Letters For My Sons

Category: Manliness Page 1 of 3

A Day On The Job – or, Why White Collar Guys Have Thin Skin

It may be surprising to many people how kind and, let’s say it, loving, many men are to their fellow men.  But what seems impossible to most people to realise is that you’ll find it most in the blue collar sector.

I’ve spent time in the field and in the office.  And what I found is that beneath the rough exterior of the men who work outdoors lie hearts that care deeply for the men around them, and their families at home.

Except for the clean shirts, this is how it is. Power stances. All day.

Except for the clean shirts, this is how it is. Power stances. All day.


Here’s a short excerpt from a day I recently spent at work.

As I walk into the Meal Room, the boys are hacking on Jayjay.  He’s just found out that he needs to get a colonoscopy in two days, and, besides taking laxatives, he’ll have to starve all day tomorrow.

“Might have a BBQ at work tomorrow, eh boys?  Oh, sorry Jay… can’t you eat!?!”

“Jeez mate, you’ll be clenching your buttcheeks… don’t let anything leak!”

What is absolutely clear is that all the guys like Jayjay.  They are stirring him up.  The goal is humour, having fun, taking our minds off the days of work ahead.  We are all working together to lighten the mood, everyone trying to get the biggest laugh.

This is what the left does not understand.  This is why the left has no place in the blue collar environment, except for the union movement.  This language would be incredibly offensive to any leftist, office worker or even most women who have not seen it before.

And this, this camaraderie, is what HR departments all around the world are trying to stamp out.

HR departments want to ensure diversity, tolerance and acceptance.  This means no harassment, bullying or offensive statements.  However, part of these definitions state that it’s not just the person being “harrassed” that can file a complaint.  Anyone who observes “harrassing” or “bullying” behaviour and finds it offensive can drag the offender to HR.

This effectively renders the statements made in the Meal Room a sackable offence, regardless of the context, the humour, and the fact that the man at the centre was taking it all with grace and good spirits.  Thankfully the guys ignore this brutal fact.

The good humour continues at lunchtime.  Everyone brings their fold-up chairs to the grass where we sit and forms a circle.  Some of the guys are late to lunch, and as they set up their chairs outside of the the circle, the men within the circle get up and move their own chairs to include everyone into the group.

A group of twenty men self-organise, without a word, into an inclusive circle, despite slinging curses at each other all day.  This is not unusual.  This is manly behaviour.

Office workers don’t see it because they have been emasculated by the proximity of the HR department.  Without working in a purely male environment, the men in an office never experience the depth of male relationships a man outdoors does, unless he can find like-minded men outside work.  The office men take all comments personally, because that’s what the women around them do.

All day every day men working in the outdoors, doing hard, physical labour, tease each other.  They bag out on every man’s weak points. His sensitivities.  His weight, his race, his disabilities, his wife, his car.

They call each other fat, weak, black, lazy.  Their most obvious and damning traits are held out for the world to see, and ridiculed.  No-one gets offended. In fact, if you are not getting teased, there’s a good chance that you are disliked.

The men feel each other out for stability, for toughness, for the ability to give as good as he gets.  The men who can take and give are men worth working next to.

Later in the day, I notice Jayjay chatting with one of his crew.  Jayjay is saying he’s worried.  Their conversation is serious.  His crew mate was teasing him this morning.  But there is no teasing now.  There are low voices, compassion, offers of help.  Jayjay is supported and he knows it.  The teasing is a form of affection, which every man knows, but none would admit.  And I would guess that Jayjay actually appreciates it on some level.

He understands that when it comes to offensive language, context is everything.

rock wall shed

The Art Of The Shed

One of the two main functions of this blog is to show men that self-change is possible.  And not just a little change.  Complete, one-hundred-and-eighty degree change.  Turn your life around, from the bottom to the top kinda change.  This is the kind of change that I have brought about in my own life through years of practice.

The second function is to show that this change can happen at any point in your life.  Age is no barrier to change if you want to do it.  All you really need is the patience to negotiate the land-mines of personality disruption.  You need, at minimum, a five to ten year plan to see permanent and visible change.

Self-change has immense potential for surprise.  I have completely surprised myself by finally becoming something I didn’t even know I wanted to be: a handyman.

I almost failed woodwork and metalwork at school.  I had no patience.  My father only wanted me in the shed to hold stuff for him, and had no patience for me to learn the skills I needed.  Most of the tools completely mystified me.

It wasn’t until I was thirty that I started thinking differently about fixing and building.  The great motivator was my father-in-law.  He had (and still has) a fantastic attitude to fixing what’s broke: give it a go, and if it don’t work, take it to the shop.

Once the engine blew up in my Subaru wagon.  Unbeknownst to me, he bought another wagon from the wreckers, called me to his house, and told me that we were gonna swap engines.

I was aghast.

“But that’s a mechanic’s job!  We’re not bloody mechanics!”

His confidence won me over and despite not knowing an alternator from my asshole, I decided to trust him to get it going.  Two days later, we got it running.  I asked him afterwards how many engine swaps he’d done.

“That’s my first one” he replied.

To this day it’s was one of the greatest “fake-it-til-you-make-its” I’ve ever seen.  It educated me to the power of doing stuff yourself, giving things a go, and throwing shit against a wall until it sticks.

Many men reading this will have read Jack Donovan’s The Way Of Men.  As he states, mastery is part of what makes men manly.  The drive to do things over and over again until mastered is innnate to many men.  The great thing about the shed is you don’t have to consciously “practice”.  There’s no need to sit down and practice planing or drilling. You just try stuff out and do things, and the practice comes from that.  I’ve spent years just mucking around here and there, fixing something every couple of weeks, doing something around the house, and I’ve finally reached a confidence level where creativity can happen.  I’ve been learning the rules so I can break them occasionally.

So I’ve been collecting tools and materials and building my shed into a handyman’s paradise.  My goal has been to get to a point where I no longer have to go to the hardware store to complete a job.  It is such a ball-ache to stop halfway through a job to get a pack of screws or oil or some tiny thing.  A one hour job turns into several hours, and your momentum get all screwed up.

I’ve been on holidays for ten days now and I’ve done a bunch of stuff:

I laid a rock wall.

rock wall shed


I built a timber box.

I built another box.

I got this motor running and only almost electrocuted myself once.


electric motor in the shed


I put together an old old table saw and considered running it with the above motor.  I then decided against it when I found the motor runs at 16000 rpm.  Just slightly too fast.

I fabricated a battery-powered cut-off saw from an old grinder and drill-press.


fabricated cutoff saw in shed


I ran power to my shed (fuck yeah!).

power in shed

I put a new bench top on my bench.

I cleaned and consolidated my tools, only keeping the ones I use most often on the board and shelves.

I planed, sanded and finished some fascia boards.

My compressor that wasn’t building pressure so I broke it down and repaired it.

I fixed the power steering pump in my car.

Power steering in shed


I have never enjoyed myself so much.  I’ve spent a couple of hours every day in ecstasy, using my tools, getting better at them, revelling in my own sense of mastery, and watching my property approach the picture in my head.  Those days of frustration in the woodwork shop are gone.

Part of my satisfaction come from rejecting the need to do everything today.  Impatience and the focus on getting immediate results destroys the enjoyment.  The happiness in building comes from the time it takes, the journey rather than the destination.  Patience is required, a lot of it, and as I get older, the more patient I get.  There is no need to rush.  I move one mile at a time.  One step, then another, then another, until the job is done.  It is a truly beautiful and satisfying feeling.

Boys, go get yourself a shed, and experience mastery for yourselves.

shut up

Discretion: The Unwatered Whiskey Of Conversation

I learnt discretion early in life.  My old man didn’t like impertinence.  His actions described how asking pointed questions was frowned upon, though his words said otherwise.  Unfortunately I didn’t put what I had learnt into practice.


Backhand Slap

Ya know?


My school days were filled with faux pas.  I fucked up so many times, got so many people in trouble, tried to be funny and failed.  You know that cool guy at school who says the giggly-girl one liner?  That was exactly what I wasn’t.  I was the loser that even the losers didn’t hang out with.

I had a real issue with getting other people in the shit by saying stuff I shouldn’t have.  That’s not a good way to make friends.  I would just talk too much and blab on without realising I was giving stuff away.

I got so little positive attention as a youngster that making people people laugh became my go-to.  If people weren’t laughing they weren’t paying attention.  Problem was, as I found out midway through primary school, I just wasn’t funny.

Now, if you ain’t funny, you should really shut the fuck up.  Not me.  I didn’t learn.  At one point some classmates wrote a joke book, with all the stupid shit I’d said in it.  It was a horrendous blow to my already fragile self-esteem.  I had no-one else to blame for my inability to shut up, which was a cry for attention and ultimately friendship.


Seriously painful shit right there

Seriously painful shit right there


By the time I left school I was learning, but hideously slowly.  In my first job I pissed off my boss with my incessant talking.  Trying to be funny I would say whatever came into my head, and it earned me a dressing-down or two.

It wasn’t til my early twenties when I woke up to the fact that my social life was at the bottom of the barrel.  I had no idea how to make friends, and when I did find someone cool, I would fuck it up by saying too much.  Quality male friendships were completely beyond me because I would game the guy like a girl.  I honestly thought that that was how you made friends, by playing a chess game of who can be the coolest, which I thought meant talking a dude’s ear off.  Authenticity is difficult when you are nothing but a shell of other people’s ideas.

That’s when discretion came to the fore.  I founded one of my principles:


It’s better to say too little than too much.


If what I have to say doesn’t add to the conversation, that is, if there is no information (that is, doesn’t educate the listener with something they didn’t know), or no real humour, then I’d rather not say it.

There is a corollary to the above.  If you don’t NEED to say it, don’t say it.  There are plenty of tossbags out there letting everybody know that they know it all.  There are lots of dickheads who think that they are funny.

The goal of discretion is to keep information where you want it, and use information for social advantage.  Being discrete means being a good listener, taking data in, being someone people can trust. It means keeping people on a need-to-know basis.

Discretion ties into charisma.  Part of charisma is a sense of mystery.  Leaving your mouth open like a hooker’s vagwa leaves no mystery for your poor innocent listeners.  Don’t explain jokes, or say “here’s a funny story…” Don’t explain how you did something cool.


shut up


I caught a wild rabbit once with my bare hands, and took it to show my classmates.  The first question I got?

“How did you do that?”

Think I told them?  Of course not!  I just smirked and shrugged my shoulders.  Let them fill in the blanks!  It became one more building block in my reputation, the guy who’s so good he can run down a rabbit.

If your social life is failing in someway, it’s important to examine your sub-conscious goals for conversation.  Why do you need to talk all the time?  Is being seen as funny an external keystone to your character?  Does your self-esteem revolve around proving other people wrong or having people laugh at your jokes?  Do you require such constant re-affirmation of your status that you need to be the centre of attention at all times?

Remember that people are thinking more of what they say than of what you say.  Ninety percent of what you say will be forgotten within a few seconds.  Is it worth wasting your breath to be right?  Or to be sort of funny?  Or to prove some insignificant point?

If you have the self-awareness, you will find that these conversational moments are nothing but petty ego reinforcements that people use to maintain hierarchy and self-image.  If you can step away from that and see that real class comes from what you do rather than what you say, and thus say less and do more, you will be many steps ahead.

Be a strong man with a strong voice.  You conversation is like water into whiskey; too much talk dilutes what you say.

strongman old man

Why Are Young Guys Piss Weak?

I work with a huge 21 year old kid.  He squats 180kg for reps, benches 150kg, and is generally built like a brick shithouse.  I like to dream about being that strong.


"What am I doing?  Oh, just chillin'"

Just chillin’ bro, just chillin’


At work, however, I kick his ass at just about everything.  I undo nuts and bolts he cannot budge.  I lift things he struggles with.  At one point we had a 2lb hammer on the end of a 10 metre pole, trying to break something out of reach.  I busted my ass swinging it for 15 minutes non-stop.  He couldn’t do it more than twice.  He smashes it in the gym, but I smash him at life.

I remember being 20 years old and being in awe of 30-40 year old men.  They all seemed so goddam strong.  They had man-strength.  Undoing bolts, prying open jars, lifting, throwing… they just seemed to have so much more recruitment in their muscles.


Pretty much just like this guy

Just another day at the office for this guy


Powerlifters regularly report their best numbers after they turn forty.  When non-lifting men seem ready to start getting old, powerlifters are turning it on.  Why is that?

And why do the old blokes, the fifty to sixty year olds, still have power?  I know a sixty-seven year old mechanic who is a fucking monster.  He’s built like a Jack Russell, slim and wiry, with ropey muscles strung out like violin strings on his forearms.  He doesn’t look like much but he is strong as an ox, carrying engine blocks around his cramped workshop.

I think it’s a function of practice and coordination.

Everything we do can be thought of as practice.  Every time you ride your bike, you get marginally better at it.  Every time you open a jar, you learn a tiny bit more about using your muscles to exert force.  I theorise that with forty years of practice at hard labour, men get extraordinarily efficient at exerting force.

In addition, as we use engrams over and over in our day-to-day, we get smarter at making the right decisions to move most efficiently.

Lifting 140 pound dumbbells is an athletic movement that requires a lot of balance and coordination as well as raw strength.

Now on my second week with them, I look much smoother.

Over the course of the two weeks I may have an ounce or two of extra muscle to help move the weight, but mostly the ventral striatum and other parts of my brain had been at work refining how my muscles will work in sequence.

I did not have to consciously think about how I was going to balance the weight–in fact it felt very smooth and easier than I expected.  Well, not EASY, the struggle was with the weight of the dumbbells not their awkward size.

Over the years I have performed thousands of repetitions in the gym involving the muscles used in an incline bench press–pecs, delts, triceps.  Every repetition has helped refine the performance leading to an improved Maximal Strength.  The more repetitions, the more powerful the effort of the muscles–giving the old man the advantage again.



I’ll be getting stronger for years to come.  Fucking awesome.


strongman old man


Being Alone: Why Country Music Singers Have It All Wrong

This post was going to be called 10 Things a Man Should Do Alone.  But seriously, if you’re not already working out, educating yourself, writing to get your thoughts in order, and working on some skill or hobby, then get out and start before your vagina goes all Ouroboros on yoself.


You know, Ouroboros

You know, Ouroboros


Instead I’m going to discuss being alone, and share with you the things I’m not sure many men do.  To me, however, these are the things that propelled me quickly (relatively speaking) from being a socially-retarded loser to fully-functioning self-actualising human.


Be Alone.  But Don’t Be A Fucking Psychopath

Being alone is the fucking coolest thing on earth, and is highly under-rated by the majority of the population.  Assuming you are not alone because of socialisation problems like some psychopathic school kid, it is where you recharge, take stock, and get to know where you’re succeeding and failing.

Alone time is especially important to me, cos I have kids.  And holy shitballs, do they suck the time away.  It’s tough enough getting laid with my wife, let alone getting time by myself.  If you’ve got kids, you need to take the time to take time out.

There’s a bunch of things a man should do alone.  Any of these can be done with others, but being alone removes the Need To Socialise.  Socialising means communicating, competing, and seeking attention.  It’s tough to understand how much of this you do without being alone for extended periods of time.

There are a bunch of socialisation patterns you use with everyone you know, and without being alone you will never know of your choices: using those patterns, changing to other patterns, or burning them with the other useless paraphernalia of your life.

Being alone is also the only time you’ll hear yourself.  A lot of this has to do with socialisation patterns.  It takes a significant amount of time (thirty minutes to an hour) of conscious awareness of being alone before socialisation breaks down and the inner you starts to be heard.


Silence In A World Of Noise, Aka Smartphones Make You Miserable In A Happy Way

Today’s world is one of noise.  Almost everyone I meet wants to fill it with more.  People love the sound of their own voices, regardless of whether they add value, or create filth.

But it’s not just the audible noise that I want to discuss.  Every bit of data that you see, hear, taste, touch and smell takes attention.  Think of attention as a fuel tank.  There is only so much you have per day, per week, per year.

With our cache of attention we can absorb noise, or we can absorb signal.  The noise is rubbish, redundancy, rehashes.  The signal is novelty, newness, interest. Noise is obviously trash, and we want as little as possible.  It’s like using fuel to run your car on a rolling pad.  It takes you nowhere.  Signal on the other hand can often take us from A to B.  It can educate and inspire.  But not always.

The problem with signal, and it is a huge problem in today’s world, is that it is addictive.  In previous eras the information problem was a huge ratio of noise to signal.  Now that we have all of humanity’s data available to us, the problem is reversed.  We now see an immense section of society addicted to novelty.

Almost everyone I know under the age of 40 cannot leave their phones alone.  Every minute of spare time, literally as soon as there is nothing to do, the phones come out.  I have not been immune to this.  It became an awful habit.

And the worst part?

I often didn’t need to check anything.   Phones and the internet are great for getting directions, finding tradesmen, making appointments, and googling important and timely data.  But 90% of the time I needed none of those things.  All I wanted was a distraction.

In actuality, what I needed was a hit.

You’ve probably heard about dopamine before, and its effects on the brain. It’s often touted as a “reward chemical” or part of the brain’s “reward center,” but more recent research has shown that, like novelty, it’s actually more closely related to our motivation to seek rewards rather than being a reward itself. Animal studies around the brain’s reaction to novelty have suggested increased dopamine levels in the context of novelty. So the brain reacts to novelty by releasing dopamine which makes us want to go exploring in search of a reward.


The problem is that because dopamine encourages us to seek rewards, it may be encouraging us to look for more, and more, and more stuff on the internet.  We get sucked into long cycles of internet surfing because our brain is reward-seeking due to the dopamine hits from novel information.  Every time we see something new, it only primes us for more surfing.

So, rather than being a useful pastime, phone and internet use has become an addiction.  It is robbing you of your life, your time, and your health.  My eyes have not been the same since my first smartphone.  The fine motor muscles are extremely tight, and I find it much more difficult to actually “see” my surroundings.  I look, but I my eyes don’t engage.

How Do We Escape This Pernicious Habit? And What Does Pernicious Mean?

We need silence.  Utter digital silence.  Our brains have been changed by the internet.  We need to restrict this change.

We still have a beautiful world around us!  But how many of us notice it? Do we notice anything less than the change of seasons anymore?

As men it is our charge to remember how the world is.  One day the internet may disappear.  We must be able to remember how to live without it.  Women can keep their Facebook and the rest.  They are far more distracted than we are.

When you are alone, put away your phone.  It is a simple task, and you WILL struggle with it.   It is a habit you have to break.  Use your phone only when others are around, if you must use it at all.  Alone time is much too valuable to waste on phone surfing.

When you are alone it is important to keep this digital silence.  It is distracting you from hearing the awesome within you.  Being alone is the only time you can hear this voice trying to erupt from the depths.

Self Reflection and Self Therapy

This is the most important task you will ever perform in your life.  Sometimes you will do it every day, at other times you will go months without it.  But always you will come back.

Why do you stop when you are within arm’s reach of your goals?  Why do you sabotage your relationships?  Why can you not keep a job?  Why is missionary your favourite (and only) position?

Have you asked yourself the deep questions of your life?  These questions are the ones that will enable change in you life.  You may never get a clear answer, and you will not change with any speed.  But self-therapy is the way forward, and every man who is not perfect should practice it.

It’s the only way I have found to guarantee forward progress.  If you are stuck in a rut in life, and frustrating yourself with your inability to change, then there are likely psychological, emotional and physical barriers preventing you from getting on with life.

Therapy ain’t for pussies either.  You don’t have to tell anyone you are doing it.  In fact, it’s better if you don’t.  Everyone has psychological blocks, even hard-asses.  It’s just that hard-asses have the personal control to run through those brick walls when they need to.  The rest of us can take the slower, safer but not necessarily easier route.

Self Therapy 101

1. Buy a journal.  Write in it.  Draw in it.  Paint it with custard, I don’t give a fuck.  It’s yours and it’s private.  No one else is to see inside it.  In it should go any observations about yourself you find interesting.

Don’t edit yourself.  Remember, no one else will see this ever.  Be as honest as you can.

Over time you’ll start to get it.  You will begin to understand yourself.  You will edit less.  It’s not so much a book for re-reading.  It’s more about getting ideas out of your head and into a tangible format where you can begin to make sense of the nonsense.  Your brain will take what you’ve spewed onto the paper, and begin to work on it without you even knowing about it.  It’s pretty much magic.

2. Purchase Christopher Hyatt’s Undoing Yourself with Energised Meditation and Other Devices.  Do the exercises.


The most useful book you will ever buy

The most useful book you will ever buy


3. That’s it.  Take your time.  Take your whole life.  Nothing will make you perfect, so don’t rush change.  Take at least 12 months then look back and see if you are happier.


What’s the Goal Anywayz?

The goal is to get out of your own way so you can live life.  Most people live life on train tracks.  The tracks take them to the same places, emotionally, in their relationships and in their life situations.

We want to have choice.  We want the ability to experience not just frustration and misery, but happiness and satisfaction.  That is a choice.  We want to find friends that help and inspire us, rather than drain our energy.  That too is a choice.  We want to find meaningful work and hobbies that lend ambition and direction to our lives.  You can make that choice.

But you must be alone to start on that path.

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