Time to “Man Up”

Today’s “Daily Ray” is about how to be a man – a real man – who lives on earth.

I know, I know… you want to say, “Uh… Ray… we all live on earth.”


Especially not most men. (Stick with me, ladies – because aren’t you secretly wishing there were more real men in the world?)

Who am I to offer my opinion on being a “real man”?

Am I, Ray Edwards, qualified to speak about being a “real man”? Yes.

Ask any woman who knows me (who really knows me). Ask the one woman who has really known me the longest – my wife, Lynn.

Those are my credentials, and I don’t much care if you believe me or not. (If you don’t, please just delete this email, and go scurrying right back to your Fakebook and Instaglam fantasy life.)

The genesis for this email starts with a story. As always.

This past weekend, I flew my entire team and their spouses into the Couer d’Alene Resort in Idaho. This was our first annual Team Advance (we do not do company “retreats”, because we don't believe in the tactic of retreat.)

18 of us spent three days basically snow-bound in a resort, learning, laughing, and listening to one another. I was struck by a couple of things as I taught, and learned from, my team and their spouses (most of us are married). My 3 biggest observations:

First, my team is made up almost exclusively of strong women.

Second, strong women require a real man as a spouse – not the feminized “validation seekers” that happen to have a penis, and who make up most of today’s male population.

I saw real men in that meeting room. Men I am proud to call friend. Brother. Son.

Men who are not afraid of strong women, but who feel most alive in the presence of a strong woman.

Question for the guys reading this: does a strong woman make you feel like more of a man – or like a child? If the latter – you, my male friend, need to grow up. Onward…

My third big observation from our Team Advance is really the focus of today’s epistle… and that is: what it takes to be a (fully male) man who lives on earth (relax, I’ll explain).

One more thing to cover before we dive in: being a manly man has nothing to do with how big your muscles are or how square your jaw is, any more than being feminine depends on how perky your boobs are, or how firm your butt is.

I mean, let’s get real: time will rob all men of their youthful vigor and take the lead out of their pencil… and time will indiscriminately take away from all women that firm fanny and those bodacious tatas… and that is when we find out who the real men and women are. Because “masculine” and “feminine” are not determined by external appearances, but by what lies beneath (both character and plumbing).

Okay, so what the HECK is my “third observation” about what it takes to be a man who lives on earth? Here it is:

A real man is always fully aware of death, and always fully present in life.

Allow me to explain…

On one of our afternoon breaks during the Advance, some of us walked over to a little place called Heart City Tattoo, and I got some new ink. My new tattoo reads: “memento mori.” This is Latin, and translates as: “Remember you will die.”

Contemplating one's death is a practice of presence. A reminder to “be here now” – not wishing you were somewhere else.

We as men measure our presence by how fully associated we are to where we are and what we are doing. Now.

I mean we measure our own worth by our own measure – not by what someone else tells us make us worthy.

A man fully alive does not measure his worth by what he does as a job, not by his bank account balance, not by his social standing, and certainly not by the opinions of others.

A man fully alive finds that his value is derived from his presence – by the depth of his awareness of who he is. And whether we like it or not, one simply cannot experience a depth of awareness about who they are unless one knows how to face death.

Being fully connected to regular, meditative contemplation of my own death grounds me. It gives me peace.

Most people, and certainly most men, will never face death outside their favorite video game.

As a society we have managed to sanitize death. To hide it and make sure it happens in hospital rooms. Then the body is covered with a sheet, and furtively moved to the basement.

Gone are the days we faced death fully, with eyes wide open … instead of hiding from it in some social media-drugged fantasy world.

Most will never face the reality of death until the moment is upon them.

I was forced to face my own mortality September 22, 2011. A medical diagnosis put a permanent countdown clock in my full view every day. Impossible to ignore.

I love that freakin’ clock.

This contemplation of my own mortality is not morbid, it is life-giving.

Because of “memento mori”, I no longer walk around asleep. I am no longer a zombie – one of the walking dead

Because of “memento mori”, I no longer derive my sense of self-worth from external measurements. I’m no longer absorbed in petty things: not my bank account balance, not the opinions of politicians, preachers, pundits.

The sleepwalkers (most men in the world) are so easily disturbed by external forces that the Apostle James wrote that they are “double-minded” and “like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”

Those who ignore the reality of death do not live on earth – they live in a fantasy

This is why the man who has contemplated his own demise stands apart.

Such a man is in possession of a great truth – the greatest truth.

For a man cannot contemplate the vast mystery of death without also exploring the vast mystery of life.

Such a man has discovered that his own value is self-evident.

Such a man may be recognized by his piercing gaze. By his calm spirit in the face of crisis. By his deep sense of purpose – a purpose that does not rely on the authority of others to endorse him or his value.

A man who knows how to live on earth will not worry neurotically about the afterlife. Such a man knows the afterlife has already begun, and the only day we can be sure of is “the now”.

Such a man does not deny reality – he embraces it, in all of its glory, ecstasy, and pain.

For a man who knows how to live on earth, he is not his “moods”. A “mood” is merely a temporary biochemical storm in the brain.

Weaker men, lesser men, live in denial of the truth.

They spend their days endlessly debating the finer points of fallacies: politics, economics, and (gasp) sports. I don’t judge these activities… that is, if one is actively involved in changing and shaping those worlds. But if you can’t directly change them and all you’re doing is talking about them (or reposting someone else’s “meme”)  – that’s just another form of masturbation.

The man who lives on earth is fully present; such a man is self-possessed. Others know him when he enters room, because attention turns to him, whether he utters a word or not.

Such a man is not weakened by age, illness, or circumstance. Such a man faces life and death with eyes wide open, fully enjoying the ride

Such a man performs the duty of a man: to provide life to those around him. To bring his presence and power to every situation. To live every moment with full awareness, love, and trust.

And what if you, as a man, feel inadequate when you read the words above?

If you read these words and find yourself at a loss… if you're not “such a man”, consider this your wake-up call.

You have forgotten the face of your father.

It is time to come home and claim your manhood.

It’s time to man up.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.