Mastering Manhood: 10 Skills Every Man Needs To Develop

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Mastering Manhood: 10 Skills Every Young Man Should Develop

Being a man today isn’t about just age; it’s about maturity and the skills you bring to the table.

Life has its ups and downs; navigating them is easier when we’re equipped with the right tools. The right skills can help us to prosper in our careers, relationships, and generally live more fulfilling lives.

Today, we dive into 10 essential skills that every man should have in his toolkit.

Whether you’re just stepping into adulthood or finding your way through your twenties, thirties, or even forties, these tips are for you.

I wish I had learned many of them earlier, but it’s never too late to get better.

Let’s jump in.

1. Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

In a world where “being tough” and “manning up” are thrown around, understanding and managing your emotions stands out as a crucial skill. Emotional Intelligence isn’t about suppressing feelings, but instead recognizing, understanding, and handling them effectively.

Why it’s important:

  • Better Relationships: Being in tune with your emotions and those of others makes for healthier interactions. It helps in understanding friends, family, or partners and fosters deeper connections.
  • Stress Management: Recognizing what you’re feeling can help address stressors head-on, preventing burnouts or emotional breakdowns.
  • Decision Making: High EQ individuals tend to make decisions that are more considerate of both logic and emotion.

How to Develop It:

  • Self-reflection: Spend a few minutes each day reflecting on your emotions. A great way to do this is through journaling. We’ve already covered 10 Daily Journaling Tips Every Man Should Know, so check this out if you have never tried it. Trust me, it’s a game changer, and with famous journalers, including Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, Thomas Edison, and Mark Twain, this habit puts you in good company.
  • Active Listening: When someone talks, really listen. This helps in understanding emotions better and in building empathy.
  • Feedback: Occasionally ask close friends or family about your reactions. Sometimes, an external perspective can give insights into our emotional responses.

Remember, it’s okay for men to have emotions. What counts is how well you understand and navigate them. 

Handling emotions well can help you avoid many mistakes in romantic relationships and life in general. 

2. Financial Literacy

I remember the first time I got a paycheck. The sheer joy of having my own money quickly transformed into confusion when I had to figure out taxes, savings, and budgeting. Ah, the realities of adulting!

While our school curriculum taught us about algebra and history, many of us weren’t introduced to the basics of handling money.

Financial literacy is more than just understanding how to save a few bucks—it’s about ensuring a stable future for yourself and your loved ones.

Why it’s important:

  • Secured Future: Understanding money management means you’re less likely to fall into debt traps or face financial hardships.
  • Smart Investments: Knowledge in this area can help grow your wealth, whether it’s in stocks, real estate, or even a small side business.
  • Peace of Mind: There’s a unique comfort in knowing your finances are in check, allowing you to enjoy life’s experiences without the constant worry about money.

How to Develop It:

  • Educate Yourself: There are tons of resources out there, from books to online courses. There are endless books on financial literacy, but one of my personal favorites is The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, which I included in our post on 12 Must-Read Books For Young Men.
  • Budgeting: Start with a simple monthly budget, noting down all your expenses. A simple google sheet is all you need to get started. If you are not confident in your Excel skills, there are many templates online.
  • Seek Advice: If you’re unsure about investments or financial decisions, don’t hesitate to consult with a financial advisor or a trusted individual with experience, especially when you are investing significant amounts of money.

Growing your money tree takes time and patience. But with every wise financial decision, you’re planting seeds for a future that’s not just wealthy in finances but rich in experiences and security.

3. The Art of Saying ‘No’

Surprisingly, one of the most empowering words in any language is also one of the shortest: No.

In a world that often pushes us towards endless yeses—whether it’s to avoid disappointment, seize every opportunity, or just fit in—the ability to say ‘no’ might seem counterintuitive.

This was one of my biggest takeaways from Greg McKeown’s bestseller, Essentialism, in which he writes, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no”. This is an excellent read for anyone feeling overloaded and lost.

Why it’s important:

  • Preserving Energy: Not every opportunity is the ‘right’ opportunity. By saying ‘no’ to things that don’t align with your goals or values, you conserve energy for what truly matters.
  • Self-Respect: Continuously agreeing to things can lead to burnout and resentment. Saying ‘no’ when necessary shows self-awareness and respect for your own boundaries.
  • Quality Over Quantity: By focusing on fewer tasks or engagements, the quality of your involvement often increases. It’s about depth, not width.

How to Develop It:

  • Self-Reflection: Before committing, pause and ask yourself: “Is this truly what I want? Does it align with my goals or values?”
  • Practice: Begin with small things. It’s okay to decline an invitation if you’re not up for it or to not sign up for an extra project if your plate is already full.
  • Be Polite but Firm: You don’t have to be rude. A simple, “Thank you for thinking of me, but I won’t be able to” often suffices.

It might seem odd to celebrate the power of ‘no’ in a world that often praises hustle, networking, and seizing every chance. But remember, every ‘no’ you say to something that isn’t right for you is a resounding ‘yes’ to something that is.

It’s about finding balance and honoring your own path.

4. Active Listening

In an age of constant digital distractions and ever-shortening attention spans, the skill of truly listening to someone has become somewhat rare.

And I’m not just talking about hearing words but actually absorbing and understanding them. Active listening might seem passive, but in reality, it’s an active process of empathy, patience, and genuine engagement.

Why it’s important:

  • Building Trust: When people feel heard, they feel valued. This forms the foundation for trust in any relationship.
  • Improved Communication: By listening actively, we understand better and respond more appropriately, reducing misunderstandings.
  • Learning: You’d be surprised at what we can learn when we truly listen – be it a new perspective, a piece of knowledge, or an insight about someone’s feelings.

How to Develop It:

  • Limit Distractions: Whether you’re at a coffee shop or in a meeting, put away your phone and other distractions. Give the speaker your undivided attention.
  • Feedback Loop: Occasionally summarize what you’ve understood. Something like, “So what you’re saying is…” can clarify any misconceptions.
  • Body Language: Nodding, maintaining eye contact, and leaning slightly forward are non-verbal cues that show you’re engaged in the conversation.

As the now-celebrated Greek philosopher Epictetus wrote, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

In a world where everyone wants to be heard, being a good listener can set you apart. It’s a silent gesture that screams understanding and respect.

5. Adaptability 

I still vividly remember moving abroad alone some ten years ago. The excitement of a new beginning was quickly overshadowed by the realization that I was out of my comfort zone, battling unfamiliar public transport, alien cuisines, and the sheer pace of city life.

It was then that I truly grasped the essence of adaptability. Life won’t always be a steady stream; sometimes, it’s a whirlwind of changes. And adapting isn’t about losing yourself but learning to dance in the new rhythm.

Why it’s important:

  • Overcoming Challenges: Life is unpredictable. The ability to adapt means you can pivot and find solutions, even when things don’t go as planned.
  • Growth Opportunities: Often, stepping out of your comfort zone leads to unforeseen opportunities and personal growth.
  • Stress Reduction: Embracing change rather than resisting it can significantly reduce anxiety and stress.

How to Develop It:

  • Stay Curious: Always be eager to learn. Whether it’s a new tool at work, a cultural nuance, or a fresh hobby, staying curious helps you adapt faster.
  • Limit the ‘Comfort Bubble’: Every once in a while, challenge yourself to do something unfamiliar. It could be as simple as taking a different route to work or trying a new cuisine.
  • Reflect on Past Changes: Think about a time you faced change. What helped you navigate it? Drawing from past experiences can provide a blueprint for future challenges.

My adventures have taught me resilience, introduced me to some amazing people, and, yes, even made me a fan of foods I’d never imagined I’d enjoy.

Embracing adaptability isn’t about being unyielding or rigid; it’s about flowing like water, finding your path through the cracks and crevices of change.

6. Time Management

There’s a saying that time is the only resource we can’t renew, and yet, it’s often the one we squander the most.

Juggling multiple roles and responsibilities in today’s fast-paced world requires mastery over your hours, minutes, and, yes, even those sneaky seconds.

Why it’s important:

  • Increased Productivity: Efficiently managing your time means you get more done with less stress.
  • Work-Life Balance: Proper time management can help ensure you make room for relaxation, hobbies, and quality time with loved ones.
  • Achieving Goals: Whether it’s a career ambition or a personal project, managing your time well is a stepping stone to realizing your dreams.

How to Develop It:

  • Prioritize Tasks: Not all tasks are of equal importance. Determine what needs immediate attention and what can wait.
  • Use Tools: Planners, digital calendars, and apps like Trello or Todoist can help organize and keep track of your tasks.
  • Avoid Procrastination: It’s the age-old enemy of time management. Break tasks into smaller chunks and set short, achievable goals to combat the urge to delay.

If you are really interested in learning more about making the most of your time, I highly recommend reading The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less. It’s a classic for a reason.

Every minute wasted is a minute you won’t get back.

Mastering your time not only boosts your productivity but also enriches the quality of your life, ensuring you don’t miss out on those precious moments that truly matter.

7. Conflict Resolution

Whether it’s a disagreement with a coworker, a spat with a roommate, or a difference in opinion with a loved one, conflicts are an inevitable part of human interaction.

What differentiates a mature individual from the rest is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to handle and resolve it constructively.

Why it’s important:

  • Maintaining Healthy Relationships: Addressing and resolving issues prevents resentment from building up and ensures relationships remain strong.
  • Personal Growth: Successfully navigating conflicts can lead to increased understanding, empathy, and personal development.
  • Professional Success: In any team or workplace, conflict resolution skills are invaluable. They foster a positive environment and facilitate smoother collaboration.

How to Develop It:

  • Active Listening: Before jumping to conclusions or getting defensive, genuinely listen to the other party’s perspective.
  • Stay Calm: Emotions can escalate a situation. Take a deep breath, and approach the situation with a level head.
  • Seek Win-Win Solutions: Instead of viewing conflicts as a zero-sum game, look for solutions that are beneficial for all involved.

In the midst of a disagreement, it’s easy to let pride or emotions take the driver’s seat.

However, approaching conflicts with an open mind and the intent to resolve can turn challenges into opportunities for growth and understanding.

8. Self-care 

In my early twenties, I made the mistake of equating busyness with success. I was always on the move, saying ‘yes’ to every project, every social event, and every responsibility.

As you might have guessed, the weight of it all caught up with me. I realized that in the race to get ahead, I was neglecting the most important thing: myself.

Self-care is not just spa days or vacations; it’s the daily commitment to ensuring your mental, emotional, and physical health are prioritized.

Why it’s important:

  • Improved Health: Regular self-care reduces the risk of physical ailments and mental health issues.
  • Increased Productivity: When you’re at your best mentally and emotionally, you perform better in every task.
  • Enhanced Self-esteem: Recognizing and attending to your needs fosters a stronger sense of self-worth.

How to Develop It:

  • Set Boundaries: Know when to take a break, when to say ‘no’, and when to prioritize your well-being over other demands. Embracing digital minimalism helped me in this respect.
  • Routine Matters: Establish daily routines that cater to your well-being, be it meditation, exercise, reading, or simply getting enough sleep. For me, it’s playing golf and walking.
  • Seek Support: It’s okay to ask for help when needed. Be it friends, family, or professionals, talking can often lighten the burden.

Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential. A well-maintained vehicle goes further and performs better, and the same goes for our minds and bodies.

Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking care of yourself ensures you’re in the best shape to navigate life and support others.

9. Networking 

When I first heard the term “networking,” images of stuffy corporate mixers filled with awkward small talk and business card exchanges came to mind.

But as I delved into my career and personal growth journey, I realized networking is so much more. It’s about forging genuine, meaningful connections, not just for professional growth but also for personal enrichment.

Why it’s important:

  • Opportunities: Many times, opportunities arise not just from what you know, but who you know. A diverse network can open doors to jobs, collaborations, or projects.
  • Personal Growth: Building connections with diverse individuals exposes you to different perspectives, cultures, and ideas, enriching your worldview.
  • Support System: A robust network acts as a safety net. Whether you’re looking for advice, mentorship, or just someone to brainstorm with, your connections can be invaluable.

How to Develop It:

  • Genuine Interest: When meeting someone new, be genuinely curious. It’s not about what they can do for you, but about understanding who they are and their journey.
  • Engage Regularly: Networking isn’t a one-off activity. Regularly engage with your connections, be it a simple catch-up call, a coffee meet, or attending community events.
  • Give Before You Take: Always approach networking with the mindset of offering value. Help others, share insights, and be of service. This mutual support builds stronger bonds.

Networking is more art than science. It’s not about collecting contacts; it’s about planting seeds of relationships and nurturing them.

Over time, these connections blossom into partnerships, friendships, and invaluable pillars of support in both your personal and professional life.

10. Cultivating Gratitude

One evening during a particularly challenging phase of my life, a close friend gave me a simple journal with a note: “Write three things you’re grateful for every day.”

Skeptical at first, I soon realized the transformative power of this simple act. Gratitude isn’t just about saying “thank you”; it’s an active recognition of the positives in life, even when the going gets tough.

Why it’s important:

  • Enhanced Mood: Regularly practicing gratitude has been linked to increased happiness (Harvard Health) and reduced depression.
  • Better Relationships: Showing appreciation makes others feel valued and strengthens bonds.
  • Improved Resilience: Gratitude helps in navigating challenges, making it easier to bounce back from adversities.

How to Develop It:

  • Daily Reflection: Set aside a few minutes each day to jot down or mentally note things you’re thankful for. They don’t have to be big; sometimes, it’s the small joys that matter.
  • Express Openly: If someone has positively impacted your day or life, tell them. It could be a text, a call, or a heartfelt note.
  • Mindful Practices: Activities like meditation or yoga often integrate gratitude as a core component, helping you stay grounded and thankful.

As I filled the pages of that journal, my outlook shifted. I became more present, more appreciative of both the highs and the lessons from the lows.

Gratitude, I realized, is a lens that colors the world in brighter hues. And in a life full of complexities, it offers a simple yet profound way to find joy and contentment in every moment.

The bottom line 

Mastering manhood is a journey, not a destination. As you hone these ten skills, remember that personal growth is an ever-evolving process.

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Dive in, keep growing, and embrace the journey of becoming the best version of yourself. Cheers to mastering life’s many adventures!