On Becoming a Man: What Makes a Man a Man?

“Men are scarce”. “A good man is hard to find!” That is the noise in the global neighbourhood.

So today, I ask the simple question. What makes a man a man?

Is it the broadness of his chest, the six-pack framework, his towering height, bold face, calm mien, full beard, mustache, or deep croaky voice? Tell me, because I have seen many a man on this earth who had all those, but still fell short, somehow. The magazines and the screens keep them in your face all year long. They are in every industry, from business to fashion, engineering to the arts, just name it!

What makes a man a man? Is it the stash of hard currency in his bulky wallet, nine-figure annual income, or ability to pay his own bills and those of a dozen more people, or the vastness of his business empire? Maybe not; because too many witnesses are alive today to dispel the notion that material possessions are the ultimate measure of a man. For if they were, why would wives of the rich search for intimacy and solace elsewhere, or complain bitterly about empty beds and cold nights? A house is never equal to a home.

They say it brings so much joy for a man to have a home to look forward to. Wait a second; does a wife, wives, the number of children, or maybe concubines make one a man?

Many have wondered if the age of a male person counts towards him truly becoming a man. Is it the receding hairlines or the succession of many decades of his life on earth? If that is true then you wonder why there are so many grown-ups who cannot keep peace in a group, reason and present intelligible suggestions that would move society forward, or keep a home together.

What makes a man a man? Is it because he has answers to every question, or that he can solve every problem that comes his way? Or, how would you define the one who cannot solve all the puzzles in the world and easily admits it? Is a man less of a man when he admits the complexity of life’s issues and the limitations of his own wit?

What makes a man a man?

Such a simple question, but I have no simple answer. I ask for, today my tongue is tied.
Photo credit: www.hellobeautiful.com
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The On Becoming a Man Series is a bi-monthly column – a collection of musings that seek to unravel the mind of the young man, and are not necessarily autobiographical. Gbenga Awomodu is an Editorial Assistant at Bainstone Ltd./BellaNaija.com. When he is not reading or writing, Gbenga is listening to good music or playing the piano. Follow him on Twitter: @gbengaawomodu | Gbenga’s Notebook: www.gbengaawomodu.com | Facebook Page: Gbenga Awomodu

On Becoming a Man: On the Bus – In Search of Some Quiet

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.” – Joss Whedon

Everyone is looking for relevance, and more relevance. That is your conclusion after your futile attempt to answer the too-many questions that you and your friends and the strangers around town seem to have.

On the bus, you look around and see smiling faces and angry people. Smiling, because they are lost in a trance – daydreaming. Some other persons on this same bus are angry, yes they look really angry. You can tell because of the scowls on their faces. The young man sitting next to you is beginning to raise his voice over the phone. “What is she taking me for, a fool!? Ken, abeg, I have spent almost a million Naira renting and furnishing that flat. What nonsense charges is that agent talking about again!?” Of course, you don’t have an answer and you wonder why everyone on the bus must be dragged into this. He has only succeeded in reminding you of that apartment you must secure for yourself soon. The third category of people sits there aloof; you cannot tell for sure what is going on in their minds.

While you are still trying to wrap your mind around these things – why we do what we do and all – your mind drifts to a recent discussion with an acquaintance. How she had been in a church for several years and was now feeling distanced and more distanced from the environment with the graying of time. How her mind often drifts during the sermons and she often feels guilty fiddling with her Blackberry. One Sunday, she left in the middle of the sermon for a recreation centre. That was neither the first nor the longest time for which she had abandoned the church; she had once joined a different church for a full year before returning. You had many questions you did not ask her: was the problem with her, the preacher, or both of them? Could she have been better off joining one of those units/sub-units in church where she could have felt a sense of purpose and fulfillment ‘working for the lord’? Had she become so familiar with the weekly dose that the Word had lost its impact in her life? Had she become numb out of inaction on the ‘sacred instructions’? What was the state of her heart?

You are hardly better than her. You remember the so-many decisions you are yet to make. Motions and pressures and the harsh reality of corporate world survival vis-à-vis illusory societal demands stick you like glue to the same spot year-in-year-out. You acknowledge there is a greater power, a most-powerful force in charge of the affairs of the world and its inhabitants. You are tempted to question His existence like many of your contemporaries, but you realize that they all get more confused in a bid to ‘make a statement’ and sound intelligent. You have been there and you know too many people who question their faith openly only to seek God’s forgiveness secretly. He must be really patient, you like to reason.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta said, “We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” You want to touch souls. You feel the need to be relevant in this world and beyond, but this bus – and most other places you can easily flee to – is filled with confusion and confused people.

You want to be relevant in the scheme of things. You need to find purpose. You need time to find some silence, but they say time is money. You wonder when you would be able to afford that silence. Yes! You need to buy some time from this crazy world. Or, could there be a way to create silence in the midst of so much noise?

Photo credit: soulinmotiononline.blogspot.com
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Gbenga Awomodu is an Editorial Assistant at Bainstone Ltd./BellaNaija.com. When he is not reading or writing, Gbenga is listening to good music or playing the piano. Follow him on Twitter: @gbengaawomodu | Gbenga’s Notebook: www.gbengaawomodu.com | Facebook Page: Gbenga Awomodu

On Becoming a Man: Random Thoughts on Motivational Talks

“After the initial buzz, the effort to make a difference must begin.” – Kenneth Kwan

Last month, I wrote about the definition of success, expanding on John Maxwell’s version. It had resonated so much with me that I had to share it with my faithful readers. All those who commented seemed to have enjoyed reading, some even connected with it on a deeper level. Nevertheless, a regular reader raised caution about ‘so-called motivational speakers’ who have mastered the use of words and have easily captivated the hearts of gullible readers and followers. Of course, he was quick to also state that he was not referring to me; and I have only paraphrased him here too. That particular comment made me reason further and ask myself – why do we even write these things; is there really any new thing to write about; since many readers have most probably read about what I write, why do I need to still write about what others already know about, even much more than I could even comprehend? Perhaps, these are some of the reasons why I easily shy away from writing self-help articles. Everybody seems to keep repeating the same “6 essential principles for …bla bla bla”, “12 steps to recognising your career of best fit…” I digress, but you get the gist?

At some point in time, motivational talks and motivational speakers were ‘rubbished’ and stigmatized so much that most of them soon refused to be referred to by that tag anymore. They acquired new designations – “Inspirational Speaker/Preacher”, and became better accepted, even by the bigots. Even in the corporate world, the involvement of inspirational speakers in stimulating organisational change and improving productivity has been controversial. So, who is a motivational/inspirational speaker and how relevant can they be?

Simply, a motivational speaker is someone who has the special gift to inspire and motivate an audience to succeed, usually through speaking and/or writing. This person often taps into the power of storytelling in order to cause someone else to act for their own good. Usually, just like everyday advice and even church sermons, the listener has the power of choice – to listen or not to, to agree or disagree, to take action or not. Nevertheless, in more technical situations, like in the corporate world, it important to note that you don’t motivate people to change; oftentimes, you just need to involve them as participants. They most likely need to be involved in the process of executing change, beyond just being talked to. It is difficult to measure the impact of motivational talks, but when the speaker has some background in your area of expertise, as in software engineering or computer programming, it is easier to connect with them and hence be strongly impacted.

To summarise the long story: I think that motivational talks are good, but both the speakers and the listeners have a role to play. Motivational speakers and writers have the responsibility to skillfully paint clear pictures and tell their audience what they can do (not just the exceptional things that the speakers/writers themselves have done). Listeners and readers should also come to the table with clearly defined goals and with open minds to sieve the content for what is applicable and truly useful as opposed to what amounts to building castles in the air or just getting only a temporary high. What do you think about this? Do you subscribe to motivationals talks and to what extent, if yes?

P.S: I recently discovered Daniel Pink, the author of four provocative bestselling books about the changing world of work. His latest offering, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” explores what truly motivates human beings and submits that “The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.” I immediately added it to my reading list in January. I later found a lengthy review by Ikhide Ikheloa. Have you seen or read the book? I hope to lay my hands on it soon.

Photo credits: www.deepimpactonline.com

This post was originally published here: On Becoming a Man: Random Thoughts on Motivational Talks.

On Becoming a Man: Nigeria, Corruption and Men at the Gates – Democracy Day Edition


“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves” – [Matt. 10:16, NLT]

Today, I write as one not with all the answers in the world; neither as one who is the best of all human beings on earth. I am a young Nigerian and I am not happy about the quality of our leadership. The spate of corruption tugs at my heart – stabs it even, and I feel weak and tired. This should be short.

Many have condemned corruption several times over, only to be caught months later red-handed – with filthy hands and stolen dollars. They fought hard against the rule of a treacherous generation before them; uber-talented orators they were, articulating the zillion faults of their forefathers. The tides soon changed and we all thought that the final change had come. They were offered the chance to nail the coffin of old rogues and young underachievers who had sold their souls to the god-fathers. Alas! Nothing would change, because the veil soon gave way to the true colours below the surface of deception.

I believe in God. I believe that He is still in the business of selecting leaders. Every appointment that God gives a man is fully dependent on his faithfulness at his present place of assignment. He does not become qualified for the highest level of leadership when he gets there, it starts from now. Remember the saying, “the future is now!”? Many have been misled and imbued with a false perception of eternity such that they idle away their lives and become irrelevant here on earth. Others decide to make impact in life and are positioned on the path of greatness. They are entrusted with the responsibility to make gains for the community. Not a few fear that politics and faith do not mix well. However, we ought to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves; this balancing act requires courage and God’s leading.

Lastly, one wonders why so many falter on along the way in leadership, usually after brilliant beginnings. Many reasons abound. Perhaps they did not clearly define who they are and what they stand for right from the start; maybe they did not figure clearly what they ought to pursue in the place of assignment; also, they might have been misled, somewhere, somehow. I emphasize the danger of the wrong association. Money and power are great intoxicants – someone even said that you only truly know a man when he becomes rich. There is always the tendency to for one to drift away from childhood/long-term friends and familiar people as one grows in influence and power. No doubt, twenty boys cannot grow together for twenty years, and many associations will have to give way to more promising and strategic alliances, but what we often fail to realise is that there is the need for us to maintain a nucleus of strong friendships and relationships with trusted individuals in the faith who would not fail to tell us the truth and nudge us back on track when we make mistakes in leadership. There is that need for ‘accountability partners’ who help to keep a check on our excesses.

I am a work in progress and I encourage you to consider these things too. Ensure you belong to a critical mass of great leaders who are truly selfless and will not compromise standards for pecuniary gains. This is an enormous task, but you can be a worthy man at the gates of good leadership. I would love to know your thoughts on this matter.

Photo credit: www.lawyersweekly.ca; On Becoming a Man: Nigeria, Corruption and Men at the Gates – Democracy Day Edition

This article was originally published here: www.lawyersweekly.ca; www.trendsupdates.com.