In the 2011 romantic comedy, ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ Cal Weaver is an average middle-aged guy going through a predictable mid-life crisis.
The humble but reserved, caring but unassertive husband and father seems to have lost something in his life (Or never had it to begin with). Effectively he is portrayed as a man without power. Without the power to impose his will on the world around him. And nowhere is this more evident than in his marriage.
As their sleepwalking marriage gets hits the about-time jolt-his wife confesses to cheating on him-Cal proceeds on a path of self-discovery… Or should I say, the middle-aged gentleman, gets roped in by the handsome and charismatic Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling).
Jacob Palmer is the Hollywood version of a modern ladies' man. Who takes pity on the good old Cal and teaches him the art of the game. Quite literally.
Long story short, Cal gets good with the ladies. Too good in fact.
And even though his marriage suffers, when revelations of his escapades get out into the open. But in the end, his mastery of, not just the art of sleeping with hot women, but his ability to grow in the face of trial by getting out of his comfort zone, and making real changes to his life pays off for him.
Shifting his mindset about who is he as a man, and what he must do to make things work in his life, proved to be the main difference in his personal life. Oh but wait, why are we talking about some middle-aged loser in a move?!
OK. This post is going to be a bit different.
See, often when the discussion centers around men and masculinity, the focus tends to shift towards the direction of young men: that is men who are just entering adulthood, men in their 20s and 30s who are finding their way in their career, and who are trying to get good with women.
Or at best men in their 40s, who still have a lot of good years ahead, and have the time and the energy to make things right, by making the necessary shifts in their day-to-day lives.
The question today is: What happens if you are past that stage? What happens to men who are getting to that stage in life, where things may seem to be a bit far gone? Too far gone for some, to come back from.
Well, if that is the case, this might be for you.
It’s Never too Late to Start Again
There comes a time in your life where the inclination to look back and wonder ‘What if?’.
What if I had done things differently? What if I had made a different set of choices?
What if I had not started (or ended) that relationship?
What if I had taken more risks? Or (for some) been more risk averse, but more daring in other areas?
Truly, there is really no one in this world (well maybe besides a few) who hasn’t at some point in their life, looked back and wondered, what if they had done some things differently?
The question is how significant a question is it to you today? How powerfully do you feel that sense of ‘What If I had done things differently?
Now, not to get all dramatic on the subject, the point to consider is that regret is a powerful emotion. And if turns out to be an enduring one, it may be more than just an emotional state. It may be telling you something.
Telling you to do something about it. Now!
Something actionable. Telling you that the time is right to get up and start making some changes. Small ones. Big ones. But changes. For there could be rewards on the other side.
Losing your Masculinity
In life, there is a tendency to look broadly at men in the world by grouping them under two categories: The Alpha and the Beta.
The ‘Alpha Male’ is the all-conquering dominant man: The guy with the dollars, the self-confidence, the physique, and the girls. And importantly he is the kind of guy who commands the respect of fellow men. Particularly those who are in his social circle. Including the betas.
Whilst there is no fixed role a namesake alpha male could hold: as it could verge from anything from being a rock star celebrity, an a-list actor, to a person with a solid following on social media and who happens to be blowing up all over top media channels a moment in time. (A certain Tate brother, with a penchant for cigars and boats, may come to mind at this moment).
And heck, even the Mafioso who runs the local crime syndicate can also be counted as an alpha. For in that particular space he is quite literally the ‘boss’. As everyone else gotta follow rules, where his authority and status are upheld.
Then we get to the ‘beta males’. Who are by definition the walking losers in the space?
Well, they come in many shapes and forms, but there are a handful of very distinct characteristics that sets them apart. Notable here is their lack of status in the circles they operate in. For the beta male is by no means a loser (that’s where, if you want to go down that rabbit hole-the Gamma and Omega males come in).
Strictly speaking, the beta male has basically all of the necessary ingredients to become the strong, confident, and potentially socially dominant version of manhood he desires to be. However, he falls short in a number of key areas.
Before getting into it, the reader presumes he is a man in the middle stages of his life (though age is not necessarily a factor, as men who are much younger or older can be in the same state of mind).
The kind of man (and there are many) who is pondering the question, is there a way out for me from my present state that is full of doubt, confusion, and lack of hope for the future? And above a lack of security and comfort in the financial and relationship areas: The two key areas where most men fall short, and is one of the defining weaknesses in beta males.
Name-calling aside (which is what these Greek alphabet-based titles ultimately come down to) the real problem with many men today who have not been able to assert their will in their lives and in the world around them, comes down to a lack of leadership. But how does it comes to this? Let’s break things down.
Are Beta Males Born or Made
All of us are different.
Some have it better than others. Others not so much. Whilst the starting line is bound to vary, along with it the access to the number and quality of opportunities that will come in the course of your life, what does NOT change is the nature of the game.
So what is this ‘game’?
In simple terms, it comes down to how nature is ordered. How the world as it is today operates. And it does so according to some fixed rules. That for the most part, does not really change no matter who you are talking to. Especially at the start.
True, these rules can be bent or twisted, but they are what they are.
So what are those rules?
First: Hard work
No one gets to where they are without putting in the work. No one. From Michael Jordan to Fat cat billionaires on Wall Street to the jock at the local gym with the best physique. None of these guys got to where they are, and remain there without having done the hard yards.
Two: A Never Give up Mindset
Here is a little secret: Hard work alone is not enough. One of the things that separates the top-tier Alphas in the world from all the rest, is that these guys don’t quit. Ever. A lot of men work hard at what they are good at. But few persist in the face of adversity, till they excel at it.
Three: Getting out of your Comfort Zone
I guess you saw this one coming. Look, life is about taking chances. From the moment you stepped out into the world, and started making the first moves, you were venturing into the unknown. And the process of growing as a man involves constant but careful risk-taking. This is one area where most men (betas included) fail.
Four: Being Leader.
Being a success in life and being a leader in your field of work go hand in hand. You really cannot separate one from the other. Take any man who fits the profile of ‘success’ in any given field: whether it is sports, acting, coaching, fitness, etc. And you are bound to see a sizeable group of followers taking his lead.
Right with these fundamentals in place, it is time to analyze the question: is the beta male a product of birth or socialization (development)?
Now, leaving aside any psychological and physiological factors that may affect the mind and later physical development of the guy (you know what I am talking about). Most men growing up stand a very good chance of developing into capable, competent, rounded men. Provided they get the right kind of support.
The kind of men who are not only good in the specific areas of work, and women, but who are also able to thrive in the kind of connections they form with other men, and to contribute positively to society.
The problem is a lot of men growing up today are not given the right kind of exposure in their formative years to develop the core skills in areas like social engagement, conflict management, and self and social awareness.
A key factor in this developmental challenge that virtually all boys face in their journey towards manhood, is the lack of healthy, capable male role models.
This problem has been engaged in detail elsewhere. But suffice to say that a lot of men grow up today with a lot of input from women, and a female-oriented teaching environment. This does not help boys in their journey towards becoming masculine men who are not afraid of conflict or taking risks.
Critically, a lot of boys growing up today (which includes a lot of us who are adults today) have not been shown the art of taking risks within defined limits, where the payoff may or may not be forthcoming. But it is worth the gamble.
When it comes to the key difference between an alpha male and a beta: the alpha is a guy who, despite all the historical and developmental obstacles, has taken it upon himself to face them, learn from them, and rise above.
Whether it is physical (like his body shape, weight), relationships (his success with women), or his financial status. What sets the Alpha male apart from the rest is that he recognizes that making improvements, however small, in all areas, and making them consistently is the key to success.
And that’s right, success is the outcome you should be striving for. Not about trying to fit in. It is not about following a script. It is not about, what was that… Oh, yea to be able to play “by the rules” and to do what you are supposed to.
That’s not going to cut it.
Rediscovering your Mojo
Returning to the story of Cal from the Hollywood comedy. His story is a far too familiar one. That of a good, kind-hearted man who fell into the trap of mediocrity that far too many men today end up in.
Having a steady job, a wife and kids, and being a responsible husband and parent to them alone is not going to be enough. You need something more.
And in case you are wondering that all of this personal development cr*p is just for testosterone-driven young guys who just want to make a quick buck or land some a** and be done with it. Well, think again.
Caz the ‘young’ guys who are killing it in these areas (not literally) are the ones who are best placed to take on the challenges that life throws at them.
From dealing with minor and major setbacks in one’s financial or professional life (Like divorce).
To be able to jump-start their lives anew. That is when the time comes to make drastic changes. For the better!
The question is: are you in that position? Or more importantly, is your life moving in a direction that is taking you closer to it, or further away?
First: A Mindset Shift
It all starts with what’s going on upstairs.
As the great Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius famously said: You have power over your mind – not external events. Realize this and you will have strength.
When it comes to making a change, a serious course correcting change in your life: that of being able to develop control, discipline, and direct your actions towards the right things, your mindset is of paramount significance.
In many ways, it is what really matters if you are serious about changing your life, as everything else follows from this.
But let me tell you this is easier said than done. By a long shot.
Think about it. In the world we live in today, with the advance of the internet and access to information, any loser can say, ‘Hey, I want to make a change in my life. I want to change the way I think and how I act. I am going to transform my life'.
If it is that simply the case, then why isn’t it happening more often? Why aren’t people just transforming themselves and their lives everywhere!?
Good questions. The simple answer is dedication.
How serious are you when it comes to making these changes? For how long do you wish to persist?
At the same time, it is also a question of expertise and guidance. Which cannot do by yourself. This takes us to the next point.
Next: Finding a Mentor
Right. So we are getting there.
You see when it comes to making a change in your life. The kind of change that you have always wanted to see happen. Especially at a time when things seem a bit far gone. When the hairs seem to falling or graying when your zeal for life is not as it used to be…
Guess what!? Now is the time to make things happen. Now is the time to take action.
This is one of the main advantages of being a man in the modern world. We men have the power to make a difference. And set ourselves on a path towards success.
You have heard it before, but I will say it again: It is never too late.
For the money, women, status, and more. But you need to reach out. You need expertise. You need us.
Look, it doesn’t matter how old or young you are. It does not matter how late you think it is. The question is do you want to see real change in your life? Being a man is all about reinventing yourself.
As humans, we never stop growing. Well, actually we do, when stop learning and striving for growth. You, sir, have the power to make things right. No matter your age, status, hairline, or your past history with women. If you have problems in your work, social life, or relationships, there is help waiting for you. If you grab it, learn from it, and grow in the process. As there is the real reward of success at the end.