The one thing we all know about what makes a man a man is what he achieves in his life. Traditionally men were the breadwinner – they earn the money; that’s what they did! But when asked about achieving, the men had more to add to this archetype than you might first expect.
Competition and Masculinity
Somehow, we all want to compete with ourselves to be better people or against others to define our place in the world. It seems that our way of being masculine is ingrained with a competitive nature, it is the very definition of our masculinity. But for some this is an uncomfortable component of being a man.
We all want to achieve something in this world and therefore our motivation is derived from our competitive nature. We definitely don’t think that our careers are the only place for us to achieve, and in fact, for many it is practically irrelevant to a sense of achievement.
Sports are seen as the appropriate and enjoyable place to express our desire to win. For some, we learnt that when we believed the win was more important than the opponent, the intensity and desire for a successful outcome, pushed away the win. The allurement of competition diminishes when we lose. We learn about our nature, our personality, and our role in the wider world through our wins and losses in the sporting arena.
We do believe that we should always try to get the best from ourselves in anything we set our minds to. Many accept that we want to improve and gain skills, excel at what we do, and strive to become more than we are as our mark of achievement in the world. But we need to learn how to set our boundaries. Some of us can become too competitive and with it arrogant and selfish. If we are like this, we don’t really want to be this way and yet we still are. If we aren’t like this, we know men who are admired for being this way.
It is a constant struggle to find balance in how we allocate our focus and energy. Our internal drive tends to make us put it all into the area we think is the most important in defining ourselves as men. For some this is career, for others it is sport, yet others family, some its friends, or community, political, or religious service. Impotency physically, mentally, and emotionally is the greatest fear for a man. Our capacity to achieve is our action and keeps us from our fears of impotency.
Qualities of Accomplishment
The qualities that we associate with accomplishment varies according to the arena of achievement but include:
• A balanced expression of the man’s presence in the world physically, mentally and emotionally
• Being clear and decisive in their actions
• As a statesman or leader to express an authority that guides and directs others towards a vision or goal
• Being successful in a competitive environment through managing the pressures of expectation, responsibility, and accountability
• Overcoming inadequacies, fears, and perceived limitations
• Able to be genuine in their joy for what they do
• Reflective and self-evaluating to ensure all actions are congruent with who they are
• To have an inquisitive nature
• Having the capacity to give love and be loved
• To provide for his family, to nurture his children by guiding their moral and social development to enable them to be productive citizens, and take care of his wife
• To be a progressive thinker who strives to better humanity and leads by example – walks his talk
• To be strong yet gentle and calm
• To be compassionate for the less fortunate
• To work to preserve the environment, leaving the world in a better place for the next generation
Some of us consider that men have a jaundice view of what success means. Almost every man is successful in the part of his life he focuses on. If he only thinks about one thing, and puts all his energy into that one thing, then he are bound to be successful. But if he then declares that he is successful in his entire life, he is generalising one part of his life into the whole of his life. When a man does that he is lying to himself.
Desire that leads to blindness
Men’s desire to be successful and achieve something in the world makes us blind to what we do and say. We use up all our words, energy, and skills in the one place we want to be successful in and then have nothing left for the other aspects of our lives. We pride ourselves on our ability to make decisions and yet don’t decide to live lives of balance. We are very good at tricking ourselves into believing what we want to believe because we want to be a successful man; a man of achievement.
Men and Feminism
While there is a real resistance to acknowledge that feminism has anything to do with us, times have changed since the 1960’s. Post-feminism has provided us with an opportunity to examine the expectations of older men on younger men. We no longer want to repeat the patterns of our forefathers. There is gentleness in younger generations that may have been there in older ones but was covered over by the arrogance, self-centred, and egoistical persona expected in being a man prior to the feminist revolution. There is now an open acceptance of us as active and involved fathers in our modern society.
Many believe that true success in our lives is only about how we are able to relate to our family. We now see that men are more than providers. We are an integral part of our families, with a vital role to play in guiding the next generation. We influence the well-being of both our girl and boy children and gain a great sense of achievement seeing them succeed in life. Their success is our success because it confirms that we have learnt well and taught our children well. We are to prepare our children for the world of work and adult reality and to do this we must draw on all that makes us a successful man.
For some men success comes through the achievement of wholeness. Feeling content with our lot in life and appreciating the small blessings that life brings adds richness to our existence. We have a healthy respect for the past and a positive yearning for the future. Rather than competing with others, we bench mark our results and strive to improve our place in the world. We feel the traditional idea of being a man, based on what he does limits our self-expression.
Through wholeness we express who we are by embracing how we can contribute to our community in a meaningful and on-going basis. This includes community work, beautification of living or recreational environments, and re-creating the honouring of indigenous customs of respect and value in our elders. We value peace within ourselves and forming cooperative, supportive, and encouraging relationships with other men and boys as well as women.
It is important that we role model dignity and integrity in rising above ignorance, prejudge, and racism. We see adversity as an opportunity for us to grow beyond the smallness of daily life and embrace our spiritual purpose through tenacity and service. We seek achievement through an acceptance of differences while maintaining a safe, functional, moral, and clearly defined society. We value the realisation of our dreams and doing things for the greater good. Success is a personal experience based in who we are. From the outside some may declare that we haven’t done much, but if we have healthy, loving, nurturing relationships, and feel good about whom we are then we have achieved a lot in our lifetime.
What is your experience of the achiever archetype in the men in your life?