When you think of macho characters, who comes to mind? James Bond, facing death regularly with a debonair disposition, only to make love to a gorgeous woman moments later? Steve McQueen, tearing through the streets of San Francisco in a Mustang? James Dean, the icon with a chiseled jawline who gave birth to the modern rebel archetype? An Italian man drenched in cologne with a motorcycle and a woman under each arm? Or perhaps it’s a testosterone-fuelled wrestler who would threaten to give you brain damage by patting you on the back?
Our ideas of what make a man macho are largely determined by cultural stereotypes such as these. To those of us with perhaps a more sophisticated understanding of emotional intelligence, the emphasis on pride resulting from physical strength, emotional distance and ego fulfilment may seem a bit immature, if not totally ridiculous. However, these archetypes persevere, and there is an unquenchable thirst in many men’s minds to be as much of a man as possible. We have, after all, evolved through competition; through being the strongest, most confident and capable individuals in the tribe.
We are living in a time when the lack of restraint on the macho man archetype has allowed one of the most egotistical men alive to ascend to the most powerful position in the world, mostly through strategic flaunting of his ego alone, with little real substance to offer.
Meanwhile, more and more men are finding direction in the ancient wisdom shared by people whose power was not created through prestige and idolatry, but, rather, through a commitment to self-realization. The transparency of the limits of machismo are increasingly apparent, and more men are seeking something real within, simple yet profound truths inside themselves and reflected in the words and actions of ancient sages such as Lao Tzu and Buddha.
In relationships, these men learn that they alone are responsible for their feelings and actions. They seek to understand their partners, and rather than try to fix their partner’s issues with their own points of view, they know that the strongest thing that a man can do is to simply hold space for them. They learn to eschew emotional reaction by taking ownership of their experience, while creating a steady, grounding force with their energy to protect the household.
In business, rather than focusing on the competition, these men compete with themselves to do business honestly and with integrity, compassion, and a sense of purpose, knowing that every thought and every action they take creates a ripple effect which can either contribute to the creation or the destruction of their team and their business.
In so doing, these men prove themselves to be stronger than their macho brothers. Through dropping their need to prove themselves and committing to serving the highest interests of their health and their relationships, these men earn their sense of pride in each moment through living in deep integrity. The macho man is being replaced by the mindful man.
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Sam Morris is based in LA. You can contact Sam and find out more about his Zen Warrior Training programme at www.zenwarriortraining.com