There’s a lot of talk these days about the “the One Percent”, that top group of income earners. And, yeah, everyone wants to join that group. But if you’re reading this site, you’re here because you want to be a better man and get better at the things that the world needs men to do well. Today, I’m going to share a secret about how to get into the One Percent, how to be a better man than 99% of the men in the world. And I promise you, it’s not what you think.
The Secret of the One Percent
If you want to vault into the top One Percent of men in the world, here’s what you need to do: be accountable to other men. You need to have a group of men who know you, who know your family, who know your job, who know your personality, who know the goings on in your life, and, here’s the kicker, who you trust to tell you when you’re off track.
Simply put, 99% of men in the world do not have such people in their lives. To be clear, most men don’t have good friends. That’s simply a fact. Some have drinking buddies, some have fantasy sports friends, some have golf or hunting buddies, and some have regular acquaintances. But most men don’t have friends that really know the details of their lives – their families, their hopes, their fears, their problems, etc. The men who have this are at the top of the mountain. They’re rare. But they’re not the One Percent.
The One Percent go beyond having friends who know them. They make themselves accountable to those friends. They seek the counsel of those friends and have great trust and deference to the counsel of those friends. When they make a mistake, they don’t hide it from those friends. When faced with a difficult decision, they don’t posture or minimize it. Instead, that’s when they lean on their friends the most.
What Accountability is Not
Let’s be clear about what I’m saying.
- A man who makes himself accountable does NOT allow anyone else to run his life.
- Being accountable does NOT mean abdicating responsibility.
- It does NOT mean you have to do exactly what your friends think you should do.
- It does NOT require you to violate your conscience.
- It does NOT require that you say you believe things that you do not believe.
Instead, being accountable means that you recognize that your view of yourself is (1) incomplete and (2) biased. Your view of yourself is incomplete because your perspective is limited. Physically, we cannot see certain parts of our bodies without the aid of a mirror. Likewise, our limited perspective often prevents us from seeing ourselves accurately. Your view of yourself is biased because you want to be right, you don’t like being wrong, and you hate admitting that you’re wrong, all of which lead you to interpret your own actions in the best possible light, not necessarily in the most accurate light.
The Risks of Accountability
Our friends, who have a different perspective, can often see what we’re actually doing much more accurately than we can. If we’ll open ourselves up to them and their counsel, we’ll often get a perspective that helps us see things we’d otherwise never have seen. But doing so comes with two risks: (1) that they’ll no longer esteem us and (2) that they’ll tell us something we don’t want to hear.
We don’t make ourselves accountable because we want our friends to esteem us. We want them to think highly of us – because we think that makes them more likely to love us. If we show weakness or admit to struggling with something, then we worry that they won’t respect us and our friendship will be over. The result is that we filter our lives from our friends.
But those who overcome this obstacle still are not accountable – they’re simply transparent. In order to become accountable, we have to take the additional step of seeking our friends’ counsel. We fail to take this step because we (1) think we know best and (2) don’t want to hear anything that would interfere with our views, preferences, or plans.
“You want to bust my chops for three-putting that last hole? Go for it. But I don’t want to hear any advice on how to save my marriage.”
And so we make it clear that we’re not really open to a dissenting voice. We handle ourselves and our relationships in such a way that our friends know that certain topics are off limits. Our marriage, our job, our kids, etc. “You want to bust my chops for three-putting that last hole? Go for it. But I don’t want to hear any advice on how to save my marriage.” And so we go on living in our own bubble, with everyone being wrong and/or weird but us.
The Security of Accountability
I know, being accountable goes against our cowboy independence. I’m as independent, ornery, proud, stubborn, and difficult as anyone. No one is gonna tell me what to do. But I’m also the most secure when I’m surrounded by men who know me and can tell me when I’m off base. Guess what else? That’s when my wife and family are most secure, because that’s when it’s less likely that I’m going to make a bad decision that will hurt them.
Your friends won’t always be right. Sometimes they’ll disagree with you and will be wrong in doing so. In those case, just keep the dialogue going and, ultimately, agree to disagree, Still, even then, you’ll have at least heard the other side and considered it in your decision making.
So if you really want to level up as man, here’s something that will put you above 99% of the men in the world: make yourself accountable to other men. Intentionally put men in your life who can correct you and who you give the opportunity to correct you. You don’t need to let anyone run your life, but you must open up your life, seek their counsel, and listen hard when they give it.
Because men everywhere need encouragement and direction, our message needs to be spread far and wide. I’d really appreciate it if you’d use the buttons below to share this article on social media. Together, we can help men find a better life experience. When men thrive, families and communities thrive. I hope you’ll join me. Godspeed.