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What Makes Men Feel Proud and Successful?

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

Successful men at the top of a mountain to ski and snowboard

In his book, "The Male Ego," psychiatrist Willard Gaylin wrote, "Nothing is more important to a man's pride, self-respect, status, and manhood than work. Nothing. Sexual impotence, like sudden loss of ambulation or physical strength, may shatter his self-confidence. But…pride is built on work and achievement and the success that accrues from that work. Yet today, men often seem confused and contradictory in their attitudes about work." The idea that the man with the best toys wins… is the bumper sticker joke of the 90s.

Those men who strive to be at the top of the corporate hierarchy and the best at their work may feel successful due to their role. Then, this corporate workaholic finally retires, he suddenly feels he's lost all value. "He becomes a nonperson," in Gaylin's words, shocked and overwhelmed by the fact that "he never was someone to be cherished for his own sake but only as an instrument of power and a conduit of goods." This is a harsh reality for many top executives who finally feel they can reward themselves with time off in the name of retirement only to discover they are alone, in the way, unwanted, or bored.

Many men don't aspire to be defined by their work because they value other things to boost their self-esteem. They want to be seen as a good dad, husband, and dependable friend while still being a provider. As long as they are achieving their goals, they feel successful.

In the 80s and 90s, men worked hard to provide for their families, only to die of heart attack or watch their family leave them to their mistress - the office.

The kids from these broken families and absent fathers are now parents, and they want a different result for their own kids. They want more than the corner office to define them as 'good' men because the pride for their fathers wasn't his title at work.

More men are getting off that fast-track ladder to find a way to be a provider while still having the time to show up at home. They want more time for themselves, their interests, and their kids.

What makes men feel proud and successful book modern man

What Makes a Man Feel Proud and Accomplished?

The socio-political narrative that men should be ashamed, repentant, and silent leaves men feeling attacked and pushed aside. However, men have reasons to be proud and self-assured in today's changing socio-political environment.

Joshua Host, the founder of Thrivelab said, "As a male founder, I'm proud to bring a sense of vulnerability into my organization. For so long, the status quo around startup culture has been centered around being a 'guys club.' Many of us in the industry are working to change this narrative by integrating open communication, transparency, healthy boundaries, and check-ins into our management styles." Do you agree with Joshua, or do you think it best to keep the status quo and 'guys club'?

Why do you think leadership of specific industries, like the tech industry, resist opening doors to women?

An exercise for you:

Explore your opinion about having women on an equal footing as you in the workplace or having a woman as a boss. Write your thoughts in your journal.

There is no right or wrong answer.

The Workplace has Changed for Men

The world and workplace has changed and continues to change. There is nothing you can do about it, but you can choose to work somewhere you feel comfortable, valued, and appreciated regardless of your gender.

Asker Ahmed, the director of iProcess Global Research said, “It’s my personal accomplishments and overcoming challenges to get where I am today. I have worked to found a company to connect sponsors from the United States, Canada, and Europe to the best research sites and investigators around the world. This journey was possible through the relationships and connections I have built as well as the strong support of family and friends. Reaching this point allows me to give back to so many others that have helped me along the way. Seeing what I have been able to accomplish as well as what I hope still to accomplish gives me an immense sense of pride.”

Find a position where you are building something you can be proud of when you look back on your life. For some, it isn’t in their work but in what their work enables them to achieve outside of the workplace. Whether it is a hobby, charity, side hustle, or a family dig deep to uncover what you want to accomplish in your lifetime.

Men Build Stuff to Feel Accomplished and Proud

Men need to build something, whether it's a business, a career, a team, a house, a car, or a hobby, to see their efforts become something bigger than themselves. Once they have accomplished something, they can start giving back and find pride in being a supportive member of society.

Shawn Stack, Business Owner Hallmark Timmins affirms, "The experience of being a male is incredibly distinctive and particular. Unique successes, important relationships, or a positive impact on the world can give rise to pride. Others could find fulfillment in creating connections, displaying compassion, or embracing vulnerability. Some men could feel proud of themselves when they display strength, resiliency, or leadership qualities."

An exercise for you: Take a moment to make a list of all your accomplishments, both personal and professional. Talk it with your spouse to find out why they are proud of you and add it to your list. The list is a living document to be added to, amended, and edited as time allows.

Whenever you feel like giving up, defeated, and depressed, read the list and remember everything you have accomplished. When life hits hard and things go wrong, it can become challenging to recognize your past accomplishments and what you are capable of doing.

Find something to build, create, or support outside of yourself to find happiness and pride in yourself.

You must continue to find something to build, create, or support outside of yourself to find happiness and pride in yourself.

Men Need a purpose to Accomplish and feel Pride

Few things make a man feel prouder than following their ambitions and leading purposefully. A successful man strives to consciously live up to their most treasured values while living a fulfilling life and inspiring the people around them.

Their insatiable desire to offer value to the world drives them in their relentless pursuit of fulfillment. They're fuelled by the challenge of learning, creating, and engaging others with passion on a daily basis, both on a personal and professional level. This is an everlasting and fruitful process forged by curiosity and an insatiable desire to live a meaningful life—this is what it means to be a successful man in the 21st century: forging ahead with discipline and leaving your mark on society as a leader and man of substance." - Sasha Ramani, Associate Director of Corporate Strategy at MPOWER Financing

Your purpose might change throughout your life as your kids grow, you get promoted, or you need to change careers. If you find yourself slipping into the darkness of depression or the boredom of living in a rut, reassessing your purpose in life and work will give you a new outlook. It's not easy to know our purpose, and when you aren't living your purpose, you can end up unhappy.

How can Men find their Purpose?

Tushar Thakur, Co-Founder of TechRT submitted the following on what makes a man proud about the life he led.

"When a man looks back on his personal achievements and the obstacles he has conquered, he may feel proud to be a man. These accomplishments could include excelling in his profession, attaining academic excellence, or making progress in his personal life, all of which can instill a sense of pride in his abilities and perseverance.

Furthermore, his pride can be enhanced by the positive contributions he makes to society and others. By performing acts of kindness, assisting those who require assistance, or actively participating in his community, a man can experience a profound sense of satisfaction and pride in the knowledge that he is making a positive difference."

Upholding integrity and living by his values also contribute to a man's pride. Acting ethically, treating others with respect, and staying true to his principles reinforce a sense of honor and dignity. Moreover, nurturing and maintaining healthy relationships, particularly with family members, can generate a profound sense of pride. Being a loving partner, a supportive father, or a loyal friend enables a man to feel proud of his ability to connect with and positively influence others.

Embracing his identity and celebrating his unique qualities as a man can also contribute to a sense of pride. By acknowledging the positive aspects of masculinity while rejecting harmful stereotypes and toxic behaviors, a man can cultivate a healthy and authentic pride in his gender identity.

modern man newsletter for success men who are proud

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