the skinny center. At that moment the skinny center coiled his 175 lbs and caught the defensive tackle square in the side of his ribs. A textbook shoulder block. The block was so intense, the skinny center lifted the tackle off his feet. In football it’s called a de-cleater.

The tailback saw all of this happening and then a hole you could drive a truck through opened in the line as the offense guard and tackle took out the linebacker and other defensive lineman. The last thing the skinny center saw was the back of the tailback’s jersey as he ran untouched for a 40 yard touchdown. Now the score was 14-10 for the good guys.

But life isn’t a movie with a fairytale ending. The underdog doesn’t always win and they didn’t win that night. The visitors pulled out a win 17-14.

As the skinny center sat at his locker undressing after the game, he had the satisfaction of knowing he had thrown the best block of his life.

The Best Block of His Life

The Base Hit

It was the bottom of the last inning. Two outs, runners on second and third. Score was tied. All the home team needed was a base hit to win the game.

Seconds before you could hear the crickets chirping in the mid-summer night air as the batter walked up to the plate, then as if on cue, the crowd on both sides were on their feet.

The home team fans shouting words of encouragement to the batter, “You can do it” “Wait for your pitch!” “Just get the bat on the ball!”

The visiting team fans wanted to see their pitcher bring the heat “no batter, no batter” “Throw strikes, he can’t hit them!”

Nobody knows for sure but it looked like the batter and pitcher were barely breathing. The pressure on two nine-year-olds was immense.

The batter’s dad was coaching first base and didn’t know if could stand to watch his son under such pressure. His only thought was “please dear Lord, don’t let him strike out”.

The head coach shouted “Time blue” from his spot down the third base line. “Come here, son” he said as he walked towards his player.

“Oh great” thought the batter “Guess he’s gonna yell at me one more time about watching the ball and not leaving the bat on my shoulder”.

The coach was not what anyone would call touchy-feely. He was the kind of coach who would chew the team out after they played a near flawless game. Hugs and atta-boys were not part of his coaching philosophy.

But for some reason the coach went against the grain as he bent down so the batter could hear. In that moment the coach decided he was talking to a nine-year-old boy who was so nervous he couldn’t spit, instead of a baseball player.

The first word out of his mouth was “Breathe”.

The player was so startled he didn’t know what to do.

For a second time the coach said “Breathe”.

Like any good player, he followed instructions.

After a couple of deep breaths the coach asked “have you been giving me your best the whole game?”

“Yes sir coach” was the reply.

“Then all I expect out of you right now is your best. And remember, we lose as a team and we win as team. Together.”

A visible look of relief came over the boy’s face as he strode back to the plate. He dug in and waited for the first pitch.

“Strike One!” shouted the umpire to a pitch that was right down the middle.

The batter looked over at his dad who winked at him and said “you just saw his best pitch.”

The player stepped back in the batter box for pitch number two. “Ball, outside” was the call.

The sense of calm the player felt was so unusual it almost frightened him as he stepped out of the box to adjust his gloves.

Pitch 3 “Ball, too high”

The count was now 1 and 2 which meant the pressure had shifted back to the pitcher.

In a stunning display of wisdom, the batter thought the pitcher would go back to the fast ball. Sure enough it was right down the middle.

The batter swung his bat for the first time. Ding went the aluminium bat and the ball lifted in high in the night sky.

The home team dugout started shouting “it’s gone!” but because of their angle they didn’t see the ball drifting outside the right field line into foul territory.

The umpire shouted “Foul Ball!” and the home team groaned while the visitors started breathing again.

Now the count was 2-2.

Before the first pitch, the batter’s mom could not take the suspense and instead of cheering from her seat, she was pacing behind the bleachers. She ran to look when she heard the ding of the bat but was now back to pacing.

For pitch number 5 the pitcher did what all nine-year-old baseball players do, he went with what he was comfortable with. Another fastball down the middle.

This time the batter was ready. Aluminum met cowhide and the ball screamed by the second baseman into right field. Basehit. Runner Scores. Game over.

As the batter ran through the bag at first like he’d been taught, his dad, a man not known for outward displays of emotion, picked his son up in a hug and spun him around. Why? Because the dad understood that something even more important than winning a game had happened. His son had come through under pressure. His nine-year-old boy had taken a giant step towards manhood.

 

The Base Hit