by Brendon Watt, the Australian CFO of Access Consciousness
Drinking beer, hanging with the boys, battling through 60-hour weeks in a blue-collar job to support my family… I know all about being a ‘real man.’ The problem is, in my desperate attempt to ‘fit in’ and adhere to the unspoken rules of manhood, I found myself exhausted, broke and (like nine percent of American men) deeply depressed.
I was six-years old when I noticed how I was different, and I started to change my behavior. I remember thinking ‘what do I need to do to fit in?’ and cutting off parts of myself to look, act, and feel just like all the other boys. I was brilliant at it, too! I did all the right manly things.
Eventually, my childhood decision to ‘man up’ culminated at ‘rock bottom.’ I wound up broke, living in a tiny room at my mom’s house with my young child to support. I was so tired, depressed, hopeless. I literally thought I was the worst person in the whole world.
It was at this time in my life, ten years ago, that I decided to break the mold and start living life on my own terms. All this macho man stuff is just conditioning. It’s absolute bulls**t.
Now, I travel the world as a popular speaker, business and life mentor and Australian CFO of the global organization, Access Consciousness. The secret to my success is that he stopped trying to fit in. I stopped letting others define what was, and was not, possible for me and I started exploring what I was really capable of. I call it ‘living in a question’.
Many American men are struggling with the pressure of fitting in and this, in turn, is creating an epidemic of anxiety, depression and suicide. The greatest challenge for men are the social myths that they buy into. These include:
You are only worth as much as you earn.
Most people make money more relevant than jobs. I saw this a lot in the trade industry – men would define their status by how much money they earned, rather than who they are and how they contribute in other ways. This attitude means men don’t ask questions or see other possibilities. Their entire lives, they live with the thought ‘I’ve got to get up and go to work.’ But money is not the source of your life; you are.
You have to work hard to earn a good life.
The American point of view is that you’ve got to do it tough; you’ve got to pull yourself up from your own bootstraps. American men are taught you’ve got to work hard to make your money, but this attitude will always place a limit on what you can earn. We have to get rid of this idea that ‘if it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing.’ It’s not necessary to work hard to create greater.
Emotional well-being doesn’t matter.
As men, we’re pressured to follow each other like ants – we’re never asked “Hey, what’s going to work for you?” Things like happiness and caring are not even offered as an option to American men. How many men are allowed to show how caring they are? How many guys feel comfortable saying ‘I’m choosing this because it makes me happy’?
Bravery is the same as courage.
There’s huge pressure on American men to be ‘real men,’ and it takes real courage to break that mold and be different. Not bravery – that’s about the troops going into battle. I’m talking about courage: the willingness to be different. It’s a tough choice; it took everything I had to be different but, at the end of the day, we have to start choosing what works for us.
For American men tired of maintaining the ‘macho’ persona here’s a final, key piece of advice. Think of yourself as a boy – remember every single thing you knew was possible when you were a kid – and ask yourself ‘When did I give that up?” What have you slowly given up, chopped down and whittled away just so you could fit in?
Brendon Watt is a speaker, entrepreneur, business and life mentor. He is the Australian CFO of Access Consciousness®, a set of simple-yet-profound tools currently transforming lives in 173 countries, and the facilitator of several special Access programs including Joy of Business. Drawing upon his transformation from a struggling tradesman and single dad to global speaker, Brendon facilitates classes and workshops all over the world, encouraging others to step out of judgement and into a more authentic, fulfilling life.