7 Macho Traits That Mean Nothing

What is the measure of a man?  What does it mean to be a “good man”?  What is it that makes one man a good man, respected by all who know him, while another is admired but not necessarily respected, and yet another is looked upon as unworthy of the title of “man” at all?

It is very common to use surface traits, traits that are easily visible from a distance, to judge a man.  These traits, however, describe what a man has, rather than who he is.  While you can measure a man by what he has, it easily leads to giving someone far more credit than they deserve, and putting your faith in someone who will fold under pressure.

There is a single word which sums up using surface traits as a measure of a man:  macho.  Someone who is macho possesses these surface traits, usually without the underlying core traits, is considered macho.  Someone who possesses the deeper traits can be better described as honorable.  The two are not quite mutually exclusive, but it is fairly rare to know someone who is thought of as both, because those who are honorable rarely play up the surface traits, often even downplaying them as unimportant.

Below is a list of seven of the most common of the surface traits that fall under the label “macho”, along with the “honorable” trait for which they are being used as a proxy.

  1. Physical Strength/Toughness

    Core Trait(s): Persistence, Inner Strength
    Physical strength or toughness are often used as a substitute for persistence, or inner strength.  There is something to this, as going on in spite of injury (toughness) does show persistence and at least a measure of inner strength, as does sticking with working out long enough to become strong.  Both of these only show one small piece of persistence and inner strength, however… a man can be quite tough and strong physically, but wilt away like a flower when it comes to things like taking care of his family.

  2. Showing No Emotion

    Core Trait(s): Inner Strength
    Many men make the mistake of thinking that being strong means not showing any emotions.  This is silly… all people feel emotions, and denying yours actually gives them power over you, because you push them out of your conscious mind and into your subconscious, where they can still affect you, but you are no longer aware of what it is that’s doing the affecting.  Denying that you have emotions, suppressing them every time you feel them, simply keeps you from actually dealing with them.  True inner strength involves accepting that you have emotions, facing them, dealing with them, and doing what you need to do.

  3. Being Aggressive

    Core Trait(s): Honor, Respect
    It is very common for men to believe that they need to aggressively demand respect from all of those around him, to prove their honor.  Respect, however, cannot be taken.  It must be earned, and that requires showing that you are worthy of it over time.  Look at anyone who is REALLY respected, like the Godfather.  How often is he aggressive?  Rather than being aggressive, he stands his ground, and will not violate his honor, nor allow another to do so.  Even when something physically aggressive is done on his behalf, it’s never him being aggressive… he just indicates that he wants it taken care of, and someone does so.  Learn from his example… respect does not come from aggression.

  4. Wealth

    Core Trait(s): Strength, Respect
    People often use a man’s wealth as a sign of whether or not he is worthy of respect.  They also often think that having great wealth is itself a sign of strength.  Whether or not these things are true depend on a lot of things, the biggest of which is whether the man earned the wealth himself or was given it.  A man who was given wealth actually tends to be LESS worthy of respect, and weaker, than one who has no wealth to speak of.  For those who earn it, the longer it took to earn the wealth, the more likely it is that they actually ARE worthy of the respect generally accorded to them just for their wealth.  All that being said, wealth in itself has NO significance for how honorable or worthy of respect someone has.  There are homeless people possessed of far more honor, and worthy of far more respect, than some of the wealthiest people in the world.

  5. Political Power

    Core Trait(s): Strength, Respect
    This can be political power within any large organization, whether government, corporate, non-profit, or something else entirely.  This is a surface trait… like physical strength, political power IS one measure of strength, but not a good indicator of the strength that matters, strength of character.  A politician may wield power, that doesn’t make them worthy of respect.  Just look at Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, etc… they had great political power, but the last thing they were is good men.  They lacked honor, integrity, and were unworthy of respect as a person (it’s certainly arguable that some of their achievements deserve respect, but as a person, they don’t).

  6. Fame

    Core Trait(s): Strength, Respect
    Fame is very similar to wealth.  It does grant you power, as does wealth, but as mentioned many times already, power is not the same as strength, let alone the inner strength that is so important to being a good man.

    Some people earn their fame through their accomplishments, like Mother Theresa (I know this is about men… but she is the most recognizable example of what I’m talking about that I can recall at the moment).  Others achieve fame by accident, like a lottery winner.  Still others acquire fame by virtue of their position, like the Pope, or the President of the United States (or even candidate for President).  The fame itself is meaningless as a tool to evaluate who someone is.  All it does is bring the person to your (and a lot of other people’s) attention.  That makes granting someone respect, or assumptions of honor, simply based on their fame, silly.

  7. Women

    Core Trait(s): Strength, Respect
    People often give men respect they don’t deserve simply based on which women they have been in relationships with, or, alternatively, the sheer number of women they have been with.  Many women have poor taste when it comes to men… basing your opinion of a man based on some woman’s (or women’s) opinion is foolish.  In fact, the fact that a man has been with a large number of women is a pretty solid indicator that their honor, integrity, and faithfulness are lacking.  It may be a sign that they are virile, possessing strength in that sense, but certainly not the inner strength that is a reflection of who they are.

Be careful, when looking at a man, and evaluating him, that you separate the macho from the honorable, the surface persona from the core person.  There are times when you will WANT to evaluate someone based on their surface traits, or what they have, rather than who they are… when you’re looking for someone to help you move, for example.   It’s important, though, to do so consciously, when it is desirable, rather than using those macho traits as a substitute for who they are, what kind of man they are, and how much trust you can put in them.

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