The 8 Pillars of Manhood
December 12, 2019 Comments Off on The 8 Pillars of Manhood Health, Living Well, Male Spirit, Presence, Relationships, Self-Mastery Tom Burden

What does it take to be a man? Well, certainly there are a lot of opinions. Some very far from the mark. Fact is, anthropologists have found that what people consider a man is fairly consistent across the globe, from first world countries to aboriginal tribes. While some are trying to rewrite what it means to be a man, for their own goals, when it comes down to it even they don’t believe it. When things get really bad and the men run into danger to save others, no one talks about toxic masculinity.

That said, the world has changed, and some skills previously prized of a good, strong man, are no longer needed. Just the same, some skills that we consider outdated are just as important now as when our ancestors were trying to survive in caves. So, what does it really take to be a man in the modern age?

We at Reclaimed thought long and hard on this. We researched, explored, and delved deep to try and riddle out the answer. What we came up with is eight core areas of life, eight principle aspects of manhood, that all men should aspire to master. The reality is, a man could spend a lifetime on any one of them and never truly master it. Too often this is used as an excuse not to try. At Reclaimed Masculinity, we slay excuses.

So, what are the eight? We refer to them as the Eight Pillars. They are the aspects of manhood that hold up a good, solid, well-rounded man. Every man needs these eight pillars to live a life of excellence. Well, the eight, and a good woman. Or man. Whichever works for you, we don’t judge.


One – Physical Health

Nothing else matters if you can’t pull yourself out of a chair. Being a man means providing – resources for your family (usually money these days), support for your friends, safety for your community. Historically this has been a primary role of men, and it’s no different today. Can a woman do these things? Absolutely. But the reality is, most don’t want to. They’ve been told they have to, and so they do it. If a woman in your life contributes to the family income, and can shoot an acorn off a fence post at 100 paces, well … she’s a keeper, that’s for sure. It just means, you’ve got back-up – not a replacement.

Being a provider means also providing emotional support and care for others. The first rule of all care givers is to take care of themselves first. We all know the speech given when a plane is preparing to take off, even if we’ve never flown on a plane before. It’s in enough movies. If there’s a sudden loss of cabin pressure, airbags will drop from the ceiling. Place the mask over your nose and mouth and breathe normally. Put on your own air mask before attempting to help others. You do this because you’re no use to anyone passed out in your chair.

As a man, our health and physical well-being is tantamount. Our physical abilities are a defining trait of being a man, after all. You live in your body 24/7, take care of it.

Two – Emotional Resilience

A lack of emotional resilience is a defining characteristic of many modern men. Seriously, words don’t hurt like a gun shot, so suck it up buttercup. Does a real man have and feel his emotions – unquestionably. Does he let them rule him – absolutely not. Men the world over, regardless of era or geography, ruled. They led tribes, cities, nations. Those that did not rule served. Those that served with the highest honor, in many cultures, were revered. Even today we look to the legacy of knights and samurai with admiration. You cannot rule, or serve your fellow men and women, if you are ruled by your emotions. Just as you are no use to anyone flabby stuck in a chair, you’re no use to anyone a sniveling pile on the floor. Least of all yourself.

The polar opposite of this is repressing and denying your emotions. You don’t make a very convincing robot. Just as you cannot be ruled by your emotions, acting as if they don’t exist is every bit as bad – and will be of severe determent to yourself and those around you when they finally break free.

A man is resilient, and in control of his emotions. This means that from time to time they will get the better of you, and from time to time you will suppress them. It can sometimes be a fine line, one we evaluate as we go long, but it is a line we must walk.

Three – Intellectual/Personal Growth

Just as your body is fundamentally important, so too is your mind. So many men (and women for that matter) stop having any significant intellectual or personal growth beyond college. Many never even go to college, so the last time they put effort into learning something new was even further back. Researchers have found that reading is at an all-time low, with almost a third of the population of the US not reading a single book last year (fiction or non-fiction). The numbers become staggeringly appalling when you look at non-fiction by itself. Even more, the number of doctors who have done no significant learning since they graduated (in a field that is always growing), would terrify you. Wondering now if the doctor you just saw has been working off of knowledge from the 90s? If they’ve been practicing over 20 years, they very well may be.

Do you want to be that guy? Do you want to be the least informed man in the room? Knowledge is power; why handicap yourself? Do you really want to be the guy who peaked in college?

Four – Persevering Spirit

For some this is a little controversial, largely because they have guzzled someone else’s cool-aid and can’t see pasted the propaganda. But, into the fray we will go. A man needs a spiritual center. There, I said it, and I’ll say it again. Men need a spiritual center; they need to be on a spirit journey. A bunch of you just got your knickers in a bind. How dare I say men should join a church? Except, I said no such thing. Being spiritual and going to a church are often not even connected. I’ve known many men who were deeply spiritual and never went to a church. I’ve also known people who went to church religiously but were as disconnected from their spirituality as a hooker on a Friday night.

Men need to feed their souls as much as their minds, bodies, and emotions. You may be tempted to combine this with Emotional Resilience, however while the two are linked they are distinctly different. So, I ask you, what feeds your soul?

Social Mastery

Five – Intentional Presence

Of all the outer aspects of being a man, this is possibly the most important. And, similarly, the least important. How you look, how you dress, how you present yourself is vitally important. Whether you work as an executive for a company or a plumbing business, you have a uniform. Just as any soldier, your uniform is important, and should be in top condition. No warrior worth his metal went into battle without tending to his armor first.

Some of you may be saying, how you look isn’t important. Surely some women say it, but they lie every time. True, there are some women that seek out men that can’t match their socks and doesn’t know the first thing about ironing. Ask yourself why. These men to them are not desirable, but are sought after. Why would a woman seek out a male partner she does not desire. It’s because that’s a man who clearly isn’t going to leave her, because he’s never going to go very far.

Anyone who tells you how you look isn’t important is either lying, or exceedingly naïve. We all make our initial judgements about others from how they look. More importantly, presence is about much more than what you wear, it’s how you wear it. It’s your charisma. It’s your embodiment. It’s how you show up in the world. And it is phenomenally important. Just the same, not very important (lest we become vain).

Six – Effective Communication (& Networking)

Just as your presence is important, how you interact with others is as well. You can be the best dressed man in the room, your presence game entirely on point, yet you stammer like an idiot every time a woman comes to talk to you. You don’t know where to look, what to say, or how to say it. When you do find your tongue you express no assertiveness – and show no spine – you are just a well-dressed statue. I admit I have been to gatherings where I was purposefully the well-dressed statue, the ghost in the room, observing everyone else. It was intentional.

You could be an absolute genius, someone with so much creativity it will make others weep, but if you can’t express yourself no one will ever know.

Seven – Purposeful Living

A man should live with intent, with purpose. He should know what he stands for and why. That last part is more important and less common than you might think. Most men drift through life: drifting from job to job, drifting through family life, drifting through friendships. Then one day they wake up long enough to have a midlife crises, then go back to drifting. Eventually they realize most of their life has passed them by, and none of it was really their doing. Life just kind of happened to them. Sound familiar?

Purposeful living involves intent and direction. Irregardless of what direction you choose, one thing is for certain, you’ll need money and resources to get there. For most people this means long hours working for someone else. For some it’s long hours working for themselves. A lucky few realize that career and finances are not the same thing, and learn how to optimize both to allow them to live the life they purposefully chose. Instead of the life that just kind of happened to them.

Eight – Nourishing Relationships

None of it means a thing if you have no one to share it all with. To some extent, this is what it’s all about. Seriously, what does it matter how much of a man a hermit is? Think about it.

The people you have in your life (family, friends, and your significant other), are not only an important part of life, they very well may be the most important part. Having nourishing relationships bolsters your spiritual and emotional states. Deep relationships with those you love, who love you, strengthens your health.

A Solid Base

All the pillars are tied to each other; they all interconnect to provide a solid base for the man you could – and should – be. They are what allows you to live the real, authentic life you are meant to live. You can be a little lacking in one, I sure am, but not too many or the foundation is no longer secure. And who wants an insecure man? Certainly not the man himself.

Delve Deeper Into the 8 Pillars in our 10-Week Course

The Foundations of Manhood

About The Author
Tom Burden Tom Burden is a father & husband, martial artist, author, sexual advocate, male advocate and female advocate, and a trained conservation biologist. He is the founder of Reclaimed Masculinity, and co-founder of Central Aikido and Seishinkan Iaido Warrensburg, as well as other business enterprises. He is a longtime student of somatic and embodiment practices, with deep study into the mind, the human body, spirituality, and the environment. He currently resides in Missouri with his wife and daughter.