Playing By Someone Else’s Rules |

For many years, the role of a man in the majority heterosexual culture was simple. There was a division of labor and his job was to sacrifice himself in order to provide for his family, help everyone else remain safe even at the sacrifice of his life and to be the head of the household. He was supposed to be tough and try to have sex with every woman he came into contact with. The rules were crystal clear. Yes, there were many exceptions to this programming but these were messages transmitted to men.

For the last 25 years, I have spent a lot of time with men who are trying to figure out what it means to be a man in modern times. The fact that there is a question speaks to the confusion for many at a time where urban women’s voices are becoming loud. “Boys get worse grades than girls. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 35; men also report significantly lower life satisfaction than women. According to statistics compiled by the Men’s Health Forum, men make up 76% of all suicides, 95% of the prison population, and 73% of adults who go missing.” (Men after #MeToo: ‘There’s a narrative that masculinity is fundamentally toxic’” The Guardian)

So, what does it mean to be a man in the 21st century?

Robert Moore’s mythopoetic model of “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover” is being replaced with one where there are no rules for men and they are struggling because, without structure and without social meaning, many men are struggling through lives without purpose. This leaves many of them doing jobs and tasks that leave them isolated and disengaged, lonely for connection.

Society has abandoned “the good man.”

There is nothing interesting about or attention given to men who toil quietly behind the scenes doing what is necessary. Instead, attention is given to train wrecks. As any parent knows, children seek attention any way they can get it. In some family systems, the attention comes from achievement. In others, it comes from “bad behavior” in its many forms.

The other model that seems valued is the explorer—the one who sets out to build or create something new. In the 19th century, that evolved into robber barons. Today, we have people who create through technology and have created idea railroads and highway system.

Most men do not aspire to be train wrecks or have the capacity to develop technology monoliths. So, how does he find meaning without a familiar structure and framework. Complaining won’t work yet that seems to be the most familiar and socially acceptable mechanism for most.

What does work? Sorting out answers with a trusted adviser, a coach, a mentor or guide. Despite the devaluation of older men (and women) in our culture, a more experienced person can help sort through thoughts and ambitions and help them make progress.

We are living in a time where men have a choice of living by someone else’s rules or making their own choices.

This is the time to begin reflection. This is the time to seek support, a trusted adviser, an ally, a coach to help you move the needle in your life. After all, a lifetime is not a long time.

© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2018    



Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked in recruiting for what seems like one hundred years. He is the head coach for He is the host of “The No BS Coaching Advice Podcast,” and “No BS Job Search Advice.”

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