A real man steps up, accepts responsibility, and takes the initiative as a husband and father.
"Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never had to cross the street alone. Men took charge because that's what they did. But somewhere along the way the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. But today there are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar, and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It's time to get your hands dirty. It's time to answer the call of manhood. It's time to wear the pants."
--From an advertisement for Dockers jeans
Initiative is the essence of manhood. Nothing comes to the man who is passive, except failure.
Men are not meant to be spectators. Real men accept responsibility rather than making excuses and look for solutions instead of casting blame.
On the other hand, the disengaged man, whether single or married, will settle for diluted, bland maleness. Life happens to him; he doesn't happen to life. His expectations are low. And so are his achievements.
Abdicating their roles
Why is it that some men can initiate great tasks and conquer overwhelming obstacles at work and remain so passive in relationships or in leading at home? It's like it's a disease that infects the male species. None of us are exempt from the passivity virus. Over the years I've done a little inventory of my own life; I've listed some of my own lame excuses for why I haven't initiated.
- "Taking the initiative is hard work and I'm tired." I hate to admit this, but pure selfishness has been the cause of most of my passivity. In years past, after solving problems at work I just wanted to vegetate, watch television, and not get involved with the smaller issues such as cleaning up the kitchen, helping with homework, or putting the kids to bed. And I certainly didn't want to deal with the bigger issues such as repairing a breach in my relationship with my wife, or addressing a disciplinary issue with a child. On multiple occasions I've had to pry myself out of my easy chair and into situations that I would rather have ignored. Being a man will involve pain. Initiative will demand sacrifice and self-denial.
- "I don't know how to initiate." When I was single, developing a relationship with a woman was risky. The learning curve was steep. Later, as a husband, at times I found it easy to abdicate leadership to my wife. As a dad I knew I needed to develop a relationship with my daughters and take them on dates, but what are we supposed to talk about? Other responsibilities, like having a "birds and bees" conversation with my children, were awkward and easy to rationalize putting off until sometime in the future.
- "Taking the initiative means I might fail." It may mean I've already failed and it's easier not to risk failing again. Whether it was asking a young lady out on a date when I was single, or leading my wife in planning, discussing the family budget, hammering out boundaries and discipline for the children, or just the basics of leading my family, I found that the fear of failure created a huge gravitational pull toward passivity. But real men take action. And when they do, great things can happen. Just ask my friend Tom.
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