Maximize These Masculine Traits and Dragons Will Fear You

It’s no surprise that the world is talking about masculinity in the 2020s. Men are increasingly becoming alienated and disenfranchised in a culture that no longer appreciates the work they do. It’s not too late for men to take a foothold and do what they do best, but you must know which masculine traits to focus on. I made this reminder so that every man out there can become the lionhearted, redblooded baddest dude you know you can be.

Masculine traits are masculine for a reason. They’re what make you a man—become better at them, and you’ll be a better man.

You’ve heard the advice: don’t compare yourself with others. Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, right? That advice sucks.

Becoming the best man you can be is all about fulfilling your potential. If you could be stronger, smarter, or more skilled, you could be more masculine.

Maybe you sucked yesterday. So no, don’t compare yourself with who you were yesterday. Compare yourself with your potential.

If all you want is to feel good about yourself (which is what the gurus are really selling), then sure, compare yourself with a worse version of yourself. But if you want to maximize your potential across the most important masculine traits to become the man you could be, compare yourself with the best version of yourself and keep reading.

Think you could be a millionaire, but you’re just getting by? You’ve got some work to do!

1. Build Your Patience Tolerance

Painting of a man in pain

You might not think of Michael Jordan first when someone mentions patience. But creating the greatest basketball player of all time no doubt took time and, with that, an unending amount of patience. Here’s what he said about it:

I have something more important than courage. I have patience. I will become what I know I am.

Michael Jordan

“Good things come,” the Guinness commercial states, “to those who wait.”

I only half agree with that.

Patience will turn you into a powerhouse, but not if you only wait. You want to become a successful entrepreneur? It’s going to take time. Want to build a new lifestyle? Become an expert in your chosen field or just gain some skill in your latest hobby? Patience is what you need.

But don’t think that waiting around is going to get you any of those things. No. It’s planting the seeds and then patience in the face of continual activity and work that brings you the big harvest.

Imagine the patient farmer who scatters his seeds in spring but doesn’t till the land, doesn’t sow them in rows, or water the crops during the dry Summer. He waits until fall but finds nothing much to gather.

Compare him to the farmer with no patience – he harvests too early and ruins his crops.

You must be the farmer who does his work, knowing it will pay off in time. And stay patient in the meantime. Keep working, it’s coming.

  • Tip One: Choose a Goal and Patiently wait for the reward of your hard work toward it

2. Become as Strong as You Can Be

Man Holding up a Boulder

Strength is the number one difference between men and women; being strong makes a man a man. If you’re weak, men won’t respect you, and women won’t want you.

Maximizing your strength is the key. Most 150-lb men will probably never bench 315, but that’s no reason to let the voice of defeat rise up: “Why bother? I’ll never be able to lift like those big guys at the gym.” No, you won’t. But it’s not about that. It’s about maximizing your traits.

If you weigh 260 lb and you can bench 225 on your first day in the gym, you’re still weak, weaker than our 150-lb friend, who has only ever hit 200 lb.

“Could do better.”

The Report Card of Every Man Not Fulfilling His Potential
  • You could compare their absolute strength – 200lb vs. 225lb
  • You could compare their strength to body weight ratios
  • But neither of those tells you the real story. How close are you to your potential? 

There’s no exact way to measure this, but you don’t need a precise measure. You know if you’re fulfilling your potential, and you know if you – as many report cards say – “could do better.”

3. Emotional Control

Man with head in hands

Is emotional control a masculine trait? Until recently, very little research had been done concerning the difference in emotional responses between men and women. Although anecdotal evidence (and everyone you’ve ever known will likely agree) that there are large differences.

Luckily, we no longer need to hypothesize, as research has shown that there are large emotional response differences between the sexes.

In one experiment, attendees were shown images designed to elicit negative emotions and told to use the cognitive emotion regulation strategy of reappraisal to avoid feeling the negative emotions (essentially, this means they “tried to think of something else.”) Here’s what the researchers found:

“Neurally, however, gender differences emerged. Compared with women, men showed (a) lesser increases in prefrontal regions that are associated with reappraisal, (b) greater decreases in the amygdala, which is associated with emotional responding, and (c) lesser engagement of ventral striatal regions, which are associated with reward processing.”

Gender Differences in Emotion Regulation: An fMRI Study of Cognitive Reappraisal
Kateri McRae, Kevin N. Ochsner, Iris B. Mauss, John J. D. Gabrieli, and James J. Gross

So emotional regulation, or the ability to control your emotions, is a male characteristic. So, how might you use it? And how would you develop it?

Should you let someone disrespect you as a man?

Many would say no. You should always stand up for yourself and confront anyone who disrespects you, especially young men.

But wise men know better.

Someone cut you off, a store clerk was rude to you, someone cut in line ahead of you.

The wise man thinks they may have a screaming kid in the backseat, or their manager might be being an ass, or maybe they just weren’t paying attention – we’ve all had days like those.

Instead of reacting negatively, try responding positively.

  • Let the next person you see go in front of you.
  • Leave the store, get her a Starbucks, and watch her change.
  • Offer to pay for their things.

Why do this? Compare these two scenarios.

You’re in the shoe store, and the assistant brings the wrong size. You ask her to go back and get your size, but she says that’s the size you asked for. An argument breaks out, and you both end up looking like petty children.

Now imagine, instead of arguing, you head out of the store and get her a Starbucks. It costs a few dollars. When you come back in, you say, “Sorry, maybe I wasn’t paying attention,” and give her the drink. A huge smile comes across her face, and she says, “No, maybe I wasn’t paying attention. It’s been one of those days.” She quickly gets the shoes you want and even uses her staff discount when you pay for them.

Instead of a petulant child, you look like a boss.

  • Tip Three: Choose something (your happy place) ahead of time to think about in stressful situations

4. Take the Lead

Man speaking

Manly men are natural leaders; you don’t need a study or research to understand that. Look at a Jocko Willink, an Arnold Swarzenneggar, or a Winston Churchill, and their manliness is—in large part—down to their leadership ability.

You’re with your friends, all trying to figure out what to do. Everyone knows what they want to do but no one is saying it. They don’t want to take over or be seen as controlling. “What if no one wants to go to the park? I’ll look stupid,” your inner voice might say.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would just take the lead and suggest something? It would take the pressure off, and you could stop wasting the day doing nothing.

That’s not what you should think. That’s what they are all thinking. You need to be the one to take the lead, and everyone will appreciate you for it.

Even if no one wants to go with your park suggestion, you can keep leading by either suggesting something else or getting suggestions from everyone else and asking for a consensus. “OK, John, what do you wanna do? You wanna go get coffee, OK. Does anyone have a problem with that? Let’s go to the Starbucks around the corner!”

Everyone loves someone who will take responsibility for a situation, especially if they have everyone’s best interests at heart. Become a leader, and people will always want you around. You’ll become the guy who solves problems and gets things done.

5. Hide This Secret

Man with finger on lips

There is a secret that all real men hide.

Something they don’t want their friends, family, or even their wives to know: How hard they work.

It’s tempting to want to show how hard you work. You think it will make others respect you, want to help you or feel bad for you. But it doesn’t. It just makes them indifferent. No one wants to be manipulated into thinking or feeling a certain way. Try to make people feel bad for you. They won’t. Try to make them respect you. They won’t.

Instead, imagine the guy who always goes the extra mile, picks up the slack, and works harder than he needs to. Imagine when someone finds out he’s been doing that—without telling anyone—for years. Instant respect.

  • Tip Five: Start a new project and tell no one about it

6. Understand the Meaning of Your Life

Man holding child

Want to come off as a real man? You must be clear on what you’re doing it all for. A masculine man is sure and confident; he acts with directness and conviction. That’s because he doesn’t question what his life is about, so he can be decisive.

A man who believes in God and attends church doesn’t need to wonder whether he’s a good person or should do X or Y. He knows he’s a good person, so he follows his instincts – the instincts of a good person will be just and reasonable.

Numerous studies attest to this. People with regular spiritual or religious practices show:

When times get hard, or things don’t go his way, he doesn’t need to dwell on them or ask why. He goes back to his reason for life—it’s still there, unchanging, he’s home, and he can rebuild any other part of his life around it.

If you want to work on these masculine traits and more through a monthly challenge and a growing community of men trying to Face their Dragons, join the Dragon’s Eye below.

Gregory Gaynor Avatar

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done.

Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.