What Do Men Want? #2


In the first blog in this series I mentioned that I’m delivering (for the second time) a 1-day course in Queen’s University called What Men Want: How To Manage the Men in Your Life. Although this is a course about men for women, it got me thinking about what it is – if anything – that all men might want. Here are some suggestions.

Author John Eldredge has a very frank take on What Men Want (as he explains on this video clip). For Eldredge, it consists of three things:

  • A battle to fight
  • A beauty to rescue
  • An adventure to live

Jayson Gaddis, men’s coach and counselor, likewise posits a three-fold want in an excellent articled called Why Many Men Are Still Boys and What Can Be Done About It. Jason’s ‘solution’ for modern men is a potent mixture of:

  • Initiation into manhood
  • Mentorship
  • A Men ‘s Circle

Or trial, teacher and tribe, to put it a little differently.

For myself, I find it easier to answer the question of what we men need. Martin Seligman makes a three-part distinction between:

  1. The Pleasant Life – a life of pleasure
  2. The Good Life – a life of engagement
  3. The Meaningful life – a life of purpose

Although a meaningful life is the ‘highest’ level lived experience for a man, it doesn’t negate the other two. They are not like different judo belts that you must put off and take on as you ascend to mastery. I think they are better pictured as concentric circles with the meaningful life encompassing and providing perspective for the rest.

As a man matures i.e. transforms from a boy to a man, he shifts in three ways:

  1. His experience of pleasure moves from the quantitative to the qualitative, with greater powers of impulse control and responsibility available to him.
  2. The tasks he chooses to engage in require increasing levels of challenge and skill, and so that he constantly experiences new levels of learning about and leadership within the world.
  3. He discovers or creates a purpose in life that over time becomes more explicit, more focused than before, and from which he prunes the necessary until all that remains is a destiny. Such a man of destiny will aim to serve a cause greater than himself, but will make himself greater in the process.

At least, that’s what I think! And the old question remains as to how to do this for men. Jayson seems to use wilderness trips as a means to facilitate growth in male maturity. I’d like to experience this method before commenting much on its effectiveness. But I guess it beats any classroom or training room as a learning environment for guys. Can you think of a better one? The pub doesn’t count…