The thirteenth rule of being a man is:
Take care of yourself
In order to accomplish your goals; in order to protect, lead, and provide for those who depend on you; and in order to make the biggest impact in the world, you have to take care of yourself.
Many expressions of manliness in the media and popular culture portray an ideal of men who end up destroying themselves as a positive image.
The message seems to be that in order to be a “good” man, you have to work yourself to death.
And even in representations that are less dramatic, they often still portray it as selfish, childish, or bad in some other way for a man to need rest or take time for fun and relaxation.
It may seem that the way to be the most manly is to work yourself to death, to never show weakness, to never ask for help, and to never need rest. But those things are all counterproductive.
Think about this… If you work hard for 8 hours you can accomplish a lot. But how much more can you actually accomplish by working 10, 12, 14, 16, or 20 hours a day?
Maybe once in a great while you can get significantly more done by working longer like that. But if you work 16 hours day after day, eventually you’ll be so tired and worn out that your effectiveness and productivity will go down.
Once you’re really tired you’ll start to lose focus. You’ll also make more mistakes which can drastically affect productivity.
Work like that long enough and your productivity may go down so low that you’re actually getting LESS done than if you were only working 8 hour days and getting enough rest in between.
My point is that if you don’t find the right balance between work and rest, you can end up working more yet getting less done.
This same idea applies to your health too. For example, we all know that taking time to rest, eat healthy, and exercise can help promote a longer life.
So if you compare two men, one who takes care of himself and lives a healthy life and another who works so much he doesn’t “have time” to take of himself.
If you’re the second man you might think you’re getting ahead by working more, sleeping less, and saving time by skipping exercise and eating fast food.
And maybe you are temporarily.
But in the end, if you die 10 or 20 years earlier compared to the first man who lives a healthier life with better balance is that really better?
Will you really get more done, help your family more, contribute more to the world, and do more good overall by pushing yourself so hard that you die 10 or 20 years earlier? It’s not likely.
Here’s another example: You’re trying to provide for your family and you’re working extra hard to get ahead. But the extra hours mean your wife and children don’t see you as much. And when they do see you, you’re thinking about work and not really present with them anyway. Plus the extra stress and the lack of sleep make you irritable and short tempered with them.
You might think you’re doing the right thing. Maybe you see it as the only way to “get ahead’. Perhaps you tell yourself you’re doing it for them.
But in the end, is it doing more good or harm? Will the extra money make up for all the nights you weren’t home, and all the time you missed out on spending with your family, and all the times that you were home but didn’t pay attention to your loved ones anyway, and all the times that you got angry or snapped at your children when you shouldn’t have?
In Stephen Covey’s fantastic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he refers to this as the Production vs Production Capability (or P vs PC) balance.
If you don’t take care of yourself, the negative consequences will end up meaning that you can’t take care of those around you, you can’t provide for those around you, and you can’t accomplish your goals.
As a man, you have to take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others. You have to get the rest, nutrition, exercise, and rejuvenation that it takes to keep yourself at peak effectiveness.
The difference you make and the people who need you depend on it
– Weston Henry
In what ways could you take better care of yourself?
How would you or others benefit if you took better care of yourself?
If you’re not taking as good of care of yourself now as you could, why not?
If you’re not taking as good enough care of yourself now, how is that affecting you? How is it affecting others in your life? How will it affect you or others in the future?