I can’t help but comment more on the Nice Guy behavior I mentioned a couple days ago in “The false dichotomy of the nice guy and the jerk and what to do instead.” A lot of the guys I coach have what others have called Nice Guy behavior and described problems with it. I don’t mean being nice as a guy. I mean how Wikipedia put it in its “Nice Guy” page:
When used in a negative context, a “Nice Guy” implies a male who is unassertive, does not express his true feelings and uses acts of ostensible friendship with the unstated aim of progressing to a romantic or sexual relationship.
though I would expand the “unstated aim” beyond romantic or sexual relationships to others, including family, friend, and professional relationships. Some women I coach have comparable and complementary behavior I’ll have to leave for another post.
Today I want to comment on what seems to me the dominant model a guy growing up in my culture sees from society. I haven’t named it, but I can say it briefly:
“Get a good job, get a good house, and get a good car”
I’m torn between leaving it like that and adding
“… and you’ll be happy”
“… and you’ll have all you need”
but I don’t think society even suggests happiness or not needing anything more as meaningful goals.
It seems to me the dominant message to men in society is to get a good job, house, and car. That’s it. No mention of why, what those goals would bring them, or what goals people might have had before those things existed.
It makes sense if I consider what people and institutions create this dominant voice. Governments, schools, churches, Madison Avenue, Wall Street, and similar institutions all benefit from commerce and social stability, which houses, jobs, and cars promote.
Those institutions don’t necessarily benefit from a man’s happiness or emotional reward. I’m not sure who benefits from his happiness or emotional reward anywhere close to how much he does. To the extent a man who needs nothing more doesn’t buy new houses, cars, or other material things, and therefore doesn’t need to work as much, his happiness and emotional reward hurt them. You can’t as easily scare him to vote for you to protect him.
What’s missing from that model?
Note what’s missing from that model.
I doesn’t mention anything non-material — relationships, emotions, community, self-awareness, meaning, value, purpose, and importance.
It doesn’t suggest having good relationships with others or with himself. It doesn’t suggest developing skills to create relationships.
It doesn’t mention what “good” means.
Where does that belief lead?
The “get a good job, house, and car” model leads to materialist men with poor emotional intelligence and social skills who don’t value relationships or community and don’t understand or act on their motivations.
As a result, they won’t know how to create happiness or emotional reward. They won’t know when they don’t need more.
I guess you’ll have a more stable society, though. Just filled with guys who aren’t happy, lack social skills, and are needy.
An alternative model
I can’t as easily state an alternative model to “Get a good house, get a good job, and get a good car.” I’ve found enjoying and succeeding in life simple, but only after the challenge of developing the self-awareness to get rid of all the garbage others imposed on me for their benefit, like the belief above.
Besides beliefs that work, you need to learn behavior and social skills, which I write about elsewhere. Regarding models and beliefs, I would suggest something more like
“Understand what brings you meaning, value, importance, and purpose and act on that.”
“Know what you want and what creates what emotions and motivations in you and act on that.”
“Know thyself.” (though I’d add you have to act on that)
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book