The young man may know the rules, yet, the wise old man knows the life lessons behind each of them. Breaking rules isn’t painful but discovering the consequences the hard way often can be.
Any man who wants to become successful in life must understand one universal truth:
In order to grow, a man must first have a willingness to learn from his own mistakes.
Yet, ego and fear are perhaps the two biggest roadblocks of doing so.
The two lead many men today into lives of suffering, lack of happiness, and despair. For some without a male role model, understanding this concept is near impossible, because nobody is there to teach them in the first place.
In reality, we all learn the basics as children; things like right vs. wrong, taking responsibility, etc. come naturally. Most of those ideas are hardwired into your brains from birth or taught so repetitively that we can fully grasp them.
Yet, what separates successful men from unsuccessful men in this world is how well they transition from children to young men and beyond. The truth is most of life’s most important and brutal lessons appear later on in adulthood.
It’s the exposed moments where we are put in survival mode and forced to make our own decisions and deal with each and every outcome that we finally begin to learn. As we encounter our mistakes, eventually we must realize we cannot escape them, but rather only embrace them.
For some men, it can take an entire lifetime to understand that concept.
With that said, I’d like to share with you the top 74 best life lessons for men below. You won’t find a list of broad rules to follow; instead, you’ll find concepts that have been discovered by generations of men. If you want to know how the world works, and how it can work in your favor as you grow as a man, then these are meant for you.
1. Most people have limited their thinking and would feel much more comfortable if you’d limit yours too
You are the result of the five people you spend the most time with. You need to be careful of who you allow yourself to be exposed to. As you continue to climb upwards and reach your goals, those around who attempt to do the same will become fewer and fewer.
They’d rather stay in easy mode, and seeing your success become a reality, makes them uncomfortable. Risk scares them to death because it is out of their comfort zone and requires real effort. If they can drag you back to their level, you better believe they will do by any means possible.
2. Distraction is what ultimately kills dreams
Vacations, holidays, new toys, hobbies, entertainment, etc. all lend a hand at distracting you away from your goals. It’s easy to get lost spending five minutes on Facebook or forums, yet, when you do it over and over again, it adds up! Even if it’s just two hours playing a round of golf, or an hour dinner out on the town before you know it, your entire day is gone. In other words, wasted away! Focus on things that matter and are relevant to reaching your goals.
If your dream is to build a house, watching Netflix every night for 2 hours, isn’t going to help you get there! Putting in real work will. You can either succumb to distractions or accept the sacrifices and avoid the temptation.
3. There are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, so long as you really want to go
Make your own luck. You can’t wait around wishing all your life, or you’ll end up a broke, miserable fool who’s all alone. If you truly want to acquire an item, achieve a goal, or turn a dream into a reality, you must put in the work and pay the price of action. So long as you keep pulling the trigger, regardless of how well your aim is; eventually, you will hit the bullseye.
4. The enemy of my enemy is my friend
This is an ancient proverb that was told to suggest that two opposing people can or should work together against a common enemy. It speaks volumes about the nature of our relationships. As long as you have an enemy in common with someone, you can be their ally.
5. Thinking it over is for people who can’t take action
Everyone has ideas. All of them are worthless until you put them into action. To stop overthinking, you need to adopt habits that put things into a wider perspective, stop setting you up for stress and allow you to become a person of action. If you fail to take action, you achieve less.
6. Your most valuable natural asset is your own gut instinct; trust it
When your girlfriend cheats on you, and you highly suspect it but have no immediate proof: You’ve been cheated on. When your gut is screaming SOS, listen to it. It’s far too easy to let the thought of love overtake the reasoning of logic. When you know the answer and trust it dearly, but fear being ridiculed because it may be so out of the box or wrong, speak up.
7. Conventional wisdom is almost always wrong
You can’t do this. You can! You can’t do that. You can!
It’s impossible to do it that way; no one’s ever done it before. You must do it this way. They say you really shouldn’t do that. On and on, they will proclaim. The truth is, conventional wisdom is almost always wrong.
If you stick with something long enough, you will shatter every belief of conventional wisdom.
8. The only difference between champ and chump is “U”
When Gates met Buffet for the first time for dinner, Gate’s mother turned to the two and asked: “What is the single most important factor of success?” The two yelled out, “Focus!”
How focused you determine when and if you ultimately succeed. Focus is something that comes from you, no one else. Take, for example, Floyd Mayweather. For all of his life, he has focused on one thing and one thing only: Boxing. If his nearly one billion dollars in career earnings don’t declare him the champ, certainly his wins in the ring do.
Floyd could have easily chosen to be a chump all of his life. The truth is, his father sold drugs, and his mother heavily used them. During interviews, Mayweather claimed that he basically raised himself. Yet, Floyd pushed forward with the idea of who he wanted to become and maintained a level of focus that most cannot even imagine being possible.
9. A man who dwells on his past robs his future
The only way to rise out of poverty, abuse, low self-esteem, etc., and turn yourself into a successful man, is by allowing yourself to overcome your past.
Ultimately you are responsible for all of your mistakes alongside every excuse you dish out. The world isn’t a perfect place, and nature is a cruel beast that could care less about you. If you don’t believe me, then walk out into the wilderness and see how well you survive. Most of you won’t last more than a week.
As a man, you are responsible for your success in life. No one else! Others may give you guidance, share wisdom, and inspire you along the way. Yet, what you do with them is entirely your own choice to make.
Just because you were born into poverty, doesn’t mean you must die in poverty. Just because you were rejected by one woman, does not mean you must analyze the entire event. Don’t get trapped in the dark pit of overthinking.
10. Don’t waste time on things you cannot change
When you waste your time worrying about sh-t you can’t change, and what you can’t control, you lose focus and can become stressed. Instead of ruminating, start problem-solving and create a plan to manage your time.
11. Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.
This too shall pass.
The pain and sorrow of losing a loved one will eventually pass. The disappointment and grief and being let go at a job will eventually fade away. The anger and frustration of addiction will turn to triumph and joy once your chains are finally broken. Rejection, break ups, the list goes on and on.
Take quitting cigarettes, for instance. The first few days are terrible; the next month is agony and often, at times, torture. Yet, within a few months, you heal. You might start researching the benefits of quitting. You might start to understand just how bad you smelled, how yellow your teeth were becoming, how much money you were wasting, and so on.
Perhaps you may ultimately start to realize how important your health is, and begin working out, start cycling or running marathons. Suddenly you’re channeling your negative view of quitting into a positive as one of the greatest things to ever happen in your life.
12. Man plans, God laughs
Life is full of problems, most of which we don’t even expect. When we solve smaller ones, even bigger ones appear right out of nowhere.
You may be hitting it off perfectly with a woman, yet upon asking her out, you discover she has a boyfriend. You may grow your business tenfold by signing on to a new client. Yet, finding employees with a specialized skill set to handle the workload proves to be near impossible.
Even the Notorious B.I.G. knew the deal, “Mo Money Mo Problems.”
13. You can’t have a million-dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic
This is a quote by Stephen C. Hogan. It is meant to encourage people to value their skills more while also looking for more meaningful employment opportunities beyond the basics. It is a great motivation for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
14. Build your dream, or someone else will hire you to build theirs
Start a business or start accepting the reality of working for another man. Many men dream of being their own boss, yet, very few pick up the call and accept the challenge.
Being your own boss isn’t just about the money; it’s about freedom. The freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. That’s priceless.
The ability to grow your income based on the amount of work you put in is simply said: Seductive.
15. Fear of rejection is worse than rejection
Fear is simply false expectations appearing real. When describing rejection, people often say that it is the dismissal of a proposal or idea. The fear of rejection is often far more personal because you become the object of rejection. Once this happens, you begin to fear failure instead of focusing on trying to understand why you were rejected in the first place.
16. It’s not what you want to do; it’s who you want to be
It is about playing your cards right, knowing who you are and what you want, and finding ways to reach your full potential.
17. Pay no attention to what the critics say, for no one has ever erected a statue in honor of them
A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.
Haters are losers. They will say anything to bring you down.
18. Take pride in everything that you do. Respect everything you own
Discover the art of craftsmanship. Have enthusiasm, passion, and so on. Take care of all your investments, large and small. Buy shoe trees for your dress shoes. Hang your tailored suit up on an actual suit hanger.
19. Insanity is doing the same thing, the same way, and expecting different results
Thomas Edison didn’t fail one thousand times while trying to master the invention of the light bulb. In reality, he discovered there were one-thousand steps involved in order to create it. From another perspective, you could easily say that he proved one-thousand ways which would not work.
20. A wise man makes his own decisions; an ignorant man follows public opinion
The media isn’t always about being honest or offering real solutions to problems. It’s about promoting fear and profiting through the capture of mass attention. Almost all of which is done while being one-sided. Unfortunately, public opinion often follows the opinion of the media to heart.
Don’t be a sheep. Far too many men in this world are misled simply because they choose to believe in what’s easiest to accept. Many reject evidence and reasoning in favor of comfort and avoidance of fear from being proven wrong.
Do your own research; don’t be spoon-fed a web of lies.
21. Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
My personal view on this is to teach your son and other younger males you encounter all the ways of life. If your son has a flat tire, do not change it for him. Instead, show him how to change it by making him perform the repair himself under your guidance. He will remember how to complete the repair for the rest of his life and eventually pass on the lesson to the next generation.
Had you just done the repair without him present, he may have never how to fix a flat tire. But more importantly, he may have never learned the independence nor pride that comes along with being self-reliant.
22. It’s not the boulder in your path that will stop you, but the pebble in your shoe
Treat your problems in life like a boulder; move around them. Handle them at once. Don’t let your problems become small pains like a pebble in your shoe that plague you around for your entire life.
23. Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after
A boy has a goal of catching the most fish. A young man has the goal of catching the biggest fish. When one becomes a man, he simply just wants to go fishing.
24. The fool is always certain of himself, while the wise man is full of self-doubt
Bertrand Russell was a colorful philosopher and was widely admired by his critics. He was a mathematician, a logician, historian, social critic, and so much more. Fools are often arrogant and persist in his arrogant certainty. However, the fool doesn’t know enough to know that he doesn’t actually know, and there is no way for you to convince him any differently.
The wise are full of doubt and are much humbler about what they know. They recognize that their knowledge is limited, and knowledge exists past what they possess. The wise understand that there is a chance that they are wrong.
25. Put your money where your mouth is
Don’t talk sh-t if you can’t back up your words with actions.
26. Not my monkey, not my circus
Don’t get involved in the drama of others, unless it is a problem that you can directly resolve.
27. A man can love as many times as is heart is willing to be broken
Heartbreaks happen. Dogs don’t live forever, though we all wish they did.
28. No man steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man
You will never step in the same river twice as the water is constantly flowing and changing. All of the people you encounter in life are never the same from one moment to the next.
29. He who angers you controls you
Be in control of your emotions. Do not allow others to be the puppeteer of your life. Learn to soothe your temper and understand that you have nothing to prove to anyone other than yourself.
30. A man cannot build a reputation on what he is going to do
As they say, talk is cheap.
31. If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.
Great men don’t lead other men by telling them what to do. They lead by example, selling them on the dream of a worthy idea or goal. They inspire them to desire something which is only obtainable through hard work. By doing so, they not only boost productivity but also earn respect.
32. Confidence is quiet. Insecurities are loud.
The loudest of men have something to prove. They need attention in order to feel validated, wanted, or accepted. Confident men believe in both their words and actions; they seek no one’s approval other than their own.
33. A ship is safe in a harbor, but that’s not what ships are for
Life is not about sitting on the couch all day. Without risk, there can be no reward.
34. Years of love have been forgotten in the hatred of a minute
This is a quote by Edgar Allan Poe. Instances of forgiveness are rare in the world we live in. It is much easier to give up on something or someone instead of fighting to find solutions to the problems we face. However, forgiveness is essential, or we will be holding onto hate, and this can damage relationships and create more difficulty in life.
35. Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace
You may have been wronged in more ways than one, but not forgiving is putting a great deal of pressure and strain on yourself, and you don’t deserve that. You deserve to move forward and avoid negative energy.
36. The master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried
This quote by Stephen McCranie is saying never give up. It speaks to the expectations people have of themselves that can cause issues within their lives.
37. There is no such things as a free lunch
Simply put, it is nearly impossible to get something for nothing. This phrase was said to be used first back in the 1930s. For every choice you make, there is a next best alternative that could have been chosen but was not.
38. Good, fast, or cheap. You can only pick two.
For example, if you ask for something good and fast, don’t expect that item to be cheap. Likewise, do you really feel as if something you ask to be made fast and cheap is going to be any good?
39. Mind over matter
The body can be pushed much farther than imaginable.
If I put a plank of wood fifty stories up across two buildings, and I asked you to cross it for a thousand dollars, you’d decline, or at least most would. You’d say it’s impossible, too dangerous to even attempt, and so on. If your mother, wife or children were at the other end of the plank and it was life or death based upon if you could cross it, you can bet you’d cross it without any hesitation.
Just when we think the body will fail, it continues to give and give. You may be exhausted after running one mile, but your body may be truly capable of running five, ten, or even more miles.
40. Be all that you can be. You cannot dream yourself into character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.
Socrates said it best, “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
The same can be said of everything in your life: Your finances, your relationships, your personal goals. Master them all and fulfill your true potential.
41. Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
This quote by Warren Buffet is basically saying that price and value are not always going to be the same.
42. Don’t set time limits for achieving goals. They should transcend time.
You need to think forward to thrive. You also need to make time for fun in addition to any and all essential tasks and errands you have toward achieving your goals.
43. Set goals you cannot achieve in your lifetime
Better yet, set goals you cannot achieve in two or three lifetimes. The higher you set your goals, the more you will ultimately accomplish in the end. Your goals should be beyond your wildest dreams.
44. It’s what you do now, today, that determines how your mind and body operate ten, twenty, and thirty years from now.
Remember, you only get one mind and one body, and they have to last you an entire lifetime. So, you need to take care of both just as you would take care of your car, so they won’t be a wreck in the future.
45. You’re a millionaire even if you don’t already know it
If I offered you a quarter of a million dollars for your leg, would you take it? How about a hundred thousand for your arm? How about another hundred thousand for an eye. And another for your finger, and so on.
When you add it all up, you are a millionaire, even if you don’t already realize it. Treat your body like it’s worth a million bucks. Treat it like a million-dollar Ferrari. Put in the best fuel (food) possible. Take care of it.
46. Don’t work for money all your life. Put your money to work for you.
Either you can control your money, or it can control you. Living paycheck to paycheck is no way to live. Being strapped down by a lifetime of debt is nothing more than slavery with a few good moments of pleasure. Not all debt is bad, but when you’re drowning in it, you may find yourself working to pay off things you never really wanted nor needed in the first place.
Learn how to invest and save your money wisely. Pay yourself first!
47. Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend
Time is the true luxury of this world; a man only has so much of it. Don’t waste it on things that don’t matter! You cannot buy more of it when it starts to run out.
In another light, don’t waste the time of others. If you’re going to be there at five o’clock, then be there at five o’clock. It doesn’t matter if you have diarrhea or aren’t feeling up for it, you show up! The only time you don’t is if you’re dead or in a coma. Your word is everything; keep it!
48. Perfection equals paralysis; it is the gateway to insanity
Sometimes “good enough” is the right answer if it gets the job done.
49. Measure twice, cut once
Avoid making mistakes in the first place because it can result in work that’s two to ten times longer to correct and complete.
50. Money isn’t the only thing in life, but it’s the only thing people keep track of
If you don’t think money can buy happiness or pleasure you don’t know where to shop.
51. Courage is nothing but doing the right thing when the wrong thing is far easier
When you do the right thing even when it is the harder thing to do, you show far greater integrity than if you were to take the easy way out.
52. Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.
Everything happens for a reason and for every effect, there is a specific cause. So, if you can be clear about the results you are looking for, you can more likely achieve it.
53. The world owes you absolutely nothing
And no one is going to feel sorry for you. Your rich friends don’t owe you a dime either.
54. A true friend will help you move
No one likes moving, but a true friend won’t say “No.” They won’t ask for payment either. Pizza and beer are bonuses. In return, if you’re a true friend, then you better be there when your buddy needs help moving.
Remember, most people don’t move all that often, but they sure do remember who did and didn’t help them move.
55. Seek the uncomfortable, and you will feel comfortable.
Step out of your comfort zone. Do something that scares the living hell out of you daily. If you’re not doing that daily, then you’re not growing as a man.
56. Embrace the awkwardness
No one is a professional starting out. No one ever has the perfect thing to say to a woman the very moment they see her. Rather than dread the moment, embrace it and just focus on being present. If life were to be serious all the time, it would be insanely boring and dull.
57. Kiss a lot of frogs
Who you know matters. There’s someone out there who will believe or invest in whatever idea you have. No matter how insane or idiotic it may be. In order to find that person, you must kiss a lot of frogs first!
58. Everything worth doing takes time
And lots of sacrifice along the way! In order to get, you must first give.
59. Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day of your life
Find something you can’t live without, then go after it.
The truth is you can’t follow your dreams and expect to always be paid. Not all dreams have a market that’s ready to spend cash or a job waiting at the finish line– although you can tailor your skillset, knowledge, or experience into other relevant fields. Work doesn’t always have to be enjoyable or feel like a true vacation; it’s work! There are ups and downs even to dream jobs.
60. Just fu-king do it!
Stop making excuses. Those four words are the answer to almost every question you will ever have.
61. Don’t judge a man by the mistakes he makes, judge him by the actions he takes to correct them
Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
62. It’s easy to be good at something; it’s extremely difficult to be great at something
If it were easy, everyone would do it.
63. If it has to be, it starts with me
This is a good way to have some accountability for the events and situations in your lifetime.
64. It’s lonely at the top
Eagles fly alone. The more successful you are, the fewer friends you have.
65. Burn your ships
Back up plans, ripcords, and fail-safes are ways to mentally tell yourself that it’s okay to fail; I have already failed. Avoid them if you wish to be successful!
66. Smell the leather
We make changes in life for two reasons: Desperation or inspiration.
67. When someone says “No,” you have failed to present enough information
Avoid becoming distracted by the fear of rejection and failure and instead spend your time making sure you have everything you need to find the success you want.
68. Human beings are like rivers; they travel to the path of least resistance
When searching for a mentor, the easiest route is to choose an uncle or brother or family member. Yet, the majority have never accomplished what you wish to accomplish. You wouldn’t take advice on how to build a spaceship from a gardener, would you?
69. Focus on the few, not the many
The few are far more critical and deserve more attention than the many. It helps you focus on your goals and develop leadership.
70. Choose your battles wisely
Sometimes it is best to ignore or let go of the smaller, more unimportant things in life and instead save your strength for those that will prove to be of far greater importance.
71. Pay yourself first
This is more of an investor mentality and is a phrase that is very popular in the personal finance world. However, it doesn’t refer to money as the phrase implies. Instead, it can ultimately mean to put yourself first.
72. Treat others how you wish to be treated
Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down. Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us.
73. All you need is the plan, the roadmap, and the courage to press on to your destination
Men with goals succeed because they know where they are going.
READ ALSO: 25 Things Every Great Man Should Own in Life
74. There is no such thing as job security
The mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else. Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company; you own your career!