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Tough. Smart. Tenacious.
These three words are near the top of my list for how I want other men to perceive me.
Humble. Willing. Kind.
These three words are actually more important elements of who I want to be.
There are many rewards available for men when they are seen as tough, smart, and tenacious. Those qualities have driven us forever, helping us in our noble pursuits to create opportunities for others and to provide for our families.
Those same "hard" characteristics have a downside, of course. Staggering numbers of men are succumbing to the stress of our cultural "go it alone" ethos:
Until I had gained a bit of life experience--including the scars and wrinkles and aching lessons of my middle years--I didn't realize how important it was to be humble, willing, and kind.
I believe that, as men, we find the wisdom of these so-called "softer" qualities in our own time. I also firmly believe that until we discover them and add them to our tool belt--alongside the toughness, the smarts, and the tenacity--that we end up struggling unnecessarily.
One of the men who I know I can lean on when I run into the bumps along life's roads is Carl Ficks.
Carl is tough, smart, tenacious, humble, willing, and kind. And that's just the beginning of the list of his impressive qualities. He's also:
A hardened former trial lawyer
An endurance athlete, still going strong in his 6th decade
A deeply caring and committed father to his two daughters
An emotionally intelligent storyteller, writer, and leadership coach
All of this made me grateful to be able to talk with Carl about the "safe harbors" that men are uniquely positioned to create for each other.
We can't get the support we need to bring out all of those "hard" and "soft" parts of us from anyone else. We need to step up for each other, which also means we need to step out and let each other know we need that same support we can offer.
Help a guy today. Tell him, "I'm thinking of you," as Carl suggests. Even if he doesn't seem like he needs it, he'll appreciate it.