Your Tribe

A friend pointed me in the direction of a music video for Rudimental’s track, Waiting All Night.

My friend has read The Guide and sent me the video as an example of togetherness:

The music video follows the inspirational true-life story of Kurt Yaeger and his friends. He’s a pro BMX rider, and from the clip his Friends are no slouches either. The film begins showing the guys riding together. We gather that they are firm friends and ‘go back’. Kurt then has an accident. Cut to him asleep in a hospital bed, the same group of guys around him. As a result of the accident, he has had the lower part of his left leg amputated. He and his buddies are devastated.

We then follow the group as they go about healing their wounds. I say ‘their’, because these guys are so tight, that they are sharing the pain. We see them in physio together, wheeling him into parties, and riding as he cuts a

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frustrated figure on the side.

Slowly but surely, Kurt develops the strength in what’s left of his leg, gets an artificial limb fitted and tentatively begins to learn to ride a bike for the second time in his life. All the while, his friends alongside, supporting.

The film ends with them riding together. All smiles.

Aside from it being a beautifully told story, it’s a wonderful example for the power of the Tribe: A group of guys so tightly bound that when one hurts, they all suffer.

In The Guide, we talk about how ultimately, as a man, you’re Alone. The reasoning being, life is your unique struggle. How and what you chose to do on the journey rests firmly at your door.

However, Alone and Lonely are very different things. What Men Do is surround themselves with those they love, that help them further their Purpose, challenge and support them ‘through thick and thin,’ as we say in Yorkshire. This is your Tribe.

While the journey is yours, and the path you choose is your decision alone, it’s true that, as the Turkish proverb says, ‘No road is long with good company.’

Filling Time

I had a rather puzzling experience last week which, at

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the time, seemed very minor – just a thing that happened – but has, over the past few days, refused to shake itself from my mind.

I was at the local branch of M&S grabbing a (rather disappointing) sandwich. I wasn’t particularly looking for anything mind blowing – which was lucky as I don’t

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think such a thing exists in these pre-packed, largely soggy, ‘meals’ – rather I was in need of fuel and it happened to be the shop I was passing.

But as I was looking what was on offer (I admit I was more focused

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on what was the cheapest than what looked the

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nicest) I was suddenly, and rather rudely, barged out of the way. I turned to look at what this battering ram was, fully prepared to voice my feelings on their eyesight. What I saw left me very bemused.

This wasn’t some ‘busy-busy’ guy thinking his lack of time means he is more important; this wasn’t a mother struggling with a pram; this wasn’t a little old lady with no control over her balance; this wasn’t a toddler running around unattended – all of these I could probably accept.

What I saw when I turned around was, however, a member of the shop’s staff who seemed completely oblivious to what had happened and was now proceeding to tidy the sandwich shelf.

Let me repeat that: tidy the sandwich shelf. Not re-stock the sandwich self. Tidy.

If it had been re-stocking I possibly could have understood it – a shop needs to sell stuff to make money and if the stuff isn’t there to sell then they don’t make money. Simple.

But this was merely tidying. Not that the shelf was particularly messy, which made it even more bemusing as it really just looked like they were moving sandwiches around to pass the time.

Ok, so this all sounds very mundane and humdrum – which is exactly what I thought at the time. But then I got thinking….who was the tidying for?

It clearly wasn’t an act of Caring for the customer as I (the customer) had been pushed out of the way, therefore making the tidying the priority, not the customer.

So the only other thing it could be is filling time.

Whether this role of ‘filling time’ is actually this guy’s job title and part of M&S store policy, I have no idea. But I couldn’t help think that this guy needs to have a think about Purpose. If you’re in a job which regularly involves you ‘filling time’ then you need to get out because it most likely means it is lacking in any kind of Purpose.

Ok, so maybe he hates his job and is just doing it to support his family, put himself through Uni. or buy himself an apartment. But if that is the case the surely Caring shouldn’t go out of the window.

Caring is the key to a Life with Purpose. Without it, you’re just filling in time.

As we all have a limited amount of it then why stick with something that wastes it away?

Living Your Dash

Last week I had the pleasure of taking a trip on our wonderful public transport – or ‘the peasant wagon’ as a bus driver friend of mine calls it. Luckily, the previous occupant of my seat had left a copy of the Metro newspaper, with which I whiled away my journey.

On this particular Thursday it’s regular ‘Five Questions For…’ article was an interview with Dustin Hoffman, and he used a phrase I’ve never heard before

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but which I have now fallen in love with. He talked about ‘living your dash’.

The meaning behind this phrase is this: when you’ve popped your clogs they put two dates on your gravestone – the date on which you were born, and the date on which you died. Between these two figures is a dash. This dash represents your Life.

Of course this is nothing new – it’s just a rehash of the well known ‘life is short’ and ‘you only live once’ ethos. This idea is one that gets a lot of play in the WMD Guide and so it may appear as though I am merely repeating something that we’ve already discussed at length. But I think there’s something in this phrase which sums the idea up much better than any other we’ve used.

Picture your own gravestone. Obviously, unless you’re of a particularly morbid disposition (or, some may say, well prepared), this is something you will never actually see in real in life. But just try to see that image.

Imagining it from top to bottom, you first have your name. Under that are the dates as mentioned earlier, and beneath that are a string of platitudes that tell the world you were a loving father, grandfather, brother, son, husband, etc, etc. Out of all the scribblings on this monument to your existence, the only thing that really represents your Life – everything that makes you, you – is a little dash maybe an inch long.

When thought of in these terms your Life is merely a glorified scratch. If that’s not enough to make you

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shit yourself into a realisation of the fleeting nature of the human experience then I don’t know what is.

Ok, so far this all sounds very depressing. If this is all Life amounts to then what can we possibly achieve. The answer? Anything.

Because in What Men Do terms, this sets us a challenge. The Purpose of our Lives is to make our dash the most significant inch of stone that has ever existed. Ok, so it’s only an inch long… but how deep is it? Is it merely a shallow scratch or

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does it look more like a gaping canyon explored to the full?

Death may be a taboo subject but it is inevitable – that’s why it’s a dash not a line. And worrying what the date at the end of the dash will say is as futile as trying to change the date at the beginning of it.

So we concentrate on the dash and make sure that not a millimetre of it is wasted. And the truth is that if your dash is one bursting with Purpose (not to mention depth), you’ll probably find it has the result of pushing the last date a bit further away.

Out of interest I Googled the phrase (other search engines are available) and came across a poem written by Linda Ellis which ends:

So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent your dash?

Well…would you?

Stepping up to the Plate


So ‘Stepping up to the Plate’ is obviously an Americanism, but due to the international nature of What Men Do (and Balls) we decided to go with it over, ‘Putting ‘em on the Block’, and a silly one about cricket. But the meaning is the same: In this case it means to move into position to hit the ball. In life terms it means to take responsibility for doing something.

And for some guys, ‘Stepping Up’ is paralysing.

A presentation to your boss; taking one of the penalties in a shoot-out; plucking up the courage to tell someone you want to be ‘more than friends’ – all of these require you to drop any protective armour and stand vulnerable to a counter attack.

So, maybe a drop of ‘Dutch Courage’ can help with some confidence issues…

…although it’s probably best not to take a gulp before a big meeting, and I’m not sure how the ref’ would take you boozing mid-game (though the Halifax Town fans would certainly love you for it).

So why do some guys shy away from stepping-up? What is it that’s stopping them? Well, ultimately it’s Fear.

You envisage a worst-case scenario; some kind of Dr Pepper ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ moment plays out in your head. Your voice goes squeaky, sweat showers from the pits, your pants fall down and everyone in the room hates you for what you’ve said.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does, we’ve all been there. It’s all too easy to only think of the bad stuff. Which is all bollocks by the way. No one will ever hate you for trying. They might think your idea sucked, or your presentation needed work… but that’s about it.

But in this situation a more worthwhile use of your imagination is not to picture the worst-case scenario if you do step-up, but rather what will happen if you don’t.

Missing out on something you want to do because you are worried about the outcome is self-sabotage. By holding yourself back, you’re stunting your potential for growth.

Think about it. You turn down the opportunity to speak at the meeting and the guy who volunteers goes down a storm. Who’s your boss going to ask next time?

If you don’t pluck up the courage to ask someone out then, inevitably, someone else will.

And if you don’t step-up to take the penalty, despite knowing you can do it, you’re merely displacing the pressure on to one of your teammates…and setting them up to be the Hero instead of you.

Sure, once in a while you will have a swing and a miss, get knocked-back, or fluff your lines. But guess what – those guys who you thought would laugh or mock you will probably just say ‘bad luck’ and life goes on.

Not only that but, if you’re savvy, you’ll learn from each attempt. You’ll be bigger for it and your potential for future growth will expand. The opposite can be said for missing out as you’ll only beat yourself up more and for longer for passing up your opportunity than you would have, had you done it and ‘failed’.


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not much more of a bitter taste than that of regret. And the more you let someone else take your moment in the spotlight, the more your regrets will pile up.

Men don’t build regrets.

Men step-up.